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Comment Re:They forgot INTERCAL! (Score 1) 254

Worse yet, they forgot INTERCAL! Any language with a "COME FROM" command (rather than "GO TO") should make the list by default.

Of course, noone uses it, so maybe it didn't meet the criteria. Whereas I agree that SQL is hugely used. SQL isn't really a programming language, though... extensions such as PL/SQL help make it so, but those are very non-standard and tweaky in their own right. As a set-focused (relational) data processing tool, SQL actually does OK.

---Chip

Comment The animation was less brilliant (Score 1) 374

I'm with you on 7th Guest... it was way more playable to me, and the games since then resemble it much more than Myst, IMO. I really just didn't enjoy Myst... it was eye candy at the time, but very static -- there were far more engrossing and compelling games even at the time. I wouldn't even call it very "open"... If you got stuck on a puzzle you'd eventually have to solve it to move on, just like in any game... it just let you wander around a lot looking for clues in the mean time. It owed a lot of that style of gameplay to Sierra's adventure games (and others) that came well before it.

But calling the graphics brilliant... they were pretty certainly, but the animation lacked significantly compared to 7th guest which came out almost exactly the same time and looked fantastic as well as animated.

As to why it didn't influence more games... the shortcuts they used on CD-Roms back then are no longer necessary. They'd pre-animate and pre-render everything then just call it up from disk. More Power has allowed us to animate and render on the fly which means that, no matter how open Myst seemed, it's almost trivial to make something more open and fluid now and in a much better way. Myst's and 7th Guests's technology was breakthrough at the time, but it was a stop gap while more real-time technologies could take over.

Comment Re:Relative (Score 4, Insightful) 356

Agree with parent (CrzyP)...

Specifically, though, if they are "difficult to work with", then they probably aren't the best programmers. In that case, "Rock Star" may actually be a good term... people that are extremely talented at doing something, but do so by their own rules, frequently high, often attention grabbing and lacking focus or team spirit. (Not that there aren't great real rock stars, but you get my point). Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but still...

What you do need are top tier developers, forget what you call them. You can get to the top tier by having raw talent, or by being well disciplined. Working well with others is a boon; building code that is reusable, well factored, documentable and maintainable. If you have five team members each with five different strengths but no one-developer-to-rule-them-all, you can still build a fantastic team and great software. You need programmers who can mentor so that the rest of the team can improve. Toss the people that don't work well on a team, and while you're at it toss the managers that prefer hard-to-work-with people, or that can't manage teams of normal people. This is particularly important if your software is going to grow... individual "rock stars" don't scale.

Comment Re:gists? (Score 1) 328

Basically it's a synonym for "summary", meaning that a conversation or communication is summarized by someone (in this case likely the intelligence agencies) and this summary is called the gist.

The term gets used occasionally in conversation, as in: "Did you get the gist of his long, rambling speech?", or "I'm in a hurry, just tell me the gist of the story."

Comment Read the MOA, it's about protecting U.S. Persons (Score 3, Interesting) 328

My reading of this MOA is very different... The MOA is repeatedly clarifying that U.S. Person information is not to be SENT by the NSA (The NSA's Responsibility to ensure it is not in the data is clearly spelled out in the MOA, if it wasn't already explicit elsewhere). It ALSO indicates that IF Israel's ISNU find's U.S. Person data they must report the finding to the NSA and destroy the information.

The MOA does not give any indication when or why raw SIGINT data would be sent to ISNU, and while it is clear that the NSA does share raw intel, it is also clear that there are cases where the raw data is "Minimized" by the NSA to remove U.S. Person information. The MOA does not guarantee ISNU any access to NSA data -- which data we share is obviously going to be controlled by other agreements and laws.

So a) we share intel with Israel ... I'm pretty sure everyone should have assumed this, and b) we have documented safeguards to restrict that data to intel on NON-U.S. Persons. Really, read the memorandum, that's all it does... every page is devoted to protecting data on U.S. Citizens.

How is this a bad thing? This document is obviously showing intent to avoid domestic spying. Good! If you want to argue that the NSA is not following its own guidelines, or failing to protect U.S. data, this is not good evidence of that.

Comment So many reasons it's silly to respond, ... but... (Score 1) 452

I can think of plenty of consistent reasons for this (not saying I necessarily agree or disagree with them)...

First, this should limit the risk of coercion. The main reason that people (the internet) seem to cite is that the self-incrimination clause was put in in response to an English history of torture (or other coercion) to elicit guilty pleas. Writing a law to restrict unwanted behavior is pretty straightforwardly reasonable. Also, it should be easy to accept that the risk of torturous coercion of a person suspected of being guilty of a crime is less than the risk to someone (or many someones) suspected of witnessing that same crime, if for no other reason than reviewing such instances in history.

Next, the risk of false testimony and the usefulness of self-incrimination due to personal incentives. The incentive for a guilty party on trial to lie is very high, but the incentive for the third party is very different. A witness, typically offered protection from prosecution for self-incrimination in these cases, has no supposed social or personal reason to lie (although obviously they could be biased for some reasons). They are, by not testifying, at worst facilitating a miscarriage of justice, and at best simply choosing not to assist in a process that is all but undeniably in the public interest. Note that this applies if the testimony leans towards innocence or guilt of the accused.

This social responsibility aspect is another justification for punishing witnesses who refuse to testify. It is in society's interests to find and punish criminals. Witnesses are a necessary component of that process. The more unbiased and uncoerced witnesses and evidence that can be supplied, the more confident we are that justice is being served accurately. It is therefore reasonable to establish an incentive to promote testimony. The threat of jail time is the incentive we currently have. Again, the value of witness testimony almost certainly is more valuable than testimony of the defendant, given the incentive to lie, so adding a disincentive to remain quiet can easily be seen as balancing the value and likelihood of receiving good testimony.

Beyond that: you're oversimplifying. Your example is merely a yes/no question of guilt, but, at least in the US, a defendant is in fact required to enter a plea. Guilty, Not Guilty, no contest, and variations (such as not guilty by justification) exist. The defendant must take some stand on that point, but other details they can keep to themselves. This isn't really a justification of an answer to your core query, but it is an important distinction, and related to...

Oversimplifying part two: your example pretends that if a defendant pleads the fifth nothing happens while a witness not testifying goes to jail. This is apples-to-oranges. Witnesses CAN take the fifth amendment, for one thing, which is different than not testifying when they are not self-incriminating. The sixth amendment is actually the one that causes witnesses to be held responsible for not testifying, not the fifth. That the two rules are based on different portions of the constitution is not justification itself, but it does lend some clues to understanding why we've balanced things this way. Remember that all a witness needs to do to avoid punishment is to answer questions, presumably with the truth. If the witness believes what they say will be self-incrimination they can plead the 5th, but this is a very different scenario than the one you're depicting.

Comment Re:Good (Score 1) 491

The article you cite says his disclosures did not lead to any deaths of any military sources. Many believe Manning's leaks precipitated the Arab Spring which could have a death toll over 30,000. And it certainly crippled foreign relations (with the revelations in the e-mails) and may have made the US military and diplomatic processes somewhat less effective in areas where lives were and are at stake.

Also, whistle-blower laws are not automatic, (and I don't know if they should be). The fallout of the Snowden and Manning handling of secrets emphasizes my point. You have to report the crimes up the proper chain -- merely publicizing things you think may be whistle-blower protected is the wrong way to go about it. There are explicit paths required to report something covered by the MILITARY whistle-blower protection act complaints. Releasing classified information directly to the press or anyone public is simply not protected whistle-blower activity, particularly in military circles.

Lastly, it's not clear there were any war crimes. The Apache attacks, the most-cited "war crime" of many in the Manning list, while terrible in retrospect, are difficult to prosecute, and wide latitude is given to military personnel who believe their actions are legitimate. There WERE armed combatants on the ground, and the cameramen were easily perceived from the air as carrying RPGs rather than cameras. There is extensive coverage of this all around the web, including Wikipedia of course. This certainly could have been a war crime, but Manning could not have been certain.

Manning should have known all of this. He could have followed proper whistle-blower protocol. He chose not to. I'd have much more sympathy if he had originally tried the proper channels and was rebuffed, but that's not what happened (unless I missed something -- I'd love to be corrected here). I've seen no useful analysis of the Whistle-blower mechanisms because people don't seem to actually try them -- they circumvent the laws designed explicitly to give them protection then complain or seem surprised when they don't get that protection.

Submission + - Conflicting Views on the Science of Pain

ZahrGnosis writes: Popular Science, a stalwart of the scientific literature community, posted a couple of articles about pain research recently that are causing a bit of controversy. First, they posted an article titled Fetal Pain Is A Lie: How Phony Science Took Over The Abortion Debate that argues fetuses don't feel pain at 20 weeks due to a scientific consensus that the nervous system is underdeveloped at that point. Ironically, this argument has been used for years in a different setting: to claim that crustaceans don't feel pain (justifying among other things the live boiling of lobster). But PopSci also posted an article titled Crabs And Lobsters Probably Do Feel Pain, According To New Experiments. And now there's mild internet flaming going on. I know Slashdot doesn't venture into the abortion arena much, and I'm not trying to wade into political territory so much as understand the competing scientific commentaries (in so much as fetuses and lobster can be compared). But mostly I'm just curious what the Slashdot crowd thought.

Comment Re:How'd the government know what they were Googli (Score 1) 923

I'm sorry, but your facts are wrong... this is the quote from Michele herself: "It was a confluence of magnificent proportions that led six agents from the joint terrorism task force to knock on my door Wednesday morning." (my emphasis). So yes, she mentioned the JTTF first, not the guardian.

We also now know that Michele was never the target, so knowing anything about her would not have helped the police remove her from suspicion; she was never suspected! It was her husband who was accused by a private company due to activity on the computer he used for work (no feds looking through their personal computer), who was for reasons unknown recently no longer employed by that company.

I'm amazed how much misinformation there is about this situation. I think we need to have sane limits in place and sane conversations about these issues... basing any conversations on incorrect facts does not help anyone.

Comment Re:Did you even RTFA? (Score 1) 923

Yep... more coverage seems to have filled in the gaps. I remain crow-free... http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/08/pressure-cooker/

Suffolk County Criminal Intelligence Detectives received a tip from a Bay Shore based computer company regarding suspicious computer searches conducted by a recently released employee. The former employee’s computer searches took place on this employee’s workplace computer. On that computer, the employee searched the terms ‘pressure cooker bombs’ and ‘backpacks.’

After interviewing the company representatives, Suffolk County Police Detectives visited the subject’s home to ask about the suspicious internet searches. The incident was investigated by Suffolk County Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Detectives and was determined to be non-criminal in nature.

---Chip

Comment Re:How'd the government know what they were Googli (Score 1) 923

JTTF denies it. FBI denied it was involved but said it was Nassau and Suffolk county police, but Nassau has denied involvement and Suffolk is trying to confirm that they were not involved (I'm guessing they don't want to say they weren't involved and later have to recant). It's peculiar at best:

http://gothamist.com/2013/08/01/li_woman_says_she_was_investigated.php

Comment Re:Did you even RTFA? (Score 1) 923

The article doesn't even say that... it quotes the FBI as saying it was the Nassau and Suffolk County Police, but according to this article at the gothamist, Nassau Police aren't aware of it.

Meanwhile, confusion reigns at the press offices for Nassau County and Suffolk County police. A press liaison for the Nassau County Police Department told us his phone's been ringing nonstop with inquiries. "I am trying to find out what's going on with this," he told me. "I was told that Nassau County police had absolutely no involvement in this whatsoever. I called the FBI field office in Melville and they knew nothing, the Joint Terrorism Task Force said they knew nothing. But a press rep for the FBI in NYC said Nassau County was involved, so I have to go up the chain to bigger people."

20 minutes later, another spokesperson for the Nassau County police department told me, "We contacted all our commands within the Nassau County Police Department. We did not visit this woman, and we do not know what police agency did visit her." The Suffolk County police department spokesperson said she was still trying to determine whether they were involved. The FBI press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Besides that, it was only speculation on the woman's part that her search results were related, due to the crock pot comment. I'm open to all the government criticism and even the rare conspiracy theory, but seriously this story has an odor... no corroboration, no evidence of cause or intent (even if we assume the visit happened)... it's a bit much to swallow.

If I eat crow later, that's fine, but I'd like more coverage.

Comment Re:Made Up Problem (see semantic web) (Score 1) 142

Yeah, I agree with mugnyte: there is no problem here. Move along.

Can you (siliconbits, or anyone) define the problem space better? What's wrong with the way they work now? Twitter Hashtags annoy some but work great for twitter. Everyone you listed has a different solution in place for tagging so... what's the issue? Why does there have to be only one solution?

Do you want a common HTML/RSS/W3C/whatever standard to define tags? Do you want centralized curated lists of tags that people must choose from? Do you want to make it somehow easier (than just typing "#", or typing a word in a box) to tag?

If you really look at good semantic web implementations -- such as Semantic wiki, you'll see some good ideas around a more "complete" semantic mechanism than tagging, but the two are basically mutually exclusive. What basic tags allow that a full semantic implementation does not is hyper-fast user-entered semantic content. This is not a shortcoming of tags, but their primary feature. It's one of the things that makes twitter so valuable (although one could argue it would still work without tagging)... people actually create and use tags all over the place.

So yeah... what, exactly, is the problem again?

Comment Or they choke you to death: (Score 2) 655

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/bug-eater-choked-death-article-1.1208649

Which actually is an interesting problem. Bug legs are notoriously small, stiff and designed to stick to things... precisely the opposite of what you want going down your throat. Not insurmountable... as with bones in chickens it's going to come down to preparation (boneless) and making good choices (don't eat chicken bones).

And I don't know how I feel yet about getting wings stuck between my teeth like popcorn kernels.

But, you know... tradeoffs. ;-)

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