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Comment PAY your Congressman (Score 1) 1002

Hear, Hear. I am so tired of citizens being ignorant of what they need to do to participate in American politics. It is so easy. All you have to do is,

1. Found a company.
2. Grow that company to be a leader in a billion dollar industry.
3. Get your employee count up to at least 3000.
4. Donate $200,000 to $1,000,000 dollars to your local politician.

That's it. Now, get off your lazy asses and let your voice be heard!

:)

Comment Re:I ask candidates puzzles (Score 1) 672

Asking a candidate questions which are designed to be unanswerable doesn't really work. The problem with focusing on their reaction to a question instead of their answer is that this method tends to hire people that are exactly like yourself. Reactions cannot be judged objectively.

Let's look at your example. You claim that "I don't know", silence or embarrassment are the reactions of a poor candidate. However, one can say that "I don't know" indicates honesty, silence indicates they are deep thinkers and embarrassment indicates they set high expectations for themselves. OTOH, one can say that asking for the answer indicates helplessness and using google indicates an over-reliance on tools instead of self-knowledge. See how that works?

With this method you will end up hiring clones of yourself. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it's not really a good goal for a hiring process. In my opinion the hiring problem is this: how can I hire somebody better than myself? I think about this a lot. This is a difficult problem. How can a person of a given intelligence level detect someone more intelligent? Clearly, I cannot ask any subjective questions. I'm not qualified to evaluate their answers.

My current strategy is to try to give them enough rope to hang themselves, then try to hang them. If I am unable to hang them, then they must be smarter than me.

Comment Re:Information takes Effort. (Score 2) 528

The copyright argument: if I create something, then I have the right to decide how it is distributed and how much money I should receive for each copy.

This is an argument that may convince somebody, but falls apart as soon as you put any deep thought into it.

Here is the problem: you cannot assign ownership of something to somebody just because they created it. You have to think carefully about that statement before you dismiss it. I'll restate it. The creator of a work does not wholly own it.

At all times, all human beings are building on the work of our ancestors. No matter what you make, it is partly owned by the human race. Saying, "I made it, so I own it." is a huge slap in the face to every colleague, every teacher, every book, every road, every building, every social structure, your parents, your grand-parents and so on. Nothing that you have ever created in your life was created solely by your own efforts.

Copyright should be a mechanism to encourage people to push the boundaries of human knowledge. I don't think our current system does that. Even worse, we have other mechanisms that do the same job and do it better (for example, the NSF). So why do we need copyrights?

Comment Hey Ubisoft! Your games aren't worth it. (Score 1) 424

There are some ethical considerations regarding piracy and intellectual property that are fun and interesting to talk about. However, looking at it pragmatically, Ubisoft games are just poor value for the consumer. They price their games at the same price as their competitors, but package the game with always-on DRM. The consumer is getting less for their money and have taken their business elsewhere.

If Ubisoft really wants to have always-on DRM, when none of their competitors have it, then they will have to either lower the price or create the greatest games in the world. You can't expect to be successful when you're selling an inferior product in a crowded marketplace. Furthermore, at the same time, they are aggravating their customers by starting a public morality debate (that nobody really wanted to have) and taking a hard-line stance that is generally the opposite of how their customers feel (according to their own quotes).

In short, Ubisoft's PC games division has shown poor business-sense and poor customer relations. It was only a matter of time until they failed utterly.

Comment Re:Illegal Search (Score 1) 658

This is so true. And just to give slashdot readers a simple way to exercise this right: never allow yourself to be searched when you exit Fry's. For over 10 years I have always walked straight out without stopping. I have never been hassled. The bag checkers know that they have no right to search anyone. Sadly, I have often gotten surprised looks from the other shoppers.

Our rights are disappearing because people either don't know what they are, or don't care.

Comment Re:Amd also has better MB's for the price (Score 1) 104

Since you seem to care vaguely about stability, you might want to know that none of Intel's current desktop chipsets support ECC memory. I'm speccing a system right now and it looks like I'm going to have to buy a non-Intel chip.

PS. If you still want an Intel, the Xeon E3 1200 series is the closest ECC chipset to a desktop chipset.

Comment It's a numbers game (Score 2) 582

Let's say that the average company employs 1 senior engineer for every 10 fresh outs. By the pigeonhole principle, there is going to be a lot of unemployed senior engineers.

In my set of old college friends, only two of us are senior engineers. The rest, all of whom are great engineers, have found other positions. Some by encouragement, some by changing interests, some by following the path of least resistance and some by means that I am not aware of. It has to be that way.

Comment let's be careful (Score 2) 403

I feel that Bitcoin discussions always fall apart because people cannot make a distinction between the Computer Science of Bitcoin and the Economics of Bitcoin.

The Bitcoin Algorithm is a peer-to-peer transaction protocol. The algorithm was self-published by S Nakamoto as "Bitcoin: A peer-to-peer electronic cash system" in 2008. To my knowledge, the paper has not been accepted in a peer reviewed Computer Science journal. Nevertheless, there appears to be growing acceptance that the underlying technology is sound. However, that says nothing about the validity of applications based on the peering transaction protocol.

The Economics of Bitcoin is about how the original coins are generated, how new coins are minted, how the currency is regulated, etc. Nakamoto's paper has nothing to say about these issues. In particular, many people feel that Bitcoins have been distributed in a manner that makes them a Ponzi scheme. I am not aware of any paper published in a peer reviewed Economics journal that contradicts this.

The lack of a peer reviewed CS publication is terrible, but not fatal. Bitcoin has enough popularity now that we can expect crypto researchers to be looking at it as an easy target for a quick pub. The lack of a pub on a flaw in the technology of Bitcoin is not bad. This technology might be useful for something.

However, the lack of a peer reviewed Economics pub addressing the Ponzi Scheme issue is fatal. In addition, I'm pretty sure that there are other important things that need to be investigated by Economists. I can't say much more about this since I am a computer scientist.

I hope people will understand that there is a distinction between Bitcoin technology and Bitcoin coins. It is possible to have a different opinion on each and an opinion on one does not imply anything about the other. I urge people in future Slashdot discussions to take care to make it clear in their posts whether or not they are talking about the technology or the coins. Thank you.

Comment Re:Another visitor! (Score 1) 344

You have caught bitcoin fever.

I can easily substitute any collectible item every where "bitcoin" appears in your post. For example, collectible coins, stamps, beanie babies, paintings, sculptures, vintage cars, faberge eggs, barbie dolls, swatches, baseball cards, etc.

Let's talk about something specific. A Picasso serves exactly the same role as a bitcoin. There are a limited number. They are difficult to forge. They have value because people think they have value. They are independent of any government. They can be used as an alternative storage and investment of wealth. They can be stolen. The ownership is tracked by a community.

The peering algorithms which underlie bitcoins are somewhat interesting. Beyond that, there is nothing new.

Comment weed out classes (Score 1) 606

The sciences and engineering programs tend to have intro classes that weed out the weaker students. This is at odds with one of the primary goals of teaching. However, I think these weed out classes are ultimately a good thing because society pays a cost when poor students get science and engineering degrees.

Bad science creates a burden on society by undermining our efforts to advance knowledge. Every poorly conducted experiment and incorrect published paper creates extra work for everybody. The erroneous results must be refuted or else the misinformation spreads. In addition, peer reviews don't come free. A poor scientist cannot contribute useful reviews but they can submit papers which need review (moreso than better scientists). They are a constant burden on the community.

Bad engineering also creates extra work for everybody. Engineered systems are susceptible to the weakest link paradigm. A broken part cannot be ignored; it could bring down the whole system. Good engineering teams quickly identify poor engineers and remove them. Engineering teams made up of poor engineers dump broken products on end users which causes problems for everyone. Even if the engineers are held accountable, the problems don't go away naturally. Society has to waste time and effort cleaning up their messes.

It is always saddening to fail a student. However, in my experience, students are not expelled from school for failing a weed out class. They are simply encouraged to change majors. Universities have enough departments of varying difficulty that any student can graduate with a degree. It is up to the student to make the effort to get their preferred degree.

Comment buzzer speed (Score 1) 674

Daniel Gruhl, an IBM researcher, gave a talk at Caltech on Tuesday where he expounded on the buzzer issue. He said that Watson uses a solenoid which can respond in 5-10 ms. He also said that Ken Jennings is capable of responding in less than 5 ms. He can respond quickly because he uses the audio to anticipate the signal.

Comment Re:I don't get the big deal (Score 1) 172

Beardo, here's the short of it.

1. President signs HSPD-12 which mandates issuing a new, more secure, id card to all federal employees. HSPD-12 is all about "secure and reliable" id. It has nothing to do with background checks. Full text: http://www.dhs.gov/xabout/laws/gc_1217616624097.shtm

2. OMB is tasked with carrying out HSPD-12.

3. OMB arbitrarily adds background checks and "employee suitability". HSPD-12 does not authorize this. This bears repeating. HSPD-12 does not mandate background checks. The background check is a fantasy invented by OMB.

4. Presumably because there are too many background checks to be done, the background checks are being partially outsourced. For example, ChoicePoint handled JSC. Here's a nice article about ChoicePoint: http://www.wired.com/politics/security/news/2005/02/66685. An old article now, but was relevant 3 years ago.

5. SF85 is the form that landed on my desk with instructions to "sign or else resign". The "carte blanche" part is the first paragraph on the last page. It basically says, "authorize any investigator ... obtain any information ... is not limited". Full text is here: http://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf85.pdf

I would be happy to undergo an actual real background check and receive an S or TS clearance. Such a check has real value and would open up work opportunities to me. I an not willing to let some random dude investigate me and store that information in some unknown location to be stolen or shared with arbitrary entities.

Comment Re:I don't get the big deal (Score 2) 172

If the goal of the background check is to determine whether or not you are susceptible to blackmail, then I would say that they have succeeded admirably.

"Sign this form which gives an unnamed private contractor carte blanche to investigate your personal life or else we will fire you."

I have so much more to say on this subject beyond a quip, but I'm tired. It's all been said already. The correct course of action is obvious to anybody who is aware of the facts.

When I was a child I read about McCarthyism in high school. It seemed like a fairytale to me; I couldn't understand how people could ever do something like that. These last 3 years have been a bitter lesson for me.

Comment Re:Function re-ordering inside the image? wow (Score 1) 141

Well, if you're really crazy you put the init code together into a contiguous block so you can use it as a data buffer after you're done initializing everything.

Of course we realized that that was still too conservative. The next year we started allocating data buffers inside the init function while we were still executing it. Just follow the instruction pointer down and allocate behind it.

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