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Comment Re:Umm (Score 1) 203

A lot of villages got wiped out in WW1 - and I don't think the world would have known about every single one that got smashed.
As for the world being a better place - well I am definitely glad I was born into this century where the loss of 1000 soldiers is almost instantly in the news, considered a major catastrophe and would cause much soul searching by the population back home about whether the cost was worth it - compared to the hundreds of thousands that were pushed into the meat grinders of WW1, with the press keeping silent about the true scale of casualties.

Comment Re:Anything for work (Score 1) 239

I'll add extra intermediate variables, break up lines to make them as short as possible, and use extra verbose variable names along with explanatory comments of the logic of each object/function.

All great practice. These days I make sure I put enough doxygen style comments in the headers so that others (and myself in a few years time) can just browse through the doxygen generated documentation and be able to understand the purpose and function of the code.
For very maths oriented functions (say calculating the minimum time needed to decelerate something within velocity and acceleration limits) I might also include a few lines of comments that show the derivation of the formulas from the more commonly seen physics equations.

For something that is doing a lot of geometric manipulations using a lot of linear algebra operations, likewise there's usually a line or two of comments saying what it's trying to achieve - it gives me or others a chance to later look at what the code is supposed to be doing and evaluate if there's a better way to achieve the same goal.

Correct comments are just as important as code - and frankly, I type pretty fast so they really take next to no time to put in. I never did understand the obsession some people have in trying to cram as much logic into as few statements as possible - makes for less code to type, but the time it takes to type it is not the main reason programs take time to develop and debug.

Comment Re: What I want to know is (Score 1) 64

I still use LinkedIn in - but probably like every other product Microsoft has bought, it's going to either become more annoying or less functional.
I used to use hotmail - then Microsoft bought it. I ended up migrating to yahoo.
I have use skype on Linux for many years, but the product took a turn for the worse after Microsoft bought it - very very infrequent updates (for Linux) and now instead of being able to receive PDF's directly, I am being forced to go to the online version to download and view them.
I hope they don't screw linked in up too - makes me wonder about its viability as a professional networking tool.
I particularly feel sorry for any Microsoft employees that use it - now their employer will know every detail about if they are looking at other companies, recruiting agents, etc - even if they are only using it from home on their own computers.

Comment Re:Hater's Gonna Hate... (Score 1) 162

At least he is spending his money, which means it gets cycled through the economy employing other people. It would be much worse if he just hoarded it in some hidden offshore account like so many apparently do to avoid paying tax.

When you have big piles of money sitting in offshore accounts, not only has the tax been dodged (oh sorry I mean legally minimised), it is also a drain on the economy because the money has been effectively taken out of circulation instead of being either reinvested in a business which employs people or spend on goods and services which also employs people.

Comment Re: Panic in the (facebook) city (Score 2) 189

Facebook is great if you're a marketer. They are a data/ad company, not a social network.

No its not - I have a web based business that has thousands of likes for our products on the facebook page but even during the period when we were getting the most likes, they never translated into actual sales or noticeably extra visits to our website.

In my case, I saw a very low conversion rate between between likes and resulting extra traffic - let alone actual sales.

Comment Re:Star Trek (Score 1) 515

My first exposure to hexadicimal was hacking my Ultima ][ save file on an Apple //e to max my character's stats.
I learned soon after that it's fun for about 30 minutes and after than you have basically ruined the game, so never did it again. That game also made me interested in programming, which is what made me end up learning applesoft basic and 6502 assembler, though at the age of 13 I never did get good enough at it to make much of a game. My physics knowledge was lacking and some of the things I learned while programming in basic also caused me an embarrassing moment in maths class when we started learning algebra - I thought you could assume all variables in a maths equation are defined as 0 unless stated otherwise, 'cause that's how it worked in basic...

Comment Re:If we had flying cars... (Score 1) 951

The problem with the argument is that although life might seem like a wonderful adventure from Mr Musks point of view, a game or simulation that would be interesting to play, and experience, there are plenty of others who experience a much less fun 'game' experience - and wouldn't sign up for it in the first place.

If this is a simulation, and we assume that the rate of growth in computing power within the simulation is a reasonable model of growth in computing power outside the simulation that has allowed such a simulation to exist (as Mr Musk has done) , then we must also apply that same rate of progress to other things in the simulation - such as the rise in animal rights, consumer protection laws, and increasingly, the protection of non-human animals through organizations such as PETA.
Litigation has also similarly grown over the last 100 years or so.

If we are all really unknowing or unwilling users of a simulation, then the consumer protection laws should have also grown in a similar way to how technology has - and would be strong enough to severely punish any organization that subjected its users to the crappy life experience that many have in this simulation.
On the other hand, if we are all virtual constructs with no corresponding outside user controlling us, then the external equivalent of PETA for AI would surely also have grown in power too, and outlaw all the horrible things that happen to people in this virtual world.

Ergo, if we are all in a simulation, then the organization responsible must be about to go bust because it's got to have a galactic size lawsuit brewing over all the injustices that occur within it, and would thus wipe out any such simulation like this - therefore we must be living in the real world.

QED.

Comment Re:Meh... (Score 1) 130

It's bad that companies like Microsoft are able to avoid paying tax by keeping all their earnings off shore.
What's even worse though, is that the money is just sitting in hidden bank accounts instead of being reinvested in the economy - all that money is basically just sitting in a black hole, not employing anyone, not being used to develop new technologies, and basically just a massive drain on the economy.
Even if they just spent it all on blow and hookers, the money would at least have a chance of being recirculated and reinvested eventually, employing a lot of people - some of who might also actually pay tax.
No one should be able to sit on a massive pile of money like that, without reinvesting it in something that produces goods and services - neither companies nor individuals - because it has such a slowing effect on the economy.

Comment Re:Paranoia strikes deep (Score 5, Insightful) 512

What if the guy was actually writing Arabic - why should this be any indication of him being a terrorist?
How is that any different from him writing in Chinese, German, Japanese, or even just bad handwriting that is not immediately legible by his neighbouring passenger?

That's the real story here. Merely writing anything should never be considered a terrorist threat unless it is actually making a threat in a language that can be understood by the reader - if you can't understand it then it's clearly not a threat. (Stories about Bob should not count either)

Comment Re:But not at night (Score 1) 314

Those photos illustrate just how bad things have to get before the general population finally gets enough influence to force a change of pollution laws through legislation, over the interests of industry and concerns about the industrial and economic effects of doing so.

It is a perfect demonstration as to how bad things will have to get with global warming before much stricter policies are put in place to drastically reduce CO2 emissions.

Unfortunately, by that time it will be far too late - the heavy smog and pollution caused by unfiltered coal power cleared up in a few years after scrubbers were put in. The effects of CO2 emissions won't subside nearly so quickly.

Comment Re: This is just republicans.... (Score 1) 64

The market is very far from flooded, if the average hospital doctor is still working 74 hours a week.

74 hours a week is still way too many - the usual working week is 40 hours or so - 8 hours per day, leaving 8 for what is considered a healthy level of sleep, and 4 hours before and after to get ready, eat and go to work, get home eat a proper meal and get sufficient rest.

you wouldn't want to fly in a plane that was piloted by an overworked and tired pilot - that was doing double the normal hours, so why is it ok to have the average hospital doctor make life and death decisions with double a normal workload?

Comment Re:I noticed this (Score 2) 25

I am not a neuroscientist, but given what we know about artificial neural networks, it seems to me that forgetting has to be a necessary part of the learning process - allowing neural pathways to be reconfigured to whatever you are learning.
We know with artificial neural networks, that training towards one goal necessarily comes at the expense of other goals - and for a given network, the more different patterns it has to be able to recognize, the harder the training is and the more error prone the recognition is. Now of course the human brain is way more sophisticated than even the most complex neural networks we have devised to date, but I think the principal is the same. We start out in life with billions more synaptic connections than we have as an adult, with the number rapidly diminishing as we learn how to walk, communicate and function in society - which makes it possible for us to learn just about anything as a child, but also as we get older makes it harder for example, to pick up languages or even change our accent.

Although it is possible to learn an instrument, be good at martial arts, be able to paint a picture lworthy of hanging in a gallery, write a sonnet and remember all the details of what you had for breakfast 10 years ago, the more you try and improve one area, the more the other areas will be slightly degraded, as the synapses are rearranged to do whatever it is you are learning.

  With enough practice you might be able to excel at several of these things, but something has to give. I wouldn't be surprised of the myth of the absent minded professor has some roots in this - the more specialised and in depth your learning and knowledge is on a subject, the more unrelated and unused areas will suffer.
Of course, someone with an overall larger neurological capacity might be able to learn more of these things, but specialising in one thing will I think come at the expense of being a generalist.
Thats why we need experts in different fields - because you literally can't learn everything and be as good at all things compared to beign very good in a particular field.

Personally speaking, I know I am awful at memorising things, but do very well at figuring out problems - I am sure if I somehow becamse a lot better at memorising things, my problem solving skills would diminish.

Now some people have started messing around with "smart drugs" that can accelerate learning, I'd lay money on it that it will turn out that they do indeed help you learn whatever it is you are doing faster, but at the cost of greater degradation of past skills and memories. I wouldn't touch those with a barge pole.

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