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Comment Hack Back Attack AUTHORIZED! (Score 5, Funny) 137

Unless this has some ridiculous hack-back-attack capabilities, complete with a nerdy looking airman typing as fast as humanly possible to "execute" the hack back attack, Congress may have to start looking a bit closer at these "weapons systems."

We need more toilet paper for the bathroom.
Here you go.
WTF? Why does this toilet paper have pictures of guns on it?
This is weaponized toilet paper. It helps with allocating funding...

Comment Are You Poor? (Score 1) 168

Why do you think ultra-cheap laptop goodness is a good thing? Whenever I've dealt with cheap laptops, they are usually slow, not very durable (random crap breaks on the case in 2 years) and generally annoying to use (keys stick, the screen resolution is tiny, the built in mouse/trackpad sucks.) As a developer, I tent to buy a high end laptop (or two) and then use it every day, carrying it around in my backpack, for three years, or more, before I have problems.

Unless you are poor, I don't really see why point #5 is a good thing. If you are poor, and you're a software developer, then maybe the thing to focus on is not being poor.

Comment Three Laws of Robotics (Score 1) 235

The three laws of robotics state:

  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws

To me, the interesting ramifications of these laws in many stories, and one movie involving Will Smith, are more than enough to answer all questions regarding autonomous technology and responsible use. I have no idea how, as a programmer, these would actually manifest themselves in code...

The article brings into light a problem without actually naming it: law. I think that this problem is that different societies will choose different approaches to regulating, controlling, and outlawing technologies, and the same society can make different decisions depending on it's point in time. The society now in the United States makes the most sense as a place to try and sell new technologies to, since it's the richest and has historically been permissive towards the rights of the creators'. Without being able to answer financial liability questions in a meaningful way, this may not continue to be the best place to develop new, and risky, technologies, in the future.

I don't believe the problem of who owns the code is actually a problem. We have many, many different models of code ownership in effect, and the entity which creates the code can choose how they want to "own" it. The actual problem to me seems to be who do I sue when I don't like an outcome?

I pray the 0th law never comes into effect.

Comment I am a Landlord (Score 5, Informative) 197

I am a landlord, of four one-bedroom apartments, and all of my leases explicitly disallow subletting. Numerous posters, with zero stated understanding of any kind of real estate practice, seem to think that subletting is "illegal" if it's disallowed in their lease. Someone is not going to go to jail, or have to deal with the cops, for breaking a provision in a lease I wrote. They may get evicted, which could involve the cops, but that's an eviction. Breaking the agreement isn't going to have legal consequences, past the *potential* eviction, unless I chose to try and have a judge pass a judgement (and then good luck on enforcing this judgement.)

Plus, this 100% depends on the lease. I can write a lease which gives full authority to sublet, one that disallows subletting, or one that gives me a percentage of the sublet. Unless we read the lease, there is no reason to try and pass any kind of informed judgement on the situation.

The entire process I described to you, having a judge pass judgement against someone, and then sending that person to collections (or garnishing their wages) is a big, big, pain. Plus, it's going to destroy the relationship with the renter. The judge is going to award you probably all the income they made, since they were not authorized to resell your place, and maybe 3x as much for damages. That's still not worth your time, unless you like spending time in court or need to be there anyways. Even then, the tenant isn't going to be able to pay, and collections won't be able to get it out of them...

It's like 1000x easier if you have an agreement in place with, as a property owner, to automatically get a cut of the short term rental on your place. Especially if you own a gigantic tower in New York City, as opposed to four rinky dinky apartments in Albuquerque, New Mexico (like I do.) You can negotiate with ONCE for your entire property (if you have a standard subletting clause, which everyone is under) as opposed to getting a judge to offer a judgement against every single person, who is going to end their lease at that point.

The only reason this is even news is because most people have no idea about how rental property actually works. This isn't news - it's called good business.

Comment Depends on your Goals, But Free, or Negative (Score 1) 207

The design consideration you mentioned was "cheap." If you have any other design considerations, then disregard this answer.

I come across tons and tons of old, crappy, free, computers constantly. The ONE entity I do actual system administration work for pays me to sanitize, and dispose of, their old systems. These systems effectively have a negative cost for me, since I'm getting paid to dispose of them. Mostly, I like to write software, and not do systems administration, but I don't mind being the (paid) IT person for my family's business.

If you are looking for inexpensive systems to install a low-footprint Linux distro on ( I think either "free", or possibly negative cost, is going to be the cheapest you can find.

This really depends on how much you value your time, and how much you want to experiment with Linux admin. I've found that hardware failure rates for junk hardware tend to be (surprisingly!) higher than brand new, under warranty, hardware. Which means you are trading your time in dealing with RAM failures, hard drive failures, and a general host of other annoying hardware issues (no drivers for ancient hardware..?) for a savings in money, and learning how to deal with those problems.

Comment Re:Political Power and Political Influence (Score 1) 192

Political power is a tool to accomplish what you cannot accomplish alone. Effectively using a tool can make an evil person accomplish more evil, a good person accomplish more good, or a person with a strong neutral alignment maintain a balance. The ethnics, morality, and social implications of effectively using a hammer depend on how the wielder decides to focus his blows, not on the hammer, or on the stroke of the arm.

Comment Political Power and Political Influence (Score 2) 192

This does not sound like a technical problem to me. This sounds like a problem with how you can accomplish what you want to accomplish in your organization. If this is a technical problem, then read this book Working Effectively with Legacy Code

It sounds like you lack both political power and political influence inside your organization. You cannot force them to do what you want, and you cannot convince them to do what you want, so you are asking slashdot for advice.

When I had no power in an organization, I worked on gaining influence to enact the changes I wanted. This involves understanding people, and how to relate to them across lots of different situations (not just work problems.) It involves getting tons of stuff done for lots of different people, working extremely hard and productively, and being a general bad-ass so they will respect what you say and go along with you even if they don't exactly agree, since you helped them out tons of times before. People will start to think you make good decisions (in general.) It also involves talking with people individually to figure out what their honest objections to your goals are, and meeting with them individually to object to their agenda items to avoid bringing your objections out in public. It takes a while. If you go down this path, and your management is even kind of competent, eventually you'll gain the power to directly enact the changes you want to see. That doesn't mean you should use that power though, since it will make you an ineffective leader to constantly rely on power alone.

This book How to Win Friends & Influence People was probably the best I read during my short, short, short (1 semester) of taking MBA classes, that will help you understand influencing people.

Comment Many Programmers Shouldn't Be Programmers (Score 1) 241

I'm not trying to encourage children to take up programming. The only child I ever mentioned computer programming to was when my dental hygienist told me her son was extremely good at math, and autistic with problems communicating with people.

In my six years of programming professionally, two and a half years in graduate school, and four years as an undergrad, I think I've encouraged maybe three people to become programmers. Most people do not have any kind of analytical inclination, and the amount of time it would require to train them to become programmers wouldn't be worth it. They would likely still be fairly poor programmers, even after massive training. Programming isn't for everyone despite whatever catchy government-minority-special-interest-group-trendy-catch-phase-with-coding you want to pick. Anyone that has actively worked inside computer code knows the damage that can be done when someone with the wrong level of understanding starts modifying code.

Computer programming isn't for everyone. If you are a programmer, promote computer programming however you want, since you know what you're talking about. If you're a politician, please, please, please do not promote (or regulate, or really involve yourself in any way) with programming or technology. For all the people in between, it might make sense to take an approach that is correlated with your actual knowledge of the thing you are promoting.

Comment Re:I Already Do This, But Probably Less Intense (Score 1) 146

The one thing I've noticed, more than anything, that has helped me avoid the need for a crappy (yet well paying) job is living far, far below my means. When I had a cubicle summer internship, I quit. If I had been spending all my money, before I earned it, with commitments on a car payment I couldn't afford, quitting wouldn't have been an option. I knew college students with car payments. That's a bad idea.

I also think that seeing the world in a way that brings opportunities to the front is a good viewpoint to have. If you're always looking for someone to give you an assignment, a task, a job, then that's what you'll get. It's not a bad idea to start off this way (I worked jobs for three years before starting my own thing) and these jobs helped me develop skills that have been extremely useful later. The masters in CS also helped, but I always loved learning. I didn't even think of that at the time as anything other than fun. People are like this though - they want guidance and direction. If someone REALLY wants the freedom to do what they want, they won't have the illusions of security a job presents. They will have to face the uncertainties of self employment head on, which isn't something many people like.

With those two pieces of advice (live below your means, and look for opportunities), it doesn't matter what field you're in. If you have a few years' worth of savings (since you live at a fraction of your income) you can figure out all the other pieces out to get where you want to go.

Comment I Already Do This, But Probably Less Intense (Score 3, Interesting) 146

I have multiple batteries for my laptop and cell phone. Typically, what I'll do is bring as many batteries as is feasible (usually three for my laptop and four for my phone) and fish while writing software. Fishing requires very little active concentration, and it's nice to be able to write code while outside. Most of my trips are not very far from my car though.

Occasionally I'll go on backpacking trips that aren't car-accessible. I have not yet tried to work from one of these trips. I've been looking into the Goal Zero Voltage Inverter and their lightweight solar panels. If I do go this route, I'll likely start out with the solar panel + phone recharger, see how that works, and then get the more expensive voltage inverter and battery. I think it really depends on if you'll have a car available or not. If you have your car, you already have a power generator and the ability to haul heavy stuff.

I own my own software company, so as long as I'm decently responsive I can work from wherever. I kind of agree that for most people going out into nature is a way to not have to focus on those types of concerns. For me, I like being able to work from wherever in the event that I have to pack up and get out quickly.

I think I will get a portable solar cell phone charger, so I can charge my phone from wherever. I live in New Mexico, and the sun in always shining here. There are times when I forget to charge my phone enough, and I'm sitting in my car with the car running so my phone would charge. It would be nice to throw up my solar dash mat, run a wire into my glove box, and put my phone in there while I go inside someplace to do errands.

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