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Comment Re:How much stolen technology is inside? (Score 0, Offtopic) 222

Washington Times (reprint): U.S. secrets aboard latest Chinese sub
http://www.taiwandc.org/washt9908.htm

Popular Mechanics: How China Steals U.S. Military Secrets
http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military/news/3319656

San Francisco Chronicle: China's war on the U.S. economy
http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-01-15/opinion/17828392_1_security-review-commission-china-s-internet-currency-manipulation

Wired: Good Old Fashioned Espionage
http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/07/good-old-fashioned-industrial-espionage/

Comment How much stolen technology is inside? (Score 0, Flamebait) 222

It's hard to get too excited about technological advances in a country that aggressively steals from the US, Japan, Europe and anybody else that has technology that they think would be nice to have.

It reminds me of the announcement of a new Chinese submarine a while back, where the critical technology had been stolen from the US through espionage.

If it turns out they made this system honestly, then I'll gladly congratulate them. However, their record on intellectual integrity so far is pretty dismal.

Comment The anti-ADHD sentiment on Slashdot is frustrating (Score 1) 711

I have ADHD. I've had it since I was a young child. It has been diagnosed independently at various points in my life by several psychiatrists and psychologists, most of whom are ADHD specialists. I have no doubt that ADHD continues to be overdiagnosed, especially by family physicians who don't have enough knowledge and experience on the subject. However, there are also a lot of people on Slashdot who know even less about it but still go on and on about how ADHD doesn't exist and parents just need to be more tolerant. It's not all about the parents.

Right now, I'm in the home stretch of a PhD in computer science. Getting to this point would have been nearly impossible if it weren't for getting treatment for the ADHD. At first, I tried to do without the medicine. I don't like it and I worry about the long-term effects. However, I wasn't getting things done and I was sinking into a hole to a point where I knew I couldn't possibly finish the PhD if I didn't get treatment. As it stands, medication is one component of the overall plan for coping with my inability to concentrate on my work and get things done normally. I've learned a lot of strategies from reading bits here and there, and just studying the problem as I worked my way through undergrad and now grad school. There are dozens of tactics that I use regularly that have worked well. As one example, I carry a supply of earplugs everywhere I go and use them whenever I need to study or work. There's no silver bullet, but together, they have helped a lot.

That said, without the medicine, I don't think I could accomplish what I'm trying to do. That's not a lack of confidence. It's just a realization that if you have to read 5+ research papers a week on top of a bunch of other stuff, it's not going to work if it takes you an hour to read two pages - 4-5 hours for a 10-page conference paper of any substance. Before I got on the medicine, people around me thought I might end up dropping out.

While I totally agree that overdiagnosis of ADHD is a problem, it would be kinder if folks here would recognize that for some people, ADHD it really is an important component of the problem and getting treatment can help them get on their way.

There are a variety of perspectives out there, but one that is gathering steam (and makes a lot of sense to me personally) is Thomas Brown's work on executive functioning. A couple of references:

Comment It's all about uncertainty (Score 1) 483

Agreed. The main complicating factor is the level of uncertainty:

  • Ambiguity in the specification
  • Unfamiliar technology
  • Code design with non-obvious solutions
  • Interface constraints that must be reconciled

I list the uncertainties, make a wild guess on each one, and finally triple the result. Historically I only successfully predict about 1/3 of the problems that are going to come up.

The hard part is justifying the inflated estimate when asked, since it's based on difficulties that I haven't actually identified yet.

Comment Re:My grandmother knows python (Score 3, Informative) 154

If a friend wanted to learn just enough programming to do a few light chores, what would you recommend? Python is arguably one of the easiest languages to learn. Randy Pausch used it for Alice, which has been successful for teaching middle school girls how to program. So if "computer users with rudimentary skills" means rudimentary programming, then that works for me.

Comment Re:FrontPage? (Score 3, Insightful) 154

Yeah, that's real easy for a programmer to say. Ever used a brownie mix? I'll bet a pastry chef would say, "I'd like to see people who wish to bake brownies actually learn how to bake brownies properly." Tools like Sikuli are the programming equivalent to brownie mix. It's easy gratification. (... or at least easier than learning to capture part of the screen and then do fuzzy image pattern matching on it.) If I were a very casual, light duty programmer, this would be pretty helpful sometimes.

Comment What's so wrong with TurboTax? (Score 2, Interesting) 154

Some accountants seem to think everyone needs to learn accounting in order to function in society. But people have other jobs. Some of us like our dumbed down tools because they fill a need. My tax software lets me do my taxes without learning "proper" accounting. Similarly, I know some people who benefit greatly from a little passing knowledge of high-level scripting languages like VB, JavaScript, or even Python.

For those kinds of people, Sikuli looks pretty cool because they can do things that would be pretty difficult otherwise. Hey, even for a lot of experienced programmers, capturing a region of the screen and doing fuzzy pattern matching might be a significant task. I haven't tried Sikuli yet, but it looks like it would be very helpful for some things, and a lot easier to deal with than AutoIt or AutoHotkey.

(BTW, TurboTax was just an example. I actually use something I like better, but you get the idea.)

Comment Re:We are asking the same in India (Score 4, Insightful) 292

As a leader, it is the responsibility of a country like US to help everyone grow. If the US does not demonstrate leadership traits, someone else will. Leadership is not simply about more money/resources/power. It is about being a "leader" and behaving like one.

Hogwash. China and India are directly competing with the United States on several levels. China builds weapons specifically targeted at the United States. Frequently, the weapons are based on stolen US technology.

What logic says we have to help our competitors grow???

(Granted, our relationship with India is far simpler and more cordial than our awkward tie-up with China, but there's still enough competition in some areas to take notice.)

Comment Site hacked? (Score 1) 164

The first time I clicked the link...
http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2009/12/amanda-gefter-books-arts.php
... I got a bogus system scan web page and then it tried to get me to run an EXE file. I tried the link a few minutes later and it seemed okay. I'm perplexed as to what happened. From my browser history, the bad link was...
h t t p : / / n i s s a n - r e n t . c n / g o . p h p ? i d = 2 0 0 6 - 5 1 & k e y = 0 5 2 2 c 7 0 6 6 & d = 1

I'm using Opera 10.10 (latest) and haven't been anywhere other than major news sites today. Just thought I'd mention it in case anyone else sees the same.

Comment Is this goodwill? (Score 1) 228

In any case, this is a good thing. Is it goodwill from Microsoft? I'm not sure. When they made the big internet patent grab several years ago, it seemed about as evil as you can get. But in having done that, one could argue that they kept other more evil companies from grabbing and exploiting them. If Microsoft simply gave them away now, that would be goodwill. If they charged $100B, that would be evil. If they charge essentially what they've spent to acquire and hold them, well, that still seems like a good thing. Twenty-two patents at $50K each would be $1.1M. So if the price was >$5M, I'd call it evil.

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