Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Interesting, but ... (Score 1) 150

by JanneM (#48607289) Attached to: Want To Influence the World? Map Reveals the Best Languages To Speak

Great idea! Now we all only need to agree on which language to standardize on. I'm sure that worldwide discussion will be calm, focused and productive. Please post the results here in the thread once it's been decided.

I suggest Swedish. It's just about equally well known by almost everybody in the world, so nobody is starting out with an unfair advantage. I get a lifetime gig teaching Swedish to everybody. And you get umlauts! Win-win.

Oh, and by "suggest" I of course mean "absolutely demand or I will refuse any part of this scheme".

Comment: Re:I use Unity. It's OK. (Score 1) 125

by JanneM (#48559313) Attached to: Unity 8 Will Bring 'Pure' Linux Experience To Mobile Devices

I pretty much agree. I'm an old-time Unix and Linux user, but Unity works pretty well for me. It mostly manages to get out of the way of my work - the single most important feature of any desktop - and things such as the single menu gives me vertical space for another line or two worth of visible code.

There are some real irritants. The window/app switcher has never gotten the distinction right (and I don't think it's possible), and the quick search misses things it should find. But these are smaller irritants on a desktop that does what it should do - be invisible unless I explicitly need any of it.

Comment: Re:So why no neural interface? (Score 2) 56

by JanneM (#48510649) Attached to: Stephen Hawking's New Speech System Is Free and Open-source

"we've got monkeys that have rapidly learned to control a robotic arm using only signals from a tiny cluster electrodes in their brain,"

"rapidly" and "control" are very much relative terms in this case. And note the "in their brain" - you need to implant an electrode array to get good, reliable signals. With monkeys you can do it to half a dozen animals and hope than one or two get a fully working implant. And the array has to be working for a few months or so. With a human patient you need to get it right every time, and the array has to be viable for a decade at the very least.

Comment: Re:Nice and all, but where's the beef? (Score 3, Funny) 127

by JanneM (#48395631) Attached to: US DOE Sets Sights On 300 Petaflop Supercomputer

How should one go about getting a job programming a large supercomputer?

Become a researcher in a field that makes use of lots of computing power, then specialize in the math modeling and simulation subfields. Surprisingly often it's quite easy to get time on a system if you apply as a post-doc or even a grad student. Becoming part of a research group that develops simulation tools for others to use can be an especially good way.

Or, get an advanced degree in numerical analysis or similar and get hired by a manufacturer or an organization that builds or runs supercomputers. On one hand that'd give you a much more permanent job, and you'd be mostly doing coding, not working on your research; on the other hand it's probably a lot harder to get.

But ultimately, why would you want this? They're not especially magical machines. Especially today, when they're usually Linux based, and the system developers do all they can to make it look and act like a regular Linux system.

If you want to experience what it's like, try this: Install a 4-5 year old version of Red Hat on a workstation. Install OpenMP and OpenMPI, and make sure all your code uses either or both. Install an oddball C/C++ compiler. Access your workstation only via SSH, not directly. And add a job queue system that will semi-randomly let your app run after anything from a few seconds to several hours.

Comment: Re:What *is* the hard work. (Score 1) 212

by JanneM (#48356221) Attached to: New Book Argues Automation Is Making Software Developers Less Capable

Once a task has been automated to the point that a reliable mass market tool is available to do the work for you, what possible reason can there still be to do it by hand any more?

Fair point. But one remaining reason to have done it yourself is to understand how the tool actually works behind the scenes. And that deeper understanding is generally what separates a master of the craft from dabblers.

Slightly different field, but, for instance, if you are doing any amount of real numerical programming, you really should have implemented a floating-point system as well as algorithms such as FFT, matrix factorization, numerical integration and the trigonomertic functions at least once.

You should of course not use any of your own implementations in production; that's a recipe for disaster. But having done it once, and understanding some of the underlaying theory and the challenges of implementation means you're much better equipped to use the high-quality library versions in an intelligent manner. You'll understand why functions such as expm1() actually exist and how to avoid the common numerical pitfalls.

The same really goes for tools in any other field. You might want to do it manually not to actually use your work but to better understand when and how to use the tool. Or, for that matter, realize when the situation calls for implementing a completely new tool.

Comment: Re:Nothing really new (Score 1) 720

by JanneM (#48232919) Attached to: Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

The Pitapa card in Kansai is connected to your account, and deducts money automatically every month. You can use it in convenience stores and vending machines around Osaka and Kansai. And in order to be compatible with Suica and other train passes, you can _also_ add money to the card; that's effectively a second, separate prepaid card. Convenient when you're travelling to Tokyo.

Comment: Re:One thing missing (Score 1) 56

by JanneM (#48228025) Attached to: Stem Cells Grown From Patient's Arm Used To Replace Retina

So is the answer "No" she cannot see? And where did you get the safety and viability quote from?

Japanese media reported about this earlier this year when they decided to try this and were looking for volunteer patients, as well as now when they want ahead with it. It was made very clear from the start that this was a procedure to test if the cells would survive and not cause any unwanted side effects.

Kind of the same as with the man who got some feeling back in his legs after a stem cell treatment in Poland the other day. They did not expect to see significant improvement (and the other three patients had much less or no effect at all), but just to confirm that it was possible and didn't make things worse.

Comment: Re:Nothing really new (Score 1) 720

by JanneM (#48228015) Attached to: Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

The streets are very safe, and cash is accepted everywhere. A credit card, on the other hand, needs approval, has a yearly cost, and adds a charge to each transaction. People do use cards here - most people pay public transport with a card, and you can use those on vending machines and the like too - but credit cards specifically haven't really caught on.

Comment: Nothing really new (Score 4, Interesting) 720

by JanneM (#48220707) Attached to: Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

Plenty of cheaper restaurants here in Japan - chain izakayas especially - have used terminals for ordering for years already. And while they certainly do it in part to reduce staff, the fact is that many customers like it. You don't have to flag down a waiter to place an order, and you can always see exactly what you've ordered, what dishes you've yet to receive and your current tab.

Also, the basic truth is that if your job can be automated, no wage level will compete with it in the long run. If you accept wage cuts to avoid being replaced by automation, you've only bought yourself a few years, and at a lower salary than you're worth at that.

Comment: Re:I believe the actual concern is... (Score 1) 95

by JanneM (#48216565) Attached to: German Publishers Capitulate, Let Google Post News Snippets

Newspaper articles are written so that all the most important information is set right at the beginning. That makes them faster and easier to read, especially if you want to skim through a lot of news. So yes, a snippet of the first paragraph or two most likely does contain most of the important information, because it's written with the readers in mind, not the advertisers or google bots.

Comment: Re:Huh (Score 1) 240

by JanneM (#48139917) Attached to: Fighting the Culture of 'Worse Is Better'

> This is why we are still waiting for Perl 6, if it ever gets released.

I suspect in the case of Perl 6 (and perhaps also for Python) it may have been better to give the language a new name, and allow even more radical changes. Keeping the name strongly signals that it's still the same language. Breaking compatibility is exactly what makes it a different one.

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming