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Comment: Re:No shit ... (Score 1) 98 98

by lgw (#50014021) Attached to: New Study Accuses Google of Anti-competitive Search Behavior

First thing I do with a new browser is change my default search to DuckDuckGo. I wish I could say I was entirely living a Google-free life, but I do watch YouTube. Is there some way to do that without any Google/DoubleClick tracking cookies - anyone know? I'd be far happier with no Google account of any kind to tie anything to.

But, sadly, most people still give their personal details to Google in particular to sell, and that means if you're trying to launch a new product, you have to care about Google search results.

Comment: Re:Well, well, well. (Score 1) 286 286

by lgw (#50010615) Attached to: A Failure For SpaceX: Falcon 9 Explodes During Ascension

What does "given a pass" mean? I'm sure we'll hear what went wrong, and what they're changing to prevent it, before they launch again, just as with the failed landings. And of course we don't know what the failure rate is yet - my point was that "cheap" will make a higher failure rate acceptable for a lot of payloads. Of course I'd hope that as their process matures they'd continue improving both cost and reliability, but realistically it will take hundreds of launches to have a chance of both "good" and "cheap".

Comment: Re:Well, well, well. (Score 1) 286 286

by lgw (#50010569) Attached to: A Failure For SpaceX: Falcon 9 Explodes During Ascension

If they get even 10 re-uses, It will be remarkable, and allow much cheaper prices to orbit. I don't know what SpaceX expects in the next decade, but I don't expect them to reach their "!0%" pricing or a 1% failure rate that quickly: process refinement takes serious time. They don't need to to become a new, appealing alternative for launch.

Comment: Re:Well, well, well. (Score 3, Insightful) 286 286

by lgw (#50008619) Attached to: A Failure For SpaceX: Falcon 9 Explodes During Ascension

Maybe I don't understand your point? What's being "rationalized" here? Or are you unwilling to participate in honest discussion here? I rather suspect you're just trolling.

You seem to be saying that it's unfair that /.er's don't hold SpaceX to the same standards of NASA? Of course not, that was never the goal, never the point, and no reasonable person ever expected that. SpaceX is cheap - a goal of 10% of NASA's launch costs. There will of course be trade-offs. That's as expected, and it's still a good thing.

Comment: Re:Well, well, well. (Score 4, Informative) 286 286

by lgw (#50007727) Attached to: A Failure For SpaceX: Falcon 9 Explodes During Ascension

Those private space insurance premiums should be skyrocketing....

  I'm guessing /. will be a lot more forgiving than if this were a NASA failure.

The higher failure rate of SpaceX is expected. Setting aside Musk's marketing machine, it's understood that the medium-term goal here is to offer a higher-risk alternative (LEO prices below):

1. Western launch, traditional way: $4000-8000/pound (larger launches cheaper/pound). Low failure rate.

2. Non-western launch: $2000-3000/pound. Slightly higher failure rate.

3. SpaceX goal: $500-1000/pound. Slightly higher failure rate.

Long-term, SpaceX could achieve the same low failure rates through process refinement, but it's silly to expect that in the next decade.

Look, if your choices are $5000/pound with a 1% failure chance, or $1000/pound with a 5% failure rate, which do you pick? The rational answer depends entirely on the price to replace the payload, as two launches with a 5% failure rate have a very low chance both will fail. If your payload is "fuel" or "supplies" or something else cheaper than $5000/pound to replace, the added risk is completely the way to go.

Comment: Re: Demographics (Score 4, Insightful) 247 247

by lgw (#50007319) Attached to: FB Reveals Woeful Diversity Numbers

I went to a shitty underfunded public school in a major city, located in a poor neighborhood and only black people live there (magnet schools: because rich people object to "bussing"). I lived in a variety of poor neighborhoods during and after my college years (admittedly Houston doesn't have the problems with escape-proof ghettos that the Democrat-only cities do). The main problem keeping people there, where I lived, really was either "attitude and culture" or "spending money on someone else".

Don't get me wrong: attitude and culture are no small thing! The strongest prison bars are the ones in our minds. But if you want to actually fix the problem, instead of keeping the problem around on purpose to serve your political goal, then you must understand the fix has to be cultural. I was stuck there myself for a few years due to my own attitude.

Everyone I talked to (and you do spend time talking to your neighbors when there fuck-all else you can afford to do) fell into one of these 3 groups:

1. Hardworking recent immigrants, legal or otherwise, who were already making enough to live somewhere better, but were sending most of their money back home (these are the best neighbors, BTW). They were here because the opportunities were good, and were anything but trapped. I'm sure their kids are doing great here.

2. A hardworking woman who wouldn't still be in this shitty neighborhood except for some layabout relative, always male, she was unwilling to force to work or throw out on the street. (I always suspected I only saw the ones who hadn't done that yet, but either way the problem wasn't lack of opportunity).

3. The majority: people who were convinced that working a regular, full-time job was some sort of scam. They were just too smart to fall for that scam, you see, to be tricked into working long hour for shit pay. They knew that wasn't the right answer, and any day know their next scam would work and they'd be rich. I was definitely trapped there by this, for years.

There's nothing in entertainment that glorifies, or even explains, that working long hours for shit pay is what the start of the path upwards looks like. That living with roomates in a ghetto apartment longer than you have to, spending less than you can even when that sucks bad, is how you make the space to change to a better job. That working a job that sucks so bad that you sit in the parking lot in a daze sometimes unable to walk inside and start the workday is just a temporary step on the path. None of that is explained, but it's normal when you start from the bottom. My immigrant neighbors understood it - I wish they'd have been able to explain it to me at the time.

Software development is more open to non-traditional backgrounds than most fields. I've participated in a couple hundred interviews and phone screens while working with a variety of the big names in my career, and no one ever cared about anything but "can you code, are you self-motivated, and are you an asshole". The opportunity is there, if you have the talent and the training, but its ultimately on you to make the changes to get the training and go after the opportunity.


FB Reveals Woeful Diversity Numbers 247 247

Posted by timothy
from the talent-on-hand dept.
theodp writes: There's more work to do," said Facebook's Global Director of Diversity Maxine Williams, who issued a straight-out-of-How-to-Lie-With-Statistics diversity update on Thursday that essentially consisted of a handful of bar charts labeled with only percentages for select measures of the social networking giant's current demographics. In search of real numbers, the Guardian turned to Facebook's most recent Equal Employment Opportunity report filing, which showed that the ranks of black employees swelled by a grand total of seven (7) (1 woman) in the year covered by the filing, during which time Facebook saw an overall headcount increase of 1,231. Comparing Facebook's new bar charts of US tech employees to those issued last year shows the proportion of Hispanic and Black employees remained flat at 3% and 1% respectively, while a decline in the proportion of white employees from 53% to 51% was offset by an increase in the proportion of Asian employees from 41% to 43%.

Comment: Re:So what? (Score 4, Informative) 178 178

by lgw (#49991931) Attached to: Average Duration of Hiring Process For Software Engineers: 35 Days

The norm for big software companies seems to be: you have some number of open reqs for your team, and you're eager to fill them (both to get the work done, and because the might vanish). So you work your pipeline as best you can, interview anyone who passes a phone screen, and hire anyone who passes the interview. At most places I've worked, we end making an offer to about 1 in 20 people we phone screen (about 1 in 3 who we bring in); where I am now we make an offer to about 1 in 5 we bring in, and they don't always accept of course, so that's maybe 50 people who look good enough to phone screen to hire 1. You're much more likely to have too few qualified candidates than too many. Normally, if you end up with an extra guy you'd like to make an offer to, another team will be delighted to take him.

Comment: Re:Pre-ordering (Score 1) 221 221

by lgw (#49991681) Attached to: Warner Bros. Halts Sales of AAA Batman PC Game Over Technical Problems

None of my games that came on floppies are still playable. About half the games I have bought on CD/DVD over the years are gone or don't work now (I seem to move every few years, and long-distance moves don't always go well).

Heck, I've bought MOO2 three times now, once on physical media, once from some now-gone download, and once from GOG. Now that it's on GOG I'm very happy. (The games I'm most frustrated with are Fantasy General and Space general, as my media doesn't seem to work and no one has them for download - GOG has some of the Panzer General games, but not these sequels).

Meanwhile, I've bought hundreds of games on Steam, and all but a handful still work (some depended too heavily on GameSpy). Maybe Steam will itself vanish one day, but the risk of that seems lower than the risk of a box being lost the next time I move, or simply no longer having an OS or emulator that I can get to work with older games.

Comment: Re:Pre-ordering (Score 1) 221 221

by lgw (#49991635) Attached to: Warner Bros. Halts Sales of AAA Batman PC Game Over Technical Problems

I guess you don't play many EA games, given how often they go shutting down the servers.

That's certainly true, on both counts. Has nothing o do with physical media though - if the game is written to need a server even in single player mode it's crap no matter how you buy it. But fuck EA in any case.

Comment: Re:Pre-ordering (Score 0) 221 221

by lgw (#49988819) Attached to: Warner Bros. Halts Sales of AAA Batman PC Game Over Technical Problems

Just imagine what happens if you lose or damage your physical media. That's happened to me about 20x as often as the download servers being unavailable - and the servers came back. Especially for older games, where I'm happy to pay again for someone to port it to a modern platform (GOG FTW).

Buying anything with "always on DRM" is foolish of course, but you get that with physical media as well.

Comment: Re:dirt cheap rocket launches (Score 1) 167 167

by lgw (#49984605) Attached to: Elon Musk Probably Won't Be the First Martian

I'm pretty skeptical of that concept (for geopolitical reasons if nothing else), but yeah, it at least seems possible. Space elevators don't just require the unobtanium cable, but a counterweight made of pure handwavium to avoid energy stored as oscillations in the cable from building up to catastrophic levels over time.

But I do take the idea of robotic asteroid mining in high orbit seriously (at least for fuel, a nickel-iron asteroid is something else), as there's so much ongoing, related, high-budget research happening today for military, industrial, and commercial robotics.

Comment: Re: Wow ... (Score 2) 288 288

by lgw (#49981263) Attached to: Samsung Cripples Windows Update To Prevent Incompatible Drivers

It's about when manufacturers go to some cheap knock-off that closely enough matches some other component in the market close enough to get the wrong drivers.

And this doesn't happen by accident. Every component self-identifies in some way during POST, or during Windows plug-and-play scan. Driver INF files list the ID strings to match against. Building a knock-off that identifies itself as the "real" product to avoid driver certification is an old trick, but at least it's understandable why someone would do it. Deliberately building a component that identifies as an existing product, but needs your own drivers? The mind boggles.

Comment: Re:dirt cheap rocket launches (Score 2) 167 167

by lgw (#49981087) Attached to: Elon Musk Probably Won't Be the First Martian

That's a bizarre way of looking at the problem.

Sure, the fuel cost is a pretty trivial part of rocketry today, though it's more for high orbit. I believe LOX/Hydorgen fuel is about $10K/ton. That may be a NASA markup cost, I suspect it's rather cheaper for the Russians and Chinese, but still this stuff isn't like jet fuel - it's takes a considerable multiple of the energy of the fuel to make the fuel. It'll never be the sub-$1000/ton price of jet fuel.

You need about 60 tons of fuel to get 1 ton of payload into high orbit IIRC (if we're building anything interplanetary, you're paying that fuel cost one way or the other), so just the fuel costs alone (of lifting the "payload fuel") are about $600K/ton conservatively, but maybe half that cost on the cheap.

Current high orbit payload costs are about $18-36M/ton. SpaceX is shooting for 10% of that, and that certainly seems technically possible, but far into the land of diminishing returns. It seems quite fair to call $1M/ton "dirt cheap" (even if we somehow one day reach half that, it's not changing the game much).

So you're still looking at around $1B for each 1000 tons of fuel in high orbit.

ders of magnitude less expensive than the development of an asteroid mining colony.

Who said "colony"? Are a bunch of robots a "colony" now? Have we already "colonized" mars? The tech development from current vehicle automation and manufacturing automation to fully automated mining is of course non-trivial, but it's probably on the order of the several billion it would take to capture an asteroid and lift many tons of robots to high orbit, and there's certainly a market for fully automated mining here on Earth (and better autonomous vehicle programming, and better industrial automation in general).

Comment: Re:dirt cheap rocket launches (Score 2) 167 167

by lgw (#49979815) Attached to: Elon Musk Probably Won't Be the First Martian

Sorry, it's just never going to be "cheap" to lift thousands of tons of fuel into orbit. Lifting bulk raw materials into high orbit is just silly - the bulk raw materials are already up there, and landing a payload on an asteroid isn't science fiction any more. The robotics would break new ground, but that's a 1-time research costs with immediate commercial benefits.

The way to make a small fortune in the commodities market is to start with a large fortune.