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Comment: Re:Doesn't get it (Score 1) 289

Why does this come up in every discussion?

Programming is not special. It does not require a "special mind" or other magical in-born trait.

Perhaps not, but it does require a certain mental disposition to enjoy (or at least tolerate) as a career. Most people simply don't want to spend 40+ hours per week, sitting at a desk, staring at code on a computer screen.


How To Die On Mars 276

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-your-coffin-to-mars dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Many space-related projects are currently focusing on Mars. SpaceX wants to build a colony there, NASA is looking into base design, and Mars One is supposedly picking astronauts for a mission. Because of this, we've been reading a lot about how we could live on Mars. An article at Popular Science reminds us of all the easy ways to die there. "Barring any complications with the spacecraft's hardware or any unintended run-ins with space debris, there's still a big killer lurking out in space that can't be easily avoided: radiation. ... [And] with so little atmosphere surrounding Mars, gently landing a large amount of weight on the planet will be tough. Heavy objects will pick up too much speed during the descent, making for one deep impact. ... Mars One's plan is to grow crops indoors under artificial lighting. According to the project's website, 80 square meters of space will be dedicated to plant growth within the habitat; the vegetation will be sustained using suspected water in Mars' soil, as well as carbon dioxide produced by the initial four-member crew. However, analysis conducted by MIT researchers last year (PDF) shows that those numbers just don't add up."

Comment: Re:I call shenanigans... (Score 1) 443

Why would *anyone* encourage their child, regardless of gender, to spend a decade or more training for what is quickly becoming a minimum-wage job at best.


Coding jobs can be easily outsourced to wherever the going rate for labor is cheapest. Google's "coder shortage" seems completely imaginary. They're an advertising company whose greatest trick was convincing the world they are a software company.

Comment: Why bother? (Score 1) 313

by Powercntrl (#49754887) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Dumb Phone?

Really, the only advantage to a dumphone is the inexpensive cost to replace it, should it become lost or broken. Most non-contract wireless providers with a "bring your own phone" option are perfectly happy letting you use a cheap plan on a modern flagship smartphone, so being a Luddite won't save you much on your monthly wireless bill.

Regarding battery life, the main reason smartphones don't have the endurance of dumbphones comes down to how people use them. If you turn off mobile data, WiFi, Bluetooth and background app refresh, even an iPhone 5 can go a week on standby. You could also just buy an extended battery, portable USB pack, car charger, solar charger, etc.

I suspect this is more about longing for the "good old days" when people didn't expect you to be reachable through e-mail and at least 3 different social networks. Sorry, but using a dumbphone won't bring those days back.


'Prisonized' Neighborhoods Make Recidivism More Likely 164

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-you-be-my-neighbor dept.
sciencehabit writes: One of the most important questions relating to incarceration and rehabilitation is how to discourage recidivism. After a prison stint, about half of convicts wind up back in the slammer within three years. But sociologist David Kirk noticed a pattern: convicts who moved away from their old neighborhood when released from prison had a much smaller recidivism rate. Kirk found that the concentration of former prisoners in a neighborhood had a dramatic effect on the likelihood of committing another offense (abstract). "So if an ex-con’s average chance of returning to prison after just 1 year was 22%—as it was in 2006—an additional new parolee in the neighborhood boosted that chance to nearly 25%. The numbers climb for each new parolee added. In some of the most affected neighborhoods—where five of every thousand residents were recent parolees—nearly 35% were back behind bars within a year of getting out." The rates stayed consistent even when controlling for chronic poverty and other neighborhood characteristics.

Comment: Re:Markets, not people (Score 2) 615

by Powercntrl (#49706573) Attached to: The Economic Consequences of Self-Driving Trucks

Next thing you know, they might develop big machines to replace covered wagons and plows. Then where will we be, when all those teamsters and farmers are put out of work?

It actually is pretty tough to make a living as a small farmer these days.

A functioning society requires jobs that pay a livable wage to people who, for whatever reason, aren't cut out for collage. These are the jobs that are rapidly vanishing, due to automation.

The industrial revolution brought high atmospheric CO2 levels, the likes of which haven't been seen on this planet in over 20 million years. There's no avoiding it, "progress" always comes at a cost.

The Almighty Buck

A Visual Walk Through Amazon's Impact On One Seattle Neighborhood 296

Posted by Soulskill
from the aside-from-the-all-the-packages-sitting-at-people's-doors dept.
reifman writes: If you live in Seattle, it's easy to see's impact on downtown construction and growth but not everyone sees what's happening in neighborhoods like formerly sleepy Ballard. One by one, traditional Seattle homes are being razed and replaced by 3 1/2 story behemoths without regard for aesthetics of any kind. The new townhomes offer 12 foot wide living spaces for Amazon's brogrammer class. Take a walk with me down my friend's street to see what it's like to live amongst the returns of e-commerce success. Ballard is also home of the late octogenarian Edith Macefield, who refused to sell her house to developers as construction went up around her.

Comment: Move over swatting, here comes Yik Yakking (Score 1) 254

If the police are actually responding to crap on Yik Yak, it won't be long before someone gets their jollies sending the police on wild goose chases. Of course, it isn't like it's easy to pick up a cheap burner phone, hop on an unsecured WiFi network and fake the phone's location. Whoops.

"Tomorrow at noon this place burns to the ground. I'll be driving a hot pink Tesla Model S, come at me, pigs."

Amusement worthy of 4chan ensues.


Two Gunman Killed Outside "Draw the Prophet" Event In Texas 1097

Posted by timothy
from the unspeakable-acts-undrawable-subjects dept.
cosm writes: ABC news reports that two armed gunman were shot and killed outside a "Draw the Prophet" event hosted in Garland Texas. From the article: "The event, sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, featured cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and scheduled speakers included Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who has campaigned to have the Quran banned in the Netherlands. The winner of the contest was to receive $10,000." In light of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks, the Lars Vilks Muhammad drawing controversies, and the American show South Park's satirical depiction of the state of Muhammad phobia in the US and elsewhere, is there an end in sight to the madness associated with the representation of this religious figure?

Comment: Re:Gamechanger (Score 1) 514

by Powercntrl (#49595813) Attached to: Tesla Announces Home Battery System

Don't get me wrong, I would LOVE to put solar panels on my house and stick it to the man and all. I just don't happen to have $30K laying around.

If you have access to grid power, photovoltaics are just a piss poor investment. Sure, there's the "going green" aspect of it, but ultimately it's still just an investment - you're spending money now in the hope of making more of it back over a period of time. You'll likely do better investing the same amount of money in the stock market and leave the electricity generation to the people with the big cooling towers.

Comment: Re:What is the obsession with tattoos... (Score 1) 403

by Powercntrl (#49588729) Attached to: Tattoos Found To Interfere With Apple Watch Sensors

Perhaps it is just the way my brain is wired, when I see a tattoo my brain instinctively registers it as "damage" and that the person may be injured or ill. Certainly others must have the same instinctive reaction, yet it seems even more people are doing that these days.

Trypophobia is a real thing, so it isn't far off to imagine the sight of a tattoo evoking a similar reaction in some people.

Comment: Re:Not every tattoo (Score 1) 403

by Powercntrl (#49588653) Attached to: Tattoos Found To Interfere With Apple Watch Sensors

Not all tattoo inks are created equal. Many practitioners use ink from botanical sources.

Obviously, non-GMO botanical sources, otherwise they're not hipster enough.

Somewhere at a Chipotle, there's a hipster who can't order his non-GMO burrito with his Apple watch, because his tattoo is interfering with the security features. Oh, the irony.

Comment: Re:No wifi, less space than a Nomad, lame? (Score 1) 74

by Powercntrl (#49534061) Attached to: Apple Offers Expedited Apple Watch Order Lottery To Developers

Yeah. Must be the buyers who are braindead, not people like yourself (and CmdrTaco) who can't see what Apple actually does bring to the table.

I fell for the hype and bought a first generation iPhone when Apple knocked $200 off the price. Because, what do you know, at the time they weren't actually selling like hotcakes.

Let's not forget, back then it didn't run apps, couldn't record video, had no stereo bluetooth, didn't do MMS and maxed out at EDGE speeds (when even dumbphones were beginning to ship with 3G). The battery life was lackluster, the reception and call quality was abysmal. Sure, mobile Safari was pretty awesome at the time compared to the competition - when it wasn't constantly crashing, that is.

Fast forward to today and while my phone is still technically an "iPhone", it bears only a superficial resemblance to the original model that I frequently found myself cursing at, back in the day. The battery life is tolerable, reception and call quality is excellent. The screen size has been increased and the pixel density has doubled. The cellular data connection is faster than my cable modem at home. Web pages render in the blink of an eye and Safari only seems to crash on me once in a blue moon. I don't feel like I'm missing out on any essential features - stereo bluetooth, MMS, front facing camera, 1080p video recording, the gang's all here. Heck, it even has a feature of dubious value which I don't even use - a fingerprint reader.

The Apple Watch could have some potential, but you'd be idiotic to believe that potential will be realized on first generation hardware. I've been burned enough times on first generation Apple products (Mac Mini, iPhone and the iPad) that I've decided to sit this one out. But hey, the way I look at it is: the idiots buying this thing today are subsidizing the development costs of the future model I might someday actually want.

Oh, who am I kidding? I loathe wearing a watch and I don't need one to tell me to look at my phone. The damn thing may as well be a pocket pager, for all intents and purposes.

The life of a repo man is always intense.