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Comment: Genius. (Score 2) 133

by hey! (#49149869) Attached to: Lenovo Saying Goodbye To Bloatware

CEO: This Superfish incident has put our credibility in the toilet. Even corporate customers are looking askance at us now, and we didn't put it on their computers. Suggestions?

Executive 1: Lay low until it blows over.

Executive 2: Hire a new PR firm.

Executive 3: Start a social media campaign.

Genius executive: Maybe we should promise not to do stuff like that anymore.

Comment: I heard the news in the car today. (Score 5, Interesting) 339

by hey! (#49148919) Attached to: Leonard Nimoy Dies At 83

It'll be one of those moments I'll remember, like coming into work and being told about the Challenger disaster, or turning on the car radio and hearing the hushed voices of the announcers on 9/11. Like so many people I feel a connection to this wonderful man.

Of course he did more than play Spock; and in the early post-TOS years he was famously ambivalent about his association with the role. But he did something special with that role. It's easy in the fog of nostalgia to forget that man TOS scripts weren't all that great (although some of them were). The character of Spock might have become just an obscure bit of pop culture trivia; instead Nimoy turned Spock into a character that I feel sure actors in our grandchildren's generation will want to play and make their mark upon.

What Nimoy brought to that role is a dignity and authenticity, possibly rooted in his "alien" experience as the child of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants. In less sensitive hands the part might have been a joke, but I think what many of us took away from Nimoy's performance was something that became deeply influential in our world views. Nimoy's Spock taught us that there was something admirable in being different even when that is hard for others to understand; that winning the respect of others is just as rewarding as popularity. The world needs its oddballs and misfits, not to conform, but to be the very best version of themselves they can be. Authenticity is integrity.

It's customary to say things in remembrances like "you will be missed", but that falls short. Leonard Nimoy, you will live on in the lives of all us you have touched.

Comment: Re:... Driverless cars? (Score 2) 249

I wonder how much direct or even second-hand knowledge of unions you have.

In my family we've been on both sides of this issue. My sister, who is an RN, just recently led a successful but bitterly contested unionization drive of her hospital. The impetus for bringing in the union was that after privatization the hospital cut staff so much the nurses feared for patient safety. Nurses don't just administer medicine and make beds; one of the most important things they do is catch mistakes. When a surgeon starts prepping the wrong limb for amputation or an internist accidentally prescribes a medication that will kill the patient. It's nurse's job to catch that. It was unequivocally fear of making mistakes that drove the nurses at that hospital to unionize.

Did she piss off the hospital's new owners? You bet she did. But would you rather go to a hospital where the nurses *lost* that fight? How would you feel about the nurse checking your medications had worked back-to-back weeks of double shifts caring for more patients than she (or he) can keep track of?

On the other hand my brother is a senior executive at a large food service company. He told me about a meeting he had with a local African-American union representative where she played the race card with the first words out of her mouth. This was pointlessly antagonistic, in part because while my brother is a conservative he's open-minded and has a good track record of working with the unions. But mostly pointless because we're not white. We can pass, but as the genealogist in the family recently figured out we have only about 1/3 European ancestry. Fortunately he could laugh that off but if he'd been white and thinner-skinned that might have driven the negotiations into a ditch.

Comment: Re:Sick (Score 5, Insightful) 249

Well, this "richest country in the world" business is somewhat misleading. It means the country with the greatest aggregate economic power, not the country where people tend to be the best off. You need to look at several measures before you can begin to understand the thing that's mystifying you.

By total GDP the US is by far the wealthiest nation in the world. It has almost twice the total GDP of the second country on the list, China. By *per capita* GDP, the US is about 10th on the list, just below Switzerland; so by global standards the typical American is wealthy, but not the wealthiest. On the other hand the US ranks about 20th in cost of living, so the typical American has it pretty good.

Where things get interesting is if you look at GINI -- a measure of economic disparity. The most equal countries are of course the Scandinavians, with Denmark, Sweden and Norway topping the list. The US is far from the *least* equal (Seychelles, South Africa, and Comoros), but it is kind of surprising when you look at countries near the US on the list. Normally in most economic measures you see the US ranked near advanced industrialized countries in Europe, but it's neighbors on the GINI list are places like Turkmenistan, Qatar, and El Salvador.

What this means is that we have significant classes on either end of the scale: the *very* wealthy and an economic underclass. Now because of the total wealth sloshing around in the US, the US underclass has it pretty well compared to the underclass in, say, India. But what this doesn't buy is clout or respect. "Poor" households in the US usually have TVs and refrigerators -- a fact that seems to anger some people, who see the poor in the US as ungrateful people who are too lazy to improve themselves. But a study by the OECD suggests that they don't have the *time* to improve themselves. In a ranking of countries by time spend on leisure and self-care the US ranks 33rd, at 14.3 hours lagging almost two hours per day behind world leader Denmark (big surprise). But remember this is an average; it doesn't represent the time available for the poor.

Most Americans seem to think that poor people spend all their time sitting around waiting for handouts. This willfully ignores the phenomenon of the working poor. After selling my company, I volunteered on a lark at a charity which refurbishes old furniture and household stuff and furnishes the homes of poor people, and I found poor people to be neither lazy nor ungrateful. Let me tell you I have never met so many people who work two or sometimes more jobs. Particularly shocking were the number of women who took their children out of abusive relationships, and then have to work a full time job, raise three or four kids, without a car and in a neighborhood that doesn't have a grocery store. You don't know what gratitude is until you've given a poor, overtaxed mother beds when her children have been sleeping on the floor for months.

When some smug, ignorant and conspicuously well-fed media head starts whining about the poor having refrigerators, it makes me want to punch them in the mouth.

Comment: Wasn't this the main point of "Agile"? (Score 1) 323

by hey! (#49142597) Attached to: The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates

Find a compromise between predicting too much of the future and just managing a project by the seat of your pants; get into a rhythm where you check how good your estimations and learn to get better at them.

Of course you can't develop every project this way; I've used Agile and it's worked for me. I've used waterfall and it's worked for me too. You have to try to be sensible; you can't completely wall of other people's need to know when you'll accomplish certain things, nor can you build a solid plan based on pure speculation. You have to have an intelligent responsible way of dealing with future uncertainty, a plan to cut it down to size.

I've even had the good fortune at one point of winning a $750,000 grant to build a system for which no firm requirements had been established. It was kind of an uphill-flowing waterfall: we knew how long it would take us and how much it would cost but we had no firm idea of what we were supposed to build. If that sounds like a recipe for disaster, it was; but my team was *successful* and built a product which was still be used and supported over a decade after the grant finished.

What's missing from many programming estimates is honesty. It's a matter of ethics; you can't take people's money and say maybe someday you'll deliver something useful to them. People don't have unlimited time and money to accomplish all the things that need to be done in the world. It's an honor being entrusted with people's aspirations, and a serious responsibility. It's hard, even nerve-wracking, but you've got to care enough about the impact of your planning on other people to make the effort to do the very best job you can.

And what I've found is that if you do make the effort you can do a surprisingly good job of estimating a project if it's in an area and with technologies you're reasonably familiar with. If you look closely your specific predictions will often be way off, but if you care enough to be brutally honest the pleasant surprises tend to balance out the unpleasant ones.

Comment: Re:Too CPU hungry (Score 1) 188

by afidel (#49131281) Attached to: Google Now Automatically Converts Flash Ads To HTML5

Most rendering engines aren't single threaded, and most browsers use GPU acceleration. However, on mobile adding a bunch of animations will surely lower battery life, so I just switched from Chrome to Firefox on my Android device as animated and sound filled ads are evil and Chrome mobile lacks extension support.

Comment: Re:So Cal Edison Reduces Local Headcount w/ Tata, (Score 1) 175

by afidel (#49127469) Attached to: H-1B Visas Proving Lucrative For Engineers, Dev Leads

Reimage monkeys were never valuable, they were a necessary evil that companies tolerated while they had to. If you didn't drive your skills up the value chain then you either lack the ability to or you lack ambition, neither of which generally leads to a lucrative career path. Heck, when VMWare and other vendors try to sell me expensive management tools to save me time I laugh because my team spends probably only 15-20% of our time doing management of the infrastructure, the rest is spent working on projects that bring value to the business.

Comment: Re:Turns out agencies don't really work like that (Score 1) 145

by afidel (#49119425) Attached to: Attention, Rockstar Developers: Get a Talent Agent

The talent agencies are desperate for growth, they've already massively consolidated and recently started buying the sports management companies, so I'm sure if they think they can make money off the arrangement they'll try. The problem for programmers is that even really, really good ones only make 2-3x the league minimum for the major sports leagues so agents might not want to deal with the work for their 10% cut.

Comment: Re:First Fascist! (Score 1) 36

by mcgrew (#49118761) Attached to: Welcome back, SlashPot (thank you failure machine samzenpus)

Coincidentally, I saw this JE this morning right after seeing a report on CBS's morning news program that said that marijuana is by far the least dangerous of all recreational drugs. They found the most dangerous was alcohol, followed by heroin, followed by cocaine. I did a quick search, it doesn't look like they've posted it to their web site.

I've found an incredible amount of misinformation about marijuana. This article says "Those who might remember pot from the 70s - the marijuana grown and sold in Colorado today is up to 10 times stronger."

The difference isn't strength of the pot, it's how its potency is measured and how pot is and was sold. They take the pot, grind up the entire bag and test it.

Today, pot is grown indoors so it has no seeds, and only the buds are sold. In the seventies, they put the whole plant; stems, seeds, leaves and all. Leaves are far less potent than buds, stems have very little THC and seeds have none at all, and the seeds are heavy. I saw pot in the '70s that the seeds were more than half the weight of the bag. So grinding up the whole bag would indicate that it's 10 times stronger, when stoners always threw the stems and seeds away and usually saved the bud for the weekend.

The best pot I ever smoked was in Thailand in 1973-4.

Now, even if pot wasn't the safest of all recreational drugs, even if it were the deadliest, how does your neighbor getting stoned affect you or society at large?

There's a chapter in a book that was required reading in a college history class in the late '70s that shows how incredibly moronic prohibition is. Alcohol and Al Capone

Look at Mexico and Columbia. Prohibition is purely stupidly evil.

There's no sense in being precise when you don't even know what you're talking about. -- John von Neumann

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