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Comment: Re:Why bother? (Score 1) 319

by ndykman (#48644969) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is an Open Source<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.NET Up To the Job?

Performance is a tricky issue, but .Net does the same options as Java does in terms of dynamic optimizations. Also, the platform allows for pre-compilation of assemblies, which can really add to performance if used correctly (again, startup and memory performance). And .Net Native seems to be promising in some cases (potential for POGO based optimization), but it's in preview, so we have to see how it really plays out.

It's true that the Ruby and Python versions that run onto of .Net have stalled. There is a version of Scheme that runs on it. Basically, both the CLR and the JVM are fine virtual machines.

I can't speak to the ethical objections. For me personally, the technology works and Microsoft is not the same company it was in terms of power. Frankly, Microsoft at its worst in the day never bothered me as much as Apple and even Google now. I can still put together a great computer out of parts, and like it or not, Microsoft did play a role in making that market. It's good that Linux, etc came along and provided choices, but if the Apple model had prevailed, I think technology would not be as far along. But it's impossible to say what if.

Comment: Because it works... (Score 1) 216

by ndykman (#48620353) Attached to: What Will Microsoft's "Embrace" of Open Source Actually Achieve?

It's not hard. They want .Net to gain more traction as a development platform. There's enough people that are contributing to things like ASP .Net MVC and Entity Framework to make it useful for them. Also, there were open source projects that have helped them a ton (NuGet) and they realize that it works for them in some cases. Also, I think they sense that there is an opportunity for .Net to become the "goto" enterprise development platform. Oracle's handling of Java is creating a space for a new player to come along. Oh, and all that .Net stuff will run great on Azure.

Azure is the big thing internally, and they know they have to run open source platforms on it. There is a shift in the Enterprise group to get away from a "captive" market to just trying to compete on features and to make a compelling platform, which Windows Server, .Net, etc. really is becoming.

Now, there's some things that just don't make sense to do. Open source Office makes little sense, as I doubt there'd be any real interest in contributing to that code base. Same with Windows. So, of course, it's a self-serving, pragmatic approach versus an ideological change on how software should be created and supported.

Comment: It is an end of a era... (Score 4, Interesting) 156

by ndykman (#48613001) Attached to: Dr. Dobb's 38-Year Run Comes To an End

Can't think of any one source that had the breadth and depth of Dr. Dobb's. Always look forward to when it came in the mail back in the day, because I knew that I'd always would learn something.

Seriously, I hope they can find funding or start a project to ensure their archive exists and is available to all. It'd be a unique contribution to computing history.

Comment: Re:Is it true... (Score 1) 355

by ndykman (#48509991) Attached to: James Watson's Nobel Prize Goes On Auction This Week
It's funny, but the very source you point to notes that the best explanation of those gaps are factors like poverty and environment. Surprise, people that are hungry, suffering from disease and have no access to modern education tend to do worse on standardized tests of intelligence. There's plenty of research in the area, but it all revolves around environmental factors. From a genetic standpoint, the variances in "races" is so small that it's impact on something as complex as a intelligence as Spearman's g is just noise. Also, there is a much better explanation of the gap in performance between races. Stereotype threat. It can be reproduced in any population, and study show that it can account for all the gap in performance in standardized tests. It's simple to do. Create a reminder that a group is expected to do worse on a test, and they will do worse because their are trying to compensate. The book Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To is a great summary of the work in this area.

Comment: Oh, look at me, I'm such a great manager... (Score 1) 74

by ndykman (#48500069) Attached to: How the FCC CIO Plans To Modernize 207 Legacy IT Systems

I can apply buzzwords and promote synergies by empowering individuals to maximize their unique contributions. My team even volunteered overtime during the holiday season, because they were so positive about our project. It wasn't because they were afraid they would be pushed out of their jobs by a CIO whose eager to ship everything he can out of house.

I guess he did okay at the CDC and hey, if it saves money, great, but who cares. Just do your job already. I'm sure the pay scale isn't that bad and the benefits are pretty awesome.

Comment: Re:the skeptic is ... who? (Score 1) 29

by ndykman (#48468891) Attached to: NSF Commits $16M To Build Cloud-Based and Data-Intensive Supercomputers

When compared to the broad consensus of science, yes. Belief doesn't enter into it, the research is done. Global warming is an established fact. And not just by one paper, but by repeated, peer reviewed research. Even early skeptics in climate modeling have come to the same conclusions.

I hesitate to call him or others skeptical, as it suggests there is really any room for doubt. There really isn't. The core findings about global warming are established. Covering our ears and shouting "it's not true" won't change a thing.

Comment: It's all about the processor. (Score 1) 56

by ndykman (#48422059) Attached to: Jolla Crowdfunds Its First Tablet

The current state of x86_64 at Intel means that there is no reason to create a 32 bit only processor, it'd be a huge amount of architectural rework with little benefit.

Now, just because it's 64 bit capable doesn't mean that the OS will be 64 bit. In fact, given the low memory, that might be an option. This is all about SoC cost and low margins. That means each bump in memory really adds up. This isn't the same as just putting a more dense DIMM in a motherboard.

Also, given the target usage, one would have to argue why you would need more than 2G of ram. Seriously, I get away with it on a Windows 8.1 tablet for basic Office, etc. No reason Sailfish won't do even better.

Comment: A Great Step Forward... (Score 2) 525

by ndykman (#48370807) Attached to: Microsoft To Open Source<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.NET and Take It Cross-Platform

Of course, I saw all the expected arguments, and a lot of "but, Microsoft is the exact same company from 20 years ago, so this must be wrong, evil, etc." Well, companies change. Skepticism is good, but evaluating things as they are is good too.

The .Net ecosystem is a good environment to program in. They have great languages and frameworks. The Python Tools in VS are actually quite nice (they work fine with CPython). It is disappointing that the IronLanguages project has died off, but maybe this will spark some new interest.

And one of the main drawbacks to the platform in terms of target platforms is starting to be addressed in a real way.

It's a pragmatic decision. Microsoft has already benefited from open source projects (ASP .Net MVC, Entity Framework), and this is just an expansion of this. The hardest part will be getting resources to get people to really bang on it on other platforms.

I bet that internally at Microsoft, lots of people are happy about this, as they really do think they did great work and this gives them greater visibility.

Comment: Re:Remember: Cultural, not racial (Score 1) 459

by ndykman (#48364103) Attached to: Black IT Pros On (Lack Of) Racial Diversity In Tech

I think the sources for "some populations on average are smarter than others" are needed. Same with the "superior social ability". I've seen nothing that suggests that either are true and that they can be attributed to a genetic difference and not to social or environment confounders. The consensus is that it's not worth studying. The genomic data shows that any influence or different in complex behaviors would be just noise and impossible to measure in the face of strong confounders. The point is that these perceived "differences" between races (a term that many argue has no scientific basis) are in fact incredibly small genetic despite their outward appearance.

Comment: Re:Remember: Cultural, not racial (Score 1) 459

by ndykman (#48362581) Attached to: Black IT Pros On (Lack Of) Racial Diversity In Tech

The reason it's not correct to state that different genetic sub-groups might have different intelligence levels is that there is no evidence that there is any significant difference between any population or group overall genetically.

You mention anthropology. Yes, there is an interest in studying how our population grew and spread over the planet. To do this, they do sophisticated analysis to detect certain changes to try and model how the population moved.

Here's the problem, you've assumed that these grouping are significant outside population migration. They aren't. If you take the genome as a whole, these variations are nothing compared to individual variation.

It's not culture that has caused the problem not to be looked into. It has been, significantly, and some people in our culture refuse to accept the results. That our perception of race and racial differences are completely environmental, and there is no basis whatsoever in science to say that one population is smarter than the other.

Again, this is a lot of posturing to try and ignore that as a society, we systemically have placed a certain set of people at a large disadvantage for no reason than our fears. We only talk about black culture because our history caused us to set apart a population first as property, then as second-class citizens, and then as "different' when convenient to explain why a group is poor or lazy or ambitious or whatever bucket we try to force people into.

Here's the point. Every time genetic differences comes up, it's "Are blacks less intelligent?" "Are Asians better in school?" "Are Latinos less motivated" and so on. All these are dumb questions. But, never, never have I seen: "Are whites more prone to discriminate against other groups?" It's still a dumb question, but it doesn't come up, does it.

Comment: Better tools isn't the problem... (Score 2) 212

by ndykman (#48355911) Attached to: New Book Argues Automation Is Making Software Developers Less Capable

The summary seems a bit misleading. The main thrust of page I saw what that the push to replace work with automation can have consequences at a certain level. Does decision making really work well in automation, or does it lead to problems? There's evidence in both camps. An example, some traders on Wall Street have complained about removing people from the process, they that really do add value at times. And sure, it's hard to imagine a human would issue a massive amount of bad orders, but a computer model with a bit of glitch might. But, is that enough to slow things down. Just one example of many.

In my mind, critical thinking does have value, and no, there is nothing in data science, machine learning, etc. that really comes even close to what humans can do in that area. There's a big debate in Medicine about following best practices and if just following algorithms would work better. Some note it would reduce unneeded tests and procedures. Others have noted that actually, doctors are much better at noting when something is going really wrong and that following a script could lead to unnecessary deaths that would be avoided by relying on clinical judgment. Is there is a need for better data? Sure, but can you really automate judgment? And what real value is there of taking the craft out of everything for humanity as a whole?

The problem is that some people don't think software engineering, programming, coding, whatever requires critical thinking, or that there is a craft or art to programming. And you can increasingly do it that way. Cut and paste, copy from the web, and when things don't work out, post on the web and hope somebody answers.

What is lost is somebody has to have the skills to figure out what is going wrong or that it can be done better. Where do those answers come from on the web after all? At some point, somebody has to know how to actually approach the problem from the fundamentals and solve it, and that's when all those things that we (okay, at least me and my schoolmates) studied in CS come into play.

I'm on a project and they are just throwing idea after idea to figure out a performance problem. Sure, it's tricky, but I realize, they have a huge blind spot. They don't know how to attach a low-level debugger to a process, to monitor OS resources, or even realize that you can debug something without sources. Sure, it's a Java enterprise application, so that's another layer of hard, but it can be done. Cripes, we had to debug core dumps. I'm glad (thrilled) that I don't have to do it anymore, but the skills that I learned doing it were invaluable.

A related aside. The problem is not better tools, it is not knowing there are better (or any) tools or that you can make better tools.

Comment: Re:Restating the obvious... (Score 1) 388

by ndykman (#48315303) Attached to: Another Election, Another Slew of Voting Machine Glitches

Ballot stuffing is actually pretty easy to protect against, and the method of voting doesn't do anything to change that equation. It's just as easy to telegraph votes on a voting machine versus paper. Also, voter fraud is really risky compared to the payoff. It's easy to get caught. It just takes one election judge to unravel a scheme to defraud. And it's much easier and less risky to disenfranchise voters to effect an outcome; history shows us that.

As to why the counts are off, in most cases, it's confusion over eligibility, not intentional fraud.

Comment: Restating the obvious... (Score 4, Interesting) 388

by ndykman (#48314495) Attached to: Another Election, Another Slew of Voting Machine Glitches

Marked paper ballots. Done. Braille versions can be made for the blind, different language versions (what, voting based on a person's preferred language, that's just crazy) and so on. Optical scanning is old, tried and very well tested technology, and you can always fall back to hand counts.

Wishing without work is like fishing without bait. -- Frank Tyger