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Comment Sounds like a problem with flight planning (Score 5, Informative) 239

I used to work on one of these systems.

The flight planning system takes inputs from several sources - weather forecasts, notices about airspace closures, etc. (NOTAMs), and booking info - and creates an optimal flight plan for the aircraft.

A modern airline doesn't have enough flight planning staff to take over manually if the system fails, so if your flight planning goes out, your fleet is gradually grounded.

The large number of servers is due to the optimization problem. You need to take into account the flight conditions and fuel costs in different locations in order to decide your route, altitude, and fuel loading. Since fuel is a huge percent of the operating cost of the airline, it pays to invest a little extra computing power into optimizing these and save a bit fuel on each flight.

Our system had lots of redundancy but, with all the data feeds, there are lots of moving parts. It's not hard to imagine a scenario where, for example, you get everything transferred over to your disaster recovery site, but for some reason the weather feed isn't coming in and you can't make flight plans.

Comment Incompetent staff with no authority. (Score 4, Insightful) 150

That's not hard to answer. Nobody wants to spend hours on the phone with somebody who:

  • Can't say anything that isn't on their script.
  • Has no authority to fix the problem even if they could understand it.

Modern call centres appear to be designed specifically to infuriate people by politely wasting their time without solving any problems.

Comment Re:What is the point? (Score 4, Insightful) 340

The violation of privacy requires some reasonable counterbalancing objective. Inspecting physical goods has the reasonable objective of preventing smuggling. And it's reasonable that if you have something you really want to keep private (say you're a transvestite and don't want to come out), you'll leave the embarrassing material at home.

A phone or other electronic device, on the other hand, can contain all manner of private information. It's a much deeper invasion of privacy than just searching somebody's luggage. Deleting all that information just to be able to travel would constitute a considerable burden for most people.

The counterbalancing objective (I guess preventing the smuggling of child porn or something like that?) is much weaker. There are so many other ways of smuggling data that these inspections aren't likely to lead to any positive results.

So you have a much greater invasion of privacy vs. and a much weaker reasonable objective for needing to perform the search. I don't think the crown will win this, or at least I hope they won't.

Comment Leave the PhD off your CV for a couple of years. (Score 5, Insightful) 479

It's not fair, but it's probably better to just list your master's for now.

Right now they figure you won't be happy with a junior position, but you don't have the experience from them to trust you with something more senior. Once you've got a bit of experience put the PhD back on. It will help you land more senior jobs later.

Comment Re:You are not a racist, you are ignorant... (Score 1) 226

Off topic, but in case you're following this thread... there was an interesting study on racism in Europe some years ago. They found that racism is about the same everywhere, but the effects of racism are quite different.

In a country like Finland, everything is "by the book". There are rules, and they are followed strictly. That means that if I, as a foreigner, am applying for a loan, the loan officer might be a horrible racist, but if I qualify I'll get the loan anyway. In a country like Italy the loan officer has more discretion and is more likely to find some reason to deny the loan if they happen to dislike me personally.

Comment Re:You are not a racist, you are ignorant... (Score 2) 226

I didn't actually say that every Indian is corrupt, but most are complicit. They might not like the bribes, but they pay them (because they also need to get things done) or they say nothing when others take them (because they don't want to lose their jobs). And there's the problem - the only thing that can change the system is a massive change in attitudes. And it can't be just a few people - it pretty much has to be everybody at once.

I'm guilty too - I've paid my share of bribes. I don't feel good about it, but I can't afford to be the hero - I need to get stuff done.

I do know lot of honest, hard-working people in India - I wouldn't bother to try to do business there otherwise. But my dealings with government always leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Comment Re:corruption (Score 5, Interesting) 226

It's not racist. The Indian government is pathetically corrupt. It's truly awful, and goes from the very bottom (police, petty local officials) right to the top. Finland, on the other hand, is one of the least corrupt countries in the world.

I know nothing about this case, but I'm going to trust the Finns on this one until proven otherwise.

(Disclosure: I'm a half-Indian who's lived in Finland and done a lot of work with Nokia. I also have business interests in India.)

Comment Re:Running key is dead... Long Live the One Time P (Score 1) 71

I always thought it would be interesting to try to create "perfect" compression of English (or any language, really). You create an encoding such that every possible message is a semantically and grammatically correct message. Then each and every decrypted message is equally valid.

Of course, this goal is impossible, but I bet we could get reasonably close. Close enough that a human would be required to check each decrypted message, making brute force attacks unrealistic.

A one time pad is simpler, of course, but where's the fun in that?

Comment Re:Yawn ... (Score 1) 205

Yeah, I'm with on this, sadly.

The gadget geek in me really wants this tablet. But the truth is that my year-old tablet, though not nearly as performant as this new toy, is perfectly fine for the only thing I actually use it for: reading e-books. The processor and memory don't make any difference. The screen is kind of tempting, but would mean more to me if I did real work on my tablet (I care a lot about my laptop screen resolution).

Tablet makers are going to have to come up with something pretty innovative to get me to bother upgrading.

Comment Why would I use Windows? (Score 1) 1215

I started my professional career developing for Sun workstations, then various Unixes, and for the past 14 years, Linux. Initially, it was just easier to use Linux as my desktop development environment, as my toolchain is here and I'm more familiar with the Unixy way of doing things. Besides, Windows was unstable and not very pleasant to use.

Nowadays Windows seems a lot more stable, and there are better tools for working cross-platform and/or over a network from a Windows desktop. But Linux GUIs have improved too, and I pretty much hate it when I occasionally need to use OSX or Windows machines. They're ugly, difficult to use, and generally less functioanal than my Linux environemnt. I could probably tweak them to make them friendlier, but why bother?

A lot of developers seem to use Macs, but the single-menu interface drives me crazy. It really doesn't work if you have multiple monitors.

Comment Re:No, not again (Score 4, Interesting) 354

I think Shuttleworth has just decided (probably correctly) that he can't make any money on the desktop, but mobile is still a possibility. The Unity interface and now this are an attempt to compete with Android.

I abandoned Ubuntu for my desktop when Unity came, but I think I might actually like it on a tablet or phone. Anyway, I'll try to keep an open mind when the devices actually come out. I hope one of non-Android Linux phone efforts finds a niche, whether it's Ubuntu, Jolla, Tizen, or Firefox OS. If Shuttleworth can pull it off, then more power to him.

Comment Re:I will still use my desktop computer (Score 2) 219

There's still a need for the "gamer" PC, and that niche will continue to exist.

But for most of us, there are better alternatives. I just bought one of the Intel Next Unit of Computing systems a couple of days ago. I'm thrilled with it so far. It's totally quiet, mounts discretely on the side of my desk, supports two monitors, and is plenty fast enough for my software development needs.

I don't develop games, but I imagine that most users will be playing games on tablet-like devices in the near future, so a system like mine probably has more gaming horsepower than the average tablet as well.

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