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Comment Re:How? (Score 1) 71 71

And how, exactly, does one program a robot to be compassionate or empathetic? Can emotion be reduced to a few simple formulas, some generic algorithms? I'm not convinced.

Yes it basically can be reduced to a few simple formulas. Have you ever been to couple's counselling or the like? The rules are very simple. You listen to what someone says. The only questions you ask are ones that help you understand the spirit of what they're saying. When they're done you repeat back "I heard you tell me that XYZ" in your own words as faithfully as possible. Hey presto, empathy and social connection.

It sounds corny but it works incredibly well at (1) helping the other person feel understood, (2) changing your own mental approach so you really do understand them better in a good way.

It also works really well in a professional setting, in meetings.

Comment Re:I'm surprised they missed "Wi-Fi Sense." (Score 1) 403 403

It's also enabled by default

When you connect to a network, there's a checkbox for "do you want to share it", and this checkbox is the ONLY checkbox you're asked about. Not hidden away or something.

If "enabled by default" means "prompted for every single time", then you have a different notion of "default" from everyone else. The only thing that's enabled by default is the initial state of the checkbox in the place where it prompts you. You still see the checkbox plainly, and you still have to click OK.

Comment Store it in the cloud (Score 1) 217 217

Store it in the cloud. 1/2 petabyte isn't even the "highest tier" requirement.

On Azure it will cost $168k/year to store this much data instantly accessible. Whatever other solution you come up with, if it takes more than 1 full time person to support, then it's already more expensive (and that's not even including the up-front capital costs, installation and setup costs, training costs, deprecation, maintainance, ...)

Comment Re:Unhealthy food is tasty. Healthy food is boring (Score 4, Insightful) 244 244

If you shop for and buy processed foods (the goop in the center aisles of the grocery store), again, yes, this is all your gonna get. But if you take a little time and look around, VERY good food choices can be had.

It's not that easy. At QFC and Safeway, EVERY bread they sell is overly sweetened. The only bread I've found without too much sugar is Trader Joe's rye.

Comment Visual Studio is free (Score 5, Informative) 255 255

reliance on a single expensive, proprietary, vendor-driven tool. Whether it's the predominance of Adobe in design programs, of Visual Studio in many computer science programs, ...

Visual Studio is free for students, OSS contributors, and small teams. It's only larger enterprises that have to pay for it.

Visual Studio Code is free and cross-platform, runs great on Linux (and mac), and is a pretty handy tool for working in node.js and other languages.

(disclaimer: I work in the Visual Studio team)

Comment Re:Apple Developer Program now all inclusive (Score 1) 415 415

Wait, you guys (Apple developers) have to pay *licenses* to Apple to write programs and apps on their platforms? How are you guys OK with this? Like, what discourse goes through your mind to justify this when you are forced to pull out the credit card? I'm actually now getting pretty curious as to how the cognitive dissonance gets resolved in your minds.

What cognitive dissonance? Dissonance is when you simultaneously hold two contradictory ideas in your head. I don't!

I have a hobby - coding. For some of it I pay money for web hosting so I can offer my code, my web-services, my online apps, for free without ads. For other bits of it I pay money for software tools, and for hardware. The sums of money are pretty small. They're more than I pay for some hobbies (e.g. windsurfing) and less than I pay for others (e.g. driving a classic car). The money I pay for the apple dev license is smaller than a date night out with my wife, once you factor in the cost of dinner and babysitter.

Comment Re: Apple Developer Program now all inclusive (Score 2) 415 415

What cognitive dissonance? There is none. Apple have lots of money. I'm comfortably well off. I don't mind paying this money to them to pursue my hobby.

Other bits of my coding hobby cost a lit more, like paying for web hosting of my ad-free resources that I put up. And paying for equipment.

The developer fee is pretty cheap. Last date night out with my wife cost more, once we factor in dinner and gabby sitter.

Comment Free college education == civilization (Score 4, Insightful) 1032 1032

I got free college education. It wasn't at a small local college - it was at Cambridge, one of the top ten universities in the world. The government also gave me a "living stipend", enough for room and board in college and a tiny bit extra. Free college education continues in Scotland today, but has been abolished in England and Wales.

Government funding for education managed to keep prices low, maybe similar to how the NHS keeps healthcare costs lower than in the US. I never had to spend any money on money-mill textbooks because in most courses the lecturers provided us with notes, and where we needed books we just worked with them in the library.

I'm deeply grateful for it all. It feels crippling for young folks today that don't have wealthy parents, to have to start out their lives burdened by crippling debt. What an awful psychological burden for the next 20-30 years of their lives. How awful that they get turned into cogs in a corporate wheel where they have to grind through functional jobs to pay back that debt. How divisive that the children of rich kids are spared this.

I think it's a mark of civilization that we can educate our children and young adults, broaden their minds, give them a liberal arts background, let their creativity fly. So what if they learn poetry or philosophy or literature. So what if 90% of these educations we give them don't show a return-on-investment? I don't care. That's what society and civilization MEANS:

“I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematicks and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, musick, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelaine.” John Adams, Letter to Abigail Adams, May 12, 1780.

(As for me? I'm now a software engineer. Through my professional work I've given back lots to society, making lots of developers more productive through my language design work. I gladly pay the top rate of taxes, and would gladly pay more. I asked the tax office how to donate higher levels of tax, and the person was very confused, went off for thirty minutes to get help from her supervisors, and ultimately told me it was impossible. Every election, I always vote for the parties that will benefit the people worse off than me, at my own detriment, because that's how I think civilized people should behave. I've not seen a charity that manages to control overall education costs, or provide universal benefit, as well as the UK government did through taxes.)

Comment Re:think of advanced civilisations in fiction (Score 3, Insightful) 176 176

Think of advance civilizations in fiction... See, the Romans had it right. Give the plebs just enough food to survive and keep them entertained, they stay compliant and content. Hence, "Bread and Circuses".

Don't you think the fiction *copied* from past human cultures, particularly the Romans?

Comment Re:How to read f*ucked up code (Score 1) 336 336

The biggest skill in C++ is how to read code that's got templates, generics, overloaded operators, and custom keywords. "What do you mean they overloaded '+' to merge objects?"

Irony: a C programmer who doesn't like languages that let you shoot yourself in the foot :)

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 5, Interesting) 39 39

Wonder if "untangling" proteins could help with Alzheimers and "Mad Cow?.

There are two main theories about Alzheimers. The dominant theory is that it's caused by beta-amyloid protein which forms plaques. The minority theory is that it's caused by tau protein which forms long filaments called "tangles"; these tangles gum up the neuron and eventually cause it to burst.

My father during his PhD discovered that a common dye, methylene blue, causes those filaments to untangle. He formed a small pharmaceutical company to pursue this idea. They tweaked the chemical a bit, including with heavy duty computer number-crunching to simulate its 3d structure and mode of interaction. They had great results in Phase 2 trials, and their Phase 3 trials are currently underway. Fingers crossed.

That said, Alzheimers disease is a graveyard of pharmaceutical funding. $18+ billion dollars put into drug trials so far (not just "foundational research"), primarily on the beta-amyloid hypothesis, but with nothing yet to show.

"Well hello there Charlie Brown, you blockhead." -- Lucy Van Pelt