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Comment: This should be the common case, though. (Score 5, Insightful) 140

by shess (#49366681) Attached to: NSA: We Mulled Ending Phone Program Before Edward Snowden Leaks

Big deal. If you are running a program which costs money or time, you should be considering whether it is worth running periodically regardless of whether it's a program to collect phone data or bringing donuts to the office. If you aren't revisiting that decision, you're doing your job badly.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they're doing a good job. Just that "Oh, yeah, we considered cancelling that program" is a stupid comment which doesn't excuse anything. Most likely they kept the program more because you don't give up power and money once you have it, and they really didn't care about efficacy.

Comment: Re:Heisenberg compensator ... (Score 1) 83

by shess (#49342395) Attached to: Researchers Identify 'Tipping Point' Between Quantum and Classical Worlds

You think you have problems? I'm still trying to get my head around "It's both a particle... AND a wave!". How the f--- does that work? It doesn't even make any sense! It's insane! Wave things are not particles, and particle things are not waves!

Don't misunderstand our ability to comprehend something for the reality of the thing. We have tools for particles, we have tools for waves, so we see a thing and think "It's a particle! No, wait, it's a wave! That's weird, it's both!" In reality, it is what it is, regardless of our ability to comprehend it. In some sense there is no human-scale reality to these things, they are mathematical constructs of a certain sort, with interpretations that happen to simplify things in certain cases.

[When I say "human-scale reality" I mean that an electron is not like a tiny tiny baseball, with well-defined boundaries and position and speed.]

Comment: man rm (Score 4, Interesting) 329

by shess (#48830137) Attached to: Steam For Linux Bug Wipes Out All of a User's Files

From the rm(1) man page on most Linux distros:
              --no-preserve-root do not treat '/' specially (the default)

              --preserve-root
                    fail to operate recursively on '/'

Why --preserve-root isn't the default is beyond me, since it would be generally faster to re-create the filesystem if that's what you _really_ wanted.

Comment: Re:To be fair (Score 1) 200

by shess (#48608619) Attached to: NASA's $349 Million Empty Tower

It's simply not realistically possible to always perfectly plan multiple complex multi-year projects, when every your budget gets cut a little further, and you never know -- it's a roll of the dice -- if or how much it's going to get cut by -- then there is the secondary knock-on effect that of the small budget that remains*, the managers need to very carefully decide where to constantly try shift things around to try keep remaining projects going. The rocket program canceled in 2010 was probably canceled due to budget cuts. NASA's budget has consistently been cut, what, every year for the past 15 years? You can't entirely blame NASA - nobody can plan properly under those circumstances. Nobody, not you, or me, could end up not wasting any of it as a result of the constant shunting around.

If NASA had that same attitude in the 60's, the U.S. would still be trying to put its first man in space.

I think the point is that it isn't NASA's attitude which makes these things happen, it's the attitude of Congress.

Comment: Re:No, school should not be year-round. (Score 4, Insightful) 421

by shess (#47639587) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

Kids should have at least a couple of months out of the year when they can just not worry about their studies and have fun and BE KIDS.

The root problem is that school is a stultifying experience in the first place, arguing about whether you're going to somehow improve kids lives by varying the length of vacations isn't really going to change that at all.

One of the reasons we moved our kids to a year-round Montessori school was because of the incredible amount of emphasis public schools have on attendance, at all costs, even at the elementary level. You want to take your kids to Washington, DC to visit the Smithsonian? Fuck that, it's more important for their butts to be in seats at school than to actually engage their minds on something new and challenging. Since we now pay out-of-pocket directly, the main rule on attendance is basically not to be disruptive. Got a chance to take them to the state capitol for a visit on Friday? That's great, go for it!

Comment: Re:Cry Me A River (Score 5, Insightful) 608

by shess (#47415261) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

No, he has a point. Back in the day, we had few tools and we learned how to use them.

now, we have a tool for every hour of the week, and as soon as you've mastered one, someone comes along and says "your skills are sooo obsolete, you must learn now or fall behind", so you get to grips with it and start top master it, and then realise its a pile of poop and hunt around for a new, cooler tech to use instead.

Apologies, but we still have all those old tools. We just don't use them any longer. Because you can't use Turbo Pascal to make web pages, but you can use jQuery. If you were working on the same problems today as you were working on 20 years ago, you probably would be using many of the same tools. The only reason you're using the new tools is because you'd rather spend 20 hours throwing something together versus 20 weeks writing it from scratch.

Honestly, if you think this is different than it was in the 90s and 80s, then you weren't paying attention in the 90s and 80s. The technical periodicals were FULL of the new stuff that was going to change everything. The only real difference is that it's easier to find stuff and get distracted these days, simply because the industry is much larger. I assume it was similar as you go back further, I just am not old enough to remember it first hand.

Comment: Re:Rewarding the bullies... (Score 3, Insightful) 798

Here's the thing: Everyone has been bullied at some point in their life. Not all children are prone to it, but there is always a bigger kid prone to intimidation tactics when growing up.

Getting bullied that once, for a few minutes, is kind of different from being frightened of school itself because you keep getting slammed into lockers, etc. In one case, a thing happened to you and you move on. In the other case it becomes a formative epoch in your life which you spend decades dealing with, if you ever manage it.

Comment: Re: Obligatory Trainspotting (Score 1) 692

by shess (#46022017) Attached to: Blowing Up a Pointless Job Interview

I do agree on the point that blowing interviews is a bit pretentious. But there are a lot of times an interviewer has clearly asked questions "over the line" or that identify this company as a terrible fit.

Maybe, but I wouldn't judge by any of those low standard questions. Either the interviewer is from HR, then his competence does not necessarily say anything about the engineers technical competences and team atmosphere. Or the guy might still be a quite good engineer and just sucks at interview planning, or was scheduled on short notice to do the interview for another team. I'd probably tell the interviewer that I consider the questions a bit generic, took the time to learn the usually expected answers, but would prefer to go into more job-specific topics. Depending on the reaction, I can still blow the interview, or if they consider the interview blown because of this, I could probably live with it.

My experience from the other side of the table is that candidates who express attitude about the kinds of questions you're asking also tend to be candidates who don't really answer any of the questions very well. In fact, IMHO interviewing candidates helps when you're interviewing for a position. You want to waste our time discussing what order a bunch of C++ constructor anti-patterns execute in? Bully, lets get this done and move on to something more interesting. Even if you just failed part of _my_ interview of _you_, I'm here already and it's free practice.

Also: If you think these are stupid questions, then obviously you've never had to meet with customers to analyze their needs.

Comment: Re:Here's how I handle it... (Score 3, Insightful) 388

by shess (#45929171) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Misdirected Email?

I was getting some emails about an event of this type from a gal who thought I was her son. I gave a sarcastic response like this, saying that while I'm sure would be enjoyable, my wife and kids weren't really interested in traveling to Arkansas for my wedding, etc. She politely explained things again, so I suspect that the real son involved probably must also respond sarcastically, and I think she was kind of offended that I was making light of this important event. I switched into the mode I'd use to explain such an issue to my actual mom, it worked a lot better. I hope things worked out for them. *sniff*.

In the end, crafting the witty response was a fine idea the first half-dozen times, but after awhile I just got tired of it. It's not like there's any payback, generally these people aren't early-adopters who get a laugh out of it, they're already confused by all this technology, so my comebacks are basically just mean. It's not my job to fix things for these various people who don't know their own email addresses, so mostly I just filter the emails away and move on.

-scott

Comment: Circle around for awhile. (Score 3, Insightful) 254

by shess (#44024679) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Start Reading Other's Code?

Spend an afternoon or three skimming around the code pulling threads and following them. Jump around kind of randomly, if things start making sense in one module, go somewhere else for awhile. Take frequent breaks. Take notes about what you think things are doing, or perhaps ideas about how to improve the code - but don't start improving things now, you just want to figure out how much you're in for.

After awhile doing that, you should have a few ideas about good accomplishable problems, now pick one and go deep for a limited time (hour, afternoon, week, depends on the scope of the code and your commitment to it). Again, keep notes, and then throw all your work away (or check it in somewhere - but don't focus on shipping, that detracts from learning). Again, go somewhere else in the code, fix something, take notes, throw it away. Alternate back and forth between research and application, trying not to bias towards one or the other (which can be a form of procrastination).

Now throw away all your notes. They were written by someone who had no idea what was going on. By now you're pretty sure you know what's going on (you don't) and how to make things better (you have no idea), so circle around for another pass. Stop when you start finding that your notes seem to be recognizing actual immediately-actionable problems and solutions, rather than hypothesis and speculation. Or just stop because you're now so busy fixing things that you don't have time for exploration.

Comment: Re:Comms and network testing needs hardware!!! (Score 1) 79

by shess (#43761677) Attached to: RPiCluster: Another Raspberry Pi Cluster, With Neat Tricks

I'm sorry, but ... what? The locking and other interprocess overhead will not increase on a multi-core single-node solution, it will decrease. If your system can run lock-free on the multi-node solution, they can run lock-free on a multi-core solution. It's a fleet of processes talking to each other via TCP/IP either way (except on a single-node solution you have additional options like UNIX-domain sockets or named pipes).

The only way I could see it possibly being a win is if the system being simulated is itself composed of raspberry pi devices, which isn't at all clear, given that the researcher originally was apparently fine using a shares Xeon cluster in the first place.

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354

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