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Comment: Anglocentric false premises (Score 1) 578

by divec (#48729881) Attached to: What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?
The article is based on three huge false premises: 1. That languages become simpler as they're spread by adult learners. This is false because the simplifications (say, loss of Old English case endings) trigger new complexities (in this instance, new word order rules). 2. That tonal languages are especially hard for learners. Actually, many features of English are equally hard if your language doesn't have them: consonant clusters, tenses, stress timing etc. 3. That Mandarin cannot dominate because Chinese characters are too hard. But Pinyin romanization (i.e. Latin letters) is simple, easy, and known by native speakers and learners alike. so it could be that Chinese written in Pinyin comes to dominate outside China.

Comment: England != UK && England != Britain (Score 1) 649

by divec (#47267607) Attached to: Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools
UK = England + Scotland + Wales + Northern Ireland. The central government only controls education policy for England, not for the rest of the UK. State-funded schools in Scotland and Wales were never permitted to teach creationism. I don't know the situation in Northern Ireland but it may be different.

Comment: TFA is confuses Hong Kong with Mainland China (Score 2) 75

by divec (#45659931) Attached to: Google Opens Asian Data Centers But Shuns China and India

A data centre in Hong Kong would have been a turnaround for Google, since it very publicly pulled out of the country after attacks on Gmail which it blamed on the Chinese government in 2010.

This is incorrect -- Google pulled out of Mainland China, not Hong Kong. The author seems unaware, but Hong Kong has different laws from the Mainland, including data privacy and free speech. In fact, since Google pulled out of mainland China, actually shows a redirect link to .

Comment: Not Nazi, just German (Score 4, Interesting) 180

by divec (#45359241) Attached to: French Court Orders Google To Block Pictures of Ex-F1 Chief Mosley
A central reason that Mosley won the original privacy case in the High Court in London is that the judge rejected News Group Newspapers' claim that it was a "Nazi" scenario because they were speaking German (see paragraph 72 of the judgment). The judge found that there was no reason to think the orgy was Nazi-themed, and therefore there was no public interest to justify the privacy violation.

Comment: Unicode (Score 0) 598

by divec (#45067459) Attached to: What Are the Genuinely Useful Ideas In Programming?
should be more widely understood than it is. Even English-only programmers need to know enough to avoid security holes. You can't normally be sure you're writing safe software unless you know a little about Unicode. In this sense, it's like structured programming, and unlike most other things on the original list.

Comment: This is literally idle speculation ... (Score 1) 1

by divec (#45054197) Attached to: Could IBM's Watson Put Google in Jeopardy?
... because the article gives no evidence or reasoning to explain how Watson could scale up to become a general search engine. Watson as seen on Jeopardy used Jeopardy-specific analysis rules and an info base of a few hundred gigabytes. It's just not the same thing as a general-purpose internet search engine.

Comment: iOS does not support Cantonese! (Score 2, Informative) 327

by divec (#44404991) Attached to: Tim Cook May Not Know Why, But Samsung Is Winning in China

Here's a big hint for Tim: on iOS, you can't write a custom keyboard. On Android you can. This is a really big deal in Hong Kong, because iOS has no support for Cantonese-based Chinese input. The best you can do is a kludgy app where you have to copy and paste the result (see

Therefore, the Cantonese user is hamstrung by Apple's lack of support for the Cantonese-speaking market, together with their locked-down approach which prevents third party developers from filling the hole.

Compare this with the situation on Android, where there are at least five Cantonese-based keyboard input methods, together with Cantonese voice recognition. Why is it surprising if Hong Kongers find iOS seriously deficient?

Comment: Genuine case; but cheap publicity too (Score 1) 442

by divec (#44006471) Attached to: Birthday Song's Copyright Leads To a Lawsuit For the Ages
This seems to be an interesting example of a court case being fought for the publicity it generates. It's surely cheaper to file this suit than to advertise his film in conventional ways. However unlike cases such as SCO v. IBM, the litigant probably believes he would win the case if it came to trial. The newsworthiness of the suit lies in the audacity of the defendants in aggressively asserting the copyright in the first place.

Comment: High % of Amazon nodes == security weakness? (Score 1) 78

by divec (#43894243) Attached to: Disposable VPN: Tor Gateways With EC2 Free Tiers

The essence of Tor is that your message passes through multiple nodes (say 3), none of which knows your message's origin and destination (and indeed content). But this breaks down if all the nodes are controlled by the same sysadmin.

Surely if we end up with a high proportion of nodes on Amazon, then some communications will be routed entirely between Amazon nodes. Then this breaks the anonymity model, allowing the secret policeman to log (or subpoena) the user's traffic.

Comment: Perl 6 (Score 1) 110

by divec (#43562219) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Do You Assess the Status of an Open Source Project?
On a not unrelated note, what's the general view of the current state of Perl 6? I can look at for the view of those close to the project, but what's the word on the street? I think "word on the street" is a really important metric as to how well a project is doing. Trends are a major determiner of which product potential new users will find. Rather like bank runs: it can be irrational to trigger one but nevertheless rational to follow one.

Comment: Re:Idiot. (Score 1) 633

by divec (#42649021) Attached to: Student Expelled From Montreal College For Finding "Sloppy Coding"
"You're an idiot. You signed something under threat of prison / arrest without bothering to consult a lawyer. No amount of mention of poverty, trust, or even just plain intimidation should have made you do such a thing without first consulting a lawyer." Hmmm, threatening to go to the police if someone doesn't sign a contract. I'm pretty sure that would constitute blackmail in the UK under the Theft Act (making aan unwarranted demand with menaces), which is a serious offence with a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment; see Anyone know what the law on blackmail is in his jurisdiction?

Wherever you go...There you are. - Buckaroo Banzai