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Comment: Read & Do the Problems (Score 1) 234

by polyphemus (#47938391) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

For physics, start by reading an intro textbook.

Be sure to solve the problems at the end of the chapters. You will know physics when you can solve physics problems. If you're not interested in solving the problems, just read some pop physics books.

For astronomy, I would be of no help whatsoever. The math is easier, though; if you can use the Pythagorean Theorem, you're good (I hear).

My background: 36, a Ph.D. in physics, and I work at New York tech startups.

Comment: Re:As it's always gone (Score 3, Informative) 266

People who are suffering, ignorant, and afraid are more willing to turn to the supernatural - be it religion or superstitions - as a 'solution' to their problems.


I see parallels between this and any number of other situations that make people desperate:

* Cancer patients turning to stem cell "remedies" from quacks who don't bother looking for evidence

* People with autistic children who can't find a cause so they blame vaccines

* People who can't see any obvious good options, so they turn to psychics

Fear is a wonderful tool if you're a charlatan, as it makes your victims less likely to pause and ask whether you're actually qualified to do (or to know) any of the things you claim.

+ - Statistics Losing Ground to CS, Losing Image Among Students

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Unless some things change, UC Davis Prof. Norman Matloff worries that the Statistician could be added to the endangered species list. "The American Statistical Association (ASA) leadership, and many in Statistics academia," writes Matloff, "have been undergoing a period of angst the last few years, They worry that the field of Statistics is headed for a future of reduced national influence and importance, with the feeling that: [1] The field is to a large extent being usurped by other disciplines, notably Computer Science (CS). [2] Efforts to make the field attractive to students have largely been unsuccessful." Matloff, who has a foot in both the Statistics and CS camps, but says, "The problem is not that CS people are doing Statistics, but rather that they are doing it poorly. Generally the quality of CS work in Stat is weak. It is not a problem of quality of the researchers themselves; indeed, many of them are very highly talented. Instead, there are a number of systemic reasons for this, structural problems with the CS research 'business model'." So, can Statistics be made more attractive to students? "Here is something that actually can be fixed reasonably simply," suggests no-fan-of-TI-83-pocket-calculators-as-a-computational-vehicle Matloff. "If I had my druthers, I would simply ban AP Stat, and actually, I am one of those people who would do away with the entire AP program. Obviously, there are too many deeply entrenched interests for this to happen, but one thing that can be done for AP Stat is to switch its computational vehicle to R.""

+ - Time Warner Cable Experiencing Nationwide Outage 2

Submitted by Wolfrider
Wolfrider (856) writes "Breaking news: Reports are coming in from multiple US states that TWC is having a major Internet outage since early this morning. For more info, see:

TWC's customer service reps are reportedly a bit overwhelmed by call volume at the moment, and no ETA yet."

+ - 470 million sites exist for 24 hours, 22% are malicious

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Blue Coat researchers analyzed more than 660 million unique hostnames requested by 75 million global users over a 90-day period. They found that 71 percent of the hostnames, or 470 million, were “One Day Wonders,” sites that appeared only for a single day. Of the top 50 parent domains that most frequently used One-Day Wonders, 22 percent were malicious. These domains use short-lived sites to facilitate attacks and manage botnets, taking advantage of the site being “new and unknown” to evade security solutions."

+ - $33 Firefox Phone Launched in India->

Submitted by davidshenba
davidshenba (2536122) writes "Intex and Mozilla have launched Cloud FX, a smartphone powered by Mozilla's Firefox OS. The phone has a 1 GHz processor, 2 Megapixel camera, dual SIM, 3.5 inch capacitive touchscreen. Though the phone has limited features, initial reviews say that the build quality is good for the price range. With a price tag of $33 (2000 INR), and local languages support the new Firefox phone is hitting the Indian market of nearly 1 billion mobile users."
Link to Original Source

+ - Silicon Valley Underpays (Non-Tech) Minority Workers->

Submitted by jfruh
jfruh (300774) writes "Tech companies are often faulted for not hiring more minority employees, but in fact they often do — in non tech jobs, such as janitorial and security services. However, a new report indicates that many tech companies pay these workers below the prevailing wages, largely because they hire them through third-party staffing agencies."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:The only good thing (Score 5, Insightful) 511

When I was in primary school, I was taught by all teachers to not take any drugs, smoke or drink excessively, even painkillers...

Well, one problem is that the teachers lie through their teeth, demonizing marijuana along with heroin. But then you get to high school, and your friends are smoking weed, having fun, and they look fine. You've got older friends who have smoked pot on & off for years without visible consequences. So you try it and, sure enough, it's not the drug you were warned about by your teachers; it's actually fine, except for the consequences of getting caught. Your teachers lied to you, and now you know it.

And the irony is that the most dangerous, most addictive, most popular drugs (alcohol and tobacco), well, these the ones your teachers tell you to use in "moderation." They imply that there's relative safety in these drugs, which is another lie.

So how should you know about the dangers of addiction from heroin or methamphetamines, when your teachers are demonstrably lying to you about drugs?

Comment: Ignore the kids (Score 1) 274

by polyphemus (#46914893) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Joining a Startup As an Older Programmer?

I've worked at startups for the last 2 years. It's OK to be one of the "grownups" there and duck out of the social activities. They'll still massively value your work, and I'm sure you'll find plenty of others in your age range to relate to.

BTW, I'm 36, with a wife and 2 kids, and I work in New York.

Comment: Re:Time for unionization in the tech sector yet? (Score 1) 462

by polyphemus (#46061571) Attached to: How Silicon Valley CEOs Conspired To Suppress Engineers' Wages

... Forced unionization has often just become a tool by which employers actually force collective bargaining on workers. It seems all too common that employers are actually the ones creating the unions ...

I'm pretty sure employers tend to oppose unions.

Comment: Re:You act the part, and blame people for believin (Score 5, Insightful) 353

by polyphemus (#45969335) Attached to: Programmer Privilege

I think he's trying to say that not everyone gets the benefit of the doubt. Sure, he was pretty much qualified, but a lot of people don't have the chance. He's not blaming anyone for his privilege, he's not saying he is wrong to have this privilege, he's saying it's wrong that so many other people don't.

Comment: Re:An Old Discussion (Score 1) 1174

My sentiments are the same. I loved Ender's Game, but I see his morality infiltrate his writing in everything else of his that I've read (Speaker, Shadow, and a prequel about the parents). It's ubiquitous, and it makes his writing worse. I can't read his writing anymore.

Comment: My parents use their iPad exclusively (Score 1) 417

by polyphemus (#42491171) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Using a Tablet As a Sole Computing Device?

They have a Windows desktop, but they don't use it anymore.

The iPad works great for them. I couldn't survive without a keyboard, but I live inside a vim terminal, pulling out to execute my code. My parents ... they don't code. Without that, there's literally nothing they do that can't be done on an iPad. Even things that seem more convenient (long emails) are tedious for them ("I have to go all the way _upstairs_ to do that? I'd rather sit on the couch, or compose it in the passenger set of the car."). They find it significantly more convenient than their desk top, and they argue over who gets to use it. They'll soon buy a second one.

Based on my parents' experience, I say have your mom ditch the desktop.

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)