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Comment: Re:Einstein said it best and that was YES (Score 1) 1486

by fmayhar (#35748290) Attached to: Is Science Just a Matter of Faith?

Yeah, also known as the "last Thursday" hypothesis (as in, everything was just poofed into existence last Thursday with all our memories and history intact). Pretty much useless as a way of describing the world. I wouldn't say that we take it on faith that we're not just Boltzmann Brains or some such, but insofar as we trust the evidence of our senses we trust that the outside world is real and can affect us directly and profoundly. It therefore follows that we can try to understand it on its own terms.

If we _can't_ trust our senses (and as human beings sometimes we actually cannot, take any optical illusion or hallucination for an example) then all bets are off. But as I said, that's just not a very useful way to view ourselves and the world.

Comment: "Science. It works, bitches." (Score 1) 1486

by fmayhar (#35748152) Attached to: Is Science Just a Matter of Faith?

To steal a line from xkcd.

Which is the whole damned point. "Faith" doesn't work. It doesn't have tangible effects. Believe me, know about of "having faith" will cure my cancer. On the other hand, evidence-based science is doing _just fine_, thank you very much. It's not faith, as others here have said, because it has concrete effects in the real world. And as far as QM goes, some of those "concrete effects" are being taken advantage of in the electronics that allow us to communicate here.

While "faith" may have concrete effects in terms of why people do things, it doesn't directly effect anything outside of those people. On the other hand, a laser will handily burn a hole in your retina just fine, and no amount of "faith" will either cause or prevent it.

Once more, some fool is conflating "faith" and "confidence," which are two utterly separate things. Sigh.

Comment: If you don't know where you've been... (Score 2, Informative) 396

by fmayhar (#31199902) Attached to: What Knowledge Gaps Do Self-Taught Programmers Generally Have?

I've been doing this for a few years and the one gap I'm seeing more and more of doesn't actually have anything to do with programming techniques, "design patterns" or anything else that's hugely technical. All of these things are pretty well-known and accepted by everyone, and you can always be sure that there'll be someone around pushing one or another of them as the be-all and end-all of Programming.

The one gap you might have as a self-taught programmer is in fact in the _history_ of computer science. There's a lot of stuff that has happened and in fact people keep finding and solving the same problems, never realizing that the problems have been encountered and solved many times. (An example that's particularly relevant to me at the moment has to do with extent-based file systems; ext4 has extents and so do a number of new file systems. Great idea, right, particularly for large file systems? Thing is, extent-based file systems have been used at least since the 70s in mainframe operating systems. Odd that it took 40 years to get it into Unix.)

But don't feel bad that your self-teaching has skipped the history of computing. It appears that most university computer science programs neglect that little bit of background as well, in favor of jumping straight into C++ or Java.

Maybe I'm an old fart but that half-semester of history I took back in 1981 made a small but significant improvement in my ability as a software engineer.

Comment: To actually try to answer the question... (Score 2, Insightful) 289

by fmayhar (#28153589) Attached to: Is ext4 Stable For Production Systems?

...the three reasons are performance, performance and performance.

Ext4 has extents (and therefore loses indirect blocks), a better on-disk layout policy and generally better algorithms in its allocation code. Of course, performance varies depending on the app in question but we've found that it beats ext2 in almost every respect in our environment. (We don't run ext3 because journals cost performance [by buying reliability] and that's all ext3 gets you: a journal. This is why we wrote and submitted the no-journal hack for ext4.) In particular, ext4 beats ext2 for write-heavy loads by, well, lots. Yes, we've measured this stuff.

So why would one go to ext4 over ext3? Because it's a better file system, not to mention one that's actually (a) being developed and (b) past pre-alpha.

Of course, our environment is a tad different from most. We have *ahem* more than a _couple_ of servers.

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