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Comment Drinking Water Isn't So Easy As You Think (Score 3, Interesting) 247

When I was a kid I did Unicef collection every Haloween. We got an orange cardboard coin box at school, and collected donations to it along with our trick-or-treat. Unicef used these funds to build water wells for people in Africa who had only access to contaminated surface water.

A decade or two later, we found that many of these wells accessed aquifers that were contaminated by arsenic. And that thus we kids had funded the wholesale poisoning of people in Africa, and that a lot of them had arsenic-induced cancers that were killing them.

OK, we would not make that mistake again, and today we have access to better water testing. But it caused me to lose my faith that we really do know how to help poor people in the third world, no matter how well-intentioned we are.

And we had better not go around curing disease withoput also promoting birth control. Despite what the churches say, and the local dislikes and prejudices. Or we'll just be condemning more people to starve.

Comment Re:Er, wait, what? (Score 5, Insightful) 140

Well, nuclear reactions that we can turn off like laser-initiated fusion are a lot nicer than the alternatives. The inside of your car engine is a raging inferno shot with electric sparks and compressed with inexorable steel cylinders. That doesn't keep you from going on a nice drive with your sweetie.

Comment Re:Dissident Speech (Score 4, Insightful) 281

Lastly, can I be the first to point out that Popular science has very little to do with science and hasn't in well over 50 years? They are to Science what the Enquirer is to hard news sites. ... which makes people that care about Popular Science's move sound even more out of touch. People making a big deal out of this mystify me.

Comment IOMMU (Score 4, Informative) 125

Yes, when I saw this I thought that this was a reason to make motherboard IOMMUs a security feature. Also, the DMA destination memory pages should not have the executable bit turned on. Recent generations of Intel/AMD CPUs have provided the ability to turn that bit off.

Comment Re:All well and good, but... (Score 1) 473

You are "dumb". You have nothing to say about the line of work I'm in. I am also "dumb". I have nothing to add about the line of work you're in. I don't see you as being in an ivory tower, I'm just the one who knows that I've nothing of value to add to your industry/science/line of work. Unless we work in the same fields, or related fields, in which case, I have plenty of other means of being exposed to your work, and addressing and debating any problems I may have with it. Scientists are not in ivory towers, and they don't think they're in one. All that said, there's a reason why they have offices and aren't doing work on whiteboards on the corner of the street.

If you really think a town hall meeting is a productive forum to work on highly specialized fields of domain knowledge, I'm not really sure what to say to that.

Comment Re:Not me but friends (Score 1) 189

Knowing GL/DirectX is pretty meaningless in games unless you're looking to be hired as a graphics programmer. Even more interesting these days is that as more of the gaming experience moves online, we're seeing fairly traditional skillsets such as DBA or server side programming become much more in demand. It all depends on what you want to do *on* a game development team. Knowing graphics programming doesn't guarantee you a job anymore than being demonstrably skilled in any other facet of game programming. In fact, going in and thinking that just because you can write a hobby game front to back yourself is far less interesting to employers than being able to demonstrate an interest in a specific area.

Comment Re: What does the job entail? (Score 3, Informative) 189

I work for one of the top 5 developers on console games, as a programmer. Are there crunch times? Yes. Do you get comp time? Yes. I'm going to be taking 35 days vacation this fall. The work itself is vastly more interesting and personally rewarding (to me) than working on business intelligence software, which is probably where I'd be otherwise.

You get what you put into it, and you also get what you put up with. I don't recommend that anybody sacrifice their quality of life simply to be in games, and certainly some studios are worse than others, but in making games for 9 years, if you can put up with a some crunch every year or two, it can be a really fun job. Just put up resistance if you're being treated unfairly (80 hour work weeks? Never.) .. once you get some experience, you can move around. The entire industry is a game of musical chairs, so you should be able to find something at your 'pressure' level. Some people will put up with those insane for the privilege of working on a GTA title, but there is plenty of middle ground.

And as somebody else pointed out above, just because you like playing games (or even making them for yourself) doesn't necessarily mean you'll like making them in the AAA game space. I just wrapped up a title where the credits take about 40 minutes to watch, so there are lots of considerations in terms of how much time you're willing to put in, how much individual credit you're looking for, etc.

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