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Comment Re:Nail everyone? (Score 1) 618

This analysis of The Office suggests that high-level execs "setup" low-level employees to get the outcome they want while dodging responsibility for it. To illustrate, he uses the example of sending Michael to investigate Prince Paper (which Michael does by pretending to be a customer and asking for references):

On the surface, this is a routine request to do some above-board competitive analysis. But by dangling the carrot of a better job and carefully refraining from specifying how the end is to be achieved (using abstractions like “fact-finding” and “fieldwork”), Wallace knows he can get Michael to do what he really wants done: industrial espionage. He engineers execution of his real intention (obtaining an unfair and illegal advantage over Prince Paper) using a predictable “failure” pattern in the execution of his declared intention (honest competition). He knows Michael can be relied on to try foul means, while letting him pretend that he only expected fair means to be used.

The whole series is an interesting read if you're an Office fan.

Comment Re:It's pointers all the way down, jake ! (Score 1) 262

The other thing about GC is that it solves the resource deallocation problem for memory only.

That's like saying that the "walking on land" (instead of swimming 10 meters below the surface with SCUBA equipment) solves the resource problem for air only... not food or heat or shelter. Hey buddy... air is your most constant, immediate resource; you need it to do the smallest of things. Solving the air problem by walking on land frees up lots mental energy to focus on those other problems.

If you really need the speed or fine-grained memory control, then sure, use C++. But it's illogical to reject GC for solving "only" 95% of resource/corruption/security problems. Every programming effort--from building a new language to coding a DBMS to designing a website to creating a line-of-business desktop application--is ultimately an attempt to reduce complexity for someone [except maybe game programming, where you're artificially creating complexity for the user!]. GC is one of the biggest wins in the history of computer science, almost up there with concepts like subroutines and version control.

Comment Re:What instead of an exception? (Score 1) 262

That's why checked exceptions are silly. Java assumed you want to handle exceptions close to where they happen (and bad programmers do, returning null values or zeros or whatever that cause further bugs and hide the origin of the real problem).

No, 99% of the time, if method foo() calls method bar() and method bar() can't do its job properly, then method foo() also fails to do its job properly. Just cleanup/rollback if necessary and let that exception unwind the stack where a thread-level exception handler can log it and take appropriate compensating action (restarting a job loop, showing the user an error message, exiting the process, or whatever).

C# gets it right, especially with adding using() blocks and letting you attach contextual data to the exception as you unwind. D takes it a step further and lets you add scope(exit) blocks. Rust, alas, eschews exceptions and will always be plagued by panic-prone code (you think real-world programmers are going to diligently inspect each Option/Result instead of unwrap()ing it?).

Exceptions are powerful tool for writing concise, reliable code. Too bad C++ gave them a bad name.

Comment Re: Why does the FBI continue to engage in witchcr (Score 1) 262

You can make your blood pressure spike by visualizing a rattlesnake, riding in a plummeting airplane, catching your spouse cheating, or being forced onto stage in front of a huge audience... whatever you happen to fear most. Come to think of it, just knowing your career rests in the hands of a techno-witchdoctor must be pretty stressful in itself, and it's not like you have to use any imagination to summon that thought.

Comment Re: Why does the FBI continue to engage in witchcr (Score 2) 262

In the version I heard, they place a colander on his head, with some wires attaching it to the copier. The copier had an original saying "Lie" on it, and they'd push the copy button whenever they thought he was lying. Probably an urban legend, but I'm sure plenty of such tricks have been used throughout the history of law enforcement.

Comment Re:Translated (Score 1) 451

i think people should be able to decide for themselves how much safety equipment they want to have

That would be fine if the only people who suffered were the people who made the bad decisions. In this case, however, it's not only the inattentive-and-cheap car owner who suffers, but also whatever (or whomever) he runs into.

Even then it wouldn't really be fine. Case in point: before state legislators started passing seat belt laws in the late 80's/early 90's, the usage rate was ~14%. Think about it: six supposedly mature adults each climb behind the wheel of a 1 ton death machine and prepare to undertake the most dangerous part of their day, and only one of them takes the most basic precaution of buckling up. Incredible. Fast-forward to present day and 5 of those 6 adults (87%) buckle-up. Thank you government regulation and public advocacy. Somehow, 4 out of 6 people find their own mortality less worthy of motivation than the threat of a $25 fine and a chiming dashboard nag light.

Sometimes a little nanny government can go a long ways.

Comment Re:It is about time we nuke that smug red planet (Score 1) 261

The color red was assigned to the GOP by someone who hated them,

The media alternated color assignment between parties up thru the 2000 election. No hate involved, just pandering use of our national colors.

the reason it stuck is simple: people kept on bitching about how Gore "should have" won the election

Your tone is caustic, but you're essentially correct: the long,drawn-out contested election of 2000 got folks to start identifying themselves in red state/blue state terminology. After a month+ media circus, the association was bound to stick no matter who won that extremely tight and controversial election.

In typical American fashion, our colors got stuck backwards from how most other western democracies use them (with red typically being the color of liberal parties and blue typically being the color of conservative parties). See political color for examples.

Comment Re:Bullshit ... (Score 1) 130

Even random change is very likely to be for the better.

Um, no. Even with all our problems, things could be much worse than they currently are. Medicine is vastly overpriced, for instance, but we don't have the health catastrophes of Africa. Religious zealots hold substantial political sway, but it's not like the middle east. There aren't enough jobs, but conditions are generally safe and nothing like the borderline-slavery of China. Even compared to the more equitable democracies of western Europe, we do pretty well, with the U.S. ranking #6 in the OECD's quality of life index.

Keep in mind that humans have been at the mercy of disease, famine, genocide, war, and various other forms of barbarianism throughout the bulk of history. We can get back there with the right mix of corruption, injustice, and boneheaded policy moves. Things can easily be made much, much worse.

Comment Re:Throwing a puppy in front of the car (Score 1) 122

Yes, but this could let you throw puppies in front of hundreds of cars all at once. Interstate cloverleafs would be particularly vulnerable under the right weather and traffic conditions. Two bored teens could rack up dozens of deaths and millions of damages, and while that's probably "only" 10x the damage they could do with a brick and an overpass, the psychological impact on the population would be tremendous.

I'd much rather manufacturers build thorough defenses before any lives are lost than for legislators to pass knee-jerk draconian legislation (criminalizing lasers or home electronics, for instance) after the fact.

Comment Re:Yes, comments are too hard to police. (Score 1) 226

Churchill said "We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.".

The same can be said with technology in general... social and technical factors are deeply intertwined. It's true that individual character help shapes the final outcome/feel of a community, but that's just one factor out of many.

You may find this essay by Clay Shirky interesting: A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy.

Comment Re:Yes, comments are too hard to police. (Score 1) 226

Of course, that's primarily because censoring viewpoints tales quite a bit of work and the more reflective an echo chamber you want to built the more censoring there is to be done.

Instead of becoming an oasis where truth could emerge thru spirited, rational civic discourse, internet forums have instead become a choose-your-own-reality wasteland, where any politicized issue predictably elicits the same set of canned responses. You'll occasionally find some gems (well reasoned arguments, vigorous data-backed analysis, insider perspectives, etc.), but you have to wade thru a lot of dreck to get there.

So, while you can claim that censorship is the motivation for removing comment systems, I suspect it has more to do with the difficulty of achieving "everyday" standards of civility, courtesy, and self-restraint. For whatever reason, commenters are willing to speak with a level of venom that they would never use in real life, even if debating their worst enemy. What motivation do websites have to tarnish their brand with that?

We can found no scientific discipline, nor a healthy profession on the technical mistakes of the Department of Defense and IBM. -- Edsger Dijkstra