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Comment Re:Photoshop, please! (Score 3) 117

If he can code, then coding obviously isn't very hard; politicians generally aren't the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree.

I never understood this passion for teaching people to code. Writing code is like drawing with crayons, language-wise. In fact, it's problem is that it is too simple, so simple that there are absolutely no ambiguities or shades of meaning. Normal language speakers have to train themselves to NOT think normally, in order to code well. It's like giving a painter 64 crayons and telling him or her to draw the Mona Lisa. Well, that's 3 strokes of Blue, 1 of Yellow, 2 of Green, 1 of Purple and a dash of Black, then Grey. There. That's the color of that shaded portion under her right thumb.

I've written two such "languages" of my own, and have learned about six more. I never found any of them particularly difficult. Programming is thinking. Thinking -- not coding -- is what's hard.

Comment Re:Geometry (Score 1) 397

I sat through the same, boring geometry class and HATED it. There was nothing to "solve", just memorize this recipe, and apply it to these problems. It couldn't have been less interesting. What use was a "proof"? What were you trying to prove, that you could memorize stuff?

Several years later, I came across Euclid in my college philosophy class, and suddenly geometry made sense -- as a logical system of thought. Precept followed precept, and the "proof" was to follow an unbroken line of logically sound statements that led you to a logically sound conclusion. It was a beautiful piece of work, absolutely brilliant.

Comment Re:Serves them right (Score 1) 101

As a long-time Cox customer, I hope they win this fight, but it may take more than a court case. There has to be some reasonable limits on take-down notices. You can't just send out literally millions of notices in huge batches, and expect the ISPs to just shut up while you flood their valued customers. You can't include legal threats and settlement proposals in your notices, your notice must FIRST be a request to remove the contested content. If we don't have these simple standards of reasonableness in place, our ISPs are just going to be conduits for shakedowns.

So, thank you, Cox, for once again showing everyone what an ethical ISP that cares about its customers acts like. Stay classy.

Comment It's still evolution, and it's still uninteresting (Score 1, Insightful) 90

From the interview:

Q. But where did that first bit of self-referential information come from?

A. We of course know that all life on Earth has enormous amounts of information that comes from evolution, which allows information to grow slowly. Before evolution, you couldn’t have this process. As a consequence, the first piece of information has to have arisen by chance.

I'm sorry, but this answer is nearly incomprehensible. Information "comes from" evolution, which then "allows" it to "grow", but before evolution, you couldn't have any information? That doesn't even make sense. And, before evolution the first "piece" of information rose by "chance"? What does that even mean?

He's still talking about evolution, which a dead-end theory when you're talking about the origins of life, because you can't "evolve" something that doesn't already exist. Duh.

Comment Re:Not a developer, but... (Score 2) 299

Actually, when you don't know the scope in advance, you need to FLIP the estimate into a maximum allowed effort. Ask the customer how much they are willing to spend on the problem for now, and then do all that you can for that amount and cycle back. When you report how much you did, you'll also know much better how much is left to do. Then you can make another ask.

Works every time.

Comment Not all signees are climate "scientists", exactly (Score 5, Interesting) 737

Edward Maibach, for example, is the Director of Climate Change Communication, and holds a BA in social psychology from University of California at San Diego, an MPH in health promotion from San Diego State University, and a PhD in communication research from Stanford University. He teaches how to talk about climate, but he doesn't study it.

Comment Pattern, repetition, variation, and regulation (Score 3, Interesting) 28

I was struck by the similarities in the shades of colors in the Color Brewer to the use of patterns, repeats, and variations in music. When you hear the same musical pattern repeated over and over, it sets up an expectation in the mind for that pattern to continue. In the Color Blender, choosing a range of mono-chromatic values for a single hue does exactly the same thing. Once we see the pattern of a single color changing value in regular perceptual steps (more on that in a moment), it sets up an expectation that this will continue. By mapping this expectation to a data series, it's easy to understand how that might highlight and enhance one's understanding of how the data is changing, too.

I have always hated the traditional color cubes for exactly the same reason as the professor: the units of control in the interface are wholly out of step with the units of perception. Move a little, and it is supposed to change just a little, but that is not what happens in a color cube!

Music has a similar problem, in that sound is not equally perceived across the range of possible combinations of vibrations. Early musicians invented "scales" of sounds, which are really just a sequence of sweet spots in these combinations that align with our own, internal "data" series -- the series of emotions and thought. When we hear a "sad" song, it literally makes us feel sad, the sound of sadness coincides so closely with the feeling. All of the sadness-inducing notes are collected together into a single, named collection called a "minor" key, something like a library from a programming perspective.

However, even with all the libraries of sound available, it was recognized very early on that the ranges are not mathematically perfect. Sound is composed by the summation of multiple vibrations, some of which cancel each other other, and others that emphasize each other. You have to "temper" the scales, that is, slightly tune them away from mathematical perfection, as you go up or down in pitch, in order for them to be equally perceived.

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