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Comment: Instead of a degree, try this (Score 1) 637

by johnnyb (#47619807) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: "Real" Computer Scientists vs. Modern Curriculum?

I actually noticed this trend about 8 years ago, and wrote a book to solve it. The book is called Programming from the Ground Up. It is a Linux-based assembly language book, but also teaches a lot about systems programming in general, but without being too technical.

For the other CS-oriented stuff that they don't teach, the two books you should get are how to design programs and Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. After that, I have written a series of articles to apply those ideas to "real" programming languages on IBM's developerWorks. You can find links to them here.

Comment: Early Detection (Score 5, Informative) 22

by johnnyb (#46445141) Attached to: Sniffing Out Cancer With Electronic Noses

The problem with early detection is that many diseases are actually benign in their early stages, and, when detected, their detection can actually cause more harm for the patient. For instance, early cancer detection increases the likelihood that the patient will start chemo. Some cancers wind up being handled by the body, but *all* chemo treatments harm patients. So, early detection sometimes leads to more harm than benefit (plus an unfortunate issue with "success" rates - the cancer treatments get to include in their "success" count cancers that the body would have cleaned up anyway).

Comment: Re:Still profitable.. (Score 1) 132

by johnnyb (#46413133) Attached to: Oregon Withholding $25.6M From Oracle Over Health Website Woes

"Or are those contracts written so horribly that the company gets paid for a nonfunctional product?"

The problem is that a lot of these types of contracts are written with a clause such that launching them publicly is an implicit acceptance of the project as a finished product. So, since they at least tried to launch it, that means that the project is "finished", and everything else is billed hourly on top of it.

Comment: Re:Oracle Services (Score 2) 132

by johnnyb (#46413099) Attached to: Oregon Withholding $25.6M From Oracle Over Health Website Woes

It has been over a decade since I last worked with Oracle, so things may have changed. But when I worked on an Oracle project, it cost a huge amount of money, took way too long, didn't work well, and required double the number of staff to manage the application. After Oracle left, a second company came along behind who specializes in fixing stuff that Oracle broke. This company, I don't remember its name, literally does its business as cleaning up Oracle's trash. They didn't even promise good results, only "I know how much pain you are in, we'll make it not hurt quite so much." Interestingly, this particular project wound up as a "success story" on Oracle's website.

Comment: Does Everything Have to Be Electronic? (Score 1, Insightful) 108

by johnnyb (#44568843) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Printing Options For Low-Resource Environments?

I know everyone wants an electronic everything, but it sounds like in your situation paper records may actually be optimal. If you have to have a paper system in place anyway, why do the added expense of going digital as well? Sometimes, what is really needed is to optimize the paper system, rather than replace it with an electronic one.

Comment: Re:And now Google Drive is down... (Score 1) 383

by johnnyb (#43203853) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Which Google Project Didn't Deserve To Die?

AWS has actually been pretty good if you actually do a proper deployment. I can only think of one time when they had multiple availability zones down at the same time. If you don't deploy across multiple availability zones, then it is just like any other hosted service. I often use it that way, too, it just isn't the magic fix-it-all system if you don't use it like it is intended.

Comment: Curious as to the Effectiveness (Score 4, Insightful) 154

by johnnyb (#43202619) Attached to: "Lazarus Project" Clones Extinct Frog

It will be interesting to see how effective this is. DNA is not the sole source of information for an organism's morphology. Nuclear transfer has shown some traits which are not dependent on DNA. It will be very interesting to compare the morphology of the final organism to the original, extinct species.

Comment: Re:Monsanto takes .. (Score 1) 419

by johnnyb (#42895203) Attached to: Monsanto Takes Home $23m From Small Farmers According To Report

But the seeds naturally produce other seeds. That is what seeds do. Did the farmer sign an agreement stating that they would not re-gather the seeds? If not, I don't see how Monsanto has a case. They sell seeds. The natural result of a seed is to produce more seeds. That would be like selling someone a printer and then coming back and claiming copyright on everything it prints.

If, however, the farmer signed an agreement, then I think the stupid person is just the farmer, and Monsanto is just taking advantage of fools.

Comment: Re:Batch (Score 5, Funny) 318

by johnnyb (#42882319) Attached to: COBOL Will Outlive Us All

The real problem with COBOL is that, as Larry Wall has pointed out, you can't write poetry with it. There just isn't any good poetry that starts out with IDENTIFICATION SECTION.

The one thing I do miss about COBOL is easy access to fixed-point numeric processing. This seems like a no-brainer, but it is still missing from nearly every language.

Comment: Re:Git not version control/sourrce control. (Score 2) 116

by johnnyb (#42098959) Attached to: Book Review: Version Control With Git, 2nd Edition

We moved from subversion to git and I would not look back. I liked subversion, but there is nothing in subversion that I can't also do in git, plus I can do a lot more in git. Branches and branch merging is much cleaner in git than subversion. In addition, the fact that everyone has a copy of the repository means that (a) all operations can be done offline (yay!), and (b) you have automatic backup copies of everything. I can look through all commits (using gitk) straight off of my machine whether I'm connected or disconnected. It's wonderful.

People will buy anything that's one to a customer.