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Comment Not always true (Score 1) 152

I dislike over generalizations, and while i agree with the theme of the article, this is my objection.

Take the flip side. If you have a programmer developing software in a business area that she or he has no prior training or formal education in or kniwledge of, would you consider that programmer to be useless and worthless?

I suspect the true answer lies somewhere in between, and is also subjective. In a given project team, the effectiveness of an individual (manager or otherwise) is dependant on how well that individual is able to use their skills to help the team achieve their project goals.

That does not mean that every single individual has to technical. It only means that the individual has to be highly effective in what they do, and their effectiveness should be aligned to benefit the team.

For example, if a team is developing an accounting software, a manager who is an accountant could be as effective as a purely technical manager. The accountant manager still needs to understand software and system limits/tradeoffs, but by that token, the engineers in her team aldo need to understand accounting. And if a bright engineer can pick up accounting basics on the fly, then a bright accountant can also pick up technology basics.

Assuming that the latter is not possible is just hubris and snobbery, IMHO.

Comment Re: Never (Score 1) 118

Apparently PMP doesn't include reading comprehension, because you're attacking straw-men. Go back and read what I wrote, and see if you can come up with a more coherent response.

I will try to reword my response so that you are capable of understanding my straight-forward point.

Most of your post is trying to explain why PMP is important. You do it by saying, "the person will have to learn X, the person will have to learn Y, the person will have to know Z." In other words, to show that the certification has value, you also show that a person can learn something by getting the cert.

A certification does not teach, it certifies.

CERTIFY (transitive verb)
- attest or confirm in a formal statement.
"the profits for the year had been certified by the auditors"
synonyms: verify, guarantee, attest, validate, confirm, substantiate, endorse, vouch for, testify to;

- officially recognize (someone or something) as possessing certain qualifications or meeting certain standards.

The irony is thick here. You accuse me of a lack of reading comprehension skills, while you do not understand the meaning of the word, "certification".

You're trying to come up with some roundabout logic that a certification implies learning, or forces you to learn, but that is incorrect. It is subjective and may hold true for some. But I will repeat, a certification is not meant to teach. Technical certification or otherwise.

Of course there are people who already have the skill.....should they get the certification? Usually those people already know if the cert is worth getting or not. They don't ask that question. Furthermore, for those people, a certification is not hard to get, spend a few hours taking the test, a few hundred dollars, no big deal, if they have to.

In some cases, certifications are mandatory. Civil aviation for example. In most countries, an aircraft engineer (the guy who inspects your aircraft before it takes off) needs to be certified by a central civil aviation governance body. They get certified and licensed for a specific model of aircraft and have to periodically renew their license to continue to do their job. Regardless of what skills they possess or how many years they have been doing it.

If a certification is not hard to get, and if it adds value to your resume (or so you think), then I am not sure why someone would not get it. It sounds like a no-brainer. And in some ways, it the same argument that someone would make to get a college degree. And many would advice you to get it, even though the cost and time commitment are non-trivial.

The entire argument in this thread hinges around a "bottom of the barrel" argument. If you are being interviewed for a job by incompetents, or work in an oganization that values certification over skill, that is a different matter. However, these two aspects (organizations valuing certifications, and organizations valuing skills) are not mutually exclusive. There are many organizations that value both, and people who do not hold this easy to get certification, are at a disadvantage. Just as someone from a good school does enjoy some advantages even in good engineering oriented or dynamic organizations.

And by your logic, no-one should be required to get a driver's license, especially for those people who feel really confident of their driving skills.

And jeez man, you don't have to get antagonistic. You triggered me off, and I realize it in hindsight. So I guess I am too.

Comment Re: Never (Score 1) 118

You are oversimplifying this. Project management is not one skill. It is a collection of skills, techniques, adherence to certain processes and best practices.

Most people acquire these skills on the job, either hands on, or by getting mentored by others or by watching others or even through past failures.

But that could still mean that a technically skilled project manager is still lacking awareness of some aspects that she or he should be considering. Even simple things like doing effort estimation correctly. By doing it anonymously and via consensus for example (wideband delphi or planning poker) instead of making unilateral judgment calls on estimates. I mention this because i see technically strong managers often run roughshod over their team, sneer at the estimates their team provides or shame them publicly, mico manage the technical design, etc.

You can also do the agile equivalent of PMP and become a certified scrum master, but in all these cases, the certification is meant to test your awareness of project mgmt fundamentals.

Yes, they will ask you to drink their koolade a bit. PMP will ask you to read the PMBOK for example. But the certification is not meant to train. It is meant to be a forcing function for you to educate yourself on all these aspects.

The point remains though.. how is it a completely bogus endeavor? I buy the point that focusing solely on certifications during hiring is stupid. And a pmp will not make a technically weak person a great manager.

But that is only misuse of the certification. It still has value if used correctly.

Comment Re: Never (Score 1) 118

You have it backwards. The name should give you a hint too. A certification is meant to certify a certain skill or capability that you should already possess. It also certifies that you are aware of the process and formal rigor you are supposed to follow when you handle certain responsibilities.

Such as project management. A PMP certification for example certifies that you know how to handle various aspects of project management. It also certifies that you make the right judgment calls in handling various ambiguous situations.

While everyone on this thread is loving to hate PMP, the flip side is that i have seen many bright engineers and leads become project managers, handle some core aspects brilliantly, but completely ignore other aspects. Such as communication. Or establishing a change management process. Or failing to get the buy in of all stakeholders. Or even identifying all stakeholders and keeping them adequate in the loop and communicating to them.

A PMP also requires you to prove that you have a few thousand hours of project mgmt under your belt. They also audit you quite frequently to verify your claim by checking the references you provide.

And most PMPs are not even in the software industry. It is far more sought after and considered important in construction, civil engg, etc. In industries where you cannot dick around and screw up a big project because you, the project manager, are not even aware of the various things you need to consider. Being bright unfortunately is not enough in these situations. Things like workload buildup and identifying critical paths and dependencies and having a formal risk mitigation plan.. this is not fluff. If your cement mixer arrives and your people are not ready, you are incurring losses.

I am not glamorizing PMP. Yes, it has become a magic wand in some cases. But most of the replies make grand ill informed claims about how trashy PMP is. I beg to differ. It is a certification by a well established neutral body that does its due diligence. The trainers might be shady but the certification is not.

You can flame me now.

Comment Re: More and more abstraction (Score 1) 289

Not sure why this post was downmodded. It really is true. A significant part of developing a piece of software or a service is in the plumbing, the mechanics, the boilerplate code, the rote incremental work that needs to be.. done.

And this becomes worse. A major cost and effort of any software is in its maintenance phase, not the design or even development phase. Now the job of maintaining the software; through L1, L2, and L3 support; becomes even more menial and labor intensive.

And this is exactly the same evolution path that the manufacturing industry went through, and is going through.

So the resentment at low cost IT workers is not that different from the resentment that Asimov portrays in his books, where people hate robots because they think the robots will replace them.

And yeah, they are all right. Only the adapts survive.

Comment Re: They also believe (Score 1) 129

Don't be silly. We went from cars to the moon because two of the richest and most powerful countries funneled a significant part of their money, talent, and resorces to make it happen. And had deep pockets to survive multiple failures and ability to spend zillions of dollars.

Compare this to a startup that seems to have equally grandiose ambition but a fraction of the ability and resources.

Nobody is pulling you down from trying any of these moonshot ideas. But if you want people to really believe that you have a good chance of succeeding, you need to do more than have fancy ambitions. Especially if you are asking people to i vest their money and their careers on your dreams.

Too many people are drinking the bay area koolade.

Comment Re: Obvious fail is obvious... (Score 1) 391

That is funny and actually true for many audiophiles. The burn in myth.

But i find it interesting that no one called out ars on their shoddy experiment. If you are going to bother going through a scientific ish experiment, at least do it in a better manner.

Someone who buys a "high performance part" would be doing it on a system with other components that are well built. DACs and preamps and power amps and sources with well built power supplies, components with matching impedances, high quality speakers or headphones that offer neutral and accurate audio reproduction. Such as Sennheiser 800s or even studio monitors.

And you use well mastered and well recorded audio that has enough instruments, enough detail, enough dynamic range, enough variety - that you are testing accurately and comprehensively.

If you are going to test a high end car part for example, no matter how hokum it sounds, you will still test it on a high performance car, on a track, and driven by pro or amateur racers. In other words, enthusiasts.

You will not likely put the replacement part in a corolla and ask someone to drive it on neighborhood lanes.

Apologies for the car analogy. But i find it disingenuous that no one has sarcasm and derision when people spend stupid money on cars, parts, components, etc. And there are ricers and there are serious performance enthusiasts, and there are people who will pay a million for a vintage.

But there is a special kind of sneering that happens only with high end audio equipment. I submit that there is a lot of snake oil, as it is in many other pursuits and hobbies as well. But getting accurate audio reproduction is extrely difficult and fiddly. The component setup is extremely fragile in terms of how small inocuous component changes do make audible differences. Good or bad. And that is what some take advantage of.

You can choose where you want to draw the line.. i.e. how much of an enthusiast you want to be. But as in other pursuits, for the true enthusiast, there is often no point of diminishing return. There is only the pursuit.

So be gentle, please!

Comment Re:Compustick (Score 1) 158

There are tons of super compact PCs available nowadays with Intel and AMD chips. They are larger than the ridiculously small Compute Stick but are still only as big as a few CD cases.

Like this AMD A6 based Zotac ZBOX for example. Fully built up with 4GB RAM, 64GB SSD, AMD HD8250 graphics - can be easily used as a dumb terminal (even as a decent standalone). Then use a remote desktop app to control your desktop. And get a wireless keyboard like Logitech K400 (or its big brother). You will still not be able to game (possibly) but you can pretty much do everything else.

Comment Re:So, what's the plan? (Score 1) 63

Sure, all you need is another $3,000 software package (and
another $2,495 per year to keep it up to date) to let you do
anything with the FPGA... no problem, right?

Everyone has that kind of cash laying around for every box
they own!

Oh, you forgot $10k in annual support cost.

That's absolutely not a problem when you are running computational workloads for your business that has millions riding on it. Doesn't even have to be mission critical stuff. Even for regular analytics (never mind the "big-data" buzzword). $6k for a significant performance boost (even for specific workloads) and reconfigurability is a piddly amount.

Comment Power savings (Score 5, Interesting) 98

One has to give it to AMD. Despite their stock and sales taking a battering, they have consistently refused to let go of cutting edge innovation. If anything, their CPU team should learn something from their GPU team.

On the topic of HBM, the most exciting thing is the power saving. This would potentially shave off 10-15W from the DRAM chip and possibly more from the overall implementation itself - simply because this is a far simpler and more efficient way for the GPU to address memory.

To quote:
"Macri did say that GDDR5 consumes roughly one watt per 10 GB/s of bandwidth. That would work out to about 32W on a Radeon R9 290X. If HBM delivers on AMD's claims of more than 35 GB/s per watt, then Fiji's 512 GB/s subsystem ought to consume under 15W at peak. A rough savings of 15-17W in memory power is a fine thing, I suppose, but it's still only about five percent of a high-end graphics cards's total power budget. Then again, the power-efficiency numbers Macri provided only include the power used by the DRAMs themselves. The power savings on the GPU from the simpler PHYs and such may be considerable."

For high end desktop GPUs, this may not be much, but this provides exciting possibilities for gaming laptop GPUs, small formfactor / console formfactor gaming machines (Steam Machine.. sigh), etc. This kind of power savings combined with increased bandwidth cna be a potential game changer. You can finally have a lightweight thin gaming laptop that can still do 1080p resolution at high detail levels for modern games.

I know Razer etc already have some options, but a power efficient laptop GPU from the AMD stable will be a very compelling option for laptop designers. And really, AMD needed something like Fiji - they really have to dig themselves out of their hole.

Comment Re:Great power (Score 2) 115

The article says "error rate of just 4.58 percent ... Google's system scored a 95.2% and Microsoft's, a 95.06%". That means Google's and Microsoft's error rates are absolutely terrible and they really should just toss a coin!

Err no.. that was just terrible reporting. Google's attempt had an error rate of 4.82 and Microsoft, 4.94.
I guess Baidu reported it this way to make their "win" sound more sensational.
4.58 error rate vs an error rate of 4.82 or 4.94 doesn't sound that phenomenal, I guess.

To quote:
"The system trained on Baidu’s new computer was wrong only 4.58 percent of the time. The previous best was 4.82 percent, reported by Google in March. One month before that, Microsoft had reported achieving 4.94 percent, becoming the first to better average human performance of 5.1 percent."

Comment Re:eliminate extra sugar (Score 1) 496

I did it by eliminating extra sugar.

I cut way down on sugar, and it made absolutely zero difference on my weight. It may have other benefits, but not weight.

Then again, everybody is different. What works for your body may not work for another.

There probably is no magic bullet, other than working your sweaty ass off on a farm or building pyramids (or a machine that simulates such), which is what we are evolved to be doing. The only chubby people used to the royal families, which is like 0.00001% of the population, not enough for evolution to "care" about.

Diets are like software engineering fads: promise a Grand New Way of doing things, but in the end there is no substitute for experience, skill, patience, listening to users, and discipline. "Have you tried the new Node-Jay-Ass diet?"

I would note that the guy who dies at 65 with a Bic Mac in hand appears to be happier than the guy who dies at 82 on a treadmill sweating his bloody ass off.

I beg to differ. Unless you go to extreme levels, exercise is for building a healthy body. Diet control is for losing excess weight. While exercise certainly helps in losing weight and in boosting metabolism, it only has a marginal contribution in losing weight.

The other thing: You say you cut down sugar and it didn't make a difference. I don't know exactly what you meant, but personally, I see sugar in different forms. There's pure granulated sugar which is only a small part of our diets. The much bigger thing to eliminate is "hidden sugar" - sugar in processed foods (even canned or tetrapacked foods). There's sugar from fruits too. I remember reading about a school that replaced the coke vending machine and forced kids to drink fruit juice. Obesity actually skyrocketed. Kids were chugging half gallon fruit juice containers for lunch every day!

I am not a "paleo" person but I do believe that during our hunter gatherer days, fruits were a very seasonal treat. A few months in a year, and it was easy picking and full of nutrition and packed with energy (sugar) so all of us developed a really sweet tooth. But those fruits were only available for a couple of months a year and then, our lifestyle was drastically different too. We were energy starved, not energy overloaded.

Finally, I also see carbs as sugar. Both are broken down by the body to produce energy, and excess converted by our body into fat (energy storage for the starvation days).

So, to me, eliminating sugar means eliminating pure sugar, processed foods, fruits, and carbs. I find it difficult to imagine how doing this cannot possibly result in significant weight loss. I am fairly overweight (not obese though), and to me, following this is the best way to start the process of becoming healthy and fit again. I would rather lose 15-20 pounds and then start exercising - than doing all at once.

I feel that making this a package deal is only raising the bar much higher and giving us more chances to fail early on. If I mentally think that I have to exercise AND control my diet - chances are that after a week, due to work pressure or some other excuse, I will skip gymming. Then I give myself an excuse to start slacking off on my diet as well. Instead, I want to put myself in a position where I can succeed early on, and let that reinforce my belief system that I can "do it". I would much rather start with a simple rule of thumb - i.e. eliminate sugar from my diet.

Just my personal thoughts, please don't crucify me if I have been factually wrong on some of my notions.

Comment Re: A laptop with almost no ports?! (Score 4, Informative) 529

If you leave biases aside, and want to compare the Macbook with something else, the Dell XPS 13 would be neck to neck. I would even venture to say that the Dell is far more computer for the money (i will qualify why). Here's a comparison.

The Dell XPS 13 is extremely well built (aluminum alloy, carbon fibre - I've held it, it is gorgeous) - might possibly be a hair lower than the new Macbook (which I haven't held) but really, I think you would be splitting hairs.

The XPS 13 however has two big things going for it - it has full blown Core i3/i5/i7 (2.1 - 2.4 GHz) as opposed to Macbook's Core M (measly 1.1 GHz) - which means much better performance (i would imagine 2x-3x better), much less thermal throttling, and better graphics (HD5500 vs 5300). The other big thing is its display. XPS 13 has a near zero bezel 3200 x 1800 pixel Sharp IGZO panel that is arguably the best and most cutting edge laptop panel one can get today.

You can read a review of this panel here:

And dimensions and weight. Macbook is 11" wide and 0.52" thick, and weighs 2 pounds. The XPS 13 is a bit heavier (2.6-2.8 pounds), but is only 12" wide and 0.33"-0.6" thick. The cool thing is that because of the near zero bezels, XPS 13 is a 13" screen while only being 12" wide (typical for a 11" laptop, not for a 13" laptop).

Again, I am not saying Macbook is not good. It still seems to have Apple's obsessive attention to detail in terms of build quality and user centric design approach. But to say that it has no competion - that is no longer true. I do believe that the XPS 13 is a genuine alternative in just about every respec. The extra 0.8 may be an issue for some, but you also sacrifice a *lot* of computer for that. Then I would say, might as well get an iPad.

Comment Re:great film! (Score 1) 44


Saw this movie yesterday night. Absolutely loved it! I wrote another comment on this thread, but to me, this is probably how we will end up.

You should also try Neal Asher's books. They are a more extremely and futuristic version of this movie - with a lot more violence, cyberpunk style action, homicidal aliens, etc. but the underlying theme is the same. And the AIs and robots (golems) are mostly similar too. Oh, it even has AIs that have gone insane, robots that have strange idiosyncrasies, and hybrid versions of all of these.

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