Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Just another form of scientific contribution (Score 4, Insightful) 227

I would put communication onto a list of activities that move the science enterprise forward, but tend to be undervalued compared with producing new research results. Great popularizers like Sagan, and great writers like Arthur Clarke, have done an enormous amount to inspire and motivate people.

Another group of undervalued people are the tools builders. Things like ArXiv, Mathematica, and so on improve the effectiveness of every researcher by a little bit, and their cumulative impact is enormous but we tend not to recognize them.

Comment Resume should demonstrate you can get stuff done (Score 1) 479

I can't really answer your question, but I can give you my view as somebody who does a lot of technical hiring.

When you hire new people, first and foremost you want people who can get stuff done. This is a combination of skill and will. First, skill: Do you have the skills needed to get the job done? This can be technical skills, as well as things like people skills and ability to work as part of a team. Here it is really helpful to see demonstrated work output. Perhaps a little open source side project you did could demonstrate more than, say, a list of classes you took or your research output. If you can demonstrate an ability and interest to work with others, that's even better.

The second is will. Many PhDs (and I am one) start out suffering from the idea that they need to stick with their expertise. They expect to take their knowledge gained in grad school and apply it to real-world problems, and get paid doing it. It seems reasonable. But it's not how the world works. What you learned in grad school was how to solve open-ended, difficult problems, not a specific set of expertise. So you need to convey some flexibility and desire to work on broader problems. Nobody wants an elitist on their team who, say, refuses to program in anything other than some obscure Haskell variant. What people do want is a person who can solve open-ended, hard problems and without pigeonholing themselves.

The final point is that how you present yourself on your resume is crucial. You shouldn't lie (of course), but you can emphasize different things in order to communicate the above points to whomever is reading it. Good luck!

Comment Re:This won't amount to anything... (Score 1) 122

But there is the possibility that the demodulation/modulation methodology is easier to implement than other fast modulation schemes.

This is the key point. MIMO schemes require a lot of complexity in the receiver, which is workable at Wifi/LTE frequencies of a few GHz where you can get electronics to reliably function. Here he's working at millimeter wave frequencies (30GHz to 300GHz) were electronics either doesn't function, or is extremely expensive. You could think of this work as a MIMO-like spatial multiplexing scheme that doesn't require complex processing in the receiver, and is therefore implementable at very high frequencies.

As others have noted it's a separate question whether and how this could scale up to real environments. What elicits research interest in millimeter waves is the potential for much higher bandwidth than LTE is capable of, plus the fact that millimeter waves can propagate a kilometer or so through air. So although it's still futuristic, one can start to imagine what a millimeter-wave wireless communications network would look like.

Comment Re:I hate to be this guy... (Score 1) 188

If everyone stopped buying cars, how exactly would that help the poor people of the world? We would just have a lot of autoworkers getting laid off. In a macroeconomic sense ALL of the money we spend ends up in the hands of other people, helping someone. Like nearly everything else we spend money on, space exploration is part of the "wealthy economy" in that most of those billions will end up in the hands of first-world people (SpaceX employees, various subcontractors' employees, etc.).

Comment Re:Peer Marketing (Score 1) 292

because once one of your friend buys it, if you want to continue to play with them, you all need to go out and upgrade.

Microsoft figured this out a long time ago with Office. The network effect (sharing documents, playing multiplayer games together) forces people to upgrade even when they don't want to. It's a good way to make a lot of money. Until people get pissed off.

Comment Comparative advantage (Score 4, Insightful) 387

I have yet to see a young person say, "I'm going to learn COBOL so I can spend my career nursing 40-year old code." You want to be building new things instead, and for that you choose the best tools for the job right this moment. Those are also usually the skills that will make you most marketable to companies that are building new things.

Conversely it's rare to see an IT person keep up with the latest technologies throughout their careers. At a certain point in life you get other things that need attention, such as raising kids, taking care of parents, mowing the lawn, or whatever. And you start to get more risk averse because people depend on you. Although you are very good at your job, truthfully your confidence starts to wane a bit when you see all the really good young people coming up, who can absorb the new skills with relative ease.

The result is what economists refer to as comparative advantage: The younger people who are more adaptable focus on the latest and greatest technologies, and the older people focus on problems that benefit from their experience and judgment.

Comment Re:Tivo is very long in the tooth... (Score 4, Interesting) 50

Tivo is a story of one missed opportunity after another. Great engineering that failed to iterate. They could have easily led the industry in streaming (from the net a la Netflix, or from home servers). They could have easily worked out interactive ad formats to layer on top of recorded shows. They could have easily gone the premium pay-per-view route (like iTunes/Apple TV/Amazon). It almost makes me angry to see so much wasted potential.

Comment Re:First contact? (Score 1) 95

An extragalactic origin, if correct, would put the source likely millions of light years away. An artificial radio source detectable over that distance would take a truly phenomenal amount of power, on par with stellar events like supernovae or black hole mergers. Or it would need to be very narrowly beamed, in which case how does ET know to point in our direction?

Bear in mind that the entire RF output of our planet (radio waves streaming into space) would not be detectable by Arecibo even 10 light years away. Move the source to a million light years, and remembering the inverse square law, gives you a sense of how much more power you'd need to make an isotropic emitter detectable. It's hard to imagine why an ET would want to do this, assuming they could marshall the stellar energies involved.

Comment Transitioning to "real" programs (Score 2) 415

Python lets you dive in quickly, and it has two properties I like in a first language: It encourages good practices, and it's in the C-derived language group so what you learn transfers easily.

The only thing you lose with Python is some of Java's ability to do "real" programming directly. A kid can use Java to do Minecraft modding, and a college student can write Android apps. There aren't so many direct uses of Python. (Yes there are a lot of real-world uses for Python, but not for writing user-level apps.)

Comment Re: Entrusting our lives to complex software (Score 2) 468

I have no problem with that, so long as there is a big red "disengage" button that allows a human pilot to assume control. What bothers me is entrusting our lives to software when such an override may be impractical, such as when your car is careening down the highway at 65 mph and you happen to be sleeping or reading a book.

Comment Entrusting our lives to complex software (Score 3, Insightful) 468

Autonomous cars, and now this. I have to say I'm not so eager to entrust my life to complex software. Working in software I've seen countless times that complex systems show behaviors the designers didn't intend. At a minimum I'd want to know what dead-simple failsafe mechanisms have been engineered in to recognize and handle unknown states.

Comment Re:The "right to be forgotten" (Score 1) 210

I agree it's a technically flawed concept.

But in practical terms we have to recognize that information used to decay in a sense. In the old days of my youth, you couldn't make that newspaper clipping go away, but over time it would become buried and hard to find and access. (All of us over a certain age remember going through microfilm archives looking for articles. Even when you knew what you were looking for it was tedious.) So in a practical sense things mostly would be forgotten given enough time.

None of that exists any more in the era of digital information. Content creators have no incentive to take down stale content; it costs nothing to serve and accrues ad revenue. So everything sticks around forever. We like the fact that our hard drives have (nearly) perfect memories, but there's also an ambivalence. It's hard to say what the right answer is.

Slashdot Top Deals

Space is to place as eternity is to time. -- Joseph Joubert