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Comment: Re:Defense of the Article (Score 1) 399

by eldavojohn (#49620497) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

So there could be two groups, those who look to improve their skill, who quickly distance themselves from the group that doesn't. Of course, there will still be wide variance in skill between the members of each group. I'm sure you can think of other ways it could happen.

No, I can't. I started out and I sucked. I got better eventually through experience. In order for it to be truly bimodal, people have to start in either camp A or camp B and end in the same camp they started in. Because if you transition from one to another over time, any point in time will capture a group of people in between the modes. Now, you can argue that people don't spend much time in between those modes but you haven't presented any evidence for that. What's more likely is you have geocities coders on one tail and John Carmack/Linus Torvolds on the other tail. And in between are people like the presenter and I. And since I'm not instantaneously going from bad to good, the reality of the situation is most likely some degree of a normal curve filled with people trying to get better at programming or even just getting better though spending lots of time doing it and learning a little along the way.

For all your attacks on the presenter, your argument of a bi-modal distribution sounds more flawed to me. I would love to see your study and hear your argument.

Comment: Defense of the Article (Score 1) 399

by eldavojohn (#49619837) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

This guy doesn't know how to measure programming ability, but somehow manages to spend 3000 words writing about it.

To be fair, you can spend a great deal of time talking about something and make progress on the issue without solving it.

For example the current metrics are abysmal so it's worth explaining why they're abysmal. I just was able to delete several thousand lines of JavaScript from one of my projects after a data model change (through code reuse and generalization) -- yet I increased functionality. My manager was confused and thought it was a bad thing to get rid of code like that ... it was absolute dopamine bliss to me while he felt like our production was being put in reverse. KLOC is a terrible metric. But yet we still need to waste a lot of breath explaining why it's a terrible metric.

Another reason to waste a lot of time talking about a problem without reaching an answer is to elaborate on what the known unknowns are and speculate about the unknown unknowns. Indeed, the point of this article seemed to be to advertise the existence of unknown unknowns to "recruiters, venture capitalists, and others who are actually determining who gets brought into the community."

So he doesn't know......programmer ability might actually be a bi-modal distribution.

Perhaps ... but that would imply that one does not transition over time from one hump to the next or if they do, it's like flipping a light switch. When I read this I assumed that he was talking only about people who know how to program and not "the average person mixed in with programmers."

If he had collected data to support his hypothesis, then that would have been an interesting article.

But you just said there's no way to measure this ... how could he have collected data? What data set could have satiated us? The answer is quite obvious and such collection would have been a larger fool's errand than the original article's content.

+ - Recent Paper Shows Fracking Chemicals in Drinking Water, Industry Attacks It->

Submitted by eldavojohn
eldavojohn writes: A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences turned up 2-Butoxyethanol from samples collected from three households in Pennsylvania. The paper's level headed conclusion is that more conservative well construction techniques should be used to avoid this in the future and that flowback should be better controlled. Rob Jackson, another scientist who reviewed the paper, stressed that the findings were an exception to normal operations. Despite that, the results angered the PR gods of the Marcellus Shale Gas industry and awoke beltway insider mouthpieces to attack the research — after all, what are they paying them for?
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Predictable (Score 4, Informative) 175

He doesn't seem overweight for me.

While I feel for the family, to say that he is not overweight shows just how much society's perception of being overweight has changed.

Take a look at this picture, for instance.

And take a look at the body fat visual chart for comparison.

With the overhanging belly, he is easily 35-40% at least. While the majority of people today are fat (especially in the US), that is not healthy. If anything, until recently, 20-25% used to be average.

Above 25-30% is the fat territory, and that's when you start increasing your risk for heart attacks, diabetes, and strokes. Mr. Goldberg may have had a lot of things going for him, but he is most certainly more than a little overweight.

Assuming he's ~6 feet, I would argue that he is probably ~30-40+ lbs overweight. That is not at all healthy. I'm not arguing everyone should have abs, but there's a happy medium here. Mr. Goldberg is very clearly on the unfortunate side of the medium.

Comment: Re:bad statistics (Score 5, Interesting) 235

by Solandri (#49605775) Attached to: Chrome Passes 25% Market Share, IE and Firefox Slip

Maybe because Net Applications is the only counter that tries to correct for known skewed sampling.

They have to correct for skewed sampling because their sample size is so small, especially for non-U.S. sites. Of the big metrics sites:

StatCounter monitors over 3 million sites (reports page hits)
W3Counter monitors over 70,000 sites (reports unique visitors per month)
Net Applications monitors over 40,000 sites (reports unique visitors per month)

Net Applications is the only one which reports IE still in the lead. Which given the sample sizes I think more calls into question their correcting algorithms than it does StatCounter's sample.

Comment: Re:AT&T customer uses $24,298.93 in services (Score 2) 234

This isn't an errant bill or anything. The person called long distance that much in two months.

Wow does that bring back memories. For those who weren't around in the dialup days, certain malware would change the default dialup number for your modem to a 900 number (where you're charged per minute, like phone sex services use), which would then redial to AOL or whatever number you were trying to connect to. So you wouldn't notice anything was amiss because you'd still connect to AOL like usual, but you'd be racking up phone charges at $3/min.

After the government cracked down on phone companies which provided the 900 numbers used this way, the problem mostly disappeared for U.S. numbers. The malware switched to making the modem dial the equivalent of a 900 number in a foreign country.

It sounds like he got hit by this type of malware.

This also brings up something I've always wondered about. The power companies I've worked with seem to bend over backwards to get you onto the plan which most benefits you. When the electricity consumption at my business changed dramatically, Edison sent a guy over to talk with us to figure out what caused the change, and how to adjust our equipment and power plan to minimize our cost. Why does the power company do this, while the phone company seems content to leave you on a plan where you're paying more for worse service? I type Woodland Hills, CA DSL into Google, and it says that 6 Mbps AT&T U-verse/DSL is available there for just $34.95/mo.

Comment: Re: hmm (Score 2) 126

by Solandri (#49598947) Attached to: Judge Tosses United Airlines Lawsuit Over 'Hidden City' Tickets
Yeah, it's nonsensical because they're assuming the higher price to Chicago is correct, and you're doing something "wrong" by paying less. It's actually the higher price to Chicago which is wrong.

The root of the problem lies in lack of competition. Chicago is a United hub. So they control a plurality if not a majority of the flights to and from Chicago. That gives them quasi-monopoly powers when it comes to pricing. They've bought landing/takeoff rights for all those flights and control most of the gates. So even if a competitor underprices United, they can't increase their capacity to handle the extra tickets they'd sell. Their lower price just means they sell out their seats quicker, rather than sell more seats. Faced with selling x tickets for the same price as United, or only a few more than x tickets for a lot cheaper than United, most competitors just match United's pricing.

Consequently the price of flights to/from Chicago are higher than the market would dictate with adequate competition. And you get the perverse situation where a flight form L.A. to Chicago is more expensive than L.A. to N.Y. even though the latter flight stops in Chicago. In other words, you're not saving money by using this trick to fly to Chicago. You're just not paying the extra money United would've made because of their quais-monopoly control of Chicago. (They're still making more money than they should because you're still paying for the Chicago to N.Y. leg.)

Skiplagged.com exploits a leak in the airline's quasi-monopoly control of fares at their hub airports. The airlines can't plug that leak logistically (since their connection flights have to go through their hubs), so they're trying to get the courts to plug it for them.

+ - Patent Issued Covering Phone Notifications of Delivery Time and Invoice Quantity->

Submitted by eldavojohn
eldavojohn writes: The staggering ingenuity of the US Patent system has again been showcased by the EFF's analysis of recent patents. This week's patent and follow up patent cover the futuristic innovative idea that when you order something, you can update your order and add additional amounts to your order while it's being processed. But wait, it gets even more innovative! You may one day be able to even to notify when you would like it delivered — ON YOUR PHONE. I know, you're busy wiping all that brain matter off your screen as your head seems to have exploded. Well, it turns out that inventor and patent holder Scott Horstemeyer (aka Eclipse IP, LLC of Delray Beach, FL) found no shortage of targets to go after with his new patents. It appears Tiger Fitness (and every other online retailer) was sending notices to customers about shipments. Did I mention Professional waste-of-space Horstemeyer is a lawyer too? But not just a regular lawyer, a "SUPER lawyer" from the same firm that patented social networking in 2007, sued Uber for using location finding technologies in 2013 and sued Overstock.com as well as a small time shoe seller for using shipping notifications in 2014.
Link to Original Source

+ - UMG v Grooveshark settled, no money judgment against individuals

Submitted by NewYorkCountryLawyer
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: UMG's case against Grooveshark, which was scheduled to go to trial Monday, has been settled. Under the terms of the settlement (PDF), (a) a $50 million judgment is being entered against Grooveshark, (b) the company is shutting down operations, and (c) no money judgment at all is being entered against the individual defendants.

Comment: Re:Can't wait to get this installed in my house (Score 1) 511

by Solandri (#49593035) Attached to: Tesla Announces Home Battery System
There's charging and discharging efficiencies to factor in too. You don't get as much energy out as you put into the battery - some of it gets converted to heat. Typically it's around 70%-80% (which would make the 5.5 years you calculated about 6-6.5 years), but it depends a lot on the battery tech, voltage, and charge rate. Better to wait and see what the real specs are.

On the flip side, if it works as advertised, expect to see utility subsidies for these. Time-shifting load from peak to off-peak means they can increase daily capacity without having to build new generation plants. So often it's more cost-effective for them to subsidize technologies like this rather than fund construction of a new plant.

Comment: Re:A glimpse into our future (Score 1) 67

by Solandri (#49588555) Attached to: Apple, IBM To Bring iPads To 5 Million Elderly Japanese

there's a need for things like this so family who lives far away can still make sure parents are OK.

Actually, in Asia, elderly parents usually live with their kids. That something like this is needed is more a sign of the rising number of dual income households where the elderly parents are left home alone during the day.

California (which has a high Asian immigrant population who didn't budget for nursing home expenses) tried to tackle this with Adult Day Health Care - basically day care for the elderly. Your parents live at home, you drop them off at the ADHC during the day while you and your spouse work, and you pick them up when you get off work. But the program got sharply curtailed during the recent budget cuts.

Comment: Re:Show me the math on the Tesla. (Score 1) 280

by Solandri (#49588479) Attached to: New Study Suggests Flying Is Greener Than Driving

Show me the math for both ICE cars and Tesla, from well-head to road. Because generating electricity takes energy, and there are losses in the distribution system, and the charging systems are not 100% efficient either.

Sorry for the repost. This is probably a better place for this.

The 1100 BTU/mi figure is consistent with the efficiency of a ICE vehicle from crankshaft to wheels. It takes about 20-25 hp to push a ICE vehicle at 60 mph. So in an hour it will burn 53.7-67.1 MJ. Since it travels 60 miles in that hour, that works out to 0.89-1.12 MJ/mile. Or 848-1060 BTU/mile at highway speeds.

If you factor in other losses for the Tesla, add in a 40% efficient coal plant generating the electricity, 97% transmission efficiency over high-power electrical lines, and 75% charging efficiency and the Tesla actually uses 1100 / (.4*.97*.75) = 3780 BTU per vehicle mile. So it's actually not much different from an ICE from an energy consumption standpoint. (There are discharge losses too, but since the 1100 BTU/mi figure was apparently derived from a 85 kWh battery and 265 mile range, the discharge losses are already included.)

The vast majority of the reason an EV is cheaper to operate is because coal is so much cheaper than gasoline. Coal costs about $50 per ton. A ton of coal has approximately 24 GJ of energy. That's about 0.21 cents/MJ. Gasoline costs about $3/gallon, and has about 120 MJ/gallon, or 2.5 cents/MJ. For the same amount of energy, coal is an order of magnitude cheaper than gasoline, which gives the EV a huge advantage in terms of operating costs. This is not a bad thing - being able to transfer a cheaper but traditionally static energy source into use in a mobile application is an economic win. But don't confuse it for better efficiency.

Yes you could argue that we can make electricity from renewables. But the vast majority of the cost of renewables is in the initial production of the turbine or PV panels. Operating costs are nearly nil (limited to maintenance). So for a fair comparison you then need to incorporate production and transport costs. At which point renewables lose because on a per Joule delivered basis, even with coal plants being only 40% efficient, coal is still cheaper than wind and solar power. (Wind is only about twice the cost of coal, so cheaper than gasoline, but I suspect solar would be about the same cost as gasoline.) You need to incorporate cost of harm done by pollution for renewables to pull ahead. (And even then, only hydro, wind, and geothermal. PV solar still has a ways to go.)

Comment: Re:This is stupid (Score 1) 280

by Solandri (#49588343) Attached to: New Study Suggests Flying Is Greener Than Driving

Either compare flying a small plane to driving a car, or compare a huge bus to a plane.

No, you want to compare likely transportation alternatives. If you're going to go on vacation, a likely decision you'll face is whether to pay for airline tickets and fly, or pay for fuel (and possible rental) and drive. That makes the plane vs. car comparison completely valid. Same reason a car vs. bus comparison is valid for intra-city travel, even though you've defined them as being nothing like each other. In fact the bus vs. plane comparison is probably the least valid, since the vast majority of buses are used for intra-city mass transport, while the vast majority of planes are used for long-haul inter-city transport. So it's very rare (at least in a large country like the U.S.) for you to have to decide between taking the bus or taking the plane.

Incidentally, I'm not sure why this is news. These types of comparisons have been done before. Trains win. Then planes, then cars, then buses, then way at the bottom are taxis (which is why "services" like Uber are a bad idea - you want to minimize the number of taxis driving around).

Buses are rather interesting in that you'd think they'd score better than cars. But the fundamental problem you come across with mass transit buses is capacity vs convenience. You want to load each bus with as many people as possible to decrease its fuel consumption per passenger mile. But you also want to run the buses frequently so people aren't stuck waiting 45 minutes at a bus stop and instead decide to bum a ride from a friend or (worse yet) hail a cab. These conflicting demands mean you run the buses a lot more than would be ideal from an energy efficiency standpoint. Air travel avoids this problem by forcing people to adapt to the airline's schedule (other than a few shuttle services between well-traveled routes, and even those have mostly ceased service).

Comment: No it doesn't more efficient (Score 1) 280

by Solandri (#49588161) Attached to: New Study Suggests Flying Is Greener Than Driving

One factoid is interesting: it takes 4,211 BTUs per person mile to drive. This number will fall as we switch over to electric vehicles. For example, a Tesla Model S takes about 1,100 BTUs per vehicle mile.

No it doesn't. 1100 BTU (0.322 kWh) is the energy consumption from the battery to the wheels. You need to include the entire energy generation chain to get a fair comparison. Add in a 40% efficient coal plant generating the electricity, 97% transmission efficiency over high-power electrical lines, and 75% charging efficiency and the Tesla actually uses 1100 / (.4*.97*.75) = 3780 BTU per vehicle mile.

The vast majority of the reason an EV is cheaper to operate is because coal is so much cheaper than gasoline. Coal costs about $50 per ton. A ton of coal has approximately 24 GJ of energy. That's about 0.21 cents/MJ. Gasoline costs about $3/gallon, and has about 120 MJ/gallon, or 2.5 cents/MJ. For the same amount of energy, coal is an order of magnitude cheaper than gasoline, which gives the EV a huge advantage in terms of operating costs. This is not a bad thing - being able to transfer a cheaper but traditionally static energy source into use in a mobile application is an economic win. But don't confuse it for better efficiency.

Yes you could argue that we can make electricity from renewables. But the vast majority of the cost of renewables is in the initial production of the turbine or PV panels. Operating costs are nearly nil (limited to maintenance). So for a fair comparison you then need to incorporate production and transport costs. At which point renewables lose because on a per Joule delivered basis, even with coal plants being only 40% efficient, coal is still cheaper than wind and solar power. (Wind is only about twice the cost of coal, so cheaper than gasoline, but I suspect solar would be about the same cost as gasoline.)

Comment: Re:"Had to" (Score 4, Insightful) 123

by Solandri (#49578497) Attached to: Crowdfunded Android Console Ouya Reportedly Seeking Buyout

There are some kick starters that deliver nothing to anyone and no refunds...

If you need money to survive, you do not "have to" send money back to backers, especially not if the only problem is that you were late (I expect at least a year delay on Kickstarter hardware by default).

The problem is that that Kickstarter is really nothing more than distributed venture capital. Except that normal venture capital gives you a share of the company or future profits. That two-way exchange makes it clear what you are getting for your money - part ownership of the company. As a part-owner/investor, you're fully aware of the risk that comes with it - you know you could lose all your money and have nothing to show for it if the company should fail.

You don't get that with Kickstarter. All you get is a promise for a future product. Consequently, the "investors" see themselves (accurately) as customers. And with that perception comes certain expectations, like wanting to get your money back if the product is not delivered or not delivered on time.

Kickstarter opened up the crowd-funding market but I think this is what's going to trip them up - discontent among users about failed projects. The eventual winner in the crowd-funding market is going to be a company which recognizes that this is nothing more than distributed venture capital, and treats it as such by letting "investors" buy "shares" of the companies seeking funding thus making it obvious that they are also buying all the risk that comes with that. And if the company promises to deliver sample products to shareholders, that's all it is - a promise. Not a contractual obligation.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. -- Woody Allen

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