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Comment Re:We are in a post-rational debate (Score 1) 155

I work at BIGCO. Everything you say is partly true, but:

I've developed apps on Oracle and MySQL. Cost is not a factor; we get Oracle for free here. And yet I always choose MySQL for new projects. And that is the overwhelming majority preference, among experienced engineers who disagree on lots of other things. Why?

  1. Performance. Even with good DBAs investing a lot of time, Oracle cannot deliver. Remember, we tune our schema and MySQL instance until it's faster than many custom-written datastores. (Obviously, I'm talking about MyISAM). MySQL is so fat-free that it's hard to beat in custom C. And yes, MySQL's performance falls off rapidly with complex queries. Query optimization does consume significant engineering time.
  2. Hassle factor. Just as you feel MySQL has imposed too much weirdness on you, I feel that Oracle has wasted too many of my hours. Everything about this db is clumsy, old-fashioned and obscure.
  3. Transaction-phobia. We're not doing banking apps here. I remember Oracle instances getting slow because open sessions are piling up, either from humans, broken pooling, or scripts. One more headache I'm thankfully free from.

There's no free lunch here. Oracle provides a more seamless abstraction, including ACID, at the price of performance. That is an appropriate tradeoff for some apps.

Comment Re:It doesn't work that way (Score 1) 901

It is complex. Part of engineering is constantly evaluating what-if scenarios. In my group, the Indian engineers are so much faster at mental arithmetic that they can evaluate a possibility without "breaking stride". In practice, it means more ideas are considered.

It's tempting to dismiss arithmetic as useless because we have electronic support, but having it on tap does change the dynamic of design meetings.

Of course I know that power came at a price; many extra hours spent drilling arithmetic instead of learning an instrument, or hacking, or whatever.

Comment Re:It doesn't work that way (Score 1) 901

Beating "us" at what?? Cheap labor? Human rights violations? Mass poverty?

Beating us at being a world power. Yes, we are still ahead. But the first derivative favors China.

I just read a great article on Gao Xiqing, a Chinese official who oversees $200 billion of China's US investment. Studied and worked in the US. He probably has a better sense of where the US is heading than most of us.

He criticized the tendency for the brightest Americans to pursue Law, MBA, and finance rather than engineering/science. (Caused by salary imbalance).

In the long term, if a country full of lawyers, MBAs and financial wizards, with no industrial base, gets in a war with a country of engineers and scientists with a huge industrial base, what do you think will happen?
 

Your experience is limited to dealing and interacting with Chinese/Indian/etc software engineers who are most likely members of the upper echelon of their country's respective caste systems. The ones with the opportunities to study abroad, attend universities, build careers, etc. Of course it will seem like the entire population values education as highly as you make it seem if that is all you deal with.

That's a good point in general. But my co-worker's children are in school in China, because American school doesn't challenge them. I forget the exact delta in math education, but it's big.

Comment It doesn't work that way (Score 5, Insightful) 901

I work with lots of good Chinese and Indian software engineers. Most never saw a computer before University. They did have a rigorous and old-fashioned education, with lots of math and logic.

I also know talented hackers who got into programming as kids/teenagers, and benefited from the fast dev cycle of Apples, TRS-80s, etc.

But giving kids the latest and greatest computers is not going to help anything. The important stuff can be learned on a 486.

Chinese and Indian schools value the academic achievers, while American schools value the funny, the athletic and the socially gifted. That is why those countries are beating us.

Comment Re:evolve or die (Score 1) 311

I've worked on both good and bad Perl. Perl's sigils are not an issue; neither are Lisp's parentheses or Python's whitespace. These things cease to annoy once you spend some time with the language.

The reason there's a lot of bad Perl is the reason there's a lot of bad PHP: both languages enable beginning programmers to get things done.

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