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Comment: End of Time, and Survival are Mutually Exclusive.. (Score 1) 727

by Lodragandraoidh (#46738067) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

Apocalypse in current usage means the end of the world. By that definition - no skill will be 'Apocalypse Useful' - because no one will be around in the aftermath of the end of time (with the possible exception of an intrepid band of our great grandchildren who might figure out how to jump between multiple universe branes at the precise moment of the 'big rip' - a very remote possibility imho).

Really what we are talking about are events that while devastating, are short of the level of destruction needed to end the world. The very nature of that definition means that there will be locations that are not directly impacted by whatever happened. The most key struggle would come from dependency on things that moved by long distance transport; various foods, fuels, technology, and other manufactured goods. As a result, local replacements would have to be found and developed.

In those areas harder hit - it would be very bad, if not impossible to survive after the initial event. I can see migrations of people from these 'hot zones' to more habitable areas. Refugees might put too much pressure on less impacted areas - causing a crisis in those areas. The first few years after the event might be very chaotic due to these population pressures and migrations. The very best way to avoid a humanitarian disaster would be to make sure all of the surviving zones have good communications - and plans in place for relocating and organizing the influx of survivors into their communities. I think you would also want to move as quickly as possible to restore technology to society - maybe not in the exact forms that we are used to - but restoration just the same. Having running water, food, medicines, heating and cooling, and energy in general are critical to sustaining life. As a result, I think all disciplines will be useful to society in that situation in one way or another. One example: artists and story tellers would be useful in bringing entertainment and beauty into the lives of the survivor communities - and might be very important in keeping human knowledge alive until information systems can once again be restored. Ultimately, people would be so hard pressed to survive that it would quickly become apparent that the survivors will do better by banding together rather than fighting among themselves.

Overall - I think if the event was large enough to depopulate the world significantly, I think the survivors would be very busy indeed, with little time or energy to waste of the staples of post-apocalyptic fiction: warlords, societal breakdown, and descent of our humanity to that of the animals, leading us to prey upon our fellow man. While there may be a few sociopaths who try to benefit from the situation, I expect the rest of us to quickly control that. Essentially, humanity has lived through these sorts of things in the past, and I am sure we would make do and get on with living in the aftermath of whatever mother nature sends our way again.

Comment: My first program... (Score 1) 146

by Lodragandraoidh (#46711411) Attached to: Born To RUN: Dartmouth Throwing BASIC a 50th B-Day Party

My very first program was 'hello world' in Basic on the High School computer lab's Apple ][ in 1981 (learned Fortran in that same course). I got a TI 99A for my birthday that year, and I wrote more noddy programs in Basic over the next few years, saving them meticulously on cassette tape.

I can't imagine using Basic for anything useful these days, but it was fun while it lasted.

Comment: Re:Shortage of *good* scientists and engineers (Score 1) 392

by Lodragandraoidh (#46544889) Attached to: The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage

Another aspect of the problem - Corporate policy in most large companies is to treat all of your IT programmers as identical widgets. This policy stems from HR, Finance, and IT efforts to 'normalize' positions so they can be circumscribed enough to allow 'efficient' allocation of resources, or more damaging, the allocation of resources that can be outsourced wholesale. Ultimately it all comes down to cost reduction. Poor results of IT, coupled with IT being strictly a cost center - leads to this outcome (the cost vs. value proposition as seen through the eyes of the heads of the business).

This of course, drags down everyone with it causing many good people to leave or get caught in the outsourcing net. If they are lucky - they do manage to move up into management (architects etc) - and hopefully they can influence the designs - but again - what is left behind is tragically impossible of effiently implementing even the best designs - so the problem feeds itself as your best get pulled away from programming.

Indications are CTOs are starting to see how this is not's hoping they can get the HR and Finance people to turn this around, but I doubt it. .

Comment: Re:There's a shortage all right.. (Score 1) 392

by Lodragandraoidh (#46544593) Attached to: The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage

No, there are a lot of STEM graduates who really aren't that good and don't have much experience, yet they believe they're entitled to a senior-level salary. I am more than happy to pay a high salary to a candidate who is actually good at their job and has a demonstrated track record of performance. The glut of average performers with little more than student projects as experience, however, are not worth more just because I have open positions to fill. The key is will this person actually perform at the position I put them in rather than just fill a desk and surf the net half the day.

Too bad you posted anonymously. I would have modded you up. This is absolutely the truth.

My recommendation for anyone: if you love the carreer you want to get into - then do it. However, if you only see a bunch of dollar signs - then it is better off for you and the rest of us in STEM if you would put your energy into something else.

We are plaugued with a glut of people who cause more inefficiency than the 'solutions' they create... causing me, and others who know what they are doing to spend extra cycles fixing their broken systems. The problem is most of the time, they don't even know why their choices are a bad thing, or worse - if they do, they don't care allowing expediency to take precedence over quality.

On a positive note: this will keep me employed well beyond my retirement as a contractor fixing other people's code.

Comment: Re:Prepare your tinfoil hats (Score 1) 137

by Lodragandraoidh (#46460247) Attached to: Computer Science Enrollments Rocketed Last Year, Up 22%
It's funny you say that - but it is true. We definitely need more STEM people in jobs not only in the technology fields (like IT) - but those jobs that interface with it as well (such as Project Management, Marketing et al). I can't tell you how many non-technical people I have to deal with in the course of a day. Some of them are actually holding technology positions...most are just collecting a paycheck for all the positive effect they have on the business. I have to get work done in spite of them. On the flip side - if a person got a STEM degree to make money (and whose heart is not into their field) - by all means stay away from technology...please...

Comment: Terms of Endearment (Score 1) 480

by Lodragandraoidh (#46349135) Attached to: Interview: Ask Richard Stallman What You Will

If, as you say, "Open source is a development methodology; free software is a social movement." in your article: Why Open Source Misses the Point of Free Software, why do you advocate not using the term 'open source', particularly if it is being used in a technical/development methodology context only?

Comment: Network Security (Score 1) 58

What if anything do you think Linux should do to improve network security?

The reason I ask this question is runtime environments allow and require (depending on the tools your using) programmers to be experts in memory management and systems programming, but by and large the vast majority are not. This leads to zero day exploits hiding in various applications - including application layer parts of the OS. Is anyone giving thought to prevention, instead of chasing bugs after the fact, and what will that look like in the future?

Comment: Re:True (Score 1) 302

by Lodragandraoidh (#43138285) Attached to: Shuttleworth On Ubuntu Community Drama

For most of us who have been around Unix and Linux for any length of time, Unix and/or Linux is not the GUI. It is the kernel and all of the other Single Unix Specification/POSIX compliant parts that make up the command shell, tools, and system programming APIs. The GUI is not specified in the standard - and the variance in GUIs makes that problematic at best, and confusing at worse.

As a result, I think it reasonable when someone asks 'what's the best distro to learn Linux?' - the response should be a distro that is 'no frills' - and allows users to dig in and learn the command line interface and tools - hence the answers seen that focus on that area.

Perhaps for some people the question should be, 'what's the best distro for a desktop user?' - then more feature-rich GUIs might be applicable.

This has nothing to do with elitism. It has to do with a misperception about what is the goal of the person asking. Perhaps Linux geeks should take the time to clarify what the person asking really means.

Comment: Re:users? (Score 4, Interesting) 311

by Lodragandraoidh (#42924905) Attached to: NetBSD To Support Kernel Development In Lua Scripting

Interesting - failure of user space in this way is exactly why we have zero-days.

I would like to see this happen - but several things make it improbable:

1. Von Neuman architecture. As long as data and instructions exist in the same space - poorly written apps will allow abuse of it.

2. Complexity of current software. The more complex the software, the more likely a bug will exist in it that allows #1. Given how programmers stitch together preexisting modules without understanding what is being done on the underlying system - I only expect that to continue expanding.

It should be instructive that Java was supposed to be that sandboxed layer...and it has so many zero-days it looks like swiss cheese.

Now - how would we avoid that and make an unhackable userspace?

Comment: Re:Windows 8 (Score 1) 218

by Lodragandraoidh (#42924387) Attached to: Can Dell and HP Keep Pace With An Asia-Centric PC World?

From the interview - Michael Dell lumped tablets into a bucket called 'PC'. If they are selling more tablets, that means the cost of their Desktop PCs will have to go up given slackening volumes. Volume of demand sets price - particularly if the business becomes a non-volume business.

Let's face it - if you want to have a desktop system, while its price may be less than a server with the same capabilities (you are really paying for redundancy and maintenance with servers), it will cost more than we are used to paying today - regardless if you build your own, or buy a name brand (and given the downgrade on performance and expansion capabilities of most desktops - you'll probably want to build your own).

Comment: Re:Windows Number 2 (Score 1) 218

by Lodragandraoidh (#42924287) Attached to: Can Dell and HP Keep Pace With An Asia-Centric PC World?

I run Linux at work - and here is what I would classify as my Pro Applications:

GCC suite
Open Office

I can also handle email from my Android based phone.

Our servers are also running Linux.

Therefore the argument that Linux can't get real work done is silly to the point of absurdity.

System checkpoint complete.