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Comment Re:There was little to be gained by continuing to (Score 1) 189

People who say they never became somewhat routine may be looking back through time-tinted lenses. They never became quite as routine as the space shuttle though. During the 80s-90s, they shot off so frequently that often they'd get just a 5 second blurb on the nightly news, or not even that if something more important was going on.

There are obviously benefits to manned spaceflight with regard to public awareness. Whether those benefits outweight the per diem science cost might be up for debate. Publicity equals funding. As we've seen with the Mars rovers and New Horizons, it doesn't always take an astronaut to do the trick.

Comment Science Requires Effort (Score 5, Insightful) 246

Unless we want to re-invent the wheel over and over, it's necessary that people have a basic understanding of the work that has been done in the past.

The problem isn't how hard it is to memorize facts. The human brain is capable of memorizing a lot of facts. The problem is that (US specifically) kids are just too lazy to do it. They have the ability, but not the desire. (Source: My wife is a high school science teacher of 30 years).

Let's address the real issue and stop trying to give participation trophies.

Comment Agreements must be realistic (Score 1) 38

Asking a nation sign a pact not to spy/hack is silly. Obviously they'll do it anway. That goes for ANY nation.

So options are: (1) create an agreement that bans hacking and watch it be ignored in practice, or (2) write an agreement that doesn't require things that can't be lived up to.

Of course it would be nice if everyone would stop being mean and just get along together and coexist so we wouldn't have a need for this at all. Could happen.

Comment Debugging Gone Wrong (Score 4, Interesting) 285

Bug 1 (my fault) : Took over working on a financial application that took an identifier and enriched them with all sorts of useful data. The original programmer had left, and nobody at the company knew anything about how it worked. Soon after, we were troubleshooting an issue reported by a client that the output data wasn't consistent between runs. I grabbed a list of all the unique security IDs I could find (about 100k) and pushed them through a couple of times just to try and replicate the issue. HOWEVER... it turns out the application was actually using the Bloomberg "By Security" interface under the hood. That was a service where you drop a list of IDs onto Bloomberg's FTP server, and they would respond with data... for a fee of $1 per security. The client got an unexpected bill of nearly $200k that month, and I had the most awkward talk ever with my boss. Fortunately, Bloomberg forgave the charges, and it turns out they were actually responsible for the inconsistent data - which was fixed on their end shortly thereafter.

Bug 2 (not my fault) : A client/server application is returning odd responses to a particular query. Developer (we'll call him "Jason") inserts a switch into the code that dumps this query out to a hardcoded folder on the server. The code then gets checked into production WITH THE SWITCH TURNED ON. It went undetected for nearly a year because the query wasn't terribly high volume. But slowly and steadily, the query files built up over time. Our IT had lots of money to play with, so server space was not an issue. Unfortunately, the number of files was. Server performance went steadily downward every so often, until finally this query would make it crash every time. When we eventually tracked down the cause, there were millions of files sitting in the same folder of every single server in the group. It took nearly three days just to get the OSs to delete the files without falling over.

Comment Re:The real crime here (Score 1) 465

"Just like we don't spank kids anymore because it's pointless and counterproductive, we should also stop "spanking" non-violent offenders but put them to good use instead."

The fundamental flaw with that logic is the assumption that the offender is remorseful, and wants to be put to good use. While it is certainly true in some cases, it's almost certainly NOT true in others. Figuring out which is really difficult, because it turns out that people tend to lie when they get caught.

Comment Re:The real crime here (Score 5, Insightful) 465

the real crime is punishing a non-violent civil offender with violence (i.e. forced into a cage)

Would you feel the same way if a financial advisor intentionally stole all the money your parents had for retirement? That wouldn't be a physically violent act, but would seem to have consequences that merit punishment other than a fine.

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