Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Give me a raise (Score 1) 308

I wonder if you're talking about the same problem. You're talking about management techniques. The article is about the inherent human problems of giving great power and authority to a few, and solving this issue by not doing so, not having any powerful bosses. I totally agree with your thoughts on "shut up and do as I say" management.

Perhaps power always corrupts, and it doesn't matter who is tapped to be boss, sooner or later, they're going to turn abusive, greedy, treacherous. But we could surely do a better job of picking people for such positions. A mistake I've seen organizations make, over and over, is mistaking a loudmouth for a proactive, energetic, go-getter. And even if they were right and the candidate for a management position actually is not a loudmouth, another mistake is thinking those characteristics-- energy and all that-- are the most important and best sign that a person would make a good manager. So they promote this person into positions of authority over others. They undervalue competence, evidently thinking that noise is more important.

And, sure, being seen and heard is important. But being wrong can be deadly. I'm not taking about technical mistakes, everyone makes those. I'm talking about the mistake of putting an incompetent loudmouth in charge. I've seen the loudmouth caught, and it's not pretty however well deserved. The loudmouth has drowned out everyone else, trampling upon the customs of polite discourse and professional behavior with peers, and with smooth talking persuaded upper management to put them in charge, and then has no idea what to do next. Won't ask for or accept any advice or help, because they see that as weak, and in any case they didn't get there by listening, they got there by talking over others. They are totally into the "shut up and follow orders" style of management. And their orders are "make it happen", and don't bother them with the boring details. But don't embarrass them and accomplish too much, as that might show them up, and they can't have that. They tend to take a pushy, bullying approach to the situation, trying to hang all the responsibility for mistakes or the lack of progress on others, as if the only purpose for the existence of underlings is to take the blame and the fall. Meantime, if anything good is accomplished, they of course try to hog all the credit for it, despite having actively tried to personally sabotage the accomplishment when it looked like someone else, some underling, would reap the credit. Hilarious to see a loudmouth trying to take credit for something that was thought good, until learning that it is actually regarded as a waste of time, then instantly doing a 180 and blaming it all on underlings. When they have to get up in front of an audience and present something real is when it all crashes and burns. Cold comfort when the bullying idiot who should never have been given such responsibility gets ripped apart, as the entire project gets canceled and everyone loses their jobs.

Comment Re:edit distance, not just matching (Score 1) 82

A terminating null byte is a horrible way to denote the end of a string, as C/C++ designers eventually realized. The cost and space to maintain a separate value for the length of a string is O(1) no matter what operation is done. Not only does it take O(n) to find the terminating null, there's the additional complication of how to embed a null in the middle of a string, without terminating it. Use an escape sequence? Just don't allow the terminating character in the string? No modern string manipulation library uses termination characters. So, yeah, checking for equal lengths takes O(1), unless you're using the old string.h C library.

Comment Re:Soda is TOO expensive (Score 1) 568

Price was what first drove me away. Price does affect purchasing decisions. does damp down the desire for mildly addictive substances. Works for cigarettes and alcohol.

Improved health is a nice bonus, and now, having learned how unhealthy refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup is, I wouldn't take soda even if it was free. Ironically, many of these drinks were originally promoted for their health effects. Coke was created for pain relief. Carbonation itself was thought to have good effects on health.

Comment edit distance, not just matching (Score 1) 82

Yes, a nice reminder of string processing problems. The problem they worked on isn't exactly string matching. They are trying to find the minimum "edit distance" between 2 strings. There are a lot of very similar seeming problems in this area.

If all one is trying to do is test whether 2 strings match exactly, first check whether the lengths are equal. If they are, then it might be better to compare characters at the end first, under the idea that similar strings are more likely to match at the beginning. It's not an algorithmic savings, still have to compare each character until a mismatch is found or all characters have been checked. All that idea does is try what might be a more likely location for a mismatch sooner, but that depends entirely upon the data.

Trying to find where a shorter string might occur in a longer is a different problem. As you noted, Boyer-Moore is good. Then, the problem of finding matches for n short strings for n>1 within a long string is solvable in yet other ways, faster than simply applying Boyer-Moore n times.

Comment does this lad have a history? (Score 4, Insightful) 662

Something else to consider is this kid's history. Is he a prankster? Or, has he shown anti-social behavior, written long rambling notes about how he'd like to kill the teachers and other students? Is he on anti-psychotic drugs? The schools keep records on that kind of stuff, they should know.

If he had no troubled history, there was no reason to think he'd suddenly turned into an angry, dangerous teen, and was about to enact a murder-suicide revenge fantasy. The school's reaction was way over the top, and cowardly.

Comment Re:How is this paid for? (Score 1) 1291

Money does grow on trees. Food grows on trees, and that's worth money. Food is more directly useful to us than that abstraction we call money.

The energy we need to live comes from the sun. We are also utterly dependent upon other life to harness that energy and package it in forms we can use. We're all moochers. Think on that next time you bash socialism.

Comment Re:Don't we (the US) already have that... (Score 1) 1291

Do you not realize that things don't just materialize out of thin air?

IOW, there's no free lunch? Something everyone should better appreciate is just how dependent we all are upon the free lunch Earth receives from the sun, and how utterly dependent animals, including us, are upon the base of the food chain. Life also needs raw material, which it obtains from the Earth. Keep that in mind before accusing others of being moochers. We're all moochers.

If you're worried that a basic income removes the moral hazard from life, rest easy. Free sunlight didn't make living organisms lazy. What a basic income does is reduce desperation. Never back animals into a corner, unless you like being hurt. Pushing people to the edge is asking for trouble. Why do that if it is so easy to avoid? Is it out of some mystical feeling, some religious hangup over dogma about the supposed value of hard work? Maybe you really think we can't afford it? Yet we find buckets of money for our military, and why? Because we're afraid. Get off that pedestal of moral superiority, and look at the matter from a purely practical and social utility viewpoint. The US is overly harsh, too willing to smear people for being lazy without bothering to learn if they really are, and if deciding they are lazy, even if in error, too eager to permanently harm people for it.

Comment Re:Hallmark hype (Score 1) 241

There's nothing inherently wrong with double pane windows. They're a big improvement over single pane. And I like saving energy. The problem is retrofitting them. I've had these door-to-door salespeople pitch this idea. The lowest price they could manage was $10,000, for 2 sliding glass doors and 10 windows. I've run the numbers. We use about $1500 per year in electricity and gas. Approximately half of that is for heating and cooling, so $750. Their claim of 50% reduction in heating and cooling costs, if true, means it would save us about $375 per year, for a total payback period of 27 years. That's much too long. Too many things can happen in the meantime. The house might burn down, have to be condemned from foundation or termite or other damage, a tornado might destroy it, some drunk might drive a car into the living room, etc. Rocks or baseballs or hail might smash the windows. And I suspect 50% is too optimistic, the true savings are more likely to be half that. Surely there are other, more effective uses of $10K to get our energy bills down. Heavy drapes are way, way cheaper, and can save as much as the double pane windows. In fact, that's what we have. Why is that idea ignored? It is deliberately overlooked, of course, because it is more profitable to sell a sucker of a homeowner on a massively expensive window replacement job.

Comment futurism (Score 1) 73

Letter was dated 2014, did anyone notice? But it reads like "2014" is just a typo, and it should have been 2015. Had me wondering if we were being fed old news.

He wants some futurism? Hmm. The first question is whether any small group will take over control of our networking, or is that impossible? I think it is impossible, but that won't stop control freaks from trying. Since it is impossible, copyright as we know it will wither. Next, one of the things that divides people into nations is language barriers. Advances in automatic translation will erase that barrier. Also, the dominance of English will grow. The nation state will weaken further. Nations used to be much more jealous about citizenship, insisting that anyone who emigrated was practically a traitor, and never allowing dual citizenship. Now, the attitude is more relaxed and dual citizenship is fairly common. Right now, we're in a minor backlash against science and merit, with the Republicans in particular encouraging this backlash as it makes propaganda easier to pull off. I don't think it will last as information becomes ever easier to store and retrieve, and with increasingly sophisticated educational aides, everyone will get smarter.

Comment Re:Hallmark hype (Score 2) 241

Seems likely. America has sunk into a morass of greed. Medical doctors' every decision is colored by considerations of profit, Madison Avenue is ever seeking more ways to manipulate people into parting with their money, and our government has been captured by profiteering special interests. There is no aspect of our American Dream lives that hasn't been warped by this. Your house isn't complete until the lawn is a perfect monoculture, you have a security system with a monthly fee, double pane windows, water filters, Ronco Turnip Twaddlers and a chic set of stainless steel cookware with copper bottoms now that teflon is bad, a king sized water bed, a 72 inch flat screen TV and a surround sound system, etc. If you let your lawn get too free, the city is just waiting to slap you with a big fine not because you deserve that or tall grass is actually a problem and nuisance as they claim, but because they're hungry for revenue. Clotheslines project such a negative, impoverished image that they are severely discouraged, and everyone must use a power hungry clothes dryer instead. Red light cameras can increase safety, but it's too tempting for cities and their private for-profit contractors to abuse the system to extract more money from motorists.

The real fights are over which profiteering businesses will get more taxpayer money. Will it be the Military Industrial Complex, Wall Street, telecoms, Big Pharma, or Big Oil? By comparison, the MAFIAA are pathetic little fish trying to be whales, what with their cries for more policing at others' expense, justified by ludicrous complaints about piracy having cost them more profit than there is money in the entire world economy.

Comment Re:Pretty reasonable (Score 1) 235

Your scenario is flawed.

society has collectively decided to reward content creators a right to profit from their creations

I have no problem with a slight rewording of that. Rather than "a right to profit", why not simply "a profit"? Where I disagree is the means. Copyright is only a means, and it's not a good one.

If they decide to share, it's on their terms, not yours

And that's where the argument goes wrong. Why do they get to decide the terms? They really need that kind of control to wring the maximum profit possible from a work? Anything else is somehow not fair to the artists? The goal, you should remember, is to promote the useful arts and sciences, not necessarily be "fair" to artists. We've seen that such control is far from complete and perfect, can be difficult to monetize, and may actually reduce the total value. We, the people, also have interests in this matter. We do not wish to see our tax dollars wasted trying to enforce rules that are anti-social, as well as unenforceable.

Comment Re:Pretty reasonable (Score 1) 235

I never defend piracy

This whole thread is discussing punishment as if it's a forgone conclusion that copying is bad. "Piracy" is a loaded term and part of the propaganda publishers use to justify their stance. They've spent decades trying to convince the public to accept the simplification that "property is property" and there's no difference between "intellectual properties" and material properties. However seductive it sounds, it's flat wrong.

You should defend our rights. Sharing of information is a natural right. Sooner or later, creators and peddlers of such products must accept that the business model of selling copies is broken, is against the public interest, and that there are other business models and they do work.

Comment give him a primer on what can and cannot be done (Score 1) 87

A big problem with these guys, especially if they have to evaluate a project, is that they are embarrassingly ignorant about what technology cannot do. They're liable to ask for the impossible, and think they asked for something trivial. Well, if you can solve this problem with 50 coordinates, then 100 coordinates should only take twice as long! Depends on the problem. If it is Traveling Salesperson, the compute time roughly doubles for every 1 additional coordinate, not for a doubling of the number of coordinates. A list of limits would be helpful.

Comment Re: 'There's no substitute for cubic inches' (Score 1) 345

However, airlines have colluded to gouge passengers for convenience. Passengers are charged more, often much more, for the direct flight. The direct flight has the inherent advantage of the economy of carrying a passenger fewer miles and making fewer stops. Savings from other considerations, such as filling a plane to capacity, must therefore be greater to overcome that. Yet airlines game passengers, seeking to charge more for less. Air fares are notoriously fickle.

One time I was trying to get a trip from D.C. to DFW. The cheapest flight was about $250, and included a stop in Atlanta. The direct flights started around $800. But I found a flight that started in Philly and made its one stop in D.C. on the way to DFW, for about $250. I thought about buying it, and just boarding in D.C. But I didn't as I was sure there was some catch, Yes, indeed. The airline will cancel the rest of your flight if you are not on the first leg. Why would they do that? To stop passengers from dodging their monopolistic convenience levies, of course. I would have been screwed out of my flight, and I think the price of the ticket had I tried it. No refunds for missed flights, you know.

It's a good thing their monopoly is limited. Though D.C. to DFW is about 22 hours by car, vs. 4 hours for a direct flight, if the airlines are obnoxious enough, I'd rather take the car. Instead, I've always been able to find a cheap one stop flight. 12 to 14 hours is about the longest car trip I find practical, and that only barely. Any longer than that and you should really stop somewhere for a night of rest. I very rarely take a plane when the destination is only 4 to 6 hours away by car. With it taking an hour to get to and from the airports at either end, plus another hour to get through security, and the flight itself still takes an hour, the time saved by flying isn't much on such a short trip.

A rock store eventually closed down; they were taking too much for granite.