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Comment Re:I know I'm being selfish, but... (Score 1) 218

If it's any comfort, once you get past the breathless headline it turns out it only works for problems that can be solved in 5 lines of code or so. The sort we give middle schoolers to solve in summer computer camp.

I am also reminded of CASE tools. That was the big hype in the '90s that was supposed to allow non-technical managers to produce custom software based on a simple specification. It turns out, you have to be a programmer to be able to write a specification good enough to turn into software, but it's harder to write adequately for CASE tools than it is to just write the software.

Of course, everything old is new again, so in the 2000's we got UML (not the virtualization UML) that was also supposed to generate code from an exact specification driven by XML. You remember XML, the magic glue that was supposed to magically make software inter-operate?. Well, that turned out to also be much harder than just writing the damned code. WooHoo, you can generate hello world in less than 3 days!

But more to your point, yes. When people here and elsewhere say just go to school and get a new career, they're glossing over a great deal of mental anguish that will be suffered by millions, either because they're too immature to understand what it's like when you can't just run home to mom and dad or they believe it won't happen to them and they don't have enough empathy to feel for others.

While I don't think programmers will really be hit by this for decades to come, some people are truly facing it right now. They did everything you're supposed to do, but the promised life isn't forthcoming. Unfortunately, it looks like fixing the problem won't get much traction until someone experiments with replacing judges and lawmakers with Watson.

Comment The solution is simple. (Score 1) 93

If at first you don't succeed, try try again. Then if you succeed, try try again. Carry on until you have constructed a body of results you can evaluate as a whole.

There is a reproducibility problem for who have a model of the universe that works like this: If A is true, then investigation will uncover evidence supporting A, and no evidence supporting not-A. If this is your world view, then the instant you have any contradictory data you have a worldview crisis.

It is perfectly normal for science to yield contradictory results. That's why when you see a study reported saying taking Garcina Cambogia yields astonishing weight loss results you don't immediately run out to the health food store to buy miracle pills. It's absolutely routine for results like this not to stand up. The problem is that journalists are too ignorant of how science works to understand this.

Comment Re:I want to see the results first (Score 1) 218

I worked once on a very large project that tried to do something similar for the Dutch tax service: put the (ever changing) tax regulations in some form of specification language, and compile that to C# code. I was a contractor for some time on that project. After a 160 milion EUR budget overflow and some questions about it in the parliament the project was significantly reduced in its ambitions.

Oddly enough this is one of those cases that should have worked. I mean if I have a tax filling all the rules and requirements should be specified and I should be able to follow the tax calculation step by step, there shouldn't be any unspoken or ambigious requirements about what applies and in what order to evaluate it. There is only supposed to be one correct answer. What it probably means is that the tax code is so complex nobody actually understands it and that whatever the actual code does is the de facto tax system, regardless of whether it matches the specifications.

Comment Re:"Toxic" comments huh? (Score 1) 121

Well, let's all bow down the moral arbiters of justice then. I'm sure that they'll be right on top of removing speech they disagree with.

Never attribute to opinion that which can be adequately explained by greed.

They may agree fully with what you said, but a comment that a company's customer support sucks is still going to be removed.
Preferably automatically, so they won't have to pay an outsourced minimum wage slave to do the job.

Comment Re:Maybe (Score 1) 152

The problem, as I see it, is that journalists have stopped translating, and echo the jargon even when it doesn't translate well.

Even worse than the astronomical definition for planet being out of touch with the rest of the world is the astronomical definitions of gas (only hydrogen and helium), metal (all other elements), and ice (any molecules comprising both "gas" and "metal" atoms). To an astronomer, nitrogen is a metal, and methane gas is an ice.

Comment Re:How many times will this story get repeated? (Score 1) 133

Yeah. While I don't expect editors here to go back and read the last five years (while that would have been nice to get a better understanding of Slashdot), I would expect them to be able to do a search. Especially for terms that won't give a boatload of false positive hits, like "ketchup".

It's not a hard job. But apparently too hard.

Science

Scientists Discover a Way To Get Every Last Drop of Ketchup Out of the Bottle (bbc.com) 133

Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes a report from BBC: Scientists in Boston have found a way to get every last drop of ketchup out of the bottle. They have developed a coating that makes bottle interiors super slippery. The coating can also be used to make it easier to squeeze out the contents of other containers, such as those holding toothpaste, cosmetics and even glue. The researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) believe that their innovation could dramatically reduce waste. In its manufacture, the container must first be coated on the inside with a rough surface. A very thin layer is then placed over this. And, finally, a liquid is added that fills in any troughs to form a very slippery surface -- like an oily floor. The ketchup hovers on top and just glides out of the bottle. According to Prof Kripa Varanasi, who developed the slippery surface, the technology is completely safe. "The cool thing about it is that because the coating is a composite of solid and liquid, it can be tailored to the product. So for food, we make the coating out of food-based materials and so you can actually eat it."

schwit1 adds: "Pretty slick."

Comment Re:Names for 7 planets orbiting a red dwarf star (Score 3, Interesting) 252

How about: Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy and Grumpy?

That's appropriate because by definition, they are dwarf planets, even if bigger than Earth. There are only 8 "real" planets according to the rules makers. Nothing orbiting a different star can qualify, according to the hastily made rules designed to exclude Pluto. But you can call pretty much anything that doesn't qualify a dwarf planet.

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