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Comment Re:Just like the Aral Sea (Score 1) 310

And the people who are talking the most about the "loss of Arctic sea ice" want to adopt the economic system that created the situation in the Aral Sea.

And that would be ... the economic system where they ignore the long term environmental consequences of your actions in order to maximize short term gains?

Comment Re:No Cross Database Joins (Score 1) 245

What do you mean "out of sync"? You mean it generates the same number twice? Or do you mean it can generate a number that has been assigned by some other mechanism to a primary key field?

If the latter, that's true of database sequences in general, including Oracle RDBMS. Some platforms, such as SQL Server, give you both sequences and autoincrement fields. The reason to have both is that while autoincrement is simpler to use, sequences are more flexible (e.g. you can obtain the key value for a row before the transaction is committed).

In any case, it is bad practice to rely on an auto increment or identity field's magnitude for anything other than identifying a record. For example, developers sometimes use such numbers to order records by when they were created, but auto increment numbers aren't reliable for that purpose. Sequences work just fine for generating numeric primary keys, even though they can pretty much intrinsically get "out of sync" with the keys in a table. "Syncing" is not a feature offered by sequences, period.

Comment Re:Can you get into the 'zone'? (Score 1) 311

I've been there, too, but I couldn't put my hand to my heart and swear that the stuff I produced after twelve hours was any good. I've never looked into it.

But lets assume for sake of argument that "being in the zone" produces top notch code, that you're just as productive after ten or twelve hours in the zone as you are after three or four. You can't *demand* that somebody be in the zone. You can't make it happen by chaining somebody to their workstation for ten hours. In fact, the best thing if you want somebody to be in the zone is to send them home when they don't feel like coding (yeah, like that'll ever happen). What produces the "in the zone" effect is being engaged with the problem, not cracking your head against fatigue.

When I ran a development team I used to make people go home early if I felt they'd been spent the prior day in a marathon coding session. The reason is I had doubts of the quantity of *usable* code they could produce after the first day of a coding binge. I didn't *need* marathon coding sessions because I'd laid out my plans based on reasonable work days. What I did need usable code produced predictably. Sure you might be super-productive on the first day of programming "in the zone", but just using the evidence before my own eyes, coders who've been overworked two or three days in a row aren't in any condition to judge the quality of their own work.

Comment Re:OMG! It wasn't puzzling (Score 1) 236

First of all, we know very well that CO2 increases planetary temperatures. For it not to do so, it would have to act differently in Earth's atmosphere than it does in a laboratory, or in Venus's atmosphere for that matter.

You are missing my point. The original poster was in effect arguing that if we don't know *everything*, we essentially know *nothing*. My point is that much of the limitations of our knowledge have to do with precision. What *precisely* will happen if global temperatures increase by, say, 0.8 degrees? It's unknowable *precisely* until it happens. By "precisely" I mean exactly what will happen in every region of the Earth. It's unreasonable to expect a scientific theory to predict *everything*. But one can predict some things, and one can certainly paint a pretty accurate "net" picture well before you can paint a finely detailed one.

As for some of the effects of warming being positive, I'll go further than you do. It will almost certainly include some positive effects, by which I mean effects that will benefit *some* people. But it will also include some effects that are *negative*. If you spent much time in nature studying it, you'd know that the bulk of effects will be unfortunate. It's not because of warmer temperatures per se; it would be true of rapidly cooling temperatures as well. It's rapid widespread change *in itself* that's a problem for the environment, not necessarily the direction of that change.

Life adapts to change; a very gradual warming would only move habitats around, on average to the north in latitude and to higher elevations. The problem with rapid change is that few species can move as rapidly has humans; in fact the differences in adaptability tip the balance of power toward weeds and pests.

For example there's a large grove of magnificent Canadian Hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) a short walk from my house, many of them well over 30m in height. The milder winters we've been having over the last twenty years isn't a direct problem for these trees, many of which are centuries old and have seen many a mild winter. But a long string of mild winters favors a tiny insect called the wooly adelgid. The adelgid population has exploded after twenty years of unusually warm winters, and the number of them is astonishing. Quite literally every inch of the underside foliage on those giant trees is covered with adelgids.

Twenty years ago you could walk through this grove, look up and see hardly any sky. In mid-summer it was like walking into a refrigerator. Sometimes snow would persist on the ground there until early June. Today the sky is open leading to a weed choked understory where there used to be open old-growth forest floor. At this rate ten or twenty years this grove will be dead, as a secondary result of climate change. It's not the heat that will kill the grove, it's the change in range where it's safe from predation. The predator population can cross the continent in a few years, but it'll take thousands of years for a new grove to become established somewhere else.

Now hemlocks aren't going to go extinct. They'll just become very, very rare, like the American Chestnut. I've never seen an American Chestnut outside of an arboretum, but it was once the most common tree in North America. In its place we have millions of acres of crummy Norway Maples, which will likely replace the great hemlocks of this grove. If current warming trends continue we will see the emergence of larger, more uniform habitats, dominated by weed species.

Comment Re:Bullshit! (Score 2) 236

Any time "experts" flawlessly explain occurances after the fact, even when it contradicts their predictions, it makes me believe they have no idea what they are talking about.

This is the same kind of bellyaching people do about "revisionist history". It's actually the job of historians to revise history; history isn't what happened, which of course is fixed; it's the set of *our beliefs* about what happened, which ought to change as we learn more. Likewise it is the job of scientists to incorporate new data into the scientific consensus, either by retracting part of that consensus, or elaborating part of that consensus.

This case called for elaboration, since that was the explanation that fit the facts best. Your beef seems to be that the explanation fits the facts too well.

By the way you are confusing arctic and antarctic ice caps. This year's *arctic* (northern) ice cap had a greater minimum extent than last year's, but still very low by historic standards. If you are using *last year's* minimum arctic ice extent as a baseline, that's disingenuous because last year was a historic low. This is like the way denialists try to prove climate is not warming by choosing 1998 as their baseline; that's dishonest because '98 was a record high year (it has since dropped to third place).

Comment Re:OMG! It wasn't puzzling (Score 1) 236

Sure, but with this article we should admit there is still a lot of climate phenomena we do not understand, and therefore cannot accurately predict what will happen in the future

There's lot we don't understand about biochemistry, but we still know that arsenic is poisonous to humans.

There's a lot we don't know about physics, but we still know that a sphere of plutonium-235 around ten kilos will undergo a sustained nuclear chain reaction.

We don't know a lot about climate phenomena, but we do know that increasing global CO2 concentrations from 280 to 400 ppm will trap more energy in the Earth's atmosphere.

Not knowing *everything* is not the same as knowing nothing at all. Often the limitation of our knowledge is not *accuracy*, but rather *precision*. We know that an oral dose of 200 mg/kg of arsenic is fatal to the average human in under ten minutes, and that the fatal dose varies with body weight. That is accurate toxicological knowledge. We don't know *precisely* the minimum dose needed to kill any specific individual. We know that increasing average global CO2 concentrations to over 400ppm will cause a reduction in the total extent of seasonal ice, but not whether any particular ice structure will decrease or even increase in any particular year.

Comment Re:Yet a zip gun is so easy to make (Score 1) 133

I don't even think it counts as a milestone in 3D printing. It is essentially *is* a zip gun. The hard part of the finished *system*, whether it's a printed plastic gun or a zip gun, is in the ammunition. A "gun" such as this simply provides a source of mechanical impact to ignite the primer in a cartridge. A nail and rubber band can perform that trick.

When you can 3D print, on a printer that is within the price range of a consumer, a gun that approaches the reliability, accuracy, and ergonomics of a cheap handgun, that'd be a milestone.

Comment Re:Ho-hum, another really amazing device (Score 1) 147

Tell me what specifically this (or any other phone of its calibre) is missing that is so wrong?

That's easy. More battery life. I know battery life is impressive, but it doesn't matter, you can always ask for more. Same with radio performance.

Oh, and there's greater ruggedness. Until I can hammer a nail with a device and use it as a deep sea fishing lure, without voiding the warranty, I can always ask for more ruggedness.

And *cheaper*. That's the real frontier, and a perfectly acceptable way of meeting the nail/deep sea criterion. And it's a tough nut to crack, because manufacturers don't want to be selling cheap commodities. That's how Palm became irrelevant. Rather than selling $20 m500s, they destroyed their market identity by making more complicated devices and competing in that market.

Comment Re:Yup (Score 2) 147

You kids make it sound like living for a long time is a character flaw or something. Trust me, your turn at being the ridiculously old guy is coming, and faster than you imagine.

Anyhow, my teenaged son and I were discussing the Stones just the other day. He said that he thought they had some good songs, but they were overrated. My response was no shit -- they were the *Rolling Stones*. Nobody could be as awesome they were supposed to be. But they put on a great show, and they had some good songs, what more could you possibly ask for?

Eternal youth, apparently.

Comment Quote from The Mythical Man-Month (Score 1) 356

I don't like the "rockstar" label, but excellent software developers are more than worth it, as Fred Brooks knew years ago...

Study after study shows that the very best designers produce structures that are faster, smaller, simpler, clearer, and produced with less effort. The differences between the great and the average approach an order of magnitude.

I don't have the book in front of me, but there is a reference at http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Fred_Brooks.

That book is worth rereading every few years.

Comment Re:"miniscule" (Score 1) 190

As far as I can tell, They're angry and running about calling it "cheating" over what appears to be a simple case of not understanding the horribly dense and overly-complicated rules....

Well, if you're rich enough to play the game, you can afford to pay somebody to read the rules carefully. That's how *all* rich guy games are played -- litigation, for example. If your lawyer screws up reading one of the laws you and your rich buddies have drafted, you lose.

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