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Comment He shouldn't have been able to access the data (Score 2) 381

Access to secret data and documents should be on a need-to-know basis, or a practical approximation of it. It's clear that he had access far beyond what he needed to know. If he can't get at the sensitive documents in the first place he can't copy them to USB or use his cellphone to take pictures of them or upload them to his Wikileaks partners.

Comment Re:C is dead. Long live C! (Score 1) 195

I don't know Haskell, but in Erlang, which has semantics similar to those you show, maintaining locally accessible mutable state requries fighting the language. You *can* do it, and fairly simply, but all the sources tell you "Don't do this!", so my suspicion is that if I wrote anything sizeable it would lead to difficult to trace problems.

But mutable state is a part of what many applications need. They just don't need globally visible mutable state.

To be a little bit more precise, I could do things safely in Erlang (i.e., without violating strong recommendations) by storing changes in a database. But that would slow things down tremendously. "volatile" state doesn't usually need to be saved, since it's just going to change again anyway. But it does need to be able to be changed.

Note that anything that can be calculated using mutable state that is safe to express, can be calculated in a pure functional language, if you don't concern yourself with memory and time. But the same it true of a Turing machine. For some classes of problems, pure functional languages work well. That fibonnacci example is a nice example of this. (IIUC that example calculates each small value of the function many times in the course of calculating larger values. Not ideal.) For this reason most functional languages have "escapes" which make them not-pure-fuctional..

Comment Re:Why QT over GTK 3 ? (Score 1) 136

OTOH, it's easier to interface other languages to libraries written in C. And Qt is owned by Noika, which isn't currently a big improvement over Oracle. (Trolltech was, and was dependable. I'm not at all convinced that Noika is. OTOH, they currently seem to be less actively antagonistic towards end users than do the Gnome developers...though I will grant you this is purely a personal perception, and not objective.)

Comment Re:The Time has come.. (Score 1) 38

Well, penicillin is basically a kind of bread mold, so the bacterial competion it's facing isn't heavily affected by our use of it as a medicine. Less so, in fact, than the soil bacteria that make tetracycline are by our use of *its* antibiotic.

Penicillin is probably more affected by BHA and BHT and various other things that are added to bread to keep it from molding.

Comment Re:C is dead. Long live C! (Score 1) 195

I agree, they *ought* to be good at parallel. But often they aren't, even if I don't know why. E.g. Racket Scheme has wonderful parallel constructs, but if you read the documentation carefully you discover that those constructs actually only run in one thread. (I'm particularly thinking about "futures" here.) And if I want to start separate isolated processes...I can do that in Ruby or Python or C or ...well, anything that can handle network connections to the same machine.

Usually, I'll admit, the documentation isn't good enough to say that they are running these fancy parallel constructs in a single thread. But I don't find poor documentation convincing that there's a good implementation.

Comment Re:I fully support this! (Score 2) 177

FWIW, I don't use blockers/add-ins/extensions. Of course, that means I find MANY web sites so obnoxious I only go there once. And that's without haveing flash installed.

ISTM that the basic idea is good, but it should, itself, be targetable. I.e., you should be able to "greenlight" certain web-sites, and to "red-light" certain extensions. This would, of course, interfere with it's anonymizing feature, but not, I feel excessively.

Comment Re:C is dead. Long live C! (Score 1) 195

Context is important.

C is great for small pieces of code. It gets increasingly awkwards as the size increases. So you need to modularize. Which is what Object Oriented languages do. Also what functional languages do, though they do it differently. I don't think either of those is the best choice for a MPU heavy environment. To me that sounds like a dataflow language would be best. But I can't think of any extant that aren't either moribund or so narrowly specialize that they might as well be. (Few languages are actually dead so far. I suspect that you can even find Snobol running somewhere. I know you can still find ICON.)

Comment Indeed, something you check when you buy a house (Score 1) 375

Indeed. When you buy a house in the UK that's pre-1940s and in an urban area you check to see if there's historical bomb damage: often places got patched up quickly with available materials and 70 years later the substandard fixes can be decaying, cracks opening etc.

I often wonder if this is one of the reasons people in the USA seem so much more enthusiastic about going to war than Europeans - we can still see the evidence around us in the architecture and people are still alive who have frightening memories of how it affected them at home. Next time you're in London check the front of the Victoria and Albert museum, you can still see the shrapnel damage to the stone work.

19th century housing here is just standard for lots of people.It's waht you rent when you're a student. I prefer it to modern places: the latter are mainly wood built and thrown up quickly. I know the place I bought (late C19th, typical urban red bricker starter home) has been through two wars and hasn't moved in 130 years so it's likely to outlive me :-)

Comment yup our mates thought our 8 mile commute was crazy (Score 1) 375

Ha ha, well said both.

When I was a junior postdoc I was renting a house built in 1729 with bits from the previous build still showing, early 1500s sections of wall and doorways. And our friends thought we were insane coming in to college 8 miles each day. Me and my mates thought it beat living in the modern Victorian rubbish (houses built in 1880s) which were closer.

Comment Don't even start the geeks on Guy Fawkes (Score 1) 375

And don't even start the geeks on Guy Fawkes, him of the anonymous mask that they all wear made in Chinese state run factories, a Catholic royalist who was up for replacing one king who claimed his divine right with another just of a different religious flavour. Nothing in there about helping the poor/women's votes/ anarchism/open source data formats.

Submission + - Why are Japanese men refusing to leave their rooms?

fantomas writes: The BBC reports on the Japanese phenomenon of Hikikomori: young people, mainly men, who are holed up in rooms in their parents' houses, refusing to go out and engage with society. Why is this happening? and is it a global phenomenon or something purely due to Japanese culture? (we're all familiar with the standing slashdot joke of the geek in their mom's basement for example)

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