A famous tennis player from Spain, Rafael Nadal remains on course to retain his title in a very famous championship organized in Italy, after sweeping aside another famous tennis player by a decisive victory to reach closer to victory.

The 23-year-old (Rafel Nadal) played better the Other Player in a match that lasted only one hour and 10 minutes.

Nadal performed well in the first, second and sixth part of the game.

The Other Player was mediocre in the fifth part of the game and thus Nadal won the match when it ended.


tennis_racket.gif

"It probably wasn't my best match but I did well, I played safe," said Nadal.


















Nadal, a very good tennis player, faces Yet Another Player from an East-European country, if he is to win in Italy.

"I was focussed the whole time and I tried to be more aggressive.

"He made more mistakes than usual which helped me a little bit but my serve was working very well." - Natal said.

Note: serve is a very special expression used among tennis specialists to mean a special kind of move.

There were also a bunch of other players, some winning, some losing encounters, some decisively some not.

Does this sound familiar?

No? It should. This is exactly how it feels when the BBC reports on science. It is dumbed down so much that the essence of the news is lost. It is made entirely devoid of any phrases that might be required to understand the topic. It is presented as proclamations from high above, in the style of absolute authority.

The original piece of this sports related news can be found here. The sports journalist doesn't treat the audience as a bunch of 5 year olds. Neither is that common among financial or other kinds of journalists, except for some reason, science journalists.

Take this news article about the debate on hospital mortality rates, that made me angry enough to write this post and to rewrite it after I lost it to a stupid editing system. That article is a showcase of what's wrong with science reporting at a mainstream news organization. It contains all the typical mistakes: expert proclamation from authority but without evidence, a misguided desire to avoid technical terms, reporting on a finding without including the finding, not including any links to the original material and so on...

The article tells us about the two expert sides debating whether hospital mortality rates should be given less or more emphasis in determining the quality of care at individual hospitals. So it turns out a peer-reviewed scientific article in the British Medical Journal argued that mortality rates are a poor measure. The news report reporting on the article doesn't even say WHY.

It is a counterintuitive finding for non-medical personnel. What could be better at measuring a hospital's effectiveness than to measure how many people it saves? It turns out the reason is chiefly due the fact that there is a low signal to noise ratio for preventable deaths in the morbidity rate (around 95% of the total deaths are unpreventable no matter the quality of care). How do I know this? I know this because the report can be located under a minute. It is freely available in full at the BMJ's website. The explanation is of course not so simple as I've here stated, however that is the crux of it. I found the report itself very readable and enlightening. Most adults with basic reading comprehension should have no problem understanding it at all.

Maybe, in 2010, a website writing about a scientific paper could actually link it? I mean, it's not like that the BBC has a "RELATED INTERNET LINKS" section? Oh wait.

Stop treating your readers as children. They're perfectly capable of dealing with specialist words and complex reasoning. You wouldn't leave such things out from a sports or financial article, so why the compulsion to try to dumb science down to meaninglessness?

Trying to dumb the article down in this particular case resulted in an article that is on many levels harder to understand and more incomprehensible than the original peer reviewed article in the British Medical Journal. Stop the whacky science reporting.
The essentials:

Time: 2009.10.29 6pm

Venue:
Kaledonia Scottish Pub,
1066 Budapest
Mozsár utca 9.

Map: http://bit.ly/talalkozo
If you are in Budapest, if you're interested in Perl and even prefer to have a few nice beers, just show up, it's that easy :)

Did I mention the excellent beer?
In any large deployment sooner or later someone is bound to ask, "why change something that works?".

Sometimes things are a lot simpler than they are assumed to be. In the immortal words of the Joker when asked his proposed solution to a seemingly complex problem, he said: "It's simple. Kill the Batman".

The answer to "why change something that works" is "because you fucking have to!"

At least if you're talking about large scale deployment of software.

The fundamental issue here is that software changes, evolves and doesn't stay static.

The statement "works" is very much relative. You claim it works today within acceptable tolerance, that's all well and dandy. How about tomorrow? Surely the definition of "works" depends on the details and what someone requires of a system changes over time as needs change.


"But my requirements are quite specific and I don't intend to change them!" I hear you saying. The fun part comes from the fact that you're not fully in control of the definition of a working system.

YAPC::EU 2009!

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I'm just done with packing for YAPC::EU, tomorrow I'll take a cozy mid-afternoon flight to Lisbon and then the fun starts ;-)

Hopefully I won't get too carried away and I'll have the opportunity to take some pictures for blog's sake...

Can't wait!
Gábor javaslatára ezentúl aki magyar nyelven szeretne Perles és nem Perles témában beszélgetni vagy segítséget kérni, azok számára:

#magyar.pm

A Padre beépített linkgyűjteménye is ide mutat. :-)

Perl, Én Így Szeretlek

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Nincs rendszergazdai állásom, nem vagyok netbetyár, és nem rosszul összetákolt shell és cgi szkripteket írok. A világ egyik legszebb és legkifejezőbb nyelvét beszélem, s rajtam kívül még több millióan értik, hogy mire gondolok, amikor azt mondom:

$_="krJhruaesrltre c a cnP,ohet";$_.=$1,print$2while s/(..)(.)//;
A pólómon elfér jópár teljes program, ha konferenciára megyek és szinte már örülök, hogy ha a Javasok összekeverik a sigilt a twigillel. Megvetéssel gondolok a PHPre, a Ruby on Rails sztárolására,  és az összes CPAN nélküli programozóra. Nem szeretem a 20+ soros Hello Wordöket, a szigorú típusosságot, a C-t és a .NETet se. A választott nyelvem hajtja a web felét, mégis azt mondják, elavult nyelvet használok. Szövegmanipulációban mi vagyunk a császárok, és igenis nálunk vannak a világ legjobban tesztelt moduljai. Perl, én így szeretlek.

A while ago I've started using Liferea (a feed reader) after I've realised that I'm spending way too much time just checking websites for new content. It was time to call it web bankruptcy and switch over to feeds.

Things were good for a while, time passed and more and more feeds were added.

Eventually the Ironman challenge launched and I've subscribed to its Atom feed. All seemed fine until some posts appeared as a html tag soup, tags displayed as text instead of actually used.

This is Perl, I should be okay with that, let's fix that bug then - I thought and that's when the fun started.

If the english language Perl community needs some publicity, buzz and marketing that's twice as true for hungarian Perl users. So, as suggested by szabgab++, I'll be blogging partly in hungarian to improve upon this unfortunate situation.


Charting Overchoice

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Charts are awesome. Humans are excellent at pattern recognition and that makes charts a very good way to convey information.
hurrrdurrr.png

There is this old chestnut of wisdom, that Perl programmers shouldn't care about the memory and CPU efficiency of their programs, or to put it differently "if you care about memory and CPU efficiency, use C and write your own garbage collector".

I often wondered about the wisdom of that advice, so one day I've done the opposite and started using Perl for memory, speed and CPU cycle intensive tasks. I don't want to write more C than I can help, I want to use Perl, since I like programming in Perl. So why should I care about speed and memory usage until I have to?

Certain use cases excluded, like embedded programming where memory and CPU power is extremely limited, on mainstream desktop and server hardware it is a good first approximation to start coding in Perl and improve on efficiency as needed. If Perl is your kind of language then avoid the temptation of deciding that Perl can't possibly cut it for high performance environments.

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