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Comment The Scientific Method CANNOT prove true theories! (Score 1) 106

It can only disprove false ones.

From time to time I read - especially here at /. - that string theory is bogus because it is not falsifiable.

G-d Almighty Himself didn't create the Universe for the benefit of scientists. Just because a theory cannot be falsified, does not mean it is incorrect. It means we just don't know.

Comment Feynman tutored me in QM at Caltech (Score 5, Interesting) 106

At first I understood quantum mechanics well enough to get good grades on my problem sets and exams, but I regarded it as delusional because I was heavily into the deterministic Newtonian idea of The Clockwork Universe.

He was able to give me a deep insight into QM without ever once doing a derivation or even simple arithmetic. For the most part it was purely conceptual discussions of the two-slit experiment.

What convinced me of quantum indeterminism in the end was Feynman pointing out that the two-slit also works for electrons, not just photons, and that one can use Shot Noise to determine when individual electrons are leaving the hot wire filament used to produce them.

Even if you send over just one electron at a time, you still get the rippled interference pattern at the detector.

It turns out that an antiparticle going back in time is exactly the same as a regular particle going forward in time. Just by watching an individual particle, or only a few of them, you cannot determine which direction time is going on.

It's only when you have enough particles for their measure of entropy to make sense that you can determine which direction time is going in. Entropy ALWAYS increases with time, so if you watch a system of particles, and their entropy is steadily decreasing, they are going backwards.

I've never heard anyone mention it, but what about smaller systems of particles, where entropy can be measured, but whose entropy fluctuates? Does time go back and forth? I don't know.

"MAYBE THERE'S JUST ONE ELECTRON!" Feynman once shouted.

We don't think that's the case - that just one electron goes from the beginning of the Universe to the end, then returns as a positron - because if there were significant amounts of antimatter in the Universe, we would expect there to be lots of 0.511 MeV gamma rays in the cosmic radiation but there is not.

I am STILL stymied by a question he asked once:

"Why does a mirror reverse left-and-right but not up-and-down?"

Comment Actually, Tim Cook WAS doing his job (Score 3, Interesting) 348

The CEO of a company - whether public or not - is expected to make certain decisions completely on his or her own.

Like the captain of a ship. Consider that all the captains of the US missile submarine fleet have the authority to nuke President Putin back to the stone ages should the sub ever lose communications with their commanders in the Pentagon.

Like the captain of a ship, the CEO of a company can be relieved of command, should - NOT the stockholders but THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS - feel he or she is doing a bad job.

Like say, when the Apple board tossed Steve Jobs out on his ear, put Woz out to pasture, scouted around for a more multinational kinda brand-oriented guy, brought in John Scully, who proceeded to lay off four thousand of my coworkers back when I was doing MacTCP QA for Apple, because he'd never actually used a computer in his entire life before hiring on at the Cupertino Fruit Company.

Rly. I still have my Apple Employee Loan-to-Own PowerMac 8500. That tradition got started specifically because of Scully not knowing how to use a computer. That was actually a common problem back in the day. Actually it still is; I know of some guy whose computer was running real slow, because he hide NINE Internet Explorer toolbars. But I digress.

Now suppose Timmy-baby really wasn't doing his job, but the board backed him. Then the job of the shareholders would be to elect a new board. That's one of the things they often do at these shareholder meetings. It would be up to a vote of the board to replace the CEO.

As for those who object to Apple's green policies. Consider how many citizens of the People's Republic of China work for Apple, or for one of Apple's suppliers such as FoxConn. I expect that - indirectly - far more people work for Apple in the PRC than do in the whole rest of the world put together.

The air in China used to be pretty clean because the people lived in a very simple manner, they didn't own many consumer products, they all dressed in olive drab and rode bicycles to work and school. Even Ambassador George Herbert Walker Bush rode his bike to the embassy in Peking!

While nominally still Communist, actually it is quite likely the closest to unfettered capitalism of anywhere on the planet. Without the slightest thought towards urban planning, there are factories everywhere, everyone who has a good job has a nice car, and a nice place to live. Thus they had that one hundred mile long traffic jam that lasted a week.

China gets most of its energy from coal. It is plentiful there. They import coal as well; there is a controversial proposal to build a coal terminal where I now live in Vancouver, Washington, so coal mined in Montana can be loaded onto cargo ships then transported to China.

This had the eventual result that I recently saw the most amazing photograph. I don't have a link but maybe I can dig it up then post it in a reply.

The smog is so thick in many Chinese cities that one cannot see the sky, certainly not the sunrise.

So along the busy streets, in the early mornings, they have installed very large video screens that show the rising Sun.

The photo I saw, the video on that screen was so beautiful, but the smog was so thick that the people couldn't see more than maybe thirty feet. That's why the life expectancy in Beijing has gone down by fifteen years.

I don't know that Tim Cook is worrying about his Chinese employees, or those of his Chinese vendors, but if he wants FoxConn to keep assembling iDevices, they can't all be dropping dead of emphysema can they? Grandpa Crawford died of that, he spent his last five years on a portable oxygen tank. It's a nasty way to go.

Comment "My iMac is running slow today," said Mom (Score 2) 348

"No Mom, your computer isn't slow. It's a G4 iMac. You have 1.2 GB of memory. You are never going to run out of gigabytes." (That's how my mother refers to her disk drive.

"The people who write most software these days, they have really, really fast machines, with lots of memory and tons of gigabytes. They don't take care to make their software run fast anymore. It's a real problem."

When I use Mom's mouse to resize an OpenOffice window, the corner of the window lags quite far - not noticably but severely so - behind the motions of the mouse.

Now consider my own product QuickLetter from Working Software, that in 1992 was quick and snappy on a Mac Plus with 4 MB of memory, and what was it? An 8 MHz 68000? Or was it 6 MHz?

I don't know the clock of the G4 in Mom's iMac, but it is several hundred megahertz at least.

It is quite common for me these days to find web pages that take ten minutes to fully download. When I looked into ordering Comcast Business Class Cable Internet, I needed to view three pages - their homepage, then their business internet offerings, then their pricing.

Each page took a full hour to download. This because mom still uses dialup earthlink. It works fine for her occasional email to aunt peggy. I expect that comcast's web designers never actually tested their own site over dialup, despite trying to sell cable internet to dialup users.

Comment I hope this is far better than Apache Solr (Score 0) 24

Solr claims to be yet strictly fails to be a drop-in search engine for your website.

A former employer of mine, who didn't have a clue about Linux, Java or Open Source, bet the farm on Solr speeding up the report generation for his online service.

I don't want to tell you who this employer is because they provide a valuable service to the business community. But the owner of the company is a raging alcoholic, who devoted at least an hour at the end of each day for not having gotten Solr up and running yet, despite his not having lifted a finger to evaluate it before committing to the project.

If there is the slightest error in Solr's configuration, and you have logging enabled, it spews Java exception stack traces, but does not give you the first clue as to what you did wrong.

Stack traces are for developers not end-users, M'Kay? How about a diagnostic message?

I repeatedly asked for help on Stackoverflow but no one ever answered my questions. All I ever found were questions from other desperate Solr users, for the most part unanswered.

Before you commit to a technology, or your new bride, or your vote for a political candidate, put it or their name into google along with "sucks" just for grins.

for example, at the time "Solr sucks" got 600,000 hits.

It is appalling that software like that would be released to end users with the claim it is production quality software.

From time to time I see Solr coding gigs on the job boards. I never apply, I just say "You are doomed" to myself. Perhaps I should do the right thing, by sending a polite email to the hiring manager, suggesting he select some other solution to his problem.

Comment While I no longer Believe, I yet read of His Word (Score -1, Offtopic) 348

I was at one time a Senior Engineer at Apple Computer Inc. - remember when Apple was a computer company? If you had no clue where the bug in new system software builds, that bug came to me or one of the other members of my small team of Debug Meisters.

I earned one hundred fifty grand in 2008, then resigned in protest from Applied Micro Circuits Corporation because they flatly refused to test my hardware RAID driver in the same configuration as the customers use it.

I owe a lot of money to a lot of people, so my far-wealthier colleagues often criticize me for buying hot pizza for homeless people.

A while back I was in a real bad part of Oldtown Portland, Oregon. An obviously mentally ill woman approached me in the darkness to ask for money. "Did you know there's a woman's shelter not far from here?"


"I will take you there." To the Salvation Army Female Emergency Shelter (S.A.F.E.S.). It's real bad for women to be homeless, they are often sexually assaulted.

I returned with two slices of hot pizza for her.

I've been homeless for a couple of years now, however I have been contributing to society through articles on my website, both on the topic of mental illness - I have Bipolar-Type Schizoaffective Disorder - as well as technical stuff.

I spent these last two years working diligently to find a job. However even if you don't want to actually read my site, have a quick look at it:

At the top of every single page on the site, are prominent links to Living with Schizoaffective Disorder and My Deepest Fear.

It happens quite a lot, that I'll have an interview scheduled, then the hiring company just disappears, or else they claim they offered the position to some other candidate, but then they openly repost it on the job boards, or all the recruiters approach me about the job that just got filled.

That's actually a gross violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The US Federal Equal Opportunity Commission would be happy to sue upon my behalf, but in the end I decided not to pursue any lawsuits.

Fuck 'Em If They Can't Take A Joke.

Happily I just scored a real good remote contract, so I am working out of my Mom's guest room, debugging some GPL C++ Linux code. I'd tell you what that is exactly but I decided I should leave it up to my clients.

They are quite astute coders but they are not C++ coders.

I've been doing some research. I could have charged them quite a lot more per hour than what I am presently earning.

But no, I don't need that money. When I get my first check in about a week, I will rent a single room in a shared house, then I will be happy as a clam.

And I will go back to buying hot pizza for the homeless.

Comment Fake jobs posted to discourage creditors (Score 1) 491

A friend of mine was at one time a dot-com millionaire, but he managed to blow it all on hats.

Throughout the dot-com crash, his company website had two or three open positions. The job requisitions were updated regularly - that is, they weren't always the same job. Sometimes he needed engineering, sometimes QA, sometimes sales.

So I dropped him a dime and said "Aren't you busted?" and he replied "Yeah but as long as our creditors think we're still in business, they hope to get repaid. If we weren't hiring they might send the sheriff around to seize our office furniture."

Comment Try answering this simple interview question (Score 1) 491

I've been asked this same question in interviews twice:

write a C function to reverse a C-string in place.

I expect most slashbots can supply a correct answer, but a good friend of mine who has many years of experience as a visual basic coder, and who does know some basic C, is unable to answer the question.

When I supplied my answer, the company owner said "I see you have an eye for efficiency". I found that puzzling. Perhaps that's why I got the job.

I've interviewed with google a few times. I won't tell you any of their interview questions, that would be rude, but I will tell you that their HR recruiters - all in-house, not third-party headhunters - all screen new candidates by asking the very same, very basic three computer science questions. Anyone who has done one single algorithms class, and worked a year at a good coding job should be able to answer all three questions, but I expect that many prospective candidates cannot.

Comment The Problem is Hitting the Ground Running (Score 4, Insightful) 491

What they teach in a Computer Science degree are some of the more common or interesting algorithms, algorithm analysis and design, some operating system theory, say how to write a mouse driver as did my friend at UC Santa Cruz.

So you get out on the workforce looking for your first job, and you see that the craigslist "sof / qa / dba" section wants someone who knows PHP, Javascript and MySQL.

So you buy some books and learn those, maybe you get the job, but eventually you go looking for another job. They want C# .Net, Microsoft Internet Information Server and SQL Server.

I now have a vast number of technical books, and a hard time getting a job because I've never written an Android App.

How about on-the-job training? There were at least at one time some companies that did it. That's how I learned Java, Python, Smalltalk, Postscript and UNIX Sysadmin. But on the job training is very uncommon these days, because employers want "someone who can hit the ground running".

If you paid your new hire to spend his or her first week reading an O'Reilly book, then the next month paired up with a more experienced coder, you'd find that there is no shortage of workers, rather there is a surplus.

Comment like slavery? Only male landowners can vote? (Score 1) 304

marijuana is completely legal and grows wild all over creation?

While Albert Hoffman had yet to discover it in 1776, LSD was perfectly legal from his discovery during world war II until 1965.

Now we find that the conservatives work vigorously to prevent the cultivation of industrial hemp. I'm not talking about The Evil Weed. I'm talking about the plant that you make the kind of paper out of, that you write declarations of independence on. Hemp paper lasts forever, and is a lot cheaper and better for the environment than paper made from wood.

This despite that most other countries actually encourage hemp cultivation. It won't be long at all before the american paper industry collapses, because we won't be able to compete with Canadian hemp paper.

Women should not be permitted to wear pants?

Mentally ill people are burned at the stake as witches?

c'mon, help me out here I'm begging you!

Comment No. That's not actually the case. (Score 2) 304

I know lots of people from right-wing families, who got lots of help with their businesses and so are now quite wealthy, quite often through no fault of their own.

I personally feel very strongly that I must succeed on my own merits, so actually for most of my career I've been self-employed. But I never got any real help from anyone other than, if I'm really lucky, the occasional helpful advice.

I learned the very, very hard way that accountants and attorneys are a compete waste of my valuable time. They are willing to give me real bad advice in return for an hour of their fees, but they only give good advice to those with deep pockets.

Consider say Ronald Reagan. He was very poor when he was a child, but quite wealthy as an adult. But then as adult, he did everything in his power, to enable the already rich, to get even richer, while at the same time knocking down the poor people. For example one of his very first acts as president was to deny food stamps to college students.

Comment I'll never forgive my mother for destroying my inh (Score 1) 304


My mother's father committed suicide when she was just seven, in 1948. While he was quite wealthy, being a suicide his life insurance didn't pay out. At they time her family owned a fine mansion. They had to sell it, give away or throw away most of their possessions, then take what they could pack in a truck to my grandmother's childhood home in iowa until they all could recover.

Hence my mother quite adamantly refusing to give me so much as twenty-five cents per week. To expensive you see.

"So mom. I'd like to buy you a good quality turntable with a USB port, so I can digitize grandpa speelmon's collection of monophonic 78 RPM classical records."

"No mike. I'm just going to throw all those records out."


"They can't possibly be worth anything to anyone. I'm just going to toss them."

"How about giving them to your sister?"

To have any hope of my mother not getting me arrested or committed to a mental instutition, I have had to learn to just let her destroy my inheritance from all of my granparents, as well as my father.

My mother has lots of money, and splits her will evenly between me and my sister, but that's it: the will quite clearly states we each get half.

OK... so who gets what?

My friend Maria has disowned her two sisters, because the two of them snatched up all of their father's possessions when he died.

Similarly with my friend Charles: "We don't actually want to have the dining room table back. We'd just like to eat off it sometimes."

I don't know but I expect granpa speelmon's 78s would be worth maybe fifty grand to a collector. But the money is not the point; I would never sell them, I would do my best to ensure they stayed in our family through successive generations.

"Mom? Do you know where dad's slide collection is?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know?"

"Those were just pictures of Europe," she calmly replied.

"JUST PICTURES OF EUROPE?" actually what upsets me most is that I cannot remember what many of my childhood friends even looked like, but I'm sure dad photographed at least some of them.

"You could have sold dad's photos to a stock photography company for ten grand!" Actually more like a couple hundred grand. Dad could have been a national geographic photographer had he but lifted a finger.

Comment Yes, I do, but I have pressing work to do tonight (Score 1) 304

that I cannot meet your demands this very night to provide a citation immeditately, does not mean I am delusional or incorrect.

You might as well have just invoked Godwin's Law.

That's just like appealing to authority, for example "C++ sucks because Richard Stallman prefers C and Java".

Perhaps I should defy you to demonstrate that the Right actually PROMOTES critical thinking instruction in schools.

Give me a fucking break.

Comment This was 1982. College was not then so expensive (Score 1) 304

My first two years at Caltech, my total tuition, fees, room, board and books were just ten grand for a top private school.

I transferred to UC Santa Cruz where I later graduated. At that time, tuition, room, board, books and fees came to about three grand.

Fast forward today today. I don't know the actual numbers but my understanding is that UCSC now costs somewhere around fifteen grand. That has a lot to do with the fact that the UC Regents can set their own salaries. The California legislature, government, the UC Students, the courts and what have you, have no control over the UC regent salaries.

There is no damn good reason that Caltech actually needs to charge anyone anything to study there. It has more money in its endowment than G-d Almighty Himself.

Despite that, towards the end of my time there, they announced a collossal tuition increase, so as to be more in line with what other top schools like Stanford were charging at the time.

That never made any sense to any of us, but there it is.

So anyway, my McDonalds manager friend really did put himself through school. He did not qualify for need-based financial aid.

Rather, he attended the local community college for his first two years, which was at the time dirt cheap, then later transferred to UC Berkeley.

Comment UP FOR SOME CHESS? YOU TOOK WHITE. (Score 1) 304

Actually I have a lucrative C++/Linux contract

The client just tonight said "We want you to own the code".

When I hesitantly asked for permission to do some things that upstream might find offensive, he told me to go to town.

I expect the reason I've been homeless is that I quite prominently link Living with Schizoaffective Disorder and My Deepest Fear quite prominently at the top of every page of my site - including my seven page resume.

Word seems to have also gotten around that I have very high ethical standards, and so regard my half-dozen or so protest resignation letters as among my very finest written works. One of them is online somewhere but I don't recall the link.

It is true that I am unlikely to figure out how many times I have been in mental hospitals. I really am that crazy at times. However I have only just once been in one for more than a few days at a time. I got three extra months for spending twenty solid minutes quite lucidly explaining to a Court Commissioner who was quite clearly out of her depth when attempting to determine whether the mentally ill should be held involuntarily, that she was a seething idiot.

She started shouting at me. Repeatedly. I mean she totally blew her stack. She then locked me up in Western State Hospital in Lakewood Washington. They wouldn't let me have my Macbook Pro there, so I continued the development of my iOS App by hand, on paper, with a pencil.

I'm old enough to know that there was a time that that was the only way you COULD write software, as keypunch machines and trained keypunch operators were such scarce and expensive resources.

Quite commonly social workers and case managers try to force me onto the disability check, or into government subsidized housing. Always I refuse; despite being mentally ill, I am in reality not in any way disabled.

Look man: half the reason I'm a coder, is that I can still write good coder while I am floridly psychotic! That is G-d's Gospel Truth. The NAZIs used to hold Panzer manuevers in the parking lot of my old office. I'd just shut the blinds, turn out the lights, tell myself I was hallucinating, then continue with my code.



Kids these days...

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PL/I -- "the fatal disease" -- belongs more to the problem set than to the solution set. -- Edsger W. Dijkstra, SIGPLAN Notices, Volume 17, Number 5