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Comment: Re:And what good would it do? (Score 1) 441

by david_thornley (#49381329) Attached to: Why the Final Moments Inside a Cockpit Are Heard But Not Seen

Also, people hide depression and other mental illnesses. There's little advantage in having people know of your depression, and lots of potential problems. I got turned down for life insurance once because I have been treated for depression. (If I hadn't gotten treatment, I would have gotten the insurance, and would have likely been suicidal from untreated depression.) If you try to remove depressives from the cockpit, you'll have untreated depressives in the cockpit.

FWIW, depression has been around for a long, long time (it used to be called melancholia). I don't think it's a disease of civilization.

Comment: Re:No one ever got fired for buying IBM (Score 1) 198

by david_thornley (#49380081) Attached to: Why You Should Choose Boring Technology

COBOL is an excellent language for certain big dumb projects. (I really don't want to do COBOL, but that's partly because I really don't want to work on that kind of project.) Moving such a project to Java has a nonzero chance of making it more expensive to run a less capable and much less reliable system intended to do the same thing. (This particular statement has been empirically verified.)

Comment: Re:Absolutely (Score 1) 198

by david_thornley (#49380053) Attached to: Why You Should Choose Boring Technology

There's no model of management of planning that can't be screwed up. If the CIO is gung-ho to put new technologies on his or her resume, to the detriment of other things the company needs more, that sucks for the company and the people who work there. It doesn't mean that throwing more and more resources at the CIO is the right thing to do (although it seems to be a fairly common practice).

Comment: Re:Absolutely (Score 1) 198

by david_thornley (#49380023) Attached to: Why You Should Choose Boring Technology

I understood it as saying that most shops have limited facilities to support new stuff that isn't really predictable, and so it's important to know when to be boring and when to be innovative.

If you're running production on software you don't really understand, it's going to take a lot of work and commitment, and people are going to get called in at very inconvenient times. This is fine when there's real advantages to be had to offset all the extra costs, but most shops simply can't do this for many different things, so getting too innovative will cost too much and put too much stress on the staff. The idea of "innovation tokens" is one way of explaining this.

Therefore, it isn't a matter of not moving from Exchange because of an arbitrary limit on innovation tokens, it's a matter of not moving from exchange because your best people are fully committed to supporting bleeding-edge software. (BTW, why move from Exchange? Like most Microsoft software, it does a good enough job for most things, and people are used to it. What's so much better than Exchange that it's worth changing, and why?)

Comment: Re:A Corollary for Code (Score 1) 198

by david_thornley (#49379891) Attached to: Why You Should Choose Boring Technology

What I really hate is people asking how to do certain apparently stupid things without explaining why they can't do things the normal way. In my Stack Overflow experience, many of those people are really asking something stupid, and if they'd just tell us what they're trying to do we could come up with a good way to do what they really want. If they'd just say they have a measured performance problem, or they need something slightly different, they'd get a good answer pretty fast.

Comment: Re:A Corollary for Code (Score 1) 198

by david_thornley (#49379845) Attached to: Why You Should Choose Boring Technology

Back when dmr was designing C, the variety of computers and CPUs was much greater than we have today. Given arithmetic, some CPUs would raise some sort of exception or fault, some would wrap, and very possibly some just returned (perhaps unpredictable) garbage of some sort. For C to be usable as he intended, there had to be a way to reliably compile some form of arithmetic to efficient machine code, and if dmr specified some particular result any compiler for a CPU that didn't act as he said would have to do expensive range checking for normal arithmetic. (Unsigned arithmetic was well defined, and presumably had to be emulated on some CPUs.) Hence, signed arithmetic overflow was undefined.

Personally, I think implementation-defined would have been a better choice, but that might have caused problems on some odd CPUs that returned unpredictable garbage. Nowadays, almost all computers just wrap on arithmetic overflow, so it's a real surprise to find it's undefined.

Comment: Re:More... (Score 1) 198

by david_thornley (#49379609) Attached to: Why You Should Choose Boring Technology

Modern languages have much less need for "goto" than the languages back when Dijkstra wrote that letter, meaning that any use is more likely to be part of something that simply shouldn't be done. Modern languages also concern themselves more with blocks and variable lifetimes and initializations, which unstructured "goto"s work badly with. Also, modern compilers rely much more than before on being able to suss out the control flow, which non-structured use of "goto" messes up. I'd say that there's more reason not to use it than there was back then.

Do you have examples or a real technical basis for favoring "goto" nowadays?

Comment: Re:This is interesting.... (Score 1) 573

For every article I can find, you can find a dissenting one: maybe. For every scientific paper I can find that argues for or accepts AGW, you're not going to find a dissenting scientific paper. The scientific consensus is overwhelmingly that AGW is happening and is dangerous, and that's always the way to bet.

I don't know what triggered the low fat craze, but most of the diet crazes I've seen haven't been based in science, at most sensationalized accounts of a few studies. People pushing diets have never been slow to talk about scientific backing, whether it existed or not. There were a lot of "Mayo Clinic" diets, none of them actually associated with the clinic. Eventually, the Mayo did put out a diet book, and it was rather general, trying to help the reader come up with a good diet.

Comment: Re:Hasn't been involved with Greenpeace since 1985 (Score 1) 573

Having lived through some of this time period, you're wrong. (Well, the 1960s on; it's irrelevant now what party stances before 1900 were.)

First, what's the difference between the parties switching spectrum and the parties changing their stances? There were a lot of conservative southern Democrats in those days, and southern Democrat Johnson was instrumental in pushing civil rights, accepting losing much of the South to Republicans. Civil rights was a primarily Democrat position, and those opposed tended to join the Republicans. Obviously this says nothing about any individual Democrat or Republican, but on the whole the Democrats pushed it and the Republicans dragged their heels.

In the 60s, pretty much everybody was opposed to Communism. The Vietnam War radicalized a lot of people, who reasoned that (a) we shouldn't be involved in Vietnam, and so (b) the North Vietnamese were partly the Good Guys, and (c) Communism really wasn't that bad. It wasn't good reasoning, but the revulsion to the Vietnam War did a lot of unfortunate things. (I consider this largely LBJ's fault.) You're misinterpreting Reagan's role here.

Communism never was the threat it was presented as, and the US allowed its actions to be controlled far too much by opposition to Communism. For example, the US in this period destabilized and overthrew democratic governments because they looked socialist and were talking to Moscow (if the US is strongly against you, who the hell do you talk to?), often replacing them with brutal right-wing dictatorships. Communism was indeed that bad, but the US tended to lump in socialism and simply being left-wing with Communism, and made up what fictions it needed to say that brutal right-wing dictatorships were better than Communist governments.

I've never been sure how many movements moved to Communism just because they were anti-American, and the only source of help for anti-Americans was the overrated Communist bloc (Red China and the Soviet Union were never buddies).

Comment: Re:Surprisingly badly written article (Score 1) 143

by david_thornley (#49323613) Attached to: Excess Time Indoors May Explain Rising Myopia Rates

Actually, I've got an increased risk of retinal detachment, although my ophthalmologists never mentioned increased risk of cataracts or glaucoma. I function normally with rather thick glasses, and would find it very difficult to function without them. No big deal, really, but it annoys me now and then.

Committees have become so important nowadays that subcommittees have to be appointed to do the work.