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Comment: Job Creators and Creative Creators (Score 1) 401

by mx+b (#47401117) Attached to: No Shortage In Tech Workers, Advocacy Groups Say

I work in education largely currently, and it is similar. The teachers -- the ones producing the "product", though calling education a product kind of perturbs me -- are the ones that are paid the least. The administration and marketing (at a college it's known as "admissions", but basically the same thing) get WAY better salaries, perks, etc. Actually, the fact they have full time jobs at all is a step up, seeing as many teachers these days are adjuncts (part-time) with no benefits.

I don't want to say that the marketing isn't important -- because it is, if no one knows your school or program exists then you won't get students, I understand that -- but fundamentally, if there are no teachers, there is no school. You would think it would be even and on par. But no. The instructors are looked at more as a burden than anything else.

The spouse works in engineering, and basically same there. The salesmen look at the engineers as people that "get in the way" of making the big deal because they want to "add all this extra money to the price" (when really its adding safety clamps and shit to try to prevent it from exploding).

I honestly feel like the whole job creator debate was in a sense correct, but about the wrong class of people. The "job creators" are not the businessmen/marketing people -- it is the ENGINEERS, SCIENTISTS, PROGRAMMERS, TEACHERS that actually provide a service. And yet somehow, all of these creative professions that provide real-world value are the ones facing the most unemployment, lowest wages, longest hours, etc. It is really unfair, and we all need to unionize and get equal treatment to the executives/marketing people. I'm not saying they are unneeded -- just if they can get full time jobs with high salaries and perks, why can't we, when we actually MAKE the things they sell?

Comment: Re:Worked at a major university (Score 1) 538

by mx+b (#47291439) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

I teach part-time at a few tech schools and universities (because, as discussed, there's practically no chance of tenure track at this point).

Here's how they pulled their shit on me: on paper, I make about $25/hr (it depends on school a little), which if it were full time, wouldn't be a completely terrible salary. Good enough for me since the hours are a bit flexible and I enjoy teaching, and live a pretty modest life anyway.

The problem gets to be that they tell you up front that the $25/hr is paid ONLY for contact hours with students each week -- hours you are physically in class. However, you are still expected to (1) work on curriculum, (2) hold office hours, (3) answer emails from home (within 24 hours), (4) grade papers and tests.

Considering that for every hour I am in class, I probably spend a good 2 hours or so of class prep and then another hour or two grading, I estimate that I, in actuality, make roughly $12/hr at a maximum if you take my salary and divide it by the total number of hours I spend on classes. $12/hr on the higher end, if it is a class I have taught before and I have older notes to work with -- probably more like $8/hr if it is a new class that I need to spend extra time on preparing materials. It is absolutely obscene.

I made $25k or so last year teaching -- and for most of the year, teaching full time, split between a few schools (in fact there was a semester that I counted and I probably put in about 70 hrs a week because I was teaching 6 classes - more like 80 when you include the commute times all over the city to the different schools). For what? To make myself insane, to see my bank account drain, and not even do a great job for my students -- not because I don't want to (I used to have excellent student reviews!), but because I'm just too damn exhausted to even care.

I'm in the process of winding down my teaching "career" now and moving back to private jobs. I started some work on contract jobs, and am currently interviewing at a few places so I doubt I will be teaching much longer. I simply can't afford to. Which is a shame, because I honestly love teaching, I have a lot of fun working with students, and it's been my dream job -- but actually doing it has been a nightmare of no sleep, no seeing family, and tightening the budget more and more "just in case they decide they can't give me 3 classes next semester and I have no where else to go". It's a good thing the wife could supplement a bit (though her job in industry wasn't safe -- she recently had to start training some Indians, yeah, can see where that is going...). NO MORE.

My silly dream, after I get my life together in a non-academic job/salary for a couple of years, is to go back and start my own damn college (maybe not a full university, but a specialized college in my field) and compete with these asshats. Better education, lower tuition, better instructor pay. I don't know how easy it is, but man would I love to do it.

Comment: Re:Exactly! (Score 1) 1040

by mx+b (#47161853) Attached to: Seattle Approves $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage

It's not a moral imperative to create jobs. It's a moral imperative to treat people well

I think treating people well involves assuring that someone who puts in an honest hard days work can pay all of the basic bills necessary for life. If you do not want to do that by assuring jobs at certain salaries, we can offer everyone a yearly stipend out of tax revenue and let people pursue jobs out of interest and necessity since basic life functions are taken care of. I think that would encourage a growth of creativity and new businesses as people have the time to devote to R&D for new businesses.

Do you have a suggestion on how to treat people well otherwise? Just saying everyone might lose their job therefore we do nothing doesn't accomplish anything toward treating people well, and besides, is a fallacy because there are things that need to be done and will not stop being done just because of an economic shakeup.

Comment: Re:$30,000 per year (Score 1) 1040

by mx+b (#47161821) Attached to: Seattle Approves $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage
The problem is high schools and colleges do not give you the information you need to make that sort of judgment. I chose the best field I could based on personal interest and the encouragement of many individuals that insisted there would be plenty of jobs. And in fact there were -- 10-20 years ago. None anymore.

Comment: I Disagree on Examples (Score 1) 1040

by mx+b (#47159043) Attached to: Seattle Approves $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage

I hate mowing my lawn, if I can hire someone to do it at $10/hour, I'll do it. At $15/hour I can't afford to hire someone and I'll do it myself.

Well that's just you. There are plenty of people that would look at that as worthwhile still. I've made that call myself - "Oh its a few dollars more, that sucks... but oh well, it will still be worth it" and I pay it. The net overall is probably a few lost customers, but enough extra from the ones that remain that it's still at least as much as before, if not more. This is of course speculation and depends greatly on type of business, location, etc. But I think that example hardly "proves" anything.

My labor cost goes up by 20% so it's now more cost effective to invest in a $200k machine that it is to hire 10 people.

Can be true -- again, greatly depending on industry, etc. But now, you're going to need get that machine repaired occasionally, and call the help desk when it starts doing funny things. So now we've employed people. Jobs shifted from grass mowing to doodad repair -- and doodad repair probably pays a good deal more than mowing the grass, so a net win. Assuming we can get people trained for these new jobs.

That's the main wrinkle, and why I support cheaper/free community college training, especially for those that have been laid off and looking for a career change. We can't stop the world economy, we have to learn to evolve with it.

But it's also worth noting that the jobs that are getting destroyed are the shit jobs where you are being treated like a half-machine already. We would all be better off if all the repetitive jobs like cashier were eliminated and people could actually do jobs that they enjoy. Whether this is possible is obviously subject to debate.

Definitely I encourage everyone to do things they enjoy. The problem is most of the time, those more enjoyable jobs (and not necessarily enjoyable in the sense of being a slacker, but for example, I'm a big tech geek and math nerd and enjoy working with numbers -- but being the "numbers R&D guy" isn't typically a job offered at most companies) don't exist, or are actively laying people off.

Studies have shown much of the jobs created in the "recovery" were low-paying retail/fast-food jobs. So I *wish* we could say they were all getting destroyed and we were progressing to a more enlightened society of creative people doing awesome things like sending people to the moon, but not so. We need to find a way of making that happen though.

Comment: Re:Sweden (Score 1) 1040

by mx+b (#47158753) Attached to: Seattle Approves $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage

Ever noticed our elected officials like to talk about the 2014 elections as the time when "We will regain/keep power in the Senate?". Capitalism vs Socialism is not the true issue -- the real issue is, do THE PEOPLE have a say-so in the rules, or is there a small handful of oligarchs in charge that make the rules? Both capitalism and socialism fail when a few elite make deals behind doors and stay as "leaders" for too long.

If we figure out how to take care of the general person properly -- and that may be from a capitalist, socialist or in my opinion hybrid capitalist-socialist system -- then the rest will fall into place, and the system CANNOT collapse and go bankrupt because we have from first principles made sure to create a system where everyone can prosper. You get the bankruptcy when a few steal from the masses. The socialist states in general did fall first, but the US is not exactly a shining example of not being "on the verge of bankruptcy", is it?

Comment: Re: Behind the curve (Score 1) 1040

by mx+b (#47158651) Attached to: Seattle Approves $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage

force the gov't to make hard decisions about what us and isn't necessary

A problem is defining exactly what that statement means. What are the hard decisions? And if they are so hard, then there is obviously going to be a lot of disagreement on what decision to make.

Do you have a link to a specific plan? A specific list of pre-made decisions that you can point to? Because -- and I mean no personal offense to you -- I really get tired of hearing this "government has to make hard decisions". That typically means "Government needs to do what *I* want it to". What about everyone else?

Government is of the people by the people for the people, so there is no one entity to make a decision. ALL OF US TOGETHER must vote and make a decision -- and we cannot form a consensus and do that while all of the anger at the opposite sides of political aisle exists.

Personally, I think the hard decision that needs to be made is that we need to stop being so afraid of business and "job creators", and stop licking their boots. In my personal experience, many of them (I will not say all, because there are some great companies and managers out there) are huge douches that don't give a shit about anything but their bottom line. We need to make the hard firm stance "WE DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR EXECUTIVE BONUS -- if you love America half as much as you say in commercials, you will immediately support higher taxes to pay for better roads, renewed water systems, the fastest internet in the world, the best medical system in the world, free college tuition and job training, and paying off the national debt, because we need to make sure the US stays an amazing country full of hope and opportunity -- and if you do not support that, you obviously care nothing for the people of this country so why should you get tax breaks? Tax breaks only go to those that serve their community.".

I would rather see most tax breaks taken away, and that extra income used for the infrastructure mentioned earlier, as well as more money for the Small Business Admin (or similar agency) for seed money to let the common American start their own business and CREATE THEIR OWN JOB. Small grants (not loans!) to let someone take a risk and try something new. I'm tired of waiting for some executive to decide he will give me a paltry sum for hard work, just for him to take away benefits in a year and outsource my job. We should all be creating our own companies and letting the free market decide who has the best strategy.

Comment: Re:$30,000 per year (Score 1) 1040

by mx+b (#47158477) Attached to: Seattle Approves $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage

Why does it have to be easy? If you made poor decisions in your life (no skills, children you can't afford, living in an area you can't afford) why is it my responsibility (or the government's responsibility, or a private company's responsibility) to provide for you? The only item I agree with on your list is health, often health problems are not under a person's control. For things that ARE under a person's control, they made their choices, they should be the one to pay the piper. If your skills do not command a high enough salary it is your failing, not your employer's. If you provide more value for your employer and your job isn't so easy that they can hire a 16-year-old off the street to replace you then you have bargaining power when it comes to salary negotiations. If you don't educate yourself and your only skills are what your employer teaches you after being hired then you shouldn't expect to make a ton of money.

I went to college, graduate school even, for STEM degrees -- honors GPA, internships, awards, whole shebang. And yet when I graduated, I had such a difficult time getting employers to call me back much less interview me (oh yes, I called and followed up on applications, but that never did any good, it was mostly "We received it and will call YOU if we want you, go away") that I had to take a part time position teaching, where I made practically no money and no benefits, and had to live on food stamps for a good year or so before finally getting a job to even start to pay the bills and student loans -- and even that still doesn't totally cut it and I'm having a hard time saving up enough to pay off those loans. I had a studio apartment, ate beans and rice, no frills whatsoever. So tell me, what poor decision did I make?

We need to get away from this blame-game, ESPECIALLY blaming the poor that are often trying hard**, and simply help people succeed. Everyone falls on rough times, and we need to actually be a real goddamn civilized society and be there for each other when we need help. Corporations are pulling in loads of money right -- stock markets have never been higher, and I can tell you from personal experience many of the CEOs around here literally have 7 BMWs and crap. It's not about "redistributing the wealth" -- it's about getting a fair share. The CEO doesn't handle customers and all, the whole company falls apart without workers -- why can't everyone, workers up thru CEO, get the same level of increase for everyone working together as part of a team?

** NOTE: that part time teaching I talked about? I taught at a few community colleges / tech schools (they don't hire full time right now due to budgets in public sector and due to CEO wanting to impress shareholders in private sector), and I met some very hard-working students there. Most of them are trying really hard to better themselves and get out of minimum wage, but they cannot devote full time to school because they have to work (and often very bizarre shifts that will suddenly come up and prevent them from attending class). It's really a sad situation. Even trying super hard, it's near impossible to get a better job and get out of the cycle of poverty.

Comment: Re:Fedora User's Advice To Mr. Miller (Score 3, Informative) 24

by mx+b (#47157531) Attached to: Matthew Miller Named New Fedora Linux Project Leader

I say this because I just tried to build a new Fedora system. Fedora 20 is a new low - not only would the OS not work, the installer would not work. I tried various things like graphics "safe mode" and all I got was a black screen. I had to get my Fedora 19 DVD to install Fedora. It's that broken.

Glitches like that are typical for Linux distros. The proper quality assurance is missing. Let's put Windows 7 installation DVD in that computer and I bet there would be no black screen. Just sayin'. No wonder companies or governments do not want to adopt Linux on PC desktops. The support costs for solving all these funky little problems would be enormous.

To the OP: Have you tried to contact Fedora about it? There are so many hardware combinations out there, it's impossible to test everything. Personally, I have installed Fedora 20 on several different systems (desktops and laptops!) and have had no issues. All drivers installed correctly, etc. I actually really like Fedora 20 compared to how it was a few releases ago. I used to have Fedora 15 and THAT was a buggy mess -- not just GNOME 3, but a lot of the software and servers that you would expect to be rock solid. Do you really want to go back to that? I think we need to keep moving forward, but iron out the bugs as we go, and the only way to do that is to report bugs and try to work with them. Ultimately, Fedora was always supposed to be bleeding-edge -- if you want stability, then Ubuntu LTS or OpenSUSE or even CentOS might be a better match for you.

To the P: I have had Windows 7 and Windows XP blue screen immediately after installation. I have had trouble with getting the monitor to show at the correct resolution, or the sound to play, or the graphics card to be detected numerous times. I have had explorer crash on me and reset everything. I've had Windows Update not be able to find the driver for a very common device, and so I've had to hunt down the drivers online and install them -- except the drivers are only given out by the company as .inf files, so I have to do the add hardware wizard manually rather than letting it automagically configure. I'm not necessarily trying to put Windows down here -- but I do like to clarify to people that, over the years I have installed OSes personally and professionally, it very OFTEN goes wrong the moment you put a version of Windows that wasn't designed for that computer on there, and sometimes even when it IS the version of Windows on the sticker on the computer tower. Upgrades suck, hell even doing the recovery disk sometimes causes trouble and you have to manually update drivers anyway. Both Windows and Linux have the problem of being installed on an extremely large amount of possible configurations that is impossible to test 100%.

If you build custom PCs that are verified to work great with Linux, you experience the same level "It Just Works" as you would other OSes. If a vendor sold such PCs, you wouldn't have much support cost at all because it would Just Work (TM(R)), much like buying a Windows PC from Dell (theoretically) or a Mac from Apple.

Comment: Re:How About We Make it Mature? (Score 3, Insightful) 105

So instead of Microsoft (a dedicated software company), we would have a network of cities with a couple of developers in each working on an office suite? That's a horrible waste of resources, especially when we already have Microsoft Office which works fine for the most part. Look, I share the concern about open standards, but we have to also consider what is practical.

You are correct, if everyone made their own office suite, but that was not what I was proposing.

I instead would like a few local/state governments to COLLABORATE on the SAME FOSS office suite (and maybe not even a totally new one -- perhaps jump on board LibreOffice, Calligra, etc.) and make it up-to-par to the needs of government, rather than paying Microsoft for continually bloated office suites that push you more and more to their OneDrive and proprietary formats. Yes, there would be some up-front costs, but then everyone -- local governments, small business, whatever -- could benefit from a nice FOSS suite. It's a much more practical use of resources, as well as philosophically good (since government is keeping data in open and documented formats and software, supporting small business by hiring people to work on it, letting small business use the FOSS for free, etc.)

Comment: How About We Make it Mature? (Score 4, Interesting) 105

Open standards is extremely important. I'd hate for all that data to be locked into Microsoft Excel format, or what have you.

While I agree that sometimes the FOSS is buggy or missing features, I do not think in this situation we should let that stop us. In fact, I would love to see NYC (and other cities across the country) agree to sponsor/contract a couple of developers each to work on whatever we need: data formatting and conversion, word processing, accounting, voting software, etc. In this way, while the FOSS is maybe not up to spec today, we can all work together on making it up to spec soon. In this way, we all pool resources, get it done correctly ONCE*, and enjoy the savings and philosophical warm and fuzzies.

(* yes I understand that long term we would probably need to continually hire developers on a contract basis to fix problems that come up, or add new features or support for new operating systems, etc., but generally speaking it would be much less impact on the budget long term -- though I also understand the political pressure currently to cut budgets rather than spend a little extra for a perk down the road.).

Comment: Need Logic (Score 2) 125

by mx+b (#46975623) Attached to: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding

I think some have pointed out that coding develops logic skills, but I think that's reversing the "real" direction -- that logic skills help develop coding (and numerous other technical skills! and even just plain mathematics understanding). And yet, I have not seen any discussion about logic in our rush to improve education. AFAIK, Common Core doesn't even mention logic ( I browsed through the standards once for a couple hours but I don't recall ever seeing it).

Basic propositional/symbolic logic should be taught and reinforced over and over in high school, particularly your last few years. I'm not an expert on childhood brain development, but I have the suspicion our middle school kids could do it fine too.

At university, I was appalled by how many students were completely dumbfounded in a basic logic class. We're talking problems understanding if-then statements, and why affirming the consequent is bad. We didn't even get to symbolic logic that much, it was mostly analyzing simple sentences. I'm sure everyone could, and ultimately did, learn it, but you shouldn't even be able to get into a university without knowing logic. And that isn't all the students' fault -- that's the failure of the adults for not pushing for appropriate curricula. After that class, I became pretty convinced that its not that our kids are bad at math per se, but that they have a really hard time following logic arguments and therefore, mathematical arguments.

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_

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