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Comment Re:Dice, we get it you don't like Ms. Clinton (Score 4, Insightful) 523

I'm a lefty and I've been visiting /. since '98 or so. (18 years?? Wow.)

I only drop by occasionally because the site is a bit of a cesspool. It always attracted trolls and idiots, but there was a lot of humour and the level of intelligence and knowledge by many posters was incredible.

The average commenter here is now more right wing, less well informed, stupider and less fun. The editors post less interesting stories, with more bias and more nastiness. Some of it is just flamebait.

I have since migrated to other sites that have to some degree replaced the earlier incarnation of slashdot (not even going to mention where here).

Comment Re:Scientology not Science (Score 1) 951

Sure. It's quite easy to create systems that don't have bugs in if you have enough computing power to throw at it. Most bugs arise through having to make compromises, e.g. caching, memory allocation, writing things to file.

If you can write a few simple rules and produce emergent complexity then it's not too difficult. If you just write some basic physical laws you can probably prove mathematically that your system is not buggy.

Although if there were bugs, how would you distinguish them from reality?

Comment Re:And keep Stallman out of the limelight, please (Score 1) 231

it's hard to sound reasonable when your leader is the definition of unreasonable

Obligatory George Bernard Shaw quote:
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

Comment Crowdfunding (Score 1) 359


There's been a huge amount of success with crowdfunding recently -- Kickstarter and Indigogo and so on.The most facile projects can get funded to the tune of millions. Meanwhile venerable old free software projects have been neglected. Has the FSF ever considered starting some crowdfunded projects?

I know people can donate cash to e.g. the FSF directly but it's a black box and hard to emotionally engage with that. Compare for example a specific project that could gain a lot of public momentum -- e.g. a Kickstarter project with a specific goal to increase Emacs' IDE capabilities by paying some extra developers to work on it full time. I'd happily donate some cash in that direction if someone were to launch such a project.

Surely worth an experiment at least? Please take my money :)

Comment Re:Easier to learn != easier to use (Score 2) 382

- No operator overloading. As a result, every container type is accessed differently. Arrays use []. Lists use At(). Hashmaps use Get(). Matrices, vectors, and complex numbers are absurdly verbose, because I cannot overload addition and multiplication.

Arrays are rarely used in Java these days. All the collections API (Bloch's work on this has made it one of the few elegant parts of Java) use .get(), which is perfectly reasonable. If you're doing extensive work with matrices, vectors, etc. then Java is not an ideal choice of language, but 95% of programming tasks don't need it. Java isn't aimed at developing low-level game engines or scientific modelling.

- Type erasure for generics. As a result, I cannot define different function overloads for func(List) and func(List).

At least Java has generics. Unlike some other popular languages I could name... type erasure is a genuine annoyance but it's usually not too painful to work around.

- Lack of first class functions. As a result, callbacks required the absurdity of implementing the Callable interface. This has been improved recently with the addition of lambda statements.

Java is horribly verbose when you need to pass functions around but the new syntactic sugar makes functional programming a lot more viable. Even without it though you can stick to a strictly OO approach. This can make for clunky programming but does have the advantage of being boringly predictable in huge codebases being worked on by lots of coders of varying ability.

- Lack of properties. As a result, I cannot expose anything as public, because I might want to add additional code at some point in the future. Therefore, I must have an explosion of getters/setters.

It's not pretty, but this is a good excuse to make everything as immutable as possible and cut down on data access objects.

I like the idea of having a sandboxed virtual machine. I like the idea of having a single version of the bytecode that can run anywhere. I just can't stand the language.

Java isn't a lot of fun to code in most of the time but it's pretty effective at what it does.

Comment Re:anything but social (Score 2) 394

Civilization has existed for ~12k years, human beings have not changed. Social interaction has not changed

12k years ago we were still in the paeleolithic. We don't have a lot of idea what social interaction was like back then but probably involved a certain amount of smacking each other with sticks and crudely chipped rocks.

In the intervening millennia social interaction has changed out of all recognition.

Your assertion that a chat on Facebook is not being sociable is pretty comical, and if you think it is so unacceptable why are you discussing the issue on slashdot? Surely slashdot is nothing but a geeky social media forum. Why don't you have this discussion with a friend over coffee?

I'll tell you why not: everyone likes social media, but it's just fashionable to tell everyone how superior you are for not caring about it.

Comment Re:Literally? (Score 1) 645

Because moderation is supposed to be for highlighting posts that contribute to the discussion, not for whether we agree with or disagree with posts.

Also, this post you like by an anonymous coward is suggesting a war against Islam. There are more than 1.5 billion muslims in the world; presumably the poster wants them all shot?

Comment Re:Why not push toward collapse? (Score 1) 435

Well, Iraq was pushed to collapse. That did not go so well.

What do you mean? The country was then conquered within months by us. Saddam Hussein himself was then captured, tried publicly, and executed deservingly.

There were over a million deaths by some estimates caused by the invasion. A million! Even if the estimates are off by half, that's an incredible number of people.

Iraq is still in chaos many years later. IS has taken over a lot of the country. The Middle East as a whole was destabilised and has yet to recover.

I'd hate to know what your definition of a catastrophe is.

Comment Re:first (Score 1) 325

I wasn't commenting on the motives of the western countries, nor whether atrocities have been carried out by the rebels (it appears they have, though not on the scale that Assad has). I was replying to the OP who seemed to think the reporting in Syria was all propaganda. The coverage in the media seems to have been reasonably balanced, reporting the abuses of both sides. There has not been the dramatic attempts to control the media by e.g. the US and UK governments that we saw in the Iraq war.

Comment Re:first (Score 1) 325

I've been to Syria recently -- well in the last couple of years, after the start of the revolution. I experienced first hand the extreme corruption, the ever-present secret police, and the aura of fear and intimidation.

Just because some of the information coming out of the country is untrue (how could you not expect some of it to be?) doesn't mean the current state of Syria is propaganda. Most of the reporting is true; the alternative is that every major news organisation, charity and most governments (bar Russia and Iran) are part of some vast conspiracy.

Comment Re:That doesn't seem right. (Score 1) 628

The mirror test is just one test of animal intelligence amongst many.

But it's probably the most important.

Different animals have different strengths in their intelligence, as one would expect - the intellect of each has evolved for different environments.

This is why I said the order is up for debate.

Sorry. Different intelligence tests are correlated so being good at one tends to make you good at another. Humans are unambiguously the smartest and can outwit any other species at practically anything. Chimps/bonobos are next. Although you can quibble about where a particular species is placed, there's certain generalities you can assert.

My list is commonly accepted, but by no means absolute.

No serious researcher in animal intelligence that I know of puts pigs in the top four most intelligent species. Feel free to provide a reference.

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