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Comment Re:If you want to write a book, just do it (Score 1) 184

Sure, yeah, you could take a few weekend courses and bang out some stuff and possibly even find a job paying decent money. But if you want to move up in the world you need to turn your hack and slash techniques into a refined art. The kind of crap commodity programmers write is the stuff that skilled developers get paid a lot of money cleaning up or just re-implementing. (...) If you want to work in the big leagues on important things, you need to be open to learning some things and respect the craft.

With all possible respect to all the CS experts of the world, that's not what they teach. Finding a good organization of your application that makes structures easy to break down, processes easy to follow and changes easy to implement doesn't involve deep, abstract mathematical formulations with optimal answers. It's about creating functional units (objects, layers, modules, services) with clear responsibilities that abstract away internal details, create well defined and narrow interactions, break up and explain complex logic, that everything behaves like and contains what you'd expect from common language definitions and naming conventions and with sufficient high level documentation that anyone of moderate intelligence can understand what bits need to go where.

Or to put it another way, if you sent the source code through an obfuscator the CS experts would probably be just as happy with the output as the input, after all the algorithms and functionality are all unchanged. It would make it an incomprehensible mess of spaghetti code and "there be dragons" that nobody understand how or why works, but those are practical concerns. The same is error and exception handling, CS is all about correct algorithms that never get called with invalid input or run into any of those practical problems that cause poorly written software to crash, often without leaving behind any useful reason why and if there's any possibility to just fail this and move on.

I think you're onto something about the craft and the art. If you want to make swords for an army it's a craft, if you're making a nobleman's fine blade it's an art. Most of the time what we want is robust craftsmanship, process as many passable swords as possible and discard any failures. Not very glamorous and not very artistic, we're not awarding points for style or elegance but whether the code you've built is a reliable work horse that gets the job done. Or maybe the difference between an institutional chef and a fine dining chef. One is serving a hundred people a good meal, the other can spend forever making a plate of fine art. Both are very different from being a poor chef, but being good at one doesn't really make you good at the other. And CS is the Michelin guide department.

Comment Re:He would have been better off ... (Score 4, Insightful) 95

And keep a copy of your stuff on hand before you get fired.

If you were doing it at work on company systems it's probably not "your stuff" anyway, it's probably small utilities he used to make his job easier. If you want to do something for yourself do it on your own time on your own machine, don't use any company resources and try not to do anything that would make them question your loyalty to your day job. Being a consultant or contractor is fine because everyone knows that. Being an employee with a secret double agenda is not.

Comment Re:Lucky he got off so light (Score 1) 95

Somebody still owns that ISP's assets. Two things, though...

1) Good luck getting $26K from an inmate - at a buck or two a day, twenty-six grand will take a lot longer than two years, and

Assuming he had zero assets before the trial. Any down payment on a mortgage, a car in good shape and you're pretty close.

2) If the courts determined that he only did $26,000.00 worth of damage, I'm guessing this ISP was probably already circling the bowl. After all, if he was solely responsible for breaking this ISP, one would expect a far higher award for damages, regardless of (1), above.

Probably. It could also be that it was easy to prove he did at least $26k worth of damage, he has no more assets and the trustee wants the bankruptcy settled and think the practical value of a higher judgement is zero. Except for when the RIAA/MPAA/BSA want big numbers for PR reasons, they're often willing to settle for what you have.

Comment Re:!Revolution (Score 4, Funny) 236

The word revolution also contains the word evolution, and you might have noticed that we've evolved past the point of calling a paper printer a necessary component of computing today.

And the word "internet" contains the word "tern", so clearly it is built upon angry arctic birds with sharp beaks that dive bomb anyone who gets too close to their nesting grounds.

Comment Re:Billing address? (Score 1) 104

Maybe getting the card numbers (card, code, expiry) is just phase I of weakness with limited applicability for in-person transactions. Nobody asks my address at the electronics shop when I have a $800 TV in my cart.

And perhaps they have other databases that allow them to correlate incomplete card numbers with names and addresses to create useful online transactions where they info can be asked.

IMHO, the only useful solution to this is two factor RSA-style authentication. Go ahead and know all the card info, but unless you can guess the random digits it would be worthless. Pity that fraud doesn't cost VISA and merchants can build most of their costs into product pricing.

Comment Re:No safe-guards? (Score 1) 104

Why not just build 2 factor authentication into the card itself? They could offer a card with an in-built RSA token or a way to use a smartphone app for cards without token hardware.

Something tells me this is something we should have, but given the sparring and profiteering over getting chip enabled terminals in the US (I'm STILL swiping at many terminals). I suspect that it's not the two factor part that keeps it from happening but the terminals and merchant software costs combined with a bunch of middlemen who figure that fraud deterrence for merchants and consumers isn't their problem since they make merchants eat it, who then make consumers eat it in higher prices.

And then there's the spreadsheet guys, who predict transaction fee revenue drops from failed transactions and doom-and-gloom of lost sales pitched to merchants.

Comment Re:because (Score 2) 236

Indeed. I've ordered 3d prints online several times and as things stand there is no reason I'd ever do otherwise. The choice is, "have something produced using top notch hardware and finished by professionals", or "have something produced by crappy hardware, by you". The marginal cost may be lower if you do it yourself, but you have to plop down $1k first, so unless you 3d print a lot, you don't win even on that comparison. It's just not worth it.

If you run a business where you're 3d printing prototypes every day, that would be different. But regular for home users, I just can't see an argument for it.

Comment Re:3D editing is hard (Score 1) 236

I think 3D modeling software is a big reason 3D printing hasn't been the home revolution.

I've been using computer based 2D drawing software since MacDraw in the 1980s and have used it for drafting home improvement projects, woodworking projects and floor plans. I've downloaded Sketch-Up a few times and always found myself baffled quite quickly, even tinkering with generic rectilinear shapes.

And even drawing some boxes or other regular geometric shapes doesn't get you very fair in a world of tapered curves, irregular shapes, etc, let alone the same needing accurate scale and tolerances down to the millimeter.

And it's not that it's impossible, either, but it's got a wicked learning curve over 2D just doing the drawings let alone the phase where you have to consider how you design will actually be output by the thing making it.

Strangely it's almost the blade-and-razor model in reverse. In theory, they should give you the razor handle (the easy to learn 3D design software) for free so that you'll buy the 3D printer and supplies, but I suspect that in terms of cost, the easy to use 3D modeling software is the actual expensive part and the 3D printer should be the cheap part. It's kind of like 2D design software -- an annual contract for Adobe Creative Cloud is almost more expensive than a decent color laser printer.

Comment Re:It's always cost (Score 4, Interesting) 236

That's really a key issue. Most "standalone" things people want are not made of plastics, except for toys. There are a some things - for example, parts for a small homemade drone or whatnot, where strength is not important but lightness is. But most often, if you want something "standalone", you want it out of metal.

Being able to print replacement plastic parts for other things could be nice, mind you. For example, I've twice had to replace a plastic part on my refrigerator and it cost something like $50 each time with a nearly month delay, due to customs fees, shipping to where I am, etc. Having been able to print one out would have been great. Except, having a 3d printer alone wouldn't have been enough, because there's no "universal spare part database" that manufacturers upload to. A 3d scanner as well might have been able to enable reproducing the part from scanning its broken pieces, except that not only do you have to have one, the part was transparent, and many 3d scanners don't like transparent objects.

A "3d printing revolution" may come some day. But things are a lot more complicated than just making it possible to print something out of some material.

Comment Re:They only show gorgeous women (Score 2) 232

Please ignore the correlation between "looks" and genetic indicators of reproductive health

That would be a nice argument if there was some universal agreement on what is attractive. In some cultures, thin is attractive. In others, fat. Some places like women who stretch their necks out. Others like their feet bound to the point that they can hardly walk. In Meiji era Japan, it was seen as attractive for women to paint their teeth black. Do you find that hot? There is no single standard of beauty. You cannot just declare yours to be universally applicable.

The majority of "beauty" traits have nothing to do with genetic indicators of reproductive health. That said, there are some. For example, for both sexes, "clear skin" is usually desirable, as that is an indicator of immune system fitness. And of course standard secondary sex characteristics, including having typical voice ranges appropriate to their sex, muscle mass in men, in women breasts and wide hips, etc. But the majority of the specific details that make up the "look" of an attractive man or woman versus other men and women in their society are simply cultural.

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