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Comment: Re:Not a functional tool. (Score 1) 134

by Trep (#46557861) Attached to: Functional 3D-Printed Tape Measure

It does have markings, actually. Though the video did not really make that clear. As far as accuracy...yeah, it isn't the most precise. But it is better than 1% accuracy. I guess by functional I mostly meant isn't a block that resembles a tape measure, but actually has a retractable "tape", moving parts, etc. No one is claiming you should replace your tape measure with this. It's clearly just a cool toy. I still kind of want one to keep on my desk though...

Comment: Re:How does that work? (Score 1) 134

by Trep (#46557815) Attached to: Functional 3D-Printed Tape Measure

I think that is true in some varieties of 3D printers. However, it is not the case for this one. No breaking is involved after it prints. However, my friend did say he spent 2 hours cleaning off the support material from inside the tape measure. Note that the support material probably means that all of the holes in the case are not just to show off the internals. If would be very difficult (impossible?) to get the support material out without those holes.

Comment: Re:How does that work? (Score 1) 134

by Trep (#46557799) Attached to: Functional 3D-Printed Tape Measure

Yes. What you don't see in that video is the "support material". This is a dry, gel-like, sort of "pasty" material that holds everything in place while it is printing. It is removed afterwards using a water pressure washer. Here's some photos of the process (not from the tape measure, but on the same equipment): http://imgur.com/h8E9Re5

Comment: Prevention not Retribution (Score 1) 914

by Trep (#46536021) Attached to: Time Dilation Drug Could Let Heinous Criminals Serve 1,000 Year Sentences

The premise of this article is so sad. The Justice System's sole objective should be to prevent crime, not to exact vengeance for crimes, and all policies should be judged in this light. We should be asking, "What effect will this policy have on crime rates?", and not "What does this person deserve?". Obviously, some kind of punishment as a deterrent is a necessary component; we just need to keep in mind the purpose.

A corollary of this way of thinking is that the justice system (and society in general) should be very interested in helping convicts re-integrate when they get out of prison. There's a lot stacked against a person coming out of prison, and unfortunately I think people tend to assume that most just deserve to have the rest of their lives ruined and don't deserve any help in re-establishing themselves. Finding jobs, housing, general acceptance is good for preventing recidivism; not to mention that these are fellow humans, and if they want to be productive members of society we should be helping to tear-down the roadblocks in their way instead of putting them up.

Here's an alternative way to look at time dilation drugs as a punishment increase:

Someone can serve a one year sentence but it will seem to them like 10 years. Possibly the deterrence value of that sentence went up, while the actual time goesdown, meaning a) less of a lifetime lost for the criminal and b) less money spent by the tax-payer.

Comment: Re:Public vs. Private? (Score 1) 386

by Trep (#42164177) Attached to: Khan Academy: the Future of Taxpayer Reeducation?

One more point I wanted to make is: keep in mind that #1 isn't just about contracting work overseas. Think of all the fast food restaurants, farm workers, janitorial services, all the work that even many private companies contract out. The difference is that when the government contracts it out, those salaries move from the public employee pool to the private employee pool for the purposes of these types of salary comparisons. When a private company contracts out janitorial services, those salaries are still part of the same pool.

Comment: Re:Public vs. Private? (Score 2) 386

by Trep (#42164147) Attached to: Khan Academy: the Future of Taxpayer Reeducation?

Interesting question. If the basis for your statement that "federal jobs require so much more skill and education than private sector jobs", is the difference in average salary, then my hunch is that #1 is the dominant factor here.

You motivated me to go find some data, and I did find a CBO report which says that the government is generous relative to public sector for lower-paid workers but actually pays less than private sector for higher paid, higher education positions:
http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/01/chart-day-federal-government-pay-vs-private-sector-pay

The biggest difference in the CBO study is 36% (federal employees w/ no more than high school education make that much more). I think based on this, it is pretty likely that distribution of job types has to play a big factor. Unfortunately though, the CBO report groups people by education, years of work experience, etc, as well as "Occupation". There isn't a good way to compare the actual work done; so it is possible that federal organizations hire more overqualified people to do the same job relative to private companies.

The main point I wanted to make was that the USA Today article is meaningless, and you can't make any inference about the generosity of federal compensation from average compensation.

If anyone knows where to find similar studies for state and local government as well as federal, I'd like to see it. We did start out talking about Illinois.

Comment: Re:Public vs. Private? (Score 1) 386

by Trep (#42163077) Attached to: Khan Academy: the Future of Taxpayer Reeducation?

The fact that government jobs are more immune to recession is almost certainly true; and more immune to shocks is a good thing, not bad.

As far as pay competitiveness, that article doesn't show anything but average salaries. It doesn't control for the types of jobs. The quote in the article says it:
"Public employee unions say the compensation gap reflects the increasingly high level of skill and education required for most federal jobs and the government contracting out lower-paid jobs to the private sector in recent years."
" 'The data are not useful for a direct public-private pay comparison,' says Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union."

Average salary for Google employees is probably a lot higher than average salary for Wal-mart. It doesn't mean that google pays more than the market rate. They hire for different positions.

If new hires are promised ANY additional benefit, that will affect their decision to take the job on the margin, relative to other jobs. The employer offering the benefit will, all else equal, be able to hire the same employees for a lower salary. Unless there is some other factor at work here distorting market forces.

Very few government employees can vote themselves raises. Like, 535. The rest are hired by a manager, who was hired by a manager, who, eventually, was appointed by the president or congress.

If the government is really paying greater than market rates and not getting above average employees for those positions, then government agencies need to look at their hiring practices; but let's not get carried away.

It amazes me how many people on /. think it's cool to just drop pensions which employees have been paying into, and promised return on, for a long time. This is a commitment made by the employer, the same as any corporate pension program, and it should be paid at least until the state of Illinois declares bankruptcy.

Comment: Re:Exciting (Score 1) 85

by Trep (#42139043) Attached to: Staples To Offer 3D Printing Services

Unfortunately, 3D printer materials are generally not very strong, and have very poor dimensional stability at warmer temperatures. A 3D printed version of most vacuum parts would not last long, I suspect. That said, some things can be printed as fully functional parts, and even if it isn't good for a long term part, quick prototyping with a 3D printer is amazing. And making that available to more people, and cheaper, is great.

I think 3D print materials are something like $0.30/gram (and a little less for the support material which gets thrown out); add to that printer time and it could be a while before distributing parts via 3D printer can compete with, say, injection molding if you are distributing significant quantities of the same part.

I suppose printed parts will get better with time. There are companies out there that make very good parts with SLS quickly (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selective_laser_sintering); you can even SLS titanium.

Comment: Re:Editors... (Score 5, Informative) 293

by Trep (#42138283) Attached to: NASA: Curiosity Has Found Plastic On Mars

If this is some kind of joke that I'm missing, then I apologize. But if you are serious...then try googling first. The Russians did this a long time ago. AFAIK, NASA never attempted a lander though. Venera 13, in 1982, lasted about 2 hours before giving up the ghost.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venera

Comment: Re:spread via RTF?! (Score 1) 85

by Trep (#42021353) Attached to: New Malware Variant Uses Google Docs As a Proxy To Phone Home

The RTF format doesn't support macros or any sort of scripting. Some RTF parsers are still vulnerable to buffer overflow attacks due to bugs in that particular software, so even with no embedded scripting in the RTF format arbitrary code can be executed as the parsing process.

As far as the need, I think macros in office products are justified. It's probably less useful in a document, but there are some very useful purposes for a macro in a spreadsheet. The key is, those macros need to be controlled to work in a limited sandbox (in the same way that javascript executing in a browser does). The problem comes when people fail to maintain the sandbox, either by poor choices or through bugs.

"If I do not want others to quote me, I do not speak." -- Phil Wayne

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