Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment: Bre Petis (Score 3, Interesting) 123

Local Motors is an investment of Bre Petis, of Makerbot fame, as noted on his web page.

I don't know if it is deliberate viral marketing strategy of his or just good investment instinct, but I have noticed that products which make headlines on tech sites trace back to his investments. Another example is the new LIDAR offered at SparkFun from PulsedLight, which, according to this YouTube video, is linked to DragonInnovation.com, another Petis investment.

Comment: Re:Actually what reduced crime (Score 4, Informative) 218

by Jodka (#48525249) Attached to: 'Moneyball' Approach Reduces Crime In New York City

Actually, what really reduced crime was legalized abortion.

From "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," by John J. Donohue III and Steven D. Levitt, appearing in the The Quarterly Journal of Economics:

We offer evidence that legalized abortion has contributed signiZcantly to
recent crime reductions. Crime began to fall roughly eighteen years after abortion
legalization. The Zve states that allowed abortion in 1970 experienced declines
earlier than the rest of the nation, which legalized in 1973 with Roe v. Wade.
States with high abortion rates in the 1970s and 1980s experienced greater crime
reductions in the 1990s. In high abortion states, only arrests of those born after
abortion legalization fall relative to low abortion states. Legalized abortion appears
to account for as much as 50 percent of the recent drop in crime.

If that is correct, still either the Cosby Show or banning leaded gasoline could have accounted for up to a 50% of the drop in crime.

+ - IT career path after 35?

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "All my friends seem to be moving towards a managerial role, and I'm concerned about my increasing age in a business where, according to some, 30 might as well be 50.
But I still feel young, and feel like I have so much to learn. So many interesting technical challenges cross my path, as I manage to move towards larger and more complex projects. I am in higher demand than ever, often with multiple headhunters contacting me in the same day. But will it last?
Is age discrimination a myth? Are there statistics on how many IT people move into management? I know some older programmers who got bored with management and successfully resumed a tech-only career. Others started their own small business.
What has been your experience? Do you/have you assumed a managerial role? Did you enjoy it? Have you managed to stay current and marketable long after 35?"

Comment: Importance (Score 3, Interesting) 96

There is a great interview with Elon Musk on youtube here. He is remarkably transparent about his reasoning. One key to his success is that he works very hard to understand motive and purpose when making decisions.

Musk makes that point that it costs about as much to fuel a rocket as it does to fuel a 747. Space launches are mostly so expensive because the vehicle is sacrificed with each launch, not because of the energy requirements for a space launch. The other big component of the expense is that rocket manufacturers charge a lot. According to Musk the value of the raw materials from which they are formed is reasonably inexpensive. Those were two hugely important realizations because they meant that space launches were not inherently expensive and therefore there is enormous potential for reducing launch costs.

By being Space X instead of Boeing the cost of launch is reduced to about 25% of conventional launches because Space X can assemble a rocket from raw materials for that much less. A re-usable vehicle, Musk predicts, would reduce launch costs by an order of magnitude.

So those are the motives and reasoning underlying the X-wing grid fins and re-entry discussed in the Slashdot summary.

Comment: Side Effects (Score 1) 204

by Jodka (#48380765) Attached to: Your Incompetent Boss Is Making You Unhappy

your boss's technical competence is the single strongest predictor of workers' well-being

I am not disputing that that is the best correlated variable, but in my experience it is not the lack of technical competence per se which causes problems with bad bosses but instead the concomitant pathologists exhibited by low-skill bosses to compensate for their own incompetence.

I have a story which illustrates the point: Earlier in my career I worked for a state government. One day I get to work and the lead programmer is having something of a breakdown in front of the project manager and they both happen to be standing in front of the entrance to my cubicle. So all I could do was wait there and listen. Turns out that the lead programmer had been devoting all of her time, and struggling for months, to find any way to digest and print the document files previously used in the old oracle/COBOL/dumb terminal system in our new custom client software running on OS X and which was replacing the dumb terminals. So I stand there and listen to the irate complaints from the lead programmer about how the problem was impossible to solve. At the end of the conversation I ask if she would like me to take a look at it. I was done by about 2:00pm the same day. It was easy. I just asked the DB programmer in the cubicle next to me for a sample of a document file. Looks like gibberish so I figure it's not PostScript and therefore must by PCL. Download and install the free GhostPCL renderer, an offshoot of the GhostScript project. Built and installed it. Wrapped the command-line GhostScript in Cocoa's NSTask. Threw together a GUI in interface builder. Wrote a little glue code in Objective-C to invoke Cocoa native classes for loading and displaying the output of GhostPCL and to invoke my NSTask GhostPCL wrapper. And checked the GhostPCL license, which I think might have been GPL, but since I was running it as a separate process and not modifying the source, or redistributing it outside of or organization, we were not compelled to share our custom OS X client source.

Worked great. Everyone was happy. Except the lead programmer, who was livid and from then on set about trying to make my life hell. She banned the project manager from speaking to me. She excluded me from meetings.

The fundamental problem was that the lead programmer did not know how to code. That is not a criticism of her programming skill, I mean she really did not know how to code. As in, literally, could not have programmed a single line to save her life. (Although I can not think of an actual circumstance where anyone would have to do that.) She did not understand what a pointer is. Did not now how to check code out of the repository. Would not have done any good if she had because she did not know how to build code. (In XCode. You click the build button.) Being technically incompetent, she was completely preoccupied with compensating for her own lack of skill, and it was that, not the lack of skill itself, which caused the problems.

Comment: Moving is always an option (Score 1) 405

by gowen (#48380129) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Unblock Email From My Comcast-Hosted Server?

"When I ask my other tech friends what they would do, they simply suggest changing ISPs. Nobody likes Comcast, but I don't have a choice here. I'm two years into a three-year contract. So, moving is not an option"

Moving is always an option. But you have to eat the cost of one year of Comcast. Sorry, but that's your solution.

Optimism is the content of small men in high places. -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Crack Up"

Working...