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Comment Re:BASIC (Score 1) 336

I'm old enough to remember the days of 8-bit computing and the ubiquity of BASIC. Those were good times, but the world has moved on. The problem isn't the language -- GUI's simply changed the rules of the game.

Text (command line) programs can naturally be written a linear procedural fashion. Cause and effect are clear. Display something, wait for input, act on input, rinse, and repeat. Classic BASIC fit this model well, and people could easily learn it. You could go from zero to useful in a relatively short time.

At a technical level, GUI programming is inherently event driven. Originally this took the form of event loops dispatching messages, with more object oriented approaches evolving over time. Classic BASIC does not fit this model, but can be extended to do so (e.g. Visual BASIC). The problem is that the learning curve is steeper. Event driven programming is hard for non-programmers to wrap their minds around.

Another problem is that modern computers come with lots of beautiful GUI-based software, and creating similar software takes considerable knowledge and effort. It's MUCH harder for a newbie to create software that looks and feels like "professional" programs. I imagine this could be very discouraging. I clearly remember the feeling of pride and accomplishment I felt back in the 8-bit days, when my own programs met, and then exceeded the standards of the day. I was able to go from zero to that place in a reasonable amount of time; now it might take years.

Comment Systemd, WTF? (Score 4, Interesting) 165

Systemd, WTF???

As I understand it, one of the stated goals was to speed up boot times. It's had exactly the opposite effect on my Ubuntu system -- that is, when the boot doesn't die altogether when I try to mount NFS shares. (Also, thanks to systemd, I can't even *reboot* or shut down the machine when there's a hung NFS process. I am forced to hard-reset it.)

For years, warning flags have been raised about systemd. It more or less seems that we're bringing all the disadvantages of the Windows architecture to Linux, without any of the advantages of running WIndows.

So, again: systemd, wtf???

Comment Re:You will always be a foreigner (Score 1) 219

From Wikipedia:

"Since the 1980s, an estimated 200 million Chinese live outside their officially registered areas and under far less eligibility to education and government services, living therefore in a condition similar in many ways to that of illegal immigrants... There are around 130 million such home-staying children, living without their parents, as reported by Chinese researchers."

Of course if the Chinese government was less secretive and obsessed with control, we could probably find more accurate statistics. But then this is the country that tried to discourage the US embassy in Beijing from posting accurate air pollution metrics because they were so embarrassing.

Comment Re:You will always be a foreigner (Score 3, Interesting) 219

Veering slightly off-topic here, but in addition to what you said, the limitations on internal migration (for Chinese citizens) are absolutely insane by Western standards. Imagine that you couldn't attend school or obtain a driver's license or even legally reside in California despite being born there because your parents were "registered" as Illinois residents and moved without permission. As someone who rarely has to deal with any government agency more oppressive than the local DMV office, I can't imagine living in a country with that level of control over my life, even if they were handing out citizenship papers freely.

Government

Fidel Castro Is Dead (nytimes.com) 279

Striek quotes the New York Times: Fidel Castro, the fiery apostle of revolution who brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere in 1959 and then defied the United States for nearly half a century as Cuba's maximum leader, bedeviling 11 American presidents and briefly pushing the world to the brink of nuclear war, died Friday. He was 90. His death was announced by Cuban state television.

In declining health for several years, Mr. Castro had orchestrated what he hoped would be the continuation of his Communist revolution, stepping aside in 2006 when he was felled by a serious illness. He provisionally ceded much of his power to his younger brother Raul, now 85, and two years later formally resigned as president. Raul Castro, who had fought alongside Fidel Castro from the earliest days of the insurrection and remained minister of defense and his brother's closest confidant, has ruled Cuba since then, although he has told the Cuban people he intends to resign in 2018.

Kebertson shares an AP article which remembers a book proclaiming "Castro's Last Hour" -- in 1982. And Miamicanes jokes there'll be celebrations among Castro-haters in Miami, sharing a CNN article which notes that in the end, Castro "lived long enough to see a historic thaw in relations between Cuba and the United States."
Canada

Canada Plans To Phase Out Coal-Powered Electricity By 2030 (theguardian.com) 147

Last week, French president Francois Hollande announced that France will shut down all its coal-fired power plants by 2023. This week, Canada's environment minister, Kathleen McKenna, announced that Canada plans to phase out its use of coal-fired electricity by 2030. The Guardian reports: [McKenna] said the goal is to make sure 90% of Canada's electricity comes from sustainable sources by that time -- up from 80% today. The announcement is one of a series of measures Justin Trudeau's Liberal government is rolling out as part of a broader climate change plan. Trudeau also has plans to implement a carbon tax. "Taking traditional coal power out of our energy mix and replacing it with cleaner technologies will significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, improve the health of Canadians, and benefit generations for years to come," McKenna said. Four of Canada's 10 provinces still use coal-based electricity. Alberta had been working toward phasing out coal-fired electricity by 2030.

Comment Re:Hell No (Score 1) 1081

You are confusing voter fraud (voting multiple times or for other people) with election fraud (miscounting the votes or manipulating how inconvenient it is to vote) .

Realistically voter fraud is meaningless outside of the occasional small local off-year race where a few extra votes will matter.

What the EC does is make the votes of the vast majority of the country meaningless and hands it to a few voters in a few states. The EC is a relic that should have gone away decades ago.

Comment 1000x Yes (Score 2, Insightful) 1081

This is now the second time in 5 cycles where this has happened. National Popular Vote will actually make the two (or more) candidates campaign for every vote instead of trying to strategize about what counties in swing states will matter.

There are several other structural changes we ought to consider but eliminating the EC is an easy one and would be broadly popular.

Comment Quality and accountability (Score 5, Interesting) 587

There is simply a completely different type of employment culture in India than in the US. In the US we are used to interacting with a self-selecting group of immigrants who work really hard and often put up with a lot of stuff under H1 or other visa programs that American citizens wouldn't tolerate from employers.

Back in India though, there is a culture of treating employees like shit, and consequently a culture among employees of working as little as possible. Employers also don't screen candidates well for off-shore call centers and the like because if they are working on a large contract, all the accountability is based on metrics that can be manipulated and the US based business that contracted them probably only cares about reducing their costs.

My Indian and other immigrant coworkers work their asses off. The support teams I deal with in India can't even be bothered to show up to a phone call and are usually incapable of anything more than opening up a ticket with the software/hardware vendor directly.

Submission + - Google interview process big turn off for experienced engineers (businessinsider.com)

mysterious_mark writes: There's an article in the Business Insider discussing how the interview process at Google is really just geared for recent CS grads, and makes no sense for experienced engineers. Apparently the only criteria to work at Google is one's ability to do white board code problems, actual engineering experience counts for nothing. This may explain why the average engineer at Google is under 30, the problem is partly due to age discrimination, and also because older and more experienced engineers simply don't want to deal with the interview process.

Comment Re:Sounds reasonable (Score 4, Insightful) 204

If cops are personally liable for illegal searches and got prosecuted and jailed, then they would be thinking twice themselves. As it is, they can even jail you on bogus charges without any repercussions - "you may beat the rap but you won't beat the ride". Unfortunately, cops are not even prosecuted for straight-up murder very often, so thinking that prosecutors would bring charges for illegal searches is just fantasy right now.

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