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Comment Monetizing java (Score 1) 302

The problem is while the java platform is extremely important to you and me, it costs money for Oracle to maintain and they don't see much benefit from it. I don't blame them for trying, in some small way, to monetize it.

I don't quite agree with the parts of your post that I quoted.

- Control of Java was probably one of the main reasons for Oracle to buy Sun
- Java makes Oracle a lot of money through licensing and support contracts. You may not be paying for it, but large corporations are.
- The Ask toolbar thing started with Sun, not with Oracle. It actually started with the Google toolbar, but when Google started to push Android (killing Java ME), the relationship soured, and Sun started to promote a competing toolbar instead.

Comment Corporate bureaucracy is not the problem (Score 1) 310

I've never had an employer tell me what time to be at the office and what time to leave, as long as I make the hours they're paying me for, and my workday at least largely overlaps with that of my colleagues - otherwise, what's even the point of going to the office?

If anything, it's useful that not everyone starts at the same time. This way there are team members available at the office for about 12 hours a day, without anyone having to work insane hours. Some start around 7 am, others around 10.

The single thing that makes my hours so inflexible these days is school for the kids. They have to be dropped off and picked up at a specific time, so starting early is no longer an option. 9 to 6 it is. Before the kids started school, I was more of a 7.30 to 4.30 guy.

Comment Re:Please no more required subjects (Score 2, Insightful) 313

Anyone who can learn how to read and write, and is capable of following a recipe for baking a cake, is capable of learning how to understand and write a simple program.

Have you ever tried it? Have you ever tried to teach people programming? I do it for ten years and according to my observastions there are some people (about 75% of population) who will never be able to program.

I'm convinced you'll observe the same if you try to teach a class Chinese, yet in China, everyone manages to learn it just fine. Start early and practice every day works for almost any skill.

Comment Please no more required subjects (Score 1) 313

I'm not convinced you can learn a language in school. I had to study 4 languages in high school (one of the many down sides to growing up a native speaker of a dying minority language). For years, never mind semesters. I always had decent grades for them too. Two of them are now missing. If you don't get to use a language every day, it just goes away, no matter how hard you studied it in school. I would have been better off taking crash course a month before, if I ever end up needing one of those languages. Or another.

I don't agree that one needs some special innate ability to learn to write code that most people just don't have. Anyone who can learn how to read and write, and is capable of following a recipe for baking a cake, is capable of learning how to understand and write a simple program. Writing instructions in English is not a fundamentally different thing from writing instructions in your favorite programming language. If you do it every day, in an environment where you get feedback from peers, and care enough to learn best practices, most people would probably be able to learn to do it well enough to get paid for doing it. Mind you, I'm not saying everyone has what it takes to be a great computer scientist. This is about programming.

Question is: should you make them? There are already so many required subjects, and this is yet another one that most people wouldn't have any use for throughout their entire lives. Almost everything learned would just fade away within a few years after graduation, leaving nothing but a bad memory of spending endless frustrating hours learning something you couldn't care less about and would never need in your life.

I think a good school should probably offer computer classes for those who are interested. I just don't see the benefit to forcing it down people's throats

Comment Re:wtf? Do you even understand the subject? (Score 2) 74

And you don't have all the answers either

The 'rock' in question is a microscopic zircon crystal, not an actual chunk of rock. Think of it as a very hard grain of sand, that has been weathered off the rock in which it formed, deposited somewhere as sediment, which turned into sedimentary rock, and so on, perhaps a great many times, before it settled in the rock in which it was found.

The Himalayas started uplifting some 50 million years ago, but that doesn't mean the material in it can be no more than 50 million years old. The rocks weren't melted in the process. Who knows, perhaps there is a grain of zircon embedded in a chunk of sandstone in the Himalayas that's even older. Perhaps a geologist can explain why this is or isn't possible, but it would definitely be like searching for a needle in a haystack.

The reason for searching in places like Australia, is because exceedingly ancient rock formations are exposed there, significantly reducing the size of the haystack.

Comment Re:Lots of Iron around there (Score 2) 74

The iron formations are about 2 billion years younger.

The banded iron formations were formed by the earliest photosynthetic life, between 2.5 and 1 billion years ago. Oxygen produced by these single celled organisms formed iron oxide with dissolved iron ions in the oceans and precipitate on the ocean floor. This started when significant amounts of oxygen started dissolving in the water, and ended when most of the iron was used up. When that happened, the oxygen levels of the water suddenly increased, killing nearly all anaerobic life on earth, and opening the door for our aerobic ancestors.

Comment Re:Where is everybody? (Score 1) 155

Even if an alien race knew where earth was exactly, and had a 1000 foot dish antenna with a 10Terawatt transmitter pointed right at us. If they were not within a 20 lightyear radius of the earth, their signal would not reach us at a strength that we could detect today.

Never mind just 'today'. I vaguely recall someone publishing a proof that beyond a certain disappointingly small radius, any RF signal originating from earth is mathematically impossible to distinguish from background noise.

Comment Re:dumbest thing out of NASA in a while (Score 1) 112

"we're seeing a side that hasn't seen the Martian atmosphere in billions of years"

You know that Martian soil - completely gas-tight. And you know Martian rocks - for billions of years, they stay completely motionless.

Gives new meaning to the phrase "rocket scientists"

I don't know about gas tight, but without flowing water or ice, and without plate tectonics, the Martian surface doesn't move around much.

Comment Re:People don't upgrade (Score 1) 432

You should be working in Java. Or COBOL.

Most languages mutate enough that yes, keeping ahead of the bit rot is indeed as much the developer's job as coding it in the first place. The only exceptions are systems designed with the mainframe mindset that you code it and forget it for 3-4 decades. COBOL, because no one could really stand to muck with it, and Java because Sun put in deprecation mechanisms so that even really nasty old stuff will still be maintainable in an emergency.

Code and forget for 3-4 decades? No, 30 year old mainframes are no longer of any use to anyone, and code than hasn't been touched in 30 years probably won't work anymore. The idea that there are still dinosaur mainframes and cobol code from the 70s chugging along somewhere is a complete myth. IBM still regularly releases new models of mainframes, and old ones are deprecated. You regularly get new releases of OS/360 or whatever it is called this decade, and if you're too many releases behind, you lose support. Cobol applications are still being maintained, developed, and upgraded regularly, and new projects are still made in cobol. You may not like it, and it may make you a little sick, perhaps like the idea that your parents are still having sex, but that's the way it is.

I can also tell you from experience that any non trivial Java code not touched since the 90's probably won't work today.

Comment Re:Missed the point completely... (Score 1) 804

You didn't read the article. No one did. According to the article, a custom built windows PC with equivalent parts costs about 10% more than the mac pro.

He probably didn't get the best deals, but the days of a 100% surcharge just for the apple logo are long past. Equivalent Android and iOS devices seem to cost about the same, and ultra books seem to cost more than the equivalent MacBooks.

Comment Re:Short answer: no (Score 1) 400

Depends on the job.

If you're going in for a web development shop, C, C++, LISP, and ASM are just potential signs that we're wasting the applicants time, or they're wasting ours.

I mean, granted if you're looking for someone who can help handle billions upon billions of transactions per second, having someone who knows their way around with a real language is handy.

I'd be very interested to hear about a billions upon billions of transactions per second system based on any technology :)

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