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Comment Digital?! (And CDs) (Score 1) 316

For all the trolls and ranters here, no one's picked up on the fact that this has absolutely nothing to do with the long-lost Digital/DEC? Alas, I am showing my age. As for the question at hand: CDs ripped to mp3/AAC/... Lost enough of my mp3 collection in the Napster days to hard drive failures to not rely on a solely digital collection. I also like to know what it is I have and know that if I stick it on random I will pretty much get a song that I like. And I don't have time to be tracking down new artists/albums to be seeding streaming services (nor to be constantly picking a song/album when I want to listen to something if it's not autoprogrammed.)

Comment Re:Ph.D. Program? (Score 1) 280

Absolutely. And definitely either go to a program that grants a masters or offers that as an out.

You might also have to do it the other way and get the Master's and then if it really excites you get a PhD. At least some Masters programs offer TAships which will cover much of your costs and more so in STEM fields, but it will really depend on the program and your field of study.

The key issue will be that many graduate programs in STEM have some requirement of a degree in a STEM field, though not all.

I'd find a program that interests you and reach out to the Dean or Admissions officer and have a frank conversation. They'll be able to tell you what the steps would be and the likelihood of funding, etc. They should also have some understanding of what their students do and be able to offer some idea of how relevant the degree will be to your interested career path.

As someone who has done some hiring, I don't really care what your undergraduate degree is in if you have a graduate degree. Similarly, if you've been working in the field doing something related to the position, most employers aren't going to care about your undergraduate degree. Though depending on where you're interested, HR may be a problem.

The last option would be to seek out someone at a company of interest and meet with them. If you have enough of a foundation in their required skills, see if they'd let you do an internship. It might be unpaid, though companies are increasingly under pressure to at least pay minimum wage if you're really doing work. That would let you get a sense of the work. And either way it will reaffirm what skills you'd need to hone up on if you find you're falling short.

Comment Re:Credit card info taken - twice (Score 1) 244

As an FYI, whenever that happens, just call your CC company directly. They will reverse the charges and issue you a new card, all with just one call. It's then up to the merchants and the company to figure out who has to eat the charges. You will have to sign an affidavit that you did not make the purchases, but that's it. It will also protect you should additional charges show up after you first notice.

Comment Re:Close the door. (Score 4, Informative) 480

I'd say it you don't have to close the door but it's certainly good to have a door to close. A big part of that will depend on how much you have kids/spouse/partner around and how much you're normally on your own. the important part is to have a defined space. This helps you mentally and helps those around you know that when you're there, you're working. Knowing and establishing boundaries is important for both you and anyone else around. For some, moving a load of laundry might be a good break and help keep the household running. For others it might be too much of a distraction. Definitely stay away from the TV, inclinations to clean (I don't have this, but I know lots of people who say they would!). Other items to keep in mind:
  • *You need to up your communication with others in the office. You lose nuance as well as key day-to-day stuff that happens in passing. Not only to you want to make sure people are thinking of you, but that you're not caught unaware when all hell breaks loose at the office. Similarly, people need to know if you're going to be out - don't just disappear.
  • *Establish a routine. That way both you and those in the office know when you're "at work" and when you're not. Otherwise, you risk always being on call. An important part of this, as others have mentioned, typically includes, breakfast, showering, etc.
  • *Make sure you take breaks, lunch, etc. Just cause you're at home doesn't mean you should be working more than you were before. Most folks have small breaks built in - you chat en route to the bathroom, you linger a minute after a meeting, etc. It's important to give yourself a chance to have mental breaks as well as physical ones.
  • *Stay connected with colleagues in "meat space". Make sure you go to lunch, conferences, trade shows, whatever makes sense. If you're in the same geography as your office, check in (physically) regularly. If you're remote, make sure you seek out colleagues/friends in your same area so you can get out of the house every now and then. This also keeps your network up as you never know when you'll be looking for that next job or trying to win some client.
  • *Recognize that it's easy to get stir-crazy. This can be completely normal. Depending on how extroverted you are, you may get mildly depressed. If this happens, make sure you're meeting with people regularly. Make sure you call instead of email or IM. Suggest experimenting with video conferences. We all need some level of human contact and going for days on end without seeing a person isn't good.
  • *Recognize that you'll probably want/need a short mental break to read Slashdot, etc. This is fine. You're most likely not robbing the company of any more (and probably less) than you would in the office. On the other hand, know what's reasonable. If it starts to get to be an hour of your "working" day, folks may well notice a drop in productivity. Since you're less likely to have someone peering over your shoulder, you're going to have to self-enforce. If you can't do a good job, then look at getting software that limits your browsing, game-playing, etc. And if you can't figure that out, working from home probably isn't for you.
  • *Understand you'll need to be that much more careful about exercise and eating. Even if you drive to work, you're still going to walk from the car to teh office, walk around the office, etc. At home, you might do no more than go to the bathroom across the hall and wander into the kitchen two rooms away all day long. Sedentary !=healthy. If nothing else, go for a stroll around the neighborhood on lunch or in the evenings.

Comment Re:It's terrible! (Score 1) 705

So NC is actually fairly rigorous about what it means to "practice engineering" in the state. You can read through the disciplinary actions and while some of it is clearly dangerous others are not necessarily so obvious.

The relevant statute is here, for those curious.

Note, in particular the part at the end about "It shall be the duty of all duly constituted officers of the State and all political subdivisions of the State to enforce the provisions of this Chapter and to prosecute any persons violating them." The guy may be senior enough to be considered an "officer of the state" and thus essentially be obligated to report anything that appears to be "holding out to the public of any engineering expertise by unlicensed persons."

Disclaimer: I am a licensed engineer in NC and have worked in the transportation field in NC so sort of know what I'm talking about (and though my company has done work for this guy, I never have so can't speak personally or professionally about him). And for those interested, the report by the neighbors is also available on the site. While it certainly looks fairly technical and basically says outright several other licensed engineers got it wrong, it appears to have several errors of its own. [Again, I'm not enough of a specialist in the matters at hand to say conclusively without looking up a few things first.]

The Courts

Submission + - Sergey Aleynikov is found guilty of code theft (

ngrier writes: After just three hours of deliberation, the jury found Sergey Aleynikov guilty of intentionally stealing proprietary Goldman Sachs code. As he had admitted copying the code as he was preparing to join a startup competitor in 2009, the case hinged on the intent. He faces up to 10 years in prison. We've discussed him before, here, here and here.

TSA Pats Down 3-Year-Old 1135

3-year-old Mandy Simon started crying when her teddy bear had to go through the X-ray machine at airport security in Chattanooga, Tenn. She was so upset that she refused to go calmly through the metal detector, setting it off twice. Agents then informed her parents that she "must be hand-searched." The subsequent TSA employee pat down of the screaming child was captured by her father, who happens to be a reporter, on his cell phone. The video have left some questioning why better procedures for children aren't in place. I, for one, feel much safer knowing the TSA is protecting us from impressionable minds warped by too much Dora the Explorer.

Heroic Engineer Crashes Own Vehicle To Save a Life 486

scottbomb sends in this feel-good story of an engineer-hero, calling it "one of the coolest stories I've read in a long time." "A manager of Boeing's F22 fighter-jet program, Innes dodged the truck, then looked back to see that the driver was slumped over the wheel. He knew a busy intersection was just ahead, and he had to act fast. Without consulting the passengers in his minivan — 'there was no time to take a vote' — Innes kicked into engineer mode. 'Basic physics: If I could get in front of him and let him hit me, the delta difference in speed would just be a few miles an hour, and we could slow down together,' Innes explained."

Comment Re:If you've nothing to hide... (Score 1) 878

Issues of privacy and the recklessness of the motorcyclist aside, the video is clearly misleading as the sound was off until the very end. You see the guy look over his shoulder which means that most likely the sirens were on and he'd gotten off the ramp with the hope of evading them. Whether they'd flipped them on because he passed them at 82 or because someone had reported him and they decided to tail him and finally identified him once on the ramp, we can't know. But it does seem exceedingly likely that they'd had their sirens on and possibly even used their bull horn to instruct him to pull over. So no, we're not getting the whole picture.

That aside, the charge is ridiculous. He's in a public space and time and again, the law has upheld that what goes on on the streets has no expectation of privacy. There have even been cases where the police's right to use infrared cameras or otherwise videotape you within your home, as long as it's plainly visible from the street, have been upheld. (Same goes for indecency laws in some locations - if you're visible from a public area, regardless of whether you're in your own home, you may be charged with public exposure/indecency.)

Of course, it's probably part of the DA's plan to teach him a lesson and get a conviction/plea deal as much as it is an overzealous double-standard. If they've decided to press charges, they're going to charge him with anything they can in hopes that at least one thing sticks. (And that, my friends, is part of the reason our criminal codes are so thick - police officers and DAs are reticent to ever take outdated or little-used laws off the books as they can occasionally be used to add to the stack of crimes. And while sometimes this is how we actually convict big-time criminals, as often as not it's simply a way of making sure that the corner dope dealer spends 10 years in prison...)

Comment Re:Know the right people (Score 3, Insightful) 274

Right on. Even if you learn enough to be a:
  • Plumber
  • Electrician
  • Engineer
  • Architect
  • HVAC installer
  • ...

    you'll still need to design plans, get permits and get the whole thing inspected and approved. And while most jurisdictions will allow you to make said improvements to your own dwelling, they're going to go over everything with a fine tooth comb if you're not licensed in that trade. My parents built their own home, but even still, got help from all the above to do the plans, oversee inspections and help with the trickier parts of each of those aspects. Good luck, though. A worthy endeavor.

Comment Re:Massive innovation; return of 'file' menu optio (Score 5, Insightful) 291

And you'll notice that they've also reverted to letting you customize the ribbon. So really we're largely back where we were in 2003 except that they've cleaned up a few things and made 'big icons' so that folks who don't get menus have a better idea of what they're doing (not that half the icons make any sense or that their organization helps anything - have you tried working with tables, for example, where half the tools are on one menu and the other are on the next?!)

Here's hoping they've also fixed some of the inconsistencies in the ribbon as well - it's incredibly frustrating that you can adjust some formatting in one application but not in another - you'd think they share the same codebase. Are they just trying to protect us from having too much control over our documents?!


Planned Nuclear Reactors Will Destroy Atomic Waste 344

separsons writes "A group of French scientists are developing a nuclear reactor that burns up actinides — highly radioactive uranium isotopes. They estimate that 'the volume of high-level nuclear waste produced by all of France’s 58 reactors over the past 40 years could fit in one Olympic-size swimming pool.' And they're not the only ones trying to eliminate atomic waste: Researchers at the University of Texas in Austin are working on a fusion-fission reactor. The reactor destroys waste by firing streams of neutrons at it, reducing atomic waste by up to 99 percent!"

Comment Re:Contact a Museum (Score 2, Informative) 235

If the maps are in decent shape, you typically use a large-format scanner. These are extremely expensive, though, so you'll preferably want to find a local university or friend at a company with one. Most larger copy shops will have one (for making architectural plans/construction documents) but will likely charge you a pretty penny to use it. And as others have pointed out, uni or a local historical society may have been through this so be relatively set up to guide you along (or even do some of it for you!).

If they're really brittle or on non-standard material, digital photography will likely be your only option. And if you want a nice orthographically correct version it will take a lot of patience as you'll get a fair bit of distortion on those large maps. So, as described by other folks in this thread, you'll need a setup so that you can take a number of tiles and stitch them together. To truly take a line from the 'pros' (as in the way they actually shoot aerial photography) you'd want to very carefully mark out a grid pattern on the map itself so you have something to correct against. One other thing: find the smallest real aperture you can get - if you've ever seen pictures from pinhole cameras you'll notice that everything is in focus. (And if you're debating using a point and shoot vs a nice DSLR, make sure to convert to equivalent focal length when comparing - in most cases you'll find that as long as the optics are decent on the P&S, the effective aperture will be better unless you have a really fancy lens/camera setup.)

That all said, if they are old, and you're more concerned with georeferencing them than having a high-quality reproduction, you likely needn't spend too much time getting a photo of the final version. As there will almost indefinitely be some distortion from the true coordinates, you'll likely need to do some 'rubbersheeting' to get the maps to match up with their real-world locations. That process will likely introduce way more distortion than that from from your digital camera. If you have access to mapping software such as ArcGIS, it will do it easily for you. Otherwise there are lots of free products out there that will allow you to distort the image appropriately.

Good luck!

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