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Comment: MS Research was meant to mop up talent, that's all (Score 5, Interesting) 161

by echtertyp (#47479171) Attached to: Microsoft's Missed Opportunities: Memo From 1997
Waaay back I remember someone pointing out that Microsoft was spending enormous sums to hire researchers, especially promising ones in academia. The idea, apparently, was for MS Research to be a sort of "intellectual roach motel" (love that phrase) were IQ would check in, and nothing checked out. This made a certain amount of sense. As a monopolist you don't -want- any innovation. One way to do that is hire hitmen to kill potential innovators. But the risks there are huge. A much easier way if you have the money is to hire promising minds and then keep them neutralized. That's just what Microsoft did.

Comment: The key: marriage kills programmers, scientists (Score 2) 232

by echtertyp (#47025111) Attached to: Programmers: It's OK To Grow Up
If a fellow gets married, *then* his creativity and productivity plummets. His time is no longer his own. When I regard the fellows I work with, the guys over 40 who avoided marriage, or have been divorced for a while, are the "top guns" to put in U.S. terms. They have both creativity *and* a lot of experience, which makes them almost impossible to beat over the course of many months.

Comment: Outliers for male rockstar coders skew the average (Score 1) 427

by echtertyp (#46397395) Attached to: All Else Being Equal: Disputing Claims of a Gender Pay Gap In Tech
What I remember in California was that one had approximately 4 categories of developers: 1. Journeyman level, typical employee, good enough 2. Short term hired guns, contractors 3. H1-b visa guest labor from India, very affordable at the time so very popular 4. Truly exceptional guys, the much talked about rockstar talent For the rockstar guys, they were so much more valuable and productive than the other 3 categories that it was well worth it to pay double the prevailing wages. The interesting thing in hindsight is that these rockstars really were all guys. No women. Given how the arithmetic behind averages works, I can't help but think that the pay packages of male rockstar techies in the U.S. skews the figures. If one removed the top and bottom 10% of the pay data for men and women in tech work, I think you'd find the average pay for men vs. women would be much closer.

Comment: Have an auction for H1b visas .. (Score 1) 271

by echtertyp (#45965967) Attached to: Give Us More H-1B Visas Or the Kids Get Hurt
The U.S. is so messed up :( One thing that would make it a little less messed up would be to have an auction for H1b visas, rather than allocating them like IP address ranges to big companies. It would be interesting to see what happens when Microsoft, Oracle and Cisco start bidding up the price of cheap labor visas.

Comment: Slashdot got it backwards re: population (Score 1) 510

by echtertyp (#45873337) Attached to: Anti-GMO Activists Win Victory On Hawaiian Island
I wonder if Slashdot's minders have been overrun by Cato Institute people? There is logic problem here. If the population is ever increasing, then tweaking food production from finite resources is bound to end in tears as the realities of logarithmic growth curves (for supply) kick in, along with the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Corrected version: "The pressure to move to GMO foods, along with the phenomenon of global warming, underscores the need to rein in human population growth"

Comment: Buddhism is useful, even to an atheist (Score 1) 796

by echtertyp (#45857033) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Books Everyone Should Read?
Coming from a 100% scientist, I still have to give props to Buddhism as a very useful mental framework for our quirky human minds. I especially like the Buddhist insight that ego is at the root of a lot of human ills. See yourself as part of the world, not one man battling for respect and wealth, and life gets a lot easier and nicer. And oddly one seems to get more meaningful stuff done.

"The Amiga is the only personal computer where you can run a multitasking operating system and get realtime performance, out of the box." -- Peter da Silva