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Comment Meaningless? (Score 4, Interesting) 231

Isn't this kind of meaningless?

"The pattern of a trade-off between rent and length of commute is evident when you look at the cities with the cheapest rent and shortest commutes. Workers in Austin only have an average 16-minute commute to work, but pay among the highest rents at $476 a week. Workers in Seoul, meanwhile, pay the lowest rent, $153 a week, but have to endure a 40-minute commute, the fourth longest on the list."

In virtually any city, each individual makes that trade-off for themselves. Live farther out, have a longer commute but cheaper rent. Live close in, have a short commute but higher rent.

OT: Austin used to be a lovely city, before it was "discovered". Now it's a satellite of California, both in terms of size (and horrible traffic), and in terms of progressive politics. Californian refugees are repeating the same mistakes that drove them out of CA - pushing things like "light rail", "rent control" and all the rest. Whipping up SJW outrage, for example, the recent survey claiming that 15% of UT undergraduates are raped (the trick: "verbal pressure" counts as rape). A sad fate for a once-nice Texas city.

Comment Whoopie doodle doo (Score 1) 79

I'm a "Windows Insider". My wife's little company has a couple of Windows computers, and I wanted to know what Win10 was going to look like, and how the upgrade process was going to go. The Insider program gave me earlier access, so I put Win10 on my gaming computer to look at. That's it. Claiming me as an "Insider" is pretty meaningless.

I don't game every day. But with the telemetry turned off ( much do I trust it really off?) how would they know?

Comment Re:Pournelle's Iron Law (Score 1) 157

"private companies like VW, Wells Fargo, Enron, Merck, they have all done harm in ways that aren't covered by the Iron Law, but far exceed it"

First, how do you compare? It's essentially impossible, because those things are not alike.

That said, most of the companies you mention were able to cause harm due to two factors: corporate cronyism, and too big to fail.

The one where that doesn't quite apply may be Volkswagen. But even there: it is becoming apparent that *all* auto manufacturers cheated on their emissions tests, because the government standards are completely at odds with what consumers actually buy. So again, government regulatory involvement has helped screw things up. Simple theory: follow the money. Who is now richer due to the long-term cheating? I'm not an expert in this industry, but it's a given that there's a nice revolving door between the auto industry and the regulatory bodies.

Comment Pournelle's Iron Law (Score 1) 157

Those overhead figures are no surprise at all. NASA has been around more than long enough for Pournelle's Iron Law to take over. The bureaucracy grows to meet the needs of the growing bureaucracy. Any space science that gets done is purely incidental.

This is a fundamental problem with government agencies. When private companies become inefficient, they (in an ideal world) either clean house or they are overtaken by their competitors. When government agencies become inefficient, there is no pressure on them to change, because they generally have no competition.

Comment Re:Conflict of interest (Score 1) 258

The escrow idea really is very good. It's not supposed to be about money, after all. It's supposed to be about safety.

The problem in Switzerland, as presumably elsewhere, is that many towns are serously broke. The cantons dictate somewhere around 90% of a town's expenditures (welfare, schools, etc..). The other 90% is pretty inflexible as well: you've got to maintain your roads, water supply, and so forth. The town I'm in, with around 5000 inhabitants, is in the red every year, and the debt is getting ridiculous.

Comment Privacy? Or just tax evasion? (Score 1) 270

Most likely, the poster's real motivation is avoiding taxes on his BTC profits. The anarchist in me understands this: taxes are the government taking your property by force. On the other hand, few people would voluntarily pay the amount that governments consume, and we don't seem to be willing to dismantle our governments, so...there we are, taxes.

If it's not about taxes, then cash out. If you register with a BTC exchange and cash in your BTC then, yes, the IRS will know who you are. So what? Just pay your taxes. It's not really about privacy, because you can then turn your US$ into cash, and spend that cash as anonymously as you like.

Incidentally, parallel currencies are nothing new. As an example, there has been a parallel currency in Switzerland (WIR) since 1934. It limps along for all of the same reasons that BTC limps along: it's an additional hassle for your average business, it complicates accounting and taxes, and it is an additional (exchange-rate) risk that most businesses don't want to deal with.

Comment Re: Bruce Schneier ... (Score 2) 84

Yep. He needs to remember the old adage: be careful what you wish for; you might get it. He says see it as a choice not between government regulation and no government regulation, but between smart government regulation and stupid government regulation.

Stupid is what he's going to get.

Comment Only the one awful boss (Score 5, Interesting) 300

I only ever had one really horrible boss. What fun: it was my first job after college, so I didn't understand yet how to defend myself from the idiot.

He was a 55-60 year old guy who clearly believed that his best days were behind him, and he was just killing time until retirement. And he just had to talk about the good old days, the days before he became such a useless wreck. So he would call me into his cubicle and start in on a story. After a few minutes, something in his first story would remind him of a second story. And something in that second story would remind him of a third one...

I was not allowed to act bored, or say "I've really got to do X", or - god forbid - yawn. I kept myself awake by tracking his recursions. His record was seven stories deep. I give him credit for one thing: he never lost track of where he was - he always finished off every story at every level of recursion. This often took 3-4 hours. Per day. Every day.

I eventually learned to dodge him on most days, so that I could actually do my job. I got my guidance from parallel managers, but mostly learned to do my job independently of his (non-existent) supervision. This pissed him off no end, and he gave me a scathing review. Which I took to the "big boss", who asked around, found out that my situation was pretty well known, and that I actually did good work despite my boss. My idiot boss was never allowed to supervise anyone again. Sadly, he had too much seniority or political connections or whatever, so they didn't fire him. Also sad: it took me 2-1/2 years to get to this point.

I don't generally hold grudges, but in his case I do make an exception. He's long dead, but I looked up where he's buried, and if I every find myself in the area, I will piss on his grave.

Comment Re: why should i care?` (Score 1) 554

YOU are apparently a special snowflake. There is no, none, zero good argument for demanding equal access to material at other people's expense. Pay it yourself, get a charity to fund it, fine. But demanding magical access, as if money grows on trees. Definitely a special snowflake. Anscheinend we see the result.

Comment I agree, BUT... (Score 3, Insightful) 188

As a 50+ programmer, who has written lots of code in more languages than I can remember, I agree absolutely that experience counts for a lot.

Why am I not excited about that great new framework? Because it does the same thing that X did 2 years ago, Y did 5 years ago and Z did 10 years ago, and they were bloated crap too. Great steaming piles of half-tested code that introduce outside dependencies in our project that we cannot control.

Oh look, a new programming language. Everyone who ever enjoyed a compiler course has written their own programming language. Me too, whoopie. It's the libraries that come with the language that make it useful, not the syntactic sugar. It's the maturity of those libraries that make it stable and secure. I love playing with new languages, but I would never use a new language for anything important. WebAssembly? Ouch, please tell me they aren't serious, because I guarantee it will be used for productive websites far too soon. The articles about compatibility problems (websites depend now not only on your browser, but on your hardware), security breaches (sandboxed, riiiight), etc. almost write themselves, lacking only the specific details that we will hear all too soon.

On the process side: Agile programming? We called it iterative development 30 years ago. It has the same advantages and disadvantages that it always had. Scrum? Don't get me started. DevOps? Old hat with new buzzwords. If we keep changing our tools and processes every couple of years, it's no wonder we produce crappy products filled with bugs and security holes.

Chasing the new shiny is almost always a stupid idea if you are trying to produce a solid, reliable, secure system. Experienced programmers recognize crappy new ideas for the re-treads they usually are. Experienced programmers have probably built systems similar to what you need, and know how to do it. Experience counts for a lot.


But, there is still competence. I have worked with "seasoned programmers" whose productivity was a net negative, because the rest of the team spent so much time cleaning up after them. Typically, these people have no idea how incapable they really are - they actually do view themselves as the seasoned, experienced programmer you just can't do without. Also typically, for whatever reason, you aren't allowed to remove them from your team.

And I have also seen young programmers produce some incredible stuff. Three of my bachelor students build a complete website, multilingual, including a custom CMS and custom rendering, along with most of an accompanying web-shop. For a customer with very specific requirements. In nine weeks. The code is still running today, 8 years later. The custom, multilingual CMS and the rendering system is rock-solid stable, running unchanged. Some of the code shows that they were only students - hard-coded constants and other sins - but overall it's better quality stuff than what 99% of the "seasoned" programmers could produce, much less in such a short time.

So, yes: experience counts, but so does skill. And the two are not always correlated...

Comment You're missing the point (Score 2) 469

"God forbid that someone gets off a freeway and discovers a local establishment while passing through."

I live in a neighborhood affected by this: there is a narrow road connecting our town to the next town over, that gives commuters a handy shortcut. This road runs through the middle of our town, past three schools and a kindergarten. Commuters - in their blind rush to get from A to B - are not interested in stopping at a local restaurant. They're interested in driving as fast as possible through town, maybe taking a couple of kids along as hood ornaments.

We tried to just close the segment of the road connecting us to the next town, even though this would inconvenience local residents. An administrative court denied this, even though it's a town road, paid for by town funds. So we dropped the speed limit to 20mph, and spent too much money installing obstructions and speed bumps to physically enforce the new speed limit. Whiz through at 40mph, and your suspension will now punch a hole in your roof.

The fact that a road is a "public" road does not make it suitable for long-distance commuters. Really, there ought to be a simple, legal way to restrict local roads to local traffic. It shouldn't be necessary for neighborhoods like ours to spend millions just to keep our local roads from being abused as substitute highways.

Comment Was a good thing, back in the day... (Score 2) 60

Back in the day, when search engines were nearly useless, curated directories like DMOZ were the best way to find what you were looking for. I used it a lot, and also curated some topics.

That said, I haven't even thought about the site in over a decade. This article prompted me to check: some of my entries are unchanged after all these years. Which just goes to show how inactive DMOZ has become. I'm actually surprised that it still exists - certainly, it is no longer relevant to the modern web.

Comment Typical CxO thinking (Score 1) 108

The arrogance on display by top-level executives is astounding. Mayer is going to voluntarily give up her bonus, what a sacrifice! Of course, she didn't intentionally screw up, so it's not her fault. The fact that any other employee who screwed up his/her area of responsibility would be (and was) sent packing? Doesn't matter, the elite are not to be held accountable.

What is it about bonuses, anyway? They are handed out to top-level execs like candy - even in the case of the worst business failures, the bonuses are never docked. Note that Ms. Mayer still received $35 million in 2015. For what, exactly? Presiding over the downfall?

Comment Not an engineer. Maybe a snowflake? (Score 1, Troll) 360

Four things, let's see

- Ignoring her complaints of “pervasive harassment”.

The article has specifics later: "harassment by men on the factory floor including but not limited to inappropriate language, whistling, and catcalls".

Not nice, but not wholly unexpected either. It's a factory floor, and all of her earlier positions were office jobs. The factory floor is not a place for special snowflakes - male or female.

- Paying her a lower salary than men doing the same work.

Not all people with the same job earn the same. Salary depends on various factors. It may depend on how good they are at the job. It may depend on whether they ask for a raise. It may depend on other factors, for example, on whether one is *actually* an engineer. She transferred in from sales and out to purchasing.. Her education isn't public, but with that work history, there is zero chance that she holds an engineering degree.

- Promoting less qualified men over her

Um, "qualified"? She lack an education to hold the position of Manufacturing Engineer, although Tesla normally demands that for their manufacturing engineers. She certainly has none of the work experience you would expect. Even then, a promotion depends on how well you do your job, how well you get along with your co-workers, and - most importantly - how well suited you are for the new responsibilities that the promotion would entail.

- Retaliating against her for raising concerns.

The bit of research above tends to point to Tesla trying too hard: they took a non-engineer and put her into a technical position that she was unqualified for. She failed, was moved to purchasing, and is now insulted. At least, that's sure what it looks like based on public information.

Comment Clinging to an old model (Score 1) 138

Just like the music industry did for so many years (and still tries re piracy): the film industry is clinging to the old distribution model that served them for decades - trying their best to ignore the reality of the Internet. There is no reason for region-codes, other than to piss off your potential audience. Fewer and fewer people want to go sit in a theater full of ill-behaved idiots, when the quality of home devices is just as good.

They could try to get ahead of the curve, and lead their audience into the future, instead, they are dooming themselves to irrelevancy, as companies from completely different backgrounds start producing better content aimed directly at the Internet (Amazon, Netflix, et al).

Did you know that, if you trim off the non-movie activities from the conglomerates, Apple could theoretically buy up every single Hollywood movie studio with its spare change? Probably twice over. For all the drama, the movie industry is actually remarkably small and irrelevant.

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