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Comment Cultural ethics won't allow work-free life (Score 1) 60

Look at how bought into the "work ethic" we are and how many people justify what amounts to luck (if not outright criminality) as "hard work" and thus entitlement to moral superiority (up to and including control of others).

We already treat people who can't work for various reasons as worthless and disposable, I just can't see any transition to robotic work that requires fewer workers resulting in the people who own the robots willing giving away their added profit from automation to displaced workers.

"Surely they can pull themselves up by their bootstraps, just as I pulled myself up by the straps on my hand-made Italian leather boots bought with my family inheritance money."

Comment Re:It has its uses (Score 1) 281

At some point, the complexity of the task the program is executing requires complex code.

This is a more profound statement than it appears at first. I'd say that the minimal complexity of the code necessary to accomplish a task defines the complexity of the task itself.

As for GOTO the issue isn't GOTO per se, but implicitly building other control structures like loops using GOTO as a primitive -- a legacy of the very earliest machine languages in which you implemented algorithms using a very limited instruction set. The flexibility of GOTO makes it a good choice if you have only a few control structures to work with; but that same flexibility imposes the cognitive load of figuring out what the original programmer (possibly yourself) meant.

But even if more structured (i.e., limited) control structures available, there are problems where GOTO is the natural way to express them. State machines for example. I've seen them implemented with long if-then-elseif chains or case conditional constructs, but that's just thoughtless programming that obscures what is going on. A state machine is much more clearly implemented with GOTOs, although tail recursion can be a reasonable alternative.

Comment This reminds me of the nuclear boy scout story. (Score 2) 126

You know, the one where a kid figured out how to refine thorium by reading the Golden Book of Chemistry and turned his mother's garden shed into a Superfund site.

The moral of the story is that even a stupid human being can be pretty smart. Particularly a sufficiently motivated stupid person.

Of course it also helps that intelligence comes in different flavors. Some people are good at spatial reasoning, others are good at verbal reasoning. But we often overlook social reasoning because it's not part of the traditional IQ tests. I think another reason that Social IQ testing hasn't caught on is that there is good reason to believe that social reasoning ability isn't fixed. Changes in attitude can strongly impair or enhance an individual's ability to process social information.

Which leads to the flip side of the stupid people being able to be smart: even smart people can be stupid, particularly in making social judgments.

Comment Re:FSF = not practical (Score 1) 103

But it's still hard to take Stallman seriously because he doesn't provide practical solutions to these problems.

Actually he does: opt out. It won't kill you to only buy entertainment which is DRM-free. So you can't stream the latest episode of Game of Thrones; if you have access to a library you have more alternative ways to entertain your imagination than you'll ever have time to use.

The problem is not being able to buy what the people around them are buying is just too radical for most people.

This is not a practical or tolerable solution for 99% of the population.

This is not anticipated to be tolerable by 99% of the population. They don't actually know, because they'll never try it. Stallman seems to be happy enough without Netflix. But Stallman is a nut. Why is he a nut? Because he's happy enough without Netflix. It's circular reasoning; for all you know you're a nut too, you just don't know it.

This is how powerful corporations control people: by manipulating their unexamined assumptions of what they can tolerably live with. They don't need police power, because people will police themselves.

In a sense this is nothing new, they're just manipulating a longstanding fact about human nature: people are very bad at predicting how things will affect their future happiness. I've recently developed an interest in the old Greek and Roman philosophers called the Stoics. They reasoned more or less thus: if happiness is having all your wants satisfied, the surest path to happiness is to want less. But even they realized that nobody can really adequately regulate their own desires. The best you can achieve is a kind of skepticism about what would otherwise be unchallenged assumptions about what you need. But even though it falls short, it goes a long way toward freeing you from self-afflicted dissatisfaction.

Comment Re:Confirmation Bias (Score 1) 220

I can think of two people I know on social media. One is very academic/intelligent (specialty pediatrician) and very left wing, one is very practical/intelligent but extremely right wing.

But I find myself turned off by both. Despite the former's reasonableness, they come off snide and elitist. The latter just comes off dumbed-down, parroting a lot of right wing nonsense.

What's kind of fascinating to me is that it's less their *ideas* that bother me. I agree with the pediatrician some of the time. I agree (conceptually, at least) with some of the right wing ideas.

It's the *presentation* and tone of both that turn me off, and neither person comes off that way in person. I think that's what contributes to the corrosiveness of social media, it's less about the ideas than their presentation and tone.

Comment "Like"? (Score 3, Insightful) 281

I don't get what you mean by "like".

Procedures are procedures, period.

Sometimes it's helpful to have some procedure (or subroutine) store some value in some location before popping the stack.

What I really don't get in this write-up is the insinuation that a focus on (purely) functional programming is a "recent trend". That implies that the majority of today's coders have no fucking idea how coding has progressed through the last few decades (which I've been there to see firsthand).

That's the only interesting thing about this article.

Comment Re:What's changed? (Score 4, Interesting) 220

The problem is that social media reduces us to the way we present ourselves. While that certainly is part of who we are, it's not the whole story.

One of the most popular maxims of ancient Greek philosophers was "know thyself", and the reason they considered it important is that it turns out to be a lot harder than it sounds. You think you know yourself, but chances people who spend a lot of time in close physical proximity to you understand you in ways you don't.

But online your identity is mediated by how you present yourself. This is not only inevitably somewhat dishonest (in ways that may be more obvious to others than to yourself), even when you are trying to be honest you at best are presenting who you think you are.

Comment Re:"The science is settled" (Score 3, Insightful) 60

Some of the science is settled, certainly. Methane is a greenhouse gas; nobody expects that to change. Atmospheric methane decays primarily through a long, well-documented chain of reactions starting with oxidation by the hydroxyl radical; the carbon in the CH4 eventually ends up in a CO2 molecule. This is nothing new, and nobody expects it to change.

The precise dynamics by which CH4 interacts with hydroxyl radicals in the atmosphere is far from settled science, and nobody should be particularly surprised that there are things about the process we don't know. Not knowing some things about a process doesn't mean we can't know other things about that process.

But some people obviously do believe it means that. They do not distinguish between not knowing everything and knowing nothing. Implicitly requiring scientists to know everything before you consider science credible makes everything a matter of opinion, and all opinions more or less equally valid, at least as far is evidence is concerned. And it's easy to see the attraction: if everything is a matter of opinion you can believe whatever you find comforting. Why not believe Adam and Eve rode around on dinosaurs? After all scientists don't know everything, which means science is never "settled".

But of course settling questions with evidence is what science is all about. True, there is no science so settled it cannot be attacked; but there *is* science sufficiently settled that claims to the contrary require extraordinary evidence.

Comment Re:I believe it (Score 1) 83

I've been saying this for years: the reason that the same stupid security holes keep popping up is that they keep showing up in the tutorials that people use to learn new systems and languages.

The cognitive burden of learning a new system is rough on most people, so it's tempting to make things easy on them. In fact you might have higher satisfaction from students if you do. It certainly makes them feel like they're learning more for less effort if they can make something happen that looks right. But you should never, ever model a bad practice for beginners, even if you have the intent of going back and explaining to them that they shouldn't do it that way. It's better to say, "OK, you don't understand this particular bit, but don't worry I'll come back to it later."

Comment Re:We ran the same calculus (Score 1) 206

However....backup, anti-virus, spam filtering, and a DR solution drives up the cost very quickly.

The marginal cost of backup and DR when you're *already* doing those things for an on-prem server environment is pretty close to zero, and if you're already virtualized and have a virtual-oriented backup software you probably already have DR integrated into your backup. AV and anti-spam are almost always done best these days by a third party service and the good ones do both anyway.

From the numbers I've run, it usually is cheaper to do it on prem above about 50 users with a 3 year benchmark. If you time the upgrade right, you can probably get 5 years out of it without falling more than a rev behind and cut the 50 user number way down.

It's pretty obvious Microsoft is heading subscription-only for everything. Since 2013, Exchange has lost much of its GUI which I think has been a way to scare on-prem admins away. They will ultimately either price on prem high enough that only a few compliance/security focused large organizations will consider it or support hybrid only (meaning you're paying for O365, used or not).

Cloud is about permanent vendor-lock in and rent-seeking, not economics. The marginal cost of a 5-9s commercial data center for hosting cloud services is greater than the marginal savings to users, which is why hosted systems always end up being so expensive unless you're doing something really trivial like a static web site.

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