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Comment: Re:Never forget where you came from (Score 4, Interesting) 352

by Bryan Ischo (#46796607) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

Ah spaghetti and ketchup. Nice combo.

Some of my favorites from my college days were:

- A boiled potato with a slice of American cheese
- A cup of white rice with a handful of peanuts

I was hungry much of the time the last couple of years in college, but mostly that was from stupidity (losing money for dumb reasons) and hubris (refusing to accept any assistance from my parents).

In Pittsburgh (I went to CMU) there used to be a grocery store that would sell expired food ("Groceries Plus More II" was its name). That was a godsend. You'd never know what you'd get each time you went since their stock was determined by whatever expired goods they could procure that week, but whatever you ended up with was usually for pennies on the dollar. Who cares if a can of spaghetti sauce expired two weeks ago, if it is only a quarter, I'll take it.

Nobody actually starves in college or grad school, and going hungry and living on the cheap is one of the charms of that time of life. So enjoy it.

Comment: Re:Mercedes shouldn't talk. (Score 1) 352

by Bryan Ischo (#46785045) Attached to: Mercedes Pooh-Poohs Tesla, Says It Has "Limited Potential"

I watched a little of that Long Way Round show. All I could think was, how lame it is that they did the whole thing with a truck trailing them with supplies and stuff in case they broke down. What a pussy way to ride a motorcycle around the world. Perhaps they should have just put the bikes up on the pickup truck bed and sat on them while being driven around the world. Would have been just about as authentic.

Comment: Re:Awesome. Perfect excuse to give us less space.. (Score 2) 310

by Bryan Ischo (#46779159) Attached to: Switching From Sitting To Standing At Your Desk

Because most telecommuters are do-nothings, which is why they are just as "effective" at home as they are at work?

I'm only being slightly facetious here. In my experience, home is almost never a place conducive to doing good work, way too many distractions and way too disassociated from the normal work environment and its easy access to communication with co-workers.

I say this having been a telecommuter myself for a time (not by choice, but by circumstance) and finding it demoralizingly difficult to be effective, and seeing the same thing in just about every person I've ever worked with who was a telecommuter.

Sure I've worked with people who still managed to get good work done from home; but in every case, those were the superstars who actually got *more* good work done at work. Working at home took away some of their productivity as it does for everyone else I've known, but they were so good to begin with that it just knocked them down to better-than-average instead of superstar status.

Well that's my opinion anyway.

Comment: Re:Interesting, but they admit low-current capabil (Score 1) 227

by Bryan Ischo (#46686391) Attached to: Nanodot-Based Smartphone Battery Recharges In 30 Seconds

Er I meant "without being *smart* enought", not "*fast* enough". In this case I guess I was too fast to hit submit. Or maybe just not smart enough to re-read properly before submitting?

By the way Slashdot's post rate limiting is completely dumb. It's now been 2+ minutes since I submitted my comment and I can't post this correction yet. Hey Slashdot, how about implementing an 'edit post' button! Welcome to the 2000's!

Comment: Re:Interesting, but they admit low-current capabil (Score 1) 227

by Bryan Ischo (#46686325) Attached to: Nanodot-Based Smartphone Battery Recharges In 30 Seconds

Exactly. I fail to understand how someone can be smart enough to think of the shortcomings of super fast charging without being fast enough to think of the obvious solution of batteries in between the power station and the car charger. Suggests either extreme laziness or some kind of agenda.

Comment: Re:CMU 1968-72 (Score 1) 169

When I was at CMU from 1990 - 1994 the CS department had a couple of rooms full of old discarded and no longer used mainframe and mainframe support equipment. We wandered through there once or twice just to see what old computers looked like. I probably saw your IBM 360 surrounded by dozens of big refrigerator sized reel to reel tape machines (there were alot of those) and didn't even know what I was looking at.

Comment: Re:Something From Nothing. (Score 1) 393

by Bryan Ischo (#46681205) Attached to: Why Are We Made of Matter?

I've been to alot of the world. I'm guessing you haven't, because if you had, you'd find that this is generally a universal invariant among humans.

Maybe not everyone is as thick (literally) as the average American, but they're gaining ground rapidly, because it's generally only through economic inability to be "thick" that they are. Make everyone as rich as Americans, and everyone becomes fat. Seriously.

And in terms of mental "thickness", well I can assure you, that's the same absolutely everywhere, already.

Comment: Re:Something From Nothing. (Score 1) 393

by Bryan Ischo (#46681199) Attached to: Why Are We Made of Matter?

On the other hand, keep in mind that any and all of these "surveys" showing people being dumb will keep going until they've managed to cherrypick enough dumb answers to make the casual observer believe that this represents the norm. Maybe they asked 500 astronomy grads and 5 of them were dumb, and those are the only 5 they showed. Since those kinds of articles/videos/exposees tend to be looking to titillate, not inform, it is entirely believable that it's all just cherrypicking for the purposes of supporting a false pretense.

Comment: Re:Matter-Antimatter Explosions (Score 1) 393

by Bryan Ischo (#46681119) Attached to: Why Are We Made of Matter?

I have to say, I get very confused by terminology used in physics discussions. I feel like words are borrowed from normal English usage that imply things about the models that are not being implied, and this causes me to conclude that there are illogical aspects to physics that probably aren't there.

In this case, the word is "expand" when applied to the universe. The concept of an "expanding" universe seems nonsensical to me, when expand is considered in its normal English meaning.

"Expand" means to grow larger in size over time. But the concept of "size" implies a relationship between two entities, that being existing win the same physical reality, both being measurable via the same means, and those measurements then being directly comparable, the one producing the larger measurement being called "larger".

The concept of "size", in other words, implies an unchanging, fixed coordinate system of measurement, applied equally to two objects whose size is to be compared.

And thus something can only "expand" relative to something else; that is to say, can only change its size relative to something else that can be measured and likewise has a size to be measured against.

Now of course the universe, by definition being "the entirety of measurable reality", cannot be measured. It *is* the coordinate system, in effect, and you can't measure the coordinate system. So the "size" of the universe cannot be measured, and even if it could, saying that it were "expanding" in the English sense of the word would imply that there was something *else* that it was expanding within; but that seems like nonsense.

And so I have to conclude that the concept of an "expanding universe" is just a very bad way to describe what's actually going on.

I have, by thinking about what kinds of meanings physicists may be trying to impart by using the term "expanding universe", and with my very rudimentary knowledge of the experimental evidence by which this idea of an "expanding universe" is based (i.e. red shift in all directions implying that everything is moving away from everything else, with things that are 'further away' redshifting more), concluded that the important fact is that "measured distances are becoming longer over time".

I realize that this last sentence itself is fraught with loaded terms; but I think that this way of describing things at least avoids the unfortunate implication that the word "expanding" has of there being things outside of the universe into which the universe is "expanding".

I feel like there's some kind of intrinsic connection between what we call 'distance' and what we call 'time', and that the speed of light is a fundamental connection between the two; like the speed of light is the constant that comes out of the aspects of reality at the boundaries where time and spatial dimensions are equivalent somehow. Almost kind of like how the number "Pi" is an artifact of the relationship between two dimensions (in which a curve can be described) and one dimension (in which a line can be described) when is expressed in the realm of symbolic thought (i.e. mathematics). So we have the speed of light which is in the same way the symbolic expression of a relationship between the dimension of time and the dimensions of space.

Anyway I'm getting off course here. The point is that physicists often use terms that make it difficult for me to ascertain the aspects of the model for which the term was really implied, and those aspects which are just baggage carried along by natural interpretations of the meaning of the term but that aren't actually mean to be part of the model.

I'll give another example: we've all heard about this concept of "curved space" that is used as a component of a theory of gravity. The term "curved space" to me seems to me to be an oxymoron: space cannot curve because space is the coordinate system; and the coordinate system does not curve; curves are things that can exist within coordinate systems, not features of the coordinate system itself.

Thus, space cannot curve. For those who propose that space does curve, the question becomes "into what does space curve? What is the reality in which one could ascertain that there is curvature to some region of space; being able to identify a curve implies that one could also identify a straight line and differentiate that straight line from a curve, which thus implies some kind of coordinate system in which these lines and curves are being described. But space *is* the coordinate system, and therefore it is nonsensical to say that it is curved.

Therefore physicists *must* mean to be saying something else when they say space is curved, but I can't really figure out what. I suspect that the term is useful where it matches the same aspects of what we call curvature as measured in a regular cartesian coordinate system; that somehow the measurements and math work out *as if* they were describing the curvature of 3d space in some higher order space, but that the reality is that to accept the model you have to accept that what it's really saying is that there are rules that apply *as if* space is curving, but that space actually isn't curving.

An example of where the concept of curved space and gravity falls down again is in the classic visualization of gravity as "a bowling ball on a rubber sheet"; in such a configuration, we would expect other balls to rotate around the bowling ball as they slide along the curved surface of the rubber. But that visualization of gravity *already assumes the concept of gravity, and that the rubber sheet would be positioned in a gravitational field such that the bowling ball and all other balls would exert a force down into the rubber sheet*. So this example completely falls flat for me for that reason. If your model already incorporates the thing you are modelling well ... I just can't imagine how that's supposed to be a useful model!

And so time and again, the way that physicists try to explain things leaves me feeling like there is some serious hand waving going on, and also that there is probably significant subtlety in the math and measurement that is run over roughshod by the language and models that are used to describe these things to the masses, myself included.

Comment: Re:Great news for (some) programming language fans (Score 1) 100

by Bryan Ischo (#46664769) Attached to: Microsoft To Allow Code Contributions To F#

Yes, that's what I'm saying, and it does make sense.

The whole point of alot of the features of these languages is that they allow eliding the structure and type information that makes code readable.

C doesn't allow you to elide type information or structure.

Yeah, it has shortcuts for some frequently used operations that can be abused, for sure. And it's certainly possible to write unmaintainable code in any language.

All I'm saying is that there is a crowed of language developers who seem to think that eliding details is the holy grail of language features. And the proof is usually how small and "elegant" something like Fibonacci can be implemented.

OCaML is the only language I have ever experienced where I was told by other developers that I cannot expect to understand the program by reading the code - I have to run it in a development environment where the IDE can tell me type information and other stuff not obvious from the source.

Comment: Re:Great news for (some) programming language fans (Score 2) 100

by Bryan Ischo (#46663929) Attached to: Microsoft To Allow Code Contributions To F#

There is a crowd of people who think that being able to write a Fibonacci function is fewer characters is the ultimate goal of computer languages. ML and its derivatives are basically this.

That's a pretty insulting statement, I know, but I've suffered through having to read through enough ML code in my day to know that it and its derivatives are not languages that encourage accessible code. They encourage a certain economy of expression that's actually antithetical to maintainable code.

That's my opinion anyway.

What is worth doing is worth the trouble of asking somebody to do.