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Comment: Re:Citizen of Belgium here (Score 1) 1222 1222

I wasn't alive during WWII but both of my parents were. My mother was fortunate enough to be evacuated to Canada with her brother and my grandmother while my grandfather stayed behind. Neither of those two then-children saw the war up-front. My grandfather never, ever spoke of the war.

My father, however, did experience it first-hand and did tell me about it. As a precocious young boy, he risked imprisonment and worse by illegally building and repairing radios during the Nazi occupation. I hope you understand the full implications of it being illegal to own radios (think if it being illegal to own a smart phone, a tablet, or any kind of computer). There was no such thing as free speech. The Axis occupation of Greece was horrific, with the Germans being responsible for the worst of the atrocities. 13% of the occupation of Greece was killed or starved to death. Nearly all of the infrastructure was destroyed. The hyperinflation was the 5th worst in history. There is very good reason that many Greeks still do not like Germans, and want war reparations, and it isn't too much of a stretch to view the recent bail out programs as exactly that.

Comment: Bad for Business (Score 1) 33 33

On Kaspersky:

I have no idea if this was because of a corporate policy about it or what, but I found it singularly amazing that these experts would have so little interest in the [bad] actors who were so clearly operating under their noses.

Put the bad actors out of business, and the threat disappears. No threat, no need for their software. Perhaps they were not openly collusive, but it isn't so difficult to imagine that they look the other way at the hand that indirectly feeds them.

Comment: Re:What was the command? (Score 2) 153 153

Indeed, you definitely do NOT want hundreds-to-thousands of servers doing an update all at the same time, or, worse, rebooting all at the same time. The first has the potential to saturate your network and bring the entire setup to its knees, and the second will blow your rack supplies. I speak from experience on the latter, having been the one who identified the issue with our weekly DB scrubbing procedure once the company I was working for grew to more than a half dozen servers.

You want to stagger things by a few 10s of seconds per server on each rack to avoid power supply issues.

Comment: Electrons matter (Score 1) 67 67

Imagine if when you run a set of computations that not only information is processed but physical matter is algorithmically manipulated as well.

And here I thought the movement of electrons in normal computers was already the embodiment of algorithmic manipulation of physical matter. Silly me.

Comment: Re:I know a lot of this is cutting edge... (Score 2) 41 41

I don't know how you can see much from the second video, as NASA has not released anything high-res yet.
could be the same problem as before, the feed is way too low-res to understand what went wrong.

Thanks for the links. I had another look and you may be right -- it may be the same failure mode. In fact, it might be that the most recent 'chute actually lasted longer than the first one.

Comment: Re:I know a lot of this is cutting edge... (Score 5, Informative) 41 41

... but the parachute? Really? If you know the speed and the density of the atmosphere you're going to deploy it in then the rest is basic physics and engineering. Just make sure you make the damn thing strong enough!

You would think so, yes, except that no one has developed a parachute precisely (or even remotely) like this one before: it's the biggest super-sonic parachute ever (the ring portion of the 'chute deploys at over Mach 4 ... normal aerodynamics don't work there), AND, it has to be light enough to meet mission parameters for weight budget. While you might think it's basic physics, the empirical details are a bear to get right.

It's not just that this is, in fact, rocket science, but really, really hard, cutting-edge rocket science.

Having watched the NASA-released video, the failure mode appeared to be very different from the first test. The first test suffered from imperfect deployment that resulted in uneven loading and thus failure of the main 'chute. The droge (the first little 'chute) went out perfectly, but the main parasol failed to open. The second test failed more quickly, without even partial deployment of the main 'chute, as if it was immediately ripped apart. Watch the videos, they're fascinating!

Comment: Re:Incredible (Score 1) 92 92

Funny, yes, but the scientists behind the research, at NASA, do use the term correctly. They do mean chaotic in the mathematical sense. I listened to the streamed press conference on the subject and, if you look beyond the egregious mis-pronouciation of Charon by the lead author on the work, someone who really should know better, they did a pretty good job of establishing a likely chaotic orientation for Hydra and Nix. Not "really messy and hard to predict but deterministic," but chaotic. With an N-body system, it turns out it isn't that hard to establish chaos.

And, of course, we know from simulation work done at MIT that the orbit of Pluto is likely chaotic, as published in Science some years ago: http://groups.csail.mit.edu/ma... -- I've worked with some of the people who wrote that report, and they are among the best, and most careful scientists I know.

Comment: Re:This makes me feel safe (Score 1) 357 357

Keep in mind that people who have repeated CAT scans for medical purposes have a higher risk for cancer. The effects build over time for continual exposure. In 20 years, we're gong to see frequent flyers with cancers directly related to body scanners.

Unlikely, as the population is small and difficult to identify. More likely, we're going to see former TSA employees with cancer. They got a far longer and larger dose (full shifts worth, day after day), and, importantly, are a very easy population to identify. Because they're an easy population to identify, they're an easy class action lawsuit to organize.

Comment: Re:Brainteasers and Interviews (Score 1) 496 496

This is exactly what is wrong with software hiring, popularized in recent years by Google and thus spread throughout tech startups everywhere.

Really? Seems to have been a pretty winning strategy for Google. My anecdotal experience involves hiring only a small handful of people, so I wouldn't expect to draw any serious conclusions, but Google's experience surely can be used as a guide.

Ultimately, when I'm hiring a new person, I want them to be someone who likes working on solving hard problems that may or may not have solutions, and that most certainly includes thinking of new and original ways of looking at long-held beliefs. Having been exposed to brain teasers as a child is a good way of developing those skills.

Comment: Brainteasers and Interviews (Score 1) 496 496

The point of brain teasers is not to prove you're clever enough to know the answer, but to ask a question that you might not have heard before and observe your reasoning and explanations. While the North Pole question is cute, and most interviewees would know the question (at least I hope so), being able to answer it indicates not that you are smart, but that you have a certain kind of background that leads you to have been exposed to such things. Now if we continue with that assumption, then there are other questions that are worth asking.

My personal favorite question is: Explain the answer to the Monte Hall problem in such a way that a high school student could understand it.

A lot of people know the answer to the Monte Hall problem. Most people are confused by it, or get the answer wrong, but let's concentrate on those who know the answer or can figure it out on the fly. A few of them can cogently explain the reasoning behind the correct answer. Even fewer can explain it in such simple terms that a teenager could understand it. Those are the people I want to hire.

Comment: Re:So basically (Score 1) 837 837

Trucks and buses.

There's a stretch of separated two-way road near me in an urban center. Because of the particulars of the roadways around it, one direction is used almost exclusively for buses. The other direction almost exclusively for cars. The road surface until recently was made of brick, a not-very-good choice for road surfaces as it is particularly fragile and needs near constant maintenance. But Holy Surface Deterioration, Batman! The side of the road with the bus traffic was easily ten times worse than the side with the car traffic. And that's despite there being far fewer vehicles passing on the bus side than on the car side.

Heavy vehicles do most of the road surface damage, and that includes buses, at least in urban areas. I'd wager that the ultra-light vehicles like the Cooper Mini and Smart cars do almost nothing. Taxation should be proportional to induced damage, in a pay for what you use scheme, with a baseline offset because even a bicycle rider benefits from the road existing even though bikes likely do not contribute to its deterioration. And, yes, we should tax bicyclists for road use.

I'm still waiting for the advent of the computer science groupie.

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