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Comment: Re:its why devs cringe. (Score 1) 155

by brantondaveperson (#47580049) Attached to: PHP Finally Getting a Formal Specification

The whole semantic-whitespace thing in Python is genius if you think about it. I mean, it's horrible - awful to use, makes a hash of copy&paste and makes emailing code around (which I guess is a bad idea but anyway) impossible. BUT, and this is the genius part, one of the endless will-never-be-settled arguments that programmers love to have is the one about indentation. If you build a position on this argument actually into the syntax of the language, then the language will always be part of the argument and thus will always be talked about. And thus always popular.

Prior to Python I would have thought that such an achievement would be impossible, but the genius of actually making *whitespace* part of the language definition pulled it off.

Genuis truly is the only word for it.

Comment: Re:Formal specifications are pretty useless for th (Score 1) 155

by brantondaveperson (#47580035) Attached to: PHP Finally Getting a Formal Specification

Doubtless true - but imagine how much better the world of practical day-to-day computing would be if we *could* prove compilers to be correct. I don't disagree that formal methods are more or less useless for real-world problems today, but does that mean that we shouldn't continue to investigate them? I hated my formal methods class when studying Computer Science at uni as much as the next guy (well, I guess some people probably enjoyed it), but unless there's some reason that such methods can never be applied to compiler-correctness-proof (halting problem kinda thing), then surely it's worth continuing to look into it?

Comment: Re:Thankfully those will be patched right in a jif (Score 1) 127

by brantondaveperson (#47569923) Attached to: Old Apache Code At Root of Android FakeID Mess

Well no, the excuse will be that google don't want to backport fixes from their 4.2 branch back to their 2.2 branch. And I can't blame them, such backporting is usually alot of work and everybody hates doing it. Plus of course there would be no direct revenue from the engineering effort, other than a certain amount of 'goodwill' (which can apparently be put down on the balance sheet, but that seems a bit nuts to me).

So there's two problems, one - the new Apps/OS won't fix on your device and two - no-one wants to backport the fixes to the old Apps/OS.

Result: Useless device that is not fit for the purpose that it was originally sold for. Does the US have 'not fit for purpose' laws? Perhaps you can return it?

Comment: Re:meh. (Score 3, Insightful) 285

by brantondaveperson (#47504697) Attached to: How One School District Handled Rolling Out 20,000 iPads

Not an argument pro or anti Apple per se, but standardising on a device means less time spent working out how to set up each device and worrying about app compatibility, and more time spent actually teaching. And a 'good' Android device that's robust enough to handle kids pugging in the USB charger (for instance...) isn't all that much cheaper than an iPad. In actual fact, I don't even know of one that's as solid as the iPad is.

Now, the role of eduction is the debate that's worth having here - Apple v.s Google is a distraction - is having these types of devices in schools a good thing? And if it is, exactly how ought it to be used? Hard questions - and ones that we're only now starting to look at. Ubiquitous tablet computing is very new - but it's not going away and we do need to teach our children how to use it well.

Comment: Re:Mission creep. (Score 1) 285

by brantondaveperson (#47504645) Attached to: How One School District Handled Rolling Out 20,000 iPads

It astonishes me that you appear to actually be serious. Yes, I can see people sending their kids to Home Depot so they can hide amongst the shelves and do their homework. Good plan.

And yes of course homework might involve the internet, just as once homework may very well once have involved looking something up in an encyclopaedia.

Comment: Re:AI is always "right around the corner". (Score 2) 564

"that can recognize your commands and search the internet for what you requested"

Unless you talk a little bit too fast, or don't have an American accent.

"or translate your statement into any of a dozen foreign languages"

Generally very badly, with no understanding of what you said and therefore isn't going to replace human translators anytime soon.

"has a camera that can recognize faces,"

Which is also quite a stretch, given how often it 'recognises' patches of lichen on a wall as a face.

"can connect to expert systems that can, for instance, diagnose diseases better than all but the very best doctors"

Really? First I've heard of this one. Citation needed I think.

"Oh, and your cellphone can also beat any grandmaster in the world at chess."

As above. And anyway, if the grandmaster followed the same instructions as the computer, it would win right back. Does that mean anything though?

Work expands to fill the time available. -- Cyril Northcote Parkinson, "The Economist", 1955

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