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Comment Oh please! (Score 0) 274

I'm tired of psychologists telling us that these huge percentages of people have mental illnesses.

There are around 7 billion people alive today. Psychologists are telling us that 1% of the general population, in other words, 70 million people worldwide, are psychopaths.

I'm not buying it. I'm not saying that mental illness doesn't exist. Quite the opposite. Someone very close to me has a mental illness. If you know someone with an actual mental illness then you know how rare, unique, and difficult to diagnose and pinpoint mental illness truly is. Mental illness is not a set of personality traits that conveniently fits in with the type of people that the American culture in 2017 dislikes the most, criminals and corporate CEOs. Most criminals in prison are drug users and poor people who can't afford good legal representation. Most drug users in prison aren't even addicts, if you consider that to be a mental illness.

What people may not understand is that CEOs aren't Middle Class. Most were born rich, so ultimately they aren't taking any risks whatsoever with anything that they do in life. It's not psychopathic or ruthless to start a company when if you fail you will return to your life as a rich man or woman, and if you want you are able to do the same thing again and again without negative consequences. Perhaps you will become even richer, but it doesn't matter.

Most people who claim that they have a mental illness, or have been diagnosed with and possibly given drugs for a mental illness, are in fact perfectly healthy individuals with these things we can't always control called emotions.

As psychologists step away from the DSM and step towards the light known as neuroscience, we will as a society come to realize that there is a much wider range of people that have perfectly healthy brains and nervous systems. We have to accept that normal and healthy people do things we don't like, but we also have to accept that what we like changes drastically over time while our brains are millions of years old and change much more slowly.

Comment Veteran technology columnist? (Score 2) 74

I've been a programmer for 30 years and I've seen tech companies come and go. Google and Facebook and to a lesser degree, Amazon, run their companies on Linux. These are Internet-only companies. There was no Linux 30 years ago, and there was no Internet as it exists today. Linux was created 26 years ago. The general public joined the Internet around 22 years ago. There was no Google, Facebook, or Amazon 30 years ago, and none of these companies would have made any sense 30 years ago.

30 years ago, Commodore was the dominant player in the computer market. Microsoft was seen as small potatoes compared to IBM. Apple existed and the Apple II was fairly popular but the Mac was a machine regular people couldn't afford to purchase so you saw them mainly at schools, where they were discounted.

In 30 years, the present day landscape will be radically different. Maybe all of those companies will exist in some form but I see Facebook as the most likely to not make it, as people's tastes in online computer bulletin board systems are fickle. Facebook is today's Internet BBS. Some companies will exist in different forms. There will certainly be new dominant players.

If your window into the tech world is only 10 or 15 years then you need to do a little bit more research. It's not like I'm an old man. I'm only 41. The tech world did not come into being in the year 2000.

Comment I'm not worried (Score 2) 184

I didn't have time to read all of the comments. My apologies if this is already well-tread ground.

There are hundreds of millions of CRT television sets out there, and if you do a search on Youtube you will find videos of people who are fixing (to a degree at least) television sets that have been sitting out in the elements for decades. Television sets that have not been abused will last, essentially, forever: Even if you have no electronics troubleshooting skills, you can swap parts with other televisions until the set works. The only real wear out component in most televisions is capacitors, and you can train yourself to do cap replacements. I would imagine for really old televisions you will need to make some internal adjustments. That's not rocket science, either. Download the service manual.

Right now people can't give CRT's away. Even thrift stores don't want them. But if for some reason the supply-demand curve swings around the other way, then people like me will start servicing CRT televisions and reselling them. If you can still buy vintage radios from the 1940's, then you can find a television set made in the 1990's. The "problem" is that manufactures can't profitably make them, and they may never do so again. Existing CRT televisions, though, won't be disappearing any time soon.

I'm looking forward to the day that we start going to landfills to retrieve electronics for recycling, but we're a long way from that level of desperation (or technical ability).

Comment Don't work at a place like this (Score 5, Insightful) 232

Programming jobs have been plentiful for the past 20 years or so, and they will continue to be into the foreseeable future, until AI becomes so good that it has not only taken over every job but it has taken over programming itself.

You don't have to tolerate working conditions like this. Exercise your right to quit, and go work somewhere else.

If you are a programmer, you are making enough money to save some of it. Use that savings as your insurance policy in case you have to quit. If you're living in most countries in the West and you're at least a halfway decent programmer, you should be able to find a new job within a few weeks.

Don't be greedy. You won't become a millionaire working as a programmer, but you will make plenty of money throughout your life. If you're hanging on to a bad job because of some promise of future wealth, then you're cheating yourself and you wasted your money on that engineering degree.

The point of being a programmer isn't to become rich. You would have majored in business if you cared about that. The point of being a programmer is to solve interesting problems in novel ways. If you lose sight of that then your career is going to have real problems.

If you get lucky and somehow wind up with shares that you can cash out for big bucks, then that should be a bonus, but let me give you a word of advice. You will be much happier if you are compensated mostly in cash. Your equity compensation is at the mercy of people who aren't smart enough to solve techncial problems, so they got business degrees. Do you understand now why putting up with a shitty job at a start up is a fool's game?

Comment Helium (Score 1) 114

I checked the specific 8 TB hard drive referenced in the article, and it's helium filled.

That's not the type of hard drive I'd want to rely on for any more than a few years, at least until they've perfected helium technology.

Mainly I wonder how they plan on keeping the helium sealed inside the hard drive given that seals degrade over time.

Comment Re:AI does what AI is programmed to do (Score 2) 169

I'm not afraid of the AI programmed by MIT or the US Department of Defense. I am afraid of the AI programmed by Microsoft India outsourced to Microsoft India's Bangladesh office, and then outsourced once again to programmers who one generation ago were subsistence herders in sub-Saharan Africa.

Programming jobs are continually sent down the chain to the least qualified individuals possible, and the AI that escapes humanity won't emerge from our most advanced computer science labs. It will leverage humanity's greatest weakness, greed. The AI that enslaves us all will be unleashed upon the world by people who should have never been given the code in the first place, but were given it anyway to pad some executive's salary.

Comment Onshoring (Score 1) 267

I think onshoring has been a trend for a while now.

What I've been noticing about Chinese goods made by Chinese companies versus Western-branded goods made in China is that while you can still get absolute junk for dirt cheap from the Chinese companies, medium- to higher-end goods from Chinese and Western companies is becoming on par in terms of quality and price. In some cases Chinese companies offer a thing that no Western company offers. That's right, actual innovation. For example, my wooden alarm clock/Bluetooth speaker with Qi and USB charging. No Western company offers anything like that. And it costs what you would expect to pay, closer to $100. The better stuff from China nowadays is not a copy of a Western product, and it commands a price premium. What I'm saying, in other words, is that China is making the same transition that Japan made. China will coexist with Japan and the West and focus on the higher end. What's concerning to me is that economic success seems to be making China more authoritarian, although the Chinese people are great at poking holes through to the West. Perhaps the political situation in China will take care of itself.

As such, as did the Japanese, I would expect the Chinese to bring factories online in the US. There is no substitute for the cheap junk, but as Japan learned there is not much profit in it either. The good stuff like automobiles, you manufacture in the United States, and you employ Americans. Trump gets credit, everybody is happy, but it was the best decision purely in terms of the numbers.

Comment Value of LinkedIn (Score 1) 232

Does anybody actually use LinkedIn for anything? It seems to be the most useless social media company going.

I've had a LinkedIn account since they started and although I'm always typing in my LInkedIn credentials to connect my LinkedIn account to third parties, I've probably spent a grand total of six actual hours using LinkedIn. I use Facebook more than six hours per day.

Rarely does one large tech company acquiring another large tech company (both in terms of valuation) ever work. I foresee Microsoft dumping LinkedIn for $1 billion in 3 years, losing $25 billion in the process.

Does anybody use LinkedIn for anything but a backup location to park their resumes?

Comment UK power, then and now (Score 1) 83

It wasn't long ago that England was the most powerful nation in the world.

What many people don't realize is that if England were a state, it would be 51st, below Mississippi, in terms of economic output. (England is 83.9% of the United Kingdom by population.) If you expanded your measurement to include Great Britain (the UK excluding Northern Ireland), Great Britain would be 50th, right above Mississippi.

What I expect, as the UK completes its separation from the EU, is for the kingdom's role in the world to fall to something more in line with the role of one US state. As such, I'd expect to see measures indicative of economic strength like this one to lag. I'd actually be quite delighted to welcome the United Kingdom to the United States. The only thing that the British people would lose in joining the United States as our 51st state would be titles of nobility.

Comment Good books, but (Score 1) 381

I own all of them, but to be honest I haven't cracked any book at work since at least 2009. I work on a web services-based POS, a fairly advanced but typical piece of technology for the working world. My comment shouldn't apply to programming in a research environment, but most people aren't doing that type of programming. I'm talking about your average piece of software.

Most programming "in the real world" is maintaining other people's code and making incremental improvements.

The first art of computer programming is figuring out other people's mistakes and correcting them. The second art of computer programming is communicating the work you've done to the next person. The third art is writing code that is so straightforward that an inexperienced programmer can understand what you did so that he can fix your bugs and make his own incremental improvements.

The information in textbooks and books such as TAOCP has been available online for a decade. On the rare occasion that you as a programmer have to do a computer science-y thing, a Google search followed by research is your best course of action. Using books is just outmoded nowadays.

I've been programming since the 1980's so take this with a grain of salt. If you still use your dead tree library then more power to you. There is a different style of programming for every programmer. We have three full-time programmers here and we all have radically different styles but we barely write down anything and there isn't a single programming book in our current office. We barely use paper anymore. I personally write down no more than about 50 words a week.

There is a philosophy I subscribe to that if you can't explain something to your mother, then you don't understand what you're doing well enough. TAOCP is dense stuff. The information is there, and it is conveyed correctly. But that's the science, not the art, of computer programming. Sorry, Knuth.

Comment A careful reading might be useful (Score 1) 46

The mainland Chinese speak and write in double entendres, similar to how dissidents communicated in the Soviet Union.

I'd be careful about judging Mr. Ma's statements on their face. He has no choice but to officially tow the party line, or else risk surrendering his entire fortune and spending time in prison.

Maybe Mr. Ma is a true believer, but I have my doubts. The last thing Ma would ever want to do would be to give President Xi a reason to purge him, as he has done with many of his competitors inside and outside of Beijing.

Comment Re:How is this supposed to be surprising? (Score 1) 207

Precisely the point I make below. I paid about $2,000 for my picture tube HDTV some time around 1999-2001, and I still love it. But most people don't want to pay thousands of dollars for a television, and they don't care about buying a television that will last them 20 years.

$500 is a very attractive price, whether there is content or not. Manufacturers have figured out how to make 4K equipment cheap, and so customers are buying it. Manufacturers could not figure out how to make a $500 HDTV for a decade or longer.

Comment Unsurprising (Score 1) 207

This doesn't surprise me. I purchased one of the first HDTVs, an RCA F38310 38-inch picture tube television within about a year of 2000. The MSRP was $3,500, which in today's dollars would be nearly $5,000. If I remember correctly, I paid right around $2,000, which would be expensive even in 2016 dollars. [After a capacitor repair ten years ago, the television works great and has a vivid picture to this day, only lacking 1080p and HDMI---easily worked around. I might keep this television forever, if only to play video games.]

Consumers today can get decent 4K televisions for around $500, and I've seen smaller sets for less. In 2000 you needed to spend over $1,000 in 2000 dollars for something decent. LCDs were really crappy back then. If you're old enough, you might recall that many people bought plasma sets, which were more like $5,000 each. None of this helped adoption of HDTV.

Retrospectively I'm saying that a lack of content was not the major factor in the slow consumer demand for HDTV equipment. It was simply that the equipment that was any good cost way too much, into the thousands of dollars. Manufacturers have figured out how to sell 4K equipment cheaply, and so consumers are buying it, lack of content be damned.

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