Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment now lets consider the next dimension ... time... (Score 1) 115

All of them should have their system train on several seconds of video to identify action: drinking, running, etc. Next, train on sequential actions to identify cause and effect. Next, train on movie,tv,news,youtube,cctv audio->text/dialog/script to identify the relationship between words, actions, cause and effect. Finally, they should build a chatbot that maps input words to actions, actions to cause, cause to effects, etc until they get back to output words. It wouldn't pass a turing test but it would be awesome. For example: Human: If I am in a dark room and I turn on the light, what will happen? If I kiss my wife, what will she do? If I get on one knee and give someone a ring, what is happening? It probably would also help with language translation: map english words to actions in english movies, map similar actions in russian movies to russian words.

Comment will it adapt to needs of schools/teachers? (Score 1) 143

I support 500K students and teachers using google drive and it is painful. If you share a file to a group and you change the group membership, the new members won't see the shared files. When you raise this issue with google's enterprise support, they tell you to find a way to make it work on your own. When you ask the question on stackoverflow, the google development team doesn't respond.

Should you move key features of your business to Google's platform when they don't implement basic sharing features correctly? In general, the big problem with using Google is that they don't need to fix things they don't like since they make their money from search and ads. It is great that their products are very low cost but if they don't fix basic features needed by your business, it is probably better to pay a little more for a product with reliable support.

Comment Re:interesting paradox (Score 1) 581

> You sound like a poor teacher.
Actually, I've been at this for a few years. I didn't want to bore you with all the things I've tried. For example, for the 51 year-old mom, I taught her the basics of computers for several days in her kitchen at night. I taught exactly the same thing night after night until she could explain it to me. The person from the restaurant wasn't at the restaurant when she was learning. I was her personal tutor. I read every code academy assignment to her and explained it to her until she said she understood. One of the things I make very clear to my students is that I don't expect them to get it the first time, or even the first 10 times. I tell them I will do anything it takes to make it easy for them to learn. Anyway, it would take way too much time to explain several years of trying different approaches.

> First of all, everyone isn't money driven.
The person at the restaurant got very sick between the time I met them and the time they agreed to take the class. By that time we were good friends and I paid the medical bills (about $3k, the person didn't have any savings after 5 years of working). Also during that time the area in which the person lives, was flooded in 3 feet of water. The person's house is similar to a shipping container.

That is why it is a paradox to me. People are not money driven. But that is missing the point entirely. The point is that they strongly dislike solving complex puzzles even if it would save (and greatly improve) their lives. I used to think they needed money, or a helping hand but there is something more fundamental. There is a hurdle that I have not seen the smart people who created Code Academy, Khan Academy, etc show they understand and know how to overcome. It is something I hope to learn.

> Learning is harder as you get older.
I think again, you miss the point. It is also a motivation problem. The 51 year-old mom is for some reason more motivated than the other students and has made the most progress. She is a few lessons from the end of Code Academy. All the others never made it past the first 3rd of the class. Their lack of progress isn't a "Learning is hard" problem.

Comment interesting paradox (Score 3, Interesting) 581

I moved to a 3rd world country a year ago to look for ways to motivate people to learn to code. I thought it would be easier in a place where the benefits and needs are the greatest. It is much harder than I thought... I used to think the people just needed the funds to go to school, a patient personal tutor and/or extremely simple lessons (think computer game).

One person (~12 years old, on school vacation) simply would not learn code. I mean, the person would not consider it for any reason. I noticed that the person can play flappy bird with a high score of 71. I justed wanted to see if a very well done game environment might motivate them. Out of curious, I asked the person to play the Ouya game, Clark, that involves solving puzzles. The person gave up after hitting a puzzle in which you have to position two blocks to prevent the robot from being killed by 2 lasers.

In another case, I was able to convince the person (~27 year-old, college graduate) to take the javascript class at code academy but it didn't sink in. This person works at a restaurant where they make $10/day working 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. I've explained to them that as software developer they can make in a year roughly what they would currently make in 30 years. I agreed to pay them to take a leave from work to learn javascript. After getting about a third of the way through the course, they still made mistakes that they should have learned in the first 5 lessons. (They couldn't remember where to put {}, (), commas, semicolons, function arguments, variable names, etc.) After 3 weeks, I decide to try a different approach. I showed them simple functions like max(number1,number2) or indexOf(array, value), etc. They could look at the solution as long as they liked. I explained it to them. The functions were only a few lines long. Then I hid the function and asked them to write it from scratch using a syntax aware IDE. If they got stuck they could look at the answer and I would explain where they were going wrong. It still took several attempts for them to write the function even when shown the answer. After that first day of the new approach, I thought I found a way get them to remember the syntax but the next day the person quit and returned to work at the restaurant.

I worked with several other people and the results are consistent. Coding is a kind of puzzle solving problem that people dislike intensely.

Out the 10 or so people, I tried to help only one has gotten very far. She is 51 year-old mother of 3, and I was surprised by that. I was actually trying to convince her kids (27, 18 and 14) to learn.

It is an interesting problem. I think there is a path to get people over their resistance but it is not obvious to me so far.

Comment flashy but ... (Score 1) 216

I liked the demo but it seems shallow to me. He has put a neat UI to connect data to and from well-known algorithms but the language solves problems I already have many solutions for. For example, when I reviewed the wolfram language docs for its support for image processing, I saw functions that are commonly provided in foss image libraries. I didn't see anything that would allow me to write code more quickly, correctly, or briefly but maybe I just missed it.

Comment ebay interview (Score 5, Interesting) 692

I walked out of an interview at ebay. In the middle of the interview, they told me the position had been filled but they wanted me to talk to one more person to complete the process. I didn't know until after that it was a "stress interview". The interviewer was clearly enjoying watching me struggle. The first question the interviewer asked was which java packages I felt comfortable using. After I told him, he said "those are the ones I won't ask you about". The best question from that interview: "If you were given a technical design document how would you tell if it is good without reading it?" Later, I ended the interview when he told me I couldn't use the whiteboard to make it easier for me to show him the answer.

Comment I am surprised that this is a surprise to you (Score 1) 353

There are all sort of bias that we have studied for a very long time. It is up to the individual however to decide if they will let that bias hold them back. I'm black and (like everyone) I encountered people who helped and others who despised me. (OP's post is saying that if you look like the people who can help, you get more help :) ) I decided to change the things that caused people to dislike me. For example, I grew up in the inner city and it took years to lose my brooklyn accent. Many minorities don't like to make the large changes required to fit into a non-minority environment. They want to be accepted for who they are (and it has gotten easier for this to happen over the years). I changed because I think it is bs the way black culture has evolved (in the context of slavery/racism in the US). But honestly, it would have been very hard to make this change without the help of my white and asian friends. For example, I had two friends, lets call them Leonard and Sheldon; BTW they are very well-known and respected dotcom millionaires now. I met them in college and they were fast friends with each other but Leonard encouraged my friendship and Sheldon ignored me. From my friendship with Leonard, I learned how to become friends with Sheldon. Learning how to become friends with Sheldon was very helpful because there are a lot of Sheldon's in the upper end of the computer field. This wouldn't have been possible without my friendship Leonard.

Comment my rules: 'main characters must be competent' (Score 1) 376

None of Prescott Harvey's rules matter to me.

My rules are more basic:

Rule 1: The audience prefers characters who are competent. Good examples are Spock, Data, Seven of Nine, Khan, Paul Atreides, Jason Bourne, etc. Bad examples are JarJar binks, Rest of Voyager crew, Prometheus crew, etc.

The Jedi Knights can free Anakin from slavery but not his mother? Wtf.

Rule 2: The "good guys" should be just as ruthless as the bad guys. In so many movies, the bad guys kill quickly and the good guys yell 'stop or I'll shoot'. That is BS. The "good guys" should be like Jack Reacher and Malcolm Reynolds.

Jedi Knights can't figure out what Count Dooku has been plotting but Count Dooku knows all about Anakin's dark secrets?

Comment I moved to the 3rd world recently... (Score 1) 174

Providing cheaper internet access is helpful but there is a lot more to fixing the 3rd world that I don't really understand. The average person makes about $1/hr. I've reached out to a few people to see if I can teach them software QA. Everyone I've spoken to seems really excited about making 10+ times what they currently make. But so far no one I've approached has actually made an effort to learn and do the work. I am living here because I'm very curious to learn why it is so hard to convince someone who makes $1/hr to put in the effort to make $10+/hr. Especially when it requires them to work less than they currently do. The work week here is 6 days and 10hrs/day (only 8 hrs is paid, they get a 2 hour break). 25% of the worker's wages are typically spent getting to work. I get the impression that "thinking" is perceived to be harder than manual labor.

Comment Re:indian programmer domination ... (Score 1) 157

"They" are Indians on H-1B/immigrants that work at major software companies like google, oracle, yahoo, etc. I'm also not concerned/worried with their ethnicity or their culture. It is truly a pleasure to work with the programmers from India that I've met. I've, however, noticed that they can form work teams/groups in which there are no non-indian members (or no non-indian lead developers). Maybe it is because there are few non-indian developers applying for a position in their group but I suspect it is more than that. I've also noticed, in my conversations with them, that they feel that non-indian developers are not as smart as indian developers. In fact, there was a article a few years ago about India based software companies having to lower their standards to accept non-indian developers. I suspect that the Indian programmers I've worked with, have on average a higher CompSci GPA than the american educated software developer population because the H-1B visa selection process means we get the brightest people on average. At google, there there was a time when it was felt that the fact that most Indian people speak 3+ languages also meant (correlated) that they had higher IQs than the average amercian educated developer. When those India developers form a team/group, they can get to a state where they don't feel a non-indian developer is good enough to join them. It is not a social, ethnic, cultural conflict in that they are very respectful and enjoyable to work with. But I don't think the minority non-indian developer in majority indian group will not get the same opportunities as the indian members. This was probably true when there were large concentrations of white software developers in the top software companies. I am just curious if others have noticed this (It wouldn't be the first time I got it wrong :)

Comment Re:indian programmer domination ... (Score 2) 157

I used to see rates in the $100/hr+ in the SF bayarea. When I consulted in the dot com bubble, it was expected that consulting rates would be double a full-time salary. Not any more.
Recently, I've seen rates in the $50/hr to $60/hr range. But my 27 year-old friend has a full-time bayarea job that pays $180k so it makes no sense to take a $50/hr contract without benefits, vacation, etc.
The connection to 'Indian programmer' is that most of the recruiters I run into are indian and state strongly that a $100/hr+ rate is unrealistic. I suspect that is the case given the number of Indian programmers who are happy with $50/hr.
(I am consulting now but my long-term employer lets me work overseas so I travel a lot and I am willing to accept a lower rate in exchange for that perk).

The Wright Bothers weren't the first to fly. They were just the first not to crash.