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Comment: Military grade? (Score 1) 46

I thought military grade meant reliable, rugged, and manufactured by the lowest bidder. High performance doesn't really seem like its part of the package.

I would rather have something commercial or enterprise grade if I'm after performance, or consumer grade if I am after price. Maybe military grade if its for a toddler and I don't want it to be destroyed instantly...

Comment: What does "Automatically Selecting Targets" Mean? (Score 1) 514

by roeguard (#45902599) Attached to: Weapons Systems That Kill According To Algorithms Are Coming. What To Do?

While the first thing that comes to mind is a machine that instantly targets and destroys, I wonder if this could be something more methodical. Since "friendly" human lives aren't on the line for the decision maker, these could be used to slow down the process of determining whether or not to use lethal force.

For example, much larger sets of data could be used that just "Looks like a bad guy with a gun and I think he might want to shoot me." With facial recognition, individual enemy combatants could be tracked, and autonomous lethal force only authorized after confirming the target has been actively involved in a prior action.

I'm probably being overly optimistic, but without adrenaline, threat of immediate bodily harm, etc; the option to slow things down and not just react under fire is a new luxury human soldiers aren't (reasonably) afforded.

Comment: Re:Fuel efficiency is nice, but... (Score 1) 368

by roeguard (#45893429) Attached to: Australian Team Working On Engines Without Piston Rings

Good point. Now that I think about it, of the two cars that I drove into the ground, it was the transmission catastrophically failing at around 200k miles that did them in -- in both cases I had the engine rebuilt/replaced/recalled long before that.

So what we really need is a heat-less, fiction-less transmission! ;)

Comment: Fuel efficiency is nice, but... (Score 5, Insightful) 368

by roeguard (#45883313) Attached to: Australian Team Working On Engines Without Piston Rings

Extra fuel efficiency would be nice, but I am most excited about the prospect of the engine itself lasting longer. Less friction = less heat, less wear & tear, etc. A cool, frictionless engine could potentially last for half-million miles before needing replacement. At my paltry 10-20k miles per year, I could potentially never have to buy another car again.

Comment: Re:In your dreams (Score 1) 207

The nutty conservative fringe - I'm not talking about rational conservatives who want to put checks on government power and spending - I'm talking mostly about social conservatives who want government to regulate what one does behind closed doors.

Social conservatives don't just want to regulate what happens behind closed doors -- they want to outlaw it altogether. Because like all good hypocrites, its not how they would publicly admit to doing things.

At the same time, the similarly radical element of the social progressives want to regulate what happens behind closed doors by paying for it with taxpayer funds and making sure we do it the "right way" and with "equality". Like a parent who keeps paying your rent well after college but demands you be home every weekend for "family time".

Control is still control.

Comment: Re:PRAISE?!? (Score 1) 283

by roeguard (#45771595) Attached to: Mikhail Kalashnikov: Inventor of AK-47 Dies At 94

In a way, it's an argument related to the old debunked Nazi death camp soldier "just following orders" defence (albeit it much less extreme).

I don't recall that being completely debunked. If anything, the opposite. Not that it's a good thing, but it takes a certain sort of person to willfully resist the orders of a "legitimate" authority. An unfortunate downside for those who have a respect for the rule of law...

Comment: Re:brace yourself (Score 3, Insightful) 453

Not really angry. More disappointed.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we don't get any kind of respect in engineering. Because that's what they see in us: glorified self marketers. The fact that they couldn't wrap their feeble minds around a tenth of what we have to understand intimately doesn't matter. What matters is that we're notoriously bad at coding. Self-marketing, too.

I guess I'm not the only one who is amazed again and again how simple, trivial concepts can be impossible to grasp for allegedly intelligent people. And of course I consider what I can do fairly trivial because, well, let's be honest, it is. Still, there is an amazingly small subset of the human species that can even begin to understand what I'm actually doing. My move to engineering was quite an eye opener, and it showed me just HOW much people in development don't really understand about their company.

But they're good at coding. They're great at selling their ability that parallels the feat of being able to write out a couple lines of gibberish as the biggest achievement in human history. Because, well, in a nutshell, "computer programming skills" are trivial, at best. I was at first very intimidated by the idea that I should now "program". Turns out it's not that much different from what you have to do anyway while you actually should be doing the normal day-to-day work, just leave out communicating that work to others and you got it.

And that's simply what it boils down to: management is really bad at writing code. We still mostly rely on getting the job done and getting it done well and hoping that people will notice. Bullshit, people don't care. People only listen to the loudmouth who keeps tooting his own horn.

If you don't make any effort to appreciate how difficult and important skillful management is, how can you expect understanding from the other side of the aisle? Just because someone is over a team or has the word "manager" in their title doesn't mean they know what they are doing any more than a half of the coders out there -- be honest, at least half the code you read is garbage. It doesn't mean that coding is a trivial skill any more than management is a trivial skill. If anything, it proves the opposite.

Comment: Re:How safe? (Score 1) 947

by roeguard (#45225525) Attached to: How Safe Is Cycling?

Google is your friend, it can show you every last killed and injured biker.

http://www.nhtsa.gov/Bicycles
http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811743.pdf

OTOH there are 89 car related deaths each and every day in the US, those too do not make the front page.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year

From the links, bicycle fatalities accounts for about 2% of traffic fatalities each year. I highly doubt that as much as 2% of travelers are using bicycles.

Comment: Re:Project Managers (Score 1) 473

by roeguard (#45169977) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Hardest Things Programmers Have To Do?

In my experience, you only need one person in that team to be competent -- a decent project manager can plan for an incompetent coder, and an good coder can direct an incompetent project manager.

The real problem is if both are incompetent. And since competency varies from project to project, even within the same person...

Comment: Re:Utopia? (Score 1) 754

by roeguard (#45074181) Attached to: Digital Revolution Will Kill Jobs, Inflame Social Unrest, Says Gartner

We could have a utopia if the capitalists weren't so firmly in control of our government. Instead we have a dystopia with poverty, disease and social unrest... perhaps that could lead to a better government but it will be messy and the outcome is far from certain.

By any objective measure, the US has less poverty and disease than pretty much any time/place in history. (Unless of course, you define poverty as the lowest paid 5% of the population, but then there isn't much anyone can do to eliminate that -- there will always be a bottom 5% of earners.)

Our biggest problem right now is indeed social unrest, and I think its fair to attribute that to capitalism. For the first time in history, effectively our entire economy is focusing on "Wants" and not "Needs" due to unprecedented productivity gains. That will likely shift the moral foundation of what money represents, strengthening it as a way to keep score among socially conscious, and further reducing its initial role as an abstraction of value provided to the community.

Comment: Experts on aggression? (Score 2) 120

by roeguard (#44701731) Attached to: Study Suggests Violent Video Games May Make Teens Less Violent

Somehow I doubt the contributors to "Journal of Youth and Adolescence" are focused experts in human aggression. I similarly wouldn't put much confidence in any paper they published regarding how well children are able to code complex database applications.

The US Military has a large body of research they've conducted over the past 60 years in exactly how to cultivate and control aggression in youths, which is why our soldiers are some of the most lethal on the planet. They also have a similarly large body of research on how to inhibit it -- its instructive how relatively few war crimes have been committed by US Soldiers over the past decade in our many myriad wars.

My layman's summary of their research? Video games are excellent training simulators for violence, but don't actually cause aggression. Aggression is cultivated/controlled through supervised training (or lack thereof). Very similar to Milgram's findings in the 60s.

Dave Grossman's books do a pretty good job of explaining this research in an relatively accessible way.

Comment: Re:Not always for the better (Score 1) 374

by roeguard (#39851739) Attached to: Is Humanity Still Evolving?

Fertility rates among the more educated members of society have dropped like a rock while birth rates are still high among the lower third. It can be argued that education is a poor survival trait.

I think its important to point out that it isn't intelligence that is being selected against -- there are plenty of intelligent (albeit ignorant) people breeding up a storm.

It bothers me tremendously that this is the case. I believe the following to be true:
1) Natural Selection / Evolution are true, and select for "better" traits over "worse" ones.
2) Knowledge is power, and Education is a good thing.

So when I see what appears to be a selection against education in birth rates, my conclusion is that something about our educational system is broken. I don't know what that is specifically, but I'm not really open to challenging the above 2 assumptions right now. Maybe that makes me ignorant?

A large number of installed systems work by fiat. That is, they work by being declared to work. -- Anatol Holt

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