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Comment It's sexist! (Score 1) 413

I'm somewhat surprised to see so many "let's get girls into technical job xyz" while we never see "get more men to be a nurse!" campaigns. Why is that? And what does this say about the perception of women to which this applies?

The problem here is not that women are under-represented in these kind of jobs; there are very likely good reasons for that that do not involve sexism. The real problem is that they're somehow still given a special treatment. I think this is really sexist; there's nothing that says "girls are special", "girls need help" more than these kind of initiatives. While I'd love to see more female colleagues (or more specifically: more colleagues:p) I don't think this is the right way.

In case women don't get equal chances, yes, let's campaign, but I strongly doubt such barriers still exist in any normal western country.

Comment Re:WTF? (Score 0) 956

The issue is that the police and school don't know whether to believe him.

No. The issue is the police and school apparently think everything they don't understand - which seems to be more each day - must be a bomb, even if there are no explosives in it whatsoever. Probably they're even too stupid to understand that a bomb needs explosives. Bottomline: there is absolutely no rational reason to even assume this thing was a bomb. Just look at it. How can everybody involved in this possibly be such a moron?! How can people so utterly stupid possibly be police officers and teachers?! And what's with the fucking handcuffs?! Poor murica is getting about as stupid as Europe during the middle ages when everything they didn't understand was witchcraft...

Comment Re:Moon Zero? (Score 1) 147

A day on the moon takes a month. A day on Antarctica, which is mentioned as a good alternative to the moon has winter nights that last months. A day on Mars, OTOH, is a bit more than 24 hours. Also note that water on the moon can probably be found near the poles while on Mars there's a slight chance some digging will get you water in areas with a less hostile climate. Once you get there, life on Mars is likely to be easier than it is on Antarctica during the winter.

Large scale biosphere-recreating experiments where not very succesful (nor very scientific in nature...). Only recently, ESA and the International Center for Closed Ecosystems have restarted such experiments. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... (which has more information on the subject than other articles on wikipedia).

Comment Re:Facebook isn't free (Score 1) 147

Those like "like" buttons on every page are spying on you

That's nonsense; they're not spying at all. In fact, they do nothing. It's you that explicitly requested that button from Facebook, which merely keeps track of what you (or your browser) explicitly sent them.

It's a total miracle that we're all hating Facebook while we should be hating our browser manufacturers for failing to properly protect us from sending shit all over the place. Even MS Outlook does a better job when it asks me whether I really want to load images from some server. Browsers should do the same; that'll end this bullshit in no-time.

Comment Re:Minumum Wage will push these sooner (Score 1) 46

I'm also sure there will be more focus on such robots. However, it's not the minimum wage McDonals employees that will be the first to go. It will be the managers.


Actually, people in horeca/entertainment etc. will probably get to keep their jobs for quite some time. In your typical restaurant, the people serving you are a very important factor. Without a waiter and a real cook you'd probably not even visit a restaurant.

Comment Re:What? (Score 1) 350

"The poison cloud will reach [town] at [time]."

"Tornado alert at [location]."

"Evacuate [area] now due to imminent flooding."

"Report to [locations] for evacuation."

"Stay indoors - help is on the way."

There are countless scenario's in which warning people of imminent followup-danger or giving instructions in a rescue or evacuation will safe lives. In case Internet or mobile are offline, FM radio may well be the only means of mass-communication.

Comment Law? (Score 1) 279

I'm not sure what country you are in, but where I live making an email backup for the reasons you made it for would almost certainly be illegal under privacy law.

More in general, your systems and procedures should be designed to be able to deal with hardware failures and other unforeseen problems. You probably have backups, audit trails and access rights etc. where it matters. Therefore I don't think there's anything you should do at all as long as the paperwork that allows him access is still valid, which it is. He's still just a normal employee. There's no reason whatsoever to all of a sudden start treating him like an asshole.

Comment Very soon (Score 3, Insightful) 162

I've thought about this a lot; obviously it's inevitable that police will start using quadcopters more and more (they already do) and probably it's a matter of time (I'd say about 5-10 years) before small autonomous drones start supporting police work, for example tracking suspects.

At the same time, drones will become cheaper and cheaper and I'm afraid many of us nerds won't be able to resist letting them out, looking around, racing eachother through the mall, spying on the girl next door, those kind of things. And you know what? They're pretty much anonymous; nobody's going to trace the drone that crashed into your backyard (or into a police drone) back to you if you do it well.

And then there will be terrorists; it's going to be a matter of time before a plain old stupid terrorist attack is carried out using a drone. But that will be only the beginning; while they may sound like SciFi fantasy, assasination drone-swarms will very soon be almost trivial to create. You WILL see video footage of people being attacked by hordes of drones in the not too distant future...

And that will be the end of privacy as we know it. Once we've had enough of annoying nerds and their drones, terrorists and their drones and criminals and their killer swarms, we will start doing something about it. And that something is not going to be pretty; in order to be able to trace a drone back to a person, continuous surveillance is inevitable. Unauthorized drones will probably be shot automatically.

And if we're really unlucky, all this will result in drone parts without DRM-support becoming illegal to own...

This is not going to be fun at all.... :|

Comment No (Score 1) 522

The Bechdel test is about content, not about authors.

Furthermore, there are reasons to assume the average women is less interested in programming than the average male. Science seems to indicate this difference in interests is already present in newborns. I can strongly recommend this documentary on that subject:


Also, I strongly suspect nearly all good programmers to have some kind of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), often undiagnosed, simply because that "disorder" makes them exceptionally good at tasks typically performed by programmers. ASD is prevalent in males 4.3 times more than in females.

All in all there are more than enough valid reasons to assume the gender gap in software engineering is absolutely normal and is here to stay. I don't see why this subject is even worth discussing; it's about as interesting as the gender-gap amongst nurses: not interesting at all.

Comment All programming languages suck (Score 0) 177

I wish I could pick "Whichever i right for the job" but I have not found any programming language to be right for any job at all. There's typically a least worst one, but the right one...? This is only partially due to the available programming languages; the available compilers/VM's/interpreters are part of the problem as well.

One crucial critermium for me is that whatever code I write, especially in my private projects, is some level of guarantee that my code will still run in 10 years. In order to be able to guarantee that, the programming language should not be controlled by a single entity, it should be free and open source and it should have at least a small community actively working on it. As far as I'm concerned this disqualifies all the .net-based stuff, a lot of the Google-stuff like Go and Dart.

There are 3 main projects I'm working on: my day-time job is building a high-traffic webfacing platform, my software synthesizer hobby project and my computer vision hobby project. Let's discuss the three of them.

Let's first discuss my day-time job. This is easy; we use Java and since we build a platform with an API and since we value backwards compatibility, this will remain Java. It does the job and it does it fast, organized, stable and good. Library availability is very good. There's not too much wrong with it although concurrent programming can be a pain. Also, there's an extreme amount of boiler plate code required, often making it feel horribly inefficient and needlessly complex, especially when comparing it to your typical functional programming language, which can be much more expressive and powerful in terms of syntax.

To my software synth then. This is extremely CPU-intensive and proper vectorization is a must-have. While java nowadays does a little bit of auto-vectorization, back in the days it was completely absent. For something like a full-blown software synthesizer, you're pretty much limited to the languages supported by gcc, which does auto-vectorization very well. Also, a garbage collected language is not really the best choice when you need a certain level of realtimeness, which is exactly what a software synth needs. I endup up using C++, which seems like an obvious choice for a software synthesizer, which naturally consists of many polymorph components. It works and it is superfast. But OH MY GOD what a mess it is to do concurrency well, to manually manage memory and to find proper libraries. Most libraries are written in C with a C++-shell as an afterthought. Even worse is the fact that just about nobody in the Open Source C++ library-world appears to give jack shit about backwards compatibility. And then C++11 came around. OMFG. Some libraries require it while others turn into a big mess of warnings and errors. Having waded through all that it turns out that some of the new features make C++11 officially the language that's completely impossible to understand.

Which brings me to my attempts to make a decent GUI for my software synth. It's in gtkmm+cairo now and it works, but I would never ever write a GUI in C++ again. HTML5+JavaScript beats any alternative hands down in usability, portability, expressiveness and what's more. The only problem is... it's JavaScript. Let's just say there's a reason that Microsoft came up with TypeScript. Oh and there's the multithreading problem. JavaScript is effectively single threaded (unless you count hacks like Web Workers as a "solution"). As such, even if all other problems were fixed, JavaScript (or any future generation like TypeScript or ECMAScript 6) is completely unsuitable for anything that needs performance. No dice.

On to my image processing hacks. Obviously, speed and parallel processing are crucial once again. Auto-vectorization and thus gcc are a must-have (at least for now), but in gcc this requires writing lots of simple for-loops. Its tedious; obviously your typical image processing stuff would be extremely suitable for writing in a functional language that would "hide" those millions of for loop. Making matters worse is that my GPU is going to be much better at the type of calculations I'd like to do, but that can only be achieved by integrating yet another - not general purpose - programming language, which is typically restricted and/or fits very badly in my source code.

In general, I would have hoped we'd have a proper, consistent, fast and easy way to express our ideas and to just have a computer run them without having to deal with the multitude of shortcomings each available option has today. To me, the lack of such a language shows how extremely immature our field actually is. I still believe we are going to agree on a single expressive, generic and universally accepted language one day so we can all focus on implementing that properly instead of spending our days looking for libraries, tuning garbage collectors, dealing with locks, manually marking code for running as SIMD or on a GPU or FPGA, parallelizing simple loops and you name it. And I'm pretty sure C, C++, Java and JavaScript are not amongst that language of the future. I would expect such a language to be a functional language without the hassle of dealing with IO and I would expect such a language to be as accessible and consistent as Java without the Garbage collector. I would expect it to automatically optimize parallell processing and offloading to SIMD, GPU or FPGA.

What I would expect such a language to be, is a combination of what Rust does for memory management, Erlang does for parallel processing, any pure functional language does for expressiveness and correctness. And I would expect it to automatically offload code to GPU just like gcc uses auto-vectorization. I just want to write down my idea and leave the implementation details to my compiler or VM. But I don't think this language is around just yet...

"The urge to destroy is also a creative urge." -- Bakunin [ed. note - I would say: The urge to destroy may sometimes be a creative urge.]