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Comment: Re:Makes sense. (Score 5, Insightful) 265 265

You are implying that ones political stance is an indicator of their intelligence?

That is the clear intention of the article summary, because it highlights only those issues where Democrats are more likely to agree with scientists than Republicans. A more honest summary would have also brought attention to the subjects where Democrats differ from scientists: nuclear power, pesticide use in foods and animal research, for example.

Comment: Re:Paywall (Score 2) 153 153

I'm sure IT would be happy to allow and support R if management would commit to providing training, staff time for support and budget to handle the related costs. That won't happen though so basically you're trying to make your job easier at the cost of making their job harder.

I'm not sure how you're so sure that you know what happens in companies with which you have no connection. When I suggested to a senior member of our IT team that resources could be made available to support R, he told me (this is a direct quote), "I and my team have no interest in learning or supporting R."

I'm a director of the business; my offer of resources was serious and within my power to grant. They don't want to engage, so we will support our analytics environment outwith the IT department.

Comment: Re:Paywall (Score 4, Interesting) 153 153

Many of those large spreadsheets would be much better off as a database and a little bit of scripting language like Python. But most of these business analysts have only ever had exposure to Excel and VBA, and they would have been much better served with some technical training in the right tool for the job.

I agree with you, but, in my experience, the biggest single obstacle to deploying better tools is the IT department.

I'm an accountant, not a programmer (although my degree was a Computer Science joint honours 25 years ago) and I find that while Excel is great for some things, I prefer to us R for most data and financial analysis. But my IT department gets jumpy about R: We don't understand it! We can't support it! We don't understand its dependencies! If it stops working one day, we won't be able to help! Where will we find skilled resources if you leave the business?

"Fine," I say. "Give me C# or Python; I'll use those instead." But then I'm told I'm not allowed those tools because they're too dangerous and restricted to IT staff to maintain proper control. This hasn't just happened in one company - it's the normal response in my experience.

Comment: Re:Paywall (Score 1) 153 153

"The idea of programming as a semiskilled task, practiced by people with a few months' training, is dangerous.

Maybe. But, commercially, it's even more dangerous to deny ordinary workers the opportunity to 'program' after a fashion.

Excel is essentially a functional programming language, and advanced Excel users are essentially analyst/programmers. End user computing and analysis tools constructed in Excel undoubtedly present many risks relating to quality control, key staff dependencies, change management, data integrity, confidentiality and the like. That's why IT staff sneer, snigger and upvote slashdot posts that criticise Excel. But, for all the sneering, if you ripped Excel out of many businesses, the commercial consequences would be so great that there would be no cash left to pay the 'real' programmers.

Comment: Re:Unhealthy food is tasty. Healthy food is boring (Score 2) 244 244

Healthy food is tasty as hell once your palette has had a chance to get used to it again

No, when your palette gets used to it again, it becomes bearable ("as hell" is quite an apt a metaphor, actually) — but not especially tasty. Ice-cream or chocolate will still trump "healthy" and an ongoing effort of will is required to stick to broccoli.

Speak for yourself: tasty vs bearable is learned behaviour. I travel a fair bit, and the USA is a major outlier in what's regarded as tasty. To many (maybe most) Europeans, typical mainstream US food is pretty unpleasant - too much salt, too sweet, too over-seasoned, too thick, too bright, too colourful, too large, too in-your-face. That's why many products like soft drinks are formulated differently for European markets to match local tastes.

Personally, I'll take a light lunch in an Italian trattoria, a French bistro, a Greek Taverna or a Spanish tapas bar ahead of your ice-cream or chocolate any day, thank you very much. I could happily live the rest of my life without chocolate, but the thought of a tomato-free existence would destroy my soul.

Comment: Re:Unhealthy food is tasty. Healthy food is boring (Score 1) 244 244

And I use a bread maker. It takes 2-3 minutes to load it up with ingredients before I go to bed, much quicker than walking to the local shop to pick up a loaf. I wake up in the morning to delicious, fresh, healthy, low GI wholemeal bread that tastes a million times better than anything sold in the supermarket.

Comment: Re:Shipping trash to China is not recycling (Score 1) 371 371

What a surprise! Shipping trash to China is *not* "recycling". If those trash were actually worth recycling, then do it within your borders.

If China recycles the shipped trash, surely it is recycling? If China is reluctant to allow unsorted recycling through its ports, presumably some other nation will step in, do the sorting and ship the sorted materials to China. Their workers will benefit from gainful employment, and, if that pushes up China's manufacturing costs, US based manufacturers may have an opportunity to purchase cheap raw materials and gain a competitive advantage. That's how markets work.

Comment: Re: question (Score 1) 163 163

...The only people that are rabidly opposed to it are the natural food religious zealots. They don't really give a shit if science has found it safe, they just hate seeing chemical names on their food labels and assume that because it doesn't sound like the name of a plant or a vitamin, why then without a doubt it must be bad for you because it's not as gaia intended...

I very rarely choose to buy food with colourings, flavourings or preservatives, either artificial or natural. My rationale is terribly simple and bears no resemblance to your suppositions.

Almost all food tastes and looks pretty good when it's first harvested or slaughtered. If it's been processed to the point where the colour and taste need to be enhanced in some way, or if it's going to hang around in a warehouse for long enough to need preservatives, I figure that there's a pretty good chance that a load of invisible nutrients have degraded as badly as the visible and olfactory components. I'm sure I'm not always right, but I'm happy with that assumption as a rule of thumb.

Comment: Re:Try it in the EU first (Score 4, Informative) 116 116

Yup. A massive fine awaits any business that attempts to behave in this way in the UK. The ICO is definitely not afraid to take enforcement action against organisations that flout data protection laws - see

Comment: Re:What I need to switch back to Firefox (Score 1) 240 240

I abandoned Firefox for Chrome when Mozilla decided that its CEO had to hold political views that matched the organisation's culture and values. I found their action to be pretty unpleasant so I voted with my keyboard.

I retained Firefox for a while because Chrome wouldn't work with the Pipelight nonsense that Linux users used to need for Netflix. Now Chrome works perfectly and natively with Netflix on Ubuntu, so Firefox is history for me.

I know that my attitude runs counter to the prevailing wisdom on /. but, before hitting the downvote button, you might want to ask yourself whether it's better to shove your fingers in your ears or to know what the other half is thinking.

Comment: Re:danger vs taste (Score 1) 630 630

Given a choice between something that I'm scared might kill me (diet soda) and something that I know is likely to kill me (regular soda), I'll choose the former over the latter every time. But you know what? I don't have to make that choice.

We have alternatives, people! Tap water is good for us, good for the environment, stunningly cheap and tastes pretty good. Tea and coffee are actually good for us and taste great. I just don't get why anyone would pour chemical effluent down their throat when the alternatives are so much more attractive.

Comment: Re: Unity next (Score 1) 494 494

So you found a bug that's almost certainly now fixed. Do you write off an entire desktop environment because one programming has a bug?

In any case, Unity offers a great way of controlling music that I wish all desktops shared. Simply click on the speaker icon and you get playback controls for all active music players - Spotify, Rhythmbox, Totem, etc.

Comment: Re:Unity next (Score 4, Insightful) 494 494

I've been using Unity for a few years and I like it...

Me, too. And my wife, my kids, my father, my mother in law. But most people who enjoy using Ubuntu aren't the kind of people who post on /. But power users who need advanced features not offered by Unity are presumably also sufficiently sophisticated, knowledgeable and competent to effortlessly install an alternative desktop.

Problem solved. Simpletons like me and my family can use the dumbed-down nursery-school, colour-by-numbers default desktop interface. Clever, technical people can type a few commands starting with 'sudo apt-get install'. I don't get why everyone isn't happy?

Comment: Re:Too many pixels = slooooooow (Score 2, Interesting) 263 263

They already have a 5k iMac...

And, if you lean forward - which most people do instinctively when they want to see something in more detail - you can discern the pixels on a 'retina' 5K iMac. 8K would be a definite improvement for photographic or artistic work. If the new model has a larger screen, 5K would definitely be insufficient.

For many people, this would represent a significant improvement in quality.

Comment: Re: Just learn to program (Score 1) 144 144

R as I use it is essentially a glorified calculator, but it's definitely not a graphical one - although it can produce very high quality graphic.

I'm not sure what you mean 'general purpose programming'; in fact, I'm sceptical that any such concept has any meaning. If you're asking if I'm structuring a large code base, I'm certainly not doing that: I rarely get beyond 100 lines of code, and, due to the nature of R, I can't even recall the precise syntax of a For loop (there's a saying that if you think you need a loop in your R code, you're not doing it right). I've never created a class in R, and I rarely even need to define new functions.

But R is incredibly useful to my day job. That's why I agree with the proposition posted in the original article. Coding doesn't have to be general purpose to be valuable.

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