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Comment: Re:Hilarious! (Score 1) 208

by TheRaven64 (#49798705) Attached to: Chinese Nationals Accused of Taking SATs For Others

The same is true of university exams. My undergraduate exams, for example, mostly required that you answer two of three questions per exam. To get a first (for people outside the UK: the highest classification), you needed to get 70%. Most questions were around 40% knowledge and 60% application of the knowledge. If you could predict the topics that the examiner would pick, then that meant that you could immediately discard a third of the material. To get the top grade, you needed to get 100% in one question and 40% in another. This meant that you could understand a third of the material really well and understand another third well enough to get the repetition marks, but not the understanding ones and still get the top grade. This meant that you could study 50% of the material and still do very well in the exams, as long as you picked the correct 50%. And some of the lecturers were very predictable when setting exams...

Comment: Re:Doesn't get it (Score 1) 277

What jobs do you imagine existing in 10-20 years that don't require some understanding of programming? I thought my stepfather, as head greenskeeper at a golf course might have had one before he retired, but it turns out that the irrigation system that he had to use came with a domain-specific programming language for controlling it. A lot of farm equipment is moving in the same direction. Office jobs generally require either wasting a lot of time, or learning a bit of scripting (hint: the employees who opt for the first choice are not going to be the ones that keep their jobs for long). Jobs that don't require any programming are the ones that are easy to automate.

But, of course, we don't need to teach our children to write. After all, they can always hire a scribe if they need to and there really aren't enough jobs for scribes to justify teaching it to everyone.

Comment: Re:Impractical (Score 1) 545

by TheRaven64 (#49798347) Attached to: How Tesla Batteries Will Force Home Wiring To Go Low Voltage
Why would I be stuck with the connector? For one thing, you can easily install adaptors - even if you'd rolled out USB A or B sockets, they'd still be supported everywhere and you can buy adaptors very cheaply. The main problem with a USB A socket (which is really the only one of the previous ones that you'd consider for charging) is the low power - it can only provide about 10W, even if you have some adaptor. USB C can provide 100W, and 100W seems like enough for a DC supply for quite a while.

But if I'd rolled out USB A sockets in 1995, I don't think I'd object strongly to replacing the faceplates on the sockets with USB C ones in the next five years, if the wires in the wall could supply the required power.

I have yet to see a USB-C connector yet, and I am usually a first adopter.

No one you know has a MacBook Air? Most of the next generation of mobiles are going to have USB C (Apple and Google are among the bigger backers), so expect to see a lot of them appearing.

Comment: Re:Important Question: WHICH DC? (Score 1) 545

by TheRaven64 (#49798309) Attached to: How Tesla Batteries Will Force Home Wiring To Go Low Voltage
If you connect one of these to the existing AC main, then you're just moving the well wart into the socket. You still have one AC to DC converter for each device, and that particular device can only provide 2.1A at 5V, which is well below what USB-C supports (no charging a MacBook Air from it, for example).

Comment: Re:survival of the fittest? (Score 2) 573

by JaredOfEuropa (#49797019) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Happens If We Perfect Age Reversing?
It's not hard to see who gets to live longer. The rich, for one. If "we" decide to select candidates on merit, there will most certainly be other places where the selection criteria are different or where the deciders can be bought, and those who can afford it will simply move there (or import the stuff from there).

And if this is done by lottery, a lucky winner might well sell his ticket if the price is right... and would we even want to try and stop such transactions, like we prohibit people from selling their own organs now? If you (at, say, age 35) win the lottery and get to choose between a normal lifespan in sufficient wealth, or an extended lifespan that will be spent either working or worrying over money (or both)? Because your state or private pension scheme is most certainly not going to cover you for 300 years.

Comment: Re:Someone claim (C) on something oracle depend on (Score 2) 214

The Open Group claims the copyright on the POSIX specifications. If APIs can be copyrighted and this copyright includes all implementations, then it would be problematic for all open source *NIX systems. Of course, they might decide to provide a license that's valid for everyone except Oracle (though writing such a license in a way that's GPL compatible would be very hard, so glibc might be in trouble).

Comment: Re:Important Question: WHICH DC? (Score 1) 545

by TheRaven64 (#49791213) Attached to: How Tesla Batteries Will Force Home Wiring To Go Low Voltage
The thing that killed DC in the war of the currents was that step up and step down transformers for AC are easy and cheap to build, but doing the same thing for DC caused a lot more loss (one of the simplest ways of doing it was to convert to AC, do the voltage change, and then convert back to DC). For long hauls on the grid, you want a much higher voltage than in houses. Now, however, it's relatively cheap (both in terms of convertors and in terms of loss) to produce DC-DC converters. USB-C supports 5V (up to 2A), 12V (1.5-5A) and 20V (3-5A). It's fairly easy to imagine 48V between rooms and then a converter in the sockets able to provide USB voltages. You wouldn't want to run a heater or a vacuum cleaner from it, but it would be nice for a lot of consumer electronics.

Comment: Re:Impractical (Score 2) 545

by TheRaven64 (#49791099) Attached to: How Tesla Batteries Will Force Home Wiring To Go Low Voltage
We're not talking grid back-haul though, we're talking a few tens of metres maximum within a house. I've wondered for a while if it would be more efficient to have moderately high voltage DC room-to-room and then low-voltage DC in rooms. Given the number of things in my house that would prefer a DC supply and so end up with (cheap and inefficient) AC to DC convertors per plug (and especially if you use LED lighting), it seems like it ought to be a win. And now seems like a good time to do it, as USB-C is a consumer connector that can provide up to 100W via something that's designed to be very cheap to produce in the lower power variations.

Comment: Re:Oh man (Score 2) 139

by TheRaven64 (#49789459) Attached to: Scientists Reverse Aging In Human Cell Lines
Top 10% probably. Take a look at a global rich list calculator. You can live very comfortably in a western country with 9% of the world's population being richer than you. If you're in some parts of central or eastern Europe, or a few parts of south-east Asia then you may be near the bottom of the top 20% and still living very comfortably. The '1%' that people talk about in the USA are well in the top 0.1% globally, but 'the 1%' makes a better soundbite than 'the 0.1%'.

Comment: Re:That poor man (Score 2) 269

I find it hard to consider anyone who owns a house (even with a mortgage), especially in one of the places with the highest property prices in the world, poor. This scheme seems very odd, because the poorest residents of California are renting, they don't own houses (well, the poorest are homeless), who can't just stick solar panels on top of a house that they're renting.

Comment: Re:An aid or a barrier? (Score 1) 109

GP makes a good point though, and actually both IT and the business often perceive the IT department as "plumbing". Something that just has to work: the plumber keeps the toilets from getting clogged, and IT keeps the servers from being owned. If that is how IT sees themselves, they'll become a "no" department with no added value.

If a business guy tells you: "I need an FTP server", your answer shouldn't be "no way in hell", but "what is it you really need?". Understand what their business need is, then offer your expertise to set up the right technology for the job to meet that need. And it goes further: if you understand their business, you can take the initiative and bring new tech to their attention and show them how it will help them to do things better, faster or cheaper. Many IT departments don't do that often enough or well enough.

Comment: Re:Welcome to outsourcing (Score 1) 109

That's a very good observation, and I suppose that in some cases the strict and deliberate split of Business and IT was done to keep departments from going off and setting up all manner of rogue IT projects. I have seen other specific measures being taken to prevent just that sort of thing. However, I see the exact same organisational trends in companies that profess to continuously improve their ways of doing business through innovative IT. In those cases, the downside is very real, and as far as I can see not very well understood or even recognized. Big IT-driven change projects and pilots of innovative technology are enthusiastically started, but fail to deliver the potential business benefits because of a lack of IT knowledge of management on the steering committee, and because of a lack of intimacy between business and IT.

I'd argue that there are still big gains being made with new IT; the need for continued innovation is still there. For starters, replacing traditional inventory and accounting with computer based solutions hasn't been a big bang where all the benefits were realized in a short time. These things evolved from basic isolated solutions, adding bar codes and inventory tracking, automated warehouses, JIT logistics, ERP, standardisation in integration tech that allows easy outsourcing of payroll and other business processes, etc. And this process continues. My current client suffers from the stuff I described above, but that doesn't mean that all their projects fail, and we've seen some significant tangible benefits coming out of the use of mobile devices, new ways of learning and providing support, a shift to SAAS, virtualisation, web-based solutions (thin client), and they even still develop some bespoke software that gives them a real competitive edge. They go for "commodity tools" in the sense that their strategy is to "buy not build" where possible, but the stuff they buy is being improved upon all the time, and even SAAS solutions do not free you from having to have at least some knowledge of IT when rolling them out into the organisation.

Keep in mind that innovation doesn't mean operating on the bleeding edge of tech or inventing your own stuff, in most cases it means adjusting your organisation and the way you do business to take advantage of advances being made in tech that is already available as "boring" commodity software or services.

Comment: Re:Welcome to outsourcing (Score 1) 109

This. Also, here's a telltale quote:

The report says that given the low levels of digital knowledge and skills outside of IT [..]

When I first started working, IT was more closely interwoven with the business functions. Gradually, IT was separated into its own department, parts of it were outsourced, and the work was more compartimentalized (moving from individual generalists to fully interchangable specialists). To be sure this has had positive effects: in my own experience the level of professionalism has gone way up and there are far fewer ninja projects and hobby departments. But the downside has been that IT has lost touch with the business almost completely, and the amount of red tape is staggering.

Tomorrow's computers some time next month. -- DEC

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