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Comment: Re:Pick a different job. (Score 1) 478

Do you understand the benefits of a union?

A union is most beneficial when workers are easily replaceable -- because if management can replace worker A with worker B without a lot of overhead, management can (and usually will) use that to drive salaries down, approaching the lowest salary that they can find at least one worker to accept.

The trick in programming is to make sure you are not so easily replaceable -- if the company knows that it would take 6-12 months to get a new hire up to your level of productivity, they will not be so quick to "value engineer" your salary and benefits. Then you don't really need a union to stand up for you, because you have leverage to stand up for yourself. (The right way to do this is to know the company's software inside and out; the wrong way would be to make the software so convoluted that only you can understand it... ;))

Comment: Re:NIMBYs? Crackpots? (Score 1) 484

by Jeremi (#47712307) Attached to: Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead

According to the gov, 33% total efficiency for coal.

Of course if you take into account the energy expenditure it will take to pull the excess CO2 and other chemicals back out of the atmosphere, that number goes down a bit.

(Impractical to do, and therefore will never be done, you say? Okay, take into account the costs of living with a permanently impacted atmosphere, instead)

Comment: Re:CONSIDER THE ETHICS (Score 1) 133

by Jeremi (#47709541) Attached to: FarmBot: an Open Source Automated Farming Machine

Keep in mind, a cheap solution would be a threat for most the worlds farmers, who are not high tech like the ones in the 1st world nations.

The world's small farmers are already being driven out of business by automated mass-production farming that their labor-intensive, small-scale methods can't compete with, and that they can't afford to replicate. Cheap, easy-to-use small-scale automation could allow them to grow food more cheaply, making them more competitive, not less. I doubt that any of them enjoy doing back-breaking field labor for 10 hours a day for very little compensation; why wouldn't they want a robot that could do the tedious labor for them?

Comment: Re:How to prevent illegal immigration (Score 1) 133

by Jeremi (#47709497) Attached to: FarmBot: an Open Source Automated Farming Machine

It seems like that would cut down so heavily on demand for labor, that not many people would find it worth trying to cross.

Not to mention that anyone with a sufficiently capable farm-bot could use it raise their own crops to eat, and would therefore no longer need to go searching for a menial job in order to feed their family. Win-win!

Comment: Re:not true at all (Score 1) 133

by Jeremi (#47709397) Attached to: FarmBot: an Open Source Automated Farming Machine

And thus this is likely yet another solution without a problem.

I think there's definitely a market for this. For example, I'd like to have a nice vegetable garden in my back yard, but I don't have the expertise or the free time to do the work necessary to keep it healthy and happy. If I could buy a FarmBot at the local Home Depot, set it up, press "Go", and not worry about it until harvest time, that would be a pretty tempting prospect. And once the technology got cheap enough and reliable enough for most people to afford and install, anyone with some land could easily grow their own organic produce, exactly to their own specifications. For people who don't have their own land, neighborhoods could do slightly larger-scale versions of the same thing in the community gardens. Peoples' ability to feed themselves (rather than rely on buying food from large corporations) would increase, which can only be a good thing.

Comment: Re:MUCH easier. (Score 1) 239

Given a choice, I think autonomous cars at some point WILL be programmed with such a choice. For example, hitting an elderly person in order to avoid hitting a small child.

I doubt it. Any company that wants to stay in business will instead concentrate on making sure the car does not get into a position like that in the first place -- because once the car is in a "no-win" situation like that, it doesn't really matter what choice it makes, the company is going to be hit with a big lawsuit either way.

Comment: Re:Whitelisting and whitelisters (Score 1) 323

by Jeremi (#47689897) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Dead Is Antivirus, Exactly?

As much as people like to bash Windows, I'd estimate that 99% of malware can be avoided if the user knows what he's doing.

True, but not particularly helpful since 99% of the time the user does not know what he's doing (at least, not from a computer-security standpoint -- all the user typically knows is that he's trying to accomplish task X, and here's a dialog that says it can help with that task if he clicks OK...).

Comment: Re: No, you don't need AV, even on Windows (Score 0) 323

by Jeremi (#47689849) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Dead Is Antivirus, Exactly?

What mail reader in this day and age automatically activates malware?

Who knows? The whole point of a zero-day exploit is that it takes advantage of a previously-undiscovered flaw. So there is a bug in your email reader that causes it (under certain circumstances) to automatically activate malware, you probably wouldn't know about it until after the fact -- and if the infecting software was subtle (hi NSA!), probably not even then.

Comment: Re:compilers touted as early form of A.I. (Score 1) 425

by Jeremi (#47675233) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Bjarne Stroustrup About Programming and C++

Right. Before they wrote compilers, the concept was considered possibly a hard AI problem. Now they have you write a compiler as an undergrad.

To be fair, it's a lot easier to write a compiler (or any other program) if you have an existing compiler on hand to help you do it. Writing a compiler using only assembly or machine code is well beyond most undergrads' capacity.

Comment: Re:Is the complexity of C++ a practical joke? (Score 1) 425

by Jeremi (#47675119) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Bjarne Stroustrup About Programming and C++

The language seems to have reached the point that C++ gurus design it for other C++ gurus, and everyone else ignores it.

I think this is very close to true -- in particular, many new C++ features are there mainly so that the STL can 'magically' do the right thing in more cases. Mere mortals are not expected to make use of the new features directly; rather they are expected to use the improved STL and benefit from its smarter behavior.

The generation of random numbers is too important to be left to chance.