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Comment: Re:We need better software, not more programmers (Score 1) 199

by rdnetto (#48921083) Attached to: Why Coding Is Not the New Literacy

Think of it this way: who needs to read the manual when they get a new car? You just figure it out because it is largely intuitive. A TON of non-intuitive thought went into making the car easy to use.

Driving a car is not intuitive - there's a reason it takes a while to graduate from a learner's permit to a full license. What is it is familiar - most cars are driven the same way with some minor variations (which side the indicator is on, where the handbrake is, etc.) and only one major one (manual vs. automatic transmission). I'm not convinced that anything is truly intuitive, given that even simple things like handwriting need to be taught.

I agree that there is something to be said for making technology better to use. However, the problem is needs to be approached at both ends - the most powerful programs do require above average ability from their users. e.g. there are scheduling programs on Android that let you perform arbitrary tasks like toggling wifi when multiple conditions are met, but you need to understand basic boolean logic to use them. Coding is probably overkill, but it does encapsulate those concepts in a concrete manner.

Comment: Re:You nerds need to get over yourselves (Score 1) 199

by rdnetto (#48921019) Attached to: Why Coding Is Not the New Literacy

Most people don't even truly come to understand mathematics, even though we attempt to teach it everywhere. I don't see any good reason to believe they could have the sort of critical thinking skills required to become truly great programmers, or truly outstanding when it comes to anything.

We're not talking about creating 'truly great programmers' though, any more than we teach literacy with the expectation of everyone being Pulitzer prize winners, or maths with the expectation that everyone understand complex analysis. I think the desired base level of ability is along the lines of simple Python scripts that do things like resize all the images in a folder.

Of course most people aren't outstanding - the idea they could be is inherently contradictory. The point of this discussion is what skills we want the average person to have in order to maximise productivity.

Also, could you explain the connection between critical thinking and programming? I've been thinking a lot lately about whether they're connected or not, and I'd like to hear your opinion on it.

Comment: Re:Ubisoft has done this sort of stuff before (Score 1) 454

> I entered my debit card

Are you nuts? You should never use debit with a questionable merchant. Always credit (so you can chargeback if necessary)

Depends on your card processor. I know that here in Australia, the Visa debit cards have all of the same protections as their credit cards.

Comment: Re:Vote against Ubisoft with your dollars (Score 1) 454

You can quite easily disable updates in Steam per game. Are you saying they push updates even after you've disabled them?

Steam's current setup is that you can disable automatic updates on a per-game basis, however, only until you try to play it next at which time it forces the update on you. You can run in offline mode for up to 6 months, losing a huge chunk of Steam/some games in the process, but after 6 months you have to go online to re-validate your DRM and bam - updates.

Just make a backup copy of the game before you run Steam. Last I checked, they let you cancel the update if you want to play *right now*.

Comment: Re:grandmother reference (Score 1) 454

I hope they didn't try this stunt on Australian customers. We have "parallel importation" legislation

For now, anyway. There have been attempts to put provisions blocking parallel legislation into the TPP and other treaties, although thankfully they've been unsuccessful so far.

Comment: Re:grandmother reference (Score 1) 454

To counter your anecdote with my own, I got Left 4 Dead 2 for free on Steam at one point.
Prices fluctuate all the time, and a brick and mortar store is subject to different pressures than an online store.
Steam is popular because it frequently discounts games, and will even email you if a game on your wishlist is discounted.

Comment: Re:microsoft cash (Score 1) 162

by rdnetto (#48920843) Attached to: Windows 10 IE With Spartan Engine Performance Vs. Chrome and Firefox

I seriously felt that way until just a couple days ago, too. Wired had this piece about Satya Nadella and what's going on in Microsoft, specifically about the HoloLens project. It was the first time in a long time that I read something about Microsoft and thought "Oh wow, that is really cool," instead of "LOL."

Microsoft has a history of announcing some very cool things from their research division, but failing to follow through. I'm not getting my hopes up until they at least have a shipping date...

Comment: Re:The solution is obvious (Score 1) 563

You might be thinking of the Play store and other Google apps, which as you say are not free. You can download and install them for free as a user, but if you want to ship them pre-installed on a device then there are licence agreements.

Out of curiosity, how exactly do you download the Play store before you have it installed?

Comment: Re:What an idiot (Score 1) 180

by rdnetto (#48895795) Attached to: Silk Road Journal Found On Ulbricht's Laptop: "Everyone Knows Too Much"

That would be injecting noise on to the power lines, which means either it screws with the rest of the grid, or it's small enough that other devices could swamp it with noise. There's been some interesting work done on hiding signals below the noise floor using frequency hopping, but that's excessively complex.

Comment: Re:Just give the option to turn it off... (Score 1) 808

by rdnetto (#48895689) Attached to: Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret

At low speeds such as would be encountered in a parking lot or congested city street the engine noise is dominant, particularly because the car is doing a lot of accelerating and decelerating. At those speeds I think a modest synthesized engine sound is a very good idea, especially when you consider blind people and even more especially service dogs

My experience is that in car parks, you can hear the tire noise easily. If the only problem is the visually impaired, why not put the synthesized sound above the range of human hearing, so that only guide dogs and assistive devices can detect it?

Comment: Re:The end of an era. (Score 1) 189

by rdnetto (#48895393) Attached to: User Plea Means EISA Support Not Removed From Linux

There is quite a bit of object oriented C code in the wild, that request just shows that the guy had no idea what he was talking about. While there are a lot of nice (and not so nice) things you can get from C++ if object orientation is all you want its overkill.

Amusingly, the kernel is probably one of the better examples of how to do OOP in C - the VFS code is a good example of this. (The file_operations struct is basically a vtable.) So given that they already had a working solution, they wouldn't have gained anything from C++ except additional complexity.

Comment: Re:From the outside... (Score 1) 666

by rdnetto (#48880299) Attached to: US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

The problem is that it is not a sane choice. This is ENTIRELY based on fear. If all you do is label something as GMO that tells you nothing at all. This does not help you make any kind of informed decision at all.

Was the GMO done to make the plant drought resistance? does it resist cold? was it modified to be less carcinogenic? was it modified to make a certain companies fertilizer more profitable? etc

Just saying something is GMO is worthless.

I agree entirely. That's what using a GMO identifier would enable - the database of what changes they correspond to and when they were approved should be publicly accessible. If you think about it, that's basically the same level of transparency we currently have with various additives.

Comment: Re:From the outside... (Score 1) 666

by rdnetto (#48879725) Attached to: US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

Look at the EU and their policy on GMO. It is ENTIRELY fear based. They just label something as GMO which is completely useless and people are taught that GMO is bad period. Even research into GMO has almost entirely ended in Europe. It doesn't matter that their own studies show the ones they have tested are safe they continue to be against it not just in the EU but world wide. The EU is a pretty major factor in stopping the usage of golden rice.

What would you propose instead? Given that GMO is relatively new, I think it is important that GMO foods be labelled as such, so that consumers can make an informed choice. Of course, some consumers are idiots, but that's never been a strong argument against depriving the rest of us.

I'm not an expert on the topic, but it seems to me that since there is already infrastructure in place for demonstrating that the GMO product in question is safe for human consumption (which no doubt assigns it some kind of UID), simply adding the identifier to the ingredients list should be enough. It conveys to the consumer that not all GMOs are the same, while still informing them. It also makes it easy for people to google a specific strain/variant and see if any one else has reported issues.

When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle. - Edmund Burke