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Comment: Re:Pick a different job. (Score 1) 380

I would refuse as well, there is no personal benefit to me. Most of what stops any attempt to unionize programmers dead in its tracks is that the ones who write the vast majority of the working code out there have no desire to join a union.

The people who want it are usually fluff, and would be no great loss anyway. Then again I always insist upon partial ownership, so maybe I would be considered part of the other team these days.

Comment: Re:Complexity (Score 1) 425

by cerberusti (#47674091) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Bjarne Stroustrup About Programming and C++

I have the same habits. One of the first things I do on a new compiler is go find the warning for assignments within conditions and turn it on. It produces errors which can be hard to find, and do not always come up in testing (since it effectively makes it always take one code path, and sometimes this is the far more common case anyway.)

I think pretty much every C compiler has that option, some issued a warning by default.

I like my braces to line up vertically as well, so the brace gets its own line indented a space from the prior line. I sometimes go without braces if it is going to be a long block of conditions I want on single lines and I cannot use a switch, but this is very rare.

I tend to make casts explicit and group everything myself, but do it inline (most of the time the type is the same anyway.)

assuming int is 16 bit and long is 32:
int a;
unsigned int b;
long int c;
c=((long int)a) * ((long int)b);

Or do you have a compiler which does not give the expected results there?

Comment: Re:Require H1-B visa recipients be paid more (Score 1) 529

It's easy, make the cost of an H1B 500k/yr payable to the IRS as a fee by the sponsoring company (with no deductions, you pay or it is not granted / renewed).

There are few enough positions which are paid at this level that you could be assured it really was a valuable and hard to find skill set if the company must pay this plus the actual salary. It does not matter what games they play if each license has a minimum fee of half a million regardless of why you want it or what you are paying as salary. This is low enough that in cases of real need it can be done, but will generally be a last resort.

Comment: Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (Score 2) 156

by cerberusti (#47490151) Attached to: Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

The most important thing for hydrogen as a car fuel is that it is impractically dangerous. Sure you can bind it to something else to mitigate that... but then we are talking about something like gasoline anyway (or your hydrocarbon of choice, but substituting other atoms for carbon tends to make it toxic.)

The safety issues with liquefied dihydrogen are so insanely bad that anybody seriously proposing it knows this cannot possibly work, or has very little chemical and engineering knowledge. The basic properties of this substance make it entirely unsuitable as a common fuel.

The suggestion that hydrogen will be useful as a fuel source on a moving vehicle would be hilarious if it was not suggested in all sincerity by individuals with the power to make laws.

The reality is that we are going to simply burn the methane (natural gas) as that is where we would be sourcing the hydrogen anyway, and it is much safer to transport.

Comment: Re:Absolutely - it is filthy (Score 4, Interesting) 156

by cerberusti (#47490061) Attached to: Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

Even if we could produce it in a reasonable manner hydrogen is highly explosive, very easy to ignite, cryogenic when liquefied (as in 20 K cryogenic), and likes to leak out of most containers at an impressive rate (even very well sealed and cooled containers which you could not practically place in a moving vehicle).

Leaks can also cause spontaneous ignition due to the fact that unlike most gasses, hydrogen warms on expansion and requires a terrifyingly low amount of energy to ignite.

There is effectively no way to overcome the practical issues with using dihydrogen alone as a fuel source while being competitive with anything else. It must be bound to another atom, such as carbon (and if that counts as hydrogen powered we already have it with gasoline.)

In the US we will end up doing exactly what you mention: We will burn the natural gas directly for energy, because that is a sane thing to do. It is stable and easy to store compared to hydrogen, and the energy density is good enough.

Comment: Re: Administrators (Score 1) 538

by cerberusti (#47291825) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

To some degree it depends upon the specialty of the programmer. Programmers who mostly write business apps in Java or C# may not get much exposure to a lot of this, but systems programmers will due to the type of code they write.

In a previous job as a consultant I picked up a fair amount of work from various IT departments in diagnosing what went wrong when things did not work as expected.

It can be useful to have someone you can call to dump a network capture and determine who messed up the implementation of a protocol (and help write up a bug report for the vendor, fix it if the source is available, or insert a bridge with a program which will fix the issue as it passes traffic if necessary.) This is especially true when less common operating systems are involved, as sysadmins tend to specialize a bit more in this way (OS400 and S/390 were good sources of income on a few occasions.)

I may not be as fast at configuring whatever they are using since I do not know how the menus or config files are put together until I look, but having implemented most of the major protocols over the years I know what the options mean (or failing that, I can read the spec.)

Comment: Re:Administrators (Score 2) 538

by cerberusti (#47291699) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

Few sane people use HR to fill the good jobs, you use your contact network to do that. That is how I used to get good jobs, it is how I fill good jobs now, and that is true for almost everyone I know.

HR is a last resort, or for entry level positions. Even if you cannot fill something, if it is important you take on some contractors or consultants for a while and find someone that way (either directly, or through one of their recommendations.)

I am not sure what you do for a living, but good programmers are very hard to find (even decent web developers are getting difficult.) If you have been around for a while and are competent, you probably know someone who wants to hire you.

Comment: Re:It's The Bureaucracy, Stupid (Score 1) 538

by cerberusti (#47291607) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

In private industry that opens the door for a smaller, leaner, less bureaucratic company to compete and eat their lunch as the saying goes.

This is really the basis of capitalism, and heavily favors those who are willing to take some risks and cut their own path through life. Sure, you may need to get a group together who can pull it off, get funding, and make it all work out somehow... but it happens more often than you may realize.

If you spend your life doing what others tell you to do you will very likely suffer, as others will generally tell you to do what they want you to do, not what is in your best interest. I have seen more than a few companies form from the trenches of a larger company, and pillage the better employees to go compete with their previous employer. You do not pillage the bureaucrats when you do this for a reason.

Government has a monopoly on anything it chooses to, as they can leverage their monopoly on violence to enforce it. This, and industries with startup capital costs so high it is difficult to put the kind of money necessary to compete together are where you find permanent bureaucracy.

Higher education is not a sector which naturally forms a bureaucratic mess, the only reason it is so bad is that our government monopolized education funding through guaranteed loans and basically removed most pressure to perform while doing so. Their product quality is kind of terrible these days too.

Comment: Re:Not to be snarky (Score 1) 538

by cerberusti (#47291373) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

Not so much. Only the cube farms and colleges have super high numbers of people with degrees, and they are usually not paid all that well.

You just need a useful skill, or contacts, or a record of getting things done, or the ability to convince someone to take a risk on you, or a good idea and the ability to execute it, or an much above average intellect, or ambition, or wealthy parents... in short, you need to stand out somehow.

Upper management at many organizations tends to have large numbers of people with no degree (also many MBAs), electricians and plumbers can make quite a bit of money with a certification instead, starting a business is an option open to everyone, consultants generally do not list education at all, etc.

There are a lot of very good options to make as much or more money than most who go get a bachelors degree, they just require that you not float along and take the standard path.

MDs are an exception due to legal requirements, but medical school does not require a college degree to get in either.

Comment: Re:Obviously (Score 1) 538

by cerberusti (#47291227) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

This is part of why I think the government should get entirely out of higher education. No loans, grants, or guarantees beyond those given to any other sort of loan.

Private banks would sort it out in very short order based on what schools and programs actually make a ROI, and tuition would indeed go into free fall. The real key is that you should be able to declare bankruptcy on student loans, possibly with bank having a lien on the degree (and the ability to deny you have it if you default.)

The current system where we let young (and in many cases not all that bright) students take out as much money as they want, then indenture them with a huge loan they cannot discharge by any means other than paying it... is very bad.

Comment: Re:Administrators (Score 1) 538

by cerberusti (#47291099) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

I could say the same thing about industry vs academia.

In most fields the cutting edge work is done in industry, and it is the academic world which is woefully out of date. You have no access to this information if you do not work in the industry, so you deal with information which is a few decades old.

The way to get access in this case is to join a company which works in the field (sometimes information is hoarded, sometimes there are industry groups which are good resources.) Getting in sometimes requires a degree, but not always. Increasingly it is not required, as the risk seems to be pretty similar these days between the self educated and those who attended a university.

The exception is... when you need to pass a clueless HR department which does not have the ability to screen on anything except your credentials. HR tends not to have any say unless there are a lot more applicants than open positions, there is no favored candidate going in, and a way to cut the list down is necessary.

The good positions are rarely advertised, they get filled through your contact network. Nobody really cares if or where you went to school if you have 20 years of work behind you, as what you have done is simply more important.

I am less kind than most people, so instead of filtering by education I reduce salary on entry level positions until the number of applicants is appropriate. This is a growing trend due to the obvious benefit to the employer, and one of the reasons you see people making less than their student loan payments in some cases even in what are generally considered well paying fields.

If they work out I can offer more, if not I am out less budget. If colleges were willing and able to ensure competence it would be worth a premium, but as it stands this is not the case.

If it is supposed to be about learning for the sake of learning rather than obtaining useful skills then great, but that makes the advertising a little bit fraudulent.

Comment: Re:Science is not consensus (Score 1) 649

by cerberusti (#47270013) Attached to: Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools

AGW is about as solid as estimating the results of a chemical reaction in an uncontrolled environment where you know only some of the reactants involved.

What you give implies a warming trend, but trying to account for everything which affects surface temperature to the point where you can give a meaningful number leads to error bars which include both deep freeze and boiling water (although I admittedly recalculated those over ten years ago, I am not aware of any major developments which would warrant redoing that.)

I understand it is the best we can currently do, but our best does not yield an answer most people would consider meaningful.

An honest answer would be something like "What we know implies a warming trend, but we are incapable of putting a number to it at this time." Claiming the kind of certainty the IPCC does is very dishonest, which annoys me enough to be willing to argue it.

And to answer your question:

The energy goes back to space, but this is delayed more than it normally would be if it is absorbed by a CO2 molecule.

The energy absorbed by a CO2 molecule will be emitted as a photon after an average of about ten microseconds (collision rate and therefore pressure will affect this.) The wavelength of the photon depends upon temperature, but due to the very limited absorption spectrum of CO2 it is unlikely to be absorbed by another CO2 molecule. H2O is however far more likely to absorb the photon, and we have a lot more of it in the atmosphere. The potential problem comes about from the interaction of both CO2 and H2O (a very small increase from CO2 amplifying a much larger effect from H2O.)

The reason increasing CO2 has a noticeable effect is due to its small concentration in the atmosphere, as it will not yet absorb the wavelengths it can to extinction.

As concentration increases it becomes "less bad" to increase it further. It should be kept in mind that increasing CO2 concentration will give a logarithmic falloff in absorbed energy. If you increase the concentration of a gas by 1000x, you will get about a 7x increase in absorbed energy.

In short:

We probably will see some warming, but are very unlikely to see a runaway greenhouse effect. A potential future problem which bears some watching is being pitched as a doomsday scenario, and I would consider this is a good example of the phrase "making a mountain out of a molehill."

Every successful person has had failures but repeated failure is no guarantee of eventual success.