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Comment: Re:Powershell (Score 1) 729

- if (a = b) assigns the contents of b to a and executes the code following if b <> 0. Who the hell thought that would be a good idea?

Somebody who thought that adding unnecessary special cases to otherwise very simple and straightforward language was a bad idea. And he was absolutely right.

- sizeof(string) (I may have got the name of the function wrong) returns the length of a single byte rather than the length of the entire string. Who the hell thought that would be a good idea?

First of all, sizeof is a compile-time operator. The compiler replaces it with a fixed constant which indicates how many bytes are needed to store the argument (which is either a symbol or another constant) in memory. If you pass a pointer, you'll get the size of the pointer (4 bytes on x86). If you pass a statically allocated array, you'll get the total size of the array (int foo[9]; sizeof foo; will give you 36 on x86). If you pass a constant, you'll get the total size of the given constant in memory (sizeof "foo bar baz"; will give you 12). But all of that happens at compile time.

When foo is a variable of simple type or instance of structure, sizeof tells you the size of foo itself. But when foo is a pointer, you want sizeof to tell you the size of some completely unrelated block of memory? The fact that foo can point somewhere to the middle of the memory block makes the idea even more ridiculous. Now tell me, who the hell would ever think that making sizeof behave inconsistently like that is a good idea?

- strings terminated by a binary zero rather than their physical size. Who the hell thought that would be a good idea?

Somebody who realized that zero-terminated strings have the lowest possible overhead for the most common string operations. Both from the machine's point of view and from the programmer's point of view. And it also avoids artificial limits on string length (Pascal's 255-byte strings say hi!).

Comment: Re:Formal specifications are pretty useless for th (Score 1) 180

by next_ghost (#47585849) Attached to: PHP Finally Getting a Formal Specification

I am not confused at all. I never wrote "formal language", I wrote "formal specification language", which is a completely different beast. You fail.

"Formal specification language" is "formal" because it's a formal language in the same sense that any of the many dialects of "regular expressions" or even PHP itself is a formal language. Nothing more, nothing less. The fact that you keep calling C/C++ standard specifications "informal" means that you're just parrotting buzzwords without actually understanding them. When you talk about formal specification languages or any formal languages at all, the word "informal" is inapplicable because it's a completely different kind of formality (syntactic formality) than the word "informal" implies (semantic formality). The word "informal" has meaning only when you want to make a distinction between formalised natural language and non-formalised natural language.

Comment: Re:How much closer (Score 1) 24

by next_ghost (#47416325) Attached to: Another Dementia Test Oversold

The test looks for a set of 10 proteins in the blood. I suspect that part is fairly reliable which means the theory that those proteins are markers for Alzheimer's is probably incorrect or incomplete.

Whether or not those 10 proteins are markers for Alzheimer's is not the issue at all. When you look for markers, the search goes this way: disease => chemicals. But when you start testing patients for markers, you're actually using the inverse of that relationship: chemicals => disease. If the disease is rare, false positives will vastly outnumber the number of patients really afflicted by the disease even though you test for the right markers.

There are 3 important percentages for disease tests:
- How many people are afflicted by the disease in the general population?
- How many afflicted people get positive result?
- How many healthy people get positive result (false positive)?

I'll give you an example. Let's say we have some test with perfect accuracy (100% of people afflicted by the disease get positive test) but the test has 10% rate of false positives. We'll test 1000 people.

If the disease afflicts 50% of the population, about 550 people will get positive result but about 50 of them are healthy.

If the disease afflicts 10% of the population, about 190 people will get positive result but about 90 of them are healthy.

If the disease afflicts 1% of the population, about 109 people will get positive result but about 99 of them are healthy.

If the disease afflicts 0,1% of the population, about 101 people will get positive result but about 100 of them are healthy.

Is the problem clear now?

Comment: Re:Hah! (Score 1) 681

Allow me to brag a bit: I've switched to Linux in 2006. Since then, I've made a complete hardware replacement twice. Each hardware replacement meant only about 2 hours of downtime while I was installing the packages essential for work and copying the whole /home and most of /etc directories from the old machine. After that, I was back in business pretty much exactly as I've left the old machine (minus some less important packages that were still installing in the background for another couple of hours). It's really awesome when you don't need to spend a month manually reinstalling and reconfiguring all the software you had on the previous system.

Comment: Re:Not sure what the "secrecy" fuss is (Score 1) 222

by next_ghost (#47298587) Attached to: WikiLeaks Publishes Secret International Trade Agreement

Off the top of my head, if any agreement is negotiated in secret, it has a much higher chance of agreement then if it is negotiated in public or by commitee. So the idea is that people you elect to represent you do it, and do it in secret in order to get things accoplished.

Democracy is slow and it takes tons of work to agree on anything. That's not a bug, that's a feature.

Comment: Re:Because clearly... (Score 1) 222

by next_ghost (#47298507) Attached to: WikiLeaks Publishes Secret International Trade Agreement

No. You missed the bit where in your self-righteousness moralistic hectoring you missed that not bailing out the banks would have meant financial Armageddon. Not bailing out Lehman nearly did for the entire system.

As long as any company holds such position, the Armageddon is just around the corner. Bailout was not a solution, it simply delayed the inevitable.

Comment: Re:thank you Snowden (Score 1) 348

by next_ghost (#47109279) Attached to: Why Snowden Did Right

What I think is more important isn't what the NSA did, but the fact that there didn't seem to be a policy to whistle blow without causing all the fuss. A policy where they could have quietly ruled the action illegal. Stopped it, without getting the world so pissy towards the United States.

The world is in uproar over NSA and the whole US Government STILL can't get themselves to rule those actions illegal and stop them. Why would you expect them to do so quietly when continuing business as usual seems to work fine for them despite all the outrage outside?

Comment: Re: Not denying something is different from forcin (Score 1) 406

by next_ghost (#47039959) Attached to: Did Mozilla Have No Choice But To Add DRM To Firefox?

People *choose* to consume DRM'd content, they do not have to. But the Jews did not *choose* to be a part of the Holocaust you ignorant pig. It is *you* who is ignorant of what an analogy is.

The analogy is not about victims of either evil at all. It's all about people who did nothing to stop evil that was right in front of them. It's about people who thought it was not their problem. And most importantly, it's about people who made themselves blind to the evil they were actively participating on as expendable grunts because "it was their job."

In that sense, Holocaust was only made possible by "people living and working in the real world." Because without all those otherwise completely normal good people who were "just doing their job," the real monsters could never get that far.

Comment: Re:sad drivers (Score 1) 158

by next_ghost (#46991317) Attached to: The Truth About OpenGL Driver Quality

Go thank nVidia for keeping the specs secret for so long. Open drivers for current generation AMD hardware beat the proprietary driver hands down in 2D performance and stability, they're a little behind in 3D performance but close to catching up.

I also find it very comforting to know that we'll actually have a working driver for current-generation graphics hardware AT ALL even after so long.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp

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