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Comment: Re:"pioneer inventor of new technology" ??? (Score 1) 179

by ninjagin (#48675781) Attached to: Bill Gates Sponsoring Palladium-Based LENR Technology
Well, I can see part of your point, but there can be many kinds of pioneers. If anything, he was a pioneer in the consumer and business software and computing industry. Lots of people take tax write-offs. Not taking advantage of an opportunity like that is certainly laudable, but are we all supposed to become Harrison Bergerons to meet your arbitrary requirements for shared burden?

Comment: I did it (Score 1) 280

by ninjagin (#48613233) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

English major, here. I wanted to get into Radio really bad when I was in college and after what I felt was a non-competitive B- in organic chemistry (I was a chem major, first). I learned later that B- was actually pretty good, and I regret not sticking with that program... why, I'd be making space-age polymers by now!

I always liked dinking around on computers. Had a CP/M machine back in the day, liked writing little utility programs and stupid zork-like text games. Always enjoyed spending time on the machine -- figuring things out, you know? IBM PCs were pretty much de rigeur in college, got pretty comfortable with them and my university UNIX account. Got pretty skilled at word processing tools, document formatting, etc.

So, after I graduated and had no luck getting radio jobs as automation was taking over that business, so I figured that I'd get a job at a law firm and see if I liked it. I did. Kept me busy. I was a document clerk -- handled a ton of documents, cataloging them, making exhibits, getting stuff for attys at the library, but the computer time just seemed to fly by. So, I started going to grad school, in the business school, to get an MS-IS, but to take the most technical track I could get. So, I took a bunch of coding classes, design classes, analysis classes, and after my first year I got an internship with a telecom company as a tech writer, documenting Operation Surveillance equipment for big big big fiber telecom installations. They gave me a whole lab full of routers and fiber muxes and alarm blocks, 5ESS switches and channel banks, DataKit and terminal servers and CSU/DSU boxes, and I got to play with them and break them and build them back again and write about how to do that. It was great!

With that internship (still taking classes -- grad school took me 7 years to finish) I was able to get a job documenting software interfaces for pre-press software... describing functions and methods, return codes and exceptions, how things worked together, that kind of thing. Then I went back to telecom and documented inventories of telecom equipment before getting picked up by an enterprise services group as an engineer. I worked on build process scripting and tools on a bunch of different system 5 UNIXes. Budget crunch eliminated my contract position so I went to an established VOIP company and wrote installation software in Perl and bourne shell and worked on build process stuff in my first job titled as an engineer. Got laid off of there and worked for an old work friend's startup company, for free, for about 4-5 months until he could pay me a little bit (had to keep my skills fresh)... I did tier 1 support, systems administration, build (SCM) stuff like repo management and the like, some testing and DBA stuff. Stayed with them for a couple years as an engineer. Finally got my MS done. Moved on to a HUGE company as an SCM engineer and went to management about 8-9 years ago.

It's been a long road, but I have done pretty well. I think I'm a good people manager. I'm not afraid of technology and have a pretty good background as a generalist -- networking stuff, systems, coding, tools, etc. I'm not real expert at any of it, but I know enough to understand problems and get the right people working on them.

I think the key part is to just do it. You don't need to have an engineering degree to be an engineer. Most of what I use on a day-to-day basis I learned myself. Working for free, as dumb as it sounds, was great for me. Startups need people who are willing to do just about anything to keep a project moving, and you get to wear a lot of different hats. Ultimately, what took me to STEM was tech writing, but I only got to tech writing after I had learned new languages and had some more formal tech instruction.

Hope it helps.

Comment: Re: On the other hand, the Jihadists perform (Score 2) 772

by ninjagin (#48563747) Attached to: CIA Lied Over Brutal Interrogations

Well, "shoot to kill" sounds good, but it doesn't set an enemy back more than a combatant that is wounded and unable to fight does. Beating a hasty retreat is a lot slower if you have to drag a half dozen screaming meatbags with you as you go. Battlefield resources such as food, fuel, medicine, transport and the time of other warriors are consumed by the needs of the wounded and are not completely available for warmaking. There are secondary resource consumptions after the wounded get to safe havens, too, as they have to consume time and resources while healing, such as food, medicine, time and attention and protection.

Prisoners are a potential source for information about what happened on the battlefield and intelligence relating to what might happen next or might be planned. Presented with hypothetical scenarios, they can help model the thought process of the enemy and inform on what positions or assets the enemy sees as vital, what they might see as superfluous, and what tools or tactics they might be most willing to use. Then, they can be a kind of chip for the return of your own prisoners when hostilities cease. If your prisoner is dead, you get none of that.

I'd rather have thousands and thousands of prisoners (hell, hundreds of thousands) to deal with (and the US/NATO coalition has the capacity to deal with that kind of load) than have to expend twice the amount of ammunition, blood and battlefield assets to ensure their demise while fighting when time and attention is most precious. Prisoners taken and removed far from the battlespace are not a threat, and they are out of a commander's way as he gains control over terrain and projects his force into new areas.

Comment: Salmon in the great lakes has been pretty good (Score 1) 118

by ninjagin (#48555135) Attached to: How One Man Changed the Ecology of the Great Lakes With Salmon
I have sport-fished salmon in lake Michigan, and it was great. A lot of fun, and good eating. Caught a few really nice trout, too. I do worry, though, about the decline of commercial fishing in the great lakes (gosh, the whitefish that used to get pulled out of those lakes was incredible!), the zebra mussels and the asian carp.

Comment: She can be an Engineer Princess, yunno (Score 1) 584

by ninjagin (#48523229) Attached to: Programmer Father Asks: What Gets Little Girls Interested In Science?

My niece is kind of in the same boat as the OP, and I don't take offense at his question. I would love to foster my niece's sense of discovery in science or math, and I have decided that music is a good middle place we can share together... there's loads of science and math in music. About a year after she was born I got a great deal on a star projector that has slides for various astronomical objects and features -- obviously, at a year old, I knew it would have no appeal. At some point, maybe once she's out of kindergarten or 1st grade, stuff like stars will be more meaningful and I can give her the projector and know that she can make a little sense out of what it can show, but I'm not going to force it. (I'm thinking about getting here a microscope, maybe, when she's in 4th grade or so.) I do, however, try to model for her those behaviors that are not gender normative, so that she can see that boys can do the dishes and clean up the kitchen and cook and set the table and iron and do laundry and all that. Her dad does a great job of all that stuff, too, so I think about it more like re-enforcement of where he's going.

Anyhow, even though my niece is fond of princess dress-up and singing and dancing, I don't really see it as an end, or her only preoccupation. I don't see any reason why she can't be an astronomer princess or a biologist princess or an auto mechanic princess or a doctor princess or a lawyer princess or an electrician princess or an HVAC technician princess or an engineer princess. There are scads of different kinds of princesses out there. I think girls pick up on the girly gender roles very early and we can't stop that. Same goes for boys. Yeah, there are going to be people in-between, too, but rather than see gender-normative roles as exclusive, I figure that for kids they are probably just backgrounds for imaginary play -- loaded with all kinds of baggage, maybe, but not real barriers as long as I can help show her (& her mom & dad, too) that I don't see them as barriers or make assumptions about her as a result of them.

Comment: Re:Well, let's criminalize Du Pont Nylon now. (Score 1) 588

by ninjagin (#48319591) Attached to: Marijuana Legalized In Oregon, Alaska, and Washington DC
It is probably non-obvious, but to produce enough hemp you need to plant a lot of it. Hemp seed is barred from import into the US from other places in the world where it is grown (it is treated the same as the schedule 1 drug form of the plant), and there are no large domestic hemp plantations of sufficient size to create a native seed stock. Only recently has there been any delivery of foreign hemp seed (to Colorado) but it hasn't been planted because there are some legal questions (liability, escaping plants to non-authorized growers, etc.) that needed to be answered.

Comment: Huh. Really? (Score 1) 144

by ninjagin (#46534369) Attached to: Research Suggests Pulling All-Nighters Can Cause Permanent Damage
A couple of times a year, I stay up all through the night and go to work the next day. I find that it's not too disruptive, and that I get a bit more contemplative during the second day. It's not something I do on any kind of regular or planned basis -- it just sort of happens ... I can't sleep, so I read a book or futz around on the computer or mess with musical instruments and before I know it, dawn comes and it's time to go back to work. It's almost like one really long workday, with a really long lunch break (overnight) in the middle of it. I have to wonder what nurses and doctors (who sometimes have to work very long shifts) think about this.

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