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Comment: Re:Listen to Sales - as hard as it may be (Score 1) 158

by Mr Z (#48015009) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Software Issue Tracking Transparency - Good Or Bad?

We do something similar with our tool releases at work. The release notes indicate bugs that were filed on a previous release and closed with the current release, and if there are open issues what the open issues are. (Usually, it's something very obscure, otherwise it would be fixed.) We do something similar with chip errata. The errata document states which chip revisions are affected, and thus implicitly what chip revision fixes the issue.

Thus, we actually have a two tiered approach. There's the internal system(s) that tracks bugs against the actual development. So, if a bug shows up in a development version, developers and internal testers can file bugs on each other. All that noise has absolutely no business going outside the development team, as it's really just developer-to-developer communication. Then there's the customer issue tracking system. Customer-reported bugs get filed in that system, and they get their own ticket number, and it gets tied to a bug filed in the internal system. The customer bug reports are the ones we comment on in the release notes, along with any notable bugs we discovered in internal testing that customers may not have hit yet.

Disclaimer: My description above is a loose description of the processes we employ at work, and there is variation across teams and business units. It isn't intended to be rigorous. I'm only commenting on my team and teams I've worked closely with. The principle is the same, though. Our dirty laundry (the internal bug tracking system) stays internal. Externally reported bugs get tracked somewhat more opaquely, simply connecting the bug report to the release it's fixed in. It seems quite reasonable to me.

Comment: Re:Standing on the Shoulders of Giants (Score 1) 173

by asliarun (#47982711) Attached to: Mangalyaan Successfully Put Into Mars Orbit

Why begrudge ISRO their moment in the spotlight?

Nobody is begrudging them their moment in the spotlight - only attempting to counterbalance and correct the hype and hyperbole that so many people (like you) are spinning.

For what it is worth, I do agree with you. I think most hype surrounding these kind of accomplishments are over the top. My only point was - SpaceX etc got far more hype for doing far less. And that is what I meant - let us not begrudge ISRO.

If you are going to say that SpaceX redefined the commercial aspect of rocketry, then ISRO too has set some new benchmarks. If you are going to argue that cost of manpower is cheap in India (hence launch costs are low) - that also ignores some crucial facts.

Cheap wages in India ensures that most of the bright talent in India routinely migrates to US universities and US organizations like NASA. It is ridiculously hard to keep good talent in the current day and age... especially if you can only pay them a fifth of what they can easily get elsewhere.

Secondly, cheap wages are only a small part of lauch costs. This is not some software they are building. I am not an expert, but I would imagine that most of the cost (most of the 75 million dollars) went into engineering, materials, and high tech parts. And material cost, especially for high end exotic stuff that goes into rockets - costs the same worldwide, including India.

At best, you can say launch cost by virtue of being in India could be, say, 50%-75% of what it would cost in US. But $75 million is a tenth of what it costs NASA. So something else was also a factor. Probably frugality in all design choices, probably even cutting corners. Mind you though, an inter-planetary launch is not a joke, and doing it successfully in the first try, despite cutting corners, is quite a feat.

It is worth understanding what ISRO did differently - what corners they cut without compromising reliability, what design philosophy they adopted - that enabled them to pull this off at this budget. I honestly think that attributing all of this to cheap labor wage is to simplistic an argument.

Comment: Re:Standing on the Shoulders of Giants (Score 5, Insightful) 173

by asliarun (#47981015) Attached to: Mangalyaan Successfully Put Into Mars Orbit

Not to be rude (kudos ISRO regardless of all this nitpicking!), but even without hardcore information dumps from NASA, the fact remains that ISRO's attempt, coming so much later than the other three nations' first attempts, invariably benefits from the enormous pace of global scientific and technological advancement in the interim.

The first successes (after initial failures) of the US and Russian Mars programs came back in 1964 and 1971, respectively. I mean, forget the modern Internet and iPhones and all that for a moment.... personal computers as awesome as the Altair 8800 ( ) were still years away from being available. Can you imagine living in a world where that Altair 8800 was too badass to even exist yet, and launching a successful Mars mission? The NASA engineers in the 50's and 60's were working with caveman technology compared to what *anyone*, even ISRO, has access to today.

So I still contend: it's not very fair to gloat about ISRO making it on the first try *now* vs other first-failures, when the other first-failures were so long ago.

For sure. NASA and the Russian equivalent have been the pioneers in space exploration. No questions about that.

Nonetheless, after the Cold War fueled space race fizzled out.. and it has been a couple of decades now, hardly anyone is doing anything worthwhile as far as space exploration is concerned. You will probably admit that we have regressed more than we have made progress. With this in light, it is creditable that an underfunded organization like ISRO got this funded and successfully executed.

And let's also face the face that India is still a terribly poor country. The pursuit of science is indeed part of its value system that probably that fact alone caused ISRO to survive all these years. And ISRO has also been releasing satellites since 1975 (Aryabhata), although they only got launch capability fairly recently (1993). And admittedly, the state of the art wasn't that evolved in 1975 either.

For sure, this is only a "proof of concept" kind of a launch, but the thing is - it now sets some new benchmarks in terms of cost, capability, scale of ambition, and execution. You can push something to Mars in 75 mil. That is pretty frickin sweet. And if you are going to talk about hype and hyperbole, look at the media coverage and hype that SpaceX and Virgin Galactic has been getting. Why begrudge ISRO their moment in the spotlight?

Comment: Re:Standing on the Shoulders of Giants (Score 5, Insightful) 173

by asliarun (#47980879) Attached to: Mangalyaan Successfully Put Into Mars Orbit

Could it be they succeeded in part because much of the previous experience?

Either way, great job doing it on their first attempt and cheapest.

Yes, but mostly no. What you say would be valid if firstly, research details (and the real nitty gritty details) would be shared freely - like open source. And to my (admittedly limited) knowledge, it is not. Yes, scientific papers and research is shared, but this is largely an engineering problem, not a scientific problem. And everyone pretty much needs to figure out the engineering challenges by themselves.

What you say would also be true (as is true in the high tech industry, for example) if sufficient people changed jobs back and forth between organizations like NASA and ISRO. To my knowledge, ISRO works on a shoestring budget and is a fairly insular work environment. Hardly any scientists or engineers quit a NASA job to join ISRO. I could be wrong though, but I would be very very surprised if there was indeed a reverse brain drain.

If anything, the brain drain consists of India's best and brightest relocating to the US after having studied in the near-free subsidized taxpayer funded colleges and universities in India. They typically go to the US to do their masters and PhD and then some of them join NASA.

ISRO is actually a fairly old and mature organization. India's scientific programs, especially in the high-tech space (and especially rocketry) suffered enormously because of high-tech blockade enforced by the US. The blockade was to the extent that even simple multi-core computers were banned from being exported to India. (That's why India tried to design its own supercomputer back in the day - the Param).

I know it may sound like I am being hyperbolic about ISRO but they actually deserve double credit for all the sh*t they had to put up with, and still managed to set ridiculous goals like this, and then achieving it, and that too on a shoestring budget and being able to retain their talent that gets paid Indian govt salaries. Trust me, that is not much. Forget about Indian pride etc. What is worth understanding is how organizations like this continue to succeed in the face of such big challenges.

Comment: Re: Read Slashdot (Score 4, Insightful) 471

by asliarun (#47977323) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?

This is coming from someone who has been in IT for 20 years, very successfully, and has never taken any computer courses...

Get a freaking skill!!! The OP admits that the subject of the PhD is not applicable to really anything in the world. You might as well have spent 6 years of your life under a rock, because you are now the utmost expert at that tiny, inapplicable area.

Want cash and job security up the wahoo? Go pick up a CCNA book, and $500 of used Cisco gear on eBay. Get CCNA and a network admin job at a small, growing company who can't afford to pay you more than $50,000. Proceed to get your CCNP. Invest another $10,000 and two years and get CCIE. Go to "whatever the hell company you want" and make $120k+ and never worry about unemployment again.

+1. The key to long term success is being hardnosed about failures/setbacks/sub-optimal jobs, having long term focus, and putting yourself in a position where you can demonstrate your value and skills. But most of all, it is being pragmatic in the short term while being optimistic in the long term.

Having long term focus means picturing yourself on what you would consider a fulfilling job, and how exactly you see yourself and your job. Say, in 10 years. By focus, I mean take up a low paying job if necessary, as long as it is aligned to your long term goals. Good Example: Joining a company with a core focus on quality programming, but as a junior developer instead of a senior developer or lead or whatever else you might be expecting.
Bad Example: Joining the IT department (cost center) of say, a big manufacturing company. Might pay well in the short term, but will eventually be a dead-end for you.

Being hard-nosed means continue trying. Obviously, fine tuning or tweaking your strategy and where/how you are applying. By far, the easiest way to get into a company is through referrals. So can any of your buddies help you out? They get to make decent money through referral bonuses too. Also, is your location preference dragging you down? Again, in a long enough time-frame, say, 15 years from now, you will barely remember the extra 3 months (or 6 months or whatever) you put in during your initial struggling phase. So why bother getting demoralized by it now?

Lastly, don't get desperate to find a job. Your job and your company is as good as your boss. Use the interview process to figure out how much you like your future boss. If you boss isn't even interviewing you (rare, but happens), you probably don't want to work in that company to begin with.

And please remember - an extra 3-6 months of job hunting is way way better than making a mistake. Typically, from my experience, people take 2-3 years on average to fix a mistake (bad job, bad boss, bad company, bad growth opportunities).

Comment: Re:I don't drink coffee. (Score 1) 228

by Mr Z (#47877491) Attached to: DNA sequencing of coffee's best use:

For me, both coffee and beer took a certain amount of acclimation. For coffee, I started out 'candying it up' with a ton of sugar and cream/creamer. And then one day I said "the heck with it" and started drinking it black. Within about a week or two of drinking it every day, I found I actually really liked it. Now you can't keep me away from it. I drink half a pot to a pot of coffee a day, and don't shy away from espresso.

It was a similar story with beer. I started out with really smooth beers (Red Dog was the choice for a fairly smooth, inoffensive beer at the time), and then one day I decided I was going to try all sorts of varieties whether I liked them or not. I started with the beer I had tried and liked least (Guinness Extra Stout—this was before they had the widget cans), and made that my exclusive beer for awhile. After a couple six-packs, I found I really appreciated it, and my palate was now open to a much wider range of beers. I've tried a few hundred different beers since then, and found it quite an enjoyable journey.

I think with both, there's the 'bitter' aspect to get over. Once you get past 'bitter', you can taste the rest of the beverage and enjoy it.

Comment: Re:I don't drink coffee. (Score 1) 228

by Mr Z (#47877467) Attached to: DNA sequencing of coffee's best use:

Try a Rochefort 10 sometime. It's a delicious (and potent) Belgian beer with carmelly goodness and very, very little hops to it. It's liquid candy.

When I tried to brew a clone recipe of it, the recipe called for a ton of Belgian Kandi sugar and grain, but the only hops were aroma hops added in the last few minutes of the boil. The clone came pretty close. (I think the differences were in the yeast, and the temperature profile during fermentation, really.)

Comment: Re:Make round-up ready beans (Score 1) 228

by Mr Z (#47877443) Attached to: DNA sequencing of coffee's best use:

I've actually visited a coffee plantation in Puerto Rico. The fresh ground coffee I had there was delicious, too. But, then, I voted for "bioengineer all the major vitamins," as I drink between half a pot and a pot of coffee a day. (It doesn't need more caffeine; I enjoy the flavor and too much caffeine means I'd get less of the flavor! But I also enjoy the caffeine so no decaf either, please.)

Or did you mean "everyone voting for Roundup Ready?"

Comment: Re:how about .... (Score 1) 131

by Mr Z (#47825463) Attached to: Facebook Blamed For Driving Up Cellphone Bills, But It's Not Alone

And where on the label does the Facebook app say how much data it's going to use?

And how about the fact that for a long time, the FB app was fine, and then a change that FB pushed out to folks surprised them later only after they were using it?

It's worth remembering that not using the facebook app is supposed to hit facebook harder than yourself.

That's only true if there's a wide-scale boycott. Otherwise, network effects suggest you're wrong. It's like arguing "Not using Windows is supposed to hit Microsoft harder than yourself." BS. Microsoft hasn't felt a thing since I switched to other platforms years ago. I, however, have had to deal with incompatibilities and quirkiness. For the vast majority of users it never made sense to switch from Windows and it still doesn't, and the reason why is network effects.

Your arguments remind me of the 'Countepoint' guy from Airplane.

The issue here is that most smart phone plans make you, the user, responsible for paying for the total amount of bandwidth consumed, but the phone and the apps don't give you a good mechanism to allow you to act on that responsibility in a meaningful way. Saying "Well, then, don't use it" is unhelpful and unrealistic.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter