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Comment Re:LaTeX (Score 4, Insightful) 642

When amateur photographers gather, they talk about cameras. They all have their favorite tools, they all have the "best" gizmos with all the buttons and functions and they know exactly what they all do.

When professional photographers come together, they talk about light. Composition. Art. The tool is uninteresting - a mere means to an end. And any one of a large number of them will do.

Comment Re:Creative billing (Score 4, Insightful) 129

There is, of course, the possibility that the man was just a good coder who was handed jobs that were bid as "six months of a full-time programmer" which he then slapped together in an afternoon of wild hacking and then just billed for the rest of the time while sitting in a bar. Pulling this off at two different employers at the same ime is impressive, but since employers don't exactly talk to each other who's just hired on I can easily see how one could fly under the radar like this.

Comment Re:#1 (Score 1) 147

Just curious what made you pick this one item. Yes, landing on Mars is hard. Then again, just getting TO Mars is hard. Then again, launching off Earth is hard. There's a whole string of events that all have to work to make this a success, and I'm slightly confused why you'd point to the landing stage as the important (or "critical" or "worrysome") one. From what I can gather, Mars probes have failed at launch, on transit, on approach (that's where Lockheed's screw-up with imperial units comes in) but once you're at the right speed in the atmosphere I'm not aware of any failures with descent/landing. I'm not saying there never were any, I'm certainly no expert, but I can't remember hearing of a Mars probe that made entry into the atmosphere at the expected angle and speed and then failed to make proper landing. Was there ever such a thing?

Comment It isn't NASA's JPL. (Score 2) 35

JPL is NOT a NASA center. Why is that so hard to get into people? JPL is a division of Caltech. The people there have contracts that say they work for Caltech. They get paychecks from Caltech.

JPL had hardware in Earth's orbit before NASA even existed.

JPL does a lot of work for NASA (i.e work where NASA is a customer - think Mars rovers etc) but at all times, some fraction of JPLs work is non-NASA. Has always been. The fraction has historically varied. Especially in the sensors, detectors and instrumentation side of the house, the fraction of non-NASA projects can easily exceed 50%. Yes, that includes DOD customers, but a lot of people appear to forget NOAA (who do you think invents all those clever weather satellites?) and a host of smaller research organizations (like, in this case, Carnegie) who simply need the best of whatever device they're looking for.

JPL is not cheap - if you want cheap, go somewhere else. But if you need something that measures subtle signals (like distinguishing individual types/genus/species of underbrush from each other from aircraft altitude to identify and monitor invasive species) in adverse conditions for years at a time, then JPL is probably the go-to shop. And no, it is not "NASA's JPL" and yes, your money is just as welcome as anybody else's.

Comment Re:Godspeed, Endeavour. (Score 0) 55

Yes and no. The time for industry to pick up the ball was in the eighties - the US and USSR had shown you can put a man into space, how to do it, where the biggest problems are and how to mitigate them. By the 1970, people had walked on the moon. By the mid seventies, everything was in place. That's when the shuttles were designed.

As it turns out, there's literally nothing in space. There's no conceivable economic gain to be had this quarter from sending people into space - and that's all that matters to big business. Even VC funding, which has a longer 5-7 year time horizon and doesn't absolutely insist on profit, doesn't see any viable business in low-earth orbit.

Right now, my hope is with nut-cases like Elon Musk; rich kids with more money than sense who want to go into space because it's cool.

Comment Makes sense to me (Score 4, Insightful) 298

There may be a hiring boom in "IT folks", but what does have to do with computer science? A hiring boom in plumbing doesn't mean we should have universities teach more hydrodynamics.

Let's face it: 97% of "computer science" graduates end up as code monkeys or cable stringers in jobs that a six-week trade certificate would be entirely sufficient to qualify for.

Comment Re:guilty eh? (Score 1) 964

The horrible thing, to me, is that they're trying to use it to push securing your home internet. Breaking home wireless encryption isn't that hard, and it would have made it far more difficult for him to prove his own innocence. It's a bit of a double-edged sword.

Exactly! What most of the posters here seem to miss is the fact that the headline here is FALSE! What this case underscores is the need to leave your Wifi open and unsecured because that was what got this guy exonerated in the end!

This cannot be stressed often enough: if your Wifi is secured, YOU are responsible for everything that passes over it! Including the child-porn, bomb-making instructions, drug-recipes and whatnot that are passed through it by the 14-year old next door who has two brain cells (which is all it takes to realize you don't do this kind of thing on your parent's wifi and to google the simple instructions for breaking your neighbor's WEP key in under five minutes).

If anything, this underscores the importance of leaving Wifi open!

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For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. -- H. L. Mencken