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Comment: April Fools (Score 4, Insightful) 107

by DarkOx (#49386213) Attached to: Coup in Arrakis Capitol Leaves Region in Flux

I have always enjoyed April fools on Slashdot. Many have complained but in past years at least some of the gags were plausible or at least clever, like the evil bit drafted up as an RFC etc.

Today its basically bad fanfic, which does not really qualify as an April fool's prank. Its like watching a bunch of 3rd graders who think they have mastered stand up comedy tell fart jokes.

Comment: Re:Way too many humanities majors (Score 2) 367

by DarkOx (#49380283) Attached to: Why America's Obsession With STEM Education Is Dangerous

The reason for the focus on "get a degree, any degree" is that for some time, that was necessary not for the specific training it provided, but because it showed "I am educated, I can function on this level, I can learn what you need me to learn" to employers. These days, it's not enough, because everyone wants you to already have experience or training.

I know this absolutely correct, the number of HR droids that reject any resume that does not list a degree is proof of that. I suspect though one of the reasons every once people who already have experience is that the old method using a degree as evidence a person can learn, following instructions, and see a complex project requiring some independent thought through to completion stopped working. The overhead of hiring is around 20% most places, you can't afford to bring people on who don't have a pretty high probability of "working out". As so many institutions shifted to being diploma mills, the degrees stopped meaning anything. The solution was just hire people who already have a track record of doing the job.

I don't see how you can avoid the same problems with STEM degrees. The plan is the same push people toward STEM the same way it was push everyone toward college before. The same perverse incentives will exist. I don't see how the result will be different.

Comment: Re:Way too many humanities majors (Score 5, Interesting) 367

by DarkOx (#49379745) Attached to: Why America's Obsession With STEM Education Is Dangerous

Which they all did not because they had any real interest in furthering art, philosophy, or the advancement of culture and ideas but because a they were propagandized in thinking that university education makes sense for 'everyone'.

I am on what might be considered the leading edge of the millennials (I was born in the early 80s). I got out of school mostly before everyone started shouting "STEM STEM STEM" in my day the mantra was "college prep, college prep.." if you were a kid and even suggested to anyone anywhere you had thoughts about your future that did not include a 4 year degree, they immediately would launch into this diatribe about how you'd never get beyond sweeping the floors anywhere if you did not do so. Plenty of people worked your parents over pretty good too, encase they entertained any while notions about letting you find your own path.

So we ended up with a ton of people in colleges who really had not business being there. They got humanities degrees because those are largely subjective; you can award a degree and not worry about things reflecting poorly on your institution as much. I am sure some will disagree but the fact is that it at least at the undergrad level it is easier to walk out with degree in religious studies or ethics, than mathematics. Lets not forget college is expensive and thanks to the student loan bubble and the need to chase those dollars; I believe, can't prove, that many institutions felt a lot of pressure to issue degrees one way or anything so their graduations rates looked decent. So likely we have tons of humanities and business degree holders out there that were probably never good college candidates in the first place.

Its no surprise these degrees are not valued highly in the market place now. So the solution is to repeat the problem by pushing people into degree programs that are still considered valuable. The result will if anything will be to devalue these degrees.

Comment: Re:The future is now. (Score 1) 152

by DarkOx (#49379311) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Who's Going To Win the Malware Arms Race?

Isn't this complaint similar to someone in the 1800's complaining about how the big industrial machines make it so that hobbyists who craft a small engine in their barn are no longer competitive

I think this is different, or maybe i just see it that way being closer to it. Big industrial engines did not replace small barn built engines, the supplemented them. The farmer still needed a crude well pump and could not afford to have some 2 ton lump of iron shipped from back east. Similarly that barn mechanic could find a place servicing those big industrial engines in the field, they were not designed to lock him out.

Even today while the hobbyist isn't generally machining his own cylinder header any kid can still get started and make a buck learning to fix the neighborhood law mowers, at least that builds enough familiarity with the type and character of the work for someone can make a decision if they want to peruse the training to become a mechanic as a profession.

The same can be said with your other examples. What I think is somewhat unique in our digital world is that people can be pretty effectively designed against. Sure engine builders have done things like try to design in ways that require special tools, but usually that isn't terribly effective. The manufacture of my car would love for me to shell out for many of their 'factory' task specific tools they charge $100s for, or give up and head to the dealership; usually you can make something instead. Not so long ago I had to go purchase a 13mm socket to cut a notch in one side of, weld to length of re-bar onto the end of it, and weld a hex head bold to the end of that so I could turn it.

By contrast good luck defeating the locked boot loader on your smart phone or tablet. Yes sometimes someone gets lucky and finds a workable exploit. Unlike the engine situation though that isn't something a person of median intellect and a willingness to read and be persistent can count on success at. The ones who do succeed frequently have the benefit of some insider knowledge too.
 

Comment: Re:The future is now. (Score 2) 152

by DarkOx (#49378321) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Who's Going To Win the Malware Arms Race?

I think you are correct but I hope you are wrong. The trouble with software not coming from the wild is it means there era of the hobbyist programmer is over. Which I think will in many ways also mean the end of innovation. Right now the app stores are full because there are enough people who already had the skills to create apps. They have those skills because they obtained them in a time where the barrier to entry was low. They had a PC and it was programmable and programmer friendly. So if folks that were interested got a chance to learn, its only a small leap to writing for another device.

If we end up in a world with programmer unfriendly devices and one where most don't have PCs because their tablet or Chromebook is 'good enough' than only the folks with direct exposure to programming via someone they know who does it to become interested. There won't be that PC sitting in their home to just tinker with, a person would have to go out and buy one just to see if its something they want to get into. I am not a fan of the teach everyone to code whether they care to or not movement but IOS and ChromeOS are barriers to entry could easily get in the way of people who do care. Part of the fun at the beginner level is being able to share your stuff with others that is harder to do when you have to get through some app store approval process and you are just starting out.

That said I think malware arms race is 'winable' the concept of least privilege is getting integrated into mostly single user desktop platforms, Windows, technology like ASLR, DEP, stack protection, and canaries, have virtually killed the buffer overflow as anything more than DOS vector in 64-bit software. Now most 'exploits' really depend on some sort of fundamental algorithmic or logic error; that or attacking some legacy 32-bit or 16-bit binary. People do now largely know better to run random executable from people they don't know, etc. Security in the PC world is 'getting there' hopefully that will stem the tide of the 'app store' paradigm.

Comment: Re: Christian Theocracy (Score 1, Insightful) 1145

by DarkOx (#49372073) Attached to: Apple's Tim Cook Calls Out "Religious Freedom" Laws As Discriminatory

I think Tim Cook misses the point. There is a world of difference between the government discriminating by not letting homosexual couples say file a joint tax return and Jane's Wedding Cake emporium refusing to put two groom cake toppers on their baked goods.

Civil rights laws that try and force a private business to serve all customers should be considered unconstitutional. We have the freedom of association under the first amendment that implies a freedom to disassociate from others or other groups in order to have any meaning at all, and if you won't accept that argument than refusing service or entry could also be viewed as kind of speech.

Personally I can't understand why any business would ever do this. To mean one person's dollars are as good as the nexts. I don't care what color, or gender passing them across the counter to me happens to be. I also don't really care about the religious ideas or sexual desires the mind governing that might hold, only that its willing to freely offer me dollars in exchange for whatever good or service I happen to be proffering. Same goes for hiring, I just want the person who will do the best job for lowest cost.

I don't think its right to deny someone based on race,color,creed, sexual orientation etc, but as strongly as I feel that is wrong, so do I feel about forcing someone to act against their will or conviction. So the baker who wont sell a wedding cake to the nice gay couple is a prick, he will loose their business and mine, because I'd prefer to do business which someone I think well of.

Ultimately the market prevails, you can the relative economic success of places across the world, and you find with a few exceptions that happen to be sitting on huge oil reserves, the wealthy places are the ones that don't have serious problems with race, or gender discrimination. I suspect that correlation is no accident.

Our economy is large enough that minority groups who face discrimination probably can find another employer or another shop who will treat them fairly. I don't think that is a problem, for one thing nobody can tell much about who or what you are behind a web form. I think we should err on the side of individual freedoms here.

Where we need to be careful though is all the places government is involved, if we don't make sure our tax policy, family law policies, education, civil services, law enforcement behavior, etc are equal for all citizens than we are failing as a free society. The 'system' should work for everyone.

Comment: Re:Social scientists (Score 1) 431

by DarkOx (#49366951) Attached to: Experts: Aim of 2 Degrees Climate Goal Insufficient

That is is paralysis by analysis. Its trick the intellectually bankrupt resort to when they want to seem insightful or somehow smart.

Different people are going to tolerate levels of adverse consequences differently is obvious. That goes for the short term and the long term. In the end that fact is inconsequential what matters is what is acceptable for most people or what matters for the people in a position to affect outcomes.

That fact the 1.2 degrees might destroy the economy of some island group someplace when most of us think we will be okay at 2 degrees and the short term consequence of action is more acute. Means that tiny minority just does not matter. In the end they won't get their way, so I say they really are not worth thinking about.

Comment: Wait what question? (Score 1) 177

by DarkOx (#49353085) Attached to: German Auto Firms Face Roadblock In Testing Driverless Car Software

For example when faced with the decision to crash into a pedestrian or another vehicle carrying a family

Um there is no question for several reasons.

First if the situation is so immediate your only two options are hit a vehicle or hit a person its highly unlikely you have time to peer into the other vehicle and count its occupants.

Second most vehicles on the road today have lots of safety features; if they are being used, seat belts fastened airbags not disabled etc, most crashes are highly survivable; most pedestrian vehicle crashes far far less so for the pedestrian (excepting very low speed nudged someone in a parking lot cases).

Finally while your liability insurance should most likely be on the hook in any situation I can image you finding yourself faced with such a choice another driver is more likely to have supplemental coverage that will ensure they are taken if your insurer dicks out and tries to screw them.

I really can't image a situation, most things being held equal, ( I know you could contrive a situation where you will be nearly at a complete stop before you hit the pedestrian vs hitting the other vehicle at high speed ) where it would ever be appropriate to choose to hit the pedestrian.

Comment: Re:it could have been an accident (Score 2) 737

by DarkOx (#49345185) Attached to: Germanwings Plane Crash Was No Accident

The violence policy center estimates 674 murder suicides per year for the US alone. I would say this qualifies a murder suicide, if it wasn't done for political / religious reasons that would make it terrorism.

If we exclude acts done in hot zones like Iraq, Yemen, Syria, etc that are more military in nature, how many terrorist attacks were there last year? I don't know but I'd guess less than 674.

Comment: Re:Same Thing Almost Happened to Me (Score 1) 536

Yes you can put anything you want in a purchase contract, I did exactly that. I work from home so I have to have connectivity.

Now an offer on one property I made was refused because they were unwilling to accept that condition; but that's their right. Just like it is my right not offer to buy something unless I can determine its suitable. Either both parties can accept the terms or not. That is how transactions happen in a free society.

I have no sympathy for this guy he should have taken some steps to protect himself; and no asking a sales drone in a Comcast polo shirt is not due diligence. A two second conversation with his realtor should have resulted in him being told we can put whatever you want in the offer contract. He could write that himself if comfortable or do what I did an pay for one hour of a lawyers time to draft up 6 sentence paragraph.

Comment: Re:He's just in a hurry to get to the future (Score 1) 78

by mcgrew (#49338655) Attached to: The Kevlar Kandidate Wants A 7-Day Workweek, No Days Off

I don't vote party, except that I avoid both D and R whenever there's a candidate who doesn't want to put half the people I know in prison for smoking pot.

If anyone but Bruce Rauner had run against Quinn I would have voted for the Republican, becuase Quinn just wasn't a good governor. I think Rauner will be even worse, maybe even as bad as Ryan(R) or Blago(D), both were crooks. I don't know if Rauner is a crook but his policies are terrible. There were only two named on the ballot, so it was indeed a choice between two evils.

Look, Republicans are against the Social Security I paid into all my life and am now enjoying, against unions, without which I would have no pension, against the single payer health care system which has countries with it in place enjoying half the costs we face with far less infant mortality and longer life spans (Obamacare is really Romneycare in disguise); against the Medicare I again paid into and will get in a couple of years; against food stamps (that's simply un-Christian, yet they claim to be Christians?); against taxes (again, an un-Christian stance). Tell me, what Democrat views that the Republicans don't share are detrimental to me, a middle class retired guy?

But both parties are against pot legalization, for our insanely long copyrights, and quite a few more where there really isn't a valid choice.

Comment: Re:Is today Tuesday? (Score 1) 8

by mcgrew (#49338157) Attached to: We've been spelling it wrong for over a quarter century

Well, when a child says bye-bye, it sounds like a contraction (b'bye), but bye-bye is not a contraction. It's more like Cory Doctorow spells sidewalk: side-walk. Wnat contraction uses a hyphen instead of an apostrophe? Not bye-bye, it isn't a contraction of anything.

As to "SyFy", that's a trademark, not a word. It only applies to that bad cable channel. Hi-fi and sci-fi aren't contractions of high fidelity and science fiction, but new words made out of old ones.

I guess that could argue the validity of e-mail and e-books, though.

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