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Comment: Re:Maybe this will wake some people up (Score 1) 169

by linuxrocks123 (#46815509) Attached to: GitHub Founder Resigns Following Harassment Investigation

I commented on this just yesterday.

I really, really don't think we need PE-style licensing professionalism for most software. Example: Facebook lets anybody commit code that goes straight to the public site. I guess you're probably supposed to test it before you hit commit and it immediately goes live. Is this an issue? Does Facebook crash often? Does it even matter?

In the situations where good software is really, really important -- like, say, airplanes -- we already have regulations in place to deal with the special needs of those particular fields. If a PE does a bad job, a bridge might fall down. If a normal software developer does a bad job, Facebook might be unavailable for 20 minutes. Or maybe even Google ... *shudder*.

If it's a case where a Pacemaker might fail, I assert that we've learned from Therac-25 and similar incidents and apply the right quality standards, generally, to safety-critical software like that.

And that's really what the PE system is for. Safety. Most engineers build things that really need to work right, or seriously bad stuff will happen. Most software developers don't. And, because we're not constrained the same way PEs are constrained, we're able to do a lot more work a lot more quickly than software developers operating under PE-style constraints. If you want to see what a world of PE software engineers would be like, look at aircraft code, spaceship code, or (I hope ... not sure) medical device code. Yes, it works great and is incredibly clean. There's also very little of it, because making code to that standard costs a lot of time and money and it's just absurd to do it for Facebook, Twitter, or Microsoft Office.

Comment: Re:Not a programmer's problem, a managerial one (Score 2) 169

by linuxrocks123 (#46812727) Attached to: The Ethical Dilemmas Today's Programmers Face

If this actually happened, you would have rules like this:

"You can't write X without including Y DRM because otherwise OMG PIRACY!!111!!!"

Fix the morons who would write that into the code of ethics. Then, maybe we'll talk.

"It's been 3 minutes since you last sucessfully posted a comment."

Yes, it has, and I have "Excellent" karma and have been a member for so many years I can't remember, and I currently have mod points. Maybe give me the benefit of the doubt?

Just for that:


Comment: Re:To the point... (Score 1) 148

by linuxrocks123 (#46729701) Attached to: 'weev' Conviction Vacated

This is unsettled law. The CFAA is very vague, so judges have to interpret it, so it's unsettled. Saying it's the "geek perspecticve" is meaningless; expert opinion certainly matters here.

Until we get a Supreme Court CFAA case, we'll never really know what that stupid law means. Until we know what it means, overzealous prosecutors will be using it to bully people into accepting plea bargins or killing themselves. Aaron's Law appears to be dying in committee. It's a damn shame.

Think of the intent of the actions here. Did he sell these email addresses to spammers on the black market? No, he contacted the press. These are not the actions of someone who should be sent to jail.

Comment: Re:Mixed Linux/Windows Environments Don't Work Wel (Score 1) 451

by linuxrocks123 (#46721343) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Start With Linux In the Workplace?

You're way overstating it.

First: LibreOffice has essentially perfect Word 97 import/export, and modern Word still supports those formats well.

Second: It's very common for there to be formatting problems with documents exchanged between different institutions. It is slightly annoying to receive misformatted documents, but it is accepted as normal. It would cause some secretary a little angst. That secretary wouldn't be able to influence purchasing decisions, even if she (or he) were petty enough to want to hurt someone's business over the issue.

Comment: Re:April Fools stories are gay (Score 1) 1482

by linuxrocks123 (#46645425) Attached to: OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

Looking through the works, rather than just taking Wikipedia at face value, it looks like the following is the kernel of the non-Biblical evidence:
1. Tacitus, approximately a century after the events in the Bible took place, talked about Christians in Rome and their persecution and said that Jesus was crucified by Pilate. He gets Pilate's official rank wrong. We have no idea where he got his information. Still, this is better than I thought the evidence was. Which isn't necessarily saying much.
2. There's a passage by Jewish-to-Roman defector Josephus Flavius talking about Jesus written circa 100 AD. It's at least partly a forgery, though. ...and that's it. Two references, one at least partly forged, each no earlier than 70 years after the fact.

Tacitus was a good historian. Maybe he looked up Jesus's death in the official Roman records. Maybe those records didn't even exist by the time Tacitus was writing; his death wouldn't have been particularly noteworthy at the time. He doesn't tell us where he got his information -- this isn't unusual for a Roman historian -- so we don't and never will know if he was just parroting Christian mythology on the subject.

Regarding scholarly consensus on the matter ... the consensus of people who have devoted their lives to studying a single book that that book isn't totally made up doesn't impress me much :)

Like I said, though, I don't know if he existed. I don't think we ever will know. If I had to guess, I'd say yes. But in my mind it's like maybe a 60% chance.

Re Jesus catching on:

Perhaps not the best example, since, even if this guy didn't exist, some seriously weird stuff -- from their perspective at least -- started happening to those people during World War 2, but you get the idea.

Re God being just: if you believe in eye-for-eye "justice", I guess he would be just. Like I said, I don't. I think causing pain "because he/she/they deserve it" is immoral and shouldn't be the foundation of a modern society. If you steal, you should have to repay the person you stole from, plus interest and perhaps emotional damages. That's making the person you stole from whole again. Cutting your hand off isn't called for. Neither is putting you in jail except for (1) deterrence and (2) rehabilitation. Pain for pain's sake should never happen. If you disagree, maybe that's why you don't feel the God you're describing is as horrific a being as I perceive him to be.

Don't worry about eloquence. I think we're understanding each other :)

Comment: Re:April Fools stories are gay (Score 1) 1482

by linuxrocks123 (#46643545) Attached to: OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights
This is actually my first attempt at quoting. Let's see if it works.

The "official" response is that we were created perfect, but Adam & Eve screwed it up, so we are ALL screwed. God, however, threw us a life-line. All you have to do to escape is turn from sin and follow Jesus. God's rules, so he can define sin how he wants. Should being gay be a sin? I would tend to exclude that from the list, but it is not my choice.

Regarding the apple story: putting the apple in the garden when he KNEW they would eat it was supremely assholish. Yeah, he told them not to eat it. Yeah, they did anyway. BUT WHY PUT IT THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE? Oh, they had to have a choice. Well, why? If you're designing a UI, you don't have a big button on the screen saying, "DON'T CLICK ME, BUT, IF YOU DO, MAYBE SOMETHING GOOD WILL HAPPEN!" and then have that button format the hard drive. As a general rule when creating devices or environments people interact with, you try to make it hard or preferably impossible for them to screw things up for themselves, not easy. If you're nice, you try NOT to give them choices they don't need and which can only serve to hurt them. He gave them a choice when he knew they'd make the wrong one. That's worse than stupid: it's mean. It's psychological torture. It's like:

"Yah, things could have been great for you guys but you FLUNKED. HA HA ha. Ha ha. Ha."

As to heaven vs. hell, let's look at things differently. If you do assume heaven and hell exist, then who gets to go where? Would you like to think that Hitler is in hell? How about Stallin? Putin? The guy who cut you off in traffic last week? The guy who sold you the broken used hard drive off of CraigsList and told you it was in great shape? Simply stated, if you just judge people on good/evil, where should the dividing line be? What about the person who is just below this imaginary line? How should they feel? To a perfect being, the ONLY line that makes sense is perfection. Nobody lives up to that, so God had to invent an escape plan.

Personally, I don't think anyone "deserves" to suffer. An eye for an eye just isn't how I think about things like that. It's like, a dog bites someone, so you torture the dog. Why do that? It's a dog. Kill it if you need to; don't make it suffer.

Most of the time, at least in my opinion, people who do assholish things don't really know they're being assholes. They had bad parents who taught them a screwed-up morality system. Or, they fail at logic. Or, they're too self-centered. Or, they fall into blame-the-victim fallacies because of who knows why. But, they're not really evil. They're just wrong. If you can get to them -- really get them to listen to you -- maybe you can make them right. Maybe not. But either way, there's no excuse for being cruel.

Sadists are the people I have the most problem with. People who intentionally cause other people pain just for the sake of doing that -- I mean, I can't empathize with them. At all. They're more alien to me than, well, dogs. Even dogs can show kindness, to their owners and to other dogs. People who can't, well, they're freaks of nature, and they're scary, and they're tragic, and my understanding is they often can't be helped. I look at them as deformed to the point that they can scarcely be called human. And that's sad.

But I don't want to torture them. Lock them up if you have to (assuming they committed a crime). But why would you want to hurt them? What would that accomplish except satisfying your own vindiction? And vindictiveness if a character flaw.

If I were hurt -- badly -- by a sadist, maybe I would like to see them suffer. But that's because I'm not perfect; I am sometimes vindictive. However, it would take a lot -- a lot a lot a lot a lot -- to make me want to torture them for all eternity. If I got to where I would want to cause that much pain, well, the sadist won, in a way, because I'd have become a sadist, too.

God -- if you're Christian -- has people tortured for all eternity, as a matter of course. He does this to a substantial portion of humanity. He supposedly outsources the job to one of his former lieutenants with whom he had a falling out, okay, so what? We're his CHILDREN, RIGHT?! If the God you're talking about is real, and he's sending people to Hell, the world is as dark as dark can be, because we're the playthings of a sadistic monster.

Regarding Jesus: afaik there's little to no evidence he lived outside of the Bible, which I don't take to be a reliable source. I have no idea if there was a man named Jesus Christ, and the question doesn't really interest me. I've actually looked at the specific book you pointed out, and I found it unpersuasive. You have to be careful reading that book: a lot of the stuff he says is just plain factually wrong.

Regarding the environment of Jesus: assuming he was really a person, he was born into a time when Judaea had a lot of revolutionary theocratic political movements going on, many if not most of which involved leaders claiming to be the Messiah. There were a lot of claims that miracles were being performed, too. In my view, Jesus is just the one who caught on. This actually, in my view, makes is more likely than not he /WAS/ a person despite the lack of evidence of his life outside the Bible. But, like I said, I really have no idea.

I wish I could bring up the specific Messiah claimants that I used to know about as examples of "Jesus alternatives", but it's been so long since I've debated this that I've forgotten their names, and Wikipedia was surprisingly unhelpful.

Comment: Re:April Fools stories are gay (Score 1) 1482

by linuxrocks123 (#46636477) Attached to: OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

I saw this in meta-moderation, and I had to respond. I voted you up, by the way. Well-written post.

Atheist here. I'm not going to argue God isn't real; I can do that, but I won't convince you. I'm going to argue that, if your God is real, he is an asshole of the highest order.

I'm going to assume, based on your post, that you either believe unrepentant homosexuals are to be tortured in a place that has undergone extreme global warming, or you think they will simply cease to exist. I've heard Christians say both. Whichever is the case, don't you think that's a really (pun intentional) dick move? They're not hurting other people. God made them to like doing what they do. They don't think what they're doing is wrong; they were also made not to think what they were doing is wrong. If your God is real, he made a list of rules he knew would be violated by a bunch of people, therefore condemning them, and then set them up for failure. And it's up to him; he's omnipotent. He can make whatever rules he wants. Some of them -- the "don't hurt other people" ones -- make sense in a society where (for some reason) he has to essentially pretend he doesn't exist and so can't perform miracles like just resurrecting murder victims because you have to accept he exists with little to no evidence of that fact because he's such an egotist he actually cares about that. Some of them -- like "don't stick that there, even if he likes it" -- make sense only if you think he is the final arbiter of what's right and what's wrong.

And if he's omnipotent, he is, from a pure power perspective. He has the power to enforce whatever rules he wants, just like Saudi Arabia has the power to oppress women as much as they want. If you think might makes right, then go with God. And I guess you'd better tow the line in that case or you'll get thrown in the Bad Place, too. So maybe you can't even be honest with me. Maybe you're too scared to be honest with yourself.

But think about it. Really think about condemning people -- good people, who help other people, who want to do the right thing as they see it, and who happen to be attracted to their own gender -- to eternal torture or eternal nonexistence (whatever you think is going to happen to them) because they got that rule wrong. They didn't hurt anyone else. They weren't trying to do anything wrong. The rule doesn't make any logical sense; you have to just accept it "on faith", which they didn't have. And this God dude puts them on the eternal shit list for that.

If this guy is real, isn't he pretty despicable? If not -- honest answer -- what the fuck is he doing that for? What is he trying to accomplish? And is damning X people to hell or nothingness for whatever he's trying to accomplish really, REALLY worth it, because what he's doing carries a higher cost than anything any mortal has ever done, ever.

If we start getting modded offtopic or somesuch, point me to a journal if you'd like to keep this discussion up. I'm interested in what answers you might come up with for this. I had one guy -- a close friend -- actually come right out and say that, while he was religious, he was towing the line out of fear and fear alone. I'd be interested in what you think of all this because you seem like a pretty smart guy.

Comment: Re:Flook explicitly says you're wrong (Score 1) 192

by linuxrocks123 (#46631751) Attached to: Supreme Court Skeptical of Computer-Based Patents

I've enjoyed discussing this issue with you as well.

The statement you quoted continues on to say that difficult questions of patentability should be left to Congress. It's simply saying that Congress can change the law if it wants to, and that the court isn't judging whether patentability of software, were it legal, would be a good or bad thing.

Regarding software as mathematics, and programmer's ability to do math, software is a specialized branch of mathematics, and programmers, even if they do not understand other branches, typically understand the mathematics of algorithms at least to a rudimentary degree. For instance, a good programmer will be able to sketch out a proof that a loop in his program works correctly by intuitively using loop invariants, even if he's never studied loop invariants formally. I would argue programmers probably should study loop invariants formally. I'll note that I have not had a class on proving proving programs correct, but I do think I would benefit from one.

However, even talking about formal correctness is a little bit of a distraction. The point is that a human can sit down and execute a program using his brain and will produce the same result as a computer executing the program with a CPU. A computer with one ISA can emulate another and execute software written for a different type of computer. The fundamental essence of software is abstract, not physical. A machine with gears is a physical machine. A computer is a physical machine as well, and software, when running on it, does correspond to electrons in certain states, but those electrons aren't the essence of what the programmer created. Software is an entity that exists outside of any individual computer or the physical world. It's an abstract entity, and that's the type of thing that's not supposed to be patentable.

Comment: Re:that's a common misconception (Score 1) 192

by linuxrocks123 (#46630653) Attached to: Supreme Court Skeptical of Computer-Based Patents

I am aware that there are laws of nature other than math. They are not at issue here.

The case you cited stands for the principle that if the only NOVEL ADDITION to human knowledge a patent would bring is a mathematical formula, then the idea/invention is not patentable since it adds nothing to human knowledge except unpatentable subject matter. In almost all software patents, the only novel addition to human knowledge is a mathematical algorithm, since all software is composed solely of mathematical algorithms. Thus, the argument goes, software running on a computer is not patentable, since "running on a computer" is not novel and the mathematical algorithms composing software are unpatentable by themselves by virtue of being laws of nature.

This is the way the Supreme Court has ruled so far. The Supreme Court has also been very skeptical of method patents in the recent past. It's impossible to predict how the court will rule in Alice Corp. vs. CLS Bank, of course, but, given precedent, there's a good chance we could get software explicitly declared unpatentable subject matter, which would be a big win. Throwing out "thousands of issued patents" didn't stop the court with Bilski.

Comment: Re:I'm suspicious of patents on things made of ste (Score 1) 192

by linuxrocks123 (#46627721) Attached to: Supreme Court Skeptical of Computer-Based Patents

Two answers:

First, software exists outside the physical world. Every piece of software is an algorithm, and algorithms are pure math, and pure math, by very long-standing precedent, isn't patentable. Hence, the argument goes, software isn't patentable, because doing so is equivalent to patenting the pure math behind it.

Second, the real reason software shouldn't be patentable is because of all the policy reasons given in this discussion. They just cause more trouble than they're worth. The "software is math" argument is just the vehicle we're using to pursue our policy goals. That's not to say it's not a good legal argument -- it is -- but the reason we like to make this legal argument is because software patents are bad policy, and we think it will be easier to get courts to interpret the existing law to exclude software patents than it would be to get Congress to change the law to explicitly outlaw software patents.

You can not get anything worthwhile done without raising a sweat. -- The First Law Of Thermodynamics