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Comment Re: raspberry pi about 50$ does just fine. (Score 1) 247

I've run a Raspberry Pi as a server (DNS, DHCP, LDAP, Kerberos, SMTP/IMAP, webmail, MediaWiki) for 3 years with only one restart necessitated by stability issues, when my DHCP server inexplicably stopped dishing out IP addresses and refused to play until the box was restarted.

That's much better stability than our ops guys ever seem to manage in the office.

Comment Re: Embrace (Score 1) 105

No-one will use Excel instead of R for big data analysis. Excel maxes out at 1m rows and spreadsheets that size takes minutes to open while R takes seconds or less. All R users also use spreadsheets as a complementary tool and, in a commercial environment, that's always Excel.

Microsoft's vision for R appears to be completely different. They want to integrate R with their existing big data tools - Azure, SQL server, etc - to put their offering ahead of the likes of Amazon and Oracle.

Comment Re:Short term: change title from programmer to dev (Score 4, Insightful) 349

Tech jobs are only one way of using programming skills.

When kids learn to code, they learn to think algorithmically. They learn to break down problems into smaller, easier to define sub-problems. They learn to construct models. They learn to apply numerical methods to problem evaluation. They learn about the relationship between inputs and outputs, cause and effect. They get to explore feedback mechanisms, hysteresis, system complexity and instability.

These are highly desirable workplace skills in a wide range of occupations. Physicists, bankers, data scientists, pricing specialists, marketing consultants, accountants (the list is endless) all benefit from the analytical mind of a someone who understands how to code.

Comment Re:Not a custom app (Score 3, Insightful) 58

Totally agree. I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that most mobile apps are unnecessary and evil.

I've just extended the battery life on my Nexus phone by at least 30% by deleting a bunch of scarcely used mobile apps that insisted on running background processes (turning off push synchronization on Exchange added another 50%, btw). I'm now back to the once-per-day charge that I remember enjoying when the phone was new.

My phone is now faster, cooler, quieter, less cluttered and gives me fewer irritating notifications. Die, apps, die!

Comment Re: It's like Venezuela but without all the gun c (Score 3, Insightful) 431

You're quite right that the first two bailouts primarily rescued Greece's creditors, but Greece already owed that money to someone. The losers in those transactions weren't the Greeks - the big losers European taxpayers who adopted the Greek government's debts.

But you're very mistaken if you think that the biggest buyers of government debt are the banks. Pension funds, investment funds and insurance companies have far more cash to splash.

You're also pretty ignorant if you claim that institutions perform no credit assessment of their investments. For traded bonds like government IOUs, that assessment is essentially outsourced to three credit reference agencies, Moody's, Standard and Poor's and Fitch. Those agencies are supposedly licenced and regulated but utterly failed to identify the risk with Greek debt ahead of the downturn. If you're looking for a scapegoat on the creditor side, they're a much better scapegoat than the banks.

Blaming the banks is a lazy knee-jerk reaction that's not really grounded in fact. P.S. I'm not a banker.

Comment Re: It's like Venezuela but without all the gun c (Score 2) 431

The Federal Reserve doesn't work like that. The USA can maintain its government deficit because enough people are willing to buy US government bonds. If, one day, people no longer trust it to repay its debts, there will be a financial meltdown the like of which the world has never yet seen.

Comment Re: It's like Venezuela but without all the gun cr (Score 5, Insightful) 431

Seriously! Have you made any attempt to understand this problem?

Former Greek governments borrowed the money, not bankers. Most of the money wasn't lent by bankers. The troika comprises the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank - mostly politicians, not bankers.

The current problem facing Greece is that no-one will lend them any more money. Even if 100% of their past debts were written off, current tax receipts are insufficient to meet current expenditure. Without more money from the people you mistakenly call bankers, austerity in Greece will become much worse.

Put the blame where it really lies. Not with bankers, but with dishonest politicians and a delusional electorate who always believed someone else would pay their bills.

Comment Re:Makes sense. (Score 5, Insightful) 278

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) 154

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) 154

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) 154

"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

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

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.

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