Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Comment Re: Surprising? Not so much. (Score 1) 134

Indeed. In fact at one point there was a possibility that despite being democratically chosen, that Donald Trump could have been replaced by the power brokers at the Republican National Convention in favor of someone that they felt more comfortable with.

Because it, too is a republican construct. Not because it's the "Republican" party, but because in the USA, when you vote republic-style, you're not really voting for the candidate, you're voting for the representative. And hoping that the representative, once elected, then votes for your candidate.

Comment Re: Unfortunately no and I have a reason (Score 5, Interesting) 381

I can't say I've ever read Knuth in the literary sense. It's more of the ultimate reference.

Thankfully, I no longer have to construct sorts, searches, random number generators, etc. every time I write a program, since modern-day language systems come pre-supplied. However, someone has to implement those pre-supplied algorithms, and that someone almost certainly referenced Knuth. He has provided a concise, well-explained collection of analyses, discussions and sample implementations of many of the most important functions needed by almost everyone in the software development field.

The downside of it is MIX. I understand the reason Knuth created MIX, but MIX is an assembly language and not even a commonly-used one (and intentionally so). I know that there are many who think that the purpose of computers is to run machine (assembly) language, but they're wrong.

The purpose of computers is to run software. How it runs the software is secondary. You can see this in the fact that some machines include in their instruction set specialized functions related to specific abstract features. The Prime Computer instruction set had machine-language implementations of the FORTRAN 3-way branch. I think it was Honeywell that had an OS task dispatcher function implemented as a machine-language instruction. The Inter iAPX432 was designed to run Ada, the IBM System/360 had the Translate instructions, and the IBM zSeries has a major subset of the Unix stdlib implemented as CISC instructions, including a few of the Knuth algorithms.

Keeping software as a set of bits corresponding to primitive functions is convenient for implementing von Neumann machines, but it should be realized that it's the means and not the end, and when scaled, tends to lose the abstract picture in the minutae. If minutae were the end of it, one should be programming microcode and manually switching gates - on many machines, the "machine language" is itself an abstraction interpreted via microcode.

I've often complained that one of the biggest annoyances in IT is that you can pop out a prototype GUI in a day or 2 and everybody thinks it should go to full production next Thursday, where no one in their right mind would ever expect a scale cardboard model of a building or bridge to be ready for use in such time.
But there's a similar break in education in that in most cases CIS courses use a "practical" language instead of an abstract one.

While assembly language was very common when Knuth wrote Volumes I-III, he was aware that there was no universal high-level language any more that there was a universal low-level one, which was another reason he invented MIX. Even academically-inclined languages such as Modula ultimately detoured into practical use, warping their abstraction. And, although ideological purity makes me projectile-vomit, when you're dealing with abstract concepts, I prefer to keep things truly abstract. Otherwise it warps one's approach to later solutions.

Djisktra did. in fact attempt an abstract high-level language in his "A Discipline of Programming", although it has some odd warts of its own. Personally, I'd vote for Ada, because while the last time I actually ran Ada, it nearly burned out the bearings on a mid-line IBM mainframe, it is the only common language I know where values and functions are assigned ranges and domains - an essential concept that is taught at the very beginning of differential calculus classes, but not nearly well-stressed enough in most CIS curricula. Were it otherwise, perhaps fewer satellites would have been destroyer.

Ada, incidentally, is part of the gcc/gnat toolset available on almost any Linux development system and modern-day PCs are considerably more powerful than a 1990 mid-level IBM mainframe (but then again, probably so are most cellphones), so anyone who's curious can explore.

Comment Re:I wouldn't work there. (Score 1) 392

The operative word there is minimize.

What people are finding so insufferable about you is that you think that the worst-case cannot happen to you and you're smug about it.

Even people who have a safety cushion can lose it, and it's really, really hard to get it back if you do so. I know. I've had to rebuild my assets several times and I'll bet I keep a larger cushion than you do when I can. In large part because I do pass on a lot of job offers.

Comment Re:I wouldn't work there. (Score 1) 392

I very much doubt that would happen to an extent where I couldn't do anything to adjust.

The Greeks called statements like that "tempting Fate" or, if you prefer, hubris. Nothing makes you believe in spiteful Gods like saying "Nothing could possibly go wrong" and shortly thereafter having it humiliatingly thrown in your face.

The one thing you can depend on in life is that the best laid plans o' Mice and Men gang aft agley.

Comment Re:Stop breathing! (Score 2) 559

Actually, I see it running in the opposite direction. Reagan, IIRC reversed himself on some of his tax cuts.

George W Bush, on the other hand, was rather infamous for a stay-the-course-no-matter-what approach. In fact, I don't recall hearing the term "double down" in common usage until his last 4 years or so and it wasn't just him that went that route. Basically any time Republicans lost on something they didn't talk altering strategy, they talked "double down". Or "we need to educate" - meaning that the fault wasn't with them, it was with the electorate.

Bush, in fact, was infamous for refusing to accept data that contradicted his position. It was noteworthy when very late in his tenure, he said, somewhat grudgingly that "IF mistakes were made, they are my responsibility".

Comment Re:Stop breathing! (Score 2) 559

Apparently - in America competence and experience is now actually a disqualifier for holding office. Nobody wants to vote for the "washington insiders"... an odd sentiment you do not find in any other field. Seriously when did you ever hear anybody say "I am having a heart attack -please get me anybody who is NOT a doctor !"

Well, you also have a large group of people who say "Government is useless. They can't do anything right." And we routinely elect - and re-elect - those people to government positions.

A cynic would have to wonder if you can truly expect success from someone who has a vested interest in failure.

Comment Re:Stop breathing! (Score 1) 559

He as the attention span of gnat. That will get the U.S. in trouble when he starts changing policy every year. Sooner or later, no one will trust any of his policies because they cannot be sure how long they'll last.

It's true. Trump is No True Republican. He's willing to change his mind. A True Republican takes a position and runs it right off the cliff. And while the nation is falling, doubles down, Stay the Course is the watchword, and damn the consequences, because the Republican position, once set is the only Right position, and all it takes to ensure success is to persevere. That, and perhaps the complete annihilation of those sabotaging Democrats.

For years, one of the greatest terrors of being a Republican was being labeled a "flip-flopper".

Trump doesn't care. Although up to now, all he's had to change was words. It remains to be seen how he deals with hard real issues as policy. Whether he's truly a gnat, or just more willing to learn from experience. I hope for the latter, but it's still too early to tell.

Comment Re:Is this from The Onion? (Score 1) 284

The hurricane machine is remarkably sensitive to many different factors. Because of this, it's a lousy predictor for global warming. Although long-term statistical effects in terms of location and intensity may eventually correlate.

On the other hand, thermometers all over the globe have been crawling up at a virtually linear pace for all those years you mentioned. I "enjoyed" some of it myself this year, in January, where I came within an inch of switching on the air conditioning when it should have been closer to freezing and in June, when triple-digit temperatures persisted day after day in a region where breaking 100 is something that used to happen one day in every 5 years or so,

Even a lot of record-breaking cold was traceable to overheating of frigid resources that would have usually been locked in for the winter somewhere further north. Kind of like how you get "snowfall" when it starts melting from the roof.

Comment Re:Not very smart (Score 5, Insightful) 497

I have been very disappointed in the response of the losing side over this election. This is the kind of behavior I feared that would flare up on the other side when Trump lost the "rigged" election and the faithful rose up in revolt. It's not what I would expect from the allegedly rational side of the fence. They don't even have the excuse that Hillary egged them on.

In fact, the only excuse they could possibly make is that "this is how Trump would do it". So tell us again how you're better than he is?

Slashdot Top Deals

...though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"