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Comment Most impressive use of technology I've ever seen (Score 4, Interesting) 79 79

Disclaimer: yes I work for Microsoft. No not on these projects.

This was demo'd live in front of 30K MSFT employees at our annual company meeting. It nearly brought me to tears. Yes, I can see through demoware and and yes it's highly imperfect, but honestly it was the single most impressive use of technology I've ever seen. It was both novel and simple. It combined hardware, algorithms, user experience, and cloud scale. I don't know if it will ever go anywhere though I expect that it will. The key point here is that these are off the shelf components. Kinect and gesture APIs combined with machine translation and text to speech. It's important that these are, all or nearly all public production APIs. Such a system 10 years ago even if possible, would never make it to market because of the tiny user base. Today we can build such apps for the 0.01% of the population that need Mandarin Sign Language translated to English. And it can be cost effectively. That is the point. Technology being used to address real problems for under served communities. So yes, maybe people researched automated sign language recognition years ago, but bringing it to market and enabling a scenario for real people is a wholly different beast

Comment Not a Nation, a State (Score 1) 350 350

There is a difference. I don't think anyone is claiming the inhabitant(s) of SeaLand are made of a distinct ethnic, cultural, or religious group. It is also worth nothing that even without land, groups can have rights under international law. Take the Palestinians for example.

Comment Re:Not really (Score 1) 84 84

And yet the minimal standards are much higher than most people actually do.

My take: Do audits and auditors do anything to secure your systems? Rarely. Do having real hoops to jump through and jobs/salaries/bonuses on the line for failure prompt people to try to secure their systems? Frequently.

Comment Re:Isn't that anti-science? (Score 1) 1055 1055

You are conflating scientific certainty with the need to make policy/engineering decisions. Yes relativity is a theory, not a certainty bu lLet's say you were in a position of designing a satellite. Would you say to yourself "self, relativity is just a theory so I can ignore it"? Or if you were drilling for oil would you say "tectonics is just a theory I'll spend $2million to drill this well and ignore the theory". Or a text book company "Climate change is just a theory, all other theories are exactly as valid. . . .

Comment Not all war zones are created equal (Score 5, Informative) 352 352

I worked in Qatar (not in IT), which is technically a war zone by USG standards. It is also the wealthiest country on the planet and obscenely safe. I didn't even bother to lock my door. The pay there was good, but not insanely good. I looked into IT work in Afghanistan and would have made ~$300K. That job would require two things. 1) A USG security clearance and 2)willingness to literally be on the front lines and get shot at. Not all war zone are created equal. Pay will reflect that.

Now you will probably hear a lot of folks talking about the danger etc. Yes, it is a war zone, but your odds of being killed are very low. I'd say your two biggest concerns in a place like Iraq are: 1) dying in a traffic accident, which would be just as likely in India of SE asia. 2) Dying of boredom. THAT is the big issue. These places are boring. And the security you are forced to endure will piss off most geeks. You see it, it is designed to slow you and everyone else down. There is a lot of theater and it can get tedious.

That said, If you spend all your free time indoors reading obscure tech blogs, then I say go for it.

Comment Security Clearances (Score 3, Insightful) 108 108

These sorts of trials/prosecutions, where the USG invokes national security to avoid presenting evidence, are becoming all too common. We currently have 800,000+ citizens with TS clearances (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/). I used to. I'd be happy to serve on a jury in these situations and I assume many other folks would too. With that many people to draw from I would think we could find a good jury pool and give people a fair trial instead of dropping charges or kangaroo courts. It would be slightly more expensive, but I don't understand why this couldn't work.

Comment Why is this the military's business? (Score 1) 282 282

Doesn't Congress declare war. Isn't the Predisent commander in chief? Why are we letting the military decide what is and what isn't an act of war? Seriously, this strikes me as dangeraous! What happens when the pentagon declares somethig an act of war and the president decideds it is not? Can the military decide that the president is in on it and unilaterally launch a war?

This is bad.

IBM Advanced Systems Group -- a bunch of mindless jerks, who'll be first against the wall when the revolution comes... -- with regrets to D. Adams

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