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Comment: Re:Weber's Honorverse (Score 1) 444

by Lorens (#48014677) Attached to: The Physics of Space Battles

he has much too much of a fascination with the French Revolution

I can't say you're wrong, but at least he does it on purpose. The series was supposed to recreate the life of Horatio Nelson (think "Hornblower in space"), and most of the physics "could be"s are chosen so that the battles and diplomacy resemble life at sea in the early 19th century. Of course, the heroine was supposed to die like Nelson did, but I think the story and fans won that battle. It probably explains why she's less present in the later books!

Comment: Re:So offer a cost effective replacement (Score 1) 185

by Lorens (#48006137) Attached to: Security Collapse In the HTTPS Market

15 years ago I had an MBNA credit card. On their website you could generate a one-time credit card number that was only good for the stated amount. That was a big improvement. I guess not enough people bothered to use it though.

I have this system today, and my "real" card number, while valid, is systematically declined for Internet transactions. It's common enough that Amazon (at least the French Amazon) has an FAQ on the problems it can cause (bigger orders can be split up, and Amazon debits each packet separately). Some sites refuse the virtual card, but I can real-time the on/off switch on my bank's website to use my "real" card number just for the necessary number of seconds. Not ideal, but better than most.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 471

by metlin (#47979911) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?

Yes, there are a fair number of social scientists in consulting firms. Usually, they tend to be econ or poli-sci/IR, but you certainly have a smattering of other subjects. I once worked with a partner who had a PhD in Philosophy (not social science per se, but representative of critical thinking ability nevertheless).

I would imagine that there is a preference towards the hard sciences, but I think that is more of a self-selection mechanism than anything else. Management consulting entails a lot of number crunching (financial analysis, demographic segmentation etc), so people with hard science backgrounds tend to gravitate towards these roles.

Most back office analytics and research functions at the big consulting firms have quite an armada of doctorates. In fact, a few months ago, I worked with someone who had a PhD in Geography, which came in handy because he knew how to run geospatial analyses for a distribution problem.

Comment: Re:That totally won't work. (Score 1) 471

by metlin (#47979887) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?

This assumes getting hired into a lower level position in a larger consulting firm, rather than consulting on your own.

Did you not read my original comment at all? I mentioned that the major management consulting firms (i.e., MBB) hire PhDs and other Advanced Degree Candidates.

At which point they are back to exactly the same problem that they originally faced, which is getting hired for a job working for someone else. It doesn't matter whether that someone else hires them in order to farm them out to a third party, or hires them to do work in house, they are still facing the problem that they can't get hired in the first place because they are unable to sell themselves to a prospective employer.

Hiring in management consulting firms (at least at the junior levels) is less about selling yourself and more about your analytical skills. Such hiring is not predicated on your technical know-how per se but rather your critical thinking and problem solving abilities.

Comment: Re:That totally won't work. (Score 1) 471

by metlin (#47979303) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?

Not all consulting entails selling. In fact, in any good consulting firm, you won't be doing any selling until you're near the top (e.g., Principal/Partner). You may not even get to present anything in front of the client until you have some experience under your belt -- as a new hire, the only client facing activity you'll do is take detailed notes.

Moreover, junior resources (e.g., Associates or Consultants) tend to do a lot more data crunching and slide building than presenting content. And you're put through some pretty rigorous training before you'll ever see a client (in some firms, they call it MBA-light).

No one in their right minds will put someone fresh out of school to do anything client facing without some degree of coaching and experience.

Secondly, not every role in a consulting firm is client facing. Almost all the big consulting firms have a rather large pool of back office and analytics experts who do research, collate materials, perform analysis and so on. These are not client facing at all, and you won't have to do any selling whatsoever.

In any event, there is the perception of consultants thanks to everybody and their brother calling themselves a "consultant" and there is the truth. The truth is that in any good firm, partners will really vet you and groom you before you get to participate actively in any meaningful way.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 4, Insightful) 471

by metlin (#47976447) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?

Motivation notwithstanding, I would also suggest that you consider consulting.

I work in management consulting in one of the MBB firms, and we hire quite a few ADCs (Advanced Degree Candidates), particularly in the hard sciences.

The idea is that a PhD provides you with enough critical thinking and quantitative skills that would be extremely valuable in what you do. And you'd be surprised at the type of work that you'd get to do. As long as you have some semblance of social skills that can be cultivated and the ability to think quickly on your feet, you should be fine.

A good way to think about this is what happens when your senior client executive throws some numbers and asks you a question in the elevator -- can you quickly give an answer, and be professional and polite about it without becoming a nervous wreck?

Right now, I work with several PhDs and MDs in the healthcare payer/provider space, and their deep medical expertise is extremely valuable. We have similar profiles of folks with PhDs in mechanical/aeronautical/industrial engineering for industrial goods work, CS/EE PhDs in telecom/media/high-tech industry work and so on. You would be surprised at just how many PhDs, MDs, JDs, and the likes are hired by top tier consulting firms.

Despite what you may have heard of consulting on Slashdot and elsewhere, we do some pretty cool work. Yes, the hours aren't easy and you'll travel a lot, but consider it baptism by fire. In a span of two years, you would have worked on a wide array of projects and will have honed your hard and soft skills -- everything from building financial models to presenting to very senior executives.

And surprisingly, you will work with some very smart people. Yes, many of them may have MBAs, but just as many have other advanced degrees, and even the ones with MBAs also have pretty strong undergrad credentials (e.g., Harvard, MIT, Stanford), usually STEM.

So, whatever your motivations may have been, I will just say that consulting will teach you skills that are very hard to acquire elsewhere. It may be baptism by fire, but your value in the job market will grow by leaps and bounds.

Something to consider. :)

Comment: Re:Let the conference organizers pay for you to at (Score 1) 182

by ciurana (#47968077) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Who Should Pay Costs To Attend Conferences?

Agreed 100% with this advise.

I view speaking engagements the same way I view my publications: they by themselves don't pay much, even for an "on demand" speaker. The upside is in the prestige that translates into better job offers or better consulting opportunities.

You can write something in your resume like "I have excellent communication skills" or you can just list your management experience, speaking engagements, and publications. At that point people can be pretty sure that you can communicate better than a majority of people.

Prep time == fun time too. The creative work that goes into condensing a 6- or 12-month project into 28 slides without making them too busy is great. Judicious use of animation effects to help you make your point (e.g. making the layers of a system appear on the screen as you talk about them) is also fun. Last, don't change your topic every time you go out! Instead, figure out a topic that different audiences will find interesting, create the presentation, and then tweak only one or two slides when the time comes. A good presentation has a 6-months shelf life (or 3-4 conferences if you have a busy schedule).


Comment: Re:Do the math (Score 1) 169

by metlin (#47965785) Attached to: My resting heart rate:

Yeah, good point on the protein levels. I have found that hydration plays a huge role in terms of how your protein workups show in your urine screens.

The creatine levels are usually high because I'm usually a vegetarian, so I tend to go through adding some creatine in my shakes (cycle through them). I think on that particular day, I was perhaps a little less hydrated than I should have been, resulting in higher levels than usual. In any event, I know I'm over-saturated with creatine and need hydration when I start having cramps.

And you're right about see-sawing on fitness. I don't necessarily see-saw per se, but I do go through bulk and cut periods (i.e., winter and summer). And so at the peak of a cut with lots of active workouts thrown in, my resting heart rate is lower. At the peak of my bulk with almost only weight exercises thrown in (usually around the winter holidays), my resting heart rate is higher. It's a good thing I can wear sweaters then to cover up my fatceps. :-)

Comment: Let the conference organizers pay for you to atten (Score 1) 182

by ciurana (#47965161) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Who Should Pay Costs To Attend Conferences?


I'm a frequent speaker at Java, Python, and other conferences. I love to travel, and I use the conferences to scout for talent for the various ventures in which I'm involved. Since I love the travel, the conference participation, etc. but lack the budget to go everywhere I want to go on my own, I instead focus on writing articles for various publications. Several of my write ups resonate with the audiences for the publications with whom I work (e.g. DZone, InfoQ, etc.) and I get invited to present at various conferences. Problem solved! I let the conference organizers cover all or part of my expenses.

My rules of thumb are:

* Conference organized by volunteers/non-profits? Cover something like lodging or a domestic flight.
* Conference organized by a company or for-profit organization? Cover lodging + travel.

This way I get to share on cool things on which we work, get to meet interesting people, scout for talent, and otherwise have a great time (and 99% of the time, a great trip!). This year so far I've spoken at conferences in Beijing, Tokyo, Krakow, and London. Moscow and Zürich are in the immediate future. All conference organizers almost always throw an attendance pass to all presentations for free. Since I travel with my girlfriend, she tends to attend for free as well (I cover her travel expenses, though).

I hope this helps -- cheers!

Comment: Re:Do the math (Score 1) 169

by metlin (#47961045) Attached to: My resting heart rate:

I've usually been fairly fit (lots of rock climbing, rowing, and general working out), but a few years ago, I was in the best possible shape of my life.

I went to the doctor for a annual physical and my resting heart rate was ~52-55 bpm. The nurse freaked out, and called the doctor and rechecked, who basically said I must be in shape (I proceeded to lift my t-shirt to show my almost abs). My thyroid levels were also slightly low because it was summer and I was on a cut. They freaked out about a few other things (e.g., creating levels in my urine, my protein consumption etc), but overall, the workups came out quite positive.

These days, it's slightly higher (low 60s), but regular workouts usually help a lot. If I am generally in shape for ~6 months, they go down by ~10 bpm. If I let go for a while, they go right back up by ~20 bpm.

Comment: Re:Mark Zuckerberg is a liar. (Score 3, Informative) 260

by metlin (#47960953) Attached to: Mark Zuckerberg Throws Pal Joe Green Under the Tech Immigration Bus

H-1B visa: The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa

H1B is called a non-immigrant visa because you cannot use *that* visa to immigrate.

However, H1B is also recognized as a dual-intent visa.

That's why you can file for your green card while you're on an H1B, through your employer.

There are many visas that are non-immigrant visas that are dual intent because the visa in itself doesn't grant you the right to become an immigrant, but is used to file for a change of intent.

Comment: Re:A miracle of modern diplomacy (Score 3, Informative) 192

by metlin (#47942413) Attached to: On Independence for Scotland:

Hell, even India got its independence peacefully, though the peace ended moments after independence.

You have no idea what the hell you're talking about.

The west idolizes Gandhi and completely ignores historical truths in the process. Gandhi waged a political war of attrition on the British, and a weakened Britain from WW2 caved in. But the truth is, Gandhi's role was the proverbial straw -- violent protests against the British were underway long before he was even born.

The first Indian battle of independence was in 1857, and was violent. There have been many, many violent conflicts with the British, up until the point of independence. In 1919, the British massacred thousands of non-violent protestors in Jhalianwala Bagh.

And from the hanging of the likes of Bhagat Singh (who was a socialist revolutionary) in 1931 to Subhas Chandra Bose's alliance with the Japanese and the Germans to fight the British, there were many militant freedom fighters who caused tangible hardship on the British.

Only someone ignorant of history would call the Indian independence movement peaceful. There's a reason Gandhi was shot dead -- he may have been a martyr in his death, but he waged a political battle with bitter consequences whose effects continue to be felt to this day.

Comment: Re:Spoiler (Score 1) 191

by dpilot (#47914369) Attached to: Sci-Fi Authors and Scientists Predict an Optimistic Future

This presumes that people regularly leave the tower, or at least the upper floors of the tower. Science fiction has plengy of examples where Elvis may never leave the building. Probably not workable in today's society, but what if everything needed for daily life could be reached within a few floors.

Think in terms of the arcologies in "Oath of Fealty".

Your mode of life will be changed to EBCDIC.