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Jacek Kopecký
Senior Lecturer at University of Portsmouth
Senior Lecturer at University of Portsmouth


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OK, this wasn't hard. +Joe Attard-Owen, now you know at least two. 8-)
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Great article that addresses the Maker movement and what it could be instead. Choice quote: "The hackers won their fight against I.B.M.—only to lose it to Facebook and Google."
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oh wow, loved it and it's not like I'm a quantum physicist; watch it now!
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"When you implement measures to mitigate the effects of the random risks of the world, you're safer as a result. When you implement measures to reduce the risks from your fellow human beings, the human beings adapt and you get less risk reduction than you'd expect -- and you also get more side effects, because we all adapt."

Worth reading in its entirety.
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Writing Android apps on Android - and I thought this was missing. Dear laptop on which I'm typing this - your days are numbered.
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This is terrifying - now the UK too will confiscate electronic equipment without anything like appropriate probable cause, using the cover of anti-terrorism. Is there any hope left for limiting government overreach?
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I've met Sanjiva while working on Web standards - great guy. His newest project is helping to attract people to his beautiful corner of the world, check it out.
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Jeff Dean, the Chuck Norris of computing. Brilliant!
"Jeff Dean puts his pants on one leg at a time, but if he had more than two legs, you'd see that his approach is actually O(log n)."

A little bit of Google culture for you...

I created "Jeff Dean Facts" as a Google-internal April Fool's joke in 2007. Apparently, nearly five years later, it has leaked to the public!

It's basically just a web site (available only on the Google internal network) like those "Chuck Norris Facts" sites you used to see around the net, where people can submit "facts" about the person, rate other "facts", and see a list of the top-rated "facts". Except they're about Google engineer +Jeff Dean, not Chuck Norris.

I actually built the site on an early version of App Engine, which had not yet been announced to the public. Even back then, while they were still busily developing the thing, it was really easy! I even helped them find a couple bugs... :)

On April 1st, I sent out a company-wide announcement of the site as if it were a new Google project. I hid my identity by attributing the mail to a mailing list with private membership. April 1st was a Sunday that year, but the next morning, at 9:32 AM, I received an e-mail from Jeff detailing how he had hacked through my servers and discovered my identity. :)

The site has continued running ever since, and hundreds of Googlers have submitted "facts". At some point, +Ari Wilson took over maintainership and expanded the site to allow you to post "facts" about any employee, though Jeff remained the main focus.

No one ever had to approve any of this. I just did it, because I thought it would be funny, and people loved it. That's kind of how things work at Google. But my little creation is nowhere near the biggest or funniest of our internal prank sites... I'll let the creators of said sites decide if and when to talk about them. ;)

Here are some of my other favorite "facts" about Jeff (at least, of the ones that would make sense to people outside the company):

"Jeff Dean compiles and runs his code before submitting, but only to check for compiler and CPU bugs."

"Jeff Dean once failed a Turing test when he correctly identified the 203rd Fibonacci number in less than a second."

"The speed of light in a vacuum used to be about 35 mph. Then Jeff Dean spent a weekend optimizing physics."

"Jeff Dean was born on December 31, 1969 at 11:48 PM. It took him twelve minutes to implement his first time counter."

"Jeff Dean escews both Emacs and VI. He types his code into zcat, because it's faster that way."

"When Jeff Dean sends an ethernet frame there are no collisions because the competing frames retreat back up into the buffer memory on their source nic."

EDIT: I posted a few more as a reply to this post.
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This is well worth reading.
If you are going to read this, please read the whole thing.  Otherwise, you may miss the point entirely.

This afternoon, I was contacted by an acquaintance from a long time ago, who was seeking my help in starting a program in the public schools in his area to "crack down on violence against LGBT youth".  I respectfully declined, saying that that type of activism isn't my area of interest, and was called a homophobic bigot.  I'm kind of used to it at this point.  I've been called homophobic, sexist, anti-feminist, racist, and more because I find the idea of "group rights" "hate crimes" and "protected classes" to be dangerous.  It occurs to me, though, that I've never thoroughly explained why, so here's my attempt at doing so.

People in our culture have this funny idea about injustice and interpersonal violence -- that the motive is more important than the act -- and it is damaging our society in countless ways.  First off, it bears pointing out that:

* If someone beats you to death, you are equally dead whether they did it because you made fun of their favorite sports team, or because you are black.

* If someone rapes you, you are just as raped if they did it because you were there and looked like an easy target as if they did it to "make you straight".

* If someone shoots you, the bullet doesn't care if they were a spurned lover, or if they disapproved of your religion.

* If you are imprisoned unjustly, the food is just as bad, the walls just as cold, and the company just as mind-numbing if it was because the judge and prosecutor were stupid and careless as if it was because someone didn't like your politics.

Unfortunately, ignoring the concrete problems of violence and injustice in favor of trying to make everybody like everybody else is really, really ineffective at stopping violence and injustice.

It provides a built-in out: "I didn't do it because she is gay/trans/Persian/female/whatever, I did it because she pissed me off" and suddenly the discussion is about whether it is okay to be $whatever, and whether the perpetrator has a problem with $whatever and not about the fact that the perp just stabbed or shot someone.

It divides people.  Systemic problems with violence and injustice effect everyone, because the targets are just a matter of fleeting fashion.  However, when you make the issue being $whatever instead of being free of violence, you've made it an issue only for those who approve of $whatever.  Consider this quote attributed to German pastor Martin Niemöller about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group:

> First they came for the socialists,
> and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
> Then they came for the trade unionists,
> and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
> Then they came for the Jews,
> and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

> Then they came for me,
> and there was no one left to speak for me.

He saw how the Nazis used a campaign of "othering" various groups to break down resistance to the violence and oppression they caused.  Making race, religion, sex, gender, or anything else the issue instead of violence and injustice themselves gives power to the perpetrators, because it separates their opposition.

Our founding fathers got this, by the way.  They realized that the only way to protect their religions was to protect all religious expression, because that way every single person in the country had some skin in the game.  This was far more effective than trying to carve out protections for individual faiths, because members of other religions (or no religion) would have no stake in keeping that type of protection alive.

When I lived in Texas, I was attacked by a man who said he was going to beat me to a miscarriage because I was pagan, and my baby and I "didn't belong" in a Christian neighborhood.  The neighbor who came to my aid was Christian.  I asked him why he did it, given that he would likely face social fallout or even violence for having done so.  He told me that he didn't care what the guy's excuse was, killing babies is not okay.

Uniting people works better than dividing them.  If you want LGBT students to be protected in a community that isn't very comfortable with gender differences or differences in sexual orientation, you'll only thwart yourself by launching a campaign to change people's (often religion-based) disapproval of those things.  The truth is: we don't need everybody to like everybody else.  As a matter of fact, there are a lot of people I don't like being around -- religious evangelists, stupid people, pacifists, and so on -- but I don't get violent about it.  As a matter of fact, if I'm present when unprovoked violence or injustice falls on members of those groups, I'll step in if at all possible because I am against injustice and unprovoked violence.

Non-defensive violence and injustice are not okay.  Saying it's less okay for some reasons or against some people is saying it is more okay for other reasons or against other people, and it moves the goalposts from eliminating violence and injustice to making it okay to be X.  This approach traps us in arguments about demographics and internal thoughts of the perpetrator where actually addressing the crime is lost, divides people, fails to solve the general problem, and makes safety from violence and oppression contingent on being accepted rather than simply on being human.  None of those things are good.

Just say no to group rights, "hate crime" laws, and protected classes.  That's the only effective path to a safer, more just world for everybody.
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