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Comment On injuries and damage (Score 5, Informative) 409

As of right now, English-language sources seem to be a bit behind on the injury/damage reports.

The current reports from the city government say that 725 people have received medical attention, with 31 being hospitalized. Infrastructural damage amounts to problems in the centralized building heating system, and blown out windows in about 3000 apartment buildings, 34 hospitals and clinics, and 361 schools/daycares. I should note that, this being Russia, blown out windows are a serious matter because they render the buildings cold, especially coupled with heating system problems. Gas supply has been turned off in parts of the city as a precaution.

Overall, though, there appears to be no serious damage - though emergency repairs and lots of new windows are needed.

Comment Re:Good ones do (Score 1) 330

I also subscribe to this view. A decent understanding of English should be considered as much a requirement for a programmer as the ability to write a string reversing function. At times I get into arguments with Russian programmers on the subject, some of them believe English should not be required or considered the de-facto standard.

Best as I can tell, it's safe to assume programmers will know English if their own language is relatively small. My native language is small, has a few introductory-level programming books and "Windows for dummies" style books, but not a single comprehensive programming book or a must-read computer science book is available in it. And some very small programming-related forums. Certainly nothing like Stackoverflow.

On the other hand, larger languages have almost everything available. I have Russian-language copies of classics like Stroustrup's C++ book, Tanenbaum's OS book, and a whole bunch of books on things from databases to assembly. There's a Slashdot-like site in Russian, and lots of original content worth reading. As such, a Russian-speaking programmer may be under the impression that English is not necessary for the job, and it would indeed be possible to learn a lot without English.

Comment Re:I Got It! (Score 1) 538

And that can also give you words that are hard to remember. Randomly select a few 3-7 letter words from the dictionary:

$ grep -E '^[a-z]{3,7}$' /usr/share/dict/american-english | perl -n -e 'print if (rand() < 0.0001)'

I get:

deposed enured ibis ironies locates

Now I'm not a native speaker but I consider my English vocabulary to be at least as extensive as the average native speaker's. I remember 'ibis' with some difficulty because of the Egyptian hieroglyph, and I had to look up 'enured' - still not sure if I had ever seen the word before.
Does IbisLocatesDeposedEnuredIronies make for a good passphrase? It's strange enough to be memorable while at the same time weird enough to be able to forget part of it.

Comment Re:"migrating German code comments to English" (Score 1) 249

Because languages work differently and, inevitably, a language's features allow for methods of expression not found in languages lacking these features.

I agree word gender is arbitrary for most non-living things, and in German the genders can give me nightmares. But most Indo-European languages have gender and I can't really say that English is better off not having it (though it sure is simpler).

Then again, English is a pretty strange Indo-European language. It has a lot of complexity where it doesn't really add anything, like the plethora of irregular verbs, or the many words that end with the letter e for historical reasons, despite it not being pronounced for centuries. And in other areas, the simpler rules of English come at the cost of expressive ability. Almost non-existent verb conjugation makes things simple, but it also requires 3 words to say "we will run" as opposed to a heavily conjugated verb like "correremos".

Comment Re:There has to be more? (Score 5, Informative) 232

It is related to the case. I'm reading Russian sources, but the English TFA says as much.

Basically, in 2010, the Russian FSKN (a law enforcement organization specifically fighting drugs) initiated criminal proceedings on allegation of drug contraband in poppy seeds. FSKN experts concluded that the shipment does constitute a shipment of drugs. Zelenina, as an expert witness, said that the particular shipment did not have intentionally added narcotic compounds, and that small amounts of those substances were present because it is in fact impossible to eliminate them entirely from poppy seeds. And now she's jailed on charges of being party to a contraband shipment of drugs. Interestingly, I read that a new legal standard adopted in Russia in 2005 specifies that poppy seeds must be completely free of these narcotic traces, which is a technological impossibility and thus poppy is now only imported and not grown.

Fun thing is that there's another section in Russian law that allows people to be charged for making deliberately false expert witness statements - but she was not charged with that. The punishment for false statements is considerably lower than for drug contraband.

This is actually old news (she's been in jail for a month) but is cropping up again because her appeal is being heard.

Comment Re:Looks Like We're Being Slashdotted and Kotaku'd (Score 1) 121

Guys, please make sure next time that your default controls are at least functional :)

5 minutes after launching the game, I'm in the tutorial mission. After learning to target the other ships, I'm told to bank my Viper to align with the drone - only banking is not assigned to anything in a keyboard/mouse setup and I need to fix that myself. Or maybe this is one of those games that are supposed to be played with another input device.

Comment Re:Is that the game... (Score 1) 121

I played the first BtRL demo release when it came out, and I was very impressed. I am not a fan of that gameplay genre, but the demo did a great job at capturing the BSG atmosphere and having dialogue that really fit in with the series. The soundtrack was also good, mixing newly written bits with BSG sounds.

Looking forward to downloading this.

Comment Re:Oh, the Irony (Score 2) 191

Others have already made good points here.

Satellites and space stuff? Launch systems as we know them are largely the work of von Braun's team. Nazi tech!

Computers? The Z3 was not a particularly elegant machine, but it was the first programmable Turing-complete computer. Back in 1941. A good thing for the war that the Nazi leadership denied funding to upgrade the machine.

How about jet aircraft? The He 178 was the first one to fly. Designed by whom? Oh yeah, Nazis.

The StG 44 assault rifle made by the same damn Nazis was a new designed that influenced both the AK47 and M16. Speaking of weapons, the first military night vision device? Yep, also used by the Nazis and developed in Germany. Or how about their engineers making the first proper radar?

Things aren't as simple as saying the Nazis were horrible and lost the war, thus they provided no useful legacy. They had brilliant engineers and more than a few modern technologies contain innovations developed by Germany during that time. And that's not even considering the innovations that were later developed in the USA but by scientists brought over in Operation Paperclip.

Comment Re:Worldwide? Probably not (Score 4, Informative) 540

I can relate. I lived in Latvia until a year ago, and while that's a Western country by now, it's also one with much lower income levels than the "proper" Western countries, besides, the whole free market thing is kinda new there.

Thinking about the previous 10 years or so, I think I had seen people with Macs something like 3 or 4 times total. Most people I talked to didn't even know Macs existed, although starting in 2005-2006 I met a fair amount of people who had heard of Linux as an alternative option. After moving to Sweden, I literally saw more Macs being used on my first day than I had seen in Latvia, ever.

Also puts me in an interesting position where I'm a knowledgable computer geek and have used many OSes, but not OS X. The last time I used a Mac was with Mac OS 8, and even that was brief. I think I should just install a Hackintosh at home one weekend because I am curious to play with OS X, to see how it works and whether I'll find it as easy as it's supposed to be.

Oh, and if anyone is curious to the reason why Macs are essentially non-existent in Latvia, it's simple - prices. Macs there cost as much as anywhere else, which in terms of Latvian incomes places them firmly in the luxury item category (especially until a few years ago). Together with the essentially ubiquitous piracy among privately owned computers, it makes the idea of buying a Mac very strange. Case in point, with iPads. Having just checked the prices, an iPad 3 with 16 GB Wi-Fi only in Latvia costs 339 lats, the same with 4G costs 425 lats (not including data plan). MacBooks start at 895 lats. The average monthly income in 2011 after taxes for those employed in Latvia was 330 lats (about 600 USD at today's rate). Puts things into perspective.

Comment Re:Link to original story? (Score 1) 164

That is completely against the Russian approach, which is fairly direct in style. If the opposition figures running those sites reside in Russia, then the regular Russian police and FSB will be dealing with them - arrests, searches, the usual deal, like you can see with the recent treatment of opposition figures. Skipping an opportunity to go after the authors while using SVR to disturb the sites with propaganda doesn't really fit into the modus operandi of the Russian authorities.

Comment Re:No (Score 5, Insightful) 601

Yep, as an European, I don't get why I should pay such a tax. I pay for my own broadband connection, and while I agree that everyone should have access to the Internet, it's already available for free at libraries that are funded by my taxes anyway. So I don't get the point of a general "broadband tax".

Comment Re:Link to original story? (Score 5, Informative) 164

Link to story: http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2009256

Interesting moments are as follows. There are three projects for which software has been requested. One is for "researching the methods of intelligence in Internet centers and regional segments of social networks", another is for "researching the unofficial methods of management on the Internet", and finally work on "methods for advancing special information in social networks". So essentially, it's figuring out how to make certain information popular on social networks, and figuring out the dynamics and largely emergent social structures within these networks. These are designed to work together, ultimately with the bots capable of "massive dissemination of information in specified social networks using existing user accounts, with the goal of forming the public opinion".

Given that the SVR is behind this, it's likely that the intent, at least originally, is to use this abroad, not within Russia. The article says so and quotes a source saying ex-USSR countries would be the first target. That bit certainly looks realistic given the geopolitical situation there, with Russia essentially being in a state of low-key information warfare versus some former Soviet states.

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