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Comment: Re:Controversial because? (Score 1) 284

by pseudorand (#49682975) Attached to: Bill Gates Still Trying To Buy Some Common Core Testing Love

Doing "something" just for the sake of doing something is in no way good. The education system is broken, but I'd rather my kids breeze their way through a far-too-easy education system than fight to stay afloat in a stupid one that teach useless and sometimes outright wrong things. At least in the former case they can spend all the free time they have from not doing homework and test prep to play with legos, robotics kits, computers and doing other things that will actually prepare them to survive in the 21st century economy. If the school system is crappy, I'd much rather it just stay out of the way than have a bunch of incompetent idiots frustrate everyone with their useless attempt to fix things.

Comment: Younger developers ARE better. Sort of. (Score 3, Interesting) 429

by pseudorand (#49639947) Attached to: Why Companies Should Hire Older Developers

I'm 36, so I worry about this. But I think younger developers really are better because technology changes so quickly and they've had more free time recently. When I was in college, I'd stay up until 3 AM "hacking". I got really good at all the latest stuff. Now I work 40+ a week on what is now older technology (because if it's working, don't "fix" it). I have a family and house and all sorts of other time sucks that mean I simply can't "hack" until 3 AM on a regular basis. Some of my experience means I'll make better decisions than the wet-behind-the-ears crowd. And it also means I can probably learn new technology faster, despite my less-squishy grey matter. But even at a faster clip, the huge advantage in time a college kid smart enough to not need to study much has means he or she will simply be better at the latest technology than I can possibly hope to be. And the quick turnover in technology means the value of my knowledge is falling quickly while the value of the young guys knowledge is on the rise. He or she will get a job and a family and be in the same boat soon enough. But the claim that my "experience" is somehow universal and timeless is simply a load of crap. In technology, experience is an ever-fleeting thing.

That's why the guys who jump ship every few years do so well. They jump not just for higher salaries, but for the opportunity to learn the latest technology on the job before their existing knowledge becomes so completely useless that they can't get a new job.

To an employer, they have their best employees jumping ship frequently and see the just-out-of-school kids with a working knowledge of the technology they're moving towards. You can almost not blame them for crying about a broken labor market. Almost.

But employers know all this. Since technology changes quickly, they HAVE to train someone -- either their existing (read "expensive") employees have to learn new technology or some new hire (read "cheap") who knows the new technology has to learn the deeper engineering things that one gains only through experience. Since they're going to have to pay someone to learn something either way, who can blame them for choosing the cheaper option. Sometimes us old dogs would have done it better and cheaper, but its a risk and we all usually take the less risky option.

I'm not sure I have a solution to all this, but we need some system that encourages those of us with experience to help the young guys learn the timeless things and also gives us free time to learn the ever-changing things. Maybe an apprentice system like they have in Germany or something.

What's NOT the solution is importing cheap, disposable labor from overseas and then shipping them back home when their expertise is no longer the latest and greatest. That does nothing but help the rich get richer at the expense of both US and foreign workers.

Comment: Re:You don't even understand how banks work... (Score 1) 72

by pseudorand (#49595933) Attached to: How an Open Standard API Could Revolutionize Banking

PositiveMoney has it all wrong. The video says "if we all paid off our debt, the current economic system would collapse". But if we all paid off our debt and stopped working because we didn't need to anymore, then the real economy (i.e. the thing that actually produces food, clothes, houses, cars, computer, electricity, clean water, etc.) really would also collapse because there would be no one doing the work to create all that stuff.

There is a big issue of inequality of both income and wealth distribution. But debt itself isn't the problem. Think about Zimbabwe where the government printed money and handed it out to the poor. Everyone paid off their debts. But the currency is worthless because inflation was 1000%. No one bothered working because the money they got from selling it would be worthless before they could spend it. There was no point in doing anything for which you didn't receive some immediate benefit. The concept of savings simply ceased to exist. (Hoarding, however, was very much still alive.)

Debt, in fact, is the biggest and best backstop a currency has. Debt is the promise that the people who owe money in that currency will work for you in the future. Stuff is still relatively plentiful, but labor, especially skilled labor, is very dear indeed. And debt means a currency is backed by that labor. That's a big part of why the dollar reigns supreme.

Comment: Re:Best deals? (Score 1) 72

by pseudorand (#49595831) Attached to: How an Open Standard API Could Revolutionize Banking

Before the most recent crash, the financial sector of the US economy represented 40% of GDP one year (and I doubt the UK was too far off from that). Clearly a ridiculous figure. While most of that was probably fees on stock trading and the like, some part of that was consumer financial services.

And besides, banks are a good place to start to modernize because they're already heavily regulated so consumers have more of a chance of pushing what's good for us. But once we prove the possibility and utility of digital fiances, imagine that instead of a piece of paper, you get a digital receipt for everything you buy. Imagine XML or JSON that specifies not just a total, but each line item, the quantity, the discount, the amount, and each tax it;s subject to. And imagine all that data being automatically and instantly received integrated into your personal financial app. You could know exactly how much ($ and %) you spend on gas, kids clothes, cheese, state taxes, local taxes, etc. You could get a history of your spending and see trends. All without any data entry.

Now imagine you and millions of others choose to share that data anonymously with some server somewhere. And imagine an app that, by knowing exactly how much and where other people have paid for things in the last few minutes, could tell you the cheapest way to buy everything on your grocery list. Willing to drive up to 10 miles? It has an even better deal. Willing to go to up to 3 stores? You can get it cheaper still! Want it delivered? Companies have already bid on it and there's a price for that too.

I don't object to either private companies or the government collecting data on everything we buy, everywhere we go and everyone we associate with. I object to them not sharing that data with me in a useful format. I can make way better use of it than big business or big government ever could. But if consumers and citizens actually had such data, real competition would mean both big business and government would be in a heap of trouble.

Comment: Bad news (Score 1) 216

by pseudorand (#49571565) Attached to: US Successfully Tests Self-Steering Bullets

This will have two results:

1) Reduce labor/soldier costs the elite pay to suppress the rest of us, since now they can hire the dumbest of the dumb and still expect them to kill anyone who opposes them. They're easier to brainwash, too, so they're more reliable.

2) The terrorists will now more easily bankrupt the U.S. since each shot fired will now cost $$$.

Comment: Re:Hooray for druggies! (Score 1, Interesting) 409

I have to agree with the supreme court on principal and we really do have to stand up for our rights lest we loose them. But I would have though the cops had a responsibility to do the search if they suspected an additional crime was being committed. Possibly they were suspicious only due to Mr. Rodriguez's skin color or last name, which clearly shouldn't be permitted. But it they have any other reasonable suspicion that he had drugs why shouldn't they be allowed to investigate. Especially if it's a 7-8 minute process. An hour is unreasonable, but come on, a quick, non-disruptive check seems reasonable.

Comment: Re:What's the problem? (Score 1) 208

by pseudorand (#49495491) Attached to: Social Science Journal 'Bans' Use of p-values

Your false assumption is that doctors, chemists and physicists get things right with any greater frequency. It's not that social scientists are misusing statistics but that a large number of scientists is most disciplines simply do a poor job of quantifying things. It's a little more obvious when it happens in social science, but accurate measurement is hard or often impossible, so bad proxy measures a pervasive feature of most scientific disciplines. That's one of may reasons why most "experts" usually get it wrong.

Comment: Clear expectations, trust me to do them, feedback (Score 1) 261

I need only three things.

1) Tell me what you want done, when you want it done, and listen when I tell you what's actually realistic.

2) Trust me to do what I say I will do. Don't pay any attention to when I show up, when I leave, if I show up to meetings and if I'm paying attention to you or to my laptop when I do bother attending. Pay attention only to my results.

3) Give me feedback when I ask for it. In step 1, I'll tell you when iteration 1 will be done ready. Take a look at it when I present it to you. Give me feedback so iteration 2 will be more like what you really want. If you don't the final product will be what I want, not you want. You'll be stuck with something useless (to you) and I'll have padded my resume with all the latest skills so getting that next job that pays more will be a breeze.

Who the heck cares about coffee and ping-pong and any of that other crap.

Comment: Re:Racketeering (Score 1) 201

Repealing it would just let the real mobsters loose. The problem is a constitution that lets law enforcement pick and choose who they want to pick on.

Congress passes horrible, broad laws that the vast majority of us would strongly object to. But law enforcement mostly ignores them...except when they need to pressure someone into something. Then they can throw the book at you. Who care that lots of other people are technically breaking the same laws you're accused of. You're in their cross-hairs so the letter of the law now applies to you and you alone. And the rest of us don't care because we mostly don't even know about it.

Sure, honest and competent law enforcement offices can sometimes use this to convict a real bad guy (as is ALWAYS the case on TV). But dishonest or incompetent law enforcement use it be themselves become worse than the gangsters. Even otherwise honest and well-intention police and DAs are pressured by their superiors to get convictions. They may not be convinced by the evidence, but their boss needs something for his campaign posters so they have to get convictions or find new jobs. Law enforcement is hard. Getting anything a scientifically-minded person would actually consider proof is probably impossible in a whole lot of cases. But somehow are jails are still overflowing.

What we need is a constitutional amendment that invalidates any law for which the accused can show an inconsistent pattern of enforcement. "But everyone else does it" should be a valid defense. Congress would then have to figure out how to actually enforce and fund any law they pass. We'd all quickly become painfully aware of laws we don't like. And we could then vote out the jerks who passed them.

Comment: Re:The extrenely low pass rate... (Score 1) 145

by pseudorand (#49387837) Attached to: The End of College? Not So Fast

I took a course when I worked for the university. The professor wanted me to do a more complicated final project, but I didn't have time with a full time job and family, so I just skipped it and took a C. Doesn't mean I didn't learn everything I needed to, as evidenced by the fact that I'd aced all the other classwork (which is why I ended up with a C even though the final project was 25% of the grade).

And since when is a low pass rate necessarily a bad thing? Is it possible only the people who learn the material pass? Compare that to the total crap education we pay for, either through tuition or our tax dollars. It has the opposite problem: almost no one fails. In some (maybe many) public school districts, this is in fact the actual policy. Teachers can't give failing grades. These are the perverse intensives No Child Left Behind forced on us. The free online courses may be incentivizing students to learn though not necessarily to demonstrate their knowledge by taking the test and turning in the classwork. The "High Stakes" testing we've supposedly introduced into our school systems is only "high stakes" for teachers and schools. Students have no stake in it at all. No wonder it's so ineffective.

Comment: and secure passwords are disallowed (Score 1) 349

by pseudorand (#49373151) Attached to: Sign Up At Before Crooks Do It For You

I just created my account and had to try 5 times before it accepted a randomly-generated password I created programmatically. All 5 randomly generated passwords were validated by the on-page Javascript, but upon submitting the form they were rejected with no stated reason.

The key to finally getting one accepted one selecting a very short one. 47 characters was nixed, as was 32 and a few other, shorter ones. It finally accepted what I would consider to be a not-even-close-to-long-enough password for something that could potentially have such a large negative impact on my life.

Whenever I hear the Republicans whining about how incompetent government is, I think to myself that big private companies are just as bureaucratic and incompetent. But then things like this and the initial ACA website launch happen to prove that yes, government really is even more incompetent than big business.

Comment: Re:I'd like to solve the puzzle please. (Score 1) 1081

by pseudorand (#49269663) Attached to: How To Execute People In the 21st Century

no "everyone in the firing squad missed on purpose"

I think you're missing the point of a firing squad. It was used as a form of military execution in order to introduce some measure of due-process into an order from some commander when due process was impossible during wartime. If you're a soldier on the firing squad you can't disobey orders, even if you object in principal or for the specific situation. But everyone missing on purpose allows soldiers to dissent from the commander without having to go it alone. The commander could choose another set of soldiers, punish the dissenters, or do it himself or something, but if the entire squad missed on purpose his authority is pretty much undermined and he's more worried about preventing mutant than having the execution carried out.

I'm against the death penalty. But if we have to have it, firing squads, with the caveat of "if everyone misses, the verdict is reversed and the accused goes free", are by far the very best way to do it. Who cares if death isn't instant or painless. Who wouldn't risk a slightly more painful death (and even that's questionable) for a chance at freedom and justice.

Comment: It's NOT a scam, it's a semi-brilliant plan (Score 2, Interesting) 169

Mars One is most certainly NOT a scam.

Technology has all but eliminated the need for a growing population and over-population is human's biggest problem. We need to eliminate some people, but we still need smart, useful people. If we used criteria like geography, race, religion and ethnic origin to choose who gets eliminated, we're as likely to eliminate too many of the smart people we still need. So what criteria do we use to identify people we want to get rid if?

Mars is a cold, lifeless rock much to far away from earth to make even it's mineral content remotely economical. We are a species who can't even terraform the Gobi, Mohave or Sahara where there's an atmosphere and temperatures are (relative to Mars) reasonable. Anyone who thinks going to mars is anything other than ridiculous meets just the criteria we're looking for. And they'll voluntarily board a ship blasting off to nowhere, somewhat lessening the moral dilemma of the situation. And they're even offering to pay for the whole thing!

Brilliant plan. Or semi-brilliant, because they simply haven't selected nearly enough finalists to address the overpopulation problem. But it's a start.

Didn't Douglas Adam's predict this decades ago?

Comment: Re:Non Story...Not Exactly... (Score 1) 163

by pseudorand (#49227329) Attached to: On the Dangers and Potential Abuses of DNA Familial Searching

The inclusion of "papers" in the fourth amendment implies the protection of privacy, not just physical possession, and is parallel to DNA. Even before photocopies and data backups, "secure", when applied to "papers", obviously refers to the risk of disclosure of information without the owner's consent more than it does to the loss of that information. After all, truly important papers could have been manually copied and stored separately even in 1776.

And did you miss the first item on the list: "persons". Our constitution recognizes our bodies themselves and most immediate physical possessions as the first and most important thing the government should respect. Getting the DNA from a database somewhere rather than collecting it from the suspect should make no difference. We should be able to expect our own government to exercise reasonable respect for our privacy and act outside of the wishes of the obvious data owner only after getting a warrant to do so.

All great discoveries are made by mistake. -- Young