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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

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Comment: In my field (Score 1) 220

by petes_PoV (#49410893) Attached to: How would you rate your programming skills?
Pretty good. Good enough to earn my pay and probably good enough to earn a fair bit more.

However, take me into one of the hundreds of OTHER fields of programming skill: database, gaming, AI, graphics or most of the others and I wouldn't even register a flicker. In short there's no such thing as "programming skill" once you get past beginner.

Comment: It's already been done (Score 1) 226

by petes_PoV (#49344165) Attached to: Russian Official Proposes Road That Could Connect London To NYC

it would be better to build, oh I don't know...a train line instead?

There is a 16,000 mile train link from China to Spain. It takes 4 months for goods to arrive and they are subject to extremes of weather that make a lot of shipments impractical. It's also slower and more expensive than sending goods by sea. Any fixed link is going to be subject to delays, breakdowns, politics and difficulty in "overtaking" slower vehicles ahead of you.

It sounds like a neat idea, but we've already got better solutions: depending on whether you want speed or low cost.

Comment: Re:Stupid question (Score 1) 667

by petes_PoV (#49264513) Attached to: Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English'

the Brits have the final word on what is true and "proper" English

The "traditional" view was that proper English is the grammar, pronunciation and maybe even the dialect used by BBC newsreaders. This doesn't really stand anymore, as there are many more regional (british english) dialects on national TV than were encouraged in the past.

However I can see the confusion as the word for "American" in the american language is "English". That is the language that most of the world learns as english, not "british" english.

Comment: Re:Those without a timeline will be at an advantag (Score 1) 209

and anybody who's mining this site already knows everything I think

No. Everybody can access some pseudo-anonymous content that may be from one or more actual humans who have access to an account called "meta-monkey". Similarly, one, some or all of those humans could contribute to other pseudonyms and might post completely different views, opinions and personal information. We'd never know if there was a 1-to-1 relationship from a person to a "handle", a 1-to-many to other handles or a many-to-1 for a group contribution.

Even using a "real name" is meaningless. Last time I googled, there were over 35,000 people with my name just in my country. You need a helluva lot more information (and it must be true information) before you can create a high-quality link between a single individual and an online presence.

Comment: Install Windows (Score 0) 260

by petes_PoV (#49104661) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Parental Content Control For Free OSs?
Free OS's are designed to be just that: free. They are intended to circumvent controls and limitations imposed upon their users.

Windows, on the other hand has, as the author says, For Windows many solutions claim to exist, usually in form of massive antivirus suites that provide the locked-down, restricted environment that parents often think will stop their children accessing material the parents don't want them to (ha!).

So if you want to feel as if your child is "protected" then that is the way forward. At least while they are in your house, using your systems. Obviously once they go to school, to friends' or get a device of their own then none of these controls is worth a dam' any more. But that's life!

Comment: Re:You can't. (Score 2) 576

be glad that they're invading when they should simply destroy the entire solar system instead

If these aliens were intent on destroying us, they'd simply drop something large, fast and nasty into the sun and cause some sort of X-Ray eruption. Since there is a massive nuclear reactor so close, it would be silly not to leverage that to your goals. No need for ships or an invading force.

So we can assume that if aliens did arrive here, our destruction would not be their goal. They might, for example, just be neighbours popping over to ask politely if we'd mind turning down our electromagnetic emissions: TV, radar, etc.

If domination / subjugation / removal of humans to make way for their own settlers was their intent, then there's no reason to expect it would have to be done quickly. It could be a centuries long process. And, again, climate control or sunlight restriction would be a straightforward approach that would cause little permanent damage and wouldn't involve their actual presence in our system.

Comment: Re:That Explains Why Online News Is Removing Comme (Score 1) 267

by petes_PoV (#49059401) Attached to: What Your Online Comments Say About You

many news organizations are removing the ability to comment

The difficulty there is that it also reduces the engagement with the readers and thus the number of times they will return to the page and therefore see the advertisements. There do appear to be many (previously respectable) newspaper websites that publish articles that are only there as click-bait.

The the UK The Guardian (a once respectable, semi-liberal, print publication) has taken that route to publishing inflammatory, poorly written and factually incorrect op-ed / opinion pieces on its website who's only value seems to be to draw comments and provoke arguments.

Comment: The search for positive reinforcement (Score 1) 267

by petes_PoV (#49059365) Attached to: What Your Online Comments Say About You

many readers, especially those who are less Internet-savvy, assume commenters 'know something about the subject, because otherwise they wouldn't be commenting on it.

I believe that people are more inclined to give credibility to comments that they already have some sympathy with - rather than ones which take an opposing view.

I've never seen any follow-up comments, anywhere, that say "yes, you're right. I used to think differently, but your arguments have persuaded me I was wrong". At best you get other like-minded people agreeing with you and at worst you get those who disagree making an extreme, offensive, insulting or threatening retorts.

It also seems likely that the "less internet-savvy" are soon cured of that particular shortcoming and soon join in the fray. While most will be well-balanced individuals, a few will go completely over the top - some permanently as they then get the attention (and pity) they crave, but most will quickly have an "OMG, what am I doing" moment and become ashamed of their excessive behaviour.

Comment: Not so smart, after all (Score 1) 248

by petes_PoV (#49051651) Attached to: Smart Homes Often Dumb, Never Simple

If all the gadgets you install in a house need explicit controls, they're still dumb: not smart.

A truly smart device would "know" what to do and when. How it attained that knowledge - though being taught, observation, or some sort of self-learning / evolution process doesn't matter. The point is that merely swapping one sort of switch or control for another (less convenient, more complicated and dependent on a whole slew of subsidiary technology) isn't a sign of "smart".
A really smart device would, like a good butler (so I'm told), just fade into the background. It would produce just the required item or action at just the right time without the need to ask and it would just work - including handling exceptions in a "smart" way.

Comment: Wipe the slate (Score 2) 80

by petes_PoV (#49045415) Attached to: Facebook Adds Legacy Contact Feature In Case You Die Before It Does
Why not extend this so that after a period of inactivity (say: a year) the account is automatically wiped - leaving no trace of the user.

That would also allow individuals who wish to start over (say: when they grow up a little) to do so by simply starting a new account and leaving the old one to die off.

Comment: Mostly average - but great speakers (Score 1) 249

by petes_PoV (#49024585) Attached to: How good is your audio equipment?
Modern day electronics is excellent and inexpensive (until it dies). However the weak point is and always has been the mechanical interfaces. Thankfully we have done away with scraping hard rocks across pieces of plastic and rubbing pickups with rusty plastic tape.

However, the final step: where the sound is converted from electricity to air movement has always been the point that was most open to improvement - it still is. Hence a decent set of speakers will make an otherwise mediocre audio system sound so much better. This is never more true than when you wish to improve the tinny sound from modern, thin, TVs.

Comment: Whatever the TEACHER understands best (Score 5, Insightful) 648

by petes_PoV (#48856671) Attached to: Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming

If the teacher doesn't know Python, they will have a difficult time teaching it and the quality of the lessons will be poor.

In practice, it probably doesn't matter what the language is. The key is that it will only be a student's first language - not the only one they will ever user. So it's far better to teach them well, in a language the teacher is competent in, rather than to have the teacher just a page or two ahead of the children in the class. Apart from anything else, that will give the kids a more positive impression of CS, rather than having a teacher who continually has to look stuff up or answer questions with "I don't know".

It's also important for assessments that the teacher is experienced in the language that coursework is written in. Otherwise the marking will be hit and miss and the teacher won't be able to properly distinguish well written work from stuff that works by chance rather than by design.

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir

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