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Comment Re:Xinuos owns SCO Assets (Score 1) 221

Ok, First of all, I made a mistake. The product I'm talking about is OpenServer, not OpenDesktop. I had a brain fart.

Now let's be clear about something: UNIX was developed by AT&T and has been around for many years. There is nothing wrong with the code and the architecture was VERY stable over a long period of time. There have been some variants (BSD, etc.) but the product itself is pretty darn good. Some companies, (Cromemco, SCO, DEC, IBM, others) ported the OS to the z80/S100, x86, PDP8, and other computer architectures. The design is still good. There was never anything wrong with the product, and many of us in the x86 camp ran servers for years on SCO Xenix, UNIX, ESIX, Kodak, and more. The architecture was very stable and very mature. It was the standard architecture for getting real work done. I sold and supported thousands of installations of SCO Unix and ESIX to NASA in the early '90's. I remember when Linux was just a toy operating system. Linux and MINIX were the two experimental OS's that hoped to perform as well as UNIX.

So, the problem is not in the product. The bad feelings about SCO came about after a few other companies bought the rights, Caldera renamed itself "The SCO Group, and then started suing LINUX users and other companies, claiming that they were using code that SCO owned. Many companies settled quickly, but IBM refused to be intimidated and called the SCO Group's bluff. It ended badly for SCO (after many years). But the product is not the company. XINUOS started out small, but is making good headway in supporting a fine, mature product. I hope it doesn't implode or go out of business, but with so much ignorance being bandied about, I'm not willing to bet on them long-term.

I am, however, willing to buy their product as long as it's available.

Comment Xinuos owns SCO Assets (Score 4, Funny) 221

Many of my customers are still using SCO Open Desktop. For new licenses and users I now deal with XINUOS . They acquired the assets of SCO from the bankruptcy proceedings. They are pretty good people to deal with. The best part is that I can use the same platform that I have used since 1981 when I was supporting AT&T 3B2 computers (with technical upgrades, of course). Open Desktop is the name of the System V 3.2 architecture. It is now time to stop denigrating SCO (the OS) and see it as a viable commercial alternative to Linux or xxxBSD, and is a stable, strongly usable platform for getting actual work done.

Comment This is about communicating (Score 1) 214

I am constantly reminded that people seldom communicate well with each other; Why would they be expected to communicate well with machines?

The Wolfram Language seems to me to be a good way to learn to communicate (at least mathematically) with machines, and it looks to me like it could help improve communicating mathematically with people, too.

Charles Key Ogden developed a system he called "Basic English," based on the theory that anything can be communicated in 850 words.
Notice how many English words are mathematical. They describe numbers, relations, space, etc., etc.. Yet people with huge vocabularies seem to lack precision; almost everything in their language is an abstraction rather than an operable fact.

I hold no hope for the Human Race, but after only two hours trying out the Wolfram Language, I can see how this will help new thinkers master communication with their tools, and the tools they have to communicate with every day.

Comment Re:The elegant simplicity of slide rules (Score 1) 220

I have two slide rules which I still use. The skill I use the most is estimating calculations for reasonableness. I don't think they teach that in school anymore.

In 1968, after I came back from Vietnam, I started selling the first "truly programmable" desktop calculator. It was one of those "Nixie tube" machines you were talking about, and it was made by (Wait for it.....) COMMODORE! My competition was Friden and Marchant. The Friden machine weighed almost 40 lbs and could memorize 45 steps. Our little magnetic strips could only record 30 instructions, but we could do loops and recursion. The Marchant was a two-part unit with a 30lb desktop unit connected by a big cable to a desk-side unit with about 30 lbs of magnetic core memory.

I remember my first big sale: Bell Telephone in Minneapolis. My little 30-lb Commodore fit in my briefcase. I put it on the buyer's desk and said, "Listen." He said, "I don't hear anything." I said, "Right." then I opened the door to his office, which opened onto the main floor where hundreds of people were working their mechanical calculators (with the associated noise). I closed the door again and said, "Listen." He said, "We will take 250 of them. How soon can you deliver?"

Being Commodore, they almost screwed up the order, but I did get them delivered within a month.

Commodore had some of the cleverest designs and some of the worst business practices of any company I ever worked with. Ten years later I was the first in my town selling the Commodore PET. I could have sold 10 or 15 a day, but I couldn't get them, and sometimes when I did get them I would get 80% DOA. I had to order 5 at a time, prepaid, and any RMA systems meant I had to prepay and order 5 more in order to have enough on hand. 10 years later I still had the same problem with handling the Amiga.

Ahh, the good old days...

Comment the whole program should be re-thought (Score 1) 445

What problem does the so-called "gifted" solve?

Without knowing the exact problem, it is hard to tell whether the solution is working, right?

A problem exists when either:
1. there is a discrepancy between what you want and what you get, or

2. there is an opportunity being missed and something desirable is not being acquired/achieved.

Now, in my little universe, I operate under a few assumptions:

DATA is everywhere
DATA classified becomes INFORMATION
INFORMATION that describes how the world works becomes KNOWLEDGE
KNOWLEDGE helps us make better DECISIONS

In order to transform DATA into DECISIONS, we learn certain SKILLS

So, in my little universe, the ideal education system would be one that increasingly improved a person's ability to turn DATA into DECISIONS and produce people capable of executing appropriate ACTIONS under a variety of common conditions. This means a continuous system of introducing DATA and new SKILLS to transform that DATA appropriately. It has nothing to do with race, religion, or ideology, but has everything to do to with the individuals' current knowledge level, cultural desires and skill-set. In my little universe, each individual would be moved along the line according to their level of interest and ability. (Darned if that doesn't sound a lot like a Montessori school!)

Labels don't count. "Gifted" has absolutely no objective referent; it is only an arbitrary comparison.

Since I see the problem so differently from people who are trying to tweak the current so-called "solution," I have no place in my little universe for evaluationg your alternatives.

Comment define "gifted" (Score 1) 445

I find myself objecting to the word "gifted" as applied to students (or anyone). It seems to me the level of skill has less to do with the innate genetic makeup or god-given gifts than the advantages of the learning environment.

I didn't always feel this way: My daughter went to Montessori school and was always in the advanced or gifted programs in Public High School. I'm now convinced that she acquired these "gifts" as a result of hard work, great teachers, and good parental coaching and encouragement.

I also think the researcher had an agenda, but I think the main problem stems from two false premises:

First, I think it is false that you can manufacture "educated" citizens in the same way as you manufacture consumer goods. I suspect the whole concept of "Public" Education" is fundamentally flawed.

Second, I think the assumption that a disparity in numbers between races or cultures in the USA reflects deliberate racism is flawed.

I also disagree strongly with many current arguments on "egalitarianism" and the war on "social differences," but that is obviously a discussion too big for a /. forum.

Comment define "introvert" (Score 1) 307

Extrovert and introvert lack precision as definitions. We have put labels on people as a matter of convenience, and then act as if those labels are real things.

The scientific approach would be to find out what works under what conditions for which individuals and then apply those approaches as needed, right? Maybe the arguments against the scientific approach are disguising argument against public schooling, government-defined education standards, or classroom schooling in general.

Many people use the Myers-Briggs personality inventory to pigeonhole prospective employees, students and customers. The Myers-Briggs test suffers from the same lack of precision, but is somewhat useful in classifying peoples personality styles for purposes of communication and work processes. People who aren't familiar with the MB are surprised to learn that those who score high on the "Extrovert" scale are usually very self-centered. Their "sociability" is usually directed toward making themselves look good. They constantly interrupt and argue with people, and do not really work well in teams unless they are the "leader" or part of the leadership group. In fact, it may be that having a high-scoring introvert on the team brings down the performance of the whole team.

Scoring high on the "Introvert" scale does not mean you are not "sociable." There are other factors that determine whether a person works better as an individual or part of a group. There are actually other, more scientifically relevant ways to determine social behavior under different conditions, but those may not be as convenient as a 30-minute quiz.

This article is another case of taking useless information and dressing it up to look like it has scientific relevance.

Comment Way behind the times! (Score 1) 289

For many years, many of us thought that this was the bewst way to produce good software. Perl programmers admire "programs that write programs" (Something that us LISP programmers have been doing for decades). Programs like Rational Rose and Embarcadero and even Eclipse can generate pretty dang good code from models (UML), and there are dozens of good generators out there built on things like FSM design. James Martin wrote books in the'70's called something like, "Software which is Provably Correct" and System Design from Provably Correct Constructs" which used a logical design model (HOL) to generate good programs. IMNSHO, coding is the least productive use of a Software Engineer's time.

Comment It's about time! (Score 2) 157

Yeah, Economists (and I'm an avid amateur) use a language that is not precise to describe behavior that is not able to be precisely measured. Take the word "rational" for instance: Rationality in psychological terms implies something on the order of optimization in general, while rational in economic terms is optimization for individual behavior. Yes, an individual may change to the faster moving line or lane, but that only has a cumulative effect on the mass of behavior, and does not add to strategy as a whole. Individual behavior does not advance knowledge of the subject; it is only the accumulated effects of individual behaviors that reveal Economic behavior and may reveal Economic principles.

The closest thing we have in in tech terms is "emergent systems" and economics actually closely resembles an experiment in complex systems.

The other imprecision is to generalize about Economists. Some Economists are idealists or philosophers and deal in theory only, trying to determine "the way things should be." Some Economists are technologists and are mostly concerned about using the information to manipulate outcomes. (Many negative effects are a result of Economists who do both of these!) Somewhere in between these two types is the Economic Scientist whose main concern is finding out what is going on, proving that it is valid, and who can use the information to actually predict Economic behavior. It seems to me that machine learning actually serves the Economic Scientist.

Comment Re:Keeping up (Score 2) 242

I've been programming since 1965. I did programming 'cause I liked it. Then I started taking high-paying 3 month contract jobs and it all went to hell. Once I escaped the electronic sweatshop I started to enjoy programming again. These days, on the verge of retirement, I do almost no contract programming (unless the job is very interesting) and today I am involved in a small number of projects that totally interest me.

What is the outcome of marketing your skills on social media, etc.? Mostly un-inspired positions at un-inspired companies doing mediocre work. Then countless interviews, competition for the position based on irrelevant criteria, judged by people who don't have a clue. These positions are better suited to people who are inspired by money and benefits, not programming. Old programmers like myself seem to be more interested in job satisfaction than money. And making these jobs hard to get doesn't increase their desirability once you get them.

IMNSHO, a good thinker using Rational Rose or Embarcadero and optimizing the output can outperform and out-create most of the young code-doggies. I'd rather be the one creating the tools like Rational or Embarcadero.

Old programmers have special skills and talents that younger programmers haven't developed yet. Companies who want these skills and talents might be better off recognizing that the pool of people with these talents are different from the just the general pool of programmers. If they really want these skills and talents, they should use the right bait and fish in a different pond.

But then, if you are an old programmer looking for income, the price you have to pay is the effort needed to market yourself where the interest is.

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