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Comment What about Experian? (Score 5, Insightful) 390

Hieu Minh Ngo, the website owner, was recently been indicted for 15-counts filed under seal in November 2012, charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, substantive wire fraud, conspiracy to commit identity fraud, substantive identity fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit access device fraud, and substantive access device fraud.

Why does someone at one level of the crime get charged but not the one at the top. Remember:

Experian — one of the three national U.S. credit bureaus — reportedly sold SSNs through its subsidiary, Court Ventures, to the operators of SuperGet.info

Why are they not being charged? Using SSNs for certain things is illegal, and selling them probably is too - otherwise what did the other guy do wrong?

Comment Stability of amino acids (Score 1) 141

It seems to me that the redundancy in the code allows some triplets to be more stable than others. A random change from one letter to another shouldn't be a problem as long as the new triplet codes the same amino acid. In this light I would expect very important pieces of DNA to be coded in a way that allows more variability without changing function. How or if evolution deals with this would be interesting to study.

Comment There are no perfect requirements documents (Score 1) 473

Nobody has requirements. What they have is problems, and it's the engineers job to build something that solves those problems. They may be able to offer some requirements or offer an idea what they want it to look like. The only way they have complete knowledge of what they want is when they already have it - when it's complete. It drives me insane when people put together a development process that shows requirements being complete at the start, or they show the "V" model of development and forget that a big circular arrow goes in the middle showing iteration (this is never accounted for in the schedule because it can't be).

If you expect complete requirements you don't fully understand your job.

Comment Been there, seen that. (Score 2) 473

I name all of my classes and variables "George." Problem solved.

We were coding with Simulink (diagram based thing). When things get complex you take a group of blocks and group them into a subsystem so you get a hierarchy of block diagrams. Each subsystem displays a name under the box, and everyone tries to give each block a name. People choose names of varying quality, but we had one guy leave the default name on every block "subsystem". To avoid name collisions it adds a counter as a suffix. I expanded the tree-view on the left side of the screen once and was able to fill it top to bottom with "subsystem2" "subsystem3" nested 5 levels deep. There is no way to navigate the code except by looking at the diagrams, but those consist of basic blocks (mostly math operators) and bigger boxes named subsystem. Fortunately some of the signals are labeled.

And of course the guy quit right after delivering this piece of shit to production.

Comment Fail (Score 2) 268

FBP claims to make it easier for non-programmers to build applications by stringing together transformations built by expert programmers.

This notion of allowing non-programmers to do programming is flawed on its face. The challenges of programming can not be overcome by drawing some cute pictures. And if you have expert programmers making the building blocks it will only take them a few minutes more to connect them which eliminates the need for the "non-programmer" entirely. Then there is this notion of "pure functions". Dude, functional programming is a fad. Real programs manipulate data.

I've been "programming" with Simulink for 5 years now and it's great for control systems but shit for most other kinds of programming. So let your controls engineer use it to design and test and even generate C code. Then drop that code into your app and call it as a function. Never let that guy convince your organization that this is the way to go and ALL of the software should be created this way.

Comment Careful of that wording: (Score 1) 396

This goes far beyond the third party doctrine, effectively prosecuting someone and depriving them of the ability to defend themselves by declaring that they have no standing to refute the evidence used against them.

It sounds more like he wants to have the evidence thrown out by claiming it was illegally obtained. That is not the same thing as trying to "refute the evidence".

Comment Mistake (Score 1) 242

You can not tell the difference between particles that are in a superposition of states and those that have "collapsed". If such a difference could be discerned then entangled pairs could be used for faster-than-light communication by modulating their "collapsedness". These guys are not dealing with particles but a somewhat larger system. Is it an example of macroscopic system exhibiting quantum behavior? If so, does it offer a non-magical explanation of the phenomena?

Comment Goto (Score 1) 598

IMHO BASIC was a great first language because of the goto statement. Let me explain why. Lots of people are familiar with or can easily understand a flowchart. By numbering the lines in a purely imperative language, people could easily get a machine to do something by laying the instructions out in order. Goto allows that linear list of instructions to be branched in exactly the same way a flowchart does (check condition, go here). Only after learning very simplistic imperative programming should one say "goto is evil, use structured programming". It's helpful - if unfortunate - to see the downside of goto in order to appreciate better code structure. But I remember there is more forethought required to use structured constructs to write some kinds of code. In the beginning I think it's important NOT to introduce abstract concepts (structured programming, OOP, complex data structures, etc) until the student has groked the fundamentals of getting the machine to do what you want. If all you've got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, but then you will also have an appreciation and immediate understanding of the usefulness of power tools.

So I'm only slightly joking when I say "goto", but the point is that every abstraction looks like wierd arbitrary stuff you have to learn until you know enough to appreciate it's usefulness, at which point it's easy to learn because it does something you perceive as useful. Abstractions raise the height of the learning curve, but should not increase its slope or it shall look like a wall.

I'm still trying to understand why the latest craze is functional programming. From where I sit it's a bunch of intellectual self gratification. Programs manipulate data - why shun mutable state? Jumping through hoops (apparently something called monads) to have mutable data is absurd - that's what computers DO. Or as XKCD put it...

Comment Interact (Score 1) 78

I still have my Interact (produced in AnnArbor MI) and about 30 tapes - including Microsoft Basic for it. It also has an extra ROM written by a W. Hendrikson (sp?) and I just might be able to locate a binder with nearly all issues of "Interaction" which was a newsletter put out by IIRC Steve Cook. I had considered donating this, but the computer history museum already has one.

Later in life I also worked directly under the guy who wrote most of the original ROM code for this machine. I believe he'd want to get his hands on it for a bit prior to donation. We're connected on Linked-In.

There were only a few thousand of these things built, so I suspect few remain and doubt all the listed places would have one.

On another note, even back then MS disabled the Peek and Poke commands in basic. I suspect this was at the request of the computer company. Poke in particular does not give a SN (syntax error) but rather actually executes the command and then gives a different error. "Poke XXXXX,YY" will permanently disable the error. More poking can disable some bounds checks on the Peek command - the ROM range was protected and the BASIC interpreter area was also protected. It's all a bit fuzzy but I still remember the values of XXXXX and YY to enable poking. The others were all documented in said newsletter.

Last I checked it still worked and a MESS developer down the street from me dumped the ROM.

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