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Comment: Re:Overly broad? (Score 1) 422

by curunir (#48183467) Attached to: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres

Water, when consumed in sufficient quantities to kill you, becomes an acute poison. Both water and sugar have LD50 values where they become an acute poison. But, unlike water, sugar is also a chronic poison...prolonged exposure to it causes chronic health problems. That's what we're talking about here and that's why your water example is a false equivalence.

If you want an actual equivalency, try cigarettes or non-lethal levels of ionizing radiation. You'll find your flippant remarks far less amusing when you use something that's poisonous in the same way as sugar.

Comment: Re:I Read TFA... (Score 5, Insightful) 107

by curunir (#46906395) Attached to: Places Where the Silicon Valley Bubble Could Pop

Read the linked TechCrunch article...it's really a great explanation of everything that's going on. One good example was Mountain View working on a commercial development that would bring 42,550 jobs to the city while only creating additional housing for 7000 people. This in a city where already far more people work than live. To Mountain View, it's simple...residents require more services like schools, fire departments and police than do office complexes. But those workers have to live somewhere and cities like Mountain View that are acting selfishly are pushing rents up in nearby cities.

Two of those cities are San Francisco and Oakland. Both cities have a lot of housing when you ignore one minor detail...the current residents that would need to be displaced. But since all those jobs in Mountain View pay way more than the current residents make, developers and landlords are only too happy profiteer off the well-compensated tech workers by pricing the current residents out of the market.

But, as the piece lays out, it's not tech workers that are to blame and, for the most part, not tech companies either. It's mostly local and state government's 30+ years of stupidity that's led to this. Starting with prop 13 in 1978 and the backlash that led to rent control laws, government created an environment where homeowners fight tooth and nail against new housing and rent control drives rent up by distorting the market. The ensuing difference between controlled and uncontrolled rents causes conflict between tenants and landlords who see how much money they're losing each month. So the city adds even more idiotic regulations that ensure a certain amount of housing is sold/rented below market rates, which has income restrictions that just about guarantee that poor people won't be able to afford them...but zero-income children of parents willing to cosign qualify quite easily.

Meanwhile, companies keep growing/starting up and more and more high-paying jobs keep coming to the area. But thanks to all those "I got mine, screw the rest of you" homeowners who keep new developments from being built, those jobs come without the corresponding increase in necessary housing. So what are current landlords to do...every form of meddling is forcing prices through the roof to the point where only highly-paid professionals can afford them? You could either sit by and allow your tenant to pay you a small fraction of what the place is worth (and sometimes rent it out for full price on AirBnB...no rent control there) or you could use some sleazy tactic to evict the long-time tenant and let the boom dollars roll in. Also, notice I didn't say tech professionals...we make up less than a quarter of the well-to-do SF population...there's more finance than tech.

As per usual, the ones most hurt by this are the working poor. The abject poor are doing the same as ever...when you make zero and live off city-provided social programs, rent prices really don't affect you all that much. But the people trying to be productive members of society are basically forced to move away and commute back to the city. And this has some really nasty side effects...like police officers who have no real attachment to the community they serve because they've been priced out of living there.

Protesting the Google bus makes for a great shot on the 11pm news, but is otherwise counter-productive. If we want to fix the issue, we should:
a) Repeal prop 13, rent control, the below-market-rate program and all the other government meddling.
b) Tell homeowners to go fuck themselves and start building new housing as fast as we can.
c) Add significant tax incentives for people who live close to work. This would have the dual effect of being "green" by reducing commutes and making it unattractive to work in cities that do not provide enough housing to support the businesses there.

Alternatively, we could just accept that poor people will need to move and let it happen. It's heartless, but given how bungling government is, it's pretty much inevitable. The unfortunate part is that what's considered poor is almost ridiculous. Someone making $100k/yr will basically never be able to afford to buy a home in SF.

See...SF and Oakland have a lot to do with Silicon Valley :-)

Comment: Re:It already found its place. (Score 1) 333

by curunir (#46903411) Attached to: Figuring Out the iPad's Place

I've got two iPads and I think it's misguided to look at it replacing desktop/laptops or phones. The commonality between those two devices is basically limited to activities that I see as having become commoditized...email, web and the like.

But the iPad has partially replaced two of my other devices. I have a 55" flatscreen and PS3 that get significantly less use these days, and it's mostly because of the iPad. I'm not a heavy gamer, so it's notable that I've filled the PS3 void with games that are significantly simpler than what I have on the PS3, but I still find the greater variety of games available on the iPad compelling. For the price of one PS3 game, I can get ~30 iPad games and augment that with many free games. That means I'm almost never bored, despite the lack of depth of each game. And while the iPad might not be as compelling a media viewing device as my 55" screen, I find myself using it more often. It's more convenient, there's no remotes, no switching inputs and streaming is easier. Media companies often bend over backwards to prohibit streaming to devices that can be hooked up to a TV, but they'll make streaming to an iPad work well. When you add in advantages like not disturbing someone who's sleeping and not needing to pause to go to the bathroom I find myself unconsciously gravitating towards streaming on my iPad.

Any discussion of whether the iPad is displacing another consumer electronic device should include TV and gaming consoles long before you include computers or cell phones.

Comment: Re:Because... (Score 1) 794

by curunir (#46373995) Attached to: Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience

Great, now Syngenta's GMO sweet corn is labeled and Monsanto's non-GMO broccoli is not.

The label doesn't need to just say GMO...they can put their name on it as well. But I've got no love for any of the companies in that field, so I'm fine with hurting other GMO companies in addition to Monsanto.

You mean the ones anti-GMO groups routinely lie about?

I don't claim to follow it closely, but I've heard those "lies" from many different sources and it's just you calling them lies. Given that I don't really see an upside to GMO crops, I don't really see a need to reexamine what I've heard.

Evolution is just a theory, disagree with that? Then why not label it, just for information's sake?

Now you're just being obtuse. Theory, in a scientific context, doesn't mean what you're pretending it means. Gravity is also a theory. Relativity is a theory. The use of the word 'theory' doesn't mean we don't know that it's true. But I'd imagine that textbook authors would consider, "This book contains information on the theory of evolution." to be a badge of honor rather than the stain that "GMO" would be, so I guess I'm okay with that label...if a creationist wants to avoid evolution, that's their right and I support that. Just as long as those "other" textbooks have to wear the "This book contains 'information' on creationism" label.

Comment: Re:Because... (Score 5, Insightful) 794

by curunir (#46371875) Attached to: Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience

I don't give a rats ass about whether GMOs are healthy or not. I want them labeled because I don't want a dime of my money to go to Monsanto. I want Monsanto to die because of their patent policy, exploitation of the third world and general willingness to endanger our ability to feed ourselves.

Fuck anyone who frames the labeling of GMOs as a health issue, be they for or against. It's an informed consumer issue, nothing more.

Comment: Listen to yourself (Score 1) 263

by curunir (#46339545) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When Is a Better Career Opportunity Worth a Pay Cut?

I've been through this a few times and, strangely enough, I've found wisdom in a small speech from a mediocre movie that's helped with my last few.

To paraphrase:

There's no such thing as a tough decision. We make hundreds of decisions each day and, over the course of a year, the number of decisions we make runs into tens or even hundreds of thousands. We only think decisions are hard when we don't like the answer that we've come up with.

The movie was otherwise forgettable, but that quote has stuck with me and I've used it on quite a few occasions to try to listen to whatever voice inside me has already decided and drown out the conscious thoughts that are trying to undermine that decision with logical arguments. It looks weird to type, but I've found that whether it's decisions in a relationship, career or even what to eat for dinner, starting from the position that I've already made the decision and then trying to figure out what my decision was makes the decision making process easier.

Listening to your description, I can guess at the decision you've made. But I encourage you to read your own words aloud as if they aren't yours and try to figure it out for yourself. Chances are you're trying to talk yourself into either staying or going. There's no guarantee that this will help you arrive a the correct decision. But it will at least help you determine which outcome you actually want.

Comment: Re:Almost always yes, with a but (Score 5, Insightful) 263

by curunir (#46339077) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When Is a Better Career Opportunity Worth a Pay Cut?

4) If you've been working as an engineer for 30 years and you still need the money, you're doing it wrong.

Moreover, I've felt for quite some time that I need to have at least a year's salary saved up so that I can do my job effectively. And by doing my job effectively, I need to feel comfortable saying, among other things:

    * That's illegal/immoral, I'm not going to do it.
    * That's a dumb idea, we shouldn't do it.
    * That's an impossible deadline, I'm not going to agree to meet it.

If I'm not entirely comfortable with them calling my bluff and losing my job over the issue, I won't feel comfortable saying those things. And, as an engineering leader, I need to be able to say those things if they need to be said.

Comment: Re:riiiight (Score 1) 361

by curunir (#46277921) Attached to: Killing Net Neutrality Could Be Good For You

And the Netflix/ESPN argument is a strawman. Net neutrality isn't about protecting established players like Netflix, ESPN or anyone big enough to play the "withholding our services from your customers" card. Net neutrality is about protecting the startup that wants to challenge Netflix and doesn't have the leverage to push back against the telcos.

Comment: Re:He's Playing To Win (Score 5, Insightful) 412

by curunir (#46155535) Attached to: Audience Jeers Contestant Who Uses Game Theory To Win At 'Jeopardy'

He's not necessarily playing to win, because the rules of the game don't encourage him to do that...from his perspective, ties are as good or better than a win. If the rules were changed such that the two tying contestants would split the amount that each of them accrued, he'd most certainly play to win. But a tie means a) he keeps his whole total for himself, b) he comes back to play again and, possibly most importantly, c) he brings with him to the next game an opponent he's fairly certain he can beat. To see why the last one is important, you have to realize that there are a certain number of exceptional players that are really hard to beat (call them a "Ken Jennings"). Until each contestant plays the game, there's a certain probability that one of them will be a Ken Jennings. A typical winner will get two new contestants each game and so doubles the odds that he or she will face a Ken Jennings. Chu, by halving the number of new players he faces, also halves the odds of running into an opponent who's better than he is.

Given all the advantages of playing not to lose instead of playing to win, I'd say he's pretty smart for doing so. He's getting to keep a winner's amount each time, gets to come back to play again and limits the number of untested contestants he has to play against. Basically, he's playing to win money rather than win the game, which are close enough to the same goal that they've historically been inseparable. But he's figured out how to separate them and, in doing so, has angered people who enjoy the game more than the money.

Comment: Re:Management bonuses (Score 1) 533

by curunir (#46129167) Attached to: The Moderately Enthusiastic Programmer

Bonus targets are set by level and there are equivalencies between engineers and managers. My manager classification corresponds to a Staff Engineer (which I was, prior to becoming a manager). Bonus targets are a percentage of salary, and my salary is only slightly higher than the rest of the team (though, again, my salary hasn't really gone up much since I switched to management). There is a concerted effort to ensure that the pay structure and career path doesn't force people to stop being engineers. An engineer maxes out at Fellow, which is a VP-level equivalency. The bonuses are really pretty transparent and it's the same for managers and engineers, everyone knows their bonus target percentage, salary and then the formula takes into account company performance, BU performance and the rating that the manager submits based on his/her own assessment and peer reviews. The bonus targets for each level aren't made public, but once people get bumped up once or twice, it's pretty easy to extrapolate.

The one area where there is an almost complete lack of transparency is in equity awards. The annual equity awards are based on two manager ratings, only one of which is shared with the employee. The other rating, retention, focuses not on how indispensable, how hirable and how likely to leave an employee is. This is kept secret because it could encourage counter-productive employee behavior like threatening to leave and siloing (trying to horde knowledge of a particular component rather than sharing it with coworkers).

Is that what you were looking for?

Comment: Re:Dreaming of code? (Score 1) 533

by curunir (#46124645) Attached to: The Moderately Enthusiastic Programmer

The deceit is in how it's presented to employees. If I'm an employee and I get an award, I feel special/appreciated. But if I know that there's a pot set aside for each manager and it's his/her job to give it to the team each quarter, the specialness goes away. Now I start to count my awards to ensure that I get 10% of my salary in awards each quarter.

By revealing the program, it stops feeling like an extra perk given for valuable work and starts feeling more like something you're entitled to and something that, if you don't get it, is a negative commentary on performance. It would be just like your bonus...when you don't get it, you feel a sense that you've lost something and the high you get from getting it is somewhat lessened by the fact that you expected to get it.

Comment: Re:Its across the board... (Score 3, Insightful) 533

by curunir (#46123671) Attached to: The Moderately Enthusiastic Programmer

The reason passion matters for developers is the speed at which our industry changes. For someone working if a field with fewer changes than ours, going to school and learning how to do the job can be enough. But for a developer, staying qualified for the job requires a commitment to continually better yourself. You have to read up on the newest technologies, trends and methodologies on an ongoing basis...and most employers aren't willing to have you do it during work.

This is why they're looking for people who passionately love developing. Those are the people that spend half their time away from work hacking on personal projects where they're free from any constraint around technology selection or architecture that might be imposed at work. What you're looking for is someone who views writing code as almost a form of play. That's what they mean by passionate...that intrinsic motivation that doesn't need to be cultivated, because companies are terrible at making employees grow their skills and even worse at monitoring those changes in employees....it's just simpler to screen for it in the interview process.

Comment: Re:Dreaming of code? (Score 5, Interesting) 533

by curunir (#46123495) Attached to: The Moderately Enthusiastic Programmer

It seems strange, but it's often just as important or even more so that employees receive genuine compliments from peers and managers when they deserve them

Yep. I work for a Fortune 100 company and one of the surprises when I moved to management was that the budget for salaries is actually 110% of what developers think it is (i.e. if you added up all the salaries that developers think they make, there would be an extra 10% left in the budget.) That last 10% is intended for managers to dole out as awards, which can be taken either as bonus pay or in grossed up gift cards. It was explained to me that the company found that employees were happier making the same overall amount when a portion of the pay was doled out for something they did well. That attachment to a job well done made the pay more meaningful to them than it would have been had it simply been added into their paycheck. And the encouragement to take the money as a gift card also helped associate the company with the spending of discretionary money, which is something that people find pleasurable.

The whole thing was an interesting look into how HR departments are using psychological research to help retain valuable employees. I'm still not sure exactly how I feel about it...on the one hand, it's deceitful that this is being done without employees realizing it. On the other hand, it's making them more happy in their jobs. It's almost like a doctor prescribing a placebo pill...if the patient gets better, does it really matter that it's actually due to a psychological phenomenon?

Comment: Re:Amp hours per kilogram (Score 1) 199

by curunir (#46074127) Attached to: Powering Phones, PCs Using Sugar

And it even if they had the energy part right, it wouldn't be the most useful measure of energy density where batteries are concerned. When it comes to batteries, energy per kilogram is a less useful measure than energy per liter. For example, Hydrogen has a very high MJ/KG but a comparatively lower MJ/L. Batteries made with heavier metals will likely still store energy more efficiently into a small space than a biofuel cell like the one in the story.

Most of the applications of batteries require fitting as much energy possible into a confined space rather than fitting as much energy possible into a small amount of mass.

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