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Comment Really? (Score 1) 538

And there was me thinking that Systemd enjoyed acceptance among many distro maintainers and end-users (me for example).

I'm not a kernel programmer and I don't particularly care about whether functionality is spread across binaries or integrated. I want it to "just work" on my desktop and server machine with minimum fuss. I have more than enough to do when the underlying system "just works" without being bogged down by sysadmin details. Ok?

Plus I'm persuaded by the automatic filesystem cleanup this wrapper does for USB sticks, which I happen to use on a regular basis.

As a matter of fact, I think that each and every commenter who howls about systemd being the work of the devil should sit a (modest) examination in kernel programming and a basic one in system administration. Those who fail to obtain at least 70% marks should have all their slashdot posts and comments on the subject wiped.

Call it a professional deformation: in my workplace I (and most of my colleagues) like to shut up people who don't know what the hick they're talking about. Our time is too precious to allow it to be wasted in that way. We're truly authoritarian and fascist in that respect, and we've obtained excellent results with, and broad support for, that policy for over 15 years.

Comment Goto: Knuth (Score 1) 671


I agree. Just look at Donald Knuth's algorithms and see how "while structured" they are. Well ... they aren't.

I thoroughly understand the need to keep vast wodges of code structured, modular, and (if possible) even while-structured. But when it comes to the core algorithms (numerical or non-numerical) buried deep in library routines, CSC dogmatism should (and usually does) go out of the window.

Comment It's not just the fact checking (Score 1) 330

The problem with news outlets isn't just the fact-checking. Although I agree with you it's important. I'd be willing to pay for stories carrying the label: "this story has been fact-checked and all reported statements either check out as true or have been marked as unconfirmed". Unfortunately It's also the selection and filtering of news.

Compare for example the stories on Fox news with those CNN for a day. I do that once in a while and I get the distinct impression they're reporting on different worlds.

Fox News for example reports everything that might possible be used to call global warming into question (and omits everything that supports it), and goes on and on and on about Mrs. Clinton's emails. And stubbornly try to pin blame on her for the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi. They've put it firmly into their minds that it's their job to spin those affairs out, keep them alive (at least until the elections), and milk them for all they're worth. Fact-checking Mrs. Clinton seems to be limited to one main subject: emails. Fox News commenting on Mrs. Clinton seems to focus on emails. Did I mention that Fox News seems to be particularly interested in her emails?

When it comes to Mr. Trump, Fox News steadfastily refuses to fact-check or to criticise him (well ... I can understand that: look what he did to Megyn Kelly and how he boycotted Fox News). No critical comment on Mr. Trump's allegations that Mrs. Clinton "plans to abolish the second amendment". No comment on his claims of seeing "secret footage" of cash-for-prisoners deals. No comment on his allegations that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton "founded ISIS". Even less (if possible) critical review of Mr. Trump's allegations that Mr. Obama is a "weak president" as far as ISIS is concerned. No comment on his mean-spirited dissing of the Khan's. No comment on his brinkmanship-like ramblings about leaving Nato (great move now that Russia is re-emerging as an aggressive power and EU countries are getting worried) and leaving Japan to fend for itself.

Then CNN. Lots of different topics being covered every day. But each time Mr. Trump ventilates some blatant, glaring untruth or a snide insinuation it's reported on CNN. Is that bias? Could be. It would be mine if I had to report. Does Mrs. Clinton come off scot-free? I shouldn't think so. The development of her email story is duly reported.

As a matter of fact, continued exposure to Fox News can be harmful to one's mental health. See e.g. http://www.thebrainwashingofmy... .

For a victim in an advanced state of over-exposure, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

Comment One or two suggestions ... (Score 1) 426


Perhaps one or two suggestions might be useful:

Use https://startpage.com/ instead of Google. They say (and as far as I'm aware truthfully) that they don't store your search history and don't sell what your IP address searched for.

Install an ad-blocker (search for it). Any ad-blocker is better than none at all.

Use NoScript (just search for it) in your browser. Reason: most websites log what you searched for on their site, link that to your IP address, datamine and sell the results. Nothing you can do about that, but websites can run scripts in your browser that make the process easier for them and more intrusive. This way a site has to obtain your permission to run a script. There is a nuisance factor for yourself too because some sites won't display content without running scripts. Then you can decide on a case by case basis if you want to allow it.

Nothing's perfect, but even a leaky umbrella is better than none at all.

Comment The takeway of all this ... (Score 1) 242

The takeway is simple.

If you're going to join a protest demonstration, make sure you've shaved, shine your shoes, comb your hair, cover up your more offensive tattoos, wear presentable clothes (if at all possible wear a tie). Comport yourself with quiet dignity throughout the demonstration. Also make sure any slogans you hold are correctly spelled.

It could swing the jury your way at trial years later when the footage is produced in court as part of examination of your character.

Comment As long as it's optional ... (Score 1) 119

As long as it's optional, not in the way, and impossible to activate by accident I don't have a particular problem with it.

Personally I think it's a terrible idea. What's shown when I enter an URL should be between whoever designed the website and me. If a site is down, or a page is missing, I want to know about it.

The last thing I need is a bunch of programmers dreaming up ways to divert me from the real website to whatever is their idea of what I should be seeing. A typical example of a group of coders not knowing what to do with their time and messing with the basic functionality of their application, if you ask me.

So: great to see that you're having fun Mozilla programmers, but make sure to implement this an an optional feature and keep it out of my way unless I explicitly activate it. Otherwise I'll be looking for a new browser. Fair warning.

Comment Growing pains of a new technology (Score 3, Interesting) 117

I'm happy to hear that yet another piece of "alternative", "stick-it-to-The-Man" payment infrastructure has been burgled. Really.

It injects a much needed note of caution and realism into the dream of technologically focused, realism-challenged (and therefore irresponsible) amateur social engineers.

You see, a large part of the appeal of bitcoin comes from its aura of "under the radar", "the authorities need never find out" financial transactions.

This holds an attraction for several groups, of which two are problematic: outright criminals and their "lets-dodge-the-system" libertarian cousins.

I believe that outright criminals like the possibility of doing financial transactions without giving out your real name. Think "dark net" transactions involving in cybercrime services, malware, botnet control, stolen data, stolen credentials, drugs, weapons, etc. Think suppliers in "Silk Road" transactions.

I think that "lets-dodge-the-system" libertarians, who often figure as end-users of illegal goods and services are attracted to the possibility of doing "under the radar" financial transactions for the same reason: their real name can be kept undisclosed. In part they're happy to purchase illegal goods, in part they're ideologically motivated (as in "we need to grow alternative economy that's outside "government" or "system" control because all government is bad and "the system" is designed to screw us over").

For the first group (criminals) I believe it serves as a useful deterrent, or at least a risk and a complication.

For the second group it serves as a salutary reminder that their fellow citizens are at least as reprehensible as "the government" and just as capable of screwing them over as any "institution". After all, the institutions we have have evolved over several centuries, if not millennia, to strike a balance between freedom, safeguards, responsibility, accountability and free-for-all banditry. Something that starry-eyed, technology fixated "bash-the-system" enthusiasts will only appreciate if hammered home by personal or close-to-personal experience.

Where and how new technologies like bitcoin should fit into our society remains to be seen (and experimentally determined). However, our existing institutions have very real merits and safeguards that have evolved because of human nature itself. Such safeguards (which we all too often take for granted) are lacking from new technological developments and are just as important as the basic functionality. A reminder of which can only be positive.

Comment Somebody didn't read the reference material ... (Score 1) 285

@Anonymous Coward

I know this is Slashdot, where actually reading background articles can get you disqualified.

However, it so happens that even a cursory glance at the articles you linked to show that, although there is reason for concern, your claim is heavy on hyperbole and light on justification.

If researchers use patched versions of their statistical packages, and don't fall prey to the error described in the Scientific American article you linked to, their results should be Ok.

Researcher can usually improve the validity of their results by consulting with a proper statistician before they rush off to publish, but that holds in many more areas of science.

Comment What's the problem? (Score 1) 195

Am I supposed to be shocked? Those terms don't strike me as particularly unreasonable.

I mean ... raising children is a chore and costs a lot of money. Think of it as free board and tuition for the first brat so that you can safely experiment a little on the first and get it right with the second and the third. I call that a public service!

In addition ... the NSA has all my data already and just in case ... why would I want object to them collecting more on me? That would be un-patriottic, no?

In addition I'm not doing anything on the site that would upset my employer.

So err ... where's the problem? I find the honesty of the TOS rather refreshing actually.

Comment Old Nonsense (Score 1) 387

There is no fundamental change of course in physics.

Firstly: particle physics is far from the only branch of physics and it makes zero sense to judge the "philosophical foundations of physics" by particle physics alone.

Secondly, it is hardly uncommon to have experimental measurement abilities and theorising out of sync. It was only about 75 years after the Schroedinger equation was proposed that we got anything like direct physical confirmation of the shape or orbitals.Gravity lenses confirming general relativity were observed well after the theory was published. And so forth.

Given how far outside our current experimental and observational abilities the current crop of particle physics lies, a century until we can come up with experimental or observational make evidence does not seem excessive. It's just the way things are.

In the mean time there is plenty of time to get to grips with the theoretical difficulties of getting useful predictions out of string theory. We have seen progres, but another century doesn't seem excessive here either.

Why can't we let people get on with it ... and focus on more "mundane" physics like quantum mechanics? It's not as if that's anything like a dead branch of investigation either.

Comment Read the article ... (Score 3, Informative) 496

Well ... to some extent. Lets look at the article itself, shall we?

From the (Bloomberg) article: "From software developers and mathematical modelers to geriatric nurses and care workers, a mismatch in qualifications means companies are struggling to fill posts, even though the unemployment rate at 20.4 percent is the second-highest in Europe".

Yea, right. Mathematical modelers are always thin on the ground and software developers can be, depending on what you ask. Geriatric nurses are an impopular specialisation, and demand is growing fairly quickly. Working conditions tend not to be the best though, so it's not the most popular specialisation. Takes a year and a half to qualify though, and not many hospitals are willing to pay you to do it. Those that are pay you a pittance, fire you the day you graduate, and start with the next bunch of trainees.

Problem is: can you trust current industry demand to guide your choice of curriculum?

Answer: No you can't. Companies (with the exception of the likes of Shell, IBM, GM, Unilever etc.) don't plan any further ahead than 6 months. Easier and cheaper that way. So, current industry demand isn't a very good indicator.

And this: "Pimentelâ(TM)s client asked him for list of candidates trained in "Agile" project management techniques for helping companies boost their productivity by using more I.T. systems. The client was offering as much as 200,000 euros ($220,000) a year -- almost 10 times the average salary in Spain."

Salary's pretty good, especially for Europe. But "trained in agile". Does that mean "attended a few lectures in scrum or whatever"? No. From the rest of the article: you need to have sufficient experience to know what software development is and what the issues are. And then the article lets it transpire that you'll be talking with senior management ... on your project. Sounds like a "development lead with experience in agile" position to me. Definitely not for your average coder, with or without course in "agile" development bolted on.

I can only conclude that the Slashdot headline is a bit misleading. The Bloomberg headline is more accurate, and the article goes on to lambast the Spanish educational system for not paying sufficient attention to industry needs (STEM subjects).

However ... about a year and a half ago I made the acquaintance of a (very smart) Spanish PhD in experimental physics who (1) couldn't find a fitting job opportunity in Spain when she graduated (6 years ago) (2) went abroad to do a doctorate (3) was subsequently unable to find a faculty position (two years ago) in Europe) and went to work as a data analyst for the government.

Several interesting things in this story: she couldn't find a decent job even though she was smart, motivated, and well-educated, she had to look outside Spain to do a PhD (well, some would call that a valuable education in itself), then couldn't find a job in the field for which she had just qualified (experimental physics), and went to do work for which she wasn't "formally" qualified but for which she was quite well prepared (kudos to that HR department).

Now think of your average HR department. Would they have hired her as a data analist? Nah ... too many boxes not ticked. No Hadoop experience, no Java programming certificates, no certificate in SAS, not SPLUNK certified, no Python programming certificates, no Linux certificates (although she did her PhD work on Linux systems like all physicists). Yup. Probably no MS Office certificates either (but perhaps those can be overlooked).

So it's a sum of circumstances: insufficient attention to trivial but "in-demand" qualifications on part of educational authorities to please box-ticking HR departments, HR departments being generally unable to bring any understanding and intelligence to their job (costs too much to have somebody working there who actually understand what the job entails, right ... so keep with the box-tickers). industry as a whole being unable to provide reliable forecasts of future personnel demands.

Comment Re:Oversimplified thinking (Score 1) 246

@Anonymous Coward


Nobody forces you to be on the power grid (you can install your own diesel aggregate and solar panels), nobody forces you to get tap water (feel free to install a cistern and order up a tanker to fill it, or brush your teeth with bottled water), and (depending on where you live) you may be allowed to install a septic tank and a chemical toilet where you live.

The point is: you can survive perfectly well without utilities; it will just mean additional expense. Same with Google. Nobody forces you to use it, but most of your clients will. So as a business you haven't got a lot of choice really.

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