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Comment: Re:While i like the reference, utilitarian reality (Score 1) 345

by humblecoder (#34083818) Attached to: Texas Supreme Court Cites Mr. Spock

I interpret "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" as being something that might have been said by Karl Marx. The original article doesn't really go into the context of the court case, but it is intereting that this came from Texas which conjures up images of rugged individualism.

Comment: Re:The devil in the details (Score 1) 276

by humblecoder (#33623352) Attached to: Google, Apple and Others Accused of 'No Poaching' Deal

The flaw in your logic is that the H1B visa has hard time leaving for another job. The biggest hurdle is that if an H1B visa holder changes job, he has to restart to long and drawn out process for getting a green card. That means that the visa holder cannot participate in the job market, so if he is underpaid or overworked or whatever he cannot change jobs as easily as a citizen. This, of course, distorts the labor market both for the H1B visa holder and for citizens.

If you are going to argue for free markets, H1B visas should not be used as an example of markets working.

Comment: Re:Read closer (Score 2, Interesting) 450

by humblecoder (#33504782) Attached to: Tech Sector Slow To Hire

Funny you should say that, because I was just thinking today that the company I work for (big multinational) has about 4000 people in the Information Technology group, but it seems like only about 40 actually do any coding. The rest of us are architects, business analysts, testers, project managers, etc, who tell the 40 how to do their job.

Maybe 40 is an exaggeration but it isn't off by much!

Comment: Re:Google the first? Not really... (Score 3, Informative) 100

by humblecoder (#33504758) Attached to: The State of Mapping APIs, 5 Years On

Seems like the article focuses on the interface layer (hence the name "The State of Mapping API's). However, I think the hard work is the collection of the underlying map data. One of the more interesting projects is the OpenStreetMap project where map data is crowdsourced.

Comment: Re:Teach 'em the basics (Score 1) 462

by humblecoder (#33411454) Attached to: What 'IT' Stuff Should We Teach Ninth-Graders?

I think it is a fine line. On the one hand, you want to teach something that is useful for the students, regardless of where they end up. However, you don't want it to be too specific as to make what they learn obsolete in 5 years.

Personally, I think there are two directions you can go. First, you use a pre-CS syllabus where you teach programming basics like bits and bytes. Second way is that you can use a syllabus where you stress computers for non-CS people which might include the Internet, file systems, etc.

I think the general syllabus that they have chosen with stressing free and open source products really doesn't accomplish either of these goals. If you are aiming for the pre-CS philosophy, the basics are technology-agnostic and it should stress theory over specific platforms at least at the begining.

If you are aiming for a general computer awareness type of class, then while open source is all good, it unfortunately doesn't apply to 99.9% of the real world. If anything, the class should be more a survey of the existing tools. For instance, if there is a section on using browsers to access the internet, then the class should touch upon all of the existing ones, maybe pointing out pros and cons, with the acknowledgement that Internet Explorer is, for better or worse, the dominant browser. Not even touching upon non-open source products which happen to be prevalent creates a serious blind spot on the student's education. It is akin to not even mentioning evolution in biology because of religious biases.

Now some of the open source people might grouse at this suggestion. However, if you are looking to gain mind-share, isn't it better to do so by comparing open source to non-open source and let the chips fall where they may, rather than by just ignoring the non-open source and hope that they go away?

Comment: Re:Apple and the others... (Score 1) 378

by humblecoder (#33252492) Attached to: Startups a Safer Bet Than Behemoths

Ideas + Infrastructure = Profit

Startups seem to be good at coming up with new and groundbreaking ideas because they are not constrained by corporate bureaucracy, internal politics, etc. In addition, existing companies often have a "cash cow" that brings in tons of money, so there is some complacency there. A startup is a sink-or-swim type of endevor that fosters creativity out of sheer despiration to succeed.

What Startups don't necessarily have is the Infrastructure to take a good idea to market. Big companies have manufacturing plants, sales and martketing departments, access to capital, brand recognition, and all of the little details to make money from a good idea.

So what ends up happening is that Startups that come up with truly good ideas end up being bought by big companies who can take the idea and make money from it. This makes sense for the big company. Rather than the big company spending its own money on fleshing out 1000 ideas, out of which only 10 or so might end up being moneymakers, they let the startups take the risk and once it becomes clear which startups have promise, then they spend their money.

It used to be that big companies have their own R&D departments where ideas could be incubated internally (PARC, Bell Labs, etc). However, that sort of thing seems to have fallen out of favor as large companies have become more risk averse.

Comment: Re:Battery life might be a concern. (Score 5, Insightful) 328

by humblecoder (#33248070) Attached to: Recycling an Android Phone As a Handheld GPS?

As someone who owns an Android phone AND a dedicated GPS, perhaps I can inject something into this conversation:

Another consideration is how well it will hold up under the elements. Even the cheapest Garmin eTrex (which I own BTW) is pretty rugged. I wouldn't trust my Android smartphone out in the woods in the rain, mud, etc. Some other pluses of going the dedicated route:

- Battery life is better on the dedicated GPS, and when it does run down, it takes standard AA's.

- The dedicated GPS seems to have a better "time to first fix" than my Android phone, but that just might be because of the specific model. However, if your one purpose is to do GPS, it makes sense that you would do it better than a multipurpose device.

I do think it would be cool if there was a dedicated GPS that took pictures too. You could use the GPS to geotag the picture and have it as an icon for a waypoint to help remind you what that waypoint is.

SCCS, the source motel! Programs check in and never check out! -- Ken Thompson

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