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Supreme Court Ruling Supports Same-Sex Marriage 1083

The U.S. Supreme Court issued Friday a landmark decision, ruling that marriage is a Constitutionally protected right to homosexual as well as heterosexual couples. The New York Times notes that last year, by refusing to hear appeals to decisions favoring same-sex marriage in five states, the court "delivered a tacit victory for gay rights, immediately expanding the number of states with same-sex marriage to 24, along with the District of Columbia, up from 19." (In the time since, several more states have expanded marriage to include gay couples.) Reuters expains a bit of the legal and political history of the movement which led to today's decision, and points out some of the countries around the world which have made similar moves already.

Comment Making knowledge explicit (Score 5, Insightful) 97

The number one problem with wikis and all other systems that try to 'store' employee's knowledge is that it requires people to make their knowledge explicit.

In your daily life and in your work, many things (if not almost everything) you do is based on implicit knowledge. You implicitly know how stuff is done, but to describe the steps you take and the thought processes you have, takes a lot of time and energy of your employees/colleagues. And then of course there's also the issue of keeping the knowledge up-to-date. Adding it is one thing, but keeping it fresh and ensuring people update the explicit knowledge in the wiki, also takes time and energy. Especially in IT, because the way things work changes relatively often.

And last but not least, people are often not willing to make their knowledge explicit, because their implicit knowledge makes them valuable as an employee. Overall you could say that the intrinsic motivation for people to make their knowledge explicit is very low.

Many scientific papers have been written on this subject. I suggest you try to find some answers there, although they may not be easy to find.

Comment One language to rule them all (Score 1) 524

The guy I'd need to hire would have to know a lot of languages

There's your problem right there. If you are doing in-house development, you should stick to one language. Especially if you have a small company, but it kind of holds up for larger companies as well.

e.g. if you have four programmers, two proficient in C, two in Java and a Java programmer quits, then suddenly your single Java programmer needs to do all the Java work. If you have 4 programmers proficient in Java, then if one quits, you still have 3 Java programmers left.
In the end multiple languages just means less flexibility in capacity.

Comment Market share (Score 1) 614

You see, before computers, companies used to have room full of people manually calculating and processing stuff. It wasn't until the computer came that they could fire all those people and save a ton of money on their collective salaries. Now, my question is: what happened to that money they saved?

This is largely incorrect, I think. Most companies that invested in computer systems didn't fire their employees. Instead, because of the computer systems, most of these companies suddenly had more capacity to deliver more of the product/service that they deliver. So companies that invested enough in computer systems gain more market share, while companies that did not invest enough in computer systems lost market share, went bankrupt and/or were taken over by a competitor.

Comment It's all about maintenance (Score 1) 614

If a company has a product that is only suitable for IE6, they didn't invest enough in maintenance in the last 10 years!

Working in the software industry, I experience daily that people think that if you buy a software product / application / website that you buy it once and then it "just works" until you want new functionality and it magically keeps working with newer browsers, etc. This thought is wrong. You need to invest money in maintenance to keep your software product up-to-date.

So when IE7 came out, the company should have invested in ensuring their product also worked with IE7. And the same for IE8, Firefox, IE9, Safari, Chrome and IE10. If you do not invest time and money in maintenance, in the long term you have a system that is not up-to-date, is a pain in the ass to deal with and needs to be replaced to ensure your company will not be stuck by legacy systems.


Huge Tesla Coils Will Recreate Natural Lightning 199

jjp9999 writes "In order to study the nature of lighting, the team at Lightning on Demand (LOD) plans to build two, ten-story-tall Tesla coils—the largest ever—that will blast arcs of lightning hundreds of feet in length. LOD founder Greg Leyh said the project aims to reveal details on the initiation process of natural lightning, an area that remains a mystery, since smaller generated arcs have more trouble breaking through the air. It is believed that 'laboratory-scale electric arcs start to gain lightning-like abilities once they grow past about 200ft in length,' according to the LOD website, and so the team hopes to build Tesla coils large enough to do this. According to Leyh, 'Understanding how lightning forms [and grows] is the first step towards being able to control where lightning strikes or being able to suppress it completely in certain areas.'"

Comment Risk (Score 1) 168

Risk = Probability x expected loss

If expected loss is not (nearly) 0, you need to manage probability as well. So while the hazard (expected loss) may be less than estimated before, it says nothing about the probability. And in my opinion it is the probability in nuclear plants that is the issue.

This is of course besides the question what a "lower hazard estimate" means. A lower hazard estimate can still be pretty high.

Comment Re:Really bad idea. (Score 1) 1173

I think the largest problem with roundabouts in cities is that crossings are often 'linked' to each other. If you have a traffic light on one crossing, and a roundabout on the next, then the traffic towards and from the roundabout is influenced by the traffic light. This is especially a problem if the crossings are close to one another.

In The Netherlands there has been a large increase in roundabouts, since 15-20 years. You see them virtually everywhere, even on 100km/h roads. The only objection so far is that emergency services, like ambulances and firetrucks have more difficulty passing other cars on roundabouts than on traffic lights, because the emergency services can manipulate the traffic lights, but not the roundabouts of course.

The approach that if situations are more difficult, people will start paying attention is also used in the "Shared space" concept. In The Netherlands this concept became quite popular, especially by Hans Monderman, who implemented it in for example the city of Drachten as well the village of Makkinga. In the latter they removed _all_ roadsigns, road markings, stopping restrictions, parking restrictions, etc. In Drachten they replaced a really busy crossing (22,000+ cars/day) with a roundabout which works really well. Searching for videos on 'shared space Monderman' gives some really interesting results, I would say.

The idea of Shared Space is that a lot of road signs are removed, making people actually look to each other (making eye contact to see what the other person is going to do) instead of "looking at the lines" ("coloring between the lines"). This is actually only possible if your driver license is sufficiently difficult to get, so people not only know how to drive, but also learn how to anticipate to potentially unexpected events.

Comment 11 wins, 4 ties, 5 losses (Score 1) 292

11 wins, 4 ties, 5 losses. Actually, winning on veteran mode is not that difficult. The computer only knows what all other people did and it responds to your actions by using the actions of all other users. So in fact the computer is limited by the actions of all other people; it predicts that you are the same as one of those other people. If you can predict what most users would do, than you know what the response of the computer will do and so you pick a different option. So in fact you only have to beat the average guy.

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