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Comment I was an under-grad when Doom came out (Score 1) 351

My brother gave me the shareware demo a week after I had broken my finger playing cricket. A few hours later I'd finished the demo, and my finger has never quite been the same.

I remember spending many Saturdays playing death match against my flatmate over a RS232 cable strung across the hallway. Taking breaks to hit the takeaways around the corner. That guy was in love with the plasma rifle, and he used it to beat the snot out of me more than a few times.

Now I'm the head of a computer science department and he's a funding director for a major research organisation. Coincidence?

Comment Easy to circumvent (Score 1) 106

I spent four weeks teaching at two Chinese universities in 2014. All of the students were using VPN to circumvent the Great Firewall, and they all were using Facebook and Twitter. They were doing this openly in class. Circumvention is easy, well-known and seems to be fairly well-tolerated. I think it is tolerated with the students because they are using services like Facebook and Twitter for social activities. I expect there are Chinese government monitors watching what they say,and if they said the wrong thing (like how the president is hiding his money overseas) then there would be a crackdown.

Comment Clowns in office (Score 5, Interesting) 265

This is just another example of how clueless the current Australian government is. It explains why there are now more New Zealanders moving from Australia to New Zealand, than from New Zealand to Australia. That hasn't been the case for decades!

I left four years ago, and haven't been back. If I were still there, I could be prosecuted for publishing in any of my research topics. Ridiculous.

Comment Pepper-box firearms (Score 1) 846

You don't need to have plastic strong enough to withstand dozens or hundreds of firings, you need plastic strong enough to withstand one firing.

I can imagine 3D printing a shape with multiple one-shot barrels, adding some propellant, electrical detonator and a projectile to each barrel, then mounting the assembly on some kind of (probably 3D printed) grip. When all the barrels have been discharged, throw them away and mount another on the grip.

Comment Re:If you want to improve STEM, let pros teach (Score 1) 561

I don't know what it's like in the US, but a while ago I looked at re-qualifying as a high school teacher in NZ (I also have a PhD, and have taught undergrad courses solo). I would only have had to do a one-year course, and there were scholarships available for the subjects I was looking at teaching. Granted, that is a whole (academic) year of bringing in less money than I am now, but it didn't seem too onerous to me.

Comment Reading the commens here... (Score 1) 561

leads me to believe just one thing: the USA is buggered. They've gone so far down the road of partisan wankery, where no-one can ever admit they're wrong and anyone who thinks differently is an enemy, that they're incapable of doing anything.

Have another civil war and be done with. Just do the rest of the world a favour and leave us out of it.

Comment FBI Destroying case? (Score 2) 292

While it's unlikely that any FBI agents would face charges of contempt of court, judges don't like being lied to, or having their orders ignored. Given the FBI's behaviour, I wouldn't be too surprised if the judge denied the extradition request solely on the basis of the actions of the FBI.

In short, the FBI are acting like arrogant bullies and they are going to destroy their own case.

Comment Standing massed in unsecured areas (Score 3, Interesting) 255

as they stand massed in an unsecured part of a typical U.S. aiport.

And that is the biggest, most glaring, elephant-in-the-living-room hole in U.S. airport security. The last time I had the misfortune to go through Chicago O'Hare airport, there must have been 300 people packed into an area the size of a basketball court, all waiting to go through the TSA checkpoint. Never mind a nail bomb, the place was so packed that if someone had dropped a lit road flare, the panic and stampede would have caused casualties.

Not that I'm advocating dropping lit road flares in check-in lines, but if I can think of it, I'm sure someone else can.

Comment Re:That is not what they do (Score 1) 232

The insurance system is still superior though because you are allowed to choose your level of risk, and there will always be a public system to fall back on for last resort for those that did not chose insurance. At worst you end up in the same situation you would have been in with a public health plan, government panels deciding who gets treatment.

And that post so beautifully embodies everything that is wrong with the USA that the author should receive an award for demonstrating just how inhumane a first-world country can become.

Comment Stick with it (Score 2) 279

People don't do advanced degrees like a PhD for the money (which isn't that great) or the recognition (which is hard to come by) but because they love the work.

Basically, if you love doing it, do it. If you hang in there, things will probably work out. If not, find something else to do with your life. A while ago I summed up in a blog post my thoughts on doing a PhD:

Just my $0.02.


Submission + - Do programming scientists over-reach? (

hengist writes: In a follow-up to this earlier story, a software engineer and scientist argues that the reason there is such a gulf between the software produced by scientists and that produced by software engineers is because many scientists are going too far outside their area of expertise when they write software.

The article goes on to say that the reason this over-reaching occurs is because it is so easy to write code compared to other engineering activities, and because code often fails in ways that are not obvious.

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