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Comment: Re:Where's the guns to their heads? (Score 3, Insightful) 281

by mpthompson (#47243819) Attached to: Bitcoin Security Endangered By Powerful Mining Pool

I believe the issue isn't so much whether one group can counteract another. Rather, it is something happening that the promoters of Bitcoin claim should not happen. It doesn't instill confidence in a crypto currency when what you say is impossible (or extremely improbable) is proven to be false and your only backup is relying on parties to "play fair".

Comment: It's just human nature... (Score 5, Interesting) 281

by mpthompson (#47243759) Attached to: Bitcoin Security Endangered By Powerful Mining Pool

But having a single entity in GHash's position, of holding 51 percent of the mining power, of being in a monopoly position, of being able to launch any of these attacks at will, completely violates the spirit and intent of Bitcoin as a currency.

Given enough of an incentive, has there ever been in history a man-made system, technical, political or otherwise, that hasn't been undermined and exploited by those with the capability and power to do so?

Probably best this happens to Bitcoin sooner rather than later. As fine as Bitcoin is, believing that technology alone can defeat human nature is a fools errand. We are betting off investing in creating more moral men and woman and a society that sustains them than technology that is supposed to be infallible against basic human nature.

Comment: Re:Startups Are for Younger People (Score 1) 274

by mpthompson (#46915981) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Joining a Startup As an Older Programmer?

I couldn't disagree with you more. Start-ups are for people of all ages. I've done multiple start-ups in my 20's, 30's and 40's. Some had very successful exits, other's no so much, but that is the way of the industry. I spent my 20's just learning the ropes and not to be taken by a huckster with a big wallet, big ego and a slick sales pitch. By my 30's I had been around the block long enough to have experience under my belt to not just contribute technically, but the maturity to contribute in other ways as well in leadership roles. In my 40's I starting pursing opportunities because they be "fun" and mentally rewarding more than financially rewarding.

Now that I'm getting close to my 50's with a family my priorities in my life have shifted and I'm involved in consulting and contracting to stay in touch with the start-up experience, but be "paid" for my work and not be as mentally invested so as to suffer the consequences when things don't work out so well -- as the great majority of start-ups don't go bust for a variety of reasons.

In my career I've run across a lot more people who failed to contribute because they still had a youthful "I know everything attitude" than because they were washed-up in the 40's. A person in their 40's will likely have enough self-introspection to know whether they are or aren't cut-out for a start-up life, but an 20-something not so much.

Comment: Re:What about the Little Ice Age? (Score 4, Insightful) 552

by mpthompson (#45772781) Attached to: Sun Not a Significant Driver of Climate Change

To further your analogy, what if it is determined the car is indeed traveling downward on a gentle slope. It was traveling 55 mph, but is now going 60 mph. All the passengers in the car produce "scientific" studies that predict the car will keep going faster because of the downward slope.

However, a funny thing happens. Careful observations of the car's speedometer indicate that the speed is not increasing as it was a short time earlier. But, in fact, has paused for some mysterious reason. Preposterous, the passengers, all scream. Our best computers models prove beyond a doubt that when traveling on a downward slope the car must speed up. It's a scientific fact that no one can dispute and we have the "peer reviewed" papers to prove it. Some even go so far as to proclaim the "science is settled". To claim otherwise is to be an anti-science "denialist". They explain, if the car is not increasing it speed it must because the car must have hit a brief level spot or something. That is why the velocity has failed to increase. Unfortunately for the passengers, though, further measurements indicate the slope is actually now steeper than it was previously, but the car is still traveling at the same speed. Even worse, the latest measurements hint that the car may actually be slowing down.

In all their haste to prove their own "scientific" perspective correct and those of the "denialist" wrong, all the passengers failed to observe the driver has lifted her foot off the gas pedal.

Comment: Well, the Chinese did spy on us... (Score 2, Insightful) 283

... so I guess this will teach them a lesson about spying on other countries.

Of course, the irony of "the pot calling the kettle black" doesn't go unnoticed.

I'll file this under, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. -- Mahatma Gandhi"

Comment: For starters, you can get off your high horse... (Score 5, Insightful) 509

It's really up to the management at your company to determine whether someone is pulling their weight or if their skills are up to snuff. You may have an opinion, but it's best to keep it to yourself. Many people provide value to an organization in ways that aren't always easily visible to co-workers. It's entirely possible the coders who doesn't seem to be "as up to date" in his skills may be providing benefits to the organization in ways you don't yet have the experience or perspective to appreciate.

I once kept what others might consider to be a sub-par programmer on my team because he was a good friend of my best programmer -- the type of programmer who provided 10x the value of any of his peers who complained about the sub-par programmer. Besides, the sub-par programmer had a great personality, broad work experience and helped round out the team and make the overall workplace a much more enjoyable place to be. We had to work through some of the coding skill issues, but as a manager it was a tradeoff I was happy to make considering the other ancillary benefits the person brought.

As a manager, one of my toughest jobs was dealing with the handful of younger programmers who felt it was their duty to judge the value of everyone else on the team -- usually on very narrowly defined terms. Most often it was a case of "the pot calling the kettle black" and the energy invested in pointing out the flaws of others would be much better spent on reflecting upon their own shortcomings and improving their own skills -- which were usually overrated. I can say that because I once was one of those overly self-confident younger programmers myself, but I have since gained some experience and perspective.

Comment: Re:Did they pull the trigger? (Score 5, Insightful) 236

by mpthompson (#43319805) Attached to: DOJ, MIT, JSTOR Seek Anonymity In Swartz Case

It's ironic that today, just and fair trials are so common that they don't make the news, but the injustices and scandals reported in the media are what shape people's opinions of the government.

Given how powerful the government is against the individual, shouldn't it be the concern of everyone when the government commits injustices? Or, should it only be a big deal when the boot is on your own throat?

I'm not arguing for vigilante justice, rather I'm arguing for full disclosure of who is involved in acts of injustice. Such disclosure is the only effective way of discouraging such abuses in the future. Perhaps if the government was seen as being transparent in such cases and effectively policing itself there were be much less risk of vigilante justice occurring in the first place.

Comment: As the submitter of this posting... (Score 2) 81

by mpthompson (#43319701) Attached to: Iranian Lab's Quadcopters To Rescue Swimmers

I work in the robotics industry and what really caught my eye was that this interesting work is coming out of Iran. Something I thought was pretty cool considering the negative press we get from our media about the country. Obviously, the Iranian government is very anti-American, but I would bet if I were to sit down with the folks at JST Labs working on this project I would find we share a lot of common interests in technology and such. It is from such common interests that broader cultural bridges can be built from.

Comment: Astronauts to a 7 meter space rock? (Score 2) 106

by mpthompson (#43315663) Attached to: NASA Asteroid Capture Mission To Be Proposed In 2014 Budget

Seriously, wouldn't sending a handful of robotic spacecraft to characterize larger asteroids be much more worthwhile? While it could be argued that astronauts on the surface of Mars with good geologic training and tools could be more productive than a robot, I'm not sure what value sending astronauts to such a small asteroid in lunar orbit really adds.

The asteroids that really threaten Earth are an order or two of magnitude bigger -- a hundred meters to a few kilometers in size. A 7 meter asteroid may give us some insight into their composition, but it would be better to actually go an analyze the actual type of asteroids we are worried about. Knowing details of their structure and how they are held together could immediately eliminate some solutions for diverting their course if the need ever arises and provide insight that could spark creative solutions that haven't yet been thought of. This kind of work could actually be done much cheaper with robots than astronauts if what we really care about are actual results.


+ - A new genetic code found->

Submitted by Shipud
Shipud (685171) writes "A group from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Yale University and the Joint Genome Institute have isolated single cells of otherwise elusive and unculturable SR1 bacteria and sequenced their genomes. They found that SR1 deviate from the genetic code in a way previously unknown: what codes for "stop making proteins" in most organisms, is used differently in SR1, to actually continue making them. This study shows the power of a new technology, single-cell DNA sequencing, to reveal genetic information. SR1 bacteria are found in our mouths, and are suspected to cause periodontitis."
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"Just the facts, Ma'am" -- Joe Friday