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Comment: Re:Tivo is very long in the tooth... (Score 4, Interesting) 50

by Stuntmonkey (#47578741) Attached to: Why TiVo's Founders Crashed and Burned With Qplay

Tivo is a story of one missed opportunity after another. Great engineering that failed to iterate. They could have easily led the industry in streaming (from the net a la Netflix, or from home servers). They could have easily worked out interactive ad formats to layer on top of recorded shows. They could have easily gone the premium pay-per-view route (like iTunes/Apple TV/Amazon). It almost makes me angry to see so much wasted potential.

Comment: Re:First contact? (Score 1) 95

An extragalactic origin, if correct, would put the source likely millions of light years away. An artificial radio source detectable over that distance would take a truly phenomenal amount of power, on par with stellar events like supernovae or black hole mergers. Or it would need to be very narrowly beamed, in which case how does ET know to point in our direction?

Bear in mind that the entire RF output of our planet (radio waves streaming into space) would not be detectable by Arecibo even 10 light years away. Move the source to a million light years, and remembering the inverse square law, gives you a sense of how much more power you'd need to make an isotropic emitter detectable. It's hard to imagine why an ET would want to do this, assuming they could marshall the stellar energies involved.

Comment: Transitioning to "real" programs (Score 2) 415

by Stuntmonkey (#47411881) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

Python lets you dive in quickly, and it has two properties I like in a first language: It encourages good practices, and it's in the C-derived language group so what you learn transfers easily.

The only thing you lose with Python is some of Java's ability to do "real" programming directly. A kid can use Java to do Minecraft modding, and a college student can write Android apps. There aren't so many direct uses of Python. (Yes there are a lot of real-world uses for Python, but not for writing user-level apps.)

Comment: Re: Entrusting our lives to complex software (Score 2) 468

I have no problem with that, so long as there is a big red "disengage" button that allows a human pilot to assume control. What bothers me is entrusting our lives to software when such an override may be impractical, such as when your car is careening down the highway at 65 mph and you happen to be sleeping or reading a book.

Comment: Entrusting our lives to complex software (Score 3, Insightful) 468

Autonomous cars, and now this. I have to say I'm not so eager to entrust my life to complex software. Working in software I've seen countless times that complex systems show behaviors the designers didn't intend. At a minimum I'd want to know what dead-simple failsafe mechanisms have been engineered in to recognize and handle unknown states.

Comment: Re:The "right to be forgotten" (Score 1) 210

I agree it's a technically flawed concept.

But in practical terms we have to recognize that information used to decay in a sense. In the old days of my youth, you couldn't make that newspaper clipping go away, but over time it would become buried and hard to find and access. (All of us over a certain age remember going through microfilm archives looking for articles. Even when you knew what you were looking for it was tedious.) So in a practical sense things mostly would be forgotten given enough time.

None of that exists any more in the era of digital information. Content creators have no incentive to take down stale content; it costs nothing to serve and accrues ad revenue. So everything sticks around forever. We like the fact that our hard drives have (nearly) perfect memories, but there's also an ambivalence. It's hard to say what the right answer is.

Comment: Re:Why does Obama keep doing this? (Score 1) 211

He keeps doing it because there is a ton of money to be made by lawyers within the current system.

- Fees to create, file, and defend bogus patents
- Fees involved with court cases over bogus patents and patent trolls (some involving negotiated settlements of billions)
- Fees negotiating licensing deals, contracts, and other instruments felt necessary in the over-litigious environment

Remember Obama is a lawyer and all his friends are too, and he (being a Democrat) gets a lot of financial backing from lawyers. Through that lens I think it's hard for him to see the downsides -- to innovation, to the business environment -- of the current system.

Comment: Re:But people forget what MENSA concluded (Score 1) 561

by Stuntmonkey (#47337781) Attached to:, Mensa Create Dating Site For Geniuses

The carrot of salary and the stick of unemployment are what's getting many people to accomplish a single goal.

Not sure if troll. Employment and wages are just the start of personal motivation. Those will only cause a person to show up. Did the soldiers who stormed the beaches at Normandy do it because of their paychecks? Do the players in the World Cup only try hard because they think it might lead to lucrative endorsement deals? I know an awful lot of people here in silicon valley who could easily retire, but they keep working because they have dreams and feel their work is meaningful.

Comment: Re:But people forget what MENSA concluded (Score 1) 561

by Stuntmonkey (#47337697) Attached to:, Mensa Create Dating Site For Geniuses

You misunderstand the job of a senior leader. Their job isn't to have all the answers and be right all the time. It's to steer the organization to success. It's not so different from being a military commander, or the coach of a football team. Some things will go wrong as a result of the calls you make. If you dwell on those failures and second-guess yourself in front of your people, it only serves to harm your team's ability to succeed.

When you're a football coach and your team is down at halftime, what's your locker room speech? "I'm sorry guys I really fucked up a couple of those calls. I guess I have a lot to learn. But our stats guy says there's still an 11% chance we might win, so we might pull out a miracle!" When you act without confidence, it makes your team lack confidence in themselves and that's halfway to defeat.

My experience with senior leaders is they always feel doubt inside. They're just good at hiding it because they know it isn't productive.

Comment: Re:But people forget what MENSA concluded (Score 1) 561

by Stuntmonkey (#47337357) Attached to:, Mensa Create Dating Site For Geniuses

CEO's are stupid as boxes of rocks, but they can sell themselves and talk others into doing things and convince people they know what they are doing.

The way I think of it is: There are several different kinds of intelligence. IQ tests cover things like pattern recognition because they want to be language-independent and objective. There are other kinds of intelligence like social intelligence -- understanding, inspiring, and motivating people. And intelligence coming up with big new ideas, and so on. The standard IQ tests have blind spots in these areas.

I've worked a lot with CEOs in my 25+ year career, and by and large they are impressive people. And I don't mean in the con-man way you seem to feel. They understand how to read people and motivate action. I'm reminded of the anecdote where an engineer at Apple was responsible for developing a laptop power supply, a classic "boring" task, when Steve Jobs randomly popped by his desk and asked what he was working on. In the course of a 5 minute conversation with Steve he came away feeling he had the most important job at the company. There's a type of intelligence there that IQ doesn't capture, and it isn't pure bullshit.

Comment: Re:Diversity is not a virtue (Score 1) 265

Why force diversity? There is nothing worthwhile in diversity in and of itself

Plenty of research shows that diversity within a team contributes to better problem-solving, and a better overall outcome.

HOWEVER, the kind of diversity that counts most isn't skin color or genital configuration. The diversity that counts is a person's skills, personality, and problem-solving approach. It's about pairing big-picture thinkers with detailed ground-up thinkers. It's about partnering organizers with people who need to be organized. And so on.

Companies know all this. They know what makes teams effective. They talk about skin and genitals because that's what's expected of them.

Comment: Re:Good. (Score 1) 138

by Stuntmonkey (#47337045) Attached to: Google Starts Removing Search Results After EU Ruling

It's not like removing the information from their index without removing it from an actual website is going to make the information 'private' again.

I agree completely. The EU regulators are well-intentioned I'm sure, but they seem to be equating "Google" with "The Internet". That's a compliment to Google but very misleading. People are going to think they can take information off the internet by filing a request with Google.

Comment: Re:Yes I saw that with "Erich Spangenberg" (Score 1) 138

by Stuntmonkey (#47336803) Attached to: Google Starts Removing Search Results After EU Ruling

From the FAQ:

When you search for a name, you may see a notice that says that results may have been modified in accordance with data protection law in Europe. We’re showing this notice in Europe when a user searches for most names, not just pages that have been affected by a removal.

Computers are not intelligent. They only think they are.