* Posts by Tom 13

7611 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Everyone can and should learn to code? RUBBISH, says Torvalds

Tom 13

Re: Economics 101 - accounting using spreadsheets

You never had an economics class did you?

Tom 13

Re: What they really mean by

That's what you mean. That's how I read it. But I'll grant the point of our counterparts on this thread that this is not necessarily what the pointy-headed politicians mean when they say it. Mostly because no matter how rigorous the training or how much time was spent teaching them to code/program, they are the ones who were mostly likely to fail the course.

Tom 13

Re: Commercial importance

No, but everyone should have been exposed to music composition, screen writing, and acting.

And oddly enough, most of us are exposed to screen writing and acting via English class in the US. Some Victorian age dude who goes by the name of William. They tell me you should have heard of him.

Tom 13

Re: Everybody should learn to develop code

I think there is a difference between "develop code" and "write code".

Developing code is the professional level of it, much the same way a chef is a professional cook, though most chefs will probably object to that characterization.

Tom 13

Re: It should be available to learn, but not compulsory.

Yes and no.

Particularly for English speaking people I think it should be compulsory to the point that you can correctly conjugate the major word groups and translate between the two. Two years should be sufficient. The catch is, those two years should be fairly early in school. My own exposure started in the 9th grade which was a bit late. I'd say 6th would have been better. The rigorous translation exercises taught me more about how and why English works than my English classes did. Yes, I know English more of a Germanic language, but it worked. I suppose you could do the same with German. I'd give the edge to Latin since it leads to 4 other languages.

Beyond those two years it should be optional.

Tom 13

Re: I see two issues being discussed explicitly here.

Another is the exact definition of coding.

I was taught "coding" in high school and took an intro class in college. I might have taken the intermediate class except the class was designated as the weed out class for CS majors. They intentionally gave you more work than an person could actually accomplish to force 4 out of 5 students to drop out. I learned a lot from my geometry/probability and statistics teacher under informal instruction, a bit from the formal high school class, and a tad more in college. I am not now and have never programmed as a paid job. The languages in which I learned were BASIC and PCL. I've heard of all the professional languages and once put together a rudimentary FORTAN program for a physics class because the prof thought we should all do at least one FORTRAN program.

Was I taught coding? Was it useful?

I certainly haven't learned it to the level Torvalds has. Maybe to the level some others here have.I still don't quite grasp Snell's sort, but with a reference could easily include it in a program. Never quite grokked the whole two's complement method of subtraction on the CPU, but I accept that it works. It was certainly useful. Certain limitations of computers became clear. Some lines of algorithmic thinking were clarified.

Tom 13

Re: @AC101

Coding is maths, just mostly in a less abstract fashion. Which for some students will make it easier to teach logic than the pure abstractness of math.

Tom 13

Re: must play a musical instrument

I recall learning to play a recorder was a requirement way back in the second grade.

Tom 13

Re: learn how to weld and spraypaint.

I could have done with a bit of welding exposure in high school. It's one of those things I'd like to know how to do beyond theoreticals that I haven't. And lacking an appropriate instructor have never done.

Tom 13

Re: The man is correct

I spent 3 years of high school learning Latin, 3 learning Spanish, 1 learning Greek. I spent 2 semesters of college learning German.

I do not use Latin, Spanish, Greek, or German in any of my day to day activities. It was not however a waste of time. I learned a fair bit. Some about culture, a bunch about my own language, and some about the etymology of words.

Tom 13

Re: @Stuart Longland

everybody is the same =/= seriously say that some kids cannot pick up logical thought

Tom 13

Re: arehole

You should have finished reading the article. I had a similar initial gut reaction, but Torvalds clarification at the end makes it clear he thinks all kids should be exposed to programming. It may be that as a professional programmer he has a somewhat different definition of "programming" than you or I do, and that, like his coding standards, it is somewhat higher that of a political carbon emitter.

NeoPost: This is how you DON'T do PIN security

Tom 13

I mean, you wouldn’t be doing this just before the post has to go, would you?

Not if you've been employed in the workforce for more than 6 months you wouldn't. These are exactly the sorts of issues you'd EXPECT to encounter. And yes, I do think the people who make these things are frustrated wanna be Zork game designers.

UK govt 'tearing up road laws' for Google's self-driving cars: The truth

Tom 13

Re: ...they're there to make it stop...

Actually, they're there to walk the train whenever a myriad of sensors goes off saying there might be a problem with the train.

In spite of my posting about Metro, I actually ride the MARC, which is a passenger service run on the same rail lines the freights in our area use. At least once a week we pass a freight train stopped on the opposite track for just such an inspection. I'm told usually it is something like a brake overheating. But whatever the cause the sensors can't confirm the problem and require the meatbags to confirm and/or patch the problem until the train can get to a station where a mechanic can work on it properly.

Tom 13

Re: Tiamat hates trains.

That should be "with her." And I think you just did. Given that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, you might want to start making apologies as quickly as possible. It might also be a good idea to alert your friends so they don't also get caught up in the mess you just created.

Tom 13

Re: Driverless car

Justifying train drivers (in the passenger context) is already difficult, especially in the US.

For example, I live in the DC metropolitan area which of course named their German engineered light rail Metro. In June of 2009 there was a collision because of a failure of in the automatic driving system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incidents_on_the_Washington_Metro scroll for image). I say failure of the system in as much as sensors on the tracks weren't relaying information properly (Metro knew about potential issues, IIRC they thought they had just finished installing a fix, but the problem continued). Since that time they've had all the trains on the system running under manual control. This has resulted in jerkier stops as well as significantly increased wear on the breaking mechanisms. I'd rather the trains were back under the automatic controls and Metro had fixed their damn sensor system properly. No, I'm not discounting the 9 dead and 70 injured (I have a friend who was injured in the incident but wasn't part of that 70 person count). Just over 5months after they switched to manual control they had another collision incident. Only for that accident they got lucky. It was an out of service train at the rail lot and moving at slow speeds. I don't think a person at the wheel would have helped in the June incident. He would have been relying on the same signal that failed to be transmitted to automated system.

I've casually followed the fallout from this incident and it is revealing of how disasters like this take place. It isn't an unlucky combination of unfortunate coincidences. Metro knew they had sensor problems for several years. They claim they are underfunded and can't make the needed repairs. Meanwhile their overtime logs show workers consistently logging 60+ hours a week, with some key positions logging over 100 hours a week on a consistent basis. Even if I don't want a French work week, I recognize that consistently logging 60 hours a week means you're getting sub-optimal performance from a worker. Logging more than 70 is insane and except in cases of dire emergency no one should ever work a single 100 hour week (if they do it should be followed by a week of mandatory leave for recuperation). Next up we have the passenger cars. I think they have about 4 varieties of cars (1000, 5000, 7000, 8000). The NTSB issued safety warnings for the 1000 over 5 years before the accident. The problem, exactly the kind of car separation you'll see in the wiki picture. To this day, those cars are still in the trains, but Metro has updated their SOP to use them "only in the middle, not on the ends." What we have is a long list of known problems that ultimately resulted in the deaths of 9 people and injury of 70 more.

Whether the car is driven by a program or a person doesn't matter half as much as not ignoring known problems. In fact, I expect the car being driven by the program will work out to be a lot more like a server in the data center: you might get a person to work in 90F and 90% humidity, but the servers are kept in air conditioned room. Likewise if the safety measures aren't enabled, the program won't drive.

Piketty thinks the 1% should cough up 80%. Discuss

Tom 13

Re: Taxin incomes is both immoral and ineffective.

You're welcome to try to take away 20% of Bear Grylls' income, but he'll still survive and probably thrive. Take away 20% from the rich kid who inherited the money and he'll probably jump out a window.

The problem is you think "essentials" is a fixed term. It isn't. What I consider essential is vastly different than what you do. TVs are not essential. Computers are not essential. The food I typically eat is not essential (For my roommate and myself I typically spend $150/week on groceries although we could survive on less). Even shelter is not necessarily essential depending on where you live. But someone arbitrarily assigns values to these things and claims there is a poverty line.

If you don't know what the phrase means, perhaps you could try a search engine to look it up? Particularly as you seem to think computer access is essential, you ought to know what the term means. In this context, it is essential.

Tom 13

Re: The fairest system

The only 100% defensible system is one where you pay for those services you use. So I wouldn't even say everyone paying X is fair, because some will use more and others will use less. You'd also get a fair bit of argument over whether certain services that function like a societal level insurance policy are "used" by people. I think the closest approximation we'll get of that is a flat income tax, where everything that is effectively income is taxed. Theoretically you'd do better with a consumption tax, but I see the consumption tax ultimately being distorted in the same way the progressive income tax is.

Tom 13

Re: Taxin incomes is both immoral and ineffective.

20% of a bottom-end earner's salary is much more important to him than 20% of a high earner's salary.

So you deny the meaning of "marginal income" and therefore a key tenet of economics. No wonder you reason so badly.

Tom 13

Re: The welfare state and the lack of influence of the ordinary person

Consider a housewife in Texas

Please introduce me to all of these housewives. Can't? Thought not. Next strawman please.

Why is it that the top of the market must accomodate the Laffer curve through increased wages but bottom of the market must accomodate it through reduced benefits?

Well, for one thing the guy getting the bonuses for being the CEO is working. The guy at the bottom sucking up benefits isn't. If you can't wrap your head around this fact you are incapable of doing even rudimentary economic analysis.

preventative care turns out to be cheaper than crisis care.

I've heard that urban myth. Turns out it isn't true, which is probably the only good thing to come out of 0bamacare. It's why they wanted to discourage women from getting mammograms. The bits about the radiation effects on health were all just smoke and mirrors.

Note that doesn't mean I think we'd all be better off using crisis care over preventative. Just that it might actually be more costly, and that being the case you have to figure out how to pay for it.

Tom 13

Re: Taxin incomes is both immoral and ineffective.

Not quite. Progressively taxing incomes is both immoral and ineffective. It deters generation of more working opportunities which are the real destroyers of poverty.

While I like the idea of taxing consumption because of it's economic efficiency, I've given up on it as a good from a societal standpoint. Do that and you allow the politicians to segment society and set those segments against one another. The only way to keep the politicians from doing that is to ensure that everyone is equally at risk for the politicians bad decisions. That means a flat tax on income. What we do need is a new set of laws that enable one to tax people who use otherwise properly excluded money streams to support their lives. Something along the lines of, if you don't have a taxed income, that business reimbursement counts as income. Also the values paid to healthcare and retirement plans needs to count as income.

Tom 13

Re: I'm fine with the wealthy paying a bit more (in the U.S.) than they do now...

Excluding your title and first paragraph the rest of your points are fine.

The problem is your title and first paragraph. What's worse is, even though you won't see it, they are the reasons for the rest of your observations.

Tom 13

Re: Not sure I agree

For example we have not access to pensions until we can recieve them and only if we use them to subsist.

Just last month I used my 401(k) retirement account to take out a loan against the principal to pay off around $20K of high interest credit card debt. The loan will be less than half what I was paying and I'll be paying half of it to myself. That sounds like wealth to me. It certainly is helping my financial condition. By the end of the year I'll have cleared the last of my high interest cards and will be saving for the down payment on my next car.

Furthermore, if I die in a train crash on my way home from work, that retirement account would be divided amongst my heirs exactly as would a bank account.

Not having control over something doesn't exclude it from being wealth. For example, if I were a venture capitalist putting money into a start up, one of the likely clauses in the investment is that I wouldn't be able to sell my shares for 5, 10, or maybe even 15 years. Even then, if I am a significant stockholder, there might be rules that I cannot sell a significant portion of my shares without the approval of the Officers of the corporation and the Board of Directors. That doesn't make it any less wealth than if I had publicly traded shares. But I certainly wouldn't have control over them in the sense you are demanding for pensions.

Excluding these forms of wealth for the so called poor only for the purpose of making them look poorer than they are in unethical. In fact it reveals the truly authoritarian intent of the Progs who engage in it.

Tom 13

Re: who've got their cash out of the weird and unsustainable way

Well, if you believe the Progs, they are little different than the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age.

In terms of absolute numbers, those are probably going up. In terms of per capita, I'm not so sure. Certainly as you trace back through history the kleptocrats and mass murders made similarly large (possibly larger on a relative basis) amounts of money.

None of which invalidates your concluding sentence. Rather I would say it enforces it. I think we made decent progress these last 250 years. It would be a pity to throw away not only them but the 400 which preceded them on the ludicrous theories of a Marxists from France.

Tom 13

Re: Speaking as an American

On this side of the pond, income for the masses has been stagnant since about 1974, while prices have continued to rise.

In 1987 when I first entered the real workforce I earned about $20K. Right now I'm north of $55K. My roomie, who works for the government started a bit above me and in now pulling down north of $80K. I use her as a rough approximation because her job is an actual engineering job, not a service one like mine. That looks pretty good to me. If you can't get your starting data correct your thesis isn't worth evaluating.

Tom 13

Re: AC Another "stop picking on the rich" article

Marx, DeSoto, Keynes, Friedman, Samuelson, Krugman, are not a waste of time, they are quite an interesting read.

DeSoto and Freidman yes. Not the others. Especially not Marx, who isn't even quoted by Marxists and when it comes to bad is second only to the poetry of Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Sussex.

Tom 13

Re: Another "stop picking on the rich" article

Simple arithmetic fact: earning £100K/year for 10 years does not make you a millionnaire.

If you think that, you need to go back to elementary school and learn simple arithmetic facts. If you put away 10K at 10% interest, you will be a millionaire in 26 years. If you earn 15%, it drops to 20 years. Put away 20K/yr at 10% and it takes 19 years. If you earn 15%, only 16.

I've been a piker most of my life. From age 22 to 40 I never put away more than $5K in my retirement account. Hell even now I'm barely putting in that much. Back about 5 years ago I was RIFfed from a job I'd held for 12 years. The value of my rollover was well north of $100K. Also, if you assume costs are rising you must also assume wages are rising. You don't get to vary one value without needing to estimate other values.

This, to paraphrase Ronnie, is the fundamental problem of progressives: so much of what they think they know simply isn't so.

Tom 13

Re: Another "stop picking on the rich" article

5. Karl Marx - Das Kapital, 1867, Gateway Books reprint from 1996.

And right there is where everybody knows you are lying through your teeth and out your butt at the same time. NOBODY reads Das Kapital. They read the Cliff Notes or another economist's abridged version because it's crap, long, crap, boring, and crap.

Tom 13

Re: Another "stop picking on the rich" article

This is not an option available to people at the bottom who do not have the surplus income to get in to the wealth generation business

Bullshit. I am by no means rich. A bit above the median income for the US, but then again I live and work in the DC metropolitan area so my costs are correspondingly larger. From the time I joined the real work force I've been putting surplus income into wealth generation. Not much at first, more as I've moved up the ladder. What has screwed me over were my own stupid mistakes that were the result of my own failure at self-control when necessary. All you have to do is hold expenses less than income and you have money to invest. That's as true at $20,000 as it is at $50,000, and $5,000,000. Just look at all the music megastars who wound up in bankruptcy court because they didn't know how to do it or read a contract.

Tom 13

Re: AC wrong type of regression curve

Another Leftie myth! The top 10% of earners pay more than half of ALL taxes, therefore the top 10% did the majority of the bailing out. The bottom 20-odd% paid bugger all. And this after the typical bottom 20-odd% of voters helped vote in the socialist morons that caused the crash! Do you seriously think many of the top 10% voted Labour?

While that's all true, much of what he said is true as well. It was a bunch of 1%ers who cause the housing market crash and all the rest of us working stiff, including 90% of the top 10% and probably 90% of the top 1% bailed them out.

As for how many of the top 10% voted Labour... More than I'd like, and a hell of a lot more than acknowledge it. Even in Britain campaigns and lobbying cost money. That money is almost certainly coming more from the top 10% than the other 90%.

Tom 13

I was rather sad to see the Conservatives not reversing it

The problem with jiggering a key economic number badly is that once it's been badly jiggered there are a lot of people (many of them important) who are looking to fob off their bad investments before it becomes recognized that the numbers were jiggered badly.

Tom 13

@ Chris Wareham

I don't live in the UK so I have no idea what your prices are like. I do live near DC. DC and London have something in common. They are both the capitals of their nations. As such the filthiest dogs of all congregate there (according to Twain "America's only native criminal class", I'm sure you've a similar quote from a similarly regarded bard). As unlike real capitalists all they need do is raise taxes to increase their salaries, or worse raise fears to increase lobbying income, the economies of the local region are quite disconnected from reality and only the gravest of dangers can return them to considering the real world. Median household income over hear for last year was a bit over $51,000. Median house price in DC was $460,000. Not quite as out of whack as your numbers, but it is the same effect.

Tom 13

Re: Simple Question

Greed and Envy. They'll put on a wonderful stage show full of sound and fury claiming they are doing it for the good of the downtrodden, but don't believe it. The point of your question is exactly the one the flat taxers have been making since Reagan presided on this side of the pond and Maggie on yours.

After thinking about it long and hard, I've concluded that with the possible exception of instance where the amount of money collected was less than the amount of money it cost to process, the person needs to be paying taxes. Not because the government needs their coppers, but because the 5 coppers collected from the poor man will be as precious to him as 1000K collected from the rich man is to the him. That gives them equal cause to watch the pigs at the spending trough like a falcon.

Tom 13

Re: Salary versus Equity

I think that a very solid line should be drawn between those who are paid a salary regardless of whether they perform excellently, adequately or badly

And those who founded a business and own some or all of the equity in that business.

That's the rub though isn't it?

There are a lot of people out there who think Sam Walton didn't do that even though he started out with just one store. Conversely there are a lot of people who think Warren Buffet and George Soros deserve every penny they make despite decent evidence that Sam Walton put a hell of a lot more sweat equity into his business than they did into theirs.

Progressive taxation is envy/greed dressed up in hypocritical sanctimony. Tax everybody at the same flat rate so everybody has equal marginal risk in the game when bad decisions are made. Part of the reason the freeloaders get away with the continuing expansion of the welfare state is they have no marginal costs in expanding it, only marginal benefits.

Tom 13

Re: those at the bottom aren't too badly off or too angry about it.

If you and your friend are running from one tiger, you may only have to run faster than your friend to survive. When you and your friends are running from more tigers than you've counted, it is likely you will eventually run out of friends to feed to the tiger. The modern welfare state attempts to feed rich friends to the tigers in an effort to make the rest of us feel safe. It is doomed to failure.

Ukrainian teen created in lab passes Turing Test – famous nutty prof

Tom 13

Re: Why is Turing trolling so intelligently?

Maybe he thought the world is full of Alan Turings.

Well, at least that would be better than billions of Carl Sagans.

Tom 13

Re: It's actually quite simple...

Yes, many humans (if they're not really listening) will actually spend hours using this algorithm.

Uh-huh. And?

Tom 13

Re: Language skills?

I don't think it should be held against the Turing Test that there are people who can't pass it. I leave the question of what should be done with those who fail to others as a homework assignment.

Tom 13

Re: Language skills?

I think you can easily improve this one to more effectively imitate the baby.

10 Nu=Rnd(0)

20 If Nu >= .5 then 10

30 print "Waah! Waah! Waaaa!"

40 Goto 10

Whoops! Google's D-Day Doodle honors ... Japan

Tom 13

Re: nationalist revisionism is a crime.

Yet all nations engage in such activity. In fact, of all the current nation states, the only ones who haven't white washed a dark period of their history are the Germans, and even that is only because it was imposed on them from outside.

While I concur with most of what SuccessCase wrote, it is also important to remember that Japan is to date the only country on which atomic weapons have been used. It has also had a lasting impact on their psyche. I don't regret that the US dropped those bombs. I think that not only did it save millions of allied lives, on net it probably saved as many Japanese lives as well. That doesn't mean it is without consequences.

Redmond is patching Windows 8 but NOT Windows 7, say security bods

Tom 13

Re: Disingenuous (sp?) "security bod"

I grant the security bod is working the PR angle since they haven't identified any new exploits with their fancy tool.

On the other hand, this is an obvious path to use to look for holes. As such it can't simply be cut by the accountants to save money. Given all the useful stuff they won't tell you in their security bulletins without an NDA this is really shoddy behavior from MS.

Tom 13

Re: Maybe there is a valid reason

I tend to agree with the AC to whom I replied that it is more likely a case of dropping the ball than malicious intent. The issue of course is they keep telling us they've made security the number one priority, and this undercuts that marketing.

Tom 13

Re: truth will undoubtedly be way more mundane

The truth is, if Security is Job 1 this comparison software is an obvious hacking tool. Therefore you have a protocol in place to make sure that exactly that sort of thing can't happen. Because everybody knows all those mundane things will torpedo anything less than that protocol being in place and backed by the CEO.

Tom 13

Re: "The core of Windows XP was developed before the Internet."

The development of NT was begun before Windows 95

While hyper-technically correct, your shifting grounds shows the faultiness of your original statement.

Generally when one speaks of the "core of XP" that means Windows 2000, which yes, was built on the NT kernel begun way way back with Windows NT 3.5. But the shifts from 3.5 to 4, to 2000 are so significant that when you speak of the kernel you actually call it out. By NT4.0 MS had already realized the internet was not going to be the fading fad Bill Gates confidently predicted it would be. That's pretty much what the whole IE monopoly case was all about, and that centers around Windows 95B-D/98. Gates shit a brick when he realized what a colossal mistake he'd made and reached for his monopoly power to fix it. With the help of a daft judged and an incompetent prosecution he managed to slip through.

First iOS, now Android to get fondleslab Office ahead of Windows

Tom 13

Re: Microsoft Office is in Big Doo Doo

First off, it has never been called Google Office. It has gone by the name Google Documents, and they now call it Google Drive.

Next up, while I will grant that Open Office and/or Libre Office are decent replacements for most of MS Office, The Google product is nowhere near ready for prime time. It works in a pinch. Yes, I use it to tabulate the division of our grocery bill, but only because I want to be able to easily access the documents from any computer. Even for a simple grocery bill there were a number of things Excel does better.

Patch NOW: Six new bugs found in OpenSSL – including spying hole

Tom 13

Re: @ Andy E Quick to fix in Open Source, but it leaves questions.

Namely that the product is fit for purpose. Failing that, the act of purchasing gives you a target for any legal action.

Good luck with that, especially if you're on the wrong side of the pond.

US escalates Stingray mobe-snooping secrecy battle as judge unseals evidence

Tom 13

Re: if the user monitored transmit power relative to signal strenght

And why, absent the fact that the ACLU managed to shop a judge willing to do their bidding so we now know that particular detail, would someone being monitoring transmit power relative to signal strength?

Fed-up bloke takes email spammers to court – and wins piles of cash

Tom 13

Re: voluntarily ???

Not anything goes. Rotten tomatoes, rotten eggs, spoiled tomato juice, that sort of thing. Except instead of 1 week, I'd make it 1 week per unsolicited email sent.

Not sure yet whether "email sent" would be for the case, or in total from their marketing campaign.

Tom 13

Re: Easy Target

The law is clearly written and easy to follow (amazingly so, am I still on planet Earth?). The advice in the supplied brochure even more so (DO NOT pre-check the opt in box). This is easy compliance. John Lewis didn't do so.

Were they an easy target? Yes, but only because they chose to be one.

Women found just TWO out of every HUNDRED US tech startups

Tom 13

Re: Oh, pick something neutral like bakeries or publishers,

I don't have a problem with the counter-example. Picking an industry that if we were to assume stereotypes are 100% accurate ought to have a similar ratio but in the reverse direction can make the point quite well. To some extent it does. Regardless of what industry you pick, for the most part men have an easy time making it in the same field, as one of your proposed counter examples (bakeries) indicates.

The problem I have is essentially the one the first poster was pointing out. These studies are a lot like the ones that correlate say educational success with the latitude of your house and then say that if you live in the US there are educational advantages to living closer to the north pole. There's no proposed causal mechanism that can be examined to see if there is something that can be modified. I'll also point out something they haven't. Being a male on the support side of the house when I went to conventions for Service Desk Managers I noticed most of the attendees are female. During a discussion with one of them they said "Yeah, according to surveys about 80% (IIRC) of Service Desk Managers are women."

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