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Comment Lies, damned lies, and statistics (Score 3, Informative) 450

So there is probably a lot of truth in the reporting, but the shock value of the story comes from the numbers. 95% you say! Oh my! We cannot have any Indians write code! The details, in this case, matter a great deal, so lets take a look at some of the unanswered questions that may impact the accuracy of that number.

* What does "...not write code that compiles" mean? Were the people being tested provided an IDE? I'm an expert Java programmer, but if I were to open up a text file and type Java code, odds are pretty good that my code won't compile on the first try. That's what IDE's are there for - to fix the inane syntax issues. But lets say that the IDE's were provided. What sort of languages were used in the test? Were the test takers familiar in the language being used? Was the measurement really meaning that they ran out of time to make the program compile or that they were incapable of making it compile because they really weren't a programmer? I note that the "cannot even compile" statistic is 2/3 - not 95% according to TFA. Still bad, but details are needed to see what was being measured.
* What does the sample mean? TFA says that the sample size was 36000, but how does this compare to the universe out there, and who made up the sample? Were these graduates in computer science or first year students or people already working in the field? What was the level of quality for these universities? Where did the 5% who did good come from, and did those 5% come from the really good schools? Was the sample size structured to represent the real world distribution of quality in educational institutions?
* Bias: who is aspiring minds, and what is their motivation? Are they tied to a particular agenda? Is there a competing country that wants their programmers to be hired over Indian programmers pushing these stats? I will point out that there were numerous doctors pushing the agenda of the tobacco industry, and numerous scientists pushing the agenda of the oil industry (global warming). So, yes, the affiliations need to be clear.

I will also point out that in the silicon valley, Indian engineers are present in high numbers. And a lot of the clamor for getting Indians into the US comes from companies in that area. If 95% of them were useless, I can't help but think that there would be less demand.

Submission + - The engineering and logistics of building the Giant Magellan Telescope (

Kenneth Stephen writes: Astronomers have always wanted bigger and better telescopes. Building such telescopes today come with many challenges that require high precision work to resolve. This story describes the design thinking that is being applied to the construction and deployment of the Giant Magellan Telescope

Submission + - How fast do gravitational waves travel? 1

StartsWithABang writes: When Einstein’s theory was first proposed as an alternative to Newtonian gravity, there were a number of subtle but important theoretical differences noted between the two. Einstein’s theory predicted gravitational redshift, time delays, bending of light and more. But what was perhaps most remarkable is that unlike Newton’s gravity, Einstein’s general relativity predicted an entirely new phenomenon: gravitational radiation. Much like how charged particles moving in a magnetic field accelerate and emit radiation in the form of photons, masses moving in a gravitational field accelerate and emit radiation in the form of gravitational waves, or ripples in the fabric of space itself. Even though these waves move at c, the speed of light in a vacuum, the expanding Universe carries them even farther, as these ripples ride atop the fabric of our expanding spacetime.

Comment Looks like we have reached the inflection point (Score 1) 24

How long is it going to be before someone customizes the design to weaponize it? It doesn't have to carry a gun / missile. The payload can be a biological weapon. Spores of anthrax, anyone? Something that sprays the agent over someones backyard? Maybe the backyard of your political enemies? Or maybe you have a rich uncle, who has you in his will, and you really really could use some money now?

To defend against infrastructure attacks, the government will put more drones in the sky for policing. And then we'll be off to the races. You will have hobbyists / malicious agenst trying to figure out how to make their drones stealthy. And then the government escalating on those. Counter-counter measures being developed. The whole thing will look like something that came out of a Spy vs Spy cartoon from Mad comics.

And lets not forget that the US is winning (or atleast NOT losing) wars right now because of its drone superiority. Wait till the taliban or ISIS get their hands on these designs.....

Submission + - First Of Its Kind Civil Case Uses Fitbit Data To Disprove Insurance Fraud (

Lucas123 writes: In what could herald in an era of data from wearables being used in civil and criminal litigation cases, a Canadian attorney is using data collected a Fitbit activity tracking wrist band to prove his client is not scamming an insurance company. The defendant's attorney normalized the data using an analytics platform that compares activity data with other wearables, offering a way to benchmark his client's health against a larger group of wearable owners. Legal and privacy experts say it's only a matter of time before wearable data will be used in criminal cases, as well, and the vendors will have little choice but to hand it over. "I do think that's coming down the pike. It's just a matter of time," said Neda Shakoori, an eDiscovery expert with the law firm of McManis Faulkner. Health privacy laws, such as HIPAA, don’t cover wearables and those companies can be subpoenaed — just as Google and Microsoft have been for years.

Submission + - New theory on the color of Jupiter's Great Red Spot: sunburn (

Kenneth Stephen writes: The theory to date has been that the great red spot's red color is due to upwelling chemicals formed deep beneath the visible cloud layers. However, analysis of Cassini mission data allowed scientist to come up with an alternative that fits experimental data: breakdown of simple chemicals in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter.

Comment Re:Easy solution (Score 1) 348

Exactly. I watched a documentary recently on the LHC, and one of the scenes showed a physicist explaining to a lay audience what the multi-billion dollar effort was all about. One of the questions from the audience (who self-identified as an economist) was what was the economic benefits from knowing about all those particles or discovering the Higgs boson.

The response from the scientist was - "nothing". There is no economic benefit from spending all that money and doing that research. On the other hand, when they were discovered, radio waves weren't called radio waves - they were just a new form of radiation.

Comment Re:Crime? (Score 1) 397

The major issue being you'd have to be near a deployment center, I imagine the only Amazon deployment centers in Canada are in Toronto and Ottawa.

Initially that will be true. But its possible that as this develops, the drones could take off and deliver from the shipping container that is travelling down the highway. IOW, you would be having a mobile (mini) warehouse that gets close enough to whereever you are to have the drones complete the delivery over the last few miles. After delivery, the drones would return back to the new location of the truck, which has continued down the highway....

Comment Re:I just stick to Tomcat (Score 1) 40

Its generally the complexity of the requirements that makes something big or small. You're right - cost may not mean "big". For example, specialist skills like SAP or the latest buzzword technology can drive up the cost because its costs more to staff those developers. In general though, the more complex the requirements, the more it costs to develop the application.

Comment Re:I just stick to Tomcat (Score 1) 40

Building an application server requires a different skillset and mindset than building an application does. Being a specialist in a product / technology is a wonderful achievement, and will make you very good at implementing designs. However, putting together the design and looking at the bigger pictures and making sure that the system works well together, and addresses maintainability, scalability, performance constraints, and reliability concerns requires the mindset and skill of an architect. Most small projects don't require an architect. When you get work at an enterprise level - when building an application costs (development costs only - not deployment, hosting, or operational costs) million+ dollars, you need an architect, and thats where an exclusively specialist team often doesn't deliver what the customer needs.

To draw an analogy, one can have a jam session with a handful of musicians, without requiring a conductor. But if you have hundreds of musicians (like an orchestra does), a conductor is required to deliver a quality performance.

Why is this relevant to your post? Simply put, it is easy to work without EJB's or other aspects of JEE and implement everything a servlet container. But when it gets to big applications, and you are architecting an application, JEE makes it so much easier to deliver quality.

Comment re: organic food vs non-organic (Score 1) 387

There was a great episode of Bullshit which focussed on the organic food vs non-organic food topic. It turns out that most of the (superior) taste difference that people claim for organic food is psychological. For a single banana cut into half, if one piece is labelled "organic" and the other is not, people would report a better taste for the "organic" half. Now granted that Penn & Teller weren't producing a scientifically peer reviewed experiment, it still is an interesting data point. For my part, I don't see any difference whatsoever between organic and non-organic, other than that the organic stuff seems to spoil faster.

Comment Re:China, don't get ahead of yourself. (Score 1) 481

Yes, the view looks great through those rose-tinted glasses. I did all those unsafe things you mentioned, but there is a big difference between doing all those things and what the Chinese are proposing. The only one who took the risk was me. If I screwed up, only I suffered. The consequences of failure in this grand scheme being concocted are not limited to China alone, and if we all take the risk, then we should all have a say in this endeavor, and we should all benefit from it.

This is somewhat like the BP oil spill. The spill may have occurred outside of US territorial waters, but it sure as hell impacted the US. And the US will certainly want a say in what oil companies do when drilling offshore, because of the fiasco we witnessed.

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