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Comment: Re:Awesome (Score 1) 611

by dhasenan (#47139037) Attached to: Which desktop environment do you like the best?

I use XMonad. On occasion, I use overlapping windows. Tiling window managers make tiling the default. They make it easy to work with tiled layouts. They don't necessarily forbid working with overlapping windows, though since that's not a focus, they sometimes don't support it as well as non-tiling window managers.

Similarly, I seem to recall old versions of Windows allowing you to tile all open windows. (I may be wrong about this; my memory is poor.) You'd have to redo this every time you opened a new window, and it didn't offer advanced layouts, but you could at least tile several windows together. This wasn't terribly useful at the time because you only had a 1024x768 display and no virtual desktops.

Today, Windows gives you easy ways to specify that a window should take up the left or right half of the screen. This is a simplified version of tiling that works reasonably well when you don't have virtual desktops and is easy for people to learn.

There's a whole spectrum available. Everyone gets what they want.

Comment: Re:Girls taking shop class (Score 1) 325

by dhasenan (#46014801) Attached to: The Whole Story Behind Low AP CS Exam Stats

Similar reasons. Media discourages women from doing anything unladylike. Women internalize this. If one highschool girl tries to defect, the girls surrounding her will helpfully step in to enforce these rules. Unfortunately, there's little chance for a normal highschool student to avoid problematic people.

When in shop class with two girls and twenty boys, the two girls will feel quite out of place -- we're told constantly that gender is one of the core parts of our identity, and they have relatively few allies on that front in the classroom. This is true even if the boys there are all don't make an issue of gender, as befitting any human.

Then, for those who want to get a career in something tech-oriented, they need to get into the relevant guild. If those guilds have a strong reputation of gender discrimination, that will serve as a disincentive to people to start the initial training in that line of work.

Comment: Re:Do all schools even offer CS classes? (Score 1) 325

by dhasenan (#46014535) Attached to: The Whole Story Behind Low AP CS Exam Stats

Let's see. I can take a class that's entirely optional. I know I'm likely to be picked on. I have no one there similar to me on an axis that I am constantly told is all-important, so I will feel out of place. Other people who seem more like me eschew that course and will make me feel as if I am abnormal and therefore bad even when I'm not at that class.

Whereas if I am passionate about the subject, I can learn on my own, online, where nobody can discern many personal details about me, nobody who can pester me (constantly in myriad ways, where I can't escape) about my decisions and pastimes, and the biggest downsides are not being able to skip a 3-credit college course and not having anyone to answer questions in person. Guess I'll have to go to IRC and pastebin and Google and Stack Overflow instead.

You expect me not to factor that into my decision...why?

Comment: Re:Alarming? (Score 2) 325

by dhasenan (#46014365) Attached to: The Whole Story Behind Low AP CS Exam Stats

Trace it back to each dropoff point.

Is the percentage of female senior software engineers appreciably smaller than the percentage of female software engineers? That's a red flag for discrimination.

Is the percentage of recently graduated female software engineers appreciably smaller than the percentage of female CS students? That's a red flag for discrimination.

Is the percentage of female CS graduates appreciably smaller than the percentage of incoming female CS freshmen? That's a red flag for discrimination.

None of it is absolute proof of discrimination, but it's enough evidence to investigate. Discrimination can take a number of forms -- maybe your high school had a CS class, and the teacher and the guidance counselor were both solid feminists, but they weren't able to enforce a non-hostile environment for women. Or maybe inertia is at play, and if there were two or three solid years with at least 30% female representation in that class it would self-perpetuate. Or maybe there are more general media and marketing forces at work telling women and girls that they cannot be nerdy and cannot be interested in computers, that they are broken and wrong without a husband and that having these skills will prevent them from getting one, that they must focus on family and not on a career, that they will end up being homemakers for half a decade or more so they shouldn't bother getting a high-skill job or worry about education overmuch.

Just saying "people are different -- who cares?" hides these problems.

Comment: Failure on Subsurface devs' part (Score 1) 282

by dhasenan (#45979527) Attached to: Intel Dev: GTK's Biggest Problem, and What Qt Does Better

The Subsurface developers failed to accomplish things that are common in many GTK+ applications. I'm not sure if that means the various GTK+ language bindings are a lot better than the native C library or what, but it looks like the main benefit of switching to QT was a forced rewrite of the UI.

In-place editing? Not that hard.

The ratings stars? Banshee has it. So does Rhythmbox.

Native look-and-feel is a valid complaint. If GTK+ used the native file dialogs in Windows and OSX, that would help a lot. Adding default themes for those platforms that better mimic native controls (and such themes exist) would also help.

Granted, that says nothing about the community, but from a technical perspective, that talk was worthless.

Comment: Re:Secure safe. (Score 1) 381

by dhasenan (#45906837) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Protect Your Passwords From Amnesia?

You give one friend a piece of paper that says "XOR the bitstrings and interpret as UTF-32". You give three friends randomly generated bitstrings of the appropriate length. You give the fourth friend the password XOR'd with each of those random bitstrings.

Or you just write down your master password and put it in your safe and a deposit box at your bank.

Comment: Re:Pay the debt (Score 2) 497

It's "danegeld". Geld (also gild) means tax or fine; for instance, a weregild is a fine paid for having murdered someone ("were-" meaning "man"). The danegeld was a more efficient and universally better alternative to Viking raids -- the Vikings would extort money from a town in exchange for not attacking. This meant they assumed less risk, and the town had fewer casualties and kept more of their possessions.

This works out fine for towns that can't hope to fight off the Vikings. For towns that can reliably fight off the Vikings, they can refuse to pay, which leads to battle; eventually the Vikings will learn to concentrate on other towns because it's safer.

Comment: Re:Unplug. (Score 2) 319

by dhasenan (#45506609) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Do You Protect Your Privacy These Days? Or Do You?

You live two lives. One is an ordinary, boring life that you don't mind the NSA finding out about. The other is as secretive as possible. No using credit cards. Nothing that requires ID. No flying, no buying alcohol.

One obvious problem with this is withdrawing cash. You have your public life, and the NSA sees you going to an ATM and grabbing $450, then it sees a transaction for $447 with an unknown person -- that's evidence linking your private identity to your public one. This is ameliorated if your public identity has a habit of withdrawing extra cash and a means of disposing of extra cash in a publicly acceptable way, like giving it to beggars, but it's still present. If your private identity has an income, though, and that income is sufficient for its expenses, then you can have wholly separate finances for both, which severs that link entirely.

A weaker link is one of location over time. Let's say the NSA can plot your public identity's location over time using things like bus pass usage, credit cards, phone calls, and security cameras with facial recognition, and they can plot your private identity's location over time using phone calls and security cameras. Eventually they'll realize that your private and public identities are occasionally colocated, or that whenever your public identity is in use your private has gone dark and vice versa.

Of course, that only matters if it's worse for you if the NSA has linked your public and private lives than if they merely have the ability to detain you during the course of your private affairs.

Comment: Neurological circuitry? (Score 1) 251

by dhasenan (#45060277) Attached to: The Human Brain Project Kicks Off

What could you do with computers that functioned like standard x86 family computers with attached fast, parallel floating point processors like modern GPUs? You could invent new forms of industrial machinery, create fully autonomous thinking cars, devise new kinds of home appliances.

Whereas if we have processors modeled on human brains -- well, let's just say I don't want to be the one to write real-time algorithms targeted toward a billion networked processors each running at 100Hz.

Comment: 4GB of RAM? (Score 2) 512

by dhasenan (#44848207) Attached to: Why Apple Went 64-Bit With the iPhone 5s

32-bit x86 processors can address more than 4GB of RAM. The ARM specification allows for 40-bit PAE, which should support up to a terabyte of RAM. So we could get an iOS device with a 32-bit ARM processor that has 8GB of RAM; that's not an issue.

Each process will only be able to see 4GB of RAM, but right now, iOS apps get killed after using more than 256MB of RAM or so. The policy seems to be that each application can use about a quarter of the machine's RAM, so if they're keeping that trend and want a device with 16GB of RAM, they'll want a 64-bit processor, but I think that's a ways off.

"I'm not a god, I was misquoted." -- Lister, Red Dwarf

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