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Comment: Re:Bullshit.... (Score 1) 133

by hey! (#47558273) Attached to: A Fictional Compression Metric Moves Into the Real World

It doesn't have to be linear to be useful. It simply has to be able to sort a set of choices into order -- like movie reviews. Nobody thinks a four star movie is "twice as good" as a two star movie, but people generally find the rank ordering of movies by stars useful provided they don't read to much into the rating. In fact the ordering needn't be unique; there can be other equally useful metrics which order the choices in a slightly different way. *Over certain domains of values* minor differences in orderings may not matter very much, especially as your understanding of your future requirements is always somewhat fuzzy (e.g. the future cost of bandwidth or computing power).

The problem with any metric occurs outside those domains; some parameters may have discontinuities in their marginal utility. A parameter's value may be good enough and further improvements yield no benefit; or the parmater's value may be poor enough to disqualify a choice altogether. In such cases such a metric based on continuous functions will objectively misorder choices.

For example Suppose A is fast enough but has poor compression ratios; B is not quite fast enough but has excellent compression ratios. There's really only one viable choice: A; but the metric may order the choices B,A.

On the other hand suppose A has better compression ratios than B; B is faster than A, but A is already so fast that it makes no practical difference. The rational ordering of choices is A,B but the metric might order them B,A.

This kind of thing is always a problem with boiling choices down to a single composite number. You have to understand what goes into that number and how those things relate to your needs. You have to avoid making your decisions on one number alone. But some people *will* fasten on a single number because it makes the job of choosing seem easier than it does. Just don't be one of those people.

Comment: Re:Arneson (Score 1) 166

by hey! (#47557795) Attached to: How Gygax Lost Control of TSR and D&D

After Gygax's treatment of Arneson and the way he attempted to attack other games in the roleplaying hobby, I find it hard to feel much sympathy for him.

Well, if you put yourself in his shoes you might well play hardball with other games in the hobby.

D&D as a system wasn't really all special; there were competing systems back in the days he was at TSR which were every bit as enjoyable and arguably easier to play. But D&D had two big things going for it. First, when the three basic manuals for AD&D were published it had by far the best organized and written materials. The Monster Manual was particularly useful. Second it had the network effect: it was the best system to learn to play because everyone else knew how to play it. You could start a campaign at a drop of a hat -- no need to bring everyone up to speed on yet another set of rules.

So put yourself in his position. The future success of D&D is contingent on no other game reaching critical mass. You're completely dependent on D&D, you have no other marketable skills or assets. You have a company with over a hundred employees (which is surely a mistake on your part), and that company has nothing else bringing in cash *but* D&D products. You've made D&D your life work. It's not a situation to bring out the best in people.

Comment: Re:Spruce Goose (Score 1) 85

by hey! (#47550163) Attached to: World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft Goes Into Production In China

Different requirements drive different designs. Before WW2 seaplanes were common because of the lack of runways. After WW2 airports proliferated, and seaplanes couldn't keep up with technical advances due to the compromises involved in allowing them to land and take off from water. But that doesn't mean there aren't applications for aircraft with a flying boat's capabilities, it just means there isn't enough of a market in places like the US to support an industry. Even so, here in North America there are some 70 year-old WW2 Catalinas being used in aerial firefighting. China is a vast country which is prone to many kinds of natural disasters that could make airlifting in supplies difficult, so they may see potential applications we don't.

It's also interesting to note that seaplanes were highly useful in the pacific theater of WW2, and there hasn't been a protracted struggle for sea control *since* WW2. Also, China is a country with no operational aircraft carriers; aside from its training ship the Liaoning, it has a handful of amphibious assault ships that can carry a few helicopters. The US by contrast has ten supercarriers and nine amphibious assault ships that dwarf the aircraft carriers of WW2. The technology and expertise to run a carrier fleet like America's would take many years for China to develop. It's conceivable that the manufacturers imagine a military market for aircraft like this in the interim.

Comment: Re:I know you're trying to be funny, but... (Score 1) 706

by walshy007 (#47547005) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: "GCC 4.9.0 Seems To Be Terminally Broken"

When you are as famous as linus, every time you swear at code you're likely to get media attention. So I don't think it is as prevalent as you may think it is.

I certainly know that if there a media circus every time I swore it would be a lot more frequently than what we've heard from linus.

Comment: Re:I know you're trying to be funny, but... (Score 5, Insightful) 706

by walshy007 (#47546981) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: "GCC 4.9.0 Seems To Be Terminally Broken"

From linus at a prior time

Oh, I'll be polite when it's called for. But when people who know better send me crap, I'll curse at them. I suspect you'll notice me cursing *way* more at top developers than random people on the list. I expect more from them, and conversely I'll be a lot more upset when they do something that I really think was not great. For example, my latest cursing explosion was for the x86 maintainers, and it comes from the fact that I *know* they know to do better. The x86 tip pulls have generally been through way more testing than most other pulls I get (not just compiling, but even booting randconfigs etc). So when an x86 pull request comes in that clearly missed that expected level of quality, I go to town. Similarly, you will see fireworks if some long-term maintainer makes excuses for breaking user space etc. That will make me go into incoherent rages. The "polite Linus" example that you point to? That was a maintainer asking for direction for when things went wrong and *before* sending me something dubious. Of course I'm polite then. Sarah, I don't have Tourettes syndrome. You seem to think that my cursing is uncontrolled and random. I argue that it has causes. Big difference.

Yes. And I do it partly (mostly) because it's who I am, and partly because I honestly despise being subtle or "nice". The fact is, people need to know what my position on things are. And I can't just say "please don't do that", because people won't listen. I say "On the internet, nobody can hear you being subtle," and I mean it. And I definitely am not willing to string people along, either. I've had that happen too—not telling people clearly enough that I don't like their approach, they go on to re-architect something, and get really upset when I am then not willing to take their work. Sarah, first off, I don't have that many tools at hand. Secondly, I simply don't believe in being polite or politically correct. And you can point at all those cultural factors where some cultures are not happy with confrontation (and feel free to make it about gender too—I think that's almost entirely cultural too). And please bring up "cultural sensitivity" while at it. And I'll give you back that same "cultural sensitivity". Please be sensitive to _my_ culture too.

In effect you are whining that calling a crap code submission crap is not professional. Linus is a very pragmatic and practical man. That so many people want everything to go smoothly and politely even when shitty things are submitted/done reflects poorly on that "everyone is a winner" kind of culture that propagates that mentality.

We should not prioritize peoples feelings over code quality. If something horribly break things that we've known for a while and know they are capable of better, we should be able to tell people that that was crap and we expect more of them without them whinging to the political correctness police yelling "abuse".

This mentality seems to keep on spreading amongst the new generations, and I fear for what the software development industry will look like in fifty years with all of the pragmatic people thrown out by those more concerned of peoples feelings.

Comment: Re:I know you're trying to be funny, but... (Score 5, Informative) 706

by walshy007 (#47546909) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: "GCC 4.9.0 Seems To Be Terminally Broken"

From a prior discussion from linus.

Oh, I'll be polite when it's called for. But when people who know better send me crap, I'll curse at them. I suspect you'll notice me cursing *way* more at top developers than random people on the list. I expect more from them, and conversely I'll be a lot more upset when they do something that I really think was not great. For example, my latest cursing explosion was for the x86 maintainers, and it comes from the fact that I *know* they know to do better. The x86 tip pulls have generally been through way more testing than most other pulls I get (not just compiling, but even booting randconfigs etc). So when an x86 pull request comes in that clearly missed that expected level of quality, I go to town. Similarly, you will see fireworks if some long-term maintainer makes excuses for breaking user space etc. That will make me go into incoherent rages. The "polite Linus" example that you point to? That was a maintainer asking for direction for when things went wrong and *before* sending me something dubious. Of course I'm polite then. Sarah, I don't have Tourettes syndrome. You seem to think that my cursing is uncontrolled and random. I argue that it has causes. Big difference.

Yes. And I do it partly (mostly) because it's who I am, and partly because I honestly despise being subtle or "nice". The fact is, people need to know what my position on things are. And I can't just say "please don't do that", because people won't listen. I say "On the internet, nobody can hear you being subtle," and I mean it. And I definitely am not willing to string people along, either. I've had that happen too—not telling people clearly enough that I don't like their approach, they go on to re-architect something, and get really upset when I am then not willing to take their work. Sarah, first off, I don't have that many tools at hand. Secondly, I simply don't believe in being polite or politically correct. And you can point at all those cultural factors where some cultures are not happy with confrontation (and feel free to make it about gender too—I think that's almost entirely cultural too). And please bring up "cultural sensitivity" while at it. And I'll give you back that same "cultural sensitivity". Please be sensitive to _my_ culture too.

some people don't believe in going "oh I'm sorry dear, you are an awesome sugar plum fairy but your performance in this little area was below expectations, especially when it is quite clear said person should know far better given their position of responsibility.

He is clear, to the point, and gets things done.

This is not abuse, this is quite clearly saying that it is screwed, and how it is screwed. It is productive conversation.

All of linus' tirades are followed by an in-depth message detailing in what way they are wrong, being direct and to the point is his style, which he is entitled to.

If calling for standards of quality in a very direct way is abuse.. well.. start a new kernel where you accept any old tripe and see how it goes? And only interact/depend on with projects who have a similar standard and means of management.

Linus is a very pragmatic, practical engineer. Don't let feelings get in the way of practical needs people. His style works far better than most.

Comment: Astronomy, and general poor night-time results. (Score 5, Insightful) 540

by popoutman (#47524625) Attached to: Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later
Given that I have a few telescopes and I have been stargazing for ~30 years, I really value my night sight. Knowing that the majority of the laser surgeries have a significant proportion of post-operation aberrations that would directly affect my stargazing abilities is a real hindrance to my taking up the eye surgery.
Halos and diffraction spikes around bright objects, increased glare at night, are all relatively common issues to be dealt with afterwards. Most people aren't bothered by this as they rarely come across the situations where these aberrations would show up (exception being night-time driving).
If the surgeries were able to correct higher-order aberrations and a proper wavefront restoration across a portion of the eye that would be larger than the relaxed iris, then it might be a possibility for me. However, the tech is not yet mature for this, for my use cases.

Comment: Re:EVD (Score 1) 167

by hey! (#47523393) Attached to: Ebola Outbreak Continues To Expand

It's exactly as many syllables as "ebola" but carries more information, what's not to like?

Indeed, it carries MUCH more precision than just "Ebola", which can mean any of the following:

"Ebola River" is a tributary to the Congo River.

"Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever" was the name of a disease first discovered in people living in the remote Ebola River watershed.

"Ebola Virus" (abbrev. "EBOV") is the infectious agent that causes "Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever"

"Ebolavirus" is the taxonomic genus to which the "Ebola virus" belongs.

"Ebola Virus Disease (abbrev. "EVD") is now the more common name for Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever. We can call it that because we have definitively identified the infectious agent that causes the disease (EBOV). Changing the name pre-emptively differentiates EVD from other hemorrhagic diseases that might arise from the same area.

Laymen simply say "Ebola" and let their audience sort out what they mean -- if indeed they mean anything precisely. I once had this conversation with an elderly relative.

Relative: 90% of bats have rabies.

Me: That's hard to believe.

Relative: It's true! I read it in the paper.

So I went to the paper and found out that she had it hopelessly garbled. TEN percent of bats SUBMITTED FOR TESTING had positive SCREENING tests.

Comment: Re:EVD (Score 1) 167

by hey! (#47523131) Attached to: Ebola Outbreak Continues To Expand

I worked in public health informatics for many years, and it's a longstanding tradition to use three letter codes. I think this is the legacy of old systems which provided three or four character fields for codes, but it certainly speeds things along when you're keying data into a spreadsheet.

The tradition isn't formalized, and so it's application is somewhat irregular, but it's important in this case to realize that public health surveillance makes a strong distinction between a *disease* (a disorder of structure or function in an organism like a human) and an *infectious agent* (the parasite, bacterium, virus or prion that transmits the disease). That's because you can find the infectious agent without finding any cases of the disease -- for example in an asymptomatic human, in a disease carrying vector like a mosquito etc. Non-specialist use the same terms to refer to either the disease or the agent (this naming by association is called "metonymy", a word every system designer should be familiar with). So of course the abbreviations experts use seem nonsensical to non-specialists.

The abbreviation "EVD" maskes perfect sense -- it is the *disease* caused by the Ebola Virus (EBOV). A non-specialist uses terms loosely and would say things like "They found Ebloa in Freetown." A specialist wouldn't use such loose language. He'd say "We found a human case of EVD in Freetown," or "We had a serum with a positive titer for EBOV from Freetown."

Comment: There's only one thing you need to know about H-1B (Score 1) 224

by hey! (#47522747) Attached to: VP Biden Briefs US Governors On H-1B Visas, IT, and Coding

There's only one thing you need to know about the H-1B program to see that it's not about providing skilled labor *here*: after 6-10 years of working the visa holder is kicked out of the country to make room for a less experienced visa holder.

If H-1B led automatically to a green card, then we'd be keeping the *most* expert workers here, rather than replacing them with less experienced ones. Change that *one* aspect of the program, and it's be an asset to the US as a nation.

Comment: Re:Yay! Hopenchange! (Score 1) 224

by hey! (#47522677) Attached to: VP Biden Briefs US Governors On H-1B Visas, IT, and Coding

I went back and got a degree after 25 years. It's not the *degree*, it's the *education* that matters, and I got a lot more out of the education than my younger peers. This was a new perspective on things I was already familiar with, and I was able to connect a lot of dots I wouldn't have been able to when I was eighteen. I could immediately see what stuff was good for, and I discovered a number of things that would solve commonplace problems I'd seen occur over and over again, even with personnel wit advanced degrees.

Then I got out and discovered that the world didn't want to hire a fifty year old who'd been "out of work" (going to school) for three years....

"Just think of a computer as hardware you can program." -- Nigel de la Tierre

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