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Comment Re:It's A Start (Score 2) 619

I don’t think it’s a matter of being in their 40’s. I’m in my 40’s and I pick up new languages as I need to. But I really enjoy this stuff. Computer science is as much a hobby for me as it is a profession. A lot of people get into tech fields because they want a job, not because they give a crap about the topic. For someone who lacks enthusiasm, learning a single programming language is a super big deal because it’s effort they don’t want to expend. Those people won’t be retrained in their 20’s or 30’s. Indeed, someone who has had this attitude may be *more* inclined to pick up new languages in their 40’s if their experience has taught them some discipline and the value of hard work.

Comment Christianity gets too much hate (Score 5, Insightful) 90

I grew up in a Christian home, so I’m one of those people who rebelled against their up-bringing, etc., etc. People like me also get riled up by Christian fundamentalists, like those weirdo creationists who are the poster chldren for cherry-picking evidence. Personally, it’s more important to me to experience the excitement of a new scientific discovery than to derive some kind of false comfort from an ancient philosophy. Nevertheless, I can see its value for others.

The truth is that we all live in a world of delusions. Even in science, we know that the latest and greatest or most advanced theories are just approximations of reality, so we choose to apply what we know now as if it were true because it gets the job done. Improved versions of the theories in the future may or may not get the job done better. (Relativity and QM don’t always improve over Newtonian physics, because the added complexity is usually not worth the often immeasureable improvement in accuracy.)

In many ways, religion is effective as a meditative philosophy. Things like yoga, martial arts, Buddhism, etc. all come with psychological/spiritial/traditional baggage beyond the practical effects of teaching discpline, exercise, and other things. But people actually NEED a basis for finding emotional comfort and psychological stability, and religions often get the job done (even if they’re mosty fictional). Do we pick on people for reading fantasy novels, watching Star Trek, and playing video games? It’s all the same.

As Richard Dawkins has said, compared to “certain” relgions, Christianity is relatively benign. And choosing between one “relatively benign” religion and another is like choosing between Karate and Kung Fu and also indulging in the quasi-religious philosophies that come with them. 6 of one, half dozen of another. What difference does it make which delusion you choose? The value in choosing one is the comfort or practical value it brings you. And for many peolpe, they are involved in their religion primarily to belong to a community, with the beliefs being secondary.

Yes, there are those prominent people that turn religion into a weapon, tell you all about how you’re going to hell if you don’t believe EXACTLY as they do, etc. Well, there are “scientists” who regularly engage in fabrication and falsification. Computers have no positive or negative moral aspect per se, but there are people who utilize them to commit crimes. We don’t disavow something just because some assholes abuse it. And we don’t completely disavow something just because it contains ideas we realize are inaccurate.

When we want to pick on Christians, maybe the first representative we think of is Ken Ham. Yeah. He’s a bad guy. (He doesn’t mean to be, but he causes a lot of damage.) Instead, why not think of Kenneth Miller? Despite being a devout Catholic, he has been one of the most vocal opponents to religious bullshit impinging on science since the 1970s. We could all use him as a role model. And BTW, he benefits from his religion.

Comment Why does this come as a surprise? DUH! (Score 1) 318

Ok, so Silicon Valley contains a lot of tech companies that want to operate efficiently, so they’re going to naturally look for ways to cut costs, including employee salaries. H1-B workers are cheaper, so they’ll naturally want to investigate that option. Many H1-B visa holders are pretty decent, so they’re viable to hire. The tech company lawyers will be checking to make sure they’re being legal in their hires, but of course, they’re going to make sure they only conform to the letter of the law, and they’re always going to be trying to look for loopholes.

In other words, who is daft enough to think that SV tech companies wouldn’t as a matter of course be exploiting H1-B visas and workers to the maximum extent possible?

I mean, this is total no-brainer stuff here.

Comment Great way to invite MORE Mexicans into the US! (Score 1) 432

Trump’s biggest complaint about Mexico is all the people sneaking illegally into the US and then becoming a “burden on the economy.” Now, I can understand wanting to bring jobs home that are currently in places like China. But the Chinese don’t sneak across a border into the US. By limiting trade with Mexico, this hurts their economy and makes people want EVEN MORE to escape to the US. On the other hand, perhaps investing a little in the Mexican economy might make some of their people WANT to stay there, no?

Comment Surface replaces iPad toys (Score 1) 376

I’m still okay with my MacBook Pro. We’ll see what kinds of futher crippling Apple does as time goes on, and I may be forced onto another platform just to get work done.

But as for tablets, it’s a whole other story. If you want a toy or something that the kids can use as an educational tool, the iPad is fine. I understand that there are some good productivity apps too, although accessing your files on iPad seems annoying to me. At this point, the only thing I use my iPad 2 for is to watch Netflix at night in bed, and it kinda sucks at that, given the way Apple has (a) forced upgrades of iOS and (b) used those upgrades to completely cripple older hardware.

If I want a tablet, I’m seriously looking at the Surface products. It’s a real computer running a real OS with real files and an x86 processor. It coudl replace both an iPad and an aging MacBook Pro.

And of course, Microsoft knows this, which is why they’re appealing to the market that Apple is slowly but inevitably leaving behind.

BTW, I use the audio jack on my iPhone 6 constantly, and I plug in to charge at the same time. F. U. Apple and your iPhone 7.

Comment Scratch paper (Score 1) 260

I realize this isn’t quite on point, but the fact is, I have to do a lot of my mathematical derivations by hand, on paper. I would really stuggle if I were forced to ALWAYS use software to do this, even if it did a lot of the work for me. I could pay for Mathematica, WolframAlpha, and/or Matlab, but those really irritate me. I often use sympy, which is freaking awesome. But sometimes it’s just nice to use pencil and paper.

More on point, if I need to carefully read a document, and I want to flip back and forth to the references section, scribble notes, underline things, dog-ear pages, etc., it’s so much easier with paper. Flipping to the references, especially, is a pain on a computer screen, unless I open the same document twice, which some software won’t even let me do! And reading on paper is just easier on the eyes.

Comment Under Trump, hate speech is encouraged! (Score 2, Informative) 427

Now that Trump has been elected, we enter a new era where white men now have license to say whatever insulting, sexist, and racist things they want. In other words, hate speech is encoraged. Therefore filtering out hate speech would be unnecessary and heavily discouraged.

On a more serious note, filtering out “hate speech” must be considered carefully. In the 60’s, you could shut anyone up just by labeling them a commie. Today, you can squelch any dissenting opinion you want by labeling it hate speech. I’m believe in being nice and tactful, but we need to protect our constitutional right to free expression. It is not illegal to be an asshole.

To the British, the American colonists who wanted indepedence were “assholes” who didn’t know their place under the monarchy, regardless of their lack of representation in the government. To white racists, people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King were assholes for standing up for the civil rights of black people. Today, anyone who stands up for gay marriage is an asshole to many conservatives. It’s actually important that people be “assholes."

Comment Offensive or defensive? What do they want? (Score 1) 1028

Are the Russians planning to take over more territory? Or are they afraid that another country may be a military threat? And which one? I can see North Korea or Iran doing this on the basis of perceived ideological threats. I could see China doing this on the basis of perceived economic threats. But the Russians? What the heck do these people want?

Then again, the United States is often perceived as being a bully by many other nations too, so maybe these moves by the Russians seem completely calm and rational to them.

Comment Soft keys with changable keycaps? (Score 2) 524

I think one of the problems with Apple keyboards has been the ursurping of the function keys. I guess we don’t use function keys, but it took a little getting used to the fact that F3 doesn’t mean F3 unless you hold down the Fn key at the same time. And then every new Mac seems to change what the keys mean. If instead there were a row at the top of the keyboard that’s touch sensitive and which can change labels for all of those keys, that would actually make things a lot easier. Hold down Fn, and then all the labels change to F#. Leave Fn up, and they present whatever set of hotkeys you want to configure them to be! Sounds cool to me. Presumably, the left-most one will be Esc by default. Apple keeps adding features to Terminal.app, which I suspect is because their own developers use the terminal a lot, so that functionality doesn’t suffer bitrot but actually improves a little over time. I’m not sure what they’re going to do about the power button, but I was never bothered by the old style where there was a gray button flush with the chassis maybe they’ll bring that back.

Now, what I still think is crazy is the removal of the audio jack. That’s GOT to be getting Apple mountains of feedback from people complaining that they can’t listen and charge at the same time. We’ll see what impact that has when iPhone 8 comes out.

Comment Creationists and flat-earthers (Score 4, Insightful) 656

We have this idea in free society that people are entitled to their own opinions and the government should not force people to believe one thing or another. And it’s not like we lack precedents where totalitarian governments actively suppress ideas that might disrupt their regime. So we do need to keep in mind that indvidual people should be free to be wrong and be assholes. That kid in the gorilla costume at Tennessee State was an asshole, but should he be brought up on criminial charges? We need to ensure that “assholes” are not summarily suppressed. Richard Dawkins acts like an asshole but he’s still right about evolution.

Now, when it comes to these nurses, the situation is entirely different. They are entitled to their *personal* opinion. But this is a matter of professional activity. In their capacities as nurses (even on their own time), they represent their employers. As a CS professor, I could be dismissed for a wide range of inappropriate behaviors in my “personal life,” including hooking up with an undergrad and making offensive and racist statements on social media. I can maintain my right to express an opinion, and my employer can exercise their right to not be associated with someone who does not represent their core values. (Although, I will say that I’ve heard that BYU won’t grant tenure to anyone who they see as not sufficiently “Mormon,” and I think that’s reprehensible, so there is some room for debate on this, which is why we have courts.)

There’s also not much room on this subject for “personal opinion.” Science doesn’t have answers for everything, but all attempts to show a solid link between vaccines and autism have failed, and those attempts have been numerous. This isn’t based on a single publication with no replication studies. This topic has been beaten to death. It be shown that their statements are factually wrong. They are also not researchers in this area. If they were, then they would be in a position to conduct further studies to see if they could prove a link. Instead, they are just talking out their arses.

Even more important, they are putting people in danger. And that’s what this is all about. The benefits of vaccines are not in dispute, and the risks are minimal and nebulous. When your scientific illiteracy puts people in danger, you need to be stopped.

Comment Amazon Prime video sucks (Score 2) 44

We do most of our Netflix watching on smart TVs. Amazon video is only on one of them, and the UI SUCKS. When we bought the one TV that had it, we were expecting improved Amazon support over time. The Netflix app has been updated multiple times, while the Amazon one never has. The fact is, Amazon just isn’t trying very hard, so they’re not competitive.

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