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Comment Re:Old news (Score 1) 211

On a contracting gig (with a bank you'd recognize the name of, at least in the US), and I was told we had a VCS. Well, actually, we had Rational Rose (is that it?) but we weren't permitted to directly touch it. We had Perl scripts to check in and out. We might as well have been using SCCS.

I was told to promote a certain program, so I followed what I thought was the process of copying the QA version to production, and the development version to QA. The step I missed was to check the production server code and see if it had any relation to what was in the repository, because apparently large financial applications are best managed by making changes directly on the production server without thinking about backing them up. That particular faux pas apparently got me into the doghouse.

FWIW, the only guy on the team besides the manager who'd been there more than four months took me aside once and told me he didn't necessarily agree with how things were run there.

I've never been so happy to have a contract run out even with nothing lined up for the future. The next one turned out to be a mortgage company working on a repayment model, and where I got a very good view of the start of the housing crash, but that's another story.

Comment Re:Goals vs Means (Score 1) 299

I don't see that liberals vs. conservatives differ in that regard. Obviously, they look at different things, but I don't see any real differentiation between primary vs. secondary effects. Whenever one side proposes something, they're considering the primary effects, while the other side is more concerned with the secondary effects. If you drop the categorization, yes, it's good to see what different sides are considering.

You also overlook the values inherent in the abortion sides. One side doesn't want to have potential human life ended. One side doesn't want women to be legally forced into a long, arduous, somewhat dangerous, and temporarily debilitating process to benefit another. (I've found that, while strong abortion-rights proponents tend to understand the objections to fetus-killing, strong anti-abortion proponents tend not to "get" the thing about women, or at least not get it as easily.)

Comment Re:DOUBLEPLUS (Score 1) 292

Naturally there are terrorists plotting to commit various heinous crimes. There just aren't very many of them. With the exception of one unrepeatable act (the 9/11 attack), there have been very few deaths or injuries from terrorism in the US. If there are many terrorists out to murder in the US, they've got to be really incompetent. I fear terrorists in the same way I fear man-eating tigers: very dangerous when present, but I'll probably never physically meet one.

I do have to deal with government actions a lot more. The TSA has probably induced enough people to drive to their destinations to increase traffic fatalities by an amount comparable to the 9/11 deaths. The 9/11 attack shortened a lot of lives, but if you total that up in hours it's less than the number of hours lost to TSA-caused delays. Further, it's dangerous to have armed people around expecting trouble: if they see something really suspicious, they're likely to shoot first and get cleared later, and it's likely to be reported only locally. (Did you know US sky marshals have shot a harmless man?) It's hard to collect stats on that.

Comment Re: How do we get Congress to sign up? (Score 1) 365

Yup, dependent on wealth and luck here in the US. I've got really good insurance (my 2012 heart attack got excellent care with minimal direct cost to me), and I'm pretty sure it would poop out well before $10M. I don't remember any insurance without some sort of lifetime cap, usually so high I'd likely rather be dead than undergo all that treatment.

If you're one of the tens of millions of people in the US without health insurance, you don't get that kind of treatment. If you get health insurance through employment, it depends on what your employer is willing to provide. If you're paying for yourself, I don't know if no-cap insurance is available, how expensive it is, or how easy it is for them to drop you after the first million or so. I suspect very few people are lucky enough to get a policy without some sort of cap and unlucky enough to need it.

Comment Re: How do we get Congress to sign up? (Score 1) 365

Depends on the situation. The expected value of the loss is always less than the total premiums (for any insurance company that has a prayer of staying in business), so it's pointless to buy insurance for a routine expense. (Such as my dental "insurance", which covers a lot of routine costs and will not cover really big dental expenses. I wouldn't pay for it myself; I'd rather pay my dentist on a routine basis and have coverage that kicks in for costs above $3K. As it is, it's basically extra compensation from my employer.)

For the ordinary annual vacation, you're best off not insuring it. If you've been planning and saving for a really expensive one, a once-in-a-lifetime thing, you may well want to insure that.

Comment Parental views of what's appropriate. (Score 1) 149

I'm fine with the idea that there is no bad fiction that somebody likes. However, it was a bit of a shock to pick my son up from daycare and see he's happily reading Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants. That was actually the first fiction I saw him read for fun.

Comment Re:So what? (Score 1) 305

Last I looked (admittedly quite a few years ago), the average welfare stay was about three years. This means that your sister would balance out eight people who were only on for a year.

It's hard to estimate the number of "welfare queens", but they can't be more than a small minority of recipients.

FWIW, my anecdote is about somebody I knew who was really trying to get a decent job to support her kid, but was hit by serious medical conditions that were not well-handled. Given successful medical treatment for her injuries, she'd probably have been decently employed with a good salary by the time I lost track of her. She was on AFDC significantly more than three years, but I can't fault her.

Comment Re:All the observed data is perfectly normal (Score 1) 130

A fair number of individual scientists could be running a scam. I find it incredible that virtually all the scientists in the field would run a scam, and that there wouldn't be numerous peer-reviewed articles pointing that out. Yet, we find that 98% of climate scientist agree on it. If this were to be fraudulent, I think it would be unprecedented in the history of science. If 98% of scientists in a field were seriously wrong about the data, I think that would be unprecedented in the history of science.

Science is about observations and coming up with neat theories to explain it. However, to move on to new topics, we need to have some way of establishing what set of observations we can rely on and which theories are accepted (so scientists can either build on it or come up with more precise ways to break the theories). That would be consensus.

Comment Re:More to the point (Score 1) 187

There exists some advertising that is deceptive and harmful. That doesn't mean all advertising is.

Assuming we adopt your definition of "advertising", substituting "commercial" for "corporate", YttriumOxide's .sig is advertising. It is intended to make /. users buy a book. Is that harmful?

Some advertisements are to get the sale, anything else be damned. Others are intended for existing customers (I get a lot of advertising from assorted companies I do business with) or intended to start a long-term customer relation, and those have to mesh to some extent with the customers' needs.

For an example, I've bought stuff from Amazon. Amazon regularly sends me emails with advertising in them. I usually glance at them and delete them, but I've glanced at them and bought stuff often enough for it to make sense for Amazon. I've gotten very good deals on some things, and found out about others I didn't know existed. Overall, my life is very slightly enhanced by these advertisements. Amazon could send me deceptive advertising, trying to get me to buy something I really don't want, and it might be short-term profitable. The result would be I'd automatically junk email from Amazon, and they'd lose out on a small but continuing revenue scheme. Amazon has incentive to make sure I find the advertising useful, and to make it point to things I want as often as they can. They have incentive to make sure I don't buy something from them based on their advertising that I am disappointed with because it really wasn't as described.

If you show my how YttriumOxide's .sig or Amazon's emails are harming me, I'll at least consider your thesis that all advertising is bad. Not until.

Comment Re:NSA (Probably) installed one Anyway (Score 1) 360

Your kernel may not need an internal firewall. Mine certainly doesn't.

However, on a system with numerous users and various data files that only some people should have access to, it can be vital to have a reliable mechanism to run programs and handle users with minimum privileges and access. It can reduce various attack surfaces. It's fundamentally a security feature for people who need strong internal security, or who just want confidential files on a system not-entirely-trusted users are allowed onto.

Comment Re:Type safety (Score 1) 360

No, I'm going to say that the base problem is C's lack of a boolean type. Because of that, C takes anything that could reasonably be said to be equal to zero as false, and everything else as true. Given an actual boolean type, a conditional statement could require a boolean expression and flag anything else as an error. The ability to use the value of an assignment statement is occasionally convenient, but the ability to use it as a condition is a serious problem.

C's use of = and == as operators is a bit problematic, but Pascal's := is a pain. On every single computer or terminal keyboard I've used in the past forty years, either the : is shifted xor the = is shifted, which means that I have to change the shift key in the middle of an operator. It's not as annoying as some of the other things with Pascal, but it's a bit of a pain.

Comment Re:OMG enough (Score 1) 360

Having been a CVS admin, over ten years ago....

CVS was originally a set of scripts over the ancient RCS, and (at least when I ran it) used the RCS file format. This is, essentially, the current text of the file followed by change records in reverse order for the trunk and increasing order for branches (and when there were a lot of revisions on both trunk and branch after the branching point, things got slow). There were no checksums, so files could get corrupted, likely losing history. Each file had its own ,v RCS file in the repository. You could build a repository by creating the framework and moving in ,v files.

This means that, to alter foo.c without a commit, one would have to get write access to foo.c,v in the repository, and simply make the change. To keep the repository consistent, the change couldn't change the number of lines, as the change records depended on line numbers.

All other modern or semi-modern VCSs that I know of have their own file format, and require some more sophistication than a permissions hack (assuming permissions were properly set in the first place) and using vi on the obvious file.

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I consider a new device or technology to have been culturally accepted when it has been used to commit a murder. -- M. Gallaher