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Comment: Re:Word (Score 2) 586

by javaxjb (#41816767) Attached to: The IDE As a Bad Programming Language Enabler
By lengthening the round trip time from coding to compiling you're decreasing the rate of repetition (and success). It would be better to get the fundamentals of the language down first and then work on scenarios where you might want to make patches on a remote console-based system. Then go through some exercises where the students patch bugs using a console-based editor and compile/build commands.

Comment: Re:because (Score 1) 793

by javaxjb (#40520371) Attached to: What's To Love About C?
AS/400 (or iSeries or whatever IBM's name of the year is) can have null pointers that are a negative offset (but so far as I ever saw, only for programs running in batch and never interactively). So, if you try some trick comparing current pointer location as beyond a prior pointer location to track a locations in a data area to save an explicit check for 0 it will work every time interactively and randomly cause a null pointer exception in batch (something I had never noticed in K&R until someone pointed it out to me). I might have the details slightly wrong. That was over a decade ago and I've only written a few simple C utilities since then.

Comment: Re:Politically motivated article (Score 2) 564

by javaxjb (#40224333) Attached to: Taking Issue With Claims That American Science Education is 'Dismal'

I was puzzled by their reference to a study placing the cost of K - 12 education at the second highest at $91,700 per student (that is a cumulative cost, not annual). The study coves ages 6 - 15, but states K - 12, which would typically be 5 - 18. A look at the PDF, suggests that the headline is just the 6 - 15 age group as it reports, "A high school graduate in 2009 had $149,000 spent on his 13 year public school education." It also states that the US pays more for only middle of the road results that have not improved over the years. I'm assuming on a relative basis with the other countries, since there is an overall inflation of test scores over time, As I read it, the study the article cites actually contradicts the conclusions in the article.

As an interesting aside, that cost of public school education is a lower annual rate than we pay for daycare (and our daycare costs are lower than average in our area). Considering that other studies have shown that earlier education opportunies (like good daycare) and supplemental learning over the summer months improve scores, I would suggest that NCLB is a failure precisely because it puts the emphasis on the wrong things. Why not focus on year-round learning (not necessarly more school days, but shorter breaks 3 or 4 times per year? And maybe work on getting more kids in a learning environment before Kindergarten (especially those at risk for underperformance).

Comment: Re:Not that useful. (Score 2) 290

by javaxjb (#39964891) Attached to: Is Gamification a Good Motivator?
According to Punished by Rewards , which cites many studies, it can also be counterproductive, especially in work that requires creativity or teamwork. The only creativity it appears to encourage long term is cheating. It's short term productive at best and long term counterproductive at worst (here's looking at you Wall Street).

Comment: Re:the smart TV will save me some $$$ (Score 1) 314

by javaxjb (#38678480) Attached to: The Coming Tech Battle Over 'Smart TVs'
The only wired connection to our house is the electricity. We pay under $300 per year for municipal wireless and watch TV through OTA HD or our internet connected devices (Mac Mini on the main set and Apple TV in the basement). Several years ago we were paying Comcast over $1400 per year for less throughput (purely internet, no other services). Unfortunately, the cable companies have been very successful at quashing municipal internet in most municipalities.

Comment: Re:Outmoded thinking (Score 1) 85

by javaxjb (#36333034) Attached to: Is Identity Theft Overwhelming the IRS?
Of course it's streamlined assuming that the switch includes moving to taxes on sales (the only rational approach). The average number of employees I've seen stats on show around 15 to 20 employees per business, so the mega corporations are already a minor factor. Moreover, most of those businesses are already paying sales taxes and are definitely tracking sales, so it would add little overhead to the business. In fact, it would probably reduce the burden to both the business and the government when you consider the tracking and filing of at least three different payroll components (withholding, social security, medicare and many other potential modifiers such as FSAs, 401ks, SIMPLE plans). Managing changing withholding allowances would also go away. As for your Amazon example, that will not be a "typical" case and if the regulations were sensible (I realize that's a stretch) taxes would come into play for the tangible product or reasonable proxy thereof (printing and distribution of the product) where such a thing exists (consultants might need to be handled differently). Even at the individual level (for the self employed) computing and filing sales much simpler than payroll taxes (I've spent over half my career self employed and would much prefer the change to sales tax).

Comment: Re:This could backfire, Steve (Score 1) 246

by javaxjb (#35093470) Attached to: News Corp's <em>The Daily</em> Is Doomed

Perhaps Apple is overstreching a bit too far here; I for one think the backlash isn't worth that 30% cut.

Some of the biggest expenses in publishing are PPP: paper, printing, and postage. For publications sold at newsstands there is also waste (unsold copies). Apple's 30% cut could easily be less than postage/delivery alone depending on the revenue model. Typically most of the revenue comes from advertising, so 30% (assuming subscription alone) could be seen as a huge bargain.

Comment: Re:Embarassing? (Score 0) 360

by javaxjb (#34255464) Attached to: Internet Explorer 9 Caught Cheating In SunSpider

but as a whole, [Microsoft's] P/E is better than Apple's (even if they do have a lower market cap).

Better is in the eye of the beholder. Apple's earnings growth rate is much higher than Microsoft's. Since Q1 2006, Apple has averaged a nearly 62% earnings growth rate (and last year was almost 155%). Over the same period, Microsoft had an average earnings growth rate a of 23% (55% last year).

Investors give a higher P/E to companies with higher sustained growth (so long as nothing brings doubt about the future prospects of growth). Those earnings could be paid out as dividends, and thus the investor "owns" a stake in those earnings (plus any cash, property, etc less debt) proportional to their stock holdings and thus will pay more in order to make more. If Apple can sustain that average growth rate for another 5+ years, the current P/E will look like a bargain. In a better economy (less perceived uncertainty about future earnings), Microsoft's P/E might look more like Apple's (but then Apple's would be higher than it is now, too).

Comment: Re:This is second place (Score 1) 1260

by javaxjb (#33894156) Attached to: Proving 0.999... Is Equal To 1
That's why they use BCD or some other type of decimal encoding. Spreadsheets can be a problem, though. I remember (back in the early days of PCs) trying to explain to a financial analyst that there wasn't a bug in his spreadsheet when the cross checks on his calculations where coming up with a (very small) inequality.

Comment: Re:I don't get it. (Score 1) 764

by javaxjb (#33086630) Attached to: To Ballmer, Grabbing iPad's Market Is 'Job One Urgency'

Really? Ask Wordstar, Wordperfect, Lotus 1-2-3, dBaseIII, Netscape, and countless other companies what fat lot of good the early lead did for them?

I would argue that most of those companies blew their opportunities by failing to adapt to rapidly changing technologies. Indeed, almost all of them failed at the transition from text-based to graphics-based interfaces. Netscape, however, had an issue with a competitor that could throw enormous money developing a browser that it could then give away. One could say that Microsoft learned that style matters (as punctuated by Apple's reemergence). What it also shows is that disruptive technologies can dethrone the king if the king isn't paying attention.

Often statistics are used as a drunken man uses lampposts -- for support rather than illumination.

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