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Comment Re:Regression to the mean (Score 1) 208

I'm not sure the change in population is the reason the Web can be such a nasty place. For example, Slashdot seems to skew to the same population (tech professionals and academics) and I wouldn't call it a bastion of civility. Neither would I just bellyache and whine that it's a snake pit.

Much more interesting to me than whether trolling/hostility is getting worse or better in general, is what are examples where it is better and what can we do to be like them.

Comment Easiest for a newbie -- to do what? (Score 2) 510

I hate to sound flippant, but "it's complicated." To maximize the chances of a good user experience with Linux, we need to have an idea of what the Linux newbie wants to do.

This is not an easy question to answer off the top of your head because it requires you to anticipate things you might not do commonly but occasionally can be very important to you, like editing MS Word documents on an airplane or train (where you don't have a wifi or 4G connection).

Do you have Windows/Mac apps you will expect to run on your Linux box? What does your pattern of network usage look like -- do you mostly connect to a few wireless networks at home or the office, or do you hop around between hotels and coffee shops and three or four different work sites? Is your workstation even a laptop at all? How sophisticated are the documents you work with (I mean in terms macros, collaborative editing, templates, and the like -- I am sure the content you produce is plenty sophisticated regardless!). Are you watching video for fun or do you need to edit video for work?

Distrust any quick and simple answers from someone who doesn't show an interest in what your actual goals are as a user.

Comment Re:How can we get more men interested in (Score 1) 545

Do you think women are stupid? They can't figure out what they like or don't like?

No. There must be some explanation for why there is a "leaky pipeline" for women. A certain percentage of women enter, say, CS majors in college. A smaller percentage graduate with CS degrees, and the attrition is higher for women than for men. A certain percentage of women with CS degrees get jobs in the tech industry. *Of the recent graduates with CS degrees*, a lower percentage of women get jobs than men. Of the people who enter the tech industry, a lower percentage of women than men stay for 10 year. A lower percentage of women than men get promoted. A lower percentage of women than men start their own tech companies. And so on.

There are a number of possibilities here. One is that women are just bad at tech, or inferior to men or something. This seems unlikely because women perform well in other professions such as law and medicine, and there is a huge amount of scientific evidence saying there are no differences in IQ, etc., between the genders. Plus, that argument was used for a couple of thousand years to keep women from competing with men in the workplace so it has a lot of baggage, and people are justifiably hostile to the suggestion. So let's call that settled -- no one here is arguing in favor of that proposition (unless Lawrence Summers

is posting as AC).

Another possibility is that women are subject to systemic bias that makes it hard for them to succeed in certain careers. This was the conclusion of the MIT Gender Equity Project. This is uncomfortable for many people to contemplate. You, for example, do not seem like you possess overtly misogynist views and you probably do not see those views in your male colleagues. If men are not opposed to women in IT, then what could be the problem? Well, read the MIT study. A combination of unconscious factors can indeed add up to institutional bias.

There is also a third possibility that we ought to keep in mind. That is the possibility that efforts to get more women into IT are doing more harm than good by coaxing women into a career they're not really committed to, and then find they don't like and easily drop out of. I do not believe this is the case because the MIT study and similar studies adequately explain the phenomena we see. However, it should not be unthinkable to consider that we may be trying too hard to get women into IT, and the question of how to get them into the field is somewhat independent of how to help them succeed once they get there.

Or that without preferential treatment they will go elsewhere?

It's an empirical fact that women leave IT at a higher rate than men, and the causes for their departure are well documented: the incompatibility of an IT career with primary child-rearing responsibilities is a major cause, as is lack of advancement and opportunity. So without some change in workplace conditions, or "preferential treatment" as you put it, women demonstrably do leave IT and go elsewhere at a higher rate than men.

I would add that efforts to address the attrition of women from IT do not have to be "preferential" to women in the sense that men can't benefit from them. A single father faces a lot of the same challenges as a single mother, for example. Men can benefit from mentoring and career coaching, which is one way to help everyone (including women) learn how to achieve high job satisfaction and high productivity.

Comment Re:ah, yes (Score 1) 535

As one comedian said, they just can't get over the fact that he's black and are bitter that they lost two elections to him.

I'm not sure I would call insinuations of racism "being fair." He's also (fairly) young, he's urban, he's highly educated. All of which may simply add up to being "too different" for the target Republican demographic to trust him.

Comment Re:Whitehouse petition (Score 2) 535

The editors probably dismissed that story because so many of the Obama administration's "responses" to the petitions are some low-level staffer writing a condescending 200-word essay explaining why the government won't take action on that issue. Yeah, that's a technically a response, but if it keeps up, some day people might start to think the President is not serious about these petitions!

Comment Re:If I am overseas as an American... (Score 1) 134

You'd have to ask the consulate to be sure, but I would be surprised if you'd be denied the same tax breaks residents can get. There are probably some things you can't get if you live overseas, but then, you also benefit a whole lot more from that consulate (for example) than you would if you had stayed in the US.

Comment Don't take the fall (Score 3, Insightful) 308

The phrase that comes to mind is "set up for failure." Don't be a fool: they dumped this job on a contractor because they knew the project was doomed from the outset. I've been there.

Which is worse: to walk off a job when you find out you've been tricked, or to stay on for the death march all the way to failure, and then get fired? (or, in your case, "contract not renewed," which is the same thing.)

My advice is to get out while you can, and be more circumspect about accepting projects next time.

If your sense of duty requires, you can discuss with your project manager why the job does not look doable any more, and see if he/she is open to major re-planning. But you should be prepared to quit the job on the spot if that meeting does not go your way.

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Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards. -- Aldous Huxley