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Comment Re: (Score 1) 96 96

Referring to the goal as prosaic isn't a good usage of the word. Used correctly, the header would have been something like: "...began with a prosaic declaration: Make a rocket at least 10 times cheaper than is possible today." Nothing about the initial goal is prosaic; it is the way Elon Musk described it in his manifesto for SpaceX that was blunt and matter of fact.

Comment Re:Eliminates all jobs earning less than 15 USD/ho (Score 1) 1040 1040

You underestimate the malleability of technology in that it can be applied to any and every human problem imaginable. Automation is unstoppable unless its existence is forcibly restricted (a good or bad idea is for you to decide).

Either a company pays someone to flip burgers what they think flipping burgers is worth, or they make robots. Either a company pays someone at the register what they think cashiers are worth, or they automate. Do not assume that just because you and I would rather people do the jobs, that they can not be automated.

I would rather see a (hopefully smiling...) face when checking out of a grocery store or buying a burger at McDonalds than the terminal of a machine, but I somberly accept that there may come a time when that lifestyle disappears because, contrary to what you say, they will not go out of business if they stop paying someone to flip burgers or bag groceries.

Comment Re:Here's how that works. (Score 1) 172 172

I don't think this is correct (along with the short versions above), in the sense that there's probably a better way to model this scenario and get a more accurate answer. We could describe the arrival of asteroids as a Poisson distribution, with details at

And then the question would be phrased as: Given the arrival of asteroids is modeled by a Poisson distribution, calculate the probability of a single event (asteroid arrival) in a period of 50 years that strikes a population-dense area. Assume an equal probability to hit any point on earth.

I'm hesitant to post a solution to this, because the 2nd issue I observe is that the constants we are using are naive. They go by # of urban areas or not populated land and not population density. We would want to calculate the area covered by some percentile of population density for circular areas(say 95% for extremely dense) over the total surface area of the planet. And this can complicate the problem even more if we want to treat those circular population areas as a Monte Carlo dart throw- asteroid lands inside is a 1 and lands outside is a 0. Additionally, the constant for average # of asteroids in our interval, needed for the Poisson distribution, is something I'd want to spend a fair amount of time researching; I think it was pulled out of a hat here.

Comment Re:What motivates entrepreneurs, and were people m (Score 1) 300 300

Agreed. I'm just trying to recognize that many, many Kickstarter projects fail horribly. They succeeded beyond reasonable measures. The interest in VR has grown dramatically and has prompted a new look at the space.

I'm glad that happened, so what I am trying to say is I do not regret Oculus VR existing through kickstarter.

But I am not pleased to have been deceived, and I am sad to witness base human nature triumph over passion for innovation and technology. Could they not have taken the moral high ground, at least for a little longer? Finish what you promised, go as long as you can, if you are going to lose- and only then- sell out? I was so inspired by Oculus and their activism (I attended their convention in Boston). This decision has caused me to bounce back to reality- greed usually wins.

Comment What motivates entrepreneurs, and were people mani (Score 1) 300 300

Oculus served their purpose; there will be good competition now. I suppose the donors got their "money's worth" in that regard.

At the same time, this serves as a reminder of the varying motives of entrepreneurs, irregardless of their skills or strengths or vision. The difference between, say, Elon Musk, and the founder of Oculus, are astounding. One is motivated to see the technology to its end, the other is motivated by money- pure and simple.

I'm no longer inspired by Kickstarter. I don't like how a small group of people can cash out on humanity's dime. I don't like how people who are clearly motivated by greed, no matter how exceptional they are, can deceive us and give companies like Facebook the last laugh. The founder should be proud of his achievements, but should also be ashamed of what has transpired. People on Kickstarter donated based on a charter, encompassing a vision and the expectation is to see it carried out to the end with effort and dignity. That means continue until you have achieved your charter, ie release a consumer version. From there, I don't really care- sell out, although if the this whole process of crowd-sourcing made sense, the intellectual property would be open and not privately sold. Kickstarter often serves to manipulate passionate, good-natured people who buy into a vision.

I propose no solution for Kickstarter, but I will be more mindful of the for-profit ventures there, if I even use it again at all. I didn't donate to support an intrusive, unethical company founded entirely on shareholder equity from an over-valued IPO build its portfolio and devour promising technology. In this regard, Kickstarter is yet another way for large companies to take advantage of the natural, incredible output of human ingenuity found outside their organization with no effort. In fact, other people paid for it. Thus I am completely on the side of Markus Persson.

Comment Re:I'm amazed... (Score 2) 1737 1737

That's a very limited comment you got here. Here is my substantial response:

"In some cases, before using force that is likely to cause death or serious bodily harm to the aggressor, a person who is under attack should attempt to retreat or escape, but only if an exit is reasonably possible."

" a person who is under attack should attempt to retreat or escape, but only if an exit is reasonably possible."

If being in your freaking car is not a reasonably possible escape from someone who is walking down the street and unaware of you, then I don't know what to tell you buddy.

Comment Re:I'm amazed... (Score 4, Insightful) 1737 1737

He'll always be "that guy that got away with murder"

TIL that Slashdotters equate self defense with murder. In a pro-gun state, he'll have no problem getting a job because the citizens of those states respect people who defend themselves against violent people.

We need to understand the difference between self-defense and self-offense. When you stalk a person incidentally travelling down the street- man, women, or child- and that person ultimately ends up dead by your hands, you have committed murder as manslaughter. You are the instigator. Your choices, not happenstance, led to the death of someone. All the details- I called the police first, "He/she looked suspicious!", emotions, race- are just extra and will be used by the defense and the prosecution to either escalate the charge or keep it at manslaughter.

Zimmerman, the moment he followed an incidental passer-by with ANY intent, was at risk of manslaughter should Martin die. It doesn't matter of Trayvon Martin broke every bone in Zimmerman's body before he was shot- Zimmerman was the instigator; this is not self-defense.

This case has set a disgusting precedent, at least in Florida, where we can leave the safety of our homes in pursuit of *suspicious* figures, and ultimately kill them, and that may be known as quote self-defense quote... if the victim puts up a fight.

Comment Re:what? (Score 1) 272 272

What can fiction tell us about anything? Man that's pretty narrow-minded. I don't know how that's insightful.

Very often sci-fi becomes reality. Okay, maybe we won't have wormholes opening any time soon. But like- widespread, debilitating cyber attacks to cripple an enemy? You need to follow Slashdot and even classic news better. Cyberwarfare IS becoming the new norm. I'm going to take a screenshot of this now for when this particular scifi becomes reality.

Comment Big data (Score 1) 222 222

Risk profiling software will be a forerunner for big data applications that simply watch people.

If you don't think this will work, you are wrong. It will get increasingly better, and the point will be to track "risky" individuals not only in the airplane but in the country itself. The NSA (US) is likely working on this right now.

So instead of arguing it won't work and calling for more pat-down thugs, I would agree with a few thoughtful people here who are pointing out that it will be *abused* in the future.

Comment Answering the question (Score 1) 322 322

Disclaimer: I am a software engineer, and this information will be useful to prospective college students. I believe a debate about engineering vs science is not necessary here and will not be of use to prospective students.

CS degree: Is a branch (some would say spinoff) of Mathematics, mixing discrete mathematics, algorithms, computability ("new" 20th century topic), and practical programming (also "new" topic). Some would say Computer Science is not a true science. My physics professor would say, "Mathematics and Computer Science had a divorce and Computer Science got all the children."

Software engineering: A career path that applies computer science in the design and implementation of software systems. A software engineer is typically aware of different processes for software development and knows how to work in a team.


Why do I call software engineering a career path? For two reasons. One, you will find very few accredited Software Engineering *Bachelor's* programs. You will find many accredited Software Engineering *Master's* programs.

Two, to become a software engineer, you typically graduate with a Computer Science degree and then join a company that is doing software product development. This likely accounts for a vast percentage of today's young "software engineers", like me. Note this may change as time goes on.

To become a computer scientist, you can say you graduated with a CS degree. However, a true CS "job" would likely be in a research setting where you apply the full breadth of theoretical knowledge which is more often than not, not required for a software engineering job. You might be working at a research center with supercomputers, where your job is to do basic or applied research. Hence something like Physics vs Applied Physics is similar to Computer Science vs Software Engineering.

Comment I need to get out of software (Score 1) 487 487

I don't think I can stay in software much longer.

            "...something to be desired. I do work in a pretty edge case kind of field though (geospatial analytics), that has a good bit more math than your average business dev work."

          "While this is probably true for some people, especially above average people who have only worked at small companies where they are the best developer with no real competition I think there's a second problem that can make good people appear like that:"

            "If rock stars programmers work with genuine peers, the diva part of them will be suppressed. It is hard to feel superior when working with people against whom you are just average. Some of them can still lack in social skills(*), but you can often minimize the damages that could cause. Of course as a company you still need to be able to afford top talent and have a project that challenges or otherwise interest them."

Above average. Below average. Senior developer. Junior developer. Rockstar programmer. Cowboy programmer. What do ANY of you know about "average"? What constitutes below average, and what constitutes above average? It's complete and utter subjective nonsense.

Do you want to go by lines of code written? Do you want to go by number of licenses sold? Do you want to go by pay? Do you want to go by your GPA in college (though I'm sure some of these "rockstar programmers" are not computer scientists or even college graduates).

You have no metrics, no basis. So stop using the word average. Software has become egomaniacal and elitist.

The measure of worth for a developer has become so utterly blurred and has been replaced with elitism, egos and exclusivism.

As I go on through my career in software, should it last that long, I will measure my worth by number of successful projects. You all can use whatever you like- pay, lines of code, size of teams, IQ...I don't care.

For this reason I'm looking to get out of software. I've only just begun my career but I already want out. The whole mindset is different in hardware. Because in hardware, it has to work. If it doesn't work, people are at risk. In software, you get angry calls. The mindset is different with hardware engineers and embedded developers- they don't think about rockstars or cowboys...They work together to make things work.

Comment Economic freedom (Score 1) 432 432

Hi poster

There is a lot of excellent first-hand information here about which country has which amenities or pluses, but note that most people in this community (educated, well-off) will likely discuss their country with biased, irrational optimism (ex- don't worry about US debt, it will never be a problem!).

There is a startling correlation between economic freedom and quality of life. I would look at this list of countries:

and pick whichever one is easiest for you to re-locate to (or in general), and preferably whichever country has INCREASING economic freedom.

For your convenience, the top 5 are Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and Switzerland.

Comment Re:Yes (Score 1) 1086 1086

The above poster is correct.

Please do not listen to anyone here telling you that you do not need *any* knowledge of mathematics to be a programmer. Critically, you should have knowledge of a branch of mathematics known as discrete math. Discrete math includes everything from probability theory to advanced algorithms. Knowledge of algorithms is extremely important. If you do not know anything about algorithms, chances are you will have a hard time advancing your career. You can always learn on the job, but it is a subject you should start learning immediately if that is the path you want to go down.

The misunderstanding here is the question: Do I need a Computer Science degree to become a Software Engineer?

The answer is no, but- it helps a lot.

Additionally, if you plan on doing graphics and/or physics engine work as a game designer, you need more than discrete math and you should also be versed in multivariable calculus and linear algebra. The theory of computer graphics (cameras, rotations, and all that) is grounded in those branches.

You also implicitly ask a question: which degree is better for me, being interested in OGRE and Unity3D? And I'd say the answer is Computer Science. There are excellent game design programs but if you're interested in engines you are better off with a computer science degree. Many schools have clubs where you could contribute to those projects with other students on your own time.

Comment Neither party will fix poverty (Score 2) 696 696

President Obama is a crony, just like George Bush. He is idolized by the left for his charisma and as a result of his ability to move people with populist rhetoric. But he is a crony too. His cabinet is full of ex-JP Morgan and ex-Goldman Sachs employees and his regulatory efforts have padded big businesses. His bailouts of the banks fattened the bonuses of Wall Street. To say he is not a crony is to ignore facts, which is a tendency of the American public as a whole.

Note that I have not endorsed his contender, because he is terrible as well. But people- open your eyes. Government is corrupt too. Men are not angels!

We do have a poverty problem. But neither Republican nor Democrat policies will fix it. Democrats think that giving poor people free money will fix poverty. Republicans think that giving rich people free money will fix poverty. How about giving nobody free money? Redistribution of wealth upwards does not work, and redistribution of wealth downwards does not work. If anything, the government should give entrepreneurs free money. So long as we live in a country where the government siphons enormous sums of money from productive people, we will have poverty. And so long as the people think that bigger government can fix systemic, structural issues in an economy, our future will look bleaker and bleaker.

I recommend reading and listening to Thomas Sowell, who debunks these issues with impressive clarity. One of my favorite points of his regards foodstamps and starvation in general. He talks about his youth and how he had to work to feed himself, or he would literally starve. It's not exactly the same today.

"We have now reached the point where the great majority of the people living below the official poverty level have such things as air conditioning, microwave ovens, either videocassette recorders or DVD players, and either cars or trucks.

Why are such people called “poor”? Because they meet the arbitrary criteria established by Washington bureaucrats. Depending on what criteria are used, you can have as much official poverty as you want, regardless of whether it bears any relationship to reality." -Thomas Sowell

Brain damage is all in your head. -- Karl Lehenbauer