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Comment: Re:Sad (Score 4, Interesting) 162

by dbc (#47532451) Attached to: Wikipedia Blocks 'Disruptive' Edits From US Congress

There used to be a time where you could politically disagree with some but still be great friends, or at the very least amicable colleagues. Nowadays, the other political side is just filled with inhuman enemies that need to be degraded and driven into oblivion.

Indeed. I recall when Hubert Humphrey retuned to the Senate floor after months of cancer treatment. He was terminal, in the last weeks of his life, but he found the energy to return one last time. Barry Goldwater, a man he had run against during a presidential election, a man who was always on the opposite side of any debate, crossed the aisle and embraced Humphrey in a bear hug that lasted a least two minutes, Senate decorum be damned. On national television. These two men, decade after decade, made the case for their beliefs, debated vigorously, but never lost each other's respect. Where has that gone?

Comment: Re:Is this an achievement? (Score 1) 47

by dbc (#47517915) Attached to: Autonomous Sea-Robot Survives Massive Typhoon

It is impressive. First off, most of the waveglider is on the surface. It has a passive submerged propusion unit on a cable. Secondly, it has a lot of sophisticated electronics and antennas in and on the surface unit. It survived a nasty test very, very well. Maybe the reason I am extremely impressed and you are not has to do with the fact that I actually build robots, and you don't have a clue about what it takes to build something that can live in an office for 6 months without breaking, much less on the ocean in a major storm. As we say in the local robot club when some newbie comes with a grand scheme of how to solve all of our challenges: "Talk is cheap. Show me your working robot."

Comment: My perennial comment on this topic (Score 1) 112

Whenever the topic of whether or not the source code to voting machines should be inspected, I always point here: and ask: 1) What do you think would happen to your slot machine if you told those guys you weren't going to show them your source code? and 2) Why not let these guys look at the voting machines, too. Seems like a transferable skill.

Comment: Re:Python for learning? Good choice. (Score 3, Insightful) 415

by dbc (#47410763) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

I only wish python didn't have semantic whitespace. That's it. Otherwise i like it just fine.

I'll disagree on that. We use white space to communicate our programs' block structure to other humans. Why should we use a different syntax to tell the compiler the same information? Computers should conform to the needs of humans. Full. Stop. Python eliminates that source of bugs and redundancy by having the compiler's view of the significance of what space match a human's view of significance of white space. Please join us in the 21st century. I'm old enough that I did undergrand homeworks with punch cards, and just missed being taught intro to programming using FORTRAN. One thing I've learned over the years is to recognize progress when I see it.

Comment: Re:What's old is new again. (Score 4, Interesting) 42

by dbc (#47346171) Attached to: On the Significance of Google's New Cardboard: An Idea Worth Recycling

Actually, you make me reflect on how advanced their code really was. I'm not sure where the code was from. It would process X-Ray scatter data, and plot stereo images of crystal structures showing lots of little pen-plotted circles for atoms. The 3D view was quite remarkable, although you only got one angle. Changing view angle required another plot. Considering Ivan Sutherland's line clipping algorithm dates from the 60's, the crystalography code was quite advanced for the time -- there was a lot of hidden line removal going on to render the atoms correctly.

The plots were really slow... but the plotter was mesmerizing. I used to watch it through the window while waiting for my homework to come back after handing the card deck across the counter. Now, pardon me while I find my walker, damn kids on the lawn again.....

Comment: What's old is new again. (Score 3, Interesting) 42

by dbc (#47345359) Attached to: On the Significance of Google's New Cardboard: An Idea Worth Recycling

I remember back in the 1970's, the X-Ray crystalography researchers at my university would burn up lots of compute time (on an IBM 360/65, 1 MIPS, 4 mega-bytes of core) computing stereo images that were rendered by writing a mag tape that was then taken to a CalComp pen plotter. Two images, about 8 x 8 inches, were plotted, and then they would lay them on a table and use an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of cardboard from a used-up paper tablet to make a baffle between their eyes.

Comment: Re:consent (Score 2) 130

by dbc (#47344913) Attached to: In 2012, Facebook Altered Content To Tweak Readers' Emotions

That's the first thing that popped into my mind. After having spent many hours over the past week helping my daughter do paperwork so that she could submit her extremely benign science fair project to the county science fair's institutional review board, I'm wondering how FB can get way with this? I guess that they can get away with it because no one will call them out on it, unless some victims file a lawsuit.

That's the modern world -- a 15 year old kid doing something demonstrably harmless has to do hours of paperwork to demonstrate a device to a dozen people, but a multi-national corporation can psychologically manipulate thousands of people with the intention to see if they can alter their mood with no oversight.

Comment: Re:Computer Science curriculum (Score 1) 293

by dbc (#47246097) Attached to: Average HS Student Given Little Chance of AP CS Success

My daughter just did it. It is a Java-based introductory programming class. Supposed to be equivalent to a first semester programming class. You need to be able to read and code basic Java classes, understand Java scoping rules, and basic iteration and vectors. The AP test uses a case study called "Bug World" which involves instances of different classes of bugs, rocks, and I think flowers (I might be mis-remembering) and as part of the AP class you become familiar with the corpus of code to get experience reading a larger program. On the AP exam, you are asked to extend and modify Bug World.

Every kid I have talked to about the CS AP exam found it dead easy and the class not very stimulating. I have a hard time seeing how the avarage high school student would have so much trouble with it.

Comment: Re:section 242: send them to jail (Score 1) 163

by dbc (#47237171) Attached to: Man Arrested For Parodying Mayor On Twitter Files Civil Rights Lawsuit

The Civil Rights Act of 1871 was signed by President Grant to deal with the Klan and others in the aftermath of the civil war. So, yeah, if the sheriff is at the front of the pack wearing a white sheet when somebody gets hanged for trying to vote, that might get the death penalty for the sheriff.

Comment: Let's hope its a section 1983 suit (Score 5, Interesting) 163

by dbc (#47234545) Attached to: Man Arrested For Parodying Mayor On Twitter Files Civil Rights Lawsuit

Section 1983 lawsuits for deprivation of civil rights under color of authority allows piercing the immunity of public officers and going after their personal assets. In this case, the mayor, and any of the police that participated. Their. Personal. Assets. Not the taxpayers.

I find you lack of faith in the forth dithturbing. - Darse ("Darth") Vader