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Comment Re:I'm a pretty nerdy computer guy ... (Score 1) 492

Afraid we don't have any openings at the moment. You can go to hr.vanderbilt.edu, click on "jobs", and search for "accre" every few weeks, we post jobs there.

If you're looking for a foot in the door, you can search the jobs website for jobs involving R, Matlab, C, Fortran, Perl, Python in other departments and find a position that will get you some experience.

David Lipscomb has a small "Big Data" department, but they smart people and big ambitions, and I was quite impressed when we took a tour. You might also check those guys out.

There are several local Meetup groups devoted to Big Data, R, etc. You might look some up and try to network. Afraid that's the best advice I can give you.

Comment I'm a pretty nerdy computer guy ... (Score 4, Interesting) 492

... and I'll never understand the lure of Silicon Valley. I live a couple of miles outside Nashville in the country, in a very nice house I managed to pay off in 10 years. I make a decent living doing high-end computer work (academic HPC) which is pretty fun. Ambitious but realistic 40-hour week schedules, with co-workers as smart as any I've met at the Supercomputing conferences. I can eat out, go to the gym, go on a date, or just go home and watch a movie with my cat in my lap any time I want. I'll probably be able to retire in my 50's should I choose to do so.

Why, other than the hope of becoming an overnight millionaire, do people choose to work in Silicon Valley, with the insane hours, cost-of-living, commutes from hell, and a lack of any social life? Because if money is all they wanted, they can buy Powerball tickets in most states.

Comment Re:Why not eat meat? (Score -1) 317

Our bodies may have evolved over millions of years to crave meat, but they also evolved to die of old age at 25 too...

One, strictly from a moral perspective, I desire to eat vegetarian offerings, even though I do crave a good burger. I don't see how this hurts.

And as a guy who hit 40, when you get a little older some things, like digestion, just don't work as good as they used to. And processed bean protein will almost certainly digest easier than red meat.

Have more options beats having fewer in this instance.

Comment In the Age of the Robocar... (Score 2) 106

Most cars will be owned by large corporations, not individual pwople. Lyft, or Thrifty Rent-a-Car, or possibly automakers like Ford themselves. (I'm curious how it shakes out, for investment purposes, but bet the automakers will try to corner the market).

At that point, when a car has a problem, it's not Joe Smith on the phone shaking a hand, it's the Big Owning Company with Lawyers who is. I expect the consolidation of purchasing power into a fewer, much bigger hands will make this unlikely to occur, at least more than the one time it takes for the surviving firms to understand the cost of lying.

Comment Their incentives are wrong... (Score 2) 403

I woke up yesterday at 5 am for a call with a colleague in China. Fifteen minutes from quitting time, a critical system died, and I was here until 1 am fixing it. A mile from home, achingly tired and needing a bed, a police car pulled me over for having one brake light out. After 10 minutes of staring at incredibly bright, flashing blue lights in the mirror, they let me go with a warning. Got home, and because of said flashy bright lights, I couldn't go to sleep. So here I am back at work, hour 34 of wakefulness.

From her perspective, the police officer was trying to protect and serve (I know her vaguely through friends and she sounds like a decent person) From my perspective, I'm probably more dangerous to my fellow drivers due to my lack of sleep during rush hour commute than I would be for having 1 (out of 4) rear lights out at 2 am a mile from home. From my perspective (and almost certainly from society's perspective), her actions *did not* protect or serve either myself or society very well.

I don't think the leaders of the NSA, CIA, etc are a bunch of Dr Evil wanna-be's. I suspect they are in fact decent, well-intentioned people. But what from their perspective seems rational, can be contrary to the greater good.

In that, their job is somewhat like mine as a sysadmin. I have never once had someone email me and say "Hey, everything was working great this morning, just wanted to say good job!". But when something breaks, there are a hundred people complaning loudly. There's a fundamental asymmetry there, and it can lead to personal incentives that are in conflict with the greater good.

The NSA/CIA/etc are graded on "how successful they can defeat/thwart the bad guy", and not "doing what is in the best interest of society". Perfect is the enemy of the good, and it's better for society to preserve our hard-won freedoms, even at the cost of the bad guys winning occasionally. But they get yelled at (Congressional hearings, public firing etc.) when they do the right thing, so they do the "right" thing instead.

Comment How are you using the data? (Score 2) 219

What clients will you be exporting it to? Linux, OS X, Windows? All three?

What kind of throughput do you need? Is 10 MB/sec enough? 100 MB/sec? 10 GB/sec?

What kind of IO are you doing? Random or sequential? Are you doing mostly reads, mostly writes, or an even mix?

Is it mission critical? If something goes wrong, do you fix it the next day, or do you need access to a tier 3 help desk at 3 am?

We have a couple of petabytes of CMS-HI data stored on a homegrown object filesystem we developed and exported to the compute nodes via FUSE. Reed-Solomon 6+3 for redundancy. No SAN, no fancy hardware, just a bunch of Linux boxes with lots of hard drives.

There is no "one shoe fits all" filesystem, which is part of the reason we use our own. If you have the ability to run it, I'd suggest looking at Ceph. It only supports Linux, but has Reed-Solomon for redundancy (considered it a higher tier of RAID) and good performance if you need it. If you have to add Windows or OS X clients into the mix, you may need to consider NFS, Samba, WebDAV, or (ugh) OpenAFS.

Comment Fail deadly (Score 1) 256

Venus? A floating colony in Venus's atmosphere is the very definition of "fail deadly". Anything goes wrong you are dead, whether dead quickly or dead slowly. Plus, given the conditions on Venus, if there ever was an ecology, it has long been reduced to ash. It is also not likely we could terraform Venus (reduce the atmosphere and spin it up) given the resources of the entire solar system to do so.

If I were planning humanity's journey to the stars, I'd go with the moon first, followed by Ceres. Resource rich, low gravity, and far enough out of the Earth's (in the moon's case) and the Sun's (in Ceres' case) gravity well to make exploring other places much easier.

Comment Re:When do we get a real boost over 2013 speeds? (Score 1) 126

I do high-performance computing for a living, and Moore's Law has been on its last gasps for a while now.

Until around 2006, the smaller you made a transistor, the faster it could work. This was called Dennard scaling. But once transistors reach a certain size, current leakage and thermal issues prevent you from making the transistors faster.

While they can't drive transistors any faster, smaller processes still allow them to put *more* transistors on a chip. This is why we've gone from single-core to multi-core to multi-core with GPU compute on a die.

Despite all the complaints about "CPU's haven't gotten much faster since Nehalem", they *have* gotten quite a bit faster. You just have to rewrite/optimize/recompile your program to take advantage of multi-core, GPU compute, and SIMD instructions like AVX2.

This is the primary reason programs aren't running much faster than before. Silicon isn't getting any faster, and rewriting programs to scale isn't easy and sometimes isn't worth it so many people don't. Moore's Law no longer results in "free", "easy" speed-ups.

CPU's for the next few years are looking pretty incremental. I'd expect a one-off moderate increase in single-core performance once Intel moves off silicon onto III-V semiconductors (10 or 7 nm?), but past that you will likely be waiting several years for your graphene/nanotube/topological insulator/spintronics overloads to deliver something substantially faster.

Comment Customers... (Score 1) 49

Software has zero intrinsic value. It doesn't generate a single cent (unless you've written a BitCoin miner, I guess).

Customers, on the other hand, can generate lots of value if they use your software. Customers and the potential for more customers are usually the reason small software firms get acquired for Rockefeller money by the Google's and IBM's of the world (the other reasons are usually acquiring patents or the talent of the development team itself.) The software itself is rarely the target.

Open-sourcing the software increases the odds of someone using their software, either because it's "free", or because having the code in hand keeps them out of trouble if the company were to fold. And even if they're using it for free, it increases the odds that they would be willing to use a paid version at a later date, which is valuable.

And companies pay for reliability, both for necessity and so they have someone to pass the blame to if something fails. Even if someone got a copy of their code and decided to try their own business, are you going to trust them over the original creators when it comes to your job security?

"Free markets select for winning solutions." -- Eric S. Raymond