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Comment: Re:This. (Score 1) 201

by tlambert (#47942943) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

Now add to this that most major contributions in any scientific field occur before someone hits their mid 20's...

Tell me, does this account for the fact that the majority of people working in a scientific field graduate with a PhD in their mid 20s, or is it simply a reflection of that?

I expect that it's a little bit of both. Look however at Kepler and Tycho Brahe. Brahe's observational contributions aided Kepler, but he started well before he was 30. Kepler had his theories before 30, and was aided by Brahe into his 30's proving them out. Counter examples include Newton, and so on. Most Large contributions that aren't ideas themselves are contributions based on the wealth of the contributor, e.g. The Allen Telescope Array.

Like the GP, I'm in my late 30s and have found that my current field is less than optimal. It is a) unfulfilling, b) extremely underpaid (if I do more than 13 hours a week, the CEO running the studio is just as likely to steal my hours from me as not), and c) unlikely to go anywhere.

Reason (a) is motivation to do something that could be big, if the new reason is passion.
Reason (b) is a piss poor reason to do something big; there's no passion involved.
Reason (c) is ennui.

If you get into something solely to satisfy (a), you have a chance at greatness; if you do it for the other two reasons, even in part, you are unlikely to have the fire to spark the necessary effort. For example, the OP's willingness to dedicate 10 hours a week from a 24x7 = 168 total hours in a week really speaks to the idea of someone acting out a dilettante reason, rather than a reason of passion. Excluding sleeping, you could probably argue for 86 hours a week for a passion, and that's less than 11% of the "every moment of every day" you'd expect with a passion.

Comment: Re:A miracle of modern diplomacy (Score 1) 141

by metlin (#47942413) Attached to: On Independence for Scotland:

Hell, even India got its independence peacefully, though the peace ended moments after independence.

You have no idea what the hell you're talking about.

The west idolizes Gandhi and completely ignores historical truths in the process. Gandhi waged a political war of attrition on the British, and a weakened Britain from WW2 caved in. But the truth is, Gandhi's role was the proverbial straw -- violent protests against the British were underway long before he was even born.

The first Indian battle of independence was in 1857, and was violent. There have been many, many violent conflicts with the British, up until the point of independence. In 1919, the British massacred thousands of non-violent protestors in Jhalianwala Bagh.

And from the hanging of the likes of Bhagat Singh (who was a socialist revolutionary) in 1931 to Subhas Chandra Bose's alliance with the Japanese and the Germans to fight the British, there were many militant freedom fighters who caused tangible hardship on the British.

Only someone ignorant of history would call the Indian independence movement peaceful. There's a reason Gandhi was shot dead -- he may have been a martyr in his death, but he waged a political battle with bitter consequences whose effects continue to be felt to this day.

Comment: This. (Score 1) 201

by tlambert (#47940771) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

I can only spend maybe 10 hours a week on this

Since you already have a full life, something would have to give. The amount of time you estimate to be available would get to hobby level: the same as the other thousands of amateur astronomers in the country. But it's not enough to do any serious studying, get qualified or do research to a publishable quality.


I read through the comments to find this comment so that I didn't just post a duplicate if someone else had covered the ground.

Let me be really blunt about the amount of time you are intending to invest in this project. If you were taking a college course, you should expect to spend 2 hours out of class for each hour you spend in class, and given that you only have 10 hours to dedicate to the idea, that's effectively 3 credit hours for every interval. So if you picked a community college, and they offered all the classes you needed, you should expect to have your Bachelor's of Science in any given degree field in about 23 years. That gets you to the necessary 210 credit hours for an Astronomy degree.

Let's say, though that you are a super genius, and can do 1:1 instead of 1:2 for in/out of class. That only cuts your time by 1/3, which means that you get that degree in 15 years instead.

Now add to this that most major contributions in any scientific field occur before someone hits their mid 20's; there are exceptions, but let's say again that you are exceptional. What contributions do you expect to be able to make after age 61 / 53, with your shiny new Bachelor's, since you're unlikely to find someone to hire you at that age, and you're unlikely to be able to afford instrument time on the necessary equipment on your own?

Comment: Re:You mean... (Score 1) 236

by Sloppy (#47938243) Attached to: AT&T Proposes Net Neutrality Compromise

Except Netflix offers to deliver an entire bakery to the the table.

Yes, one bite at a time. You're not allowed get your second bite of cake onto your fork until you have swallowed your first bite, and you're sure as hell not allowed to have your cannoli on the table until after you have finished your tiramisu.

Say you have a waiter who isn't delivering your individual bites fast enough. Maybe he's legitimately crippled, or maybe he's just a spiteful asshole, but you're stuck with that waiter. What would you do about it? I'd tell the chef wearing the Netflix apron in the kitchen, to send me a whole slice of cake, and let's forget this whole bite, ack, bite, ack, bite nonsense. I'm hungry (and this baking analogy isn't helping!) and intend to minimize the waiter's impact upon my meal.

I suppose I see how using timeshifting to make speed less relevant, has a downside: it removes our incentive to increase performance. Ok, then go ahead and remain vulnerable to networking problems (whether it's due to your ISP being assholes, or because someone else in the house is using the Internet for something else, or whatever) for political reasons, both as a protest and to keep your own passion inflamed (so that you'll stay activist). But when AT&T starts suggesting that bulk video get special QoS, the bluff is starting to get a little too real. There are people taking this idea seriously. That is bad.

It's going to increase your Netflix bills and it's going to increase your AT&T bills. So here is what I suggest instead: take the monthly amount of money that they're taling about increasing your bills by, and spend it once on SSD or spinning rust instead, and stick that storage into your player computer (since apparently it doesn't already have any?!?). Have a download process that writes to files, and a player process that reads from files. Then don't start playing a video until you're pretty sure you're not going to "catch up" to however much has downloaded so far (or if that sounds complicated, then just don't play things until you're finishing downloading them).

You just saved a shitload of money, made it so that your internet speed doesn't really have an effect on whatever video bitrate you use (if you want to use a huge high-res TV at a house with a slow connection, that'll be fine), and now you're more resistant to "weather" (kid in other room's torrents, ISP-ISP and ISP-video_provider contract disputes, etc: all that stuff fades in significance).

What's not to like? Everyone wins except the spiteful waiter, except that even he just got an easier job, even if it's instead of the raise that he wanted.

Comment: I would say you have it right. (Score 1) 295

by tlambert (#47935385) Attached to: Apple Locks iPhone 6/6+ NFC To Apple Pay Only

I would say you have it right.

Apple initially didn't open up the iPhone to Apps at all because Steve was deathly afraid of building another Newton.

Then they wanted to open them up, but there was not rational set of APIs, there was just an internal morass, because it had never been designed with the idea of hardening one app on the iPhone from interference by another app on the phone, or hardening the phones functions against a malicious app.

This is a single App on a single use, incomplete, API, one which was built only to host this App and nothing else. Could that API be exposed, and used for other applications? Yeah. Would that enable all possible NFC applications which you might want to implement in the future? Not a chance in hell.

This is just Apple wanting some bake time so that they can rationally support an API that they happily demonstrated opening hotel doors and other things which they are not prepared to open up at this point in time.

Comment: Re:More importantly (Score 1) 376

by bmajik (#47932599) Attached to: Is the Tesla Model 3 Actually Going To Cost $50,000?

Sure, the regenerative braking probably reduces the wear on the brakes.

Point being, brake pads and rotors are normal replacement items. You should expect to replace them more than once in 12 years on a normal vehicle. I can wear down a set of pads in a weekend at the track. It depends a lot on how you drive.

I will agree that on the Tesla I test drove, I barely touched the brake pedal. The regen was turned up to maximum and that does a good job of slowing the car down if you are paying attention.

BMWs also tend to have static negative rear camber, and are RWD like the Tesla. But the wheels are smaller dia, which means the tires are more affordable.

I think over 12 years you will spend similar or more on Tesla model S brake and tire components as compared to an average BMW. I look forward to hearing from Model S owners 11 years from now...

Comment: Re:More importantly (Score 3, Informative) 376

by bmajik (#47930553) Attached to: Is the Tesla Model 3 Actually Going To Cost $50,000?

Heck. At 12-years on a BMW, there are any number of wearbale parts that replacement may exceed car value (tires, brakes (you have to replace the rotors with the pads on a BMW), etc).

Not unless the car has been damaged.

BMWs have very high resale value. 12 year old BMWs are currently 2002 models. Very few model year 2002 BMWs can be found for under $5000 in _any_ condition.

In fact, if you do a quick search on for model year 2002 BMWs, you'll see that there are 1200 listings with an average asking price of $9700

I happen to be quite familiar with the running costs of old BMWs. The drive train of a BMW will easily last 12 years without substantial work. The exceptions would be the plastic cooling system components, and, on some models, premature VANOS failure. Sadly, on the newer N54 engines the HPFP is a disaster, but that is not the majority of used BMWs, and certainly not MY2002 cars.

Even paying dealer prices, to replace brakes, suspension rubber, tires, cooling system, etc, will not cost you $9000.

The brake rotors and pads are a few hundred dollars per corner, and you could replace them yourself in your own garage with a jack and hand tools.

FWIW, I really like Tesla. I look forward to a time when buying one of their cars makes sense for me.

However, your consideration of the repair costs of a 12 year old BMW is way off. Thus, my response.

Also, Brakes and Tires are functionally identical between a BMW and a Tesla, and, on the Model S, the Tesla replacement parts are probably more expensive (I haven't priced them to be certain), because the Tesla has very large low profile tires and very large brakes, especially compared to the "average" BMW (instead of their X5 trucks with big wheels, or their high performance M models with larger brakes)

So comparing a 12 year old BMW and a 12 year old Tesla, the wear and maintenance parts differences are the Tesla's battery vs. the BMW's conventional drivetrain. The latter requires coolant flushes, oil changes, transmission fluid changes, air filters, etc.

The one maintenance surprise that I learned about when chatting with a Tesla service technician was that on the model S, the A/C refrigerant is serviced regularly, because it is an integral component of the battery cooling system.

Comment: What is really happening here? (Score 1) 923

by Bruce Perens (#47930483) Attached to: ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children
We are in a War on Faith, because Faith justifies anything and ISIS takes it to extremes. But in the end they are just a bigger version of Christian-dominated school boards that mess with the teaching of Evolution, or Mormon sponsors of anti-gay-marriage measures, or my Hebrew school teacher, an adult who slapped me as a 12-year-old for some unremembered offense against his faith.

Comment: Re:Anti-math and anti-science ... (Score 1) 923

by Bruce Perens (#47930331) Attached to: ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children

Hm. The covenant of Noah is about two paragraphs before this part (King James Version) which is used for various justifications of slavery and discrimination against all sorts of people because they are said to bear the Curse of Ham. If folks wanted to use the Bible to justify anything ISIS says is justified by God's words in the Koran, they could easily do so.

18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.
20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

Comment: Re:TDD FDD (Score 1) 225

by tlambert (#47929413) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development?

Tests need to be fast and repeatable (among other characteristics). Tests must be of high quality as your production code. If you would fix "timing related" issues in your production code, there is no reason your tests suffer from the "timing related" issues either.

There's no reason they *should*, but they do unless you correct the test. The problem is in the test code, or in the wrapper that runs the test code. But consider an automated login test on an isolated network with a credentials server that races to come up with the browser that's attempting the login in the test case. If the login happens to start before the login server gets up and stable, then your login fails, and so does your test case, even though it's not a problem with the browser you are nominally testing.

This is/was a pretty common failure case with the ChomeOS build waterfall because Chrome was considered an "upstream" product, and therefore changes in Chrome, when they occurred, could throw off the timing. There wasn't a specific, separate effort to ensure that the test environment was free from timing issues. And since you can't let any test run forever, if you intend to get a result that you can act upon it in an automated way, you get transient failures.

Transient test failures can (sort of) be addressed by repeating failed tests; by the time you attempt to reproduce, the cache is likely warmed up anyway, and the transient failure goes away. Problem solved. Sort of. But what if everyone starts taking that tack? Then you end up with 5 or 6 transient failures, and any one of them is enough to shoot you in the foot on any given retry.

Now add that these are reactive tests: they're intended to avoid the recurrence of a bug which has occurred previously, but is probabilistically unlikely to occur again; when do you retire one of these tests? Do you retire one of these tests?

Consider that you remove a feature, a login methodology, a special URL, or some other facility that used to be there; what do you do with the tests which used to test that code? If you remove them, then your data values are no longer directly comparable with historical data; if you don't remove them, then your test fails. What about the opposite case: what are the historical values, necessarily synthetic, for a new feature? What about for a new feature where the test is not quite correct, or where the test is correct, but the feature is not yet fully stable, or not yet implemented, but instead merely stubbed out?

You see, I think, the problem.

And while in theory your build sheriff or other person, who's under fire to reopen the tree, rather than actually root-causing the problem, doesn't have time to actually determine a root cause. At that point, you're back to fear driven development, because for every half hour you keep the tree closed, you have 120 engineers unable to commit new code that's nor related to fixing the build failure. Conservatively estimate their salary at $120K/year, then their TCO for computers and everything else is probably $240K/year, and for every half hour you don't open the tree back up, that's ~$14K of lost productivity, and then once you open it up, there's another half hour for the next build to be ready, so even if you react immediately, you're costing the company at least $25K one of those bugs pops on you and you don't just say "screw it" and open the tree back up. Have that happen 3X a day on average, and that's $75K lost money per day, so let's call it $19.5M a year in lost productivity.

This very quickly leads to a "We Fear Change" mentality for anyone making commits. At the very least, it leads to a "We Fear Large Change" mentality which won't stop forward progress, but will insure that all forward progress is incremental and evolutionary. The problem then becomes that you never make anything revolutionary because sometimes there's no drunkard's walk from where you are to the new, innovative place you want to get to (eventually). So you don't go there.

The whole "We Fear Large Change" mentality - the anti-innovation mentality - tends to creep in any place you have the Agile/SCRUM coding pattern, where you're trying to do large things in small steps, and it's just not possible to, for example, change an API out from everyone, without committing changes to everyone else at the same time.

You can avoid the problem (somewhat) by adding the new API before taking the old API away. So you end up with things like "stat64" that returns a different structure from "stat", and then when you go and try to kill "stat" after you've changed everywhere to call "stat64" instead, with the new structure, you have to change the "stat" API to be the same as the "stat64" API, and then convert all the call sites back, one by one, until you can then get rid of the "stat64".

That leads to things like Solaris, where the way you endure binary compatibility is "give the hell up; you're never going to kill off the old stat, just live with carrying around two APIs, and pray people use the new one and you can kill off the old one in a decade or so". So you're back to another drunkard's walk of very slow progress, but at least you have the new API out of it.

And maybe someday the formal process around the "We Fear Change" mentality, otherwise known as "The Architectural Board" or "The Change Control Committee" or "Senior VP Bob" will let you finally kill off the old API, but you know, at that point, frankly you don't care, and the threat to get rid of it is just a bug in a bug database somewhere that someone has helpfully marked "NTBF" because you can close "Not To Be Fixed" bugs immediately, and hey, it gets the total number of P2 or P3 bugs down, and that looks good on the team stats.

Comment: Re:TDD FDD (Score 0) 225

by tlambert (#47925269) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development?

Having some experience with both FDD and TDD, I can attest that test driven culture where automated testing is fully integrated into the dev process pretty much addresses all three of your conditions.

The wrong kind of TDD leads to FDD of the type where you're afraid to break the build.

The problem with TDD that leads to this is that TDD is almost totally reactive; that is, you find a bug, you write a test for the bug so you can tell when it's gone; you get rid of the bug, and now you have this test which is going to be run on each build, as if you are not already hyperaware, having both experienced and fixed the bug, of the conditions leading up to the bug. The annoying part, of course, is when you start taking longer and longer amounts of time to get through the build to an acceptance of the build, for each test you add. Then to make things even worse, add to that the occasional false failure because the test is flakey, but it's someone's baby and it "usually works" and the failure is "timing related", and now you're testing the test, and rejecting a perfectly good build because you're unwilling to either rip out the test completely, or make it non-fatal and assign the bug on it back to the person who wrote the original test.

TDD with test cases written up front, and not added to without an associated specification change: Good.

TDD with test cases written to cover historical bugs identified through ad hoc testing: Project Cancer.

The second worst thing you can possibly do is write tests for no good reason because you're able to write tests, but unable to contribute to the core code, and you still want to contribute somehow. The worst thing is being the code reviewer and letting that type of mess into your source tree because you want the person submitting the tests to not feel bad about them not getting accepted.

Comment: Hmmm. (Score 0) 72

by jd (#47921793) Attached to: Astronomers Find Star-Within-a-Star, 40 Years After First Theorized

If Kip Thorne can win a year's worth of Playboys for his bet that Cygnus X1 was a Black Hole, when current theory from Professor Hawking says Black Holes don't really exist, then can Professor Thorne please give me a year's subscription to the porno of my choice due to the non-existent bet that this wasn't such a star?

"No problem is so formidable that you can't walk away from it." -- C. Schulz