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Comment: Re:I never thought about engineering and Fortran (Score 1) 634

by Rostin (#46974187) Attached to: Why Scientists Are Still Using FORTRAN in 2014
I am not a software engineer, so my speculations here should be taken with an extra grain of salt. With that disclaimer out of the way, my understanding is that Fortran is falling out of favor mostly because scientific and engineering software is growing more complex. At the same time, we are depending more on its reliability, and it is being more widely used by people other than the researchers who developed it. Language features like classes and templates that make developing complicated, reusable, and maintainable code more tractable are baked right into C++. Fortran has some of these kinds of features, but they are almost an afterthought, and I've never actually seen an object oriented Fortran code in the wild. The main things Fortran has going for it, like native vector and matrix operations, complex numbers, and (arguably) greater speed, are no longer enough of a selling point.

Comment: Re:Fortran is NOT the language of choice (Score 1) 634

by Rostin (#46970107) Attached to: Why Scientists Are Still Using FORTRAN in 2014
I don't understand what you mean, so maybe some explanation is needed. Fortran may be a "scientific" programming language, but it was also the language of choice for engineers for a long time. The advantages that Fortran had over other, lower level languages were things like native complex numbers and built-in transcendental functions, features useful to both scientists and engineers.

Comment: Fortran is NOT the language of choice (Score 3, Informative) 634

by Rostin (#46963923) Attached to: Why Scientists Are Still Using FORTRAN in 2014
I have a PhD in engineering, and my dissertation involved writing lots of code. Now I work at a national lab in the US, and I and nearly all of my coworkers work on scientific or engineering codes of some sort. Although there is significant amounts of legacy code that was written in Fortran lying around (a project I work on uses a fortran library written in 1973), very little development is done in that language. It's all C++ or Python.

Comment: Re:The $5,000 gets you... (Score 1) 196

by Rostin (#45116991) Attached to: Cadillac Unveils Pricier Alternative To Tesla Model S
I think if they'd negotiated it for themselves, even the staunchest "Randroid" would have difficult objecting. The fact is, Detroit car companies had guns to their heads in the form of the NLRB. I would never blame the poor fortunes of American automakers solely on the fleecing they've suffered at the hands of the government-backed unions, but it's nonetheless obvious why Toyota chose to build their US factories in right-to-work states.

Comment: Smart Guy (Score 1) 580

Tyson is a smart guy, but probably out of his depth in this case. I doubt he's ever taken more than a couple of economics or business courses, let alone run a successful business on the scale of Paypal, SpaceX, or Tesla. Sadly, he's suffering from the same delusion that lots of people like him eventually contract. Being expected to comment as a kind of "public intellectual" on all things space and science related has given him the misapprehension that he can comment intelligently on anything, including things he doesn't know much about.

Comment: If you don't have a family (Score 1) 237

by Rostin (#44307835) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Scientific Research Positions For Programmers?

Look into getting a PhD or at least an MS in the science you're interested in. In my (pretty limited, admittedly) experience, the developers who do the heavy lifting on scientific codes are PhDs. At the same time, very few (almost 0) freshly minted science or engineering PhDs have any experience developing software in a production environment, so as long as you aren't terrible at interviewing, I think you'd be a shoe-in at a national lab or a company that does this kind of work after you finish.

FYI, because you probably don't know this, getting a PhD in a hard science or engineering is usually free (to you). In fact, they even pay you to do it. The stipend will be a half or a third or a quarter of what you're making now, but it's enough to live on. The challenge of course is that with little or no educational background in geology or whatever, it's going to be harder, though not impossible, to get into a good PhD program. At the very least, they will expect you to take a few undergraduate courses in the beginning to give you the baseline knowledge that most of your classmates will arrive with. And I would urge you to shoot for a top 10 or 20 department. On the BS level, where you got your degree doesn't matter much (again, in my experience). Where you get your PhD matters a lot more. Of all places, academia should be a meritocracy, but in reality, people with PhDs can be really petty about these things, and your lineage matters. At the very least, many places that would hire someone like you only directly recruit at a limited number of schools, and those schools tend to be the best ones.

Another thing you might consider to help you get around this lack of science background is applying to an applied math program that has a scientific emphasis. I had a friend at The University of Texas who was in the computational science and applied math program there, and his research was about computational fluid dynamics. Maybe dig around on their website, or the websites of similar programs, to see if any of the faculty have research collaborations with geologists.

Comment: Re:Smart guns... (Score 1) 814

by Rostin (#44296035) Attached to: Hardly Anyone Is Buying 'Smart Guns'
I'm glad you asked. The answer, according to a preliminary report which was written at the request of the President and very recently released, guns are probably used for defensive purposes at least as often as they are used for criminal purposes. Here's a summary of a few interesting points made in the report. Point #7 addresses your exact question.

Comment: Re: Quite so! (Score 3, Informative) 401

by Rostin (#44260181) Attached to: Electrical Engineering Labor Pool Shrinking
Engineering coop positions and internships pay very generously in the US. On the other hand, the amount of useful knowledge and skills gained in such positions is pretty negligible, so I don't think the person you responded to was correct. They serve mostly as ways for companies to get tedious, low skill work done and to inexpensively vet potential future employees.

Comment: Re:schadenfreude (Score 1) 353

by Rostin (#43143895) Attached to: UC Davis Study Concludes H-1B Workers Neither Best Nor Brightest
As I pointed out in my reply to your other comment, you're wrong. CEOs are not in charge of their own pay. You are also still confusing the question of why CEOs receive the compensation that they do, which is fundamentally economic in nature, with "fairness", which is what you think their pay "should" be.

Comment: Re:schadenfreude (Score 1) 353

by Rostin (#43143839) Attached to: UC Davis Study Concludes H-1B Workers Neither Best Nor Brightest

Who approves the pay increases and golden parachutes?


Oh yes the CEOs.

No, they don't. From the link:

If bosses set the salaries of their workers, who decides what the bosses earn? In a modern corporation, the task of setting the CEO's pay falls to the board of directors, typically a subgroup of board members on its compensation committee.

Comment: Re:schadenfreude (Score 1) 353

by Rostin (#43092761) Attached to: UC Davis Study Concludes H-1B Workers Neither Best Nor Brightest
You seem to be confusing two very different issues. My original claim was (worded a little differently) that employees tend to be compensated according to what the market will bear. If it takes a compensation package that includes raises despite poor stock performance and so-called "golden parachutes" to get and retain an executive, then that's the market rate. Companies apparently think it's a worthwhile arrangement. You, on the other hand, seem to be talking about what is "fair" in some subjective sense.

Comment: Re:schadenfreude (Score 1) 353

by Rostin (#43092543) Attached to: UC Davis Study Concludes H-1B Workers Neither Best Nor Brightest
That by itself is not an argument against what I claimed. For your convenience, I wrote:

What they can get away is what you're worth. If your services were worth more, someone else would steal you away with better compensation.

If executive pay is rising across the board (that is, every company is paying more), all that means is that the level of compensation required to keep an executive at a particular company is rising. You might argue that executive pay is greater than executive productivity, but that raises an obvious question: Why are they being paid that much? Are companies all stupid? It seems like these companies would realize at some point that they could offer lower pay and achieve the same results.

The end of labor is to gain leisure.