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Comment Pick an Emphasis On or Interdisciplinary Degree (Score 5, Insightful) 347

I think a lot of colleges offer degrees where you do "Computer Science with an Emphasis on X" but looking at one of my alma maters I see that it's moved to a kind of "flavor of the month" thing (game environments?). This usually leaves room for you to pick other courses. Another thing is that sometimes they offer interdisciplinary courses but you really have to be worth your salt to cut it in these areas (I guess they're close to a double major) so for example I can pull up MIT's page and see "Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Molecular Biology".

Honestly if I could go back I would seriously consider dumping the "Emphasis on Artificial Intelligence" and switch from Computer Science to Computer Engineering. However, I also heard that your whole schedule is often picked for you in that degree so I never would have been able to take the two semesters of music theory or extra calc and physics courses ... so you know, there's something to be said about breadth and figuring out what you want to do.

Now to directly address your questions:

I want to be a web developer, and everyday I ask myself the same question: why am I wasting my time getting a computer science degree?

Because someday when your server is hacked and you're doing a post-morten on a Linux machine you'll be glad your professor beat it into your head how that operating system works? Because JavaScript is really easy to write but for some reason it's killing mobile batteries when people visit your site and you need to understand what O(n^3) means on the client side? Because at the end of the day it's just math and logic that you're coding and that's the basis for a computer science degree? Because if you can't communicate clearly, your coding skills won't mean shit in a team environment? Etc.

I want to start my web development career now. Or at least as soon as possible. I can drop out and devote 6 months to teaching myself, but I want something more structured. Something that has the benefits of a classroom and an authority figure, but which teaches me exactly what I need to know to do what I want to do. Any suggestions?

This is kind of like a Catch-22, yeah? You don't want to stagnate yet you want to be taught in a form that naturally stagnates? Dude, the libraries like node.js and backbone.js are moving too fast to solidify into a course. You just got to suck it up and absorb an autodidactic methodology from college and move forward with that, ready for anything that gets thrown at you.

Also, not to be a dick but if you're bursting at the seams with talent, get on github, rip open an account on Heroku or buy a cheap VPS for $50/year and show us what's up. We're waiting to be blinded by your brilliance :-) That can all go on your resume, you know.

Comment Pull Your Head Out of Your Ass (Score 5, Insightful) 542

People are still making references to the mythical Great Catholic Altar Boy Molestation Conspiracy Project?

Oh the "mythical conspiracy project"? Hmmm, let's see from the laundry list of cases we find:

In July 2010, the Vatican doubled the length of time after the 18th birthday of the victim that clergymen can be tried in a church court and streamlined the processes for removing "pedophile priests."

So they streamlined a process to cater to a "mythical conspiracy project?"

People like you are what's wrong with organized religion and one of the primary reasons of why I am atheist. The people that run the Vatican and those in the past that have stood up and protected that power structure at all costs are fallible mortals. Shut up and deal with it or I'll throw you in with Scientology.

And all those cases have dried up, right? Right? If you give money to the Roman Catholic church, that's what you're paying for, in part.

Comment Simply Could Not Fulfill His Duties (Score 4, Funny) 542

It became apparent when he was supposed to move a priest who had been indulging in altar boys to the Diocese of Ogdensburg in New York where they would have a trial and could pay off the families but instead he moved him to the Diocese of Owensboro in Kentucky where, upon discovery, he was lynched and killed without a trial. At that point, every God Fearin' Holy Roman Catholic altar-boy-molesting priest in the world feared the Pope could no longer shield them from mortal justice and so it was clear he had to resign his post. It's been long rumored that Cardinal Vincent "Big Vinnie the Silencer" Mastrantonio will be the successor and be able to invoke the Holy Spirit to "keep those quiet who don't want their kneecaps busted in over here over there."

Comment Welcome to Capitalism (Score 5, Interesting) 611

There was a catch, though. It would be part of a "liberty package" with the site's 170,000 person mailing list for... wait for it... $250,000. They think the price is totally worth it

That's the funny thing about Capitalism ... wait for it ... the market decides what the price should be. And right now, they have a very unique piece of property that will cost whatever they want to sell it for because they ... wait for it ... own it! But, you know, let's clamor and argue for the defunding and dissolution of the UN right up until it benefits us personally. This is a very surprising and disappointing action from Paul -- a politician who once rarely (if ever) contradicted himself.

From the horse's mouth:

We must stop special interests from violating property rights and literally driving families from their homes, farms and ranches. Today, we face a new threat of widespread eminent domain actions as a result of powerful interests who want to build a NAFTA superhighway through the United States from Mexico to Canada.

We also face another danger in regulatory takings: Through excess regulation, governments deprive property owners of significant value and use of their properties – all without paying ”just compensation.”

Property rights are the foundation of all rights in a free society. Without the right to own a printing press, for example, freedom of the press becomes meaningless. Congress must work to get federal agencies out of these schemes to deny property owners their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.

Property rights are the foundation of all rights in a free society unless the property we're talking about are domain names that you feel are yours, right Senator Paul?


Submission + - In 2011, Fracking Was #2 in Causing Greenhouse Gas in US (

eldavojohn writes: According to Bloomberg, drilling and fracking results in greenhouse gases second only to coal power plants in the United States. From the article, 'Emissions from drilling, including fracking, and leaks from transmission pipes totaled 225 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalents during 2011, second only to power plants, which emitted about 10 times that amount.' According to Mother Jones, we now have more giant methane fireballs than any other country in the world and we can now see once dim North Dakota at night from space.

Comment A Smear Campaign Is a Smear Campaign (Score 5, Insightful) 513

Is it a "Smear Campaign" if it's true?

Well, it's not entirely true. I think most people consider the definition of reading to mean "looked" at and that it is implicitly a human that is reading your e-mail in this case. The eyes superimposed in the first video imply this. What's actually happening is that your e-mail is being loaded into memory and parsed to build an index associated with some key that is associated with you and that is being stored. This data is then used to serve targeted ads. Do you really think that a person is involved at any point so far? Do you really think there's a Google employee looking over raw table data and rubbing one out when he sees that "ky jelly" is associated with user 57234765235 at a rate of 0.0054% of the time with a high precision value? Really? Show me a mail service provider that neither loads your e-mail into memory (alias "reads" it) nor stores it in a database and I'll show you extraterrestrial beings.

Pretty "slanted" summary, but I guess this is Slashdot and the story is about Microsoft.

Really? Where are Google's commercials of equal proportions? I guarantee you they would make for a story just like this.

Now, who's more evil? Google or Microsoft? Hard to tell around here sometimes...

Just because one evil is smearing another evil of less, equal or greater proportions doesn't make it not a smear campaign! This is exactly what it is! Disingenuous advertising meant to unduly spread uncertainty and deceit! How does Microsoft detect spam? The same damn way!

Comment It's Quite Disingenuous (Score 5, Insightful) 513

Google does scan your emails for keywords. That information may be stored or revealed in any number of ways.

I think it's more than a bit disingenuous because the video has this person's eyes superimposed over your e-mail while mischievous music plays in the background. We all know that it's not a person reading the e-mails, it's software doing latent semantic indexing or some such algorithm.

They might not be lying but they are deceiving. Tell me how my Hotmail knows how to classify incoming e-mails as spam again? OH! You're running a Bayesian classification algorithm and building word statistics out of my e-mail?! They're reading my e-mails! Cue judging eyeballs over my e-mail with corny music.

Note: I'm not defending Google but I'm pretty sure that some type of software runs some sort of algorithm on your e-mails if you go through any reputable major e-mail provider. Hell, my debian postfix server is attached to a bunch of algorithmic open source programs to do just that!

Comment How Does Germany Beat Chinese Pricing? (Score 5, Interesting) 644

They mentioned briefly that the US tried to subsidize solar but the Chinese kept undercutting our manufacturers and we just couldn't beat their prices. What is Germany doing differently that allows them to beat Chinese prices? Tariffs? Import restrictions? Why does that kind of market manipulation work for Germany and why do we allow subsidies to happen in the states but not that sort of competition restriction?

Oh, right, they have more sun ... which still doesn't answer how their solar products compete with the Chinese. I like how they named dropped 'natgas' several times because the US has so much of it! No problems worth mentioning about natural gas!

Comment It Has Its Ups and Downs (Score 5, Interesting) 179

can we please stop relying on third parties for things *you* should be providing to your users.

Clearly it has benefits and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is displayed in this story. I could name a decent amount of benefits though: 1) you don't have to register again and again every time you want to use some site. 2) you don't suffer from password fatigue. 3) you don't have to worry about no talent ass clowns storing your username and password in plaintext (although you do have to worry about facebook being no talent ass clowns about that). 4) if I just want to stand up a quick little site that is nothing more than CRUD associated to users then all that login stuff can be offloaded to facebook or whomever. 5) from a large corporation standpoint, you can now get additional social data about your users from the facebook api (I know, this isn't necessarily an advantage for the end user and is best viewed as double edged).

Are you opposed to openID too?

Comment But I Am Dead Serious! (Score 4, Interesting) 183

PS the recommendations in the first part of the post are not applicable to a beginner.

Believe it or not, I am dead serious about the Pi. There's a 13 year old kid from Lithuania staying with my boss and I brought over the exact same setup I mentioned above and just showed him briefly how scratch works. This was his e-mail to me a mere one week later:

Sorry, that I didn't wrote a letter for you long time.
I was working on Raspberry Pi and I am still working on it.
I am learning to program some games, and I have made one already. It is just a simple game. Now it have some things that don't let it work, and I am trying to fix them.
I made a little movie in the Scratch too.
Raspberry Pi is a very good computer. Sometimes I am thinking how could it work being so small, and it's almost a real computer.
I have heard, that root terminal needs a pasword to work. In this Raspberry Pi, I don't need pasword. When the program starts, it put a letter that I don't need pasword to run a program.
Thank you for opportunity to work with this computer, it is so interesting and good.

I asked him if he needed the root password I setup Debian with, that's why he said it doesn't need a root password. The great thing about the Pi is that it's cheap and you can do as little or as much with it as you want! I'm 30 years old and I love it! Seriously, when I tally up all the stuff I listed in that post, it comes to under $60! That's like a PS3 game disc ... how can you afford not to buy this for your kid -- whatever the age or gender?

Comment I Got It All Right Here (Score 5, Funny) 183

Even though he is a self-starter ...

Okay, awesome! What you should do is get him a raspberry pi then pick up an HDMI cable, a cheap keyboard and cheap mouse (both of which should be wired as it lags to offload wireless processing to the pi) from monoprice. Right now, B&H Video has a deal where you get 2 x 16GB cards for $15 if you add two of these to your cart with free shipping. Okay, I've actually already bought several sets of this stuff from these exact same suppliers and handed them off to a bunch of kids that are loving them right now. So that's all legit. You'll need to have a TV or monitor with an HDMI in and it helps if you have a cheap webcam (one of the tutorials I'm gonna mention uses it). You'll also need a second computer with a way to access SD flash cards (pick up a USB toaster for $5 if you don't have this)> Optional would be male-to-female wires like these with any breadboard so he can tinker with making his own stuff -- you'll probably have to drop more cash on more electronic devices to interface with it if you go this route though.

Next, you might consider this book but I prefer this one more. Okay then you send your kid here to get the hard float raspbian wheezy and you tell him how to figure out how to get it on the flash card to boot on the pi. There's a wiki for all this stuff. Then you send him here and make him do these tutorials. Then you make him read all the issues of the MagPi. And if he's smart enough, you buy him some more peripherals. There should be a lot more tutorials coming out for this device.

Once he has all that stuff, you go to the liquor store. Now, the liquor stores around my house sell a lot of types of vodkas and Absolut is great but I've found that Sobieski satiates me just as well. It's made from this Dankowski rye that makes great gimlets. Try to buy a case of handles and haggle him down to ~$13 a handle (that stuff is really cheap). Then you go to the store and you get some of that Real Lime lime juice. Not the key lime shit, the actual lime juice. You're gonna need a decent blender because this thing is gonna be working all summer long. Also, a bag of hazelnuts. Go home and fill a cup to the top with ice and put in about one finger of lime juice. Fill the rest with Sobieski. Blend that shit up, garnish with a couple crushed hazelnuts to really dry that shit out and kick back. Trust me, your kid is going to come and talk to you about python and apt-get and registers and you are not going to want to have to deal with that. So just get good and fucking faced in the sun all summer long. Your kid will thank you for staying out of his hair. A summer of riproarin' fall down drunk? You can thank me later.

Comment The Wrong Questions (Score 4, Informative) 99

But is there a good, reliable way to fund this sort of transition? To allow a company (however large or small) to stay in business while transitioning to an Open Source license?

This article is asking the wrong questions. The question should be: what are the appropriate scenarios to move a closed source license to the GPL?

Because his scenario doesn't sound like one of those cases. If your sole source of income is taking something you've written that you consider a finished product worthy of sales and selling licenses to it then the GPL route for that entire product is most likely not for you. Now, if you can extract a framework from these games/tools that you feel could be improved by the open source community but your specific work (like textures and dialogue for the games or complex/efficient algorithms for the tool) where you feel your worth is demonstrated remains proprietary, then you can open source those frameworks and benefit from community improvements.

When I write software, it belongs to the person that bought it from me. They are the sole copyright or whatever holders of that code. Only once has a customer open sourced it and several times it's just been shelved even though I've told them that open sourcing it couldn't possibly hurt anything. I don't do a licensing model for my income, I do a "Software as a Service" model. You pay me, you get what I write. I'm like a drug dealer except the first time is still expensive. I know you'll come back for more, everyone always does! Now if ten years down the road you're looking at my code and it's outdated or missing features and I died in that majestic fireworks in space accident then just open source it and see what happens.

Projects that don't start natively as open source rarely transition well to the GPL in my opinion but when they do, they're not a cash cow based on a licensing model sold as a solitary piece of software. I'm a huge fan of the GPL but you had to have seen that one coming a mile away, right? There are scenarios for open sourcing a closed source project. You've got mouths to feed, this isn't one of them. And once it's GPL'd you better start offering your services to augment that software and go back to working your ass off because I don't know how you're going to get licensing revenue again.

Comment Oh Give Me a Break (Score 4, Insightful) 376

They're careers will be systematically destroyed.

This was published in September of 2012 by the St. Louis Fed, when can I expect to see their careers systematically destroyed? Does that take longer than five months to walk someone out of such a highly visible position? Even Richard Stallman cited this when he responded to one of my questions.

Not to mention what they say, even if perfect in its documentation and rationality, will just be ignored.

After reading much of the report, I don't think it is "perfect in its documentation and rationality." While it brings up great examples of serious problems with the US Patent System (like software patents, the poster child for all that is wrong with patents), it does not examine examples where the patent system has worked. It seems to pretend like patents have never done anyone any good ever. Nor does it discuss how we would have to revert to trade secrets and lying awake at night wondering if one of our employees had just brought a bunch of documents over to our competitor for an undisclosed sum -- which employee would you charge with corporate espionage? All that fun stuff is completely ignored so I would consider the report lacking in thoroughness. They also spend a lot of time discrediting studies that claimed patents are beneficial which is all well and good. It doesn't follow that patents are completely bad, however.

Economists that don't toe the corporate line of thinking get booted.

I don't think that's true. I think it's true that economists who attack corporations for the sake of attacking corporations get booted ... but that's just because they let personal biases get in the way of research. It's odd, Blodrin and Levine actually cite a bunch of cases where the big corporations got bit in the ass (like the Motorola, Samsung, Apple, etc cell phone patent fiascos). So, you know, I think that patent reform (and maybe abolition) is actually starting to look beneficial for many corporations that want to expand even further.

Comment Conversely You Just Blew It (Score 4, Insightful) 232

I think the goal is to avoid wasting your time waiting to see if they're going to offer you a job, or to avoid accepting a job by a company like that if they do make an offer.

Um, yeah, no. Conversely you might have just sat through a potentially great job interview acting like you think you've got a royal flush and being careful not to show it. Yeah ... I'm not taking that risk. If you ask me in a job interview "How do you solve X" I am just going to turn on the firehose and let you have it to show you that I've got ideas for solving problems, I can openly confidently communicate said solutions well and I have dealt with problems like this in the past. If you can write all that down fast enough and follow through on something that normally takes a team six months to implement then good for you, you deserve that hail Mary pass that you somehow caught. Good luck on building a career off of hilarious asshattery like that. Your life must be "Weekend at Bernies" nine to five.

Comment Is This for Real? (Score 5, Insightful) 232

"Before asking about the fixes they’ve tried, start by acknowledging the depth of the problem and find out whether the manager has the resources to solve it. Then, just like a consultant, use their answers to highlight your experience and explain the approach you’d take." You could also try explaining how you've solved similar problems, which won't necessarily help them, but will demonstrate your value. Of course, one of the biggest challenges is determining when somebody is getting a little too specific with their interview questions.

Is this serious? Here's a big red warning sign for me: if my job can be jeopardized by twenty minutes of talking, I'm probably in the wrong industry. I can tell you how to implement a solution but it's the actual work and planning and care that should be paid for cash money.

What red flags should people keep an eye out for?

Here's a red flag: What company out there is so full of morons that they go to interviewees for direction? Man, if I ever got that feeling in an interview, I wouldn't want to work for them anyway and I'd walk away laughing when they try to turn small talk into a business plan! Is this why "consulting" is so stupid? They can have all the free advice they want, it's still going to shit out half way through when they go, "Okay we have hadoop and lucene, what was that 'blur' thing he was talking about?" or "Okay, we've built a rails app with the generator and scaffolds ... now what did he say about creating database migrations?" and on and on.

I mean, are there actually people out there that feel their job can be compromised by handing over thirty minutes of talking to a potential employer? The only thing I'd be worried about is if they started asking me to name names for other people they could hire.

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