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The Flight of Gifted Engineers From NASA 160

Posted by Soulskill
from the when-NASA-starts-looking-like-the-USPTO dept.
schwit1 writes: Rather than work in NASA, the best young engineers today are increasingly heading to get jobs at private companies like SpaceX and XCOR. This is a long article, worth reading in its entirety, but this quote sums it up well: "As a NASA engineering co-op student at Johnson Space Center, Hoffman trained in various divisions of the federal space agency to sign on eventually as a civil servant. She graduated from college this year after receiving a generous offer from NASA, doubly prestigious considering the substantial reductions in force hitting Johnson Space Center in recent months. She did have every intention of joining that force — had actually accepted the offer, in fact — when she received an invitation to visit a friend at his new job with rising commercial launch company SpaceX.

Hoffman took him up on the offer, flying out to Los Angeles in the spring for a private tour. Driving up to the SpaceX headquarters, she was struck by how unassuming it was, how small compared to NASA, how plain on the outside and rather like a warehouse. As she walked through the complex, she was also surprised to find open work areas where NASA would have had endless hallways, offices and desks. Hoffman described SpaceX as resembling a giant workshop, a hive of activity in which employees stood working on nitty-gritty mechanical and electrical engineering. Everything in the shop was bound for space or was related to space. ... Seeing SpaceX in production forced Hoffman to acknowledge NASA might not be the best fit for her. The tour reminded her of the many mentors who had gone into the commercial sector of the space industry in search of better pay and more say in the direction their employers take." At NASA, young engineers find that they spend a lot of time with bureaucracy, the pace is slow, their projects often get canceled or delayed, and the creative job satisfaction is poor. At private companies like SpaceX, things are getting built now.

Comment: Re:Makes sense (Score 1) 144

by wirefarm (#47670297) Attached to: Telegram Not Dead STOP Alive, Evolving In Japan STOP

As to faxes, handwritten business communications are not at all unusual among older companies, due to the fact that typing kanji was not as straightforward process 20 years ago as it is today.

I've sent telegrams in Japan, but only to couples who were getting married and whose wedding I couldn't attend. I've never seen them used for other things, but a wedding is likely to have a few telegrams read at the reception.

Comment: Re:Keep it COTS! (Score 1) 194

by wirefarm (#47606311) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Bulletproof Video Conferencing For Alzheimers Home?

Stop grasping at straws, you dullard.

While you're bickering over semantics, I'm demonstrating to the original poster how I have put together a working, reliable system that actually helps people deal with the tragedy that is Alzheimer's. Think about that for a minute, will you?

You're a zealot and a bore.
This is why people don't like you.

Comment: Re:Keep it COTS! (Score 1) 194

by wirefarm (#47602645) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Bulletproof Video Conferencing For Alzheimers Home?

Explain to me how *any* of what you suggest would actually add any value whatsoever over the current setup.

We have a reliable, working system in place, after all. It has proven itself over and over, allowing us to communicate easily with her, with ambulance crews and with doctors. It has brought some peace of mind to both her and the family.

You offer nothing.
Your opinions are worthless.

Zealots like you give the open source movement a bad name.

Comment: Re:Keep it COTS! (Score 1) 194

by wirefarm (#47601835) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Bulletproof Video Conferencing For Alzheimers Home?

Yeah. That's so much easier

I can see trying to explain to some minimum wage nursing home assistant how to open a terminal and open a new tunnel. Right now, all I have to do is ask them to restart the laptop and everything works.

You seem to want to wage a war of Open Source vs all things Microsoft, but I won't play along. I'm telling you that this is a system that has been working well for a couple of years. If it breaks, I'll probably replace it with Linux, Skype, Chrome and TeamViewer. After all, while I happen to be well-equipped to use Linux and SSH, the other people involved are not.

Now will you please give it the fuck up?

Comment: Re:Keep it COTS! (Score 1) 194

by wirefarm (#47601379) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Bulletproof Video Conferencing For Alzheimers Home?

Nice troll.

That said, I am speaking from experience. Old laptop, with Windows in this case, plus Skype, plus TeamViewer, has worked for my family for several years, doing just what the OP is looking for.

But let's look at your assertion that you don't need TeamViewer in Linux. This would be possible, if I were the IT guy at the home, but as it is, I'm not. They have a wireless network for residents and visitors and the staff had to ask around just to find the PostIt note that had the WiFi password. Do you really think that I'll have much luck getting a local IP address reserved for this laptop and then getting the necessary ports opened and NAT rules put in place to be able to tunnel in?

As it is, we use TeamViewer and I can tell other family members, of varying technical skill levels, to start up a movie on Netflix for mom when they are finished Skyping

Comment: Am doing this currently (Score 5, Informative) 194

by wirefarm (#47595071) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Bulletproof Video Conferencing For Alzheimers Home?

Forget trying to set it up for the other residents as a group. The staff and administration will likely freak out over the privacy implications and HIPAA laws or whatever. Offer to help other families do it on a one-by-one basis as I outline below:

My mother is in a rest home for the past few months and she's lost the ability to do much of anything on a computer.

Still, we manage to video conference with her every day, with almost no problems and no work required on her part.

The cost was negligible and the setup trivial. Here's what we did:

Scrounge an old laptop. For this, my brother donated a late-model thinkpad. It runs some version of Windows, currently. If it gets a virus, I'll wipe it and install Ubuntu, but it's been fine so far.

Install Skype, with an account created for the elderly person. Set it so that only people on their friends list are allowed to call. Set it to auto-answer incoming calls. Add family members to the person's friends list, but do so carefully, as anyone you add will be able to pop on any time they like.

Add TeamViewer, in case you need to log in and restart Skype, add someone, or even start a movie on Netflix or YouTube.

Our setup has worked well in practice for two years, including scenarios like talking to ambulance crews and LifeAlert, before she went into the home and talking with her doctors and other caregivers at the home. She spends time every day visiting with an infant grandson she hasn't yet met, so it's had a huge impact on the quality of her life.

Some people will complain that they don't like Skype, or they want to use FaceTime, but another family member isn't on IOS or whatever, but by now, everyone knows that if they want to call mom, they just use Skype.

Comment: Keep it COTS! (Score 1) 194

by wirefarm (#47594871) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Bulletproof Video Conferencing For Alzheimers Home?

Our family tried those. We bought 2 of them to talk to mom, but while they work for a while, they seem to just die after a few days. Sure, a reboot, reconnect to wifi and re-login sets it all good again, but that's a lot to ask.

We went with regular skype on an old thinkpad.

Do yourself a favor and install TeamViewer as well.

Comment: Why I joined: (Score 4, Interesting) 213

by wirefarm (#47573063) Attached to: Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM

I listed my membership on my résumé, along with the ACM logo.
This was 15 years ago and I was a contractor around Washington, DC, doing many short-term contracts.

Yes, it was effective.
In the course of interviews, the interviewer would often tell me that they had been meaning to join, or had heard of it, but not once that they were themselves a member. Just a little psychological advantage, I guess. This helped,too, because I never went to college.

That said, I got absolutely nothing from their articles or other content.

Comment: Re:Regardless of any 'sensitivities'... (Score 2, Funny) 53

by wirefarm (#47249369) Attached to: Humans Not Solely To Blame For Passenger Pigeon Extinction

Apparently they were fairly awful creatures—flocks of a few million birds blackening the skies, decimating crops and crapping on everything.
Couldn't we direct our sympathies to a more like-able creature? Wooly mammoths or great awks, perhaps?

Maybe we eradicated them and it's actually a *good* thing. It's not quite the same as how we (as a species) are still hunting the poor ortolan

Call me insensitive, but I really hate pigeons.

Comment: Re:objective list (Score 4, Informative) 231

Wikipedia is very slanted towards recent and Eurocentric events.

Yes, this is somewhat explainable in terms of how much literature has been produced over time, and how much literature is accessible online. Wikipedia isn't the problem here, the problem is that the authors didn't acknowledge this issue, let alone attempt to account for it in their computation. (though it's a long paper, so I might have missed where it was discussed)

1 + 1 = 3, for large values of 1.