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Comment Re:IMHO (Score 1) 176

Donald Knuth is an elitist. It is not necessary to have a background in mathematics to write software. I taught myself PHP and I certainly don't have any kind of mathematics background whatsoever. It isn't dumbing down as he claims. It's about creating opportunities. If you can code and you can do it well without mathematics, so be it. The math side is for those that want to do research. I work in the real world ....

Um, IMHO, no he isn't.

Formally, there's a big difference between being a 'Coder/Programmer/Developer' and 'Software Engineer' and 'Computer Scientist'. The latter two usually require a mathematical understanding of what a computer system is (includes programs, OSes, networks, languages, ...) and how it will perform.

At my own institution, our CS degree was really a pure mathematics degree at one time ... the department had a saying "The computers are for email and writing up, please use the blackboards for the Computer Science". We do these days teach some programming - because it's expected - but we usually use this to animate the mathematics.

Comment It was more 'Fun' (Score 1) 449

I agree, in that it was more fun (don't know if it was more cool).

At university, I never saw the machine we programmed. Back then it was coding sheets handed through a hatch and because the university leased much of its computing out to local companies, a 24 hour debug cycle. The fun in this was in getting your code correct the first time.

When I got a computer of my own (kit ZX80) I pretty much used machine code exclusively. The fun there was in coding directly to the 'machine' if you will, and in learning and using the cpu's primitives, and to some degree, what was going on at the logic level inside the chip.

The only fun I get out of contemporary computing these days is in teaching it as an academic. The fun is when you see students 'get' some subtle concept and their eyes light up.

Submission + - Apple Hires Corporate Security Chief Amid Legal Battle With FBI (

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has hired a new security executive to oversee its corporate digital defenses as a result of the ongoing battle with the U.S. government over law enforcement's desire to crack into the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone 5c. George Stathakopoulos, formerly vice president of information security at and before that Microsoft's general manager of product security, is the new appointee designated to be the vice president of corporate information security. Stathakopoulos will be responsible for protecting corporate assets, such as the computers used to design products and develop software, as well as data about customers. The new hire is a sign of increased focus on security issues at Apple.

Submission + - Julian Assange might turn himself in to police on Friday (

peetm writes: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has said he will turn himself over to UK police on Friday if a UN panel rules he has not been unlawfully detained.

He took refuge in London's Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault claims.
In 2014 he complained to the UN that he was being "arbitrarily detained" as he could not leave without being arrested.

Submission + - Canada's Prime Minister Admits Intention to Sign TPP (

Dangerous_Minds writes: The first round of question period for Canada's new government turned out to be a rather revealing one. After months of denial, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted he intends on signing off on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. The revelation came during questioning by NDP leader Thomas Mulcair who quizzed him on his position while citing evidence the agreement would result in major job losses in Canada. The TPP would lead to, among other things, criminal liability for the circumvention of copy protection, government mandated spying for the purpose of tracking copyright infringement online, and seizure of digital storage devices at the border for the purpose of enforcing copyright. Trudeau said that the reason he is going to sign off on the agreement was so that he could consult with Canadians on the agreement even though the agreement creates legal obligations to ratify as-is.

Submission + - San Francisco's Yellow Cab files for bankruptcy (

Applehu Akbar writes: Yellow Cab Cooperative, the largest taxi company in San Francisco, has filed Chapter 11. While competition from those newfangled ride-sharing services is a natural target for blame, a more proximate cause is Yellow Cab losing a $8 million accident liability suit by a passenger who is now paralyzed. Apparently the Yellow Cab drivers are...registered as independent contractors! So much for the medallion cab argument that they offer superior liability coverage.

Submission + - US OPM getting Out of the 'Background Checking business'

bbsguru writes: An article in the Register notes that, following last years' embarrassing and costly data breaches:

The US government is creating a new agency to process background checks for federal employees and contractors seeking security clearance.

The [...] Department of Defense (DoD)
[will] oversee the establishment of the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB). The new agency will take over running the Federal Investigative Service (FIS) and will perform all background checks.

Currently, the FIS handles around 95 per cent of federal background checks on an estimated 600,000 people each year. Those duties, going forward, will still be handled by FIS, but will be done as part of the new NBIB and its proposed $95m annual (FY 2017) IT budget.

Previously, the FIS had operated as part of the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM), conducting background checks for those seeking positions within US government agencies or working on contracts for the government.

In other news, the barn doors are now closed. Horses are nowhere in sight.

Submission + - Wikipedia editors revolt, vote "no confidence" in newest board member (

An anonymous reader writes: Nearly 200 Wikipedia editors have taken the unprecedented step of calling for a member of the Wikimedia Foundation board of directors to be tossed out. The Wikimedia Foundation, which governs both the massive Wikipedia online encyclopedia and related projects, appointed Arnnon Geshuri to its board earlier this month. His appointment wasn't well received by the Wikipedia community of volunteer editors, however. And last week, an editor called for a 'vote of no confidence on Arnnon Geshuri.' The voting, which has no legally binding effect on the Wikimedia Foundation, is now underway. As of press time, 187 editors had voted in favor of this proposition: 'In the best interests of the Wikimedia Foundation, Arnnon Geshuri must be removed from his appointment as a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation Board.' Just 13 editors have voted against, including Wikimedia board member Guy Kawasaki.

Submission + - Maths Present for Bright 10 Year Old 5

peetm writes: I have an above averagely bright nephew, aged 10, who’s into maths and whose birthday is coming up soon. I’d like to get him a suitable present – most likely one that’s mathematically centred. At Christmas we sat together while I helped him build a few very simple Python programs that ‘animated’ some simple but interesting maths, e.g., we built a factorial function, investigated the Collatz conjecture (3n + 1 problem) and talked about, but didn’t implement Eratosthenes’ Sieve – one step too far for him at the moment perhaps. I’ve looked about for books that might blend computing + maths, but haven’t really found anything appropriate for a 10 year old. I should be indebted to anyone who might suggest either a suitable maths book, or one that brings in some facet of computing. Or, if not a book, then some other present that might pique his interest.

Submission + - Stephen Hawking to give Reith lecture

peetm writes: This year’s BBC Reith Lecturer* is the UK's most famous scientist. His mind has probed the great mysteries of the universe. He’s Professor Stephen Hawking of course, and if you’ve got a question for him, now’s your chance.

He’ll be lecturing about black holes, and then taking questions from BBC Radio 4 listeners on any subject under the sun. Or well beyond it!

* The Reith Lectures is a series of annual radio lectures given by leading figures of the day, commissioned by the BBC and broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service.

Comment Getting on, but still hopeful (Score 1) 160

As the title says, I'm getting on now - and even thinking of properly retiring.

Ever since I was aware of such things, I was always very much more than hopeful - convinced really - that we would receive some signal (in a 'Contact' fashion) before I was placed into my box (cremate/inter :- hey surprise me!) An example of self-centred hubris in the ‘belief of ourselves’, including me of course!

Still, I live in hope.

Goodness knows what it would do to all those religious fundamentalists though!

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