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Comment: Re:Go Greenlight (Score 1) 177

You'll have to change the system before third parties become viable in this country. First Past the Post has to go, as does letting politicians draw their own goddamn district boundaries.

Not necessarily. Even with the disadvantages you cite, the original two US political parties, the Whigs and the Federalists, were toppled. It can happen again. Even without de-throning the Republicans and Democrats, a third party can gather enough support to make the difference in a close contest, and that causes the major parties to give at least lip service to their concerns.

Comment: Re:Go Greenlight (Score 1) 177

I also vote Libertarian when I can; I am a card-carrying member of the Libertarian party. When I can't, and I'm too lazy to run myself, I do enough research to figure out who is the current office-holder, and vote for his opponent. If he is the only person on the ballot for the position, I leave the line blank.

Comment: Re:Go Greenlight (Score 1) 177

.... I hate both parties. They're equally scummy. It makes one feel powerless to know that voting the bums out always means voting more bums in that are not any better in the end.

You've bought in to the lie that there are only two parties. Look beyond the Republicans and Democrats and you might find better bums.

Comment: can be done (Score 4, Insightful) 177

And when the municipal broadband costs 10x as much, just raise taxes and throw people in jail if they don't pay. And if the service is bad, again raise taxes and throw them in jail if they don't pay. And if they complain, just raise taxes and throw them in jail if they don't pay.

Your competition being able to raise prices (taxes) at the point of a gun to pay for their bad business is a competitive advantage. Not being able to opt-out is a monopoly with the police enforcing it on citizens.

Sure it might be better, but it definitely can be much worse.

If you do a decent job of structuring the municipal broadband delivery company, you can bias it towards the “better” end of the spectrum. For example, you can require that there be no cross-subsidy between broadband and any other municipal function, and no support from general taxation.

The broadband company would have to support itself through user fees, like the Water District does in my town. You pay a monthly fee if the fibre runs past your house. If you want to connect the fibre to your home, you pay a one-time connection charge, followed by a higher monthly fee plus a charge per bit for incoming and outgoing data. If there is a problem you pay to call Customer Service, and a higher price if the call requires a technician to visit your home. These charges would be refunded if the company decides that the problem is their fault. There would also be a service level agreement, and your costs are reduced to near zero if it isn't met.

In addition, and this is crucial, there must be no legal barrier to someone else running his own fibre, and connecting it to the municipal system. He would pay the municipal system for his connection, of course, and provide his own customer service. That competition, or even the possibility of it, will keep customer service quality high.

Comment: Re:College is useful for most ... (Score 1) 222

by John_Sauter (#47521491) Attached to: VP Biden Briefs US Governors On H-1B Visas, IT, and Coding

...those with an inherent interest in programming often go far beyond the work required for class and use the incredible resources found at a university to study things that otherwise would have been beyond their resources.....You get out of college what you put in, and you will have access to resources and people you probably could not find anywhere else....The density of useful knowledge and experience is quite high among fellow students at a university, its just a matter of finding people with genuine interests in their respective fields rather than the ticket punchers.

That is exactly what happened to me. I started college never having seen a computer. I hung around the Computation Center, watched the Giant Electronic Brains and got to know the people, which included some of the computer industry's pioneers. I learned to program by auditing classes and writing code for the Stanford Time-Sharing System. The administrator of the AI Project didn't have a pay schedule for an undergraduate, so he had to treat me as a first-year grad student. I did graduate, but not with a CS degree--there was no such thing at the time. I turned my outside-of-class experience into a career.

Comment: Re:Nothing, really. (Score 1) 508

by John_Sauter (#47460737) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Future-Proof Jobs?

Prostitution . . . the world's oldest profession will be around . . . well, as long as humans are still around.

It may be the world's oldest profession, but that doesn't mean it is a career that lasts a lifetime. It would seem to me that the older one gets, the less this career choice would pay so the best bet is to start this one young and plan to transition into some other line of work pretty quickly.

Not necessarily. There are some forms of beauty that last a lifetime. A few years ago I met a grandmother who was still making a good living as a prostitute.

Comment: Re:Class conflict (Score 1) 401

by John_Sauter (#47400401) Attached to: No Shortage In Tech Workers, Advocacy Groups Say

I think there's an obvious class conflict when it comes to STEM fields. Wages are high enough that it challenges the corporate class structure that dictates what field should be paid more than other fields.

My wife works in marketing for a company that makes an engineered product and we had a fairly heated discussion about this once. Without thinking about the implications, she actually said that marketing was more important than engineering and marketing should always be paid more. Raising engineering salaries above some ceiling wasn't an option.

Now, my wife isn't a mean spirited snob but I think she genuinely meant this and I think it reflects the class consciousness in corporate thinking.

Strangely I never see this mentioned in articles about H1-Bs and STEM workers. It always seems to devolve into an unresolvable debate involving conflicting macoeconomic labor statistics.

I have seen this also. I think there is an evolution in large companies: even if they start by developing good products, they eventually become so focused on sales and marketing that they forget that the quality of their products is the basis of their business. I was at Digital Equipment Corporation as it went through this transition. By the time the founder, an engineer, was finally forced out, the company was headed downhill, and was soon acquired.

IBM has somehow managed to avoid this problem. While definitely focused on sales, they continue to develop new, competitive products. Whatever their secret is, I wish it was taught in American business schools.

Comment: Re:So train them. (Score 1) 97

I hate the employers that whine that they can't get good help. The reality is that most employers are not able to pay for skilled or reliable workers. People with tremendous skills and good work habits are available but they do demand real pay. The cabinet shop that wants to hire workers for $10. per hour has a big problem. The cabinet shop that pays $60. per hour gets an entirely different type of worker. Offer $200. per hour and you can create world class cabinets.

I suspect that many employers are able, but not willing, to pay for skilled and reliable workers. I recently spent 9 months at a temp job with a large and wealthy employer, demonstrating my skill and work ethic to the hiring manager. At the end of the job he offered me a permanent position, but at $20 to $25 per hour. I would have been willing to take the job if I could have been compensated for my 900 miles per week commute. However, the policies of the institution did not permit him to do that, or, equivalently, offer me $35 per hour. I reluctantly turned down the job.

Comment: Re:varies (Score 2) 359

Actually, I did use TECO on the PDP-6 until Stopgap was ready. I also coded in assembly language for the PDP-6/10, and in Gogol for the PDP-1. I used Bliss-36 to write a PDP-11 task builder that ran on the PDP-10, so a customer wouldn't have to take his KL10 down to run the PDP-11 TKB on the PDP-11 front end in order to build the DECnet code.

Comment: varies (Score 1) 359

Like some others who have posted here, my choice of editor and language have varied with time.

  • In 1964 I coded in PDP-1 assembly language and my editor was TVedit.
  • In the early 1970s I used PDP-6 assembly language and Stopgap.
  • In the late 1970s I used Bliss-36 and SOS.
  • In the 1980s I used Bliss-32 and EDT.
  • In the 1990s and early 2000s I used DCL and EDT.
  • In the late 2000s and early 2010s I used Perl and Vim.
  • Today I use Python and EMACS.

Comment: Re:No, but the Age of Information will. (Score 1) 90

Realistically, Paramount (or any big entertainment company) isn't going to be able to pass off your work as their own. Even if the public neither knows or cares, the industry insiders will know it is yours. If the big production of your script is successful, everybody in the industry will know that you are the person to get on-board for the next big success. The big production gives you publicity, even if your name does not appear in the credits.

Having a history of success is what gives you leverage.

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James