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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.

Comment Re:Pure undulterated bullshit (Score 2) 204

How is this ridiculous? I don't understand. Are you being sarcastic with me? I'm sorry if I'm being dense.

Yes, I do think they are flushing money down the toilet. I have been a contractor long enough to determine when a customer wants to build something useful, versus has a political/emotional need to flush money down the toilet. I think there are lots of political needs to flush money down the toilet on DRM, and then clear hackers play the game of cracking their DRM (mostly for fun, since someone with DRM-cracking skills could certainly purchase content using far less profitable time than cracking the DRM on the content they want to get for 'free.')

Companies want to make content difficult to duplicate, but it's always possible to point a ridiculously high resolution camera at your screen. One of my friends built a poker bot like this - he had a keyboard and mouse interface, and pointed a camera at another screen. This entire dance is a game.

If you can play content, the content you are playing can be duplicated.

Comment Re:Pure undulterated bullshit (Score 4, Interesting) 204

DRM is built upon the lack of understanding that playing content (text, image/sound/video) requires, BY NECESSITY, the ability to duplicate that content. It's always possible to do an analog scrape, if the DRM keeps everything in digital land "safe." As I recently found out with .m4b files, it's just a matter of how annoying the DRM producer wants to try and make that process, and how valuable your time is.

I never understood the desire to try and accomplish anything else. Software/hardware/device manufacturers that try and DRM-proof their products annoy me. I left a startup because of DRM:

"Brian, we need to protect our content. That's why I'm putting you on this DRM-WordPress-enabled-web-protect-our-desktop-application project."
"Actually, hardly anyone wants to buy this software yet. The best thing that could happen would be it would catch on fire on pirate networks. That's called free marketing."
"I spent twenty years of my life developing this software."
"And it's only been the last six months that you've sold ANYTHING. Let's close these sales deals, and then start developing the subscription-only services, that require a valid subscription, and then we can 'protect' the content by having AWESOME subscription based content. If anyone pirates v 1.0, let's make v 2.0 so much better they cannot wait to buy it, and support us!"
"The software isn't ready, we need to protect it."
"DRM in the absolute best case adds NOTHING to the user, and in the worst case is horribly annoying. I'm not going to work on DRM technology that will alienate our miniscule user base."
"I disagree."
"I'm out."

And this is why the second start-up venture I was a part of failed. Everyone left, after 20k in 'sales' never materialized based on the founder wanting to 'protect' his software. I am ready for the third failure though!

Comment What's worse? (Score 5, Informative) 191

"More than 95 percent believed that working while sick puts patients at risk, but 83 percent still said they had come to work with symptoms like diarrhea, fever and respiratory complaints during the previous year."

I think that 100% would believe that not seeing a doctor would put the patient at GREATER risk. Maybe in London (where Reuters is based) there are enough doctors working for the central government mandated health industry that sick doctors don't feel the pressure to come in. However, it looks like in Philadelphia (where the data was collected) there aren't enough doctors. I know that my medical doctor friends go to work sick, since the risks associated with someone catching a cold is much greater than the risks associated with not seeing a medical provider. In some places in rural New Mexico, you get to drive for 2+ hours to see a similar specialist. My urban Albuquerque isn't as bad, but things are still pretty backed up and doctors usually schedule months in advanced for routine things.

Comment Write A Support Agreement - Business, Not Tech (Score 4, Insightful) 257

Unless you are (or someone is) getting paid to update, maintain, and upgrade this frequently (I would suggest every six months) I do not believe this is something than can be easily accomplished. I would recommend, if you are a contractor, that you create an ongoing maintenance agreement that provides deployments tests every six months. If you are an employee, I'd recommend you attempt to put into place such a program with your employer.

If people do not want to pay to maintain this, then it's probably not going to work for 25 years despite your best efforts. If they only want to pay to maintain it when they REALLY need it to be maintained, it's going to be expensive and not necessarily possible. I see this kind of stuff all the time - customers don't want to pay to maintain something, until it breaks, then they want to pay.

As an example (that isn't related to embedded, but the principle is the same), I JUST ported over Google OpenID logging in to OAuth2 in a PHP system. This was way more expensive, and way higher stress, because the customer did not listen to me six months ago when I said Google would no longer be supporting OpenID, and we should migrate to OAuth2 or they wouldn't be able to login. They didn't listen to me then, but called me when they couldn't login. The hourly rate was higher, because I hadn't scheduled this work, and it took longer (billable time) because I was under pressure to get the calendar time as small as possible. However, we got it! There are examples all the time where things basically need to be scrapped, since the technology is so, so, old and the provider doesn't exist anymore. For example, I am having a lot of trouble finding documentation for CouchBase 1.0 on some CouchBase work a customer wants done.... This wouldn't have been an issue if they had kept upgrading CouchBase versions along the way. Now, it's a pain.

Comment Contract with Them And Be Your Own Successor (Score 1) 203

If you can setup a contracting agreement with your soon-to-be-previous employer, then you can be your own successor!

Seriously, this constantly happens when people decide to leave their employment to go out on their own. It happened with me when I quit my 9-5 to take the plunge, and I've seen it happen with every other person I've directly witnessed quitting a job to pursue contracting full time (three total, other than myself.)

Comment Re:Fear of the West? (Score 1) 268

This is already what is happening, which is why tons and tons of pirate sites are hosted in Russia. However, that's a bit different than building a gigantic fabrication plant, which will likely fulfill government orders for chips. One case is easy to (legitimately) argue that the kind of enforcement is difficult, and in the other case that sort of argument is a bit more difficult to make in a convincing way.

Comment Re:Fear of the West? (Score 1) 268

Russia's 2012 WTO ascendancy required them to have already made, and continue to make, improvements in respecting intellectual property. I believe it took Russia 16 years of trade improvement to join the WTO. Taking an official policy supporting that kind of piracy would be very, very destructive in any term other than the short term.

    -, .

Comment Re:Don't Seek A Career + Diversify (Score 1) 420

Here's the etymology:

I don't speak French, and it look archaic (middle French.)

Did you listen to his "History of Freedom?" I was pretty sure it was in "Books that have Made History" but it might have been in that other lecture series. I don't think it was from any of his others.


Comment Information is Only Available When Someone Cares (Score 2) 182

In his book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology Ray Kurzweil talks about the difficulties moving information from media to media as technology changes. He comes to the conclusion that information is only readily available when someone cares about it.

If you have enough money, [like other posters mentioned] you could setup a trust and have the executors required/compensated for taking an actions (such as keeping your online presence going after you die.)

Comment Don't Seek A Career + Diversify (Score 4, Interesting) 420

Professor J. Rufus Fears taught me that a "career" is a French word that means "path." He says it's a path to get from graduation into a retirement home. I have tried to internalize this concept, and it helped me take risks with quitting multiple career-type jobs to open up my own businesses. Roll the dice, and see how they land. Have an adventure, not a career.

One business of mine is a software development company. This is my primary means of livelihood. Right now, I mostly contract out development services to small-to-medium sized organizations that have trouble staffing programmers. The vast majority of my clients are not large enough to hire a full time, on staff, programmer to help do what I (literally me programming, most of the time) do for them. I've developed a relationship with a programmer in Kazakhstan, where I can take advantage of the lower costs to get things developed cheaper than here. However, now I am working primarily with a MUCH more expensive local programmer, since his efficiency is higher, the Kazakh guy isn't as available and finding a new one is a ton of work, and on some projects the local presence far outweighs the cost savings by outsourcing. Plus, the American is my friend, an early mentor that taught me about web programming when we were both employees, and things are slow with him now so I wanted to get started working together (on a relatively small project for a client.) I'm also working on developing a software product for passive income, but that takes a LOT longer, and is much riskier than contracting.

Another business I have is rental property close to the local university. That business is, by definition, tied to my geographical area. When software is slow, rents come in and I can work on home improvement projects. When software is busy, rents still come in and I can pay someone else to do emergency repairs, and put off improvements until a slow time.

The concept of relying on a single employer for all my income is extremely scary to me. I would much rather diversify my software earnings across multiple clients to mitigate risk. Similarly, I'd rather have multiple one-bedroom apartments to rent out as compared to a big house to rent so that when one of the college students decides he cannot pay his rent this summer, and that he's leaving two months early (despite his two, international, trips setup...) I still have rents coming in. I have two companies which provide me with income, in terms of about seven clients/customers/renters. Both the Albuquerque software industry (most of my business is serving local customers) and the Albuquerque university rental market would have to collapse, simultaneously, for me to be majorly screwed. If anything, I'm pretty tied to Albuquerque and should try and diversify geographically more! I love Albuquerque though...

I do not have a family to provide for. I'm working on changing that, with trying to be as good of a boyfriend as I can be, with the goal of getting married someday. I am not saying that you should throw away all sense of security for your family (if you have one) and become a hustler overnight. "Look kids, we get to have the BLUE Ramen noodles for dinner tonight! Insurance? Who needs it?!? Jesus is my insurance!" No, that's not what I'm talking about... My local, subcontractor, friend (that I am just starting to work together with) took the plunge about three months ago and went into business for himself. He has a wife and two kids. He prepared extremely well, and setup enough contracts to be making about 1.7x his salary for the first three months from basically day one. This is his first slow two week period, so we are working together. My local community has all sorts of people that are interested in promoting entrepreneurial activities, helping you get started, and providing free advice. I am extremely grateful for my earliest mentors in being a landlord, and the Albuquerque entrepreneurial ecosystem mentors now for the support.

To conclude, don't seek a career where someone else will provide for your safety. You're the only person that can do that. Otherwise, you'll still have these risks in your life (outsourcing, economic/business downturns, technological change and obsolesce) but you won't be as aware of them, and able to mitigate the risks. Try to diversify while you're doing it, since it will be safer and you won't be tied to a single person or organization.

I hope that this helps provide my viewpoint as an answer to your question, even if I think you might be asking the wrong question.

Every nonzero finite dimensional inner product space has an orthonormal basis. It makes sense, when you don't think about it.