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Comment: Re:another language shoved down your throat (Score 1) 411

by Xtifr (#47434707) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

In your non-Python language of choice, how do you tell the difference between an error in indentation and an error in marking the beginning and ending of blocks?

Difference? There is no difference! I don't indent! I mark the beginning and end of blocks, and the code is automatically indented to match. I can, with some difficulty, defeat this mechanism, but I can't think of any reason why I'd want to.

Comment: Re: another language shoved down your throat (Score 1) 411

by Xtifr (#47434575) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

You're free to dislike the way Python handles blocks and white space.

Thank you. Not that I needed your permission, but I shall indeed continue to consider it an idiotic design.

But if it actually substantially affects your productivity, you're simply not a very good programmer, because it's not a big deal in practice.

Agreed. However the fact that it doesn't noticably harm my productivity doesn't mean it's a good feature.

In any case, we're discussing its potential use as a teaching language here, and people who are just starting to learn to program are, pretty much by definition, not good programers. So its impact on not-good-programmers is still very relevant.

Comment: Re:Well out running the police ... (Score 1) 385

by Xtifr (#47434449) Attached to: The First Person Ever To Die In a Tesla Is a Guy Who Stole One

Except there are people who survived crashes at much higher speeds.

There are people who have survived jumping out of "perfectly good" airplanes without a functioning parachute. Doesn't mean you should take up skydiving-without-a-parachute as a hobby. :)

There's a reason cases like you mention make the news: surviving a crash at those speeds is an impressive and newsworthy feat. (The reason this case made the news was not the fact that the driver died, but the fact that a Tesla was involved. Otherwise, it seems like a pretty unremarkable story.)

Richard Hammond of Top Gear UK fame survived a crash at 288 mph

And I bet he was buckled in. Remaining in the vehicle during a high-speed crash greatly increases your chances of survival. Exiting a vehicle at 100+ mph is generally contraindicated! (Tip for future reference.) ;)

Comment: Re:another language shoved down your throat (Score 4, Insightful) 411

by Xtifr (#47411369) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

Have you ever been fooled by incorrect indentation that didn't compile the way it looked?

Nope. My editor takes care of indentation for me, in every common language except Python, and when I have to deal with a batch of code written by someone else, I run it through indent(1) first. So, in fact, it's just the opposite: when the indentation doesn't match what I expect, I know there's an actual problem in the code!

With Python, on the other hand, I'm actually more likely to have an error in the indenting, because there's no easy way to see how many blocks I'm terminating when I outdent by an arbitrary amount. Which is a real PITA when you're refactoring.

Of course, things may be different if you're using crappy tools. But professionals shouldn't be using crappy tools.

Brackets, begin..end, and semicolons are crutches for compiler writers not programmers.

No, they're tools to make my job easier. Whatever the historical reason for them may be, they benefit the programmer! They make me more productive.

Now, I'll grant that Python is a remarkably good language despite its horrible flaw of relying on indentation. And many of its good features also make me more productive. But that doesn't mean that relying on the indentation isn't a horrible flaw.

Comment: Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (Score 1) 76

by Xtifr (#47209453) Attached to: Moon Swirls May Inspire Revolution In the Science of Deflector Shields

If the answer is humans need a full gee, then we might as well just resign ourselves to limiting our trips into the solar system to quick jaunts and robotic explorers.

Disagree. Large-scale habitats/SPS/O'Neill Colonies have always been the best option. No huge gravity wells to deal with, since rotation provides your G's, and, while they are extraordinarily expensive, they cost nothing compared to a full-scale terraforming effort, and can provide a shirt-sleeve environment in basically no time flat. The one remaining big knock on them was the issue of radiation shielding, and now, that may be solved.

Comment: None of the options fit, exactly (Score 1) 216

by Xtifr (#47006449) Attached to: Who controls the HVAC at work?

I do know, but nobody's complaining. I only know because one time, when a guy changed desks, he complained that it was too cold at his new location, and the building maintenance guy came up and tweaked his vent, which fixed the problem, and since then, nobody else has complained.

Which doesn't really leave me with anything to chose on this poll, but oh well. Par for the course. :)

Comment: Re:Git can be seen as his more important contribut (Score 1) 141

by Xtifr (#46916033) Attached to: Linus Torvalds Receives IEEE Computer Pioneer Award

non-distributed version control systems seem so much simpler

I find quite the opposite. The simplest case is one user, and a "distributed" VCS is clearly the easiest option in that case--no central repository needed, no environment variables to set, or separate paths to worry about. Just say "init", and you're off and running. (At least with Mercurial or Git, the two DVCSes I have experience with.)

With more than one user, it's slightly more complicated, but not enough to worry about. It all boils down to the distinction between "save this change" and "share my changes with my co-workers". Having those as separate commands really isn't that confusing, and once you're used to it (which should not take long), you'll have a hard time remembering how you lived without it! And that really is the entire difference, fundamentally, between distributed and non-distributed VCSes.

(Most of the things that are great about Git are unrelated to the distributed/non-distributed aspect, or at best tangential to it. For me, the big wins of either Git or Mercurial over, say, Subversion, are how much better/faster/easier/more powerful branching is, which doesn't really have to do with being distributed or not, and how much faster the whole thing is, overall, without all those network round-trips, which does.)

I started out somewhat skeptical, like you, but after my first pilot project, using Mercurial, I was a complete convert! YMMV but it Works For Me(tm)! :)

Comment: Re:What kind of idiot? (Score 1) 62

by Xtifr (#46911793) Attached to: VHS-Era Privacy Law Still Causing Headaches For Streaming Video

That's because TFS is the usual slashdot idiocy, and TFA is simply bad reporting. This report tells quite a different story:

"As Judge Beeler explains, companies can choose not only whether to include the Like button in the first place, but also to specify what information the button should relay to Facebook through cookies. In the case of Hulu, the presence of the button conveyed not only basic browser information, but also details about the user’s “watch page” — a personal page that every Hulu user has."


"The judge noted that the information transfer was not restricted to occasions when a Hulu user “Liked” a video, but rather every time a user watched a video."

So yeah, I'd say it sounds like a lot more than I'd expect was being shared.

Comment: Re:Um. (Score 1) 62

by Xtifr (#46911777) Attached to: VHS-Era Privacy Law Still Causing Headaches For Streaming Video

A Facebook "like" button is different than a local-to-the-site "like" button. It only works if you have a FB account, and uses the clearly recognizable FB logo. Anyone who uses FB recognizes the button, and expects it to work the same on all sorts of different sites.

The apparent problem here (according to what I've heard) is that the FB "like" button on Hulu didn't just share your like of the movie with your FB friends; it shared your entire viewing history! If that's actually true, then I definitely have to side with the plaintiff on this one. That's not what anyone would normally expect. But if it just shared the fact that he like that movie, then it's exactly what he should have expected, and he should lose the case big time!

Comment: Re:Rights and Wrongs of good code. (Score 1) 304

by Xtifr (#46762437) Attached to: OpenBSD Team Cleaning Up OpenSSL

Your friend is ignorant. Goto is a powerful-but-dangerous tool that should be used with extreme caution, if at all. However, to say that it's the mark of a bad programmer is insanely ignorant. It is often the mark of a bad programmer, but it can also be the mark of an exceptionally good one. The key is in knowing when you use it and when not to.

If your friend thinks he's a better programmer than Donald Knuth, then he's almost certainly suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect. If he hasn't read Knuth's "Structured Programming with Gotos" (a direct response to Wirth's original "Goto Considered Harmful" paper), then he's not qualified to opine on the subject.

That said, probably 90% of the time (if not more), your friend will be correct. In the last over-a-decade, I've used goto once. And that lone case was after nearly a dozen attempts to find a way to around it that wasn't worse. I don't like gotos, and feel a little dirty that I ended up using it even that once. (If I'd been working in C++ or Java or Python, I would have used an exception, but I was writing in C.) A goto usually makes your code more difficult to read, and more fragile, and you should never use one unless you can prove the alternatives are worse. Which probably takes a lot more expertise than it sounds like you currently have, so avoiding them completely is probably the best plan for now. For you.

Comment: Re:Changes in current knowledge (Score 1) 99

by Xtifr (#46711145) Attached to: LHCb Confirms Existence of Exotic Hadrons

what is the consequence of this discovery?

Some idle speculation has finally been confirmed.

Will existing theories be changed (or validated)?

Not really. There was no particular reason to think this was impossible. We just didn't have any evidence it was possible.

Any complications to other theories?

Not to any useful theories. Theories like the Electric Universe have one more thing added to the list of things they can't explain, but that's no surprise. :)

Prof: So the American government went to IBM to come up with a data encryption standard and they came up with ... Student: EBCDIC!"