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Comment: Re:More... (Score 1) 160

by silentcoder (#49378335) Attached to: Why You Should Choose Boring Technology

But you don't have to count through all of them. Only until you get to outlook, which is a very long way from the end of the list.

Now if you want to get EVERY useful program from that set which could exist - then you'll have to test every number in the list, and that would take forever even for this reduced subset.
But for just finding one of them - you only have to count until you find that ONE.

Even so the moment you put that upper bound on it you make it possible to use faster algorythms than counting to do the finding with - you could optimize it by using a better data type than a list for example, and using fuzzy logic to search the numbers for patterns you would expect to find in something that's useful (like the string representation of the word "email") to narrow down the search space further.

It would still not be nearly as efficient as doing it the programming way - but that's not the point, the point is merely that it's theoretically possible to do - as proof that programming is still fundamentally mathematics. Just very, very efficient mathematics that make use of quite a bit of intuition that's hard to replicate in generator algorythms.

Comment: Re: So What (Score 1, Insightful) 283

by silentcoder (#49377915) Attached to: Poverty May Affect the Growth of Children's Brains

The problem is that you're wrong about what social security IS - it's not an investment, nor was it ever MEANT to be one. It's paying back a DEBT.

For you to be an economically active adult, a huge amount of money was spent by society (not just your parents). The people who were economically active when you were a child spent a large chunk of their taxes on you. They provided you with public schools, you got police protection and libraries and all the other services citizens get despite not paying any taxes yet etc. etc. etc. - the list is endless.

Now that the generation which paid for you to be able to be an earning adult are no longer capable of earning, you owe it to them to take care of them in their dotage. Part of your earnings go to pay back that expense by taking care of them in turn, another part gets spent on the NEXT generation - like it was spent on you.

THAT is what social security is - it's the system by which you as a currently economically active adult are supporting the generation that supported you BEFORE you were one, after they can no longer be ones. And the next generation is meant to support you in turn when your time comes.
There are problems with social security but it's not the theory of it, it's the management and they mostly stem from managers who made the same mistake that you did.

Comment: Re: So What (Score 3, Informative) 283

by silentcoder (#49377895) Attached to: Poverty May Affect the Growth of Children's Brains

There is strong evidence that the lead ban had a direct causal impact on lowering the crime rate post-1990.
But it couldn't have been a factor in 1930 since the lead pollution levels at that time was still ridiculously low. The single biggest contributor: tetra-ethyl-lead (as was used in gasoline) wasn't even invented yet.

Comment: Re:Writing your own database (Score 1) 160

by silentcoder (#49377837) Attached to: Why You Should Choose Boring Technology

I had a colleague circa 1999 who wrote a neural net in Javascript. And keep in mind when I say javascript I don't mean the JS of today, I mean JS as it was in 1999 - generally considered useless for anything more than onmouseover image rolls.
Why ? To see if he could. It did work though I think his net had only 16 nodes.

Comment: Re:More... (Score 3, Insightful) 160

by silentcoder (#49377815) Attached to: Why You Should Choose Boring Technology

>developers have deluded themselves in to thinking it's more in-line with mathematics or engineering

Except of course that it IS mathematics. Indeed if engineering is the application of scientific knowledge to the solving of practical problems -then programming is the engineering of the science of mathematics.

From the point of view of a computer every program is just one big number. You can reproduce any and all programs that have or ever could be written by simply counting in binary for long enough.

Yes, count long enough and check the results at every count and eventually you will have a number that, if executed, is microsoft outlook.

That is, however, a rather inefficient way to find useful numbers - to get to outlook THAT way would take centuries even on the fastest computers we have.
So what is programming ? It's a sophisticated way to take shortcuts, to find useful numbers without counting through ever possible number (most of which are not useful at all - i.e. if you dump it as a binary to a file it wouldn't run).
That sophistication of figuring out what the program should do first (i.e. defining what the number should be useful for) and then counting in large chunks (i.e. writing components that help satisfy that over-all design goal) is a form of engineering.
It's a highly creative form of engineering and it is very much an artform too. Art and engineering are generally much more closely related than we usually think: just consider the Eiffel Tower, or ask any sculpture about the constraints the laws of physics place on his designs and choice of materials.
Programming, at least at it's current stage of knowledge, is still at a point where the line is extremely blurred and techniques from both art and engineering can be very valuable.

Over time we may find that it becomes more the one or the other, depending on what produces the best results the most efficiently - but I wouldn't trust any wager on which way it would ultimately go. I will say it would never be just one or the other, by it's very nature it will always have at least some elements of both.

Comment: Re:Simplr math ... (Score 1) 347

by silentcoder (#49377293) Attached to: Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Near Launching Presidential Bid

Well they are the source of quotes like
"If you cut taxes on the poor they just spend it on food and shelter" and "When last did a poor person give you a job ?"

Basically - they think they are smarter than the real economists who came up with the theory. Economists who are generally horrified by the way republicans "apply" it.

Comment: Re:That is very wrong (Score 1) 198

>Why not? The byproducts are very small in volume, and quite well protected/contained.

For now... or rather "not really".
Quothing XKCD:
"Spent fuel from nuclear reactors is highly radioactive. Water is good for both radiation shielding and cooling, so fuel is stored at the bottom of pools for a couple decades until itâ(TM)s inert enough to be moved into dry casks. We havenâ(TM)t really agreed on where to put those dry casks yet. One of these days we should probably figure that out."

Comment: Re:Now I understand her record at HP (Score 1) 347

by silentcoder (#49369033) Attached to: Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Near Launching Presidential Bid

>A candidate who has successfully opposed unions is a candidate who has successfully opposed entrenched power, and that should be a tremendous plus.

No it's the exact opposite of what America needs. What you desperately NEED is another Teddy Rooseveldt. You need a man who DEFENDS unions and goes to war against oligarchies and monopolies. Who actively promotes environmental protection and realizes that severe inequality WILL lead to revolution and so takes it upon himself to ensure the market is REALLY free, labour conditions are safe and paid fairly, and hold corporations to account.

The greatest irony of the 21st century is hearing people call Obama a liberal. He is centre-right at best. Now Rooseveldt, HE was a liberal worthy of the name.

Comment: Re:Now I understand her record at HP (Score 1) 347

by silentcoder (#49369027) Attached to: Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Near Launching Presidential Bid

>essentially you like politicians who agree with your political opinions.

Erm... yeah, that's sort of the whole POINT of having elections.

Now what I can tell you is there is no way the Reps can take the whitehouse again as long as they court the batcrap crazy and the religious right so exclusively. Their extreme partisan behaviour under Obama has done them NO favours and in presidential elections the liberals actually VOTE.
The only way they can win now is if they can get a candidate who has broad appeal outside that narrow band. Somebody who can get the independents to vote for them.
Even an old-school republican has a shot.

The trouble is that to get the nomination you need to win a bunch of elections where ONLY those religious right extremists vote and the teaparty has enormous influence.
Mit learned last time round that going batshit crazy to win the nomination and then somehow getting back to the centre for the national election is REALLY hard.

If the reps want a shot at this - they need somebody who can appeal across the aisle, and that person needs to be able to convince the batcrap crazies to give her the nomination first.
Trust me, it's going to be a very interesting 18 months ahead.

Comment: Re:Simplr math ... (Score 3, Insightful) 347

by silentcoder (#49368975) Attached to: Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Near Launching Presidential Bid

And of course the irony is that their ideology never actually works, but it does turn them into valuable useful idiots.
The sincere ones among them want to cut things like crony-capitalism, regulatory capture and corporate welfare as well.
But that NEVER happens, instead by using their support for "small government" big business simply gets to have government plunder all the actual services it provides, and social safety netts and hand over the results to MORE crony capitalism.
I think the perfect example was Denver where the local government basically just took everybody's pensions because they "couldn't afford to pay them anymore" - but never cut a penny of their corporate welfare bill - which could have paid the pension liabilities ten times over !

Even their lord and saviour Ronald Reagan pulled of the scam perfectly. In theory the Laffer-curve based tax-cut concept is that you cut taxes for EVERYBODY, so EVERYBODY has more money, people spend it to buy things - and this means more business open (since there are customers to supply) so that means more jobs - and so even though you cut taxes very soon your revenues are higher than before. It ONLY works if you are AT the Laffer curve peak -any other time the tax cuts will simply mean less revenue, and the theory also demands that when you do it you cut ALL spending to the bone so you stay liquid until the increased revenue realizes, at which point you are supposed to end the austerity and use this higher revenue to fund bigger projects and MORE expansive social safety netts.

But you won't hear THAT from the politicians, they take a sound economic theory out of it's very narrow context and then apply it across the board - and what's worse, they only apply half of it. What DID Reagan do ?
He cut taxes only on the rich, then he increased spending - a LOT - especially on the military, and cut the social safety nett.
That's been the republican playbook ever since despite that fact that it never worked once in all that time. Well worked at what they said it would do - as a means of handing over poor and middle class folk's taxes to rich people it works brilliantly.

And the small government libertarians are the idiots who keep electing them because they promise to make government smaller and still haven't figured out the scam.

Single tasking: Just Say No.