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Comment: Re:I'll be first to say WTF (Score 4, Informative) 700 700

Take a look at it through a fairly simple algebraic proof.

1.) 0.99999... * 10 = 9.99999... // decimal multiplication by 10 means we just shift to the left and the infinite decimal expansion isn't affected.

2.) 9.99999... - 0.99999... = 9 // the infinite decimal expansion is still a number and there's no reason we can't subtract it.

3.) 9 / 9 = 1 // if we take the difference from the above subtraction and "undo" the multiplication in step 1, we need to divide by 9 because we've just removed one of what we multiplied.

Therefore 0.99999... = 1. Q.E.D.

+ - Leaving J2EE Behind

BrotherBeal writes: After three years of corporate development at one of the bailout firms, I've decided that it's time for a change. It's been a learning experience, for sure, but it's getting old and phrases like "manufacturing organizational transformation" are starting to make me nauseous. The place I work at was good for a while, but now it doesn't really have much to offer that would make me stick around. The bailout has frozen salaries for the past two review cycles, which is starting to suck. Management values years-of-service over technical proficiency, meaning that the place is very conducive to the "one year of experience ten times" problem and I frequently answer ?'s from people above me in the corporate food chain. Further, there's just not a whole lot of complexity to the apps we write — just standard J2EE plumbing between web forms and a database. It's not a great environment to continue growing as a software developer, and I'm not ready to "ride it out until retirement" just yet.

What I'm hoping to do is transition into a development role somewhere where I'm not just part of the support staff. Whether this is a "research" role at a lab or a job at a product-developing company, I feel that anything would be better than sticking around in enterprise development. My question is what can be done to get the stain of corporate IT off my resume so I can differentiate myself and get a job at a more technical company? I do plenty of coding at home, but it's mostly on personal projects (most recently an experiment using genetic programming). Has anyone made the jump off the corporate ladder and lived to tell about it? How'd you pull it off?

Thanks!

+ - Ditching the Enterprise?

BrotherBeal writes: After three years of corporate development at one of the bailout firms, I've decided that it's time for a change. It's been a learning experience, for sure, but it's getting old and phrases like "manufacturing organizational transformation" are starting to make me nauseous. The place I work at was good for a while, but now it doesn't really have much to offer that would make me stick around. The bailout has frozen salaries for the past two review cycles, which is starting to suck. Management values years-of-service over technical proficiency, meaning that the place is very conducive to the "one year of experience ten times" problem and I frequently answer ?'s from people above me in the corporate food chain. Further, there's just not a whole lot of complexity to the apps we write — just standard J2EE plumbing between web forms and a database. It's not a great environment to continue growing as a software developer, and I'm not ready to "ride it out until retirement" just yet.

What I'm hoping to do is transition into a development role somewhere where I'm not just part of the support staff. Whether this is a "research" role at a lab or a job at a product-developing company, I feel that anything would be better than sticking around in enterprise development. My question is what can be done to get the stain of corporate IT off my resume so I can differentiate myself and get a job at a more technical company? I do plenty of coding at home, but it's mostly on personal projects (most recently an experiment using genetic programming). Has anyone made the jump off the corporate ladder and lived to tell about it? How'd you pull it off?

Thanks!

Comment: Re:Few teachers or recruiters in this crowd... (Score 3, Insightful) 1142 1142

One of these is more useful than the other.

I agree. All the logic and knowledge in the world is effectively useless if you can't ever get it out of your head. Logic may structure your thoughts, but you throw all that structure away by abusing whatever protocol you're using to communicate (e.g. grammar). You're forcing everyone else to recreate the context and subtleties of your ideas before they can even wrestle with the ideas themselves. Clear communication avoids this problem and saves everybody time if you want to get something done. The ability to operate as a specialist without isolating yourself from other specialists is a crucial skill in an increasingly fragmented and complex society. If you can't do your job and answer questions about it, then you are effectively not doing your job. Now, if you don't have particularly subtle thoughts (like most of America), or if you style yourself as an ivory-tower logician then this is fine and I wish you luck. But saying that proper spelling and grammar are orthogonal to skill in other disciplines is obtuse at best.

Comment: Re:False Positive (Score 1) 347 347

That's a good point about this being a misdiagnosis rate - I hadn't thought of it from that angle. Even though I read the article, that point still wasn't terribly clear, so thanks for bringing it up. It's still not clear to me, though, how the spurious brain activity can be ruled out based on what the article described. Yes, you're right - asking a series of ?'s can be much less subject to random bias than asking a ? in isolation. However, is it possible for said spurious brain activity to occur for a longer period of time, enough to throw off multiple questions? What I'm thinking about is a situation analogous to the following. Imagine a kid who, for whatever reason, goes into "hollywood" seizures (uncontrolled body movements, shaking, etc). If you ask such a kid to shake to answer "yes" and then, while he is having a seizure, ask him a series of questions, he's not really answering even though he's displaying the predetermined signal. Now imagine that one these people, who by definition have brain damage, suffers from some sort of condition where that part of his brain lights up like a Christmas tree every so often (similar to a seizure I suppose). If you're looking for activity in the affected region as a signal, you'll see it but its relevance as a signal is completely lost. Is this scenario even possible? Bear in mind that I'm not a neuroscientist. I'm coming at this from the perspective of an interested outsider, so it's HIGHLY likely that I am missing something fundamental. If I am, though - I'd like to know (it's a slow day at work).

Comment: False Positive (Score 3, Insightful) 347 347

I'm not a neuroscientist, but it seems to me that 4 out of 23 is a pretty low success rate, especially given the kind of indirection the researchers were resorting to in order to elicit the signals they were looking for. How do we know, for example, that a patient doesn't have some kind of spurious activity in the brain area they're using to signal "A"? For that matter, how can we distinguish between "no answer" and a deliberate "B" in the absence of such activity? How can we assume that the patient, who by definition has brain damage, is capable of understanding the question correctly and answering correctly? I agree, this is better than absolutely no communication, but I'm curious how they intend to control for factors like these.

Comment: Re:How do you know when it's decrypted? (Score 3, Insightful) 186 186

... but I bet you could some how measure how disordered the data stream was and make a guess about weather or not it was encrypted. It seems that encrypted data should also have some level of order to it.

Encryption doesn't work that way, at least not good encryption. The goal of every encryption scheme is to transform a plaintext input into a ciphertext output that is indistinguishable from random noise. Your example of frequency analysis being used to attack ROT13 shows that it's a terrible encryption algorithm because it leaves so much information about the original message embedded in the transformed output. Every time you hear about an encryption scheme being broken, you're hearing about some way to recover information about the plaintext from the ciphertext. That information is what allows adversaries to beat brute-force decryption (although not always by much - a scheme with a keyspace of 2^n is considered broken if an attack is found that requires only 2^n-1 of the keys to be examined).

The OP brings up an interesting point, of knowing when your data is actually decrypted.

This is why a one-time pad is "perfect". A one-time pad leaves absolutely zero information about the original plaintext apart from length (and even that can be obfuscated by null padding). That means that there is no way for an adversary, even through a brute-force attack, to positively identify the original plaintext. Let's say we encrypt "HELLO WORLD" with a one-time pad, and the output is "ZBCHGRTKOP". "ZBCHGRTKOP" could be brute-forced by an adversary and produce "HELLO WORLD", but such an attempt would also produce "BUY MUSTARD" or "URINAL TOWN" or any other string of 10 characters (possibly including nulls - remember padding!). All of these are equally plausible if the one-time pad scheme is implemented perfectly. The point is that, depending on the encryption scheme, in a sense you can't always know that you've done it perfectly. Recreated internal structure is a good signal that you have done it correctly, but if you were trying to decrypt something you knew NOTHING about (couldn't tell it from random noise), you'd have a hell of a time telling whether you screwed up your decryption. Make things any clearer?

Comment: Re:Rules 1 through 7 of using a Cell Phone (Score 1) 585 585

Why not just handle that the same way unlicensed drivers are currently handled in the U.S.? A cop isn't going to pull every car over just to make sure that the driver is licensed - the penalty is just much stiffer if you are pulled and found to be unlicensed. In your scenario, if a policeman sees a Porsche barreling down the outside lane and pulls it over, he'll discover that the driver doesn't have an appropriate license and then can take some sort of punitive action.

Comment: Re:As good as any time to make a change (Score 2, Interesting) 444 444

She knows my feelings about minutiae in general, so I doubt that would surprise her. I could talk to her all day about her academic interests (prehistoric Japanese religion, specifically Shinto before the Chinese came over), but when it comes to centerpieces and flowers she has about thirty seconds to make her point before my brain starts the "smile and nod" routine.

OS/2 must die!

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