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Comment: Good enough for Knuth and TeX (Score 2) 488

by WillAdams (#48903353) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?

The only software tools which I have found as reliable and pleasant to use as TeX (which is said to be so full of cutting edge techinique to have revealedbugs in every Pascal compiler used to compile it) were WriteNow (~100,000 lines of assembly) and Altsys Virtuoso (Objective-C w/ NeXTstep frameworks).

Comment: reflects political environment, more like it (Score 1) 145

by SuperBanana (#48878997) Attached to: Doomsday Clock Could Move

It's more that the clock reflects the current global political climate.

Ie when Pakistan and India, both nuclear powers, are duking it out, the clock goes closer to midnight.

I strongly suspect that the announcement is due to strong rhetoric from russian leadership - I believe recently either Putin or one of his lackeys declared that they could "raze" the US. There's also been increasingly aggressive "patrols" by Russian bombers along the US and Europe, the recent sub incident in Sweden, and of course the invasion of Ukraine.

Comment: Re:It is hard not to associate this with 8chan (Score 2) 184

by Yosho (#48872219) Attached to: Moot Retires From 4chan

"Very few places" here being slashdot, youtube, reddit, twitter, and pretty much everywhere else on the internet...

You can say anything you want, but you'll probably get modded down and ignored quickly, if not banned.

And even if you don't, you've still got a reputation. Your real identity may not be attached to your posts, but you've still got an identity, and people will at least remember what you say and possibly track down your uses of that identity on other web sites.

Anonymity isn't just a feature on 4chan, it's part of the culture. Nobody can punish you for anything you say, nobody can speak louder than you, and nobody can embarass you because there is nothing linking your identity to your words.

People make a lot of noise about "evil" things being said on 4chan, but that's not quite right. There's a lot of honesty on 4chan. Without any repurcussions, shame, or punishment, everybody can say exactly what they're thinking. They're still thinking it elsewhere -- but they feel like they can vocalize it on 4chan. And there's a lot of interesting, insightful discussion that goes on there, too, especially with regards to subjects that are too taboo or embarassing to discuss in places where you have an identity.

Comment: Re:Time for a UNION! (Score 5, Insightful) 263

by metlin (#48868295) Attached to: The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees

Although this problem needs a solution, a union is not that solution. Unions are a relic of a bygone era. The core premise of a union is that employes are all the same and can be swapped in and out of work like parts in a machine (once they are trained). This leads to collective bargaining which takes back some of the power that big employers have. However it also removes individuality from the worker. If I am smarter, stronger, or more skilled than my coworkers, I want to be able to elevate myself based on my merits. A union interferes with that. You pay a union, and the union acts only in its own best interest, not in your individual best interest.

That's an incredibly selfish attitude that puts the individual interest above the interest of the collective. The irony is that collective bargaining is much more effective and is much stronger in the long run. Your self interest is great until such time that you reach a point when other, more skilled people take your place (which is inevitable, because our cognitive capabilities decline with age, not to mention that older people have more responsibilities and find it hard to work 80 hour weeks).

Even the most meritocratic of individuals can run into unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances (e.g., an accident that has you laid up, or family issues). I worked in a strictly up or out management consulting firm, and about a year ago, my pregnant wife had some issues. My son was born, prematurely, and I was in a rough place with my personal needs and professional responsibilities. My wife was hospitalized and my son was in the NICU, unable to breathe, and I was the only one who could take care of things. My employer was understanding -- for about 6 weeks -- after which things got rather unpleasant. So, I quit and joined another firm that is not only more prestigious but was also more understanding and accommodating of my needs. But I was fortunate -- I could very well have been unable to find a job, and been unemployed for a year because I wanted to take care of my family.

Union agreements ensure that in such cases, collective bargaining agreements protect everyone.

Modern skilled workers, especially in the IT and Engineering fields, are usually very specialized. This is not a good fit for a union. It would be ill advised to take a good thing and remove all motivation for creativity and the free flow of invigorating talent.

Not really. Most of what goes on in IT today is quite commoditized, and there are very few areas that are truly specialized. And it is only going to get worse as IT matures. You may think your task is highly specialized, but the truth is, there's probably someone in another part of the world willing to do it for a tenth of what you get paid. That is not specialization.

If you want real specialization, you perhaps see it in chip design, algorithmic optimization, biotech etc. You know, all those guys with PhDs who specialize in a subject?

A better solution is to simply prevent large corporations from getting away with their bullshit. No "gentleman's agreements" to prevent poaching. Stop accepting lies regarding layoffs and market performance. Reward employers for using home-grown talent rather than rewarding them with tax loopholes for moving overseas.

And how do you propose we do that? The share market is the ultimate arbiter, and the people who are rewarding the companies and the executives are the shareholders who are in for short term profit (it's the extension of the same short term myopic outlook of looking out for oneself rather than the collective).

I find that most Americans have a poor understanding of unions almost entirely rooted in propaganda, and it gets repeated again and again as gospel. The truth is, unions are immensely helpful to the labor force, especially in a service economy such as ours. Everyone thinks their skill is specialized, until it gets outsourced and commoditized.

You are not special. And despite what you may think, unions can help you negotiate agreements that would be impossible for you to go at alone.

Comment: Re:Why can't I buy an aftermarket chassis? (Score 1) 229

by WillAdams (#48864225) Attached to: Librem: a Laptop Custom-Made For Free/Libre Software

I was very sad when NeXT went under and I couldn't get a third (second upgrade) motherboard for my Cube.

Have you considered designing / machining the parts? There are replacement laptop hinges which are pretty affordable --- if you picked one from a recent model it'd probably still be available if you needed a replacement.

Comment: We're supposed to be the good guys (Score 1) 181

by WillAdams (#48850295) Attached to: NSA Hack of N. Korea Convinced Obama NK Was Behind Sony Hack

We need to limit our actions to those which:

  - increase security
  - improve communications and transparency
  - improve access

Monitoring communications has to come after that --- the whole point to a society is to maintain and increase human dignity --- any action by a government which doesn't do this is an absolute travesty and should be prosecuted as a criminal act.

Comment: strawman; nobody's asking him to be "PC" or "nice" (Score 3, Insightful) 361

by SuperBanana (#48838977) Attached to: Linus On Diversity and Niceness In Open Source

Linus is playing the "people want me to be PC" card, and mixing it in with some anti-American-ism for popularity.

Nobody's asking him to be PC. Not many people are asking him to be friendly or polite. People are asking him to not be publicly abusive, to not be a bully, and to recognize the impact his words have on others. It is perfectly possible to be an effective manager and leader without being abusive and bullying. Stick to the facts, among other things.


"Your code check-in appears to cause a bunch of compile errors, so I've rolled it back. Also, I've noticed that this isn't the first time. We're a large-scale project and it is helpful if contributors extensively validate their contributions."


"Don't you know how to validate your code? Stop wasting my time! Come back to me when you've evolved past a chimpanzee." ...and also not:

"Hello! Thank you for your code check-in! Now, I'm sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news, but there's a small problem with your code. If it's not too much trouble...." etc etc.

Comment: Daylight viewable display? (Score 1) 66

by WillAdams (#48803963) Attached to: South Africa Begins Ambitious Tablets In Schools Pilot Project

Or are the kids only going to be using these indoors?

Is anyone doing a true daylight viewable display, like the transflective LCDs which were used on Fujitsu tablets?

I need to replace my Fujitsu Stylistic ST-4121, and there simply don't seem to be any real options (need a Wacom stylus as well).

Comment: Re:3rd place vs 1st place. (Score 1) 249

by metlin (#48796261) Attached to: Education Debate: Which Is More Important - Grit, Or Intelligence?

This is a great point. When I was younger and in college, I took advantage of the fact that I could coast through my engineering classes with the barest minimum effort. So, spent them drinking, playing in a band, and chasing tail. I still graduated in the top 10, but I could have easily done much, much better. Grad school and a couple of jobs later, my philosophy changed, and from somewhere, ambition crept in.

I will say that I have accomplished a lot more with drive and mediocre application of intelligence than with intelligence and little in the way of drive or hard work.

The problem is that you need them both at the right times in your life. Otherwise, it's too late. At a different period of my life, I may have gone through with a PhD and potentially been a physicist if I had had the sense to apply both grit and intelligence.

Today, I am a management consultant, where I use my analytical skills to solve mediocre problems, but where grit and drive and many other soft skills play a role. In fact, I would argue that my intelligence has taken a back seat and I bust ass to make up for gaps in my technical skills (e.g., finance).

Sadly, I am well past the point of publishing seminal papers; but at least, I can make the best of what I have and make a boatload of money for my next generation. But you're right -- it's not coming first. It's not even coming third. It's somewhere around fifth to the tenth. Above average, if you will, but definitely not great.

Optimism is the content of small men in high places. -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Crack Up"