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Comment Doubtful many people know Alsop (Score 2) 339

It'd be interesting to know how many people here who are flaming Tesla actually know Stewart Alsop from his heyday in the '90s. Likely not many. The guy was used to throwing his (considerable) weight around the tech industry for a long time, expecting his every whim and complaint to be kowtowed to by the industry because he controlled a powerful industry trade rag. Now, as a print media has-been, he is frustrated because he can't snap is fingers and have a company leap into action. So, he pitches a petulant rant online and expects Elon (who was surely on the short end of Alsop's rants in his PayPal days) to leap up and do his bidding. Screw that! I applaud Musk heartily for shutting down the troll. As a happy Tesla owner, I sure wouldn't want to see an unending stream of attitude spewing forth into the Tesla forms from this guy.

Comment Bad precedent (Score 1) 620

This judge is a total asshat. Since the FAA has decided to treat quadrotors and their ilk as "aircraft" (wrongly, IMO, but that's another post), this pinhead of a jurist just set a precedent that it's OK to shoot at aircraft if you feel your privacy is threatened. Well, let's just scale that right on up to LEO satellites while we're at it! I doubt the FAA will let this go un-appealed.

Comment Re:Why not? (Score 4, Insightful) 678

There are better ways to get water in California than raping the rest of the country for it. For $30B, you can build a LOT of desalination plants. Maybe the environmentalist contingent in CA should advocate for some clean, solar powered tech to advance this technology instead of just transferring California's problems to neighbors to its east.

Comment Re:Exactly this. (Score 2) 294

To put a finer point on it, Graham is willfully blind to the simple fact that H-1B engineering talent is viewed as a pure commodity to be consumed, discarded, and replaced by investors. VC-backed management teams are actively encouraged to keep wage pressures down by acquiring good talent at rates that are far below what they'd be if they weren't kept artificially depressed by the pool of non-US workers. The real truth is that "great" programmers are not scattered randomly throughout the human population. They are created by an intersection of opportunity, need, education, and immersion in a technology-focused culture. The great programmers are here. VCs like Graham just don't want to pay for them and fabricate disingenuous math problems to justify not paying them what the market should afford.

Bottom line is that domestically created programmers should be vigorously opposed to what Graham proposes. Their very livelihoods depend on it.

Comment Re:Ringknockers (Score 1) 130

I'd second this. We've run into lots of companies that have a culture based on hiring from schools on the "list". It breeds an arrogant, insular engineering culture that generally ends up drunk on its own Kool Aid and very difficult to manage. I hire people based on their successes, their personality, their motivation, and their fit to the existing team. Blindly including/excluding candidates based on their diploma shows a distinct lack of insight into what makes a creative, well-rounded, productive software engineer.

Comment Re:Yes Google and FB are the ones to protect us? (Score 4, Insightful) 116

It would be naive at best to think that Google is the "one big corporate ally that OSS" has. If you want to try and hang that badge on a single company, it's probably IBM. And regardless of the value and quantity of OSS contributions and support, definitely don't make the mistake of thinking that "Google" and "privacy" belong in the same sentence unless it has "doesn't do much to ensure" between those 2 words.

Comment Re:Drone? (Score 2) 151

The problem is that for a long time, radio controlled aircraft have been somewhat of an esoteric hobby and the people involved formed much more of a community, with self-policing through organizations like the Academy of Model Aeronautics. You used to have to spend weeks or months, carefully crafting the aircraft, installing engines, controls, adjusting, tweaking, and then hopefully flying and not crashing in front of your friends on a Saturday afternoon. The AMA provided strict guidelines for operations near aircraft, structures, and people, etc.

Now any moron with a few hundred dollars can go get something off the shelf that performs perfectly well and is capable of ending up splashed across the Internet headlines because they AREN'T part of a self-policing community anymore. But it still begs the question of why the mainstream media is so glaringly stupid when it comes to anything to do with aviation. A "drone" has a very specific definition, though apparently to the uneducated journalists of the world, anything that leaves the surface of the earth now without a human onboard is considered a drone.

Comment Perils of Outsourced QA (Score 1) 573

Having submitted apps to almost every major TV manufacturer on behalf of some prominent global brands, I can tell you there is one common thread through all of this. Outsourced QA.

These electronics manufacturers are devoid of any meaningful software organization internally and almost all of them outsource their app evaluation processes to external organizations. These organizations are paid to find defects and in no way are incentivized to help you get your app into the marketplace. Not only is this incentive structure counterproductive, it also promotes an entirely random and inscrutable process where the same app can be submitted 3 or 4 times with absolutely no changes and receive wildly differing failure reports for completely unrelated reasons because it gets reviewed by 3 or 4 different analysts with different skill sets and random acceptance criteria.

In order to get some apps accepted by Samsung's "QA" process, we literally had to resort to threats in email that if they didn't pass the app, we were going to turn over their completely random QA reports to Samsung and get them fired. Good luck!

Comment We can't organize that well (Score 3, Insightful) 266

What those 77% of people fail to realize is that we can no longer organize ourselves well enough to accomplish this sort of task. NASA, as an institution, long ago stopped being about technical successes and exploration. During my years working with NASA, I discovered that a NASA manager's career success is measured solely by the number of people they manage and the size of the budget they control. Not by how many successful missions they achieved, not by the technology breakthroughs they fostered, and not by any other rational measure beyond their org chart success.

So we have no government agency capable of focusing on such a complicated goal as landing humans on Mars. They immediately get distracted with project management issues and politics. If private industry were to try and undertake this effort, there would have to be some financial incentive for our largest private spacefaring corporations to try and cooperate, since none have the resources alone to achieve the goal within 20 years. And the only model they have for organizing themselves is NASA today. No one still working in the industry knows how NASA of the 1960's worked, and society has changed to the point that the technical people required for such an effort are no longer motivated to make the selfless sacrifices needed to achieve such a goal. All the good engineers left aerospace for the Dot.Com world in the '90s. Those remaining few are motivated by commercial and personal financial success, and that requires a much shorter planning and gratification cycle than 20 years.

Sorry, we won't be going to Mars. We're a bunch of greedy, self-absorbed, small-minded apes that have reached the pinnacle of our organizational skills at the bottom of our gravity well.

Comment Plenty of Prior Art (Score 1) 154

Assuming that he'd filed for his patents before the USPTO went insane, odds are low that they would have survived the prior art test. As others have mentioned, Gopher, FTP, and even several BBS systems would have been able to cover the prior art for the HTTP component. HTML was really just a bastardized version of SGML. And the entire concept of a hypertext page was predated by HyperCard and a bunch of work at Xerox PARC.

Why are we even having this discussion?

Comment Re:Not a Jet Fighter (Score 3, Interesting) 119

As it turns out, the real problem on these platforms is power generation. With synthetic aperture radars, flight control systems, on-board mission management systems, laser designators, EO sensors, and LOS and BLOS/satellite comms gear on board, the problem of supplying electricity for all the systems becomes critical.

I worked on the original J-UCAS program which transitioned from DARPA to the Navy, and designing the autonomous flight and mission management systems was the easier part of the problem. Creating the comm infrastructure (software defined radios), the operational procedures, the peer-to-peer cooperation, and mundane stuff like dealing with air traffic control turn out to be much harder in practice.

Definitely one of the coolest projects I have ever worked on and I'm glad to see one of the J-UCAS derived UAVs finally getting into the air.

Comment Re:Shallow (Score 4, Insightful) 470

It's just as shallow to compare a desktop software application's success to the much more transient, ephemeral, and difficult to quantify success of Facebook. Better to look at the Internet as a whole and ask a couple of simple questions.

First, name one network-wide, user-oriented application level service that was present when the commercial Internet opened for business in 1991 that is still in operation and use today.

Discounting UseNet and Email as infrastructure, the answer is likely "nothing." It's instructive to consider why. Early community plays on the Internet (The Well, The Globe, AOL, WebTV, and even MySpace) fell in succession, not because there weren't plenty of users and not because they weren't good services. They fell because, by definition, something newer and better comes along. It's the same reason we don't drive horse-drawn wagons to work. Supporting the infrastructure and feature set of an existing system means, by definition, that you will never be able to change and adopt new technologies as fast as someone else starting with a clean slate.

Second, what is so special about Facebook that it will avoid being obsolesced by the next cool fad? Answer again, "nothing".

Facebook's only advantage is the depth of its social graph. And as many posters have noted, the average Facebook user has a pretty static social graph and no need to add to it in any significant way now. Once you are fully connected, it becomes trivial to notify your graph that you are moving elsewhere, and then Metcalfe's Law kicks in. Once the infrastructure becomes distributed and you are no longer locked into a single service, people will be free to move their social graph and associated applications wherever they'd like.

Extrapolating the past lifecycles of similar, successful social sites to Facebook, it seems logical to conclude (as the author did) that Facebook's days are numbered. Maybe in the thousands, but numbered nonetheless.

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