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Comment Re:If you want to write a book, just do it (Score 1) 263

Sure, yeah, you could take a few weekend courses and bang out some stuff and possibly even find a job paying decent money. But if you want to move up in the world you need to turn your hack and slash techniques into a refined art. The kind of crap commodity programmers write is the stuff that skilled developers get paid a lot of money cleaning up or just re-implementing. (...) If you want to work in the big leagues on important things, you need to be open to learning some things and respect the craft.

With all possible respect to all the CS experts of the world, that's not what they teach. Finding a good organization of your application that makes structures easy to break down, processes easy to follow and changes easy to implement doesn't involve deep, abstract mathematical formulations with optimal answers. It's about creating functional units (objects, layers, modules, services) with clear responsibilities that abstract away internal details, create well defined and narrow interactions, break up and explain complex logic, that everything behaves like and contains what you'd expect from common language definitions and naming conventions and with sufficient high level documentation that anyone of moderate intelligence can understand what bits need to go where.

Or to put it another way, if you sent the source code through an obfuscator the CS experts would probably be just as happy with the output as the input, after all the algorithms and functionality are all unchanged. It would make it an incomprehensible mess of spaghetti code and "there be dragons" that nobody understand how or why works, but those are practical concerns. The same is error and exception handling, CS is all about correct algorithms that never get called with invalid input or run into any of those practical problems that cause poorly written software to crash, often without leaving behind any useful reason why and if there's any possibility to just fail this and move on.

I think you're onto something about the craft and the art. If you want to make swords for an army it's a craft, if you're making a nobleman's fine blade it's an art. Most of the time what we want is robust craftsmanship, process as many passable swords as possible and discard any failures. Not very glamorous and not very artistic, we're not awarding points for style or elegance but whether the code you've built is a reliable work horse that gets the job done. Or maybe the difference between an institutional chef and a fine dining chef. One is serving a hundred people a good meal, the other can spend forever making a plate of fine art. Both are very different from being a poor chef, but being good at one doesn't really make you good at the other. And CS is the Michelin guide department.

Comment Re:He would have been better off ... (Score 4, Insightful) 115

And keep a copy of your stuff on hand before you get fired.

If you were doing it at work on company systems it's probably not "your stuff" anyway, it's probably small utilities he used to make his job easier. If you want to do something for yourself do it on your own time on your own machine, don't use any company resources and try not to do anything that would make them question your loyalty to your day job. Being a consultant or contractor is fine because everyone knows that. Being an employee with a secret double agenda is not.

Comment Re:Lucky he got off so light (Score 1) 115

Somebody still owns that ISP's assets. Two things, though...

1) Good luck getting $26K from an inmate - at a buck or two a day, twenty-six grand will take a lot longer than two years, and

Assuming he had zero assets before the trial. Any down payment on a mortgage, a car in good shape and you're pretty close.

2) If the courts determined that he only did $26,000.00 worth of damage, I'm guessing this ISP was probably already circling the bowl. After all, if he was solely responsible for breaking this ISP, one would expect a far higher award for damages, regardless of (1), above.

Probably. It could also be that it was easy to prove he did at least $26k worth of damage, he has no more assets and the trustee wants the bankruptcy settled and think the practical value of a higher judgement is zero. Except for when the RIAA/MPAA/BSA want big numbers for PR reasons, they're often willing to settle for what you have.

Comment Re:Because it's not software (Score 1) 117

Ford's innovation in business is that he saw the value of building an affordable car, one that his own employees could afford. But to achieve that he had to re-engineer the production process (rather than the business process). He did not reinvent the concept of a car, but he certainly had to redesign it so that it could be built efficiently on his production line.

You could say that Musk is following a similar path. He wants to get to Mars, needs to get launch costs down to make that feasible, so he (and his engineers) are trying to come up with a reusable rocket that allows them to drive down that cost. From vision to business model to engineering.

Comment Re: Woosh. (Score 1) 102

Hydrogen, on the other hand, requires dedicated infrastructure to support 100% of fuelling requirements. Not just the stations, but the generation, storage and shipping.

And maybe not such a big deal or practical for trailers travelling the same corridor, but if you miscalculate or there's detours or you run into defective equipment or whatever you're not dead in the water with an EV as long as somebody got a working extension cord. Or even a modified generator if you just need enough juice to limp to the nearest grid connection, seems a few have done that as insurance. Emergency services have also started having charge service instead of tow service if you've run out. With hydrogen that shit had better work all the time, because there's no plan B. I think that alone will put a huge cooler on interest except for very limited niches. You also have a bigger variety of options, like say hotels providing parking with overnight chargers and other locations super fast charging, with hydrogen either you got it or you don't. Which is not to say EVs are without problems... but if we really hit that oil crunch and gas prices doubled-tripled-quadrupled they'd clearly be the ones taking over.

Comment Re:Nope (Score 1) 449

I think this Friedman quote still has relevance though:

Oh, I thought you were trying to build a canal. If it's jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels.

Does it really serve a purpose if you make it harder than it needs to be? And self-driving cars will be a benefit to everyone else. I can go down to the store and get a liter of milk for next to nothing because of milking robots and other automation, if I had to pay a living wage for someone to pull a cow's teats it would cost a *lot* more. All those stores who transport goods will get cheaper. The money people don't pay on taxis will be spent on other things. Everyone can spend their commute watching TV instead of wasting home time. It'll be more practical to live further from the office. Elderly might get around more and live more fulfilling lives. Large groups of people would have the benefits of a private driver, previously a rare luxury. In ways perhaps even better, since you get total discretion and it's always at your whim 24x7.

Assuming you can still find a job, of course. But we've been pretty inventive about creating new needs and services once we could afford to. The burger flipper might be on the way out, I doubt the chef is. A robot vacuum cleaner isn't scrubbing the bathroom or dusting the furniture. The electric lawn mower doesn't do flower beds or trimming the hedge. The washing machine doesn't pair my socks or iron my shirts. Of course you might say that one day we'll have a "I, Robot" assistant that'll do absolutely everything a human does cheaper and better but that's not in 10 or 50 years. Neither is self-repairing, self-replicating and self-evolving robots that work almost by themselves.

Real wages in the US has been flat for quite some time now, but at the same time you've had a massive influx of cheap labor on the global market depressing wages. You don't get a zillion Chinese or Indian employees working for a pittance anymore, when you look at the whole world workers are getting better paid. If it keeps going up, sooner or later it will return to growth in the US too because US wages are normal wages and not super expensive wages anymore. There is no magic that makes Americans stay far ahead of the pack forever, even though that how it's been in the past with the old world destrroying itself with world wars and an illiterate, primitive third world. There are smart people other places too, when they get the opportunity.

Comment Re:Dr. Who (Score 2) 124

Some of the Dr. Who were already lost, and reconstructed by fans from audio and photographs, though I believe some were found recorded in Nigeria.

I believe that was mostly older material from the 60s where the original source was intentionally purged and reused. In this case it seems the issue is the original material exists but won't live forever.

Comment Re:Big government helping the people (Score 2) 204

The key element that you're missing is that you need smart people acting in the best interests of the whole people. Any time we've granted any elite power they've inevitably used it for personal gain or the elite's interest instead of the public good, it doesn't matter what they're capable of providing a better government if they're not willing. That's why we're weary of people seeking power, they usually want it for all the wrong reasons. And even those who try with the best of intentions find that to rise in the system you must work the system. And then you get caught in the same web of lies and deceptions, friends and foes, favors and kickbacks as every other politician.

That's why people say "democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others", because it's the only one where everyone's interests get represented even if their capability in recognizing those interests and selecting those most capable to act on it is lacking to say the least. That is really the unlikely side of the utopia we're clamoring for, some of the people we have in office are clearly skilled manipulators if nothing else but extremely few seem to rise above the party lines and really act in everyone's best interests. In that sense I guess (R) and (D) and (CPC) are pretty much all alike.

Comment Re:Calculated values can always be hacked. (Score 1) 204

I am sure for all of you who work in an organization with some sort of performance monitoring method can tell. It is rather easy to hack the system.

It's a lot harder to hack a system that wants to keep people from saying or doing things than to make people do things. Do something they don't like, lose "goodwill" points. Then you must perform something they like to get "goodwill" points back. It's a soft way to suppress dissent and subversive behavior, China will be fine one way or the other. It's to get you caught up in a game where you have to appease the government or find the whole system tilted against you, like a real world freemium game.

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