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Comment: Re:"Rare talents"?! (Score 1) 556

by ZeroPly (#47423827) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
Here's your thorough list:

1. Take a 101 class to learn how to use a computer and the web.
2. Download a beginner's guide on how to program in Python.

That's it. I started programming with Pascal and C in the 80's. We didn't spend 90% of our time worshipping the goddess of great readable self-maintaining agile code, we just wrote code. I used C++ in the 90's. Nowadays I use Python for scripting, and program in Haskell for fun. On a complexity scale, if understanding the Hodge Conjecture is a 10/10, Haskell might be a 2/10, and every other language is a 1/10. We literally have a class for 12 year olds to show them how to build Android apps.

Now, programmers are about the most predictable people on the planet, so your next step will be to claim that my list is not sufficient to be a GREAT programmer. But I'd like to remind you about your phrase "at its core". Resist the temptation to move the goalposts.

Comment: Re:"Rare talents"?! (Score 0) 556

by ZeroPly (#47415279) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
My two year requirement would be for someone who is intending to become a professional programmer. That mirrors other trade skills such as plumbing and carpentry. It is simply unnecessary for a computer programmer to have a 4 year degree like a computer scientist has. As far as amateurs, the barrier to entry for programming is far less than for working with electricity. Which requires more training - writing an Apple Store app, or safely changing out the breaker box in your basement?

Programmers point to a handful of elite systems programmers to aggrandize their field. Programming is a trade skill, it is not engineering. And we don't need everyone on the planet to be able to write code, any more than we need everyone to be able to replace the toilet in their bathroom.

Comment: "Rare talents"?! (Score 4, Insightful) 556

by ZeroPly (#47414817) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
Those are jobs that involve a vanishingly small percentage of the general population. Programming is not. I couldn't stop laughing after reading this gem - "programming has become an elite: a vocation requiring rare talents, grueling training, and total dedication."

Does this egotistical idiot actually believe that?

Programming is not something that requires grueling training or rare talents. Algebraic topology, cardiothoracic surgery, and competitive chess require those. If you're writing code that requires elite skills, you're doing it wrong - no one is going to be able to understand it, and you will never be able to troubleshoot it. Someone with an IQ of 100 can become a perfectly competent Java or C++ programmer with two years of intensive training. Programming is more akin to a trade skill like plumbing or electrical work, than it is to engineering. And before everyone gets on my case that being a top 1% programmer is incredibly difficult, the same holds for a top 1% electrician.

Comment: Re:Management is becoming obsolete (Score 1) 159

by ZeroPly (#47400187) Attached to: The AI Boss That Deploys Hong Kong's Subway Engineers
You are conflating management with leadership. Expert systems can handle a lot of the logistics, but they can't determine that Billy Bob had a rough 4th of July weekend, and it would be best to have him do his paperwork today instead of working on the electrical junction box that has water damage.

Comment: Re:Thanks for pointing out the "briefly" part. (Score 1) 461

by ZeroPly (#47318775) Attached to: Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly
Apples and oranges. Silicon is cheap, so there's no incentive to switch. If rare earth elements become a problem, and solar is well developed at that point, other technologies will come in to take their place. Rare earth elements are not theoretically necessary to generate adequate power. If Germany can generate this much power from solar, it's pants-on-head stupid for people in Arizona to say that nuclear is better.

Comment: Re:Thanks for pointing out the "briefly" part. (Score 1) 461

by ZeroPly (#47318513) Attached to: Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly
Oxford has already managed to get zinc working in place of indium, and there's a lot of research on technologies that don't use rare earth. Progress on solar is coming at a much greater rate than in fission.

It makes more sense to bet on breakthroughs in solar than in nuclear. Any startup can get into solar energy relatively easily. Nuclear on the other hand has a high barrier to entry. And you always have the Fukushima factor - do you really want a 20TWh reactor in the middle of Africa?

Comment: Re:Thanks for pointing out the "briefly" part. (Score 1) 461

by ZeroPly (#47317793) Attached to: Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly
Climate change has a simple solution - reduce the number of people on the planet by 50%. This is something that we can do in two generations if we wanted. The "lot of people" you mention are very careful to avoid any mention of population control, which is why I tend to not take them very seriously.

Comment: Re:Thanks for pointing out the "briefly" part. (Score 1) 461

by ZeroPly (#47316271) Attached to: Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly
Yes, but those "great leaps" have always been on the horizon - since I was in in high school and Reagan was president, and much earlier. If we get cold fusion, everything will change. If we get the next generation of batteries, everything will change. If we get motors that use 80% less energy, everything will change. If we can use nanotechnology to build better fuel cells, everything will change.

We can't count on the future.

We need to work with what we have right now, and yes, it will be painful. Germany is dipping a foot into that very uncomfortable swimming pool, and yes, it will mean higher prices, worse service, and so on. But it is unlikely that technology will allow us to indefinitely continue the lifestyle we have right now. Consider that at this instant, I can walk away from this computer, go to the gas station, buy a few 10 gallon jugs, fill them with gasoline, and drive across the country without depending on any refueling stops. It will be a long time before there is ANY green technology that can give me that level of speed and independence.

Comment: Re:Thanks for pointing out the "briefly" part. (Score 2, Insightful) 461

by ZeroPly (#47315915) Attached to: Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly
We have more than enough people telling us how difficult things are and how we shouldn't try - yours is just another voice in that cacophony.

What we need are people who tell us how to make it work. Nuclear plants might be necessary for a very long time, but they should be secondary to renewable sources.

Comment: Re:Possible... (Score 1) 208

by ZeroPly (#47281685) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Bequeath Sensitive Information?
The idea is to separate the five, so that it would be impractical for all five to know each other or to break your trust. So for example, your dentist that you've gone to for 20 years, your lawyer, a trusted coworker, your wife, and your brother in China.

Of course, the 3 and 5 are not magic numbers. You could make it 12 out of 13 if you're really paranoid. You could make it 5 out of 25 if you want very low possibility of your data being lost (for example a large earthquake).

This is the theory that Jack built. This is the flaw that lay in the theory that Jack built. This is the palpable verbal haze that hid the flaw that lay in...

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