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Comment: Re:The "real" law (Score 5, Insightful) 294

by quietwalker (#49486951) Attached to: IT Worker's Lawsuit Accuses Tata of Discrimination

The "actual law" often says that discrimination is behavior towards a member of a legally recognized minority on the basis of their membership in said legally minority. Of course it varies state to state and between municipalities, but that's usually the language of it. It's only the general, unwritten interpretation that provides the vague assurances of "racial discrimination is illegal" or "gender discrimination is illegal" or similar nice-sounding definitions.

Unfortunately, 'male' and 'white' are not legally recognized minorities, so by many actual, written laws, you cannot discriminate against someone if you disadvantage them because they are either white, or male, in the same way that it's not discrimination if you only hire the deaf over the non-hearing-disabled.

The same is true of the legal definition of rape in some states; rape is only defined as a male penetrating a female. All other combinations (man/man, female/female, female on man) is considered a lesser form of sexual assault. In these places, a female can never be charged with rape.

Comment: Re:No surprise here (Score 1) 131

by quietwalker (#49439071) Attached to: Why Some Developers Are Live-Streaming Their Coding Sessions

There's a big difference between a teaching environment where the teacher can learn something, and a presentation-based teaching environment. Without real time feedback, exposure to the ideas of others, and having to explain things to novices, it's just a vocalization of the thoughts you already had. Maybe you'll get some organizational benefit out of it, but really the teacher is not learning anything.

I skimmed through a few of his videos, and I didn't explicitly see where he was responding to a chat log or taking questions. Perhaps I missed it, but it seems like mostly what he's doing is presenting, not teaching, and so I doubt he's learning anything.

On the other hand, I do think that people watching can learn quite a bit.

Comment: Not an April Fools post! (Score 4, Insightful) 265

Did you know that Texas, home of Big Oil, produces slightly more than 10% of it's power from wind, about 14,098 MW according to wikipedia. They're the nation's leader in wind energy. Florida does solar better than anyone else, and for overall green energy, Washington (via dams, mostly).

In a related tangent, California claims to get almost 5% of their power from wind, though they only produce 5,917 MW from theirs, and have about 10 million more people, so somewhere, something doesn't add up.

My guess is that a lot of these "% power" claims, including the one in the article, come down more to clever accounting than actual, literal green draw.

Comment: This is not science (Score 4, Insightful) 353

I'm not sure why it seems psychologists are prone to this, or if it's just the nature of media and headline-grabbing pop-psychology, but I see these sorts of statements pretty often from this sector.

It's so very very hard to figure out what is making a person do what they're doing. We have problems figuring it out with rats in labs, and the best we have there is usually speculation and strong correlation. Humans are a whole other degree of complexity. Of course, with the rats, people are trying to do actual science: coming up with experimentally verifiable hypotheses, providing proper control and test groups, eliminating variables, and performing proper scientific testing. It's very hard to do well, and you rarely get more than confirmation of a component of a behavior.

Yet you see psychologists with years in their field making professional statements on to the nature of culture and individuals with absolutely no rigorous scientific study, with only their personally experienced anecdotal data and an obviously heavily biased opinion to support them.

There are a lot of things that have changed in the last 10, 20, 30 ... etc years when it comes the environment, manner, and culture in which children are raised. The internet and smart phones are just one part. Western nations have steadily been nurturing a culture of entitlement while removing sources of apparent confrontation and competition, which together may result in children who lack the ability to cope with difficult situations. Maybe the fact that it's now considered child abuse to spank (beat) your child? Perhaps the increased likelihood for parents to seek psychological help for their children along with a chemical fix? How about the longer and longer workday, or the increase in divorce rates? All the news about the low salaries and lack of jobs coupled with the price of education and the blame and mistrust of government and businesses, broadcast back at us 24/7 on every media available might affect one's behavior.

If we're going to claim it's cell phones, there's an awful lot of work that needs to be done to eliminate every other possibility - or at least the reasonable ones - first, and that's just not being done.

Perhaps it's unfair to label all of them, but this is one reason why people don't consider psychologists "real doctors". You see them make asinine statements like this.

Comment: Read the Scott Meyers Effective C++ books (Score 0) 757

by quietwalker (#49228773) Attached to: Was Linus Torvalds Right About C++ Being So Wrong?

I see lots of responses from folks attacking the flippant parts of Linus's comments like they were deciding factors. This tells me that you're not getting it. Maybe you've never used C++ for significant projects, or really only relied on the C-like portions of C++ and eschewed the other stuff.

The fact is, he barely even touched upon the real problems with C++, only mocked and ridiculed people who favor it. This wasn't an argument, this was just an insult.

However, if you want reasons, you can get them from one of the best sources possible. Find or purchase a copy of Effective C++ and More Effective C++ and while you're reading them, keep track of all the 'gotchas' that will tank your programs. From accidentally instantiating a dozen copies of an object to double-freeing it, you should swiftly realize that most of the code you wrote was a time bomb, hidden away in a layer or two of abstraction. That 98% of the code you've ever seen that's larger than a handful of classes is like this.

If that's not enough for you, look up the various ISO/IEC standards, and look for all the parts that are explicitly aimed at reducing ambiguity. From the start, C++ has undefined behaviors built right in, leaving it to the compiler to determine how syntactically correct code will perform. They're still trying to fix them; I hear c++17 is on the horizon, but in 2007, it was just a field of landmines if you started using the advanced features like templating or multiple inheritance.

The short version is that it was not a very good language. In the race to produce "C with classes," delivery was prioritized over quality, new features rather than stability, and the standards committee, partly in an attempt to maintain backwards compatibility, has produced a fair mess with overly complex syntax.

I've written a lot of c++ code, and I can't believe anyone who also has would prefer it to C, or something newer like Java, C#, or even scripting languages. I really have to assume that if you really vehemently stick to it, you're either a C++ guru with a few books and a decade of conference presentations, or you're a novice who hasn't done enough to understand the limitations.

Comment: Re:Doesn't seem to be suggesting a police feed. (Score 1) 282

by quietwalker (#49219303) Attached to: Scotland Yard Chief: Put CCTV In Every Home To Help Solve Crimes

Actually, in many states, you must get permission to record. Police have used this against homeowners before when home owners were recording police committing crimes.

That aside, entrance into a public place or even private dwelling does not abdicate your rights to a certain amount of privacy.

Comment: Just wait, it gets better. (Score 1) 282

by quietwalker (#49219257) Attached to: Scotland Yard Chief: Put CCTV In Every Home To Help Solve Crimes

We'll look back on the halcyon days of video cameras run by the government in every room (wait, wasn't that in 1984?) once they break out the personal surveillance suppository with GPS tracking and sexual position verifier, so you don't engage in any state-prohibited hanky panky!

Comment: In defense of fraternities (Score 1) 606

by quietwalker (#49219199) Attached to: YouTube Video of Racist Chant Results In Fraternity Closure

Probably not a popular stance right now, but I break it out every time I see one of these sorts of issues popup.

Statistically - at least when I did a decade plus search for rape convictions after the UVA scandal - it's much more dangerous to be in a dorm room or student apartment than in a fraternity house or participate in a fraternity event. The same appears to be true for assault. It's harder to come up with numbers for alcohol poisoning and death; those are rarely disclosed except in the context of a party held by an organization, be it fraternity, sports team, or other.

That is, fraternities have a lower incident rate than the norm. These acts happen in fraternties less often than in the general student body. Not that they don't happen, but rather, that they happen less. This is not just raw numbers either, but even per-capita, and still many orders of magnitude different.

I'm guessing the same goes for racism, but I have no way to get numbers on that.

Now a days, when the threat of suspension, dissolution, or expulsion hangs over their heads for activities that would result in little more than an eye roll and a head shake if a non-organization member did it, these greek orgs are especially careful. There's their parent organization - made up of graduate members - telling them what to do or be penalized, fined, or dissolved. There's the greek council, watching everything they do, ready to cut an org out as soon as there's even the merest hint of scandal, to save themselves. There's over 40 years of tv shows and movies continually painting fraternities as the bad guys, the despicable and snooty handsome jock rich kids for our hero underdogs to fight, so they're constantly fighting an uphill battle.

That's why the parent organization dissolved that chapter even before names came out. It's zero tolerance in an apparent fight to survive.

Those of you who have not actually tried to examine fraternities, for good or ill, and only accept what talking heads state as truth won't actually realize that they're so strictly internally policed.

In fact, the only reason we're calling it a 'scandal' and it appears in the public eye is because an organization makes up a larger target than an individual. The 2006 Duke rape case was nothing, when it was a bunch of guys in a privately rented house, but when they found out that it was 'the entire duke lacrosse team had gang-raped a minority!' then it was made high-profile and public.

Make sure to treat each event like this like you should every other piece of information that comes at you. Reserve judgement, investigate, educate yourself on the context, and try not to be a bigot and generalize. These chumps might be racist jacklegs, but they're a small percentage.

Comment: Messaging problem hiding as a whiteboard problem (Score 4, Interesting) 164

by quietwalker (#49154933) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Whiteboard Substitutes For Distributed Teams?

The problem you're having isn't a whiteboard issue. It's not technology. It's that you're only getting half the message.

You may not be aware of it, but person-to-person communication is extremely high bandwidth. It's so high that we rarely even recognize the component parts of it, and only come up with little more than a mux generalization, like "they're angry" or "they're unsure". Our minds look at someone's stance and posture, at the speed they're blinking, where their eyes are looking, whether or not there's a nearly imperceptible pause when they're about to say certain words, subconscious muscle tics, and so on, and it passes through this great big neural net and some sort of amazing transformation happens and we get discrete knowledge out the other end. What's more, what they're doing is always going to partially be a response to what we're doing; we're providing real time feedback and both of us are adjusting ourselves accordingly. We're so good at it, that about 5 words into an introduction, we can usually tell if someone likes us or not.

On the other hand, a digital whiteboard, even with audio and video, we can't attempt to get this nuance or the feedback response that a person-to-person meeting allows. There's no way to send that much information successfully.

That's why no digital whiteboard will ever beat the real thing. Because these solutions do not allow you to see each varied nuance and react to them, and allow the other parties to do the same in turn. That's why a person-to-person meeting takes 5 minutes to cover what would go 30 minutes in a phone call. Or why video calls always seem to take far more time than you've allocated. That's why all those business types are always doing face to face meetings and ignoring 90% of our technical advances down here in the trenches of engineering, where we're trying not only to solve a problem with technology poorly, but we're not even aware of what the problem actually is.

Let me sum it up for you; there is no technological replacement that comes close to the clarity and efficiency possible - and likely - in a face to face.

Comment: There's no battle (Score 2) 319

by quietwalker (#49082565) Attached to: Java Vs. Node.js: Epic Battle For Dev Mindshare

Every few years, we have a new latest and greatest. A few years ago it was ruby on rails, then it seemed python was starting to come into it's own, and now it's node.js. At one point in time, in the mid 90's, it was actually Java. If you can imagine, Applets were actually a big deal.

Programmers flock to these in droves because, being new(ish), it attracts proselytizers who overhyper and oversell it, authors to write about it, articles about it, speakers to present it, a race to be seen as an expert in it, etc. New means 'new opportunities' so there's a rush to fill this hole that's already been filled in other languages/frameworks. Lots of activity.

All this attention, and it being new makes it a toy to play with and something to trick the boss into agreeing to use, so you have an excuse to use it. Some small number of folks will end up dealing with it for a bit, but then they drop it when something newer - and thus more interesting and exciting - comes out. Check out the TIOBE index for what's happened to Ruby lately.

But here's the real reason this isn't a battle. Java was not a language, it was a product. Every part of it was made to sell - not to developers, specifically - but to businesses. Here is an end-to-end solution, with certification, a training program, literature, professional advocates that will travel to conferences, your company, programming competitions, and local java users groups - in fact, they'll sponsor them. They'll pay for flashy commercials, and take out ads in trade magazines, and get companies to include the java logo on their software. They'll provide support contracts and expert help, and they'll push Java as a brand.

It's not a toy. It doesn't stick because it's cool and new and neat, it sticks because now there's money behind it and it's cheaper not to change much. That's why we still have Cobol around, isn't it?

So, Java's already been sold to the big dogs, the guys with money who make decisions. It's embedded into the corporate hierarchy, and outside of a few side projects and startups, it's not competing with Node.js at all. Node.js will make it's splash, and in 2 years, we'll all be jazzed about something else, while the cobal, c, c#, java, and other legacy frameworks just keep chugging along with the majority shares.

Comment: You think that's what they meant? (Score 1) 392

They've already been breaking into homes, businesses, embassies, and so on. Ethically, stealing information is stealing information - the only difference here is in level of effort in both acquiring and sifting through it.

Don't you think they're implying that they will black-hood disappear you, and then beat you with sticks until you provide the information they want? That seems like an obviously ethically 'worse' situation.

Comment: Re:How about No Language (Score 2) 648

by quietwalker (#48859113) Attached to: Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming

My first CS in college was like this. The teacher was very high and mighty into the theory. Pure academic.

"Computer Science," he said, "does not require computers." "When I wrote my first program, it was with pen and paper, and that's all you'll ever need."

So we ended up learning the same way, an introductory computer course where the first half was lambda calculus & church encoding, and the second half was functional programming with APL using an onscreen keyboard emulator since half the keys don't exist on a normal keyboard.

It was a crappy way to learn, and I'm sure it did it's job to weed out half of the 300 or so students that had to take it their freshman year. In fact the only thing I really learned is that just because someone has a huge body of knowledge, it in no way qualifies them to be a teacher, much less a competent teacher.

Comment: Re:Pascal (Score 1) 648

by quietwalker (#48858633) Attached to: Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming

GOTO is not immediately bad. It's simply a warning that the code might not be well organized, as language constructs already provide that functionality in more encapsulated forms.

You've been coding for 30 years, so you've seen the OO folks pop up and yell and screech that without an explicit (sometimes they use the phrase 'pure', but rarely) OO language, coding can't be done at all! Like, how could you organize with only dumb structs and functions? Java really ruined a lot of people in that aspect, making design patterns a required part of their certification without explaining that they're just communication shorthand, as opposed to say, required, explicit class names. I occasionally have to fight someone with "pattern prejudice," like this, and it's always an uphill battle combating ignorance.

GOTO is just like that, only with folks using the slightly higher level languages screeching at those coming from assembly, or those who didn't have to worry about reserving/jmping to high memory.

But what do they know? If a program can't rewrite it's own code, what good is it?

Comment: Re:Javascript (Score 2) 648

by quietwalker (#48858479) Attached to: Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming

The two top languages you should not learn by example are Javascript and PHP. In both cases, the low barrier to entry means that there's a wealth of code, but the average quality is extremely low.

Not only that, Javascript is a poorly understood language, even by those who spend a lot of time with it. You'll likely end up learning coding by ritual instead of understanding why it works - and more importantly, why when you do it, it doesn't. It's like trying to learn ruby by starting with an RoR app coded by people who think the framework is the only architectural decision that needs to be made. ... which is most of them, apparently.

Comment: Re:Javascript (Score 1) 648

by quietwalker (#48858413) Attached to: Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming

Javascript might be the next BASIC. "If you teach your students Javascript first, it will ruin them."

That being said, with a set of very rigid, predefined set of exercises and test environments, it could be one of the best for learning. Within a web browser, you have an incredibly simplified, easy to manipulate UI, putting it far ahead of any other language with graphical controls, and the immediate feedback from evaluating scripts means experimentation and discovery are built into the combined platform.

The problem, as I see it, is the functional aspects of the language. It's too big of a jump to have a new to-be-programmer learning functional programming before they've got a handle on writing programs that already mimic the procedural way they think.

So just avoid those aspects, and the other 98% of it that was badly done, and you've got a great choice.

The young lady had an unusual list, Linked in part to a structural weakness. She set no preconditions.