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Comment: Re:College is a scam (Score 1) 331

by raddan (#48284527) Attached to: Colleges Face New 'Gainful Employment' Regulations For Student Loans
You will be doing your son a grave disservice if you send him to community college when he is capable of attending a university. For starters, while community college teaching staff only teach, which presumably means that they are focused solely on that goal, it is also true that they are underpaid and overworked. If you son needs extra help, it is unlikely that he will be able to get it. Secondly, community college staff often have only master's degrees in their field. While this means that they may be able to teach the basics competently, it also means that they lack the perspective from having contributed new ideas to their field.

By contrast a university professor has spent years contributing to their field. They often possess expertise that you can't find anywhere else. This means that their commitment to teaching may not be 100%-- they'd rather be doing research-- but if you son is smart and talented, and wants to take his education to the next level, being able to work with a professor is a huge advantage. Professors work on interesting new problems. Also, particularly in computer science, professors frequently have contacts in private industry, and they act as conduits to the most desirable jobs. Here's the list of my frequent employers for students in my lab: Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, IBM. We're all doing great; we love our jobs, and it's because we went to a research university.

Now, I am most certainly not saying that having a good education and getting a highly-paid, very interesting job is the exclusive domain of universities. Definitely not. I'm not even saying that you can't do it on your own. What I am saying is that you'd be foolish to conclude that they are a waste of your money (my MS and eventual PhD cost me NOTHING out of pocket). Furthermore, if you want to maximize your chances for success, you should seriously consider public universities. The amount you pay for undergrad tuition is worth the debt. The same cannot be said for many other institutions of higher learning.

Comment: Re:Manager (Score 1) 204

by raddan (#47438911) Attached to: New Microsoft CEO Vows To Shake Up Corporate Culture
You're forgetting that mobile devices need a complement to be useful: mobile services. Many of the services that we know and love-- and the many more coming down the pipeline-- all need massive amounts of computation. And the trend right now is toward more and more computation. For example, Skype (not exactly a failure) requires massive cloud resources, and the forthcoming Skype Translator will require a neural net behind the scenes.

I don't think your feelings about Windows Server contradict my point: Microsoft is moving into a software-as-a-service model. It shouldn't be surprising that you want to ditch the old model. In many ways, it doesn't matter if you don't use Microsoft handheld devices; if you do things on the Internet, you almost certainly use their cloud services. And if anything can be learned from Apple's example, it's that rapid innovation can happen when you have the capability to vertically integrate. There are really only three players out there right now that can do that: Apple, Google, and Microsoft. I think it would be silly to call any one of those companies irrelevant.

Comment: Re:Manager (Score 5, Interesting) 204

by raddan (#47438041) Attached to: New Microsoft CEO Vows To Shake Up Corporate Culture
(disclaimer: I have interned at Microsoft for the past three summers; I do not speak for them)

I think your criticism against lock-in is fair, and this is clearly one of Microsoft's strategies, and I suspect that it will continue to be to some degree. But on the language front, you are wrong. Not only are Microsoft's newest languages open-source (F#, TypeScript), but they are also cross-platform and collaboratively developed with open source groups. And, of course, you can run all .NET languages on the Mac, Linux, FreeBSD, etc. with mono.

While it is theoretically possible that all of this is a deadly Microsoft-bait-and-switch just waiting to happen, having worked at Microsoft, I can say that doing so would fly in the face of a lot of hard work by many, many people there. I was as critical about Microsoft as you were (dig into my /. history and you'll see) until I worked there. Not only is it a great place to work, but the company really is committed to changing its culture. Use of open-source tools at Microsoft used to be strictly-prohibited. Now they have a fast-track process for working with them. Open-sourcing of Microsoft software was also a complete non-starter. Now putting Microsoft code up on the web is increasingly routine, and they even have their own open-source hosting ala GitHub that has git bindings.

Microsoft is a big company (the Redmond campus is mind-bogglingly huge to me) and they have a lot of corporate momentum. Despite this, in my opinion, I've seen my daily interactions with people do a complete 180 in the last couple of years. Microsoft knows that the era of selling boxed copies of proprietary software is coming to an end. So you're simply wrong about Microsoft not being able to change.

Comment: Re:another language shoved down your throat (Score 2) 415

by raddan (#47411177) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language
Oh, right, I thought that JavaScript sucked because I was under the impression that it was dynamically typed, allowed monkey-patching, had a lame set of numeric types, poor support for sequential I/O, etc., etc., etc. Oh, wait... those things are true? But Douglas Crockford says it's Lisp-y, so that gives us license to sweep all those problems under the rug.

Comment: Precision, recall, adversarial threats? (Score 1) 138

by raddan (#47331647) Attached to: Google Starts Removing Search Results After EU Ruling
My concern is how Google handles removing things accurately. This isn't the white pages-- there isn't some person assembling these indices. They've generated by learning algorithms, and those algorithms themselves misclassify information. So how do you get all of your references removed without inflicting collateral damage? What about people with the same name? Furthermore, how does Google know that requests are legitimate? You can imagine political candidates requesting that Google remove their opponents.

Whatever algorithm Google is using to do this, I think its details are in the public interest. I'd like to see them publish its details.

Comment: Re:Calculation was flawed (Score 1) 127

by raddan (#46635689) Attached to: State Colleges May Offer Best ROI On Comp Sci Degrees
Not to mention: many UVA grads likely stay in Virginia, and Stanford grads likely stick around in Silicon Valley (e.g., 100% of the Stanford grads that I know). The cost of living in Silicon Valley is dramatically more expensive than in Virginia. E.g, the cheapest condo in Palo Alto listed on Zillow is priced at $548,000 (which is > $300k above the already insane appraisal value) and for that, you get 679 square feet. Since I was an intern, my housing was (fortunately!) covered by my employer when I worked in Mountain View, but my boss ended up taking a job elsewhere because he and his wife simply could not afford anything more spacious than an RV. If you don't adjust the salary to the cost of living, your study is fundamentally flawed.

Comment: Re:Guarantee (Score 1) 716

by raddan (#46225673) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should Developers Fix Bugs They Cause On Their Own Time?
We don't need to certify programmers, we need to certify programs. I'm not sure that certification for programmers would provide any extra benefit other than maybe being a prior on whether you think the programmer can get the job done or not (and I'm not a Bayesian, so...).

On the other hand, many properties about programs themselves can and should be verified. A great deal of current programming language research is devoted toward both improving the capabilities of automatic program verification as well as designing languages more amenable to verification. Functional languages, for instance, rule out entire classes of bugs present in imperative languages. People complain that they're hard to understand. Maybe. I argue that they're hard to understand if you're the kind of person who does not care about whether your program is correct or not.

Comment: Re:"So who needs native code now?" (Score 1) 289

by raddan (#45772467) Attached to: Asm.js Gets Faster

Unless and until some unforeseen, miraculous breakthrough happens in language design, GCd languages will always be slower when it comes to memory management. And because memory management is so critical for complex applications, GCd languages will effectively always be slower, period.

This isn't true. Have a look at Quantifying the Performance of Garbage Collection vs. Explicit Memory Management. The take-away is that GC'd languages are only slower if you are unwilling to pay an extra memory cost; typically 3-4x of your explicitly-managed program. Given that GC gives you safety from null-pointer dereferences for free, I think that's a fair tradeoff for most applications (BTW, you can run the Boehm collector on explicitly-managed code to identify pointer safety issues).

Comment: Re:Maximum precision? (Score 1) 289

by raddan (#45772395) Attached to: Asm.js Gets Faster
I was being glib. Just nitpicking on the phrase "maximum precision". Sorry, it's a bad habit developed from working around a bunch of pedantic nerds all day.

Thanks for the pointer about native ints, although I can't seem to find any kind of authoritative reference about this. This guy claims that asm.js converts these to native ints (see Section 2.3: Value Types), but his link seems to be talking about the JavaScript runtime, not the asm.js compiler. If you have a reference, I'd appreciate it if you'd send it along.

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