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Comment: Re:Ya, but... (Score 1) 367

by gstoddart (#47925951) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

LOL ... I'm past my coding years by now.

But my counter point would be that many operating systems have been built in C, and people who rely too much on "modern compilers" often don't know what's really happening. I cut my teeth doing OS-level programming in C at the interrupt-handler level. Good times.

I'm not saying people should start all new projects in C, but a good solid grounding in C really does give one a good perspective on what's really happening in the innards of your code. It's about as close to "bare metal" programming as you can get without assembly.

I've met a few coders who had only ever worked at very high level stuff, and a lot of what they did more or less relied heavily on libraries they didn't really understand, or have any sense of the performance impacts when used inefficiently.

That being said, hand rolling your own memory management isn't something I really miss.

But every now and then I still like to sing a few bars of:

Pointers to pointers to printf()-like functions;
Unary minus and nested conjunctions;
Integers, booleans, characters, strings;
These are a few of my favourite things.

Because, "Pointers to pointers to printf()-like functions" was a pretty nifty language feature sometimes.

You could do some pretty neat things in C.

Comment: Re:Baaah... (Score 1) 110

by gstoddart (#47925797) Attached to: FBI Completes New Face Recognition System

Except some might argue that using this technology in a public place is a violation of the 4th amendment.

This stuff is getting very creepy, and it's kind of appalling to see that the US is in a hurry to usher in Big Brother.

Papers please, comrade. Actually, we don't need your papers. We know exactly who you are.

How's that "land of the free" thing working out for you?

Comment: Hmmm .... (Score 4, Informative) 48

by gstoddart (#47925699) Attached to: A DC-10 Passenger Plane Is Perfect At Fighting Wildfires

The three-engine DC-10 entered service in 1970 as a passenger jet, and the last airplane working in that capacity, operated by Biman Bangladesh Airlines, made its final flight on February 24.

There's a reason why the DC-10 isn't used anymore.

Explosive Decompression sucks in an airplane:

The DC-10 was designed with cargo doors that opened outward instead of conventional inward-opening "plug-type" doors. Using outward-opening doors allowed the DC-10's cargo area to be completely filled since the door was not occupying usable space. To secure the door against the outward force from the pressurization of the fuselage at high altitudes, outward-opening doors must use heavy locking mechanisms. In the event of a door lock malfunction, there is great potential for explosive decompression.

Now, when you're using it as a water bomber, you're never going to pressurize the cabin, and you've likely made some other major changes.

I'm glad they've managed to take these old DC-10's and make them do something useful .. they're a pretty cool plane and a piece of aviation history, but that unfortunate defect in the cargo doors made them not really safe to fly in.

But it sounds like it's getting a new lease on life. I wonder just how many of them they'll be able to cobble together .. it's not like they make spare parts for them.

Comment: Re:Ya, but... (Score 1) 367

by gstoddart (#47920527) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

You can teach people how to write better code. You can't teach a stubborn old self taught programmer with 40 years experience why it is better to have maintainable code than to save a few CPU cycles if he doesn't want to hear it.

You know, I don't disagree with you.

But, conversely, I've been on the receiving end of a programmer who refused to do any optimization whatsoever because he said it was pointless (as a result his code frequently became a bottleneck because he had no idea of just how much stuff he was calling), and his (to his own mind) lovely and elegant code was actually brittle crap which was anything but maintainable. In fact, it was garbage which painted him into corners more times than I could count.

On several occasions when asked to make a code change, there was a realization that it was impossible without a complete re-write (because the change violated the aesthetics of his assumptions he'd built into it). In other words, his code was shit to begin with, His "theoretical" understanding of writing good code didn't translate into a "practical" ability to write good code.

Sometimes people trip over their own "elegance", and create garbage.

I'm not saying "all young punks are stupid", and I'm not saying "all old timers know everything", because I think categorical statements are usually garbage.

Programmers of all ages think they know everything and have bad attitudes.

On that point, we are completely in agreement.

But, in my personal experience .. sometimes having been there and done that means you have a bigger picture understanding of what you're really doing, and not some theoretical model you don't know how to apply.

Similarly, if you get to the point where nothing new is worth looking at, you have your own baggage and issues which gets in the way of you doing a good job.

In the middle of those two is where you find the good.


New Global Plan Would Crack Down On Corporate Tax Avoidance 272

Posted by Soulskill
from the bring-our-benjamins-home dept. writes: Reuters reports that plans for a major rewriting of international tax rules have been unveiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that could eliminate structures that have allowed companies like Google and Amazon to shave billions of dollars off their tax bills. For more than 50 years, the OECD's work on international taxation has been focused on ensuring companies are not taxed twice on the same profits (and thereby hampering trade and limit global growth). But companies have been using such treaties to ensure profits are not taxed anywhere. A Reuters investigation last year found that three quarters of the 50 biggest U.S. technology companies channeled revenues from European sales into low tax jurisdictions like Ireland and Switzerland, rather than reporting them nationally.

For example, search giant Google takes advantage of tax treaties to channel more than $8 billion in untaxed profits out of Europe and Asia each year and into a subsidiary that is tax resident in Bermuda, which has no income tax. "We are putting an end to double non-taxation," says OECD head of tax Pascal Saint-Amans.For the recommendations to actually become binding, countries will have to encode them in their domestic laws or amend their bilateral tax treaties. Even if they do pass, these changes are likely 5-10 years away from going into effect.
Speaking of international corporate business: U.K. mainframe company Micro Focus announced it will buy Attachmate, which includes Novell and SUSE.

Comment: Re:I like to tell college-bound people... (Score 1) 367

by gstoddart (#47919859) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

...double major in something useful and something useless.

I'm of the opinion that it isn't "something useful and something useless" ... it's more about "something directly practical" coupled with "something interesting and abstract to give you balance and perspective".

Not all things are 100% objective. And, likewise, in some things there's just no room for subjectivity.

Being able to tell the difference is something many people don't learn.

Comment: Re:You guys are always entertaining! (Score 5, Insightful) 367

by gstoddart (#47919723) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

The dogmatism that I have seen and heard on the job and here on Slashdot makes all of you come across as delusional and self aggrandizing.

LOL, you know, I won't dispute the point. Because I agree with it. It's been true for a very long time, and is widespread.

What I suggest is that being an asshole isn't due to a lack of critical thinking skills, it's a personality defect which can subsequently be overcome. ;-)

In some disciplines (*cough* Poli Sci *cough*) where there is no objective right or wrong, the ability to state a case for anything as being equally valid to anything else ... well, some of us don't see that as critical thinking, we see it as rhetoric and sophistry. Because you're not measuring against an objective standard.

The problem comes when you do come from a discipline where things are right or not right, you end up with an overly simplified world view, and nuance becomes something you don't necessarily get.

When there's no room for wishful thinking and sophistry, and you need to use empirical evidence to determine what is happening and what to do about it ... your "feeling" that your "belief" that the router must be sending moon packets is meaningless if you claim it has as much weight as me telling you that the cable is unplugged. Mine is testable and can be acted on, yours is the mistaken belief that if we solve the existential crisis of the router things will sort itself out.

But it becomes a clash of cultures when someone's sensing/feeling/intuition has nothing to do with objective reality, and objective reality is the only thing which matters.

And, likewise, people who only deal in objective reality and can't see past it are largely incapable of doing anything else, unless they've tried really hard to pick up an additional set of skills.

Which means we mostly want to punch people who say the universe could be just a simulation or that a tree doesn't make any noise if anybody is around to hear it, because if it can't be proven true or false, it's probably just a pointless mental exercise. ;-)

Comment: Re:Ya, but... (Score 1) 367

by gstoddart (#47919383) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

Some do, but the stereotype of IT having a myopic view of technology and projects didn't spring from nowhere.

In my experience, that's not a lack of critical thinking skills.

It's a lack of a breadth of education, and a complete lack of maturity and wisdom.

The problem is a lot of people come out of a STEM degree with a minor god complex, and are completely incapable of recognizing when their book learning doesn't match real world experience, and the stuff they're digging in their heels about doesn't work so well in the real world.

Basically they think they know everything.

But ask any senior programmer who has dealt with one straight out of school. Very often the lack of real world experience means they're unwilling/incapable of recognizing that someone knows some things they didn't cover in school, and that their theoretical model falls on its face when confronted with other things.

I once worked with a junior programmer who really didn't know nearly as much as he thought he did. He wrote crap code, and I once had to demonstrate why his version of the code was 100x slower than mine when called a very large amount of times. He quickly got shunted into a corner because he wouldn't listen, and management eventually realized he was useless to us. He had an engineering degree, and he had the right skills ... but he had the entirely wrong attitude. In his mind, nobody could possibly tell him anything ... which made him an asshole, not someone lacking in critical thinking ability.

I'm more of the opinion that STEM candidates should be forced to take a little more arts classes to make them more well rounded and be able to interact with other people.

But, who do you want debugging your production outage? Someone who is well versed in Chaucer, or someone who can apply logic and critical thinking to the problem at hand and has the technical skills to back it up?

Comment: Re:Ya, but... (Score 1) 367

by gstoddart (#47919137) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

Yeah, no kidding ... I'm pretty sure you can't get a STEM degree without critical thinking skills.

However, some of the Poli Sci majors I've met have precisely zero critical thinking skills, and mostly just parrot whichever rhetoric they adopted in their second year of school for the rest of their lives.

I'm not saying liberal arts students don't have the chance to develop critical thinking skills. But I am saying anybody who thinks STEM graduates don't have them is clueless.

I've lost count of the number of sales people I've known who don't come from technical backgrounds. They lack the critical thinking skills to even know if they're lying to you or not.

Comment: Re:International Copyright (Score 1) 164

by gstoddart (#47919017) Attached to: Quickflix Wants Netflix To Drop Australian VPN Users

I often wonder if it's not a "why make $30 million now when we might be able to make $300 million later" kind of deal.

By committing to a licensing deal now, they're stuck with it.

But I've definitely heard many Aussie's lamenting that you pay much more for the same thing there than you do here, and the corporations we're talking about really don't do anything unless it's maximizing profits.

So, if it's a company like Sony who is refusing to license the content ... then I can only assume it isn't, and never has been, technology which is the barrier.

Because I doubt the Australian packets drive on the wrong side of the intertubes and create a safety hazard. ;-)

At which point "licensing" comes down to: national regulations prevent you from doing it, or unwillingness to do it for whatever reason -- which to me comes down to profit, or creating artificial scarcity (again, for profit), or because at some point you want to have your own service and don't want to cannibalize it (again, profit).

Essentially it's a business decision.

But the technology of streaming a video over the interweb? That's not what stops this.

Comment: Re: Escapism (Score 1) 277

by gstoddart (#47918831) Attached to: The Growing Illusion of Single Player Gaming

Quite possibly true.

I definitely stopped making food in the game once I figured out what alchemy was for, and I've definitely upgraded my gear to the point that most encounters don't provide too much sport (the odd leveled character still gives me a go). But then again, I'm not the best at the combat, so I'd rather get it done quick and/or work on style points than really have to grind through it.

But then I switched my focus to collecting stuff and going back and leveling up some of the skills I'd initially missed.

For the time being, I'm sill content to go on a walkabout, collect raw ingredients and trade with merchants, flesh out the bits of the map I've not been to, and occasionally do one of the quests to advance something along. Having a couple of houses makes that a little easier as you have some place to go back to and drop off the stuff you've collected until you can turn it into something more valuable.

There's dozens of side quests I've not done yet, a bunch of main quests I haven't done (and some I'll never do), lots of places I've not been to, and probably some places I should go back and revisit since I probably missed stuff on the first pass through.

It's like it's an interface to OCD you can turn off and on as you see fit, and just focus on whatever minutia appeals to you on a given day. ;-)

Which definitely isn't how most people play video games, but for some reason is something that keeps me playing it. When I've done about all I can with my current character, I might start all over again and play with completely different skills and do the quests entirely differently.

For some reason, the open-ended nature of the game keeps me fascinated, because I don't have to do anything on anybody else's timeline. Which makes it pure escapism for me.

Comment: Re:International Copyright (Score 3, Insightful) 164

by gstoddart (#47918353) Attached to: Quickflix Wants Netflix To Drop Australian VPN Users

This is what I always here, same with Anime. But I don't understand why this is hard.

It's not hard from a technology perspective, and it never has been.

It's hard from a "these corporations are greedy bastards" perspective. They want to maximize profits. Pure and simple.

If that means telling the consumer "no, you can't have our product until we can figure out how to sell it to you for more money", they're OK with that.

You don't need to look beyond money, because technology isn't the roadblock here.

Comment: Re:International Copyright (Score 2) 164

by gstoddart (#47918229) Attached to: Quickflix Wants Netflix To Drop Australian VPN Users

But, why would licensing in Australia be different from licensing elsewhere?

Best guess: the content creators use it as a way to extort more money out of people.

Why go for "just as profitable" when you can have "more profitable". If we can't get more profit, we're not licensing it to you.

The companies who own the content and are in charge of licensing see people as nothing more than a revenue stream, and want to be able to control what you see so it's on their terms.

In other words, greedy assholes.

There's no technical reason I can imagine, which means it's all about money.

Same as the region codes in DVDs, because heaven forbid you be able to buy a movie in another country and watch it at home. Because that could disrupt corporate profits and executive bonuses.

Many people write memos to tell you they have nothing to say.