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Comment: What is your goal? (Score 1) 298

by Yaztromo (#49728085) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Skills Do HS Students Need To Know Now?

What is the goal of this program? "Tech skills" covers a whole lot of ground, from office-drone skills to systems administration skills to web layout to SEO-type skills to basic Internet use to actual Computer Science.

Knowing what your goals are for your students certainly influences the answers your going to get. Do you just want them to have basic Internet fluency? Do you want to prep them for typical (non technical) office jobs? Becoming digital publishers? Setting up networks? Creating their own robots? Writing programs?

Answering this question is really your first step. Figure out which goals you feel are important to your students based on their own personal goals, and work from there. The rest should fall our pretty naturally.


Comment: Re:.txt (Score 2) 200

by Yaztromo (#49694613) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Is the Best Open Document Format?

And yet I use a multitude of text editors and have scripts that can handle UTF-8 text files with a BOM just fine. Your programs and scripts are broken if they can't.

Or they're legacy tools. There are a large number of such tools out there that do various jobs, where having an unnecessary BOM is a liability.

If you're compiling for some legacy embedded hardware, for example, I have little doubt that its compiler would choke on BOM characters, and you may not have access to the source to fix it. And just because YOU don't need or use such tools hardly means that nobody out there does.


Comment: Re:.txt (Score 4, Insightful) 200

by Yaztromo (#49693087) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Is the Best Open Document Format?

It's not a garbage character. It's a BOM and it's part of the Unicode standard. If your scripts and text editors can't read the BOM in 2015 then they are the things that are horribly broken.

This is one of those sticky situations. For UTF-8, the Unicode standard discourages the use of a BOM, unless you're converting from a different Unicode format that requires a BOM. The whole purpose of a BOM is to describe the byte order used to generate the file data, however UTF-8 data is broken up into 8-bit code units, and thus endianness doesn't play a role. You simply read the stream one byte at a time.

Indeed, using a BOM is discouraged (by both the Unicode standard and the IETF) precisely because it breaks backward compatibility with ASCII text processors. Unfortunately, Microsoft seems intent on adding an unnecessary (and, in the case of UTF-8, badly named) BOM to virtually every UTF-8 file created on their platform. This is done to make it easier for them to detect the encoding; however there are reliable, published heuristics which do the same job without the need for the BOM. That's what every other platform in existence does to detect UTF-8 streams. Microsoft's BOM use is purely to make their processing easier, even if it means that it breaks backward compatibility with older tools.

Thus, you are technically both correct. It's technically not a garbage character at the beginning of the stream, however it is unnecessary, and contrary to the way every other OS on the planet handles the situation.

(I've run into this more than once in my professional life, dealing with people who are supposed to be technically minded who use Windows Notepad to try to figure out what encoding a file is using. I've had them come back claiming my files weren't UTF-8 because Notepad claimed they were 'ANSI' (never mind that there is no character encoding standard called 'ANSI' in the first place). I've had to explain to more than one person that standard ASCII is valid UTF-8, even going so far as to providing them chapter and verse of the Unicode specs to prove that what Notepad says shouldn't be treated as gospel.)


Comment: Re: News for nerds (Score 2) 850

by Yaztromo (#49686105) Attached to: Religious Affiliation Shrinking In the US

I am atheist and while I am pro-nuclear power, pro-vaccine,and believe in global warming I am very much against GMO foods. I against them though because if the transfer of power they represent, not about the food itself. No study has ever shown GMO corn is any less or more healthy than natural corn. GMO foods shift power from the people and the farmer to the chemical company.

Unfortunately, you're conflating a few things that don't necessarily belong together.

Genetic modification to make plants herbicide resistant is only one form of genetic modification. And I can't disagree -- the way that Monsanto has gone after farmers, and pretty much "owns" agriculture is disgusting.

At the same time, there are a lot of other genetic modifications in food that have nothing to do with selling chemicals. You can't tell me that you're also against Golden Rice? They have a whole lot of studies which show that their rice is more healthy than the regular kind in areas that a) consume a lot of rice, and b) where there are various micronutrient deficiencies, such as Vitamin A (the deficiency of which can be a cause of blindness in children. More than 2 million people a year die from Vitamin A deficiency).

There is a lot of good that GMOs can do for this world, particularly in parts of the world with various dietary nutrient deficiencies. GMO doesn't necessarily imply "engineered to be herbicide resistant". As another poster said, your problem seems to be more with business practices and abuse of the legal system (and, I'd add, a political system hat allows these transgressions to occur) surrounding certain types of GMOs. But why lump in those that can actually help people in vulnerable populations lead healthy, productive lives?


Comment: Re:Unlikely (Score 1) 270

by Yaztromo (#49678855) Attached to: Swift Vs. Objective-C: Why the Future Favors Swift

What interests me is how far up shit creek will a developer be if he/she realises that they need a C/C++/ObjC library for his Swift application?

Not far up at all. Swift and Objective-C can easily call each other (Using Swift with Cocoa and Objective-C). This isn't particularly difficult, as in Objective-C you can use very easy reflection against classes to do fancy things like key-value coding, grab methods by name, etc.

Swift also has full C access support, with specialized types to map to standard C types. I'm not sure about C++, however it should be easy to add an Objective-C++ wrapper around it if there isn't some other way to do it (hopefully someone who has worked in Swift can jump in here -- I'm just looking at Swift right now, and haven't done any actual work in it yet).


Comment: Re:Who actually believes this stuff? (Score 1) 1097

by Yaztromo (#49616141) Attached to: Two Gunman Killed Outside "Draw the Prophet" Event In Texas

If you set up an event specifically designed to insult/offend/antagonise a particular religion, you're always going to get a response like this from someone.

Please stop spouting nonsense...

Yeah, like those times when the Orange Order held their parades in Northern Ireland, celebrating victory in a battle over 300 years ago, where everyone had cake and ice cream went home with balloons.

No, wait, that's not right -- according to this for over 100 years people have been killed, seriously injured, homes and cars have been set ablaze, and bombs have been thrown around like footballs. In 1998, three brothers between the ages of 8 and 10 were murdered when their house burned to the ground from a thrown firebomb.

That was between two Christian groups and was over a parade.


Comment: Re:Looks like the prophet's gunmen (Score 1) 1097

by Yaztromo (#49615621) Attached to: Two Gunman Killed Outside "Draw the Prophet" Event In Texas

When Christians show up with guns blazing, or hiding suicide bombs, or anything like that, then you might have something.

What, like The Troubles (aka The Northern Ireland Conflict)?

Let's see -- sectarian violence between two Christian groups (Catholics and Protestants) who were divided on purely religious grounds, that lasted for at least 30 years, with over 3500 confirmed dead and over 47 000 wounded. Where in one year alone, there were over 1300 bombings (including suitcase bombs and car bombs in populated areas).

And while it somewhat "officially" ended in 1998, there have been over 100 deaths since that time.

So let's tally it up somewhat -- Christians showing up with guns blazing? Check. Christians hiding bombs? Check. Looks like I have something!

Either you're 12 years old and don't remember how Christian-on-Christian sectarian violence in Northern Ireland was a near daily news item, you're being deliberately obtuse, or you're a complete moron. I'll leave you to decide which one.


Comment: Re:A first: We should follow Germany's lead (Score 2) 700

by Yaztromo (#49478755) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

So, what exactly is our threshold for saying "sure, your wacky religion can have tax exempt status"? Because my "Church of the Big Titties" could definitely use some tax free status if we're just handing it out like that, that way we can have more "Sacraments of the Holy Wet T-Shirt" while imbibing "The Blessed Beer".

Hmm. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.


Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 626

So, I've known a few people who were learning Esperanto on this premise ... but, seriously, who the hell do you think is interested in replacing the English language? Do you think Esperanto has stormed the world yet?

Let's face it -- the very vast majority of people on this planet really aren't all that interested in learning any language other than the one they were brought up with.

Esperanto suffers from the same challenge every other language in the world suffers from: the need to memorize a massive vocabulary to be proficient. There really isn't any way around it either -- as humans, we like to categorize and name things, and there is no naming of anything that can be considered universal.

This is what has always tripped me up in the world of spoken languages. While I have some proficiency in four languages, I've always been hampered by the need to memorize the words themselves for all but the language I was raised in (English). Esperanto was my third language, and while the grammatical rules are easy, and the language encoding of grammar makes many things very obvious, you still have to memorize the vocabulary. Rote memorization unfortunately isn't my forte, and the vocabulary size need to be useful in a language is always my stalling point.


Comment: Re:Hmm (Score 1) 1168

Hitler and Nazi Germany were opposed to religion.

I have many more than just one quote. Hitler refers to the Christian God and Jesus many times in his various speeches; at one point the Nazis even tried to setup their own church. There were attempts to evict those Christian sects that were felt to be insufficiently Germanic, but the Nazis in general were a Christian group.

A more telling quote from historian Richard Steigmann-Gall is more telling:

"What we suppose Nazism must surely have been about usually tells us as much about contemporary societies as about the past purportedly under review. The insistence that Nazism was an anti-Christian movement has been one of the most enduring truisms of the past fifty years.... Exploring the possibility that many Nazis regarded themselves as Christian would have decisively undermined the myths of the Cold War and the regeneration of the German nation ... Nearly all Western societies retain a sense of Christian identity to this day.... That Nazism as the world-historical metaphor for human evil and wickedness should in some way have been related to Christianity can therefore be regarded by many only as unthinkable."

The Nazis used the writings of Martin Luther in particular to support their beliefs; the party even held mass celebrations in support of his 450th birthday.

Also inarguable is the fact that 95+% of Nazis were brought up in Christian households with Christian values. None of which apparently did anything to stop them from perpetrating the worst injustices of the modern age.

I'd be careful using Wikipedia as a reference here. There are unfortunately many writings both for and against Hitler's belief or disbelief in 'God'; however the Nazi regime was much bigger than just Hitler. And as Mr. Steigmann-Gall alludes to in the above quote, many historians and writers since the end of WWII have tried to paint Hitler as being non-Christian, as they are unable to conceive how a Christian person could commit such atrocities, in "No True Scotsman" fashion. Regardless, Hitler wasn't brought up as an Atheist with modern Humanist values, and he certainly wasn't opposed to religion -- at the very least, everyone can pretty much agree that he was more than happy to use it as a useful tool in advancing his agenda.


Comment: Re:Hmm (Score 1) 1168

Yes religions opens wrong kinds of doors. Adolf Hitler was apposed to religion and killed about 11 Million people in the process. Then you had the SS doing their weird cult like practices.

Nazi Germany was not opposed to religion -- they were very specifically Christian. Hitler himself said: "We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity ... in fact our movement is Christian.". 94% of the German population at the time of the war were Christians, as was the bulk of the Nazi party members.

Indeed, the SS specifically did not permit atheists in their ranks; the SS Oath went like so:

What is your oath?
– I vow to you, Adolf Hitler, as Führer and chancellor of the German Reich loyalty and bravery. I vow to you and to the leaders that you set for me, absolute allegiance until death. So help me God !
So you believe in a God?
– Yes, I believe in a Lord God.
What do you think about a man who does not believe in a God?
– I think he is overbearing, megalomaniacal, and foolish; he is not one of us.

Hitler wasn't opposed to religion -- like many despots, he was opposed to potential political threats against his interests. There is a significant difference between the two.


Comment: Re:Gonna be like the ipod (Score 1) 87

by Yaztromo (#49297573) Attached to: Apple Reportedly Working On an Online TV Service

The USB player I had at the time that the iPod came out was way easier to use. The player I had you could plug into any computer and simply copy a file.

Which is fine if you want to listen to one song. But most people prefer to listen to multiple songs.

So you've been using your media player for a while, full of music, and you decide you want to change what you're listening to. You can't just sync in a new playlist like you can on the iPod -- you wind up having to manually delete the songs you don't want in there, make sure the directory structure is correct, and then move in all of the songs you want to add.

And hope that you only ever want to organize or select songs based on album, or perhaps artist. You don't easily have the option of selecting songs off your hard drive by genre, or perhaps by decade, unless you've pre-organized your music in this manner (in which case, adding songs by album or artist is probably going to be impossible, unless you've manually maintained some huge directory full of symbolic links to organize your music along multiple vectors simultaneously). Again, doing this is ridiculously simple on the iPod, but it's a chore on media players that just present themselves as a mass-storage device. You wind up doing all the things that a computer is good at handling by hand.

And that's fine if you like that. Some people like chores. I know some people who love sweeping their floors. I'll stick to my Roomba. There are tasks that machines are simply better at than humans are, and if you like to do those things yourself, more power to you. I'm not trying to put down your choice of device, but don't fool yourself into thinking that it's easier than plug-and-play synchronization (and if you had to "go through all kinds of options to sync" an iPod, you were doing it wrong).

Again, this is one big reason why the masses flocked to the iPod. For most people, dragging music around in a UI to load up their device is boring busywork that wastes their time. The iPod only ever asked them to plug it in, wait, and go.


Comment: Re:Gonna be like the ipod (Score 1) 87

by Yaztromo (#49285713) Attached to: Apple Reportedly Working On an Online TV Service

The trouble for Apple today is none of this new stuff they are doing (iWatch, iTV etc) has anything near the wow factor anymore.

I can agree with that, although in a somewhat qualified manner. Apple has always been pretty open that the Apple TV is more of a hobby device for them. It shows, especially outside the US where the app/"channel" support is pretty pathetic. Here in Canada, it's really only useful for Netflix and iTunes content (I bought one for my parents a few years ago after the last video rental shop in their town closed; my father, who is virtually computer-illiterate, loves it for renting movies). I own a lot of Apple gear (although not exclusively), but have avoided the Apple TV as other that Airplay, I can't figure out what I'd use it for (we already have three devices in our entertaining centre that can play Netflix).

I think for the watch we'll need to wait and see. I feel it could still go either way. It could be the next iPhone 1 (remember how the original iPhone had no app store, and the push was for HTML5/Javascript based apps?) and bring in enough early adopters to kick off a critical mass of users and innovation on Apple's part, or it could be the next Apple TV (a nifty device that most people don't really need or know what to do with).

But you're right -- neither have much of an immediate "wow" factor. The only devices they seem to be somewhat hitting with "wow" is with their new laptops -- I do find it pretty hard not to be impressed by the latest MacBook, and look forward to getting my hands on one in a store to check it out. That, however, is a different market than their consumer electronics like the iPhone, and isn't going to drive the same sort of uptake as the iPod and iPhone did.


Where there's a will, there's an Inheritance Tax.