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Comment Re:It's idiots like this... (Score 2, Insightful) 120

I hate the idea of an R/C license... but if it keeps the selfish idiots grounded then it's probably the way to go. Unfortunately.

Is this like how we keep drugs off the streets, guns out of the hands of criminals, and unlicensed drivers off the road?

How many times...

Comment They should know better (Score 1) 71

Unfortunately, it seems the NASA scientists made one fatal mistake... They didn't bother to read the opinions of Anonymous Cowards on the internet, who just last year throughly explained why the idea "makes no sense", and flies in the face of "basic orbital mechanics".

Submission + - NASA to 'lasso' a comet to hitchhike across the solar system

evilviper writes: Traveling around space can be hard and require a lot of fuel, which is part of the reason NASA has a spacecraft concept that would hitch a free ride on one of the many comets and asteroids speeding around our solar system at 22,000 miles per hour (on the slow end). Comet Hitchhiker, developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, would feature a reusable tether system to replace the need for propellant for entering orbit and landing on objects.

The spacecraft would first cast an extendable tether toward the object and attach itself using a harpoon attached to the tether. Next, it would reel out the tether while applying a brake that harvests energy while the spacecraft accelerates. This allows Comet Hitchhiker to accelerate and slowly match the speed of its ride, and keeping that slight tension on the line harvests energy that is stored on-board for later use, reeling itself down to the surface of the comet or asteroid. A comet hitchhiker spacecraft can obtain up to ~10 km/s of delta-V by using a carbon nanotube (CNT) tether, reaching the current orbital distance of Pluto (32.6 AU) in just 5.6 years.

Unfortunately rocket scientists apparently don't read the opinions of Anonymous Cowards on the internet, or else they'd know from discussions last year that it simply won't work. It seems that the idea defies "basic orbital mechanics" and "makes no sense".

Comment Re:Work-life balance (Score 1) 462

Pretty much. There are a lot of other things that also kind of fall into that category for me—salary, for example. I'm not likely to jump ship for a higher salary (in the absence of other reasons to leave a company), but if you stop paying me a salary, I'm not likely to stick around. :-D

Comment Re:Toilet paper and timber? (Score 3) 241

With paper, the tree is crushed. Why would you need a large straight tree for that? Economics re-enforces this. You're not going to pay extra for a large tree just to crush it

What? Have you even been to an active paper company forest?

This reminds me of the Mike Rowe's TED talk about how a lot of people talk about things they think they know.

Yeah.

Comment Re: hacking (Score 1) 107

I've actually been thinking of changing my open "Guest" SSID to "Password is guestaccess" and put WPA2 PSK on it, for better guest privacy. I wouldn't consider it hacking for somebody to use it. Just be careful with terminology and specificity before somebody carelessly outlaws more useful things (like the firmware that letd me do those useful things).

Comment Re:Nelson: Ha Ha. (Score 1) 462

Maybe pay is a problem for IT, but it usually isn't an issue at all for programmers. For example, here in the Bay Area, at roughly $90-$150k per year, the hourly rate would still be better than most jobs even if it required working 80-hour weeks. The problem is that most people can't survive an 80-hour work week for more than a couple of weeks, and even a 40-hour week is horribly inefficient and, frankly, exhausting at times.

The 40-hour work week is optimal for menial tasks that require very little thinking. For a technical workforce that spends most of their day thinking and trying to solve complex problems, workers are most efficient when working six or seven hours per day, not eight, and certainly not 12. Long before they reach the 50-hour mark, they're actually getting less work done per week than somebody working a 35-hour week, because they have less energy and are less focused. In fact, I rather suspect that the optimal work week in tech is somewhere closer to 20 hours, and that even a 35-hour week involves significant loss of efficiency.

What we need is for employers to hire twice as many people, pay them half as much, and work them half as long. Doing so on a broad scale, however, would require some serious changes, particularly in the way we try to attract people to the field. But it should be done, not just because employees would be happier with a better work-life balance, but also because employers would be getting what they paid for instead of only about two-thirds of it.

Comment Different math from K-12 (Score 2) 600

It's hard to do almost any programming without understanding boolean operations (both logical and bitwise), and one will be really limited if one doesn't understand binary arithmetic and how hexadecimal works. I don't think this stuff is ordinarily taught in grades K to 4. One isn't going to understand how what integer types in many languages do unless one understands modulo-2^n arithmetic. Again, that's not ordinarily taught in grades K to 4. It may not even be taught in grades 5 to 12 (no doubt depends on school). None of this is *hard* mathematics, but it's mathematics nonetheless.

Generally speaking, all algorithms should probably be thought of as mathematical entities. So whenever one is trying to figure out an algorithm for a task, one is doing mathematics. It's not the sort of mathematics one typically does in K-12, but it's mathematics nonetheless. And it's not uncommon to have to do a little bit of traditional mathematics on the side to figure out if you're going to run out of memory or take too long.

And even if you're not trying to understand an algorithm yourself, at least you need to be able to understand statements like "Worst case performance of a merge sort is O(n log n) while the average case performance of a bubble sort is O(n^2)" in order to choose between off-the-shelf ones.

Comment Re:Work-life balance (Score 1) 462

I mostly agree, except for this one:

Things that don't matter: Lunch or snacks (free or otherwise)

I'm currently working for a company that feeds us three days a week. I'm very grateful for that, because we moved from an area that had a few restaurants within easy walking distance to a new location that has none. At our exit off the 101, there's one restaurant that's kind of like a Denny's (not fast at all), one Mexican restaurant, and that's it. None of them are within walking distance (okay, so there's one Mexican food truck, but...), and the shared parking lot for those two restaurants is always full. Other than that, there's no food until you get all the way to the next exit off the 101 in either direction.

Worse, when you do go one exit away in either direction, you similarly find only two or three restaurants, also with inadequate parking. Most of the time, I end up driving three exits north on the 101 to where there are enough restaurants to actually be practical (including a few with drive-thru windows), but that means burning about half of my lunch hour just driving to and from the restaurant.

So yes, it doesn't matter even slightly whether an employer provides food for free, or even provides it on-site, but it matters a great deal whether there is ready access to food within a reasonable walking distance. If there isn't, and if the employer doesn't provide food, it can get rather annoying. :-)

"The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, preserved their neutrality." -- Dante

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