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Comment: Re:Paper Forms (Score 1) 385

by pavon (#46757313) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

Same here. I tried TurboTax one year and it didn't save me any money, didn't really save me any time, and had annoying DRM. You have to research what you can deduct on your own anyway in advance anyway so you can preserve documentation throughout the year, and that is the time consuming part. So paying money just to have software fill out and submit the form doesn't seem worth it for me.

Comment: Re:ftfy r.e. idioms... (Score 1) 373

by PatMouser (#46595517) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Do You Consider Elegant Code?

He's no longer with us thanks to his horrible attitude. It was all about coding in job security and being perceived as some sort of guru, complete with the dribbling out just enough information to keep you guessing.

Upon being presented with the coding style guidelines and team best practices, his response was "we do things differently, I'm not going to change how I code."

That should have been a red flag.

As for Java, I could be so lucky... :)

Comment: Re:ftfy r.e. idioms... (Score 1) 373

by PatMouser (#46586217) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Do You Consider Elegant Code?

All valid points, but I still say that one scans better than the other, and at 3 AM that becomes an issue. Especially when I get woken up by one of our lower tier folks who is trying to figure out why it doesn't work, asking me to decipher it for him. Turns out the issue was that he failed to check whether the open had succeeded. It didn't. So I added the croak and did some more repairs, with a rewrite for legibility's sake coming up.

This guy never met an array or hash that he didn't turn into a reference just for gits and shiggles. Seriously. Every single damned one. I don't think I ever saw a native @ or % in his code (except for @_).

Comment: Re:Duff's Device (Score 1) 373

by PatMouser (#46583767) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Do You Consider Elegant Code?

Oh so this!

I have had to tell cow-orkers to knock that crap off. They've got the job, and from this point on the only thing that will impress us is code that can be maintained by anyone else on the team, even if they have not set eyes on it in years.

Programmer did:

my $something = [];
open my $filehandle, '<', $filename or croak "Can't read file";
push @$something, <$filehandle>;
close $filehandle;

How about:

open(my $filehandle, '<', $filename) or croak "Can't read file";
my @something = <$filehandle>;

Much more succinct, gets rid of a pointless use of an array reference (seriously, it was used as an array in that function only, never passed around or returned), and at the end of the day, is far more readable.

Comment: Re:Name five other anglo-saxon medievalists of the (Score 3, Insightful) 94

The translation of a literary work can be purely scholarly or purely artistic, but usually it is a mix of both. Given Tolkien's mastery of both worlds, and the fact that his love of Beowulf went far beyond linguistic and historical study, it is pretty clear that his translation will be of broad literary interest, not just scholarly.

Comment: Re:Why Attend? (Score 2) 295

by pavon (#46499325) Attached to: Federal Student Aid Requirements At For-Profit Colleges Overhauled

Where I live the community colleges are inexpensive, but do not have flexible class times for working people, and most of the tracks that have good job prospects have 2-5 year waiting lists. So many students choose to rack up the debt at TVI, PMI, UoP, where they can start immediately and continue a full-time job.

The problems at our CC are mostly because they can't attract enough instructors. The community college pays them half of what of what they would make working in the field or teaching at a for-profit college, and are horribly mismanaged. In the electronics department, I frequently heard the instructors compain about pressures to dumb things down to pass more students. The place where I work has started to favor techs from TVI & DeVry because the quality of students from the CC has decreased. When my wife was doing her nursing degree, the department head would be constantly changing things (like room locations, curiculum dates, rules about how to evaluate students, etc) literally the night before class, so the instructors could never be prepared for class. Many people are willing to take a pay cut to do something that they enjoy more, or work under a horrible boss if the pay is good, but very few are willing to do both.

Comment: Nothing at all like regulating them. (Score 1) 132

by pavon (#46468907) Attached to: US Court Freezes Assets of Mt. Gox CEO

It would be a delicious irony if people were able to recover some of their lost value due to government regulations.

You mean like what would have happened if they were regulated like a real bank?

This has nothing to do with applying banking regulations to Mt Gox. It is about applying laws about fraud and theft. The difference is that regulations put a burden on innocent and guilty alike but potentially prevent problems before they occur, whereas laws simply attempt to punish the guilty and compensate the victims after the fact. If people do in fact recover any money as a result of this, it won't be particularly ironic since libertarians fully support laws on fraud, just not banking regulations, and complete federal control of currency.

Comment: Donald Knuth also doesn't have Email (Score 4, Insightful) 299

Okay, the cybersecurity negotiator ignorance is bad, the rest less so.

I have been a happy man ever since January 1, 1990, when I no longer had an email address. I'd used email since about 1975, and it seems to me that 15 years of email is plenty for one lifetime.

Email is a wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be on the bottom of things. What I do takes long hours of studying and uninterruptible concentration. I try to learn certain areas of computer science exhaustively; then I try to digest that knowledge into a form that is accessible to people who don't have time for such study.
        - Donald Knuth

The role of Supreme Court Justice is also "to be on the bottom of things". It is possible to understand enough about email to make good judgements about it without using it on a daily basis. The justices have to make weekly about subjects which they have absolutely no interaction with in their normal day-to-day life. From technical to finance to agriculture, no one can possibly be an expert on all the issues they hear. It is their job to constantly learn enough about a subject to know what is important from a legal and constitutional point of view. If they are failing to do this, then that is a legitimate complaint. The fact that they weren't familiar with "common knowledge" technologies before encountering them in court, or haven't chosen to incorporate them into their life isn't.

Comment: Eagerly awaiting ickle benchmarks (Score 4, Interesting) 46

by pavon (#46428601) Attached to: Glamor, X11's OpenGL-Based 2D Acceleration Driver, Is Becoming Useful

The cairo-ickle blog has maintained very interesting benchmarks of the different cairo rendering backends. The short story is that every hardware accelered backend except for sandybridge SNA has performed worse than the software implementation. And in some cases the hardware acceleration is significantly less stable. I'm curious to see if this finally pushes Glamor over the hump and makes it faster than the software path.

Comment: Re:Yes and No (Score 1) 860

by pavon (#46410241) Attached to: Microsoft's Attempt To Convert Users From Windows XP Backfires

XP is over 12 years old, that's one hell of a *free* long term support package.

How long it has been since a company sold a product to their first customer is irrelevant. What matters is how long it has been since they sold the product to me. Microsoft stopped retail and OEM sales of XP in June 2008, which was shortly after Vista SP1 was released and most if it's problems had been fixed, and a bit more than a year before Windows 7 was released. Those customers got just shy of 6 years of support, which is still pretty darn good. In comparison, Ubuntu offers 3 years of support for an LTS release after it's replacement comes out, and OS X tends to be about the same. However, those both offer free or cheap upgrades so a shorter support cycle is at least somewhat justified.

For corporate customers, the support provided by a RedHat subscription is entirely comparable. No moderately sized company can get away with using OEM/retail licenses of Windows/Office; they all pay some sort of subscription to MS. RHEL 5 will be supported for just over 6 years after RHEL 6 came out. RHEL 2-4 were each supported for 5 to 5.5 years after their successor. Both MS and RH have extended support for critical security bugs beyond that, but both cost extra money. Recent Solaris releases are as good or better (depending which support phases you consider comparable).

So for corporate users, XP's support duration was reasonable and in line with the rest of the industry. For consumers it was much better for people who have to stick with older OSes for compatibility, and hard to compare once you start considering free upgrades (is an OS X point release comparable to a windows SP release or an OS release, etc).

Comment: You don't have to (Score 4, Insightful) 216

by pavon (#46372189) Attached to: Wolfram Language Demo Impresses

The way this is setup isn't that that you code everything in natural language, rather it is just a shortcut to look up the correct formal language. Instead of searching/browsing documentation looking up the exact names of the functions you want and how to chain them, you just type what you want in natural language. If it interpreted you correctly, then great it saved you several minutes, and now you know the real syntax to use in the future. If not, well you only lost a couple seconds.

The idea of mixing natural language like this isn't so weird; the first step that most programmers would take in looking up documentation when they don't even know the name of the library the functionality is located in is to perform a natural language search on web browser, and then go from there. This just takes it one step further and streamlines the process, which is perfect for a interactive language.

Comment: Re:Troll (Score 4, Insightful) 794

by pavon (#46371531) Attached to: Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience

Homeopathy is not silly; it is a lie. If you sell it, you're lying to people. So it matters that Whole Foods sells it, as it casts doubt on their grasp of science, which indicates their "healthly" foods are just marketing to the credulous.

Products in regular supermarkets are also filled with lies, and both have products that better than the other in some way or the other. Solution: make your own decision rather than expecting a corporation to base their decisions on science rather than on what sells best.

Comment: Re:Bad news for Wolfram alpha (Score 4, Informative) 54

by pavon (#46334005) Attached to: Copyright Ruling On Publishing Calculated Results: Common Sense Breaks Out

I just did some queries and the only copyright statement I see is the standard one at the bottom of their page. They do have a legitimate copyright on their pages, including the layout, design and the content which they created. That notice doesn't necissarily imply that they claim to own the facts that are being displayed. In fact, they frequently provide citations for those facts, which implies that they don't claim to own them.

It's later than you think, the joint Russian-American space mission has already begun.