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Comment: Looking for a real conversation (Score 4, Interesting) 212

This may come across as a troll, but I promise it's not. I'm looking for a genuine discussion on something.

From the small amount of reading I've done, it seems that the Koran is pretty clear: Islam requires non-Muslims to convert or pay tax or be killed:

So it seems to me like all fully observant Muslims are required to engage in, or at least approve of, this behavior.

If that's true, then:

(1) Why do so many Muslims renounce such violence? Is it that they can't stomach what appears to be this straight-forward interpretation of the Koran?

(2) If there is some alternative, justifiable interpretation of the Koran, why aren't governments fighting that propaganda war? Does the fact that they're not doing so indicate that no such justifiable interpretation exist?

Comment: Why can't taxpayers decide for themselves? (Score 5, Informative) 100

by sjbe (#47785275) Attached to: How Big Telecom Smothers Municipal Broadband

There is only one reason for the government to step in: make it easier for smaller ISPs to start shop.

So you don't think the government should step in if the big guys are abusing their monopoly? You don't think the voters in a municipality should be allowed to decide for themselves if they want the government to establish broadband services for their own use? I know it's a popular meme to presume that governments are nothing but incompetent but the reality is that sometimes the government is the best way to get something done. If the existing ISPs find it not worthwhile to serve a population I see no credible argument why the local government couldn't fill that role if the taxpayers want them to. Might not be economically ideal but sometimes perfect is the enemy of good enough.

I'd love to start a small ISP in my area, but it is practically impossible.

Out of curiosity, why? It's a pretty tough way to make a buck. The margins in being an ISP are pretty thin unless you are able to obtain some form of monopoly. If there is any competition the margins plummet but costs don't. Huge fixed costs, lots of customer service, maintenance, etc. Maybe it's your passion but I've started a number of businesses and that is a seriously difficult business to get into. I can introduce you to several people who have actually tried to start an ISP and failed in spite of being well funded.

Comment: Failing to recognize limits (Score 1) 148

by sjbe (#47784545) Attached to: Software Error Caused Soyuz/Galileo Failure

unlike every other kind of engineer, software engineers rarely encounter the boundaries of their knowledge

I'm not so sure about this. I agree about the arrogance but I think a more accurate statement might be that software engineers too often fail to recognize when they encounter the boundaries of their knowledge. I think they bump into those limits all the time and go merrily on their way past them. We've all seen software that was clearly developed by someone who clearly never actually had to use it to do the job it was designed for. I was staring at a piece of accounting software today that clearly was designed by someone who has never actually worked as an accountant. Either work flow was not a primary consideration or the programmer badly misunderstood how accountants go about their daily business. As you say, the consequences of their decisions are so far removed from their incentives and feedback that they have no real appreciation of how their work affects others.

Comment: Why are they hiding information? (Score 2) 121

by sjbe (#47784217) Attached to: Microsoft Releases Replacement Patch With Two Known Bugs

3 secs should be just enough to click the "more information" link.

You apparently have never bothered to click the "more information" link. It is a pretty good approximation of useless unless you click several layers deep and shouldn't be necessary in the first place. A short description of what the patch actually is intended to do would not kill Microsoft. I shouldn't have to go hunting for that information if I want it. Yes I know how to find out what the patch is for but Microsoft has made it needlessly hard.

Put bluntly, I shouldn't have to click ANY links to see a summary of what a patch is supposed to do.

Comment: Most developers only know trial and error (Score 1) 148

by sjbe (#47783429) Attached to: Software Error Caused Soyuz/Galileo Failure

Most programmers and software engineers have the limitations you mention because consumers don't want to pay for the high quality software we want to build for them.

I would lend more credence to this statement if most software engineers actually had any actual experience designing and implementing high reliability software. Most unfortunately have very little clue what that actually means or how to do it for real. They like the idea (it's a good idea!) but have zero experience or training in the implementation techniques required. You are correct that there is an economic component to the problem but that doesn't appear to be the core problem. Even when we take money out of the equation altogether with open source software, we STILL don't see software developers using the formal engineering techniques that would result in the most reliable software. I think this is in large part because most of them have no idea whatsoever how actually develop like this. Most software is designed by trial and error because that is the only way most developers know how to do it. They still code like they did when they were a teenager in mom's basement because no one showed them a better way.

For what it's worth, this problem isn't unique to software engineers. I'm not a programmer and I see similar problems with electrical and mechanical engineers on a daily basis. Trial and error is easy to understand and quick and generally works whereas formal engineering is much harder.

When software is used in places where it has to work the first time, we'll be more than happy to adapt to the new set of circumstances.

Maybe but I doubt it. I really don't see developers genuinely pushing for more reliable development techniques in the real world. They talk about them in a "wouldn't that be nice" sort of way but they don't really try to make them happen.

Comment: Hours of testing doesn't equal automatic quality (Score 1) 148

by sjbe (#47783365) Attached to: Software Error Caused Soyuz/Galileo Failure

Your fears are not rational. Self driving cars and robotic surgeons are tested for thousands of hours, under live conditions.

Among the other parts of my job I run a Quality Assurance department for my company and I've worked in QA for several years. It doesn't matter how much you test something if the process for designing and building the product was inadequate. QA testing is like the goalie on a hockey team - necessary but even the best goalie is going to fail if the team in front of him can't play defense. Good quality comes from good designs which are rationally and systematically well executed. Testing is a part of the equation but the correlation between hours of testing and the ultimate quality of a product is a weak one.

I had LASIK eye surgery done by a robot. I trusted it far more than I would a human surgeon.

And you looked up the hard evidence to back up this assumption for that specific procedure? (you may have - not trying to be rude) I've had LASIK as well and while I agree that it is absolutely possible for a robot to help a surgeon do a better job, I wouldn't trust it more simply because it was a robot. Furthermore there is a difference between an autonomous robot and a robotic assistive device. Most "robotic surgery" is with devices that assist and (hopefully) improve the capability of the surgeon doing the work but it is still a surgeon operating on you at the end of the day. He's just using a fancy tool to help him be a bit steadier.

Getting rocket software right is difficult precisely because there is no way to do a live test.

Umm, yes there is. It's called "doing a live test". They're often expensive but they very often are possible. We did lots of them in the early days of the space program. Companies still do them to this day. They might choose not to for economic reasons but that doesn't mean they cannot be done.

Comment: Women fight differently and are not more mature (Score 4, Insightful) 508

by sjbe (#47783203) Attached to: Why Women Have No Time For Wikipedia

Absolute truth. Women as a group tend to be more emotionally mature, and apt to avoid senseless conflict.

I've been on the board of a non-profit which whose members are predominately women, usually middle aged women. I also run a company where about 3/4 of the employees are women. Furthermore I grew up in a household where I was the only male most of the time. I can assure you that women are as a group absolutely not more (or less) emotionally mature than men and if anything women are more likely to engage in senseless conflict. HOW they fight is very different. More passive-aggressive, backbiting, alliance building, etc. It's like watching some crappy reality vote-the-other-guy-off-the-island show. In some ways women's conflict tactics are even nastier than the ones men typically employ. Guys might actually try to beat the crap out of each other (physically or verbally) but women will try to exile each other from social groups.

Anyone who thinks women's average level of maturity is higher than men's has either been watching too many sitcoms or never been around actual women for any meaningful period of time. Women tend to react to conflict differently but that doesn't mean they are any more mature about it. Men are no better but they aren't any worse either.

Comment: Re:About things "accidentally breaking" (Score 1) 285

by DoofusOfDeath (#47777499) Attached to: Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

Selective enforcement is a basic part of our separation of powers.

And the result is vile. We now have a legal code so complex and extensive that:

(1) No one can reasonably anticipate whether or not a given action (or inaction) would be deemed illegal by a court.

(2) Because everyone is always breaking some law, police and prosecutors can always find something to charge you with if they want to.

Comment: Re:Unintended consequences? (Score 2) 285

by DoofusOfDeath (#47774855) Attached to: Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

What happens when an officer feels that he can't let people off the hook because he's constantly being watched?

Perhaps that would finally be enough to get the laws changed?

I consider it beyond disgusting that we have an excessive set of laws on the books, which can be ignored or enforced at the whim of politically appointed prosecutors.

Comment: Re:About things "accidentally breaking" (Score 2) 285

by DoofusOfDeath (#47774843) Attached to: Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

It would help curb selective enforcement; officers would be more likely to more fully follow protocol.

I'm skeptical of that one. Eric Holder proudly announced to the press that he has broad discretion in enforcing laws.

As vile as it is, selective enforcement has somehow become acceptable to our court system.

Comment: Re: Her work (Score 0) 1181

It's reasonable to expect all people to refrain from credibly threatening the lives of others.

Do you mean that literally in all cases? For example, I'm okay with people having threatened Hitler's life (which obviously isn't what's going on here, but I'm just using an extreme case to make my point.)

"Our reruns are better than theirs." -- Nick at Nite