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Comment Re:Degrees are primarily HR tick marks (Score 2) 245

Well written, Anonymous. On this much we agree: A college diploma is neither necessary nor sufficient to obtain useful skills. However, I think you overstate your case. College does not guarantee that you will become a problem solver, but if becoming a problem solver is your goal then college can be an effective method of achieving it.

Self-motivation and self-study are important, but not sufficient. In a functional college environment, you will be serendipitously exposed to ideas that you would not otherwise encounter, and would not know that you need to dig into. If you are motivated and want to learn, college is a great place to do that.

On the other hand, my thesis presumes a "functional" college environment. If you want to argue that many colleges these days are dysfunctional, I won't contradict you. It is entirely possible to get a college degree, even an advanced degree, and not learn anything useful. But just because it is possible to waste years and countless thousands of dollars on worthless degree programs does not mean that all college is worthless. You will get out of college in proportion to what you put in. I think even soft subjects, properly done, have value, though I agree with you that the soft subjects are not often properly done nowadays.

Society seems to have conflated the concepts of "credentials" and "capabilities" and assumes that having the first bestows the second. You cannot deny that the two are at least correlated, but the correlation is imperfect and even if it were perfect it would not imply causality. It would be good if more people, and especially policy makers, recognized this.

Comment A wall of pixels (Score 3, Insightful) 360

You want as many pixels on your screen as you can get. Dual-head is better. (Triple- or quad-head is better still). This follows from the simple observation that the more information you can see at one time, the faster you can work and the fewer mistakes you will make.

Remember that the pixel-width of your screen is more important that the physical width of your screen. The physical width should be sized so that it completely fills your field of vision when you are seated comfortably and ergonomically. Your goal should then be to put as many pixels inside that fixed physical width as you possibly can.

Avoid programming on laptops. You cannot work efficiently while looking through a soda-straw.

Comment Re:I have seen vote fraud with my own eyes! (Score 1) 1321

Wow, a person stumbled over their address, clearly they're lying!

The episode went something like this:

Poll worker: What is your current address?
Voter: States address
Poll worker: That is not what we have on your registation. That address is in a different district.
Voter: I've moved
Poll worker: You'll have to go to the other district and file a contingency ballot.
Voter: Oh. In that case I haven't really moved, my address is still original address.

It was eye-rollingly obvious that the voter was lying and had moved to a different voting district but had not bothered to update her registration. So she voted in a district where she did not live. As I said, it was a minor fraud, but it is still fraud.

And they knew you had registered your move yet how...? You had just moved. How did they get your new address?

It was a local politician who knew me personally and professionally.

Comment I have seen vote fraud with my own eyes! (Score 1) 1321

> confirmed voter fraud are exceedingly rare

I keep hearing this matra of how rare vote fraud is. Yet I have personally witnessed fraud occurring twice in my life, without looking for it. If I have stumbled over vote fraud twice, which makes me think that it happens rather frequently.

The first instance of fraud I observed was in Durham, NC in the early 1990s. A woman in line to vote in front of me had moved house but voted in her former district. This was apparent because she initially gave an incorrect address, but then amended her answer to her old address when the new one didn't work. From her reactions and mannerisms, it was plainly apparent to all that she we lying about where she currently lived.

In the second instance occurred 10 years later, shortly after I myself had moved to a new city. A local politician in my former town mailed me an absentee ballot and told me to fill it out and send it back in. (I declined).

The first fraud would probably not impact national elections since it merely shifted votes from one district to another. But the second case presented the opportunity to vote twice.

I have no hard data on how often vote fraud actually occurs. But if I've personally seen it twice myself, that strongly suggests that it is happening more than 31 times in 14 years.

Comment Re:If confirmed, does this make it realistic? (Score 3, Insightful) 477

No. You are not getting it. View the result of the experiment not as a violation of CoM but rather as "unexplained momentum transfer". You continue to assume that CoM holds and go about figuring out mysterious way that the EM drive is imparting some of its momentum into its surroundings.

Comment Yeah. Was:Definitely nah (Score 3, Interesting) 497

> if you understand threading, you can work just fine within it

If you understand pointers and malloc(), you can work just fine within them too. But that hasn't stopped people from disparaging them relentlessly and trying to come up with new "safe" languages that don't have pointers and memory allocation.

Added irony: With pointer and memory allocation bugs, the problems are at least reproducible. Can't say that about threading bugs.

still cannot figure out why the Java developers thought they needed to do away with pointers and (application-controlled) memory allocation, but then turned around and encouraged the use of threads. It's kind of like saying to children: "Don't play with those scissors, you might cut yourself. Use the power saw instead!"

Comment Re:Not a SQLite problem (Score 4, Informative) 60

In SQLite, you can do "PRAGMA secure_delete=ON;" and it will subsequently overwrite all deleted information with zeros. This is turned off by default because it does more disk I/O. Alternatively, one can run "VACUUM" at any time to ensure that all deleted content has been purged from the database file.

Comment Re:Well past time... (Score 0) 117

> Please spare us the tired, "the guvamint will screw it up" argument.

I came through immigration/customs at IAD just yesterday. All around me, seasoned international travellers were talking about how this was the worst border crossing in the world. It truly was a rousing display of mismanagement and incompetence.

I tremble to think what government-managed broadband would be like.

Comment Google also putting down lots of new fiber (Score 5, Interesting) 124

Here in Charlotte, there are crews all over trenching in new fiber conduit - both for Google and for AT&T. I found it interesting that the AT&T crews that I've seen are putting in a single 1-inch conduit, whereas the Google crews are putting in multiple (sometimes as many as five) 2-inch conduits. Maybe Google is just trying to catch up. Or maybe they have bigger plans.

Comment Re:Haven't noticed a thing... (Score 5, Informative) 149

https://www.sqlite.org/ is hosted on Linode - has been for over 10 years. The site was off-line for about 10 minutes on Tuesday, but service has been OK otherwise.. The folks at Linode have done a good job of keeping things running. I see now that Chris Aker and his team have had a challenging week.

I've used a variety of hosting providers, but I always keep coming back to Linode. Their product is competitively priced, they provide exceptional service and support, and they are very simple to use. And, unlike AWS, you don't need a calculator and 2 hours spent parsing fine print in the documentation to figure out how much a given level of service will end up costing you. I highly recommend Linode for your cloud computing needs. I hope they are able to resolve their DDoS problems quickly.

Comment Re:Go to college to actually learn something (Score 2) 306

At least with Engineering/Math/Hard Science you have to demonstrate via projects and tests that you have actually learned something.

That "something" is the ability to solve problems.

There is a simple formula: To be employable (in a free society) you need to solve more problems than you create.

Every employee creates problems - most notably they expected to be paid. Some individuals create additional problems by being high-drama, which makes them less employable, but that is another story.

If "getting an education" means the same as "learning to solve more and harder problems", then it is easy to see why getting an education leads to better employment prospects.

Much disappointment, bitterness, and argument ensues, methinks, when people confuse "earning a diploma" with "learning to solve problems". These are distinct things. Though there is a correlation between having a diploma and being able to solve a problem, the correlation is less than 1.0 and is quite a bit less, I believe, than most university administrators are willing to admit. This comes down to marketing: Universities do not sell problem solving skills, they sell diplomas, and so naturally they will emphasis the "earning a diploma" aspect over "learning to solve problems".

STEM courses are all the rage with employers now, I believe, because a STEM diploma has a much better correlation with problem solving skills than do other degrees. I do not think that is an inherent property of the STEM curriculum. My experience is that someone with a liberal arts degree can be just as good of a problem solver as someone with a STEM degree. I think instead that this is an indictment of the current horrid state of liberal arts education.

Note to students: If you desire is to be employable, focus on developing problem solving skills, not on getting a diploma. I don't mean to blow the diploma off completely - it might still be a technical requirement at the (unenlightened) HR departments of the companies for which you want to work. I mean instead that you should be constantly asking yourself "will this course improve my problem solving ability" rather than "will this course help me to graduate". I also mean that you should actively take it upon yourself to practice solving problems. And not just technical problems: business problems, interpersonal problems, societal problems, environmental problems, logistical problems - all kinds of problems. Do you see a piece of litter on the ground - pick it up and put it in the trash bin, and you've just solved a problem. Instead of being arrogant, bitter, angry, or hostile towards people you interact with, trying being kind and understanding, and you're on your way toward solving interpersonal problems. Make up your bed. Wash the dishes. Wash and fold your laundry. Make it your habit to solve common everyday kinds of problems like this and you are well on your way toward solving the bigger problems that employer are willing to hire you for.

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