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Comment: I can hack the planet Mars (Score 1) 253

by EmperorOfCanada (#49494677) Attached to: FBI Accuses Researcher of Hacking Plane, Seizes Equipment
I recently discovered that my old arcnet card has a vulnerability that allows me to hack the planet Mars. I plan on crashing it into the planet Vulcan. (Damn those pointy eared freaks).

I also plan on hacking the Atlantic Ocean and renaming it to the Great Eastern Ocean. This hack is so powerful that even paper maps will spontaneously change to reflect the update.

Comment: Re:This can actually work (Score 1) 892

Check out how Valve assigns its bonuses and you will find that there is more than one monkey zoo out there. The key reasoning here was to eliminate the concept of professional managers. If there are people who are able to control paycheques then they are managers. While this company had a few managers it was more of a supreme court for resolving disputes than someone who said, sit here, do this, you're late. The basic idea was that the inmates ran the asylum and those who couldn't contribute to this or caused trouble were soon voted off the island.

A perfect example of this working was this one guy who used up his training budget becoming a "SCRUM Master" he then went around like some born again fool telling everyone how to do everything. His bonus about 2 months later was exactly zero and he basically rage quit.

Comment: This can actually work (Score 4, Informative) 892

One of the big problems with salary negotiations is that inevitably everyone knows everyone else's paycheque. So if you find out that the guy sitting beside you doing the same job is earning way more then you just look at your paycheque as a biweekly insult.

I worked for one company that paid its programmers a perfectly round number and everyone went up at the same time. But bonuses were far more complicated with a huge factor being voting among the employees. The company literally had a rule that if anyone discussed who they were voting for then it was an instant firing. This way the outstanding employees got massive bonuses.

What was interesting was that when some people came to the end of their interviews they would begin negotiating their salary after being repeatedly told that it was not negotiable. The ones who pushed this harder and harder tended to be douchebags and this pretty much always resulted in no job offer or a withdrawn offer. They genuinely seemed pissed.

One douche summed it up as "When I heard that everyone was earning X, I just had to earn X+1 so that I could prove I was better." This was even after he was told how the bonuses worked.

The cool benefit of bonuses was that it really weeded out the crappy programmers. Bonus time would come along. The results would be published and a few guys had literally zero votes and usually they were gone in a month or less. The only programmer ever fired for talking about bonuses went around with a sob story how he needed the bonus. Literally the next day he no longer worked for the company. This is the same company that didn't fire people after one threw a laptop through a window with the intent of hitting another worker. (they worked out their issues).

Comment: The real problem is local competition (Score 3, Interesting) 312

People blah blah about these companies not paying their fair share which depends upon your views on taxation. But the key word is fair. The real problem is that while these companies are able to pretty much magically avoid taxes in countries outside the US the potential competitors in countries like Germany, UK, France, Australia, etc are paying these taxes.

This pretty much makes it impossible for a homegrown company in any of these countries to compete. Nobody can compete with a company that is has all that extra tax free profit to use in acquisitions, research, marketing, or just making their product higher quality.

What baffles me is that nearly all the countries being screwed out of those taxes aren't even more angry that they are also potentially being screwed out of viable competitors. If a country such as the UK had the next Google or Apple it could literally change the face of that country's economy as companies of that size don't just hire lots of people and pay lots of taxes but also create a nexus of similar companies. You can't build a Silicon valley out of a few government IT contractors and a handful of Best Buy warehouses. On the otherhand you can build one based upon a Google or two.

To me this is a very simple tax problem. All they need to do is say if you make a profit in our country you pay the same taxes on that profit that a company in this country would pay. But the key is that the profit is calculated by estimated real costs, not the costs presented on paper. Thus Apple could no longer claim that each iPhone cost $699 to build and sell it for $700.

But the real win would be if these countries were able to mostly ignore R&D costs that happen outside their own boarders. If this was no longer easily deductible it would become an instant R&D win biasing in favour of their own country. The simple reality is that as the future comes closer and closer countries that train and use the brains in their countries will do well, while those that outsource their IP development will falter. This tax exploitation by these companies provides an opportunity for various western countries to swing the pendulum unfairly in their own favour as a punishment for past exploitation.

Comment: Re:Other than salary, how the hell $100,000 (Score 1) 87

by EmperorOfCanada (#49383907) Attached to: No Film At 11: the Case For the Less-Video-Is-More MOOC
I have watched a bunch of Stanford lectures and they are a guy at the back of the class with a camera. I have taken a coursera course on finance, cryptograpy, astronomy, mathematical thinking, and gamification and they were all basically a good webcam with no camera operator.

The great courses company does seem to have some pretty good production where they have a camera man, and at least one animator. The lighting is pretty good and I suspect that there is lots of editing. But those might be some of the highest production quality courses out there. MathTutorDVD which is pretty good is a guy with a whiteboard.

I suspect that $100,000 is a BS number that comes either from extreme government waste or it is to generate funding that will allow for extreme government waste.

Comment: High School first then collage (Score 1, Insightful) 145

by EmperorOfCanada (#49383883) Attached to: The End of College? Not So Fast
If I were a kid in around grade 9 I would presently be MOOCing until I turned blue. My goal would be to basically bypass High School. At this point what are the various certificates good for? I don't think that anyone yet really knows. But I suspect that they will be worth more and more and definitely will be worth more than most half assed high schools. I can certainly say without hesitation that I have seen some online courses MOOC, the great courses, plus others that blow my old HS teachers clean out of the water and certainly blow most of my daughters' teachers clean out of the water. (and yes many online things suck too)

But if a grade 9 student has 10 or 20 MIT / Stanford courses under their belt and does well on the SATs then what university can honestly reject that student?

Right now it is all a little hazy but I suspect that a point will be crossed where quite simply the high schools will begin to lose the best and the brightest. Not the majority just the cream. This will leave the high schools with the mediocre and the crap students. Then the pressure will be on the better of the mediocre students to follow online as well leaving a pretty poor lineup of students. This will then start to whittle away at the better teachers who just can't keep going without at least the occasional success in their class.

The percentage of students who will no longer attend highschool still won't amount to a huge number but what will remain of the high school system will be pretty depressingly bad. Plus I just know that the officials will dumb down the standards to keep up with the ever lowering bar. I foresee the first sign of my prediction coming true when the school systems try to put pressure on the universities to not accept students on MOOCs alone or to try to make it so that you can't write the SATs without being registered with a bricks and mortar high school.

But in the very long term when the various online educational systems have been somewhat perfected I do see a day when many people are faced with the choice (or option) to go to their local po-dunk collage or take course from something with a kickass name. I don't doubt that a major part of higher education happens outside of the classroom but the simple reality is that many people are questing for that piece of paper to further their job opportunities and have various obsicals in their way such as money. Online education won't wipe out the universities or anything so silly but it could see some of the lesser universities lose a serious chunk of their students.

Also I see a demographic who will simply say, "OK I will do year one online and then the other three getting the campus experience, OK I will do the last two years getting the campus experience, OK the last year will definitely be the campus year. Look I have a degree, I wish I had done at least one year on campus." But I also see another demographic much like the one that avoided high school not able to go to the kick ass named universities and not willing to slum it in their local school, and thus doing the online thing even more.

But that all said, I think that where it will be most interesting is that right now it is very very very hard to get into a top tier school. But what if you have been taking MOOCs from a top tier school and have been kicking ass and taking names. Does that qualify you for a top tier school more than someone with a top tier SAT?

Then employers are going to be a whole other thing. Which would they rather see, a top tier certificate or a local podunk degree?

Comment: This guy is missing the point (Score 3, Insightful) 397

by EmperorOfCanada (#49379599) Attached to: Why America's Obsession With STEM Education Is Dangerous
Great engineering or science is art. If you look at the evolution of bridges they have become more and more beautiful as newer technologies have been developed and applied. Where bridges tend to be ugly is when the engineering is old school and workman like.

Also it tends to be the muddy thinking of the humanities that can drive horrible disasters of thinking. Things like trickle down economics had pretty much zero real math behind it. Plus many of the worst dictators in history had humanities and/or arts educations along with many of their worst henchmen. Things like the scientific method are critical to great political policy making, not law degrees where rhetoric and finding a misplaced comma in a written law lets your serial killer client skate on the charges.

Often when horrible things happen and science gets blamed it is actually an artistic interpretation of science at the source. Eugenics would be a perfect example of simpletons applying their interpretation of science.

A great example of this sort of crap would be how religious people are trying to drive intelligent design into the education system through a terrible interpretation of how science works.

I have zero problem with having someone with a hard core arts degree have some input on the building of a bridge in things like choosing he colours or picking from a group of equal designs, but I really really don't want them designing he whole thing and then having the engineers find a kludge that might keep it from falling down.

But where this guy really falls down along with many STEM pushing policy makers is that while it would be nice for the average school kid to have a better grasp of the physical world around them what is sorely lacking is a place for kids who can excel at science to thrive. A great example would be my daughter's high school. They have science requirements to graduate; fine. But in a 1,200 kid school there is no science fair this year; yet the school budgeted $50,000 for a football team that generates zero revenue.

What it boils down to are two things. Take all the art out of your life and see how you are living. Now take all the technology out of your life and see how that goes. One interesting factoid is that most people access their art through technology anyway and the art is often massively reliant upon technology for its generation.

STEM is not an either or with art. But art is largely a not without STEM. STEM is the difference between the third world and the first. I think that much of the anti STEM sentiment comes from those jealous that in most cases the arts alone leave you in the economic dust either as a person and especially as a country.

Comment: Other than salary, how the hell $100,000 (Score 1) 87

by EmperorOfCanada (#49378173) Attached to: No Film At 11: the Case For the Less-Video-Is-More MOOC
How the hell is it costing $100,000 per course? Most coursera courses are just some guy talking to a webcam or a fixed camera. Most of the stanford courses(many very good) are just a guy working a camera from the back of the class with the instructor miked up. So unless the check boxes on the quizzes cost $200 each something is fishy with this number.

Comment: Before I finish this my server will be attacked! (Score 1) 49

by EmperorOfCanada (#49325175) Attached to: Nobody Is Sure What Should Count As a Cyber Incident
In the time it will take me to type this post I will get at least one wp-admin request from my server (without WordPress) plus I will probably have an assortment of other odd requests looking to exploit various server weaknesses for web servers that are different than mine; Various cgi attacks and so on.

Needless to say these aren't terribly troubling, generally the worst they do is to pollute my logs with crap. The main problem with these sort of "attacks" is that fear mongers will use them to justify giving them lots of consulting money.

What does annoy me about these attacks is that while they are fairly ineffective I would still love to see a concerted effort to nail the people who do them to the wall. I see it like those people who aim laser pointers at airplanes.

That said, there are genuine attacks from sophisticated but unless the companies involved have political pull these attacks too go unpunished. What bothers me the most is that these attacks originate from a very few countries. How about we shut those countries internet connections down for a few days until those attacks stop.

Comment: Re:I see a problem here and it isn't Snowden/Germa (Score 1) 337

by EmperorOfCanada (#49302009) Attached to: German Vice Chancellor: the US Threatened Us Over Snowden
They broke existing laws, were caught using existing techniques, and no need to mass surveil the rest of us. The last two caught in BC were basically being pushed into doing what they did by the investigators who are desperate for a win.

The ones in Halifax wouldn't have been caught by anything short of the most severe privacy violations and massive all encompassing dragnets.

Comment: I see a problem here and it isn't Snowden/Germany (Score 5, Insightful) 337

by EmperorOfCanada (#49301385) Attached to: German Vice Chancellor: the US Threatened Us Over Snowden
In Canada there is huge pressure from the US for us to pass bill C-51 which might as well be called Orwell's law. There is endless talk about this country being dangerous or that country. But it seems to me there is exactly one country on this planet that is causing problems for just about every democracy or not.

What I love about these tools that think that they should be able to spy on us to "protect" us. Yet in Canada we have a motorcycle gang that all wear special clothing, have special tattoos, and hang out in known HQs; yet our national police force can't shut them down with every law needed already in place. Prisons which have pretty well no constitutional protections for privacy or intercepted communications are filled with drugs. So even if they manage to completely remove privacy and rights they have proven themselves incompetent at doing their jobs with simplistic criminals.

What hope do they have against actual terrorists with an IQ over 90? Or lone wolves who communicate with exactly nobody?

My assessment of all these laws is that they are there to protect vested interests. The politicians want to protect their friends in big business in the name of national security/stability. But my guess is that they mostly want to protect themselves from the erosion of power that is happening through the internet where the press and other investigators can find out what corruption is happening. Thus the ideal situation is that whistleblowers will be nervous about contacting the press because they don't know if their communications are secure. That even politicians will be nervous about trying to reduce the power of the security services because not only might they be listening but that the security services will be well placed to leak data about they or their friends.

Remember that this sort of power is very insidious. For instance when the government goes to appoint someone to a watchdog or judicial position that will oversee the security services the security service does a "background check" this is not only to make sure that the person isn't an enemy spy but to protect the politicians from embarrassment if it turns out that their potential appointee is unsavoury in some way. This could be something like anti women views or even something like they are 60 and often date 20 somethings. Thus if the person is going to a hanging judge and is happy to give the security service free reign they can give the person a clean bill of health during the "background check" but if the person has long been a defender of privacy and generally anti authoritarian then they will compile a list of rumours and innuendos that suggest the person will be an embarrassment.

Thus as we hear about judge after judge giving their blessings to insanely unconstitutional behaviour, and we hear about watchdogs that aren't watching keep in mind about who vetted these people in the first place.

What scares the shit out of these people is when they don't have control over them as in the case of politicians in other countries. This is where they have to play hardball. But my simple question is how many politicians in various G7 countries have had information "leaked" about them by the US security services? Leaked during elections where they were successfully running against right wing hardliners that the US would prefer to win?

Comment: There is always that one damn piece of software (Score 1) 385

by EmperorOfCanada (#49289097) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Laptop To Support Physics Research?
There is always that one damn piece of software. In nearly every endeavour there is a single piece of software that absolutely demands that you have a certain OS. That is this single application is the core of what you do thus having it on a VM would be silly as all your data might feed in or out of that. Sometimes you can be lucky and that that software is multi platform such as matlab. But most circuit simulation software is Windows only. Then there are things like 3DStudio that are also Windows only. Thus if some application is like this is the core of your universe then you are pretty much committed to Windows. But then there are other things that will run on most OSs but run better on the Unix type systems. Python would be a great example. Yes with some arm twisting it will run fine on Windows but is way happier on Mac or Linux.

Then there is the peer group. What do they run. You don't really want to be the odd one out even if they aren't using the best choice.

So what it all really boils down to is what software is critical on a day to day basis? And what do the peers use? These two questions will pretty much answer the question.

Comment: Re:No plans to use Hertz!!! (Score 1) 188

The key is that they will probably lose more money than the pittance they were hoping to gain. Also keep in mind that the MBAs who had nothing to do with this will use it to stab the other MBAs in the back.

Also it might serve as a warning to any other companies trying to pull that crap. Plus we techies will say, "Oh you rented a Hertz, you know they have spy cams in them?"

Plus I have had some pretty non techie types ask me about the bitcoin thing in utorrent. Plus every single one of my daughters' friend keep tape over their laptop web cams; not one of whom could make a hello world.

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