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Comment Not all Lingua Francas were akin to Aramaic (Score 1) 185

Hi Tenebrousedge,

I am familiar with the term “Lingua Franca” but not all Lingua Francas are made equal. To quote my link, Aramaic was spoken and written by many people, stretched into all directions, incorporated many foreign words, and developed dialects, sub-dialects and personal idioms. On the other hand, Hebrew as a Lingua Franca (among Jews in their diasporas) was much less vibrant and lively, and didn’t really evolve or grow as much as Aramaic did in ancient times.

As a result, I favourably compared English to Aramaic, rather than to any Lingua Franca.

Comment Re:Logo (Score 1) 185

Logo is a horrible language to start with because it doesn't trust you with responsibility. You are stuck in a la-la-land where the only thing you can do is draw pretty pictures. Beginning programmers, and even children, want to be trusted with responsibility, and feel like they are in control of their environment. So I suggest avoiding pedagogical languages and instead opt for practical languages.

Comment You should teach her English (Score 5, Insightful) 185


I may be dismissed as an imperialistic pig for saying that, but I've written on why it is important to avoid localised programming languages because it is becoming more and more important to learn English as soon as possible. Just for the record, English is not my mother language (I am Israeli and my mother language is Hebrew), and yet I think that learning English is an increasingly important skill, and also communicate primarily in English in my Internet interactions, and most of home-site and blogs are written in English. Whether you like it or not, I believe English has been becoming what Aramaic was in the Near East from the time of the Neo-Babylonian Empire up to Arab times.

I suggest you invest the time in teaching your daughter English first, which is of far greater utility than programming, and is also absolutely necessary for learning to program (or for most other fields of science, technology and endeavour).

Comment As a Linux user, I'm boycotting Nvidia (Score 1) 123

For a long time, I have decided to boycott Nvidia (which I have nicknamed as “Hang-vidia” due to the fact their drivers frequently caused my machine to hang) due to their positive hostility for Linux, and open source, and what not (lack of support for open source efforts, no specifications released, legal threats against open source efforts, dropping support for old cards, etc.), and the low quality of their binary-only offerings (frequent hangs and crashes), and their general incompetence. I will never buy Nvidia until they release SPECs and make their driver open source. See my old petition about that.

After using an old GeForce 4 card where neither the "nv" driver nor the "nvidia" driver worked properly, I switched to an ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro card, and it served me extremely well, and was rock solid. Now I have the built-in Intel graphics on this Core i3 machine, which causes some problems, so I may opt to buy a new (and probably better) ATI/AMD card. But I'd rather be hanged than buy hang-vidia.

Submission + - Fiction: "Summerschool at the NSA" - the NSA getting schooled on security

Shlomi Fish writes: In the fictional story Summerschool at the NSA , the Hollywood actresses Sarah Michelle Gellar (of Buffy fame), and Summer Glau (notable for being featured in xkcd), conspire to kick the ass of the NSA (= the United States National Security Agency) using special warfare that is completely non-violent, thus teaching it an important lesson about security.

For extra geek points, Summerschool at the NSA is under a Creative Commons licence (CC-by-sa) and is maintained in a GitHub repository. Share, enhance, and enjoy!

Comment Heroic people make any job they take awesome. (Score 1) 489

I'll put it on the table: I have a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc. - 4 year degree) in Electrical Engineering (more like a CE/EE/CS degree) from The Technion in their Haifa, Israel Campus, and graduated cum laude, and I have a qualified engineer certificate which theoretically allows me to write software for guiding missiles (or other flaw-free software) and give my signature that it is flaw-free. Nevertheless, right now I'm looking for part-time jobs as a seller/vendor in icecream parlours, candy/snack stores, cafés/restaurants/bars/etc. or even as a street sweeper. Lots of places in Tel Aviv, Israel are now advertising for this, and this seems like a good way to earn some money, as well as interact with other people and get inspired which will really help me with my creative writing and my essays. And I can buy an Android smartphone (nothing really better now and some people have successfully installed GNU/Linux chroots there) so I can type stuff for later incoporation into my desktop and laptop devices.

So why not work as a software developer? I don't mind getting a job as a software developer or a hardware developer or whatever, but lately employers in Tel Aviv and vicinity have become extremely picky: you go to an interview, answer most technical questions nicely, and don't get hired. Furthermore, even if they like you they are often very domineering: don't work from home, work 10-12 hours a day, only full time, don't play computer games at all (I only played some card Patience/Solitaire and Sokoban and not for long and still got flack), don't go to Facebook/Twitter/Google-Plus, we don't want you accessing (too muchu traffic to there so let's firewall it) etc. etc. Thing is - the junior developers are kings (see the link for the Joel article), and you should leave them alone to their elements to get shit done at their own pace, and using their own resources instead of being a control freak. If, as a boss, my developer watched porn for 6 hours a day, while still being available on the forums for questions, and spent 2 hours creating great code that is functional and beautiful, I would be happy, and give him a full salary. But finding such enlightened employers is a big problem.

Software was the first field where workers were in constant demand, but now it seems that other fields are headed the same way here in Tel Aviv and other major centres of commerce worldwide: the food outlets, the music industry, photography, and soon - writing, acting/drama/film and then hopefully also modelling, and then if we can get past the normal and silly legal barriers - also more brick-and-mortar industries. Right now I've decided to make a transition from a software developer to a writer/Internet-entertainer/amateur-philosopher - a field where I feel I produce better results and also something that people will find cooler and sexier (although like I note in the article, the fact that I wrote a Freecell solver has impressed some really cute and intelligent chicks), and will have a larger influence. I still see knowing programming and other software development as an absolutely necessary means for that, just like I can no longer survive without knowing how to read and write English. Everyone should know at least HTML/XHTML/etc.

What I'm trying to say is that one should avoid Fatalism. People can improve for the better. I spent six and a half year doing my Elec. Eng. degree in the Technion and it cost me a lot of frustrations, but I'm still alive and have constantly become a better person - more competent, more able, smarter, wiser, and with a greater capacity for love and friendship. As long as you're not dead and still have some health in you, you will do fine. My suggestion to someone who got a Ph.D. in literature is to realise that that may make them a really awesome programmer , or a bartender, or a candy store vendor, or a secretary, or a sys admin, or anything else that they will find a job at. Don't think "I'm too good for that" because like they say in Hollywood "There are no small roles - only small (= small-minded) actors." You can be an awesome superheroic person even if you're just a factory worker.

Comment Lots of Ground Covered in the Quest for Openness (Score 1) 447

As I noted in a a post to the Creative Commons "cc-community" mailing list, while the software ("open source", "free software", "FOSS", "FLOSS", "open specs", "open protocols") industry and software users have (mostly) got the memo regarding the requirement to be open, and the music industry closely followed suit due to YouTube and other developments, there's still a lot of resistance from the film/movie industry. Nevertheless, I believe that whether they proclaim to currently like it or not, they will also embrace “openness” (also meaning honesty, transparency, lack of resentment, trust, etc.), and adapt to a newer business model based on the Internet, and other means.

One thing people should understand is that the fight for freedom and openness is not about getting rid of "big business". There will likely always be big businesses, because some companies are smarter than others and grow more, and there's nothing necessarily wrong with a big corporation, as long as it doesn't violate basic, objective, ethical principles such as initiatory force, threat of force or fraud against a person or their physical property, which corporations don't usually do (as opposed to many government agencies in the past and present). So if you were hoping that Walt Disney Corp. or Warner Bros or whoever will disappear, you will most likely be disappointed. However, I believe and hope we will see the day when the characters of them will be under the Public Domain or a liberal Creative Commons licence (at least in effect), simply because this makes business sense.

Naturally, there's still a long road to go, even in mostly won battles such as the software or music industry: YouTube ended up having to block all videos containing music for German IPs after a German musical cartel demanded they pay royalties; many YouTube remixes/etc. have been removed or made country-specific due to copyright claims; and it seems like a lot of content (, mp3 sales, etc.) is only available to USA residents. We should try to convince the music industry and other industries that it makes perfect business sense to avoid such silly measures, which only encourage piracy. Most artists nowadays make most of their money not from selling actual copies of the songs, and the labels who signed them have adapted to this new reality, but given that I wanted to buy a song I liked from and couldn't and after a long time met someone one IRC who let me download it from his huge collection of mp3 (without paying), something here is definitely wrong. DRM and locality restrictions etc. end up hurting sales more than they encourage them, and the pirates don't care anyway, and it's time the media (audio, video, books, software, etc.) industries realise this.

Open Source

Submission + - Why "Publish or Perish" is "Life or Death" (

Shlomi Fish writes: "A short essay making claim that it is essential to publish almost every innovative conclusion you came up with ("publish"), rather than keeping knoweldge and insights to yourself, lie, or use other forms of camouflage, which will cause your demise (= "perish"), which eventually translates to “Life or death”. Following that, it criticises the NSA for balantly, and foolishly violating this principle."

Comment Re:Plato had the same complaint 2300 years ago... (Score 1) 166

Heh, nice. Somewhat after Plato (at 300 B.C.) Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth) wrote Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions.. Being 35 years old (born on 5 May 1977), I remember that many of the children of my age group, not reading books on their own volition, and being rude and not preparing their homework, and hanging out with their friends, and being rude to their teachers, and parents, and being mischevious. Today is not different. And there were well-mannered boys and girls and naughty boys and girls and there still are today. I myself am pretty happy with a lot of the younger generations today, and many 14 years olds or so I met on IRC and elsewhere, were both more mature (and still very fun people) than I was at 14 years old as well as 10 years ago when I was 25.

Despite my age, I am quite a trendy fellow, and maintain collections of Chuck Norris/etc. facts, watch YouTube videos of either comedies, covers and original songs by independent artists, or whatever, have a lot of Gangnam Style mixes, spin-offs and covers that I enjoyed, wrote several stories and screenplays that mostly take place in the present (and often feature teens or other young people), and have an active presence in many sites across the Net. That put aside, I often draw on inspiration from a lot of ancient memes such as Aesop's fables, the Hebrew Bible, Saladin’s noble teaching and practice, the Greek mythology, various folk-tales, and many other things (so for example, whenever someone criticises someone for something silly about them, I bring up Aesop’s tale about the donkey for support). You got to combine both old and new, and realise that it's important to borrow memes from other idea systems - old and new - because "All truth is God's truth".

I promised myself that I won't grow cynical, and to never stop being an idealist and to always have a living growth, and it worked. I'm a very different idealist than I was a year ago (much less 10 years ago) but I still am idealistic and non-cynical, and am productive, energetic, and look forward to living every day. You can be too, even if you've grown cynical recently.

Comment Re:Key is relevance, not interactivity... (Score 1) 166

Yes, I agree with you. Eric S. Raymond (of The Cathedral and the Bazaar fame) has written a post titled “Michael Meets Mozart" about this on his Armed and Dangerous blog. He was saying that while classical music was engaging the audience back at those days, times have moved on and now most Classical music is just museum pieces. To play classical and neo-classical music properly, it should be spiced up with more modern elements like various crossover classical artists such as the aforementioned The Piano Guys, as well as Vanessa-Mae, Bond, Coolio's rap/pop adaptation of Pachelbel's Canon as "I C U when you get there", the Hooked on Classics series, etc. There is no reason that in these times, with all the great and lively music, that classical music should stay boring.

Submission + - From MIT and Jenn Lawrence to Hacking and Free Will (

Shlomi Fish writes: "What is a hacker and hacking? Why was the David who fought Goliath a Hacker and an action hero? How is an action hero different from a tragic hero? What is wrong with M.I.T. and why it matters less at the Technion? What is a tragic hero? What are the machines that can give us questions? And what does Jennifer Lawrence, who won the Academy Awards for Best Actress at the young age of 22 has to do with it? An ongoing blog post where I wish to stop lying to myself and to others, stop speaking in riddles, and put all the cards on the table."
Your Rights Online

Submission + - Free Mickey Mouse - The Disney Way

Shlomi Fish writes: "In a post to the Creative Commons Community mailing list, Shlomi Fish claims that the character of Mickey Mouse has mostly become dead due to the copyright extension fiasco, and the only way to liberate it and make Mickey alive and vibrant again is to free it, and put it under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike licence (CC-BY), and in the Walt Disney Corporation way of having a big festival with fireworks, and keynotes, and with many celebrity guests and features, and a big celebration. What do you think?"

Submission + - U.S. lawmaker introduces bill to legalize cellphone unlocking (

alphadogg writes: A U.S. senator has proposed a bill that will allow consumers to unlock cellphones for use in other networks, after the Obama backed over 114,000 petitioners who asked the government to legalize the unlocking of smartphones. "You bought it, you should be able to use it. My Wireless Device Independence Act ensures you can unlock your device," said Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, in a Twitter message on Tuesday.
Your Rights Online

Submission + - Do Unlicensed Modifications to A Copyrighted Work enjoy copyright protection?

An anonymous reader writes: Hey armchair lawyers! If someone makes a modification to an existing copyrighted work(without being licensed to do so) what effect does this have on the work which has been created? Does the original author actually infringe copyright by making the mod in the first place? What about distribution of said file by the world at large? In case anyone is wondering, the game is Minecraft. There has been a lot of buzz in the Minecraft community as of late and the two sides seem equally justified in their arguments. Who is right?

Submission + - Just write the tests, yo mofo!

Shlomi Fish writes: "A short entry titled “Just write the God-damn tests, m****f***” where I discuss why the artificial distinction between the scopes of the tests (unit tests, integration tests, system tests), etc. does not matter, and you should just write more tests when they are needed. ( Largely inspired by Zed Shaw’s Programming, M***f***. )."

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