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Comment: this pisses me off about modern business (Score 5, Insightful) 177

by crgrace (#49496105) Attached to: MakerBot Lays Off 20 Percent of Its Employees

Employees are apparently being led out of the company's Brooklyn office by security today.

This has always rubbed me the wrong way. These people worked hard for the company and then they get thrown away like garbage, or worse potential threats. Why can't we treat people with respect and understanding. It is a serious personal trauma to get laid off... I always thought the way security escorts you from the building was kind of a "kick-em-while-they're-down" dick move.

I got laid off from a company during the financial crisis (10% of my company was laid off). I was accompanied to my desk to pick up my jacket and I was out the door. I had to make a freaking appointment to collect my personal belongs from my desk the next day. Everyone in the office tried to hide while me and the other victims cleaned out our stuff (our logins were already disabled). I guess they thought they would catch whatever it was the killed us.

Comment: Re:Lets use correct terminology. (Score 3, Insightful) 177

by crgrace (#49496065) Attached to: MakerBot Lays Off 20 Percent of Its Employees

If 20% are going at once, it is most certainly a layoff. It could be they are focusing on dead wood, or, and this is most likely, they had a mandate of 20% from each group, regardless of how strong each group was. I've seen some top flight engineers lose their jobs because of this type of scatter-shot layoff.

Comment: Re:Contradiction in article summary (Score 5, Insightful) 360

by crgrace (#49382999) Attached to: Why More 'Star Wars' Actors Don't Become Stars

Well I guess its a contradiction from a certain point of view.

I gotta disagree with you on Hamill. Every person I personally know who tried acting got a comercial or a traveling stage show or something a few times but ended up quitting after 5 years or less and now has a different job.

Mark Hamill did a lot better than just sign autographs. He had a good number of small roles in the 80s and 90s (check imdb) and most actors would kill to have a bit part on a few shows. He is also a pretty successful voice actor.

His career is in the top 1% of people who try to be actors. Harrison Ford's career is in the top 0.00001%. That's the difference, in my opinion.

Comment: Re:Don't worry actors (Score 4, Insightful) 360

by crgrace (#49382919) Attached to: Why More 'Star Wars' Actors Don't Become Stars

No, not too harsh at all. He made Ewan McGregor look like a high-school drama geek. "Wooden Talentless Hack" is a great way to put it. Those scenes on Kamino were so bad I actually hurt for poor Ewan. He must cringe whenever anyone brings up Star Wars. For God's Sake, this is Ewan McGregor we're talking about. Ever see him in Trainspotting? He was absolutely brilliant.

To my mind, the difference is clear. It's Lucas.

Comment: Re:Contradiction in article summary (Score 5, Interesting) 360

by crgrace (#49382891) Attached to: Why More 'Star Wars' Actors Don't Become Stars

It's not a contradiction at all. The agent works for the agent's benefit primarily. The vast, vast majority of actors never land a role where the agent can take a significant cut. So, to them, it's like a "bird in the hand vs. two in the bush" type of thing. They can get a few bucks out of the actor, who cares if their long-term prospects are stunted. Fact is, they most likely wouldn't get anywhere anyway. Remember, the agent works for the agent. There is always another good-looking young actor coming along to represent.

To say Mark Hamill (for instance) would have been more successful without being in Star Wars is ridiculous. While he didn't hit it big like Harrison Ford, he certainly had a career that was more successful than 99% of people who try to act.

Comment: actually sounds really good (Score 1) 128

by crgrace (#49381805) Attached to: Microsoft Announces Surface 3 Tablet

The micro-USB thing is huge. It is such a pain in the ass that I can't mix and match connectors with my ipod and other devices. I'm glad MS isn't going for nonstandard (read: lucrative) connectors (yet).

If the battery life pans out to be real (and video consumption is second only to wifi as a battery killer in my experience) this might be my next tablet...

Comment: Re:software dev vs programmer (Score 4, Interesting) 139

by crgrace (#49375939) Attached to: IT Jobs With the Best (and Worst) ROI

Yeah it makes no sense. They have separate categories for Software Engineer, Programmer, and Software Developer. They are the same job, although often they have slightly different connotations in that in some organizations the word engineer has more prestige than programmer but it varies.

Pretty much useless... a distinction that makes no different at best. Even if some pedant comes along and says "a software engineer has XX degree and a programmer has YY degree" it is still meaningless because these types of distinctions are not generally agreed upon.

Comment: the river keeps rolling (Score 5, Insightful) 120

And so it goes.

Yet another step to insert a system to mediate and "facilitate" peer-to-peer transactions. I can almost feel the middle class getting poorer as more and more middlemen scrape off their percentage.

The technology that so many people thought would set us free is being applied to bring us back 100 years when most labor was casual and few people knew if they'd have a job next year.

Car sharing, house sharing, "free" content generation, task rabbit type casual labor.... no wonder the middle class in the USA is hurting. This might be more effect than cause but we're in an undiscovered country, that's for sure.

Comment: Re:Unity? (Score 1) 31

by crgrace (#48918789) Attached to: Game Hack-A-Thon Attracts Teams At 500+ Sites Worldwide

Programming an audio engine, or dynamic light engine for the umpteenth time is not being creative.

I think it's *incredibly* creative. In fact it's the very essence of creativity: you know what you want to achieve but it is non-obvious how to get there.

Perhaps it is a different kind of creativity compared to other aspects of game design but the times when I've been deep into highly technical development have been some of the most creative periods of my life.

I actually agree that using a game engine should be OK for this, but creativity isn't one of the reasons.

Comment: We need better software, not more programmers (Score 5, Interesting) 212

by crgrace (#48910959) Attached to: Why Coding Is Not the New Literacy

It's been this way whenever a new technology became normalized in the public eye.

I had a chat with my late grandfather about this in the mid-90s. I told him about when I was a kid and there was a big push in making children "computer literate". So much so, in fact, that I took a class in 3rd grade or 4th grade in LOGO on a VIC-20.

My grandfather said that reminded him of when he was a boy in the 1930s. In his time people thought EVERYTHING would be mechanized and learning how machines work and how to fix them would be required to be literate in the future. So, he actually took classes in engine design (!) and maintenance in the mid-30s, and it wasn't a vocational school.

As we all know, the deep knowledge required to design a car or an oven similar machine is held by specialists and baked into the products we buy.

Similarly, the deep knowledge required to program a computer to do useful work SHOULD be baked into the products we buy.

Think of it this way: who needs to read the manual when they get a new car? You just figure it out because it is largely intuitive. A TON of non-intuitive thought went into making the car easy to use.

I think it is our responsibility (those of us here who are engineers) to work towards putting that level of ease of use to work. This is the real reason Apple is popular. Their stuff is easier to use than most other products and people are HUNGRY for that.

We don't need to teach every kid to program. We just need better programs.

Comment: Re:MOS technology built most of the cartridge ROMS (Score 1) 60

by crgrace (#48879647) Attached to: The Untold Story of the Invention of the Game Cartridge

I hate to jump on you for this because you made an excellently informative post but what exactly did greed do? Greed seems to be a buzzword for any failure in business today, at least to people who prattle on about how anti-establishment they are while taking every advantage of corporate output.

Jack Tramiel (the owner of Commodore) sucked as much cash out of the business while not providing even a shoestring business to develop more advanced integrated circuits. They limped along for a while based on the heroic efforts of a few creative engineers but Commodore Semiconductor Group (CSG) collapsed because Jack Tramiel treated CSG like his own personal bank account.

Once he left to buy Atari in 1984 CSG was too far behind in the microprocessor wars to field another chip.

So, in this case it was greed. Jack Tramiel's greed. Too cheap to fund long term developments, he instead bought an airplane and milked current technology until his company was so far behind it could never catch up.

Comment: MOS technology built most of the cartridge ROMS (Score 4, Informative) 60

by crgrace (#48876427) Attached to: The Untold Story of the Invention of the Game Cartridge

MOS Technology did a big business in manufacturing ROMs for Atari's cartridges (both the 2600 and 400/800 /XE line). They also made the 6502 variants used in the 2600 and 400/800/XE and in Atari's main competitors (Apple and Commodore).

Eventually MOS was purchased by Commodore and stopped making ROMs but cranked out the 6502s and SID chips.

For some reason they never got around to making a followup to the 6502 and let the next generation business go to Motorola. Greed does that.

Another fun fact: The original VCS games were programmed on a PDP-11 using a cross-assembler (!) and soon enough Atari upgraded to a VAX. When a game was finished they sent program tape to MOS who made the metal mask. The ROMs were pre-processed up to the metal deposition step. Then the final metal pattern was defined by whatever program was being written to ROM. This is one reason how MOS made them so cheaply: they mass produced ROM blanks and then programmed them with a single mask. I talked with an Atari old-timer about the process a couple of years ago. Great stories.

Comment: take my wife... please (Score 5, Interesting) 218

by crgrace (#48826355) Attached to: Study: Belief That Some Fields Require "Brilliance" May Keep Women Out

Take my wife as an example. She's incredibly smart, hard-working, and capable. She could be AT LEAST as good an engineer as I am. Why isn't she? Because she's smart enough to make a conscious choice to choose a field with better work-life balance than I did (engineering). She can take 3 months off when we have a child and organize her work to be compatible with having a young child. It's much harder for me.

I think she's smart.

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin