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The Military

The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the flights-of-fancy dept.
schwit1 writes with an update on the U.S. government's troubled F-35 program, the cost of which keeps rising while the planes themselves are grounded. A fire in late June caused officials to halt flights for the entire fleet of $112 million vehicles last week. Despite this, Congress is still anxious to push the program forward, and Foreign Policy explains why: Part of that protection comes from the jaw-dropping amounts of money at stake. The Pentagon intends to spend roughly $399 billion to develop and buy 2,443 of the planes. However, over the course of the aircrafts' lifetimes, operating costs are expected to exceed $1 trillion. Lockheed has carefully hired suppliers and subcontractors in almost every state to ensure that virtually all senators and members of Congress have a stake in keeping the program — and the jobs it has created — in place. "An upfront question with any program now is: How many congressional districts is it in?" said Thomas Christie, a former senior Pentagon acquisitions official. Counting all of its suppliers and subcontractors, parts of the program are spread out across at least 45 states. That's why there's no doubt lawmakers will continue to fund the program even though this is the third time in 17 months that the entire fleet has been grounded due to engine problems."

Comment: Re:Cry Me A River (Score 2) 497

by DickBreath (#47418945) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
I learned BASIC in 1977, about the same way, and about as quickly.

And I was writing a few BASIC programs shortly thereafter. But they are today what I would call TRIVIAL. Things that I would do in a single method of a modern language. With much better style, correctness, comprehensibility and maintainability.

Having just learned programming myself doesn't mean I was by any means an expert ready to work on big commercial problems worth lots of money. It took years more to learn a lot of important things. Structured Programming (aka giving up GOTO). Encapsulation. Information hiding. Data structures and dynamic memory. Algorithms. Understanding performance classification of algorithms. Understanding how the machine works at the low level. Writing toy or elementary compilers. Learning a LISP language (pick any one, they will teach you the same important and valuable lessons). Learning databases. How they work as well as how to use them. Read a few good books on human interface design before building a complex GUI program. I could go on and on.


> You can't learn how to build a highly optimised, always available, secure e-commerce trading platform in 8 hours.

Correct. The point here I think is that to have all of the valuable skills that makes you good at something, and fast at it, and apparently able to recognize the solutions to problems very quickly is -- lots and lots of study and practice. Years of learning. Failures (hopefully on some of your own toy problems first rather than commercial ones). Figuring out how to debug complex systems -- without or prior to the existence of source level debuggers.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for those who cry because employers want skilled programmers. Well, professional sports teams want skilled players. And modelling agencies want beautiful people. These things come with some combination of luck of the draw and effort to take advantage of it. (Those models don't eat donuts, for example.) I also think computer geeks should be able to cry and whine that humanities studies are unfair.

Comment: In the old days . . . (Score 1) 497

by DickBreath (#47414683) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
From TFA (the friendly article, or whatever other F-word you prefer) . . .
> In the old days there was a respected profession of application programming.
> There was a minority of elite system programmers who built infrastructure and tools
> that empowered the majority of application programmers.


I think it is still that way. But now there is a third class who think that breaking into the application programming is some kind of godlike elite skill because it requires you to actually know more than the mere syntax of a language. Programming is racist and sexist because it requires you to even learn the syntax of a programming language. Why can't the computer just do what they say? Why do they need a special language? Why should it be necessary to learn to design complex databases, and understand in memory data structures and algorithms? Why focus on gaining lots of insight in order to come up with vastly superior algorithms?

In short, from what I see on some programming boards, what some people seem to want is a high paying position where an untrained monkey could get a computer to do what the boss wants, and then collect a paycheck -- um, no. Direct deposit.

Comment: Re:Cry Me A River (Score 5, Insightful) 497

by DickBreath (#47414587) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
That may be true, but you miss the deeper underlying issue that TFA (the friendly article) is whining about.

They want to be able to be a programming superstar by reading a book such as:
* Learn Programming in 24 Hours!
* Learn Brain Surgery in 24 Hours!
* Learn Rocket Science in 24 Hours!
* Learn To Be A Concert Pianist in 10 EASY Lessons!

Various programming boards are flooded with people who want to know how to break into programming for big bucks, quick, overnight, but don't want to actually do the hard learning.
The Courts

Climate Change Skeptic Group Must Pay Damages To UVA, Michael Mann 324

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the stop-trolling dept.
ideonexus (1257332) writes In January of 2014, the American Traditions Institute (ATI) sought climate scientist Micheal Mann's emails from his time at the University of Virginia, a request that was denied in the courts. Now the Virginia Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that ATI must pay damages for filing a frivolous lawsuit. Thus ends "Climategate." Hopefully.
Robotics

Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots 516

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the human-workers-sent-to-protein-bank dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes The largest private employer in all of China and one of the biggest supply chain manufacturers in the world, Foxconn announced it will soon start using robots to help assemble devices at its several sprawling factories across China. Apple, one of Foxconn's biggest partners to help assemble its iPhones, iPads, will be the first company to use the new service. Foxconn said its new "Foxbots" will cost roughly $20,000 to $25,000 to make, but individually be able to build an average of 30,000 devices. According to Foxconn CEO Terry Gou, the company will deploy 10,000 robots to its factories before expanding the rollout any further. He said the robots are currently in their "final testing phase."
Microsoft

Microsoft Backs Open Source For the Internet of Things 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the free-and-open dept.
dcblogs writes Microsoft has joined a Linux Foundation effort to create an open platform for the Internet of Things. The AllSeen Alliance is an effort to standardize device communications. The code that it champions, called AllJoyn, was initially developed by Qualcomm but was subsequently made open source. Big vendors have been recruited to support it, and the AllSeen Alliance now includes LG, Panasonic, Sharp and Haier, among others. Its Xbox gaming platform is seen as a potential hub or control center for home devices. Microsoft's leadership in computing "and its significant Xbox business make it a potentially important contributor to the AllSeen ecosystem," said said Andy Castonguay, an analyst at Machina Research, a Reading, England-based research firm focusing on machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things.

Comment: Oil companies will be thrilled to hear this (Score 1) 32

by DickBreath (#47369363) Attached to: Hierarchical Membrane For Cleaning Up Oil Spills
They will no longer need to worry about oil spills. Many of those silly, and very expensive 'safety' precautions can now be avoided. Saving costs increases shareholder value.

The only real drawback to this solution seems to be that the membrane's ingredients do not include ground up kittens and babies.
Handhelds

Disappointed Woz Sells His "Worthless" Galaxy Gear Watch 242

Posted by timothy
from the get-that-man-a-tricorder dept.
curtwoodward (2147628) writes Apple co-founder and legendary nerd Steve Wozniak is a huge gadget enthusiast, often appearing in lines with mere mortals to purchase new Apple products. So you can bet he's tried out most of the smartwatches on the market today. The worst one? By far, the Samsung Galaxy Gear, which The Woz says he sold on eBay after half a day's use. "It was so worthless and did so little that was convenient," Wozniak said at an appearance in Milwaukee. "You had to hold it up to your ear and stuff." So maybe the watch sucked, but just imagine being the one who bought Woz's used Gear---do you think they know?
United States

White House May Name Patent Reform Opponent As New Head of Patent Office 211

Posted by samzenpus
from the fox-in-the-henhouse dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Obama Administration is set to appoint Phil Johnson, a pharmaceutical industry executive, as the next Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, according to sources. The move is likely to anger patent reform advocates given Johnson's past efforts to block legislation aimed at reining in patent trolls, and in light of his positions that appear to contradict the White House's professed goal of fixing the patent system. The top job at the Patent Office has been vacant for around 18-months since the departure of previous director David Kappos in early 2013. Currently, the office is being managed by former Googler Michelle Lee, who was appointed deputy director in December. Earlier this month, Republican Senators led by Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sent a letter to President Obama that praised Lee but that also described the current USPTO management structure as "unfair, untenable and unacceptable for our country's intellectual property agency."
United Kingdom

Cambridge Team Breaks Superconductor World Record 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the light-as-a-feather dept.
An anonymous reader writes University of Cambridge scientists have broken a decade-old superconducting record by packing a 17.6 Tesla magnetic field into a golf ball-sized hunk of crystal — equivalent to about three tons of force. From the Cambridge announcement: "A world record that has stood for more than a decade has been broken by a team led by University of Cambridge engineers, harnessing the equivalent of three tonnes of force inside a golf ball-sized sample of material that is normally as brittle as fine china. The Cambridge researchers managed to 'trap' a magnetic field with a strength of 17.6 Tesla — roughly 100 times stronger than the field generated by a typical fridge magnet — in a high temperature gadolinium barium copper oxide (GdBCO) superconductor, beating the previous record by 0.4 Tesla."
Government

Netflix Could Be Classified As a 'Cybersecurity Threat' Under New CISPA Rules 125

Posted by timothy
from the negative-I-am-a-meat-popsicle dept.
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "The cybersecurity bill making its way through the Senate right now is so broad that it could allow ISPs to classify Netflix as a "cyber threat," which would allow them to throttle the streaming service's delivery to customers. "A 'threat,' according to the bill, is anything that makes information unavailable or less available. So, high-bandwidth uses of some types of information make other types of information that go along the same pipe less available," Greg Nojeim, a lawyer with the Center for Democracy and Technology, said. "A company could, as a cybersecurity countermeasure, slow down Netflix in order to make other data going across its pipes more available to users.""

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