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Comment: lack of local government oversight is the cause (Score 1) 513

by pikine (#46320881) Attached to: Why Is US Broadband So Slow?

The article's assessment is mostly correct. It even correctly mentioned that the previous net neutrality rules were unconstitutional. Except the article neglected the fact that new rules forcing local municipality to open up rights of way would also be unconstitutional because Federal agency has no power over local jurisdiction.

Forget about the federal or even the state government for a moment. The problem is that most people don't even know how to keep their local government in check. They increase local sales and property tax rates and/or tax assessment at will. They are behind in repairing public roads and other infrastructures, and even so they are mostly funded by Federal grants. The teachers are paid poorly, but the local officials are paid handsomely.

This is all caused by the lack of local government oversight. All governments are pests, be it federal, state, or local, but the local government is usually overlooked. We pay too much attention to federal and state. Better show up at your local town hall meeting next time, or they will slowly erode away your rights and property.

Comment: Negotiation and power play (Score 1) 716

by pikine (#46225391) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should Developers Fix Bugs They Cause On Their Own Time?

I think his boss is trying to renegotiate this poor guy's salary. In any case it's a power play, so there is no use to explain to the boss how software engineering differs from brick laying. Simply assert that: (1) he'll work in excess of 40 hours a week only on overtime salary as required by law, (2) market rate already takes into account software maintenance cost due to defect or changing requirement, and (3) his performance evaluation should have already taken into account the quality of his output.

Why is this a power play? If he's actually not meeting expectation, the boss is free to simply fire him and hire someone else. The boss would not have to employ such power play tactics.

Of course nothing is going to stop him from saying "ok boss ur right" and take a voluntary pay cut.

Comment: Economic viability is the reason (Score 3, Interesting) 731

by pikine (#46218027) Attached to: Death Hovers Politely For Americans' Swipe-and-Sign Credit Cards

That's because the outdated infrastructure had been economically viable to use, so there had been no reason to update it, until now, that is.

Many ways of the US rely on an honor system. There used to be unattended shops where you take the goods and put money in a box. The box didn't use to require a lock. This might be possible in a small town where everyone trusted each other, but in a city where crime is rampant, this business model is simply not economically viable. Public transportation used to allow monthly or weekly pass holders to board from the rear doors without verifying their passes, but they don't allow that anymore because nowadays enough non-paying passengers take advantage of that such that the honor system is no longer economically viable.

The honor system is always able to absorb a small percentage of fraud cases and remain economically viable. It's only when the fraud rate rises past a certain threshold when the system breaks down.

When a merchant displays a credit card logo, you trust the merchant. When the merchant hands you a receipt and you sign it, the merchant trusts you to pay. Again, this is an honor system. The rest of the world also started off with a complete "out of date" manual-imprint or swipe-card honor system. They were forced to upgrade the infrastructure because they suffered enough fraud such that the old system was no longer economically viable. The new smart card system is designed to enforce contractual agreement so that you don't need to rely on the honor system anymore, making credit payments economically viable again.

The US simply held off this long because the honor system had worked until now. Economic viability is the reason. The bad news is that the US has morally declined to the level of the rest of the world. The good news is that the US upheld its morals longer, being the last to abandon the honor system.

Comment: IOMMU is for restricting device's memory access (Score 1) 163

by pikine (#46211881) Attached to: GNU Hurd Gets Improvements: User-Space Driver Support and More
I think you confused the purpose of IOMMU. It's for restricting the device's memory access. Without IOMMU, it just means that any firmware running on the device's coprocessor can access the main memory unrestricted, meaning that a hacked firmware can root the machine. IOMMU virtualizes device's access to main memory so that doesn't happen. On a machine without IOMMU, you can still run device drivers in user space as long as the kernel sets up the correct memory mapping for the device's PCI address space. That's called memory mapped I/O and has nothing to do with IOMMU.

Comment: Why Bill Gates lost. (Score 1) 449

by pikine (#46074837) Attached to: 23-Year-Old Chess Grandmaster Whips Bill Gates In 71 Seconds
Bill Gates played too conservatively so that he couldn't mobilize his pieces before getting checkmated. It's a common mistake if you care too much about losing pieces (presumably because that might appear embarrassing). I think it's uncharacteristic of Bill actually. He was known to be a lot more aggressive when he was younger, but I have to admit he's a lot more admirable now that he's older and mellowed.

Comment: remind them at the beginning of their terms (Score 1) 462

If after several years holding seat and having a lucrative political career, you tell your congressmen that you're going to replace them because they no longer represent you, they'll keep doing the same and ignore you.

If, just after a new congressman got elected, you tell him how the last one was voted off of his seat because he stopped representing his people, that'll stick to him for his whole term of service. Congratulate him and tell him you look forward to his servitude.

Comment: Re:I can confirm that (Score 5, Insightful) 308

by pikine (#45627157) Attached to: Physicist Peter Higgs: No University Would Employ Me Today

Let's suppose you're the fund manager and you want to maximize impact of your dollars. But there are too many researchers applying for grant. What do you do? You divest rather than invest, and hope that one of the projects will churn out useful outcome.

If you want to focus your money for deeper impact, people will definitely accuse you of favoritism. It is hard to prove innocent because research is, intrinsically, a very specialized craft, and only very specialized people understand the qualifications. Sometimes experts don't agree on the qualifications either. Once you are accused and unable to prove yourself innocent, your career as a fund manager would be ruined due to academic misconduct allegations. If you distribute your funds fairly and squarely, people can still accuse you of favoritism, but at least you have plausible deniability.

From a researcher's point of view, research is really about begging money to do things you want to do. Or if you end up not doing what you want to do, simply begging money. Historically only the nobles have the time and money to do research. This is what I always tell my friends:

  • If you have no money and no time, make time.
  • Now you have time but still no money. Make money with your time.
  • Now you have money but no time. Make money smarter so you save time.
  • Now you have both time and money, do whatever you want.

+ - RMS calls for "truly anonymous payment" alternative to Bitcoin 1

Submitted by BitVulture
BitVulture (3423655) writes "With everybody but the Dalai Lama talking about Bitcoin, Richard Stallman took a break from his duties as high priest of the free software movement to air his views on the crypto-currency that has become virtually as valuable as gold. In an interveiw with Russian media giant RT, Stallman praised Bitcoin for allowing people to "send money to someone without getting the permission of a payment company". But he also warned against a major weakness of Bitcoin and called for the development of "a system for truly anonymous payment" online. The interview took place on the sidelines of the recent Bitcoin Expo in London. Among the guests to the gathering of Bitcoin fans, and a few critics, were 3D-printed gun developer Cody Wilson and a singer named Rachel, who was scheduled to perform the song "Bitcoin Baby"."

Comment: Re:I think that's a wasted opportunity (Score 1) 86

by pikine (#45561617) Attached to: Sebastian Thrun Pivots Udacity Toward Vocational Education

That may be why there is a propensity to build luxury four year resorts with fancy dorms and gyms at the universities. It may be the marketing that keeps students around.

It's complicated. The universities reap what they sow, attracting the wrong kind of students. And then after exhausting funds on fancy buildings, the universities are unable to provide education to the students who actually enrolled to study. I can't blame the students if you're fostering an environment not for learning but for distractions.

Back on to the subject of MOOC, I think it could be useful as a deterrent to curb the squandering of resources. But universities have in the past found ways to provide affordable education, so something else must have gone wrong other than the manner the courses are taught.

Comment: Re:I think that's a wasted opportunity (Score 1) 86

by pikine (#45561369) Attached to: Sebastian Thrun Pivots Udacity Toward Vocational Education

This is how the Oxford Dictionary defines wonder: "a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable." Pink Floyd can fulfill this definition of wonder.

But I think ultimately, I disagree with your idea how the notion of wonder relates to theoretical CS or physics. In a pure mathematical sense, a theoretical study is the exploration of what logical consequences can be shown to follow from a set of well defined axioms. Theoretical CS uses a given computational model as the axioms and seeks to derive logical consequences that concern the complexity and computability of algorithms or problems under that computational model. Theoretical physics is concerned with coming up with the well defined axioms that have logical consequences which explain real-world, observable phenomenon. Maybe to some people that is wonderful, but wonder is neither sufficient nor required if you want to be a theoretician. If you do find wonder in theory and formal methods, kudos to you. :-)

I'm not saying I don't find wonder in theoretical studies, but both Discovery Channel and National Geographic have the scale to fund many educational programs beyond what most universities can afford. And broadcast media have developed a narrative style and format that makes conveying knowledge effective and attractive, with the purpose to induce a feeling of wonder. Otherwise it depends on the individual to find wonder themselves. As another way to look at it, some professors are very good at inducing a feeling of wonder in their students, but I wouldn't count on it if your goal is to study a subject matter and become an expert. There are ways to relate to a professor and his/her work even if the professor turns out to be an extremely boring person. If you go to a university just to find wonder, that's a waste of time and money.

Comment: Re:I think that's a wasted opportunity (Score 1) 86

by pikine (#45558733) Attached to: Sebastian Thrun Pivots Udacity Toward Vocational Education

If you just want wonder and culture and insight, Discovery Channel and National Geographic can easily outdo accredited universities while at the same time be more effective at conveying knowledge. I wish more broadcast media outlet would fulfill their educational responsibility. In the ideal sense, good news reporting can also fill you in a lot of context that leads to the current event. Only a few news outlets that I know of practice that kind of perspective news reporting, which is sad because I wish there is more. In the same vein, you can also find universities forfeiting their educational responsibilities, preferring to build luxury four year resorts with fancy dorms and gyms.

What universities should be providing is: (1) access to and relationship with experts of some subject matter, who can guide you for your own studies, and (2) a good research library or online publication subscription so you can study a subject in depth yourself and become an expert. Going to college just to enroll in some courses really is a waste of time and money. Next time you get the chance, ask your professor (current or former) what he/she works on for research, why the work is important, and how did the professor end up doing it.

That's assuming you are actually interested in studying. If you just want a good paying job, and depending on what that job is, education may be neither sufficient nor required.

Comment: Re:Another one that has turned evil (Score 1) 258

by pikine (#45255729) Attached to: Why Amazon Is Profitless Only By Choice

The reason why Microsoft got their lunch ate is because they've gotten complacent, after securing monopoly of desktop operating systems and office productivity suite. But they could still get away with it for at least another decade precisely because they delivered exceptional value in what they did in that market. Past performance is no guarantee if they will continue to deliver exceptional value.

Microsoft's problem with mobile and gaming console is that they didn't deliver exceptional value, but they still decided to enter the market anyway. Even so, it would have been a fruitful experiment if they could have applied their experience in mobile and gaming to motivate for a real-time resource-constrained operating system that could help making their main flagship OS more nimble and responsive, but we've seen no progress in that regard because their departments apparently don't talk to each other.

"Just Say No." - Nancy Reagan "No." - Ronald Reagan

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