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Comment: Three Divisions of Computer Science (Score 4, Insightful) 637

by brian.stinar (#47615873) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: "Real" Computer Scientists vs. Modern Curriculum?

The department I go my masters in computer science from divided the discipline into three chunks:
      systems
      languages
      theory

I think this is a good way to divide computer science.

It sounds like your Java / C question involves mostly languages, and a little bit about systems (since Java programmers do not need to have a fundamental understanding of memory works at a system's level.)

I don't think this question really addresses the underlying issue - what is computer science? To me, I tell people that my formal education is closer to applied mathematics than what I do on a day to day basis. I also like to humorously use the derogatory term "code monkey" to people that have learned everything through the "languages" chunk above. A lot of times when I've worked with these people, they haven't even really studied languages (Why did the language designers make the choice that they did? What does the formal language specification say the language should do in this case? How is this language related to earlier languages?)

Again, about 90% of what I do on a daily basis could be considered "code monkey" level. It's when a customer has a REALLY difficult math problem that my formal education comes into play, and for giving people confidence in me.

For your direct question, I'd study the book Computer Architecture, Fifth Edition: A Quantitative Approach (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Computer Architecture and Design)

That's what I used, and it helped me understand a ton of memory management. Then again, my undergrad curriculum was based on C....

Comment: Shoot Them? (Score 2) 74

by brian.stinar (#47026975) Attached to: Meet Canada's Goosebuster Drone

Why not shoot the geese? The article didn't say that they were protected, endangered, or otherwise not-shootable. Is the section of Ottaway the geese are polluting not safe for discharging firearms?

In New Mexico, we have a number of animals that require culling (due to the elimination of top level predators) and the way New Mexico Game and Fish solves the problem is by issuing hunting licenses. This seems to work pretty well for us.

Comment: Re:Have you ever heard the phrase "off-site backup (Score 1) 245

by brian.stinar (#46879459) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Back Up Physical Data?

My bank allows more than one person to open my safety deposit box, if I tell them who I want to be on the access list. It's a good idea to have people you trust be able to open your safety deposit box.

Honestly, I think this entire post makes me feel a bit sad for the poster. I drink beer with my personal bankers, and the tellers at the bank know my name. If I had no ID for a little while, I'd still be able to do ALL of my banking - online and in person. About all I'd lose would be ATM access if I lost my ATM card, and the bank would probably give me a new one without an ID after I told them my crazy story. I keep my passport at my house, and my driver's license on me usually. Which reminds me, I keep my *expired* passport at my house...

If no one knows who this poster is without his ID, I think that is the problem. The problem isn't that he (doubtful it's a she) needs an offsite backup plan. It's probably that they should be making human connections with people that could be close with them in their life, or at least that their priorities are skewed towards making offsite backup plans. My neighbors could identify me, my business associates could, all my family could, my ex-girlfriends could. If someone horrible happened and I needed help for a few weeks, all of them would help me out (even some of the ex-girlfriends!) Having a social support network is (should be?) way more important than having an offsite backup scheme. However, this is slashdot...

Comment: It ONLY costs NNNNN, but could have saved Y lives. (Score 1) 461

by brian.stinar (#46459241) Attached to: The $100,000 Device That Could Have Solved Missing Plane Mystery

I think an American is now only worth 6.9 million (according to Fox News...)
          http://www.foxnews.com/story/2...

I couldn't find how much a Malasian life was worth. I think both of these numbers, the mix of people on the plane, and the probability of the crash, are what you'd need to compute if it's "worth" it.

If you think it's "worth" it, then install those devices in airplanes you own. Personally, I'd rather not have to pay more for tickets, or taxes, to have them installed in every plane, flying everywhere, in the world.

Comment: Lack of Economic Knowledge Demonstrated By Questio (Score 1) 491

by brian.stinar (#46351039) Attached to: Do We Really Have a Shortage of STEM Workers?

There are elastic, and inelastic, demand curves. Normally, things purchased (like STEM labor) are never truly inelastic. The only inelastic example I can come up with would be a lifesaving medicine. If a medicine were 100% guaranteed to save your life, you would probably pay (almost any) economic cost. Even then, I don't think most people would pay ANY cost. This is also true over different time periods - gasoline may appear inelastic over the short term, but over the long term people make substitutions (public transit, electric vehicles, flex fuel...) to deal with rising costs.

Any 'shortage' or 'surplus' is ONLY AT A SPECIFIC PRICE POINT (and more specifically, also for a specific time period.) There are not ever really any such things are shortages or surpluses - just buyers and sellers that will not change their perspective on what something "should" cost. If there is a shortage, the price will go up until people stop wanting to buy. If there is a surplus, the price will go down until everything is bought or production is no longer profitable. No one ever talks about the surplus of worthless college degrees - the price employers pay for them simply goes down until it is equal to unskilled labor. The only reason these terms even exist in economics is because of externalities (governments restricting the input of some good, or the output of another.)

I took about a year of college economics. The fact that I constantly hear about shortages of things is crazy to me, jack the price (increase profit) and less buyers will be interested in purchasing. There will be no shortage. If there is a surplus, drop the price until there is no profit, then stop production. That takes care of the surplus.

Comment: Re:12-hour days (Score 1) 717

by brian.stinar (#46256719) Attached to: Your 60-Hour Work Week Is Not a Badge of Honor

I did as a lumberjack. This required about 10,000+ dietary calories per day though... Chopping down trees, moving wood, and burning doesn't require anywhere near the same order of mental strength as programming. At first I could only do the work for 2-3 hours a day, but my body became stronger and by the end of the summer I was able to do 15 hour days, and I liked working long and hard. My dad received a grant from the forest service to put in fire breaks the summer before I went to college. This was an effort to encourage private landowners to create firebreaks so that the Gila National forest could be left to burn during a fire, without as much pressure on the Forest Service to stop it because private property was threatened. His land borders the Gila on three sides.

For programming (and other mental jobs), I 100% agree with you based on my experience. I try and do about 20 hours a week of actual coding, 10-20 hours of business development and sales, and then about 10-20 hours per week of construction. That helps me keep my balance. Thankfully, I am self employed as a software developer and have rental property. The most I was ever actually able to code at a "job" was about 30 hours a week - the other 10-15 were usually spent in meetings, design, talking with customers and helping other people work through their problems (also meetings, but super informal.)

I think people are different. With the right amount of physical training, my body could handle 12 hour days at lumberjacking at 19 years old. Maybe I could do that again at 30, but I'm not sure. Maybe someone else would be very happy programming at their job for 60 hours a week. One of my buddies programs 40 for his job, and then does at least another 20 on his personal projects. He might take a 60 hour per week deal if his work offered him 1.5-2.0x his current salary, and be totally happy. I'm not sure, people are different.

Comment: Historical Perspective...? (Score 1) 717

by brian.stinar (#46256565) Attached to: Your 60-Hour Work Week Is Not a Badge of Honor

Didn't this use to be standard?

I mean, this author is generalizing from his experiences at a graphic design company to the entire American workforce. Does anyone else see a problem with this? Historically, everyone used to work a ton on a farm or in manufacturing. Maybe it makes sense for people to work a ton on a farm, or in (industrializing, pre-robot) manufacturing. Maybe it doesn't make sense for people to work a ton at paper-leaf.com.

I don't think it's possible to generalize accurately. I'm totally happy, and productive, working 60 hour weeks split between programming and construction projects.

Comment: Day After (Score 2) 197

by brian.stinar (#46242199) Attached to: Best Valentine's Day gift (as recipient):

My girlfriend and I decided to celebrate on the day after Valentine's Day. That should help me save on presents, and not to be in a crazy mad restaurant rush. We're going to go out for lunch. We talked about our plans and she wanted to have a nice date, and something romantic (flowers, a card...) and thought scheduling it afterwards would be a great way to save on money and congestion.

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