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Comment: Re:Low-tech for a reason (Score 1) 93 93

Part of the reason that some of us take pride in our low-tech solutions is because we can achieve results above and beyond that of others even if we don't have any resources.

There's that, of course. But I think a very significant part of doing things by hand, with simple means, is that you enjoy the actual process, being able to apply your skills and achieve something that isn't trivially easy, but requires insight into what you are doing.

Years ago I worked for an American company, and I got to talk to one of the vice-presidents about fishing. To me fishing is something about trying to land a single fish or maybe two with a bit of cleverness and local knowledge, but to him it consisted in owning a 60 foot vessel on one of the big lakes, equipped with sonar, trawl etc etc. Or take bread making - you can probably make a good bread in one of these automatic breadmakers, but I can't imagine why I would want to skip the most enjoyable part of it.

Comment: Re:Huh (Score 1) 238 238

Then, of coruse, every crime becomes a life sentence, even those undertaken while say still a hormone addled teenager.

Doesn't seem very just to me.

Sadly, justice as defined by the law is not necessarily just in a moral sense; it only means that it follows the law as currently practiced. What is too often lacking is the reality of full restitution - that you can be forgiven your past sins. I think it is fundamentally important that criminal justice happens in public, so that people can see that crimes are properly and consistently prosecuted, and the punishments are neither too harsh nor too lenient.

As for things becoming a life sentence - whether it is fair or not, what is done stays done, we can't change the past. In the more serious cases this reflects the fact that lasting damage has been done to a victim; and even if the may seem trivial, the victim is likely to feel significant distress that goes far beyond the objective loss suffered. I've been on the receiving end of petty crime several times, and although I am usually a very robust person, you can't help feeling violated and upset; and it doesn't help knowing that whereas you have lost a valued possession with memories attached, the thief is going to flog it for next to nothing. So, is it really always so unfair that you can't shake off the consequences of your actions?

Apart from that, in many countries you do in fact get rid of your past as far as the justice system is concerned; in UK, for example, many sentences will be 'spent' after a number of years, in the sense that they no longer occur on your criminal record, and you are no longer barred from things like applying for citizenship. It may not mean that there are no longer people who will remember that you were the one who did the crime, but then it is up to you to go and amend your relationships.

Comment: Human Centipede-ish hype? (Score 1) 124 124

To me this sounds like the not uncommon hype that seems to follow the release of indifferent 'horror' movies. Like the one called something like 'The Human Centipede', which was supposed to be the most incredibly extreme horro movie ever. Only, it turned out to be a flop, hardly worth a shrug, something that could have been thought up by a couple of teen-agers and filmed on a smartphone.

I don't know, maybe I've grown too critical with age - I've stopped having night-mares because I tend to wake up and think "What is this crap?" because the story is too thin and the effects are unrealistic.

Comment: Re:Huh (Score 1) 238 238

Back to TFA: molestation isn't rape. Without reading the article, I'd guess based on the sentence that the offense of the guy in question was pretty small. Maybe a grope on the train or something, happens pretty often on those crowded Japanese commuter trains. Is that also worth murder?

Well, without reading the article, you don't know if what they call molestation would be called child rape in our part of the world. To enlighten the debate a little: "The Japanese Penal Code sets a minimal age of consent of 13" (from wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...) - which to means that the court would be biased towards assuming consent, unless the girl was very young. Japan is also a society that still has a great deal of sympathy towards the rights of men is realtion to women.

From the article:

"He harbors remorse over the incident and is leading a new life. The search results prevent him from rehabilitating himself," the man's defense counsel claimed, adding, "Publicizing past criminal information with a person's real name doesn't serve the public's needs, and is therefore illegal."

Google had earlier refuted the plaintiff's claim, saying, "It was a vicious crime exploiting a child in order to satisfy his own sexual desire. The crime has attracted much criticism from the international community as well as a great deal of interest from parents."

What is interesting here is Google's statement; they are normally very competent when it comes to covering their own arse, so they would not come out with such a harsh statement unless they fellt sure it would stand up to scrutiny. The defence lawyer's statement, on the other hand, is vapid nonsense, as far as I can see. Just imagine anybody else getting away from their past with that excuse, even if all they had done was shoplifting a bottle of cheap wine. When we do something wrong, it stays with us; criminal cases are public: justice must be SEEN to be done.

Comment: Just a toy for the rich? (Score 1) 83 83

One of the things that immediately puts me in alert mode is that name 'Liquid Metal', capitalised, no less. Understanding of what a glass actually is, is realtively new, of course, and something that is likely to become very useful in the future, but why make a phone with frame made of it? If it is indeed as good and durable as all that, is it actually going to be relevant? Smartphones are 'old' almost as soon as they go on sale, since the technology is still developing quickly, and unless the hardware etc can be upgraded easily, having an expensive phone like this is no more than a toy for the rich and stupid.

Comment: A real problem (Score 1) 256 256

I think we are facing a real problem, and I don't think we can solve it by waving lofty ideals about from the comfort of our armchairs. Fundamental right like privacy and freedom of speech are too important to be used frivolously. If they get pulled out again and again as a knee-jerk reaction every time somebody can't have it all their own way, then they will get watered down to the point where people in general get sick enough to allow them to be taken away completely - or at least severely restricted.

So, instead of automatically whining, try to come up with a better way tol solve the problems: organised crime and terrorist organisations, just to mention two, are very good at using communications that are difficult to trace, and our best weapons are hampered by having to follow the law. Shall we simply roll over and take it on the chin, let internal gangs do what they like and terrorists organise ever bolder attacks on civilians?

Amongst the readers of Slashdot are some, at least, who aspire to be clever and able to solve problems; so contribute constructively, if you think you can.

Comment: Re:Nope! (Score 5, Insightful) 387 387

Is there any other way for a Middle Eastern country to earn our respect, other than to be able to nuke us?

Ironically, Iran is the Middle Country most likely to deserve our respect for things other than having nuclear capabilities. When you look beyond the demented ravings of some of their past leaders, they are on a significantly higher level than their neighbours in many respects. As far as I now, they do actually have a somewhat functional democracy, a rather good education system etc. I have always felt they have deserved better than the press they have tended to get since Khomeiny toppled the puppet shah; they are not saints, by any means, but neither are they devils incarnate. They could be our friends in the longer term, unlike for example IS.

Comment: Re:It's the non-engineers. (Score 1) 125 125

Thus encapsulating much of the hubris and disdain in the comments. Managing, like engineering, is about figuring out how a system works and solving problems to het it to work like you wanted.

Are you not displaying exactly that hubris and disdain here, which you criticise? You may have heard what I said, but you didn't listen. Most managers are simply managers: they eaderly lick the spittle off the faces of their superiors and do as they are told without really knowing all that much about things. Like you they don't listen to the people they manage, which is why a Dilbert-like situation arises, where engineers do what they know is right, if they care, and don't if they don't. The pointy-haired boss thinks he has figured out "how a system works and is solving problems to get it to work like he wants", to quote your own words.

There is a saying about engineers that I think illustrates the difference between them and managers: "Discussing with an engineer is like mud-wrestling with a pig. After a while, you realise that the pig enjoys it." A manager discusses simply to win the argument and get his will, whereas engineers discuss because they enjoy the mental exercise. To them a discussion with a fellow engineer is a win-win situation (sorry for using a buzzword) - even if they lose the argument, they gain insight. There may be managers who genuinely think like engineers, but they are few and far between, and they tend to be leaders, not merely managers.

Comment: Re:It's the non-engineers. (Score 1) 125 125

A very thoughtful answer, which they will promptly ignore.

Having actually read some of the article, I notice that they confuse management with leadership. Any idiot can management - managers wouldn't be able to otherwise - but leadership is harder. Perhaps it is best expressed (accidentally) by an appalling manager I once had: "Managing engineers is like herding cats". What he meant was simply that he found it impossible; but without realizing it, he also showed that he hadn't understood leaderhip.

To the typical manager tries to do, is herding people like they were sheep; theis may work if your staffs are disenageged or simply don't have their own opinion about things. Cats, of course, DO have their own opinion, just like engineers, and will do what they want (just like engineers) - you have to LEAD a cat. A leader shows the way by going first, and engineers (as well as cats) follow because they think it is worthwhile. The problem facing most managers is that they can't lead engineers, because they themselves don't have the necessary insight; in that situation, you either become a poor manager who tries the sheep farming approach and fails, or a good manager, who understands that his job is to act as the barrier against the crap that comes from the rest of the organisation, so his engineers can get on with the important things in life.

All in all, I don't think a real engineer will see management as a step up, except in terms of pay, but many engineers can become good leaders in the real sense.

Comment: Re:How is this news for nerds? (Score 1) 1082 1082

But, if you change, "spouse and spouse" to "a group of spouses", then how do you change "upon death of a spouse, the remaining spouse shall inherit 100% of communal property before probate"? As in, you die, and your three widows each inherit 100%? That's 300%. Where do you get two more identical houses?

Leaving to one side all the emotional bluster that accompanies this subject, I think it is a very interesting, intellectual challenge. One thought that springs to mind is that a group marriage would be similar to a limited company, or possibly a cooperative, and we already have legal experience with that sort of construct. I imagine the romance and intimacy you can find in a 1-1 relationship might be somewhat sparse in such a 'group marriage', but then I've always been a rather old fashioned sort of person. Other cultures provide examples of both polygyny and polyandry, so it isn't unknown.

Comment: Re: How is this news for nerds? (Score 1) 1082 1082

I haven't read the article, so I may be totally off here; but isn't it about couples? If you are not engaged in a relatioship comparable to marriage, how is it even relevant to talk about equal right? Usually, when the talk is about equal rights for same sex couples, it is about the right to be legally married, so that they have the same sort of status in case of death, divource and so on.

Comment: Tools and architecture (Score 1) 296 296

You mention 'C/C++', and I think you need to realize that the two don't really mix well; in my experience, you go with one or the other, simply. True, you can use C style practices in C++, but then what's the point of using a C++ compiler?

I think there are many, excellent reasons to choose C++ for a project, but perhaps not the ones you list. Things like control over memory allocation, cross-platform and networking may not in theselves be compelling reasons for choosing C++, as they can be handled easily enough in C. Cross-platform and networking is all about following the POSIX standard, really, and getting away from the Windows toolkit. That and separating the presentation layer from the business layer(s). This is perfectly possible in pure C - I have done it many times.

The real reason for using C++ is that it supports design patterns well, IMO. Templates and template libraries like Boost are really about that; and design patterns are about adopting an architecture that is well thought through - they are formalized best practices, in a way.

Comment: Re:The problem is that landfills are too cheap (Score 1) 371 371

I don't think so - the real problem is that we produce too much waste, simply. Things are designed to break after a shortish while, or wrapped excessively, or both. Look back at history: only a century ago, most things were expected to last, possibly for generations; but now we are conditioned to think that things like fashion matter, and that it is normal when things just break or stop working. The truth, however, is that the only reason why we produce such obscene amounts of crap, is the idea that our economy must grow, no matter what consequences.

Recycling is wrong - it is the wrong end of the problem, simply.

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM