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Comment Re:What? (Score 1) 236

I wouldn't say he is an asshole. I'd say he's someone who made some mistakes when he was younger, lost an absolute fucking fortune over it, and then did something unusual (for assholes) - he conducted a brutally honest self-assessment, used it to make himself better, and bared it for the world.

Sounds like somebody who grew the hell up to me.

Comment Where does it end? (Score 1) 292

Read up on rules on monopolies. If you have a dominant position in one area and use that to gain an advantage in other areas, that's when you are in trouble. If no such rules were in place, the natural evolution would be that one company crushing all the others. Be thankful that that this is happening. It's good for you in the end.

Fully agree. However, when does one thing (search) become two things (search, maps), in which the one is used to abuse the other? Based on the suggestions here, the only thing that Google can do is provide an interface for customers to choose absolutely everything. However, where do you draw the line? What if I want my searching based on a specific algorithm - have google leveraged their ad presentation infrasstructure into the algorithm development business? What if I want them to use a different ad server? What if I want them to use a competitor's font - are the typesetters being disadvantaged here?

What if we parametricize this - are they extending search into restaurant reviews - should Yelp sue? What about the whitepages - should phone information services sue? Etc, etc.

There's an insidious aspect in that because Google's product is free, every aspect of their operation can be seen as another 'free service' that is connected (illegally?) to their search operation. Is Maps another service or just another way of showing search results?

I could see a clean break with a service like Mail - that has little to do (from a user's standpoint) with their core search business, though on the biz side of course they're both part of the ad business. So if they're popping up GMail on top when you search for Hotmail (they don't, btw), that would be one thing. But simply presenting search results on a map, or showing a map of a locality that is searched for, calling that anti-trust is brainless.

Two other things: 1) Companies shouldn't have to guess what can be construed as anti-trust under very creative definitions, they should be given notice first. 2) There's a clear conflict of interest when the body that fines you gets to keep the loot.

Comment Brilliant Move by MS (Score 1) 290

Microsoft intends to turn DNT on by default for IE 10, and even if you don't go with Windows 8 you might get some updates for Win7, if not actually IE 10, that set DNT accordingly. Now a huge browser market, including most people people who don't know what DNT is, nor do they care, will have it disabled by default. This pits Microsoft against Google in a huge way.

Sort of relates to this internal Microsoft memo that was leaked.

Halloween Document XII.

Recorded by //REDACTED//, as dictated by Steve Ballmer, //REDACTED//, and //REDACTED//.


Microsoft Engineer So there's this Do Not Track feature that will really help consumers. It prevents advertisers from following their every move online. It will be great for privacy. Can I have a $100,000 research budget for it?

Steve Ballmer Fuck that.

Corporate weasel whispers into Ballmer's ear

Steve Ballmer Oh, you mean this will completely fuck Google and Facebook? Why didn't you say so? You have your budget for $100,000,000

Engineer Actually, I only need...

Engineer's Manager That will be great Mr. Ballmer, thank you.



Comment Congrats (Score 1) 263

First off. Congrats to you and the larger slashdot community that we are asking such questions. Man have we come a long way in a decade or so.

Beyond that, I strongly echo EFF. Really important. Another that I've recently seen is A World in Motion which is supported by the society of automotive engineers among others. Great way to introduce engineering to school kids.

Beyond that - good luck, and thanks for making a difference.

Comment Criminally Insane (Score 2) 135

I'm a scientist with a CS minor and some experience doing SW engineering (probably badly) on small projects. Even *I* know you abstract the actual storage and provide some simple accessor/insertion functions to prevent people from actually touching the storage implementation. For a couple of reasons: 1) to prevent goofballs from creating pointer messes, and 2) so that, if you want to, you can completely rip out the actual storage implementation and replace it without breaking anyone's code. I'm sure there are also reasons 3) - Eleventy, but those two are pretty obvious. Not to mention which, it only adds maybe a couple hours (if you're diligent and paranoid) over the short term, and probably saves weeks over the long term.

Not to mention which, aren't there standard libraries to do this stuff? Did STL not exist back then?

Comment I'll ask the obvious... (Score 1) 487

What happens when Ken leaves? The company is well and truly fucked, right?

This is why even the smart guys have to play by the rules. The best ones know that they're good, but that not everybody else is, and this is a job and not a hobby. Frankly, what Ken needs is a manager with the balls to tame him, or fire him.

I'm also glad I'm not working with Synopsis if that's indicative of anything.

Comment Re:Guarantees (Score 1) 260

If the OP wants to remain in computer *programming*, he shouldn't get a PhD, period, as that's not what it's for. If he wants to move into actual *computer science* - which is completely different than programming - then he likely needs a PhD.

You're talking about completely different career paths. A CS PhD has a strong theoretical background. A program architect is a totally different track. It's like saying that someone shouldn't get a PhD in anthropology because it won't prepare him for is career as an accountant.

Comment Re:It used to be. Now it gets you this. (Score 1) 260

Sorry, but just because some crank claims it on a blog doesn't make it so. The postdoc 'thing' isn't a scam. Postdocs are a choice - namely, to get paid better than a grad student but still work in academia while still pretty fresh and inexperienced. I'd imagine that the postdocs responsibilities are much more academically oriented than the companies participating - and that the postdoc is also less experienced, in general, than the industrial representatives participating

If the candidate wants a 'real' job in CS or aerospace, those are most certainly available, and will pay more. But they will curtail the academic freedom that will be available at a university.

Comment Re:Guarantees (Score 1) 260

I suppose it depends how much time you are willing to commit, whether you'll do it part or full time, and how much experience (if any) you have in a research environment. Full time, a PhD will take anywhere from 4-7 years, typically (in the US - I understand that's a bit lower in the UK). An MS will take another 2-3, full-time, I'd expect. So you're right in that the bar to getting into an MS program will be lower, and that, once completed, you'll have some letters of recommendation to get into the PhD program. But that will definitely take a loooooong time.

If you can find a PhD program where getting the MS will save you time, do it. Or see if you can build any research experience in your current job to try to get directly into a phD program. You could always apply to both and see what happens.

Good luck.

Comment Re:It used to be. Now it gets you this. (Score 2) 260

Sorry, but that example doesn't work because it's a postdoc position, not a permanent job. You can't use postdoc salaries as indicative of anything, if that's your point. Postdocs are to PhDs what internists are to MDs. They typically pay around $50-60k, and the person taking the position is doing it to prepare for a career as a professor. It's like an advanced version of PhD that is shorter (typically 2ish years) and where they pay you a little better.

I'd imagine that a person who takes that job for 2 years and kicks ass at it will start near $100k or so, if they choose to go to industry, or a lot less in academia.

Some stats you might find more palatable:,_Computer_Science_(CS)/Salary

Comment Re:Guarantees (Score 5, Interesting) 260

I don't know about that - the division I'm in (of a large company) hires almost solely PhDs, and we're not exactly "hard core", whatever that means. Also, if he's sure he wants the PhD, it's not like getting the MS will shorten his PhD appreciably, if at all. If I were mid career, I would definitely not waste time on an MS if the PhD is what is desired.

I would decide what the goal is. If it's to attempt to get a higher paying job, don't get the PhD. If it's prestige, don't get the PhD. If it's to focus on interesting problems that might require some fairly deep insights, both during the PhD program and later as a career, then get the PhD.

To answer the submitter's question more directly:

A PhD isn't a guarantee of a job in a skunk-works type of environment. It isn't a guarantee of anything, really. It is an opportunity to focus on a narrowly defined problem for a number of years, and learn the skills and mindset necessary to move what the world knows about a subject. This requires being able to synthesize knowledge and insights from collections of facts, data, theory, etc. These skills are the sorts of things you need to do to work in a skunkworks type of environment, certainly as a major contributor and not just in a support role.

I would say this - if you like to apply skills that you've learned toward your job, get the MS. If you like to figure out things that people don't know yet, get the PhD.

Comment Re:Nowhere near that easy (Score 2) 999

uh.. you didn't really understand what I wrote did you? You don't need to keep interest rates low, in fact you only have some influence over interest rates. As long as your GDP is growing faster than debt (when you have decent employment and so on) then you're fine, and it's not an issue, and you have quite a lot of knobs to turn to keep nominal GDP growing faster than interest on your debt, especially when most of your debt is at a fixed rate for years.

The problem is it never happens that way. You actually have to consider historical context and pretend this isn't the first time we've been through an economic hiccup. Every problem in the last 30 years has been "solved" with spending - the problem is, when the economic ship rights itself, no one wants to do the hard thing and reduce spending or increase taxes. That's why we have a debt that is now 100% of GDP, an increase from about 20% in the pre-Greenspan era. That is a level that has been associated with economic destabilization, and no one seems to care. Our debt ratio is higher than any time except the time immediately surrounding WWII. This is a real problem. Not for the next couple of years, this could be a problem for decades, and probably will if it's not solved.

If you think you have magical knobs to turn to keep GDP growing faster than interest on your debt, you're deludedl. The problem with all your solutions are things like "As long as....". When you build up such an unstable situation, you rely on those things continuing to be true, and when they fail, they fail hard.

other way around. Anyone who thinks now is the time to be worrying about debt is why you've been stuck in a liquidity trap for 4 years when you could have been out of it 3 years ago. Right now *is* the time to borrow more money to get employment going and get jobs created to spur demand to get the economy going. When demand picks back up then you cut those jobs and raise taxes and so on so that you can ride things along while the debt shrinks away.

Sounds lovely. The problem is when it doesn't work, and you end up having jacked up the debt, and your payments on the debt, only to face interest rates that you can't control any more and an unemployment problem that wasn't solved by your spending. In other words, exactly what happened during the "stimulus". Now what do you do?

Here's the thing: the idiots on the fringe on either side are both wrong. Yes, we need to spend money - wisely - in targeted ways to get unemployment down and the tax base up. We also need to do it in a way that isn't going to build a house of cards that will completely destroy the economy with runaway inflation within a decade of the recession ending. Which is why your mindset is dangerous, and that mindset is pervasive in the global economic leadership right now: namely, the notion that we have a lot more control over the global economy than we really do, that we can fix all problems, and that the cure is never worse than the disease. If they were that good at controlling things, we'd never end up with these problems in the first place.

So when you say things that insinuate that our mounting debt poses no long term risk, I have a problem with that. We can't ignore it. No one ever said it's the only problem that should be addressed - a lovely false dichotomy, to be sure - but we certainly can't go back to the Obama stimulus plan (and touted by such luminaries as Krugman) that we just need to spend a lot of money, and it doesn't matter how.

One thing I've found is that, in the long run, economics is simple. And I've also found that people who think they can outwit the basic principles always end up crashing in the end. What I want is to not be in the same boat when it happens.

Comment Nowhere near that easy (Score 2) 999

So I realize that this is chapter ad verse from the Book of Bernanke, effectively, but it's insane. Yes, you are correct in the short-term that the amount of the debt doesn't matter, but how much it costs to service it. But that's only true if you can manipulate the interest rates to ever-lower levels to account for the deficit spending that we've all been experiencing. After all, even given your math, if the principal keeps increasing, the interest rate has to keep going down, right? So my question to you is, how long do you think the US can keep pushing interest rates lower? Certainly not forever. Probably not much longer at all. These historically low interest rates will have to increase at some point.

I make analogies to household finance because it's easier for people to see certain ideas as completely insane when framed in a conventional frame of reference. Essentially what the US - and much of the rest of the world - has done is take out national debt on what amount to variable interest rate loans, and we've taken them out at historically low rates. Indeed, we've set our national budget based on what we can barely afford even given those historically low rates, and even then our total debt continues to grow.

Sound familiar? Pretty much exactly what happened around 2004 when every homeowner maxed out on interest-only loans they could barely afford, then paid bills on credit cards. And we saw how smart that was. As soon as rates went up a bit, we saw a feedback loop that resulted in a cascade of debt failure. Now every country in the world is doing the same thing with their national finance that those homeowners did with household finance. Great plan.

The problem with your strategy is the same problem that happened then: everything gets screwed up when the interest rate merry-go-round stops and the cost to service the debt balloons. Even more fun is that, if we don't solve the problem, lowered debt ratings will also result in higher interest rates on that debt as it goes out of control.

So what do we do? Claiming that the debt is an artificial political construct is fantasyland. If your neighbor told you his debt - that amounted to as much as he makes in a year and is growing rapidly - is just something his wife says to piss him off, you'd say he was delusional. It's no different here. Ballooning debt is a huge long-term issue. The only question is how much we trade off short-term vs. long term to solve our immediate problems. Put another way, how much do we live off our credit cards to pay the bills?

First, you've highlighted one thing very accurately - continuing to pay unemployment benefits to some people who have been on them for up to four years straight is completely insane. Providing incentives to employers to hire full-time employees with health benefits would be a much better idea. But that is too obvious for US leadership.

The next thing is how you get off this merry-go-round. Your solution, as you state, is to simply manage interest rates at a low level. If only it were that easy - sorry, but you can't keep them this low forever. Or even likely very long. So the question is, how do you let them rise without leading to crippling inflation or an equities crash? Your plan requires a solution to that problem. It also requires a plan to return our debt-to-GDP level to where it needs to be, which will probably require keeping debt constant (ie, balance the budget) while increasing GDP and letting interest rates rise to normal levels. And it's going to be very hard to do all those at the same time.

Otherwise, we "solve" this stagnation/unemployment problem only to cause new, potentially worse problems. And this is the problem I have with Greenspan's legacy - we've spent the last 30 years solving the short-term problem while ignoring the long term. That's how we got where we are. We need to actually start looking at the long-term consequences of our policies for once. And that's why our debt problem isn't an artificial political issue. Anybody who thinks that hasn't thought this issue through past the next year or so.

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