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Comment: Depends how you define intelligence (Score 1) 428

What exactly is intelligence?

At one level, it is the ability to process input, digest it, and generate useful output. In that sense, we have created intelligent machines long ago.

Bug at another level, the level of "awareness" or "consciousness" we aren't even close.

On one point I agree with the author: machines aren't about to take over the world. People might do awful things with the machines they create, but it is still people who tell the machines what to do.

Comment: Unbiased? (Score 1) 249

by Tony Isaac (#48442655) Attached to: Doubling Saturated Fat In Diet Does Not Increase It In Blood

I Googled Jeff Volek, the author of the study, and immediately noticed that he is all over the Nutrition Express site, which sells nutritional supplements. He also features prominently at True Health Unlimited, a commercial personal trining company.

Good nutrition and personal fitness are good things...but all this commercial involvement makes me wonder just how unbiased Mr. Volek really is.

Comment: Better support than they have for Web? (Score 4, Insightful) 192

by Tony Isaac (#48395543) Attached to: Visual Studio 2015 Supports CLANG and Android (Emulator Included)

Microsoft is better at creating IDEs than just about anybody else for desktop applications. But when it comes to Web development. It was only the last version or two when they finally stopped creating mismatched HTML tags, and the Web page designer is still so unusable that you have to hand-code HTML / JavaScript for anything non-trivial. Maybe these problems have to do with Microsoft not owning the Web platform.

I hope they do a better job with Android. I really want them to do better, because I really hate Eclipse and Java!

Comment: Computers will never replace understanding (Score 1) 212

by Tony Isaac (#48357047) Attached to: New Book Argues Automation Is Making Software Developers Less Capable

Remember Crystal Reports? This was a tool that came out in 1991, that was supposed to make it possible for ANYONE to create their own business reports. No programming know-how needed. Remember?

For the past three years, I ran a team that created customized Crystal Reports for customers...because they couldn't figure out how to create them for themselves. It wasn't so much that the tool was hard to use, but more that the customers had only a foggy idea of what they wanted their reports to show.

For example, a doctor's office would call saying "I want a report that shows a list of patients who haven't had a mammogram in the last two years." Sounds easy enough. Then we would start asking questions: Do you want only active patients, or all? Do you want only those within a given date or age range? What patient information do you want in the report? Do you need totals or counts? Then, after we delivered the first draft, there would always be changes: "Yes, I like this, but can you change this filter or that column?" They needed to have experts guide them to a report that made sense for them.

Yes, software is getting better, but it will never replace the need for understanding.

Comment: Re:This just proves... (Score 5, Insightful) 173

by Tony Isaac (#48342005) Attached to: Codecademy's ReSkillUSA: Gestation Period For New Developers Is 3 Months

I am both a programmer and a plumber, and I can tell you that plumbing isn't as bug-free as you make it out to be. For example, if you stuff too many potato peels down your garbage disposal too quickly, your sink will back up, requiring you to take apart the drain plumbing to get all the peels out. I know, I've had to do this in multiple houses. That's the equivalent of a page crashing when you put in bad data. If you put food down the disposal at a rate it can handle, it will work fine, and if you put reasonably good data into a given Web page, it usually works.

There is an entire industry devoted to fixing "bugs" in plumbing, from drain cleaners to root-removal services. How many bathroom sinks have drain stoppers that don't quite hold the water in the sink? How many shower drains get clogged? How many old pipes leak due to corrosion?

Yes, programming is a trade, like plumbing and electrical work. And like the other trades, programmers have to often fix issues due to problems that either weren't anticipated during construction. In my view, programmers in general don't create code that is particularly more shoddy than craftsmen of any other trade. With each trade, there is a trade-off between quality and cost.

Comment: This just proves... (Score 1) 173

by Tony Isaac (#48341749) Attached to: Codecademy's ReSkillUSA: Gestation Period For New Developers Is 3 Months

that schools don't teach coding. Schools might give people with coding talent a jump start, but as with art, you either get it or you don't.

"Learning the skills" just means that you can type in some lines of code, and make it do something. That's a far cry from learning what it takes to create quality software.

When all else fails, read the instructions.

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