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Comment: Re:Your Results Will Vary (Score 1) 241

by sirlark (#47487865) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

Higher Math is not necessary in all fields of programming but it is certainly very necessary in many.

... which means that higher maths is really domain specific, and not necessary for programming. Otherwise I could say the accounting or biochemistry were necessary to learn to program, if that's the field I started out in learning to program

Comment: Re:less money yes, less time no (Score 2) 41

by sirlark (#47229271) Attached to: Open-Source Hardware For Neuroscience
Agreed! Firstly, as the P pointed out, a significant amount of time goes into getting grants to fund the experiments. This isn't going to go away, funding is still required, but it will mean that YOUR lab now has a chance of getting the grant, as opposed to the lab that already has the machine available for use because it was funded by the last grant. This means a wider variety of labs doing the science, which is a good thing. Also, having worked for a commercial science institute that really pushed the idea of 'brand name equipment saves you time and money', I can assure you, it's not the case. Our brand name equipment was ALWAYS down, waiting on a repair guy to be flown in from another continent, because the local guy didn't know how to fix it, or didn't have the parts. On top of that, we often had to run experiments multiple times because the results were suspect. The machine operator ended up with more repair skills than the first-level call out guy after about a year... that saved us time! So I'd say having in-house skills for maintaining your CORE equipment is a good thing. Open source design and hopefully some interchangeability in parts, a bonus!

Comment: Bureaucracy! (Score 1) 44

by sirlark (#47228107) Attached to: Game Characters Controlled By Player's Emotions

Does anyone remember that old game: "Bureaucracy"? The aim was too keep your blood pressure low enough not to have a stroke and die while dealing with everyday issues. Maybe a remake with this sort of controller is in order, then it could measure your real blood pressure.

Then, maybe, someone can use the measurements as evidence in a suit against... well basically every cable, internet, or phone company, building contractors, and government institution.

Comment: Re:Too Big to Be Indicted... (Score 1) 245

by sirlark (#47210337) Attached to: NSA's Novel Claim: Our Systems Are Too Complex To Obey the Law

The banks, on the other hand, are very easy to "kill" — just stop using them.

Except when the government steps in with your taxes to bail out the bank that goes bankrupt because everyone stopped using it; and that is assuming Joe Consumer actually has a big enough effect in the first place, because banks don't get deposits only from the man on the street. The money is in the loans. And you can't just stop using a bank if you have a loan. Can't buy a house without a loan either generally, and buying often makes more sense than paying off your landlord's mortgage.

Comment: Re:Missing the point as usual (Score 1) 129

by sirlark (#47162443) Attached to: Whistleblowers Enter the Post-Snowden Era
Good points, both the P and the GP. I should rephrase and re-summarize as: There can be no legal whistle blowing of legal but unlawful activities. I would consider Snowden's revelations lawful, but only some of them legal. Some of the stuff the re released describes clearly illegal activities. Whistle blowing of illegal activities is essentially reporting a crime, and there's a long tradition of reporting crimes (especially corporate ones) to the press instead of the cops.

Comment: Missing the point as usual (Score 4, Insightful) 129

by sirlark (#47154075) Attached to: Whistleblowers Enter the Post-Snowden Era

actively promotes federal whistleblowing through lawful disclosures (Emphasis Mine)

It's not about disclosing illegal activities. It's about disclosing activities that shouldn't be legal, or activities the public should be made aware of because their government is doing it behind their backs, even if legally. Yes, the ballot box is supposed to be the place to sort it out, but the ballot box presumes an informed citizenry. An informed citizenry presumes a system where whistle blowers are protected if they're actions are indeed in the public interest.

There can be no lawful disclosure if revealing legally classified documents is unlawful, even if the legal system facilitating the classification of those documents doesn't enjoy the broad support of the people. The correct term, that doesn't allow legal weaselling is "the public interest".

Comment: Re:What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (Score 2) 74

by sirlark (#47023713) Attached to: Measles Virus Puts Woman's Cancer Into Remission

This means that we tend to focus on treatments for currently untreatable cancers, and once we have something that is semi-OK, the rate of improvement goes way down. It doesn't go to zero, by any means, but the incentives shift in a way that is both perfectly logical and kind of perverse.

It's called the law of diminishing returns, and applies to nearly everything sadly

Comment: Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (Score 1) 281

Two things:

1. The cost of MS license in the third world is really high comparatively, even with academic and non-profit discounts. I've worked at a school in South Africa where the licensing costs of a small lab could have hired an extra teacher. You don't get academic/non-profit discounts if you buy once-off licenses, to get those you've had to go with subscription model since at least 2003

2. The support offered by Microsoft at the school did not cover desktop support, or if it did, that support was so slow in coming as to be useless. That's one reason I had a job. IN this case using off-the-shelf software carries no support advantage, and little usability advantage. Chances are nobody at the school can use a Access, or even excel particularly well. From the original poster suggestion of running it on a VPS I assume they have internet, and are probably more familiar with a browser and word than excel.

All that said, the idea of just using a spreadsheet makes a lot of sense. From a reporting perspective, it makes life easy, and getting data to UNICEF et al is as easy as emailing a copy. I'd avoid Microsoft though, and go with libreoffice.

Comment: If you want to learn (Score 1) 172

by sirlark (#46937301) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Beginner To Intermediate Programming Projects?

If you are into learning, and don't already have a specific goal you can work towards, I strongly suggest re-inventing the wheel, specifically the file manager wheel, it covers a LOT of ground and will earn you invaluable experience. After writing one you will have solid experience in

  1. File management, and filesystems
  2. GUI coding and almost all of the common widgets
  3. or you could do a text based file manager, up to you
  4. Basics like arrays (lists), mappings (dictionaries), structures (no real equivalent in python, but can be mimicked with classes or dicts
  5. User interface design
  6. program design, this project can be done in a variety of ways, some good, some bad, be prepared to get it wrong throw it out and start again. Also done right, there are lots of small components (e.g. a file copy dialog) that aren't overwhelming to start with. The biggest step in going from beginner to intermediate is learning how to decompose the big problem into lots of little easy to handle small problems... this is the 'art' of computer programming.
  7. A file manager covers a lot of different data structures, and hence the algorithms that use them, vectors, trees, graphs (these three alone get you a LONG way)
  8. Finally, a file manager consists of a LOT of glue code, in fact, most of it is glue code, and writing glue code gives you more practical experience than anything else, because YOU have to figure it out yourself.

Notably, this lacks some other fundamental stuff to programming: SQL (a little knowledge here goes a long way too), graphics coding (the basics I learnt before openGL have stood me in good stead over the years), and I'm sure there's more. Still, a file manager is a good choice IMHO

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