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Comment Re:But do we really need a separate CS dept anymor (Score 1) 112

Wow, I've been working on network protocols and performance for nearly 20 years, and I've only encountered a little calculus in a handful of research papers. It's never been necessary for my work. In fact, I have a hard time imagining the kind of work that would require calculus.

Numerical analysis? Sure, but you'd probably want to bulk up on the math for that kind of work anyway.

I was required to take three semesters of calculus for my CS degree. I think that any educated person should have a basic understanding of calculus, so one of those was not a waste, but I sure wish that I'd spent those two extra semesters learning more graph theory or computability or information theory or just statistics, any of which could've come in handy. As it is, meh.

Comment Re:The Department of Redundancy Department (Score 1) 628

Right on!

If businesses really needed more STEM graduates, they could send a very clear signal, and we've yet to see that signal.

(We *are* seeing surging enrollments of CS students, but you're absolutely right that making the argument that way is far sounder than talking about mere rhetoric from business.)

Comment Re:"What were you thinking?" (Score 1) 628

Last I checked, the department was rated 39th nationally, and it brought 17% of the money to the College of Engineering while only costing 10% of the budget. It's not that the department wasn't delivering, it's that there is some ugly internal politics going on:


Comment Re:The Department of Redundancy Department (Score 1) 628

Did you read the original article? The CS program at UF is ranked 39th in the country. Not amazing, but certainly not worthy of being shut down. I see plenty of employers begging for more H1B's because we can't produce enough software folks for industry, so I'd say that, yeah, we do need just as many CS programs as we can get.

Comment Re:Take it from another physicist (Score 1) 279

And, yet, you should be careful about which academics you listen to, as well. Many folks go straight from undergraduate work to graduate work to a post-doc, and so on, without ever experiencing industry (and if you're gonna protest, "What about that summer I spent working for IBM?" then you're part of the problem) or, often, any part of the world of work as the rest of us understand it. (And, again, "I worked in the library shelving books for work-study," ain't it.)

Given all that, "Gee, the work's not so hard and the rewards aren't so slight," might not be very accurate. Asking the rest of us, who've actually worked in the "real world" (for some definition of "real world") and also watched academics in action from close range (parents and partner and working at research institutions), might be useful.

It's possible to find a rewarding (and not just financially rewarding) job that let's you use your skills and brainpower to change the world for the better. I'd argue that it's not even that hard to find one, depending on your skills and talents. If you want to get a PhD, more power to you, but make sure that you understand the tradeoffs you'll be making.

If you do go for it, go in with the understanding that academia as we know it is facing a bunch of significant challenges -- funding, distance learning, etc. -- and it may go through some pretty radical changes in your lifetime.

Comment Gotta encourage developers (Score 1) 115

Ack, "that risks becoming abandonware?" How do you know?

It might be pretty insulting for the current maintainer to find out that you think the software is not advancing quickly enough. I mean, if there's really nothing going on, new patches aren't being incorporated, etc., then, yeah, it might be a good time to look at some options. If it is just that the current maintainer isn't doing what you want, working hard to support your current platform, is doing this on weekends when they have some spare time, etc., then perhaps you should think about ways to encourage and help the current maintainer. Getting them a set of patches for whatever functionality you want to add is a lot more effective than posting to Slashdot.

Again, there aren't enough details to know which kind of problem you have (real abandonware or a cranky user), but it would be good to think about this before proceeding.

Comment Re:If all your developers were Ken Thompson... (Score 1) 495

Meh, folks should also realize that Ken Thompson is almost certainly writing proof-of-concept research code, where it would be pointless to get a code review. He's trying to get a demo working to show that his idea works, then he'll throw it over the wall and move on. He'll get his code review when somebody else builds on his code to make a production-quality product.

Comment Re:Surprised it *DIDN'T* Happen (Score 2) 191

If you by "laissez-faire approach", you mean, "created it from scratch with millions in DARPA, and then NSF, funding," then, yeah. And, if you'll remember, there were pretty strict content restrictions on the NSFnet. Thank goodness some small part of the government "got it" and fostered the Internet, or the scenario outlined in the (really crappy) Slate article might've been more likely.

Comment Sarndonix as an example!? (Score 1) 596

Let's see, the guy builds a tool (Sardonix) to help with code review. Nobody wants to use it. Clearly this means that Open Source enthusiasts aren't willing to do code review. It couldn't be something simpler, like, say, the Sardonix model not working or the tool sucking. It's clearly the fault of the users.

Yeesh, that's the kind of game-winning strategy that'll keep bringing in those DARPA grants (again, I only know what I read in the article; it may well be that the Sardonix folks *did* assume that they needed to change their approach and the author of this piece is just blowing smoke).


Microsoft Game Software Preps Soldiers For Battle 44

coondoggie writes "Soldiers may go into battle better prepared to handle equipment and with a greater knowledge of their surroundings after an intellectual property licensing deal Monday between Microsoft and Lockheed Martin that will deepen the defense giant's access to visual simulation technology. The intellectual property agreement between the two focuses on Microsoft ESP, a games-based visual simulation software platform for the PC."

Comment protecting medically sensitive data!? WTF? (Score 1) 223

In the executive summary (sorry, I haven't finished all 400 pages yet), they suggest that, "Medical sensitive data should always be protected to preserve the privacy of the the victims and their families." WTF?

It seems to me that we spend billions of dollars to train and deploy the astronauts as human guinea pigs to help understand space and spaceflight. A huge pool of applicants are winnowed down to a tiny, privileged astronaut cadre. These folks have every chance to opt out -- any and all data about what happened to them and why and how should be available.

I'm not talkin' about naked astronaut pictures, but it seems like just about everything short of that should be available. Anybody who isn't comfortable with that sort of disclosure can just stay on the ground.

The only difference between a car salesman and a computer salesman is that the car salesman knows he's lying.