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Comment What makes an engineer in the US? (Score 3, Interesting) 548

In the US, if you want to be a mechanical, or civil, or electrical, or plumbing engineer, these are the rules you generally have to follow.

- you go to school and eventually graduate

- you may have to serve as an apprentice (in my state, electricians serve a 5 year apprenticeship)

- you take an exam that's created and run by the state government in which you want to practice (not by a vendor)

- if you pass the exam, then you ask the state, not the vendor, for a license (probably some money involved here too)

- once you're licensed, then you're an engineer, unless

- the state finds out that you aren't following the state's (electrical / civil etc.) code regulations and pulls your license. Then you're no longer an engineer. And by the way, good luck finding your next job.

So whether you're an engineer or not depends on the state government, not a vendor or a school. This also provides more global skills. For example, a plumbing engineer can spec out either a Moen or a Delta faucet for a design. Could a Cisco engineer spec out a Juniper switch? Maybe...or maybe not.

When I was getting my degree (90's) the ACM wrote about the issue of whether software could truly be called "engineering" or not. Two things that they pointed out were that (1) in a couple of US states, it was illegal to call yourself a software engineer because you weren't licensed by the state, and (2) a lot of mechanical etc. engineers are pretty PO'd at the software industry because any fool can call himself / herself a software engineer without having skills, practices or state certs to back it up. Both point to a level of respect and trust in the skills of the person who puts "engineer" in their title. Would you go to a doctor who didn't have a state license? Or use a lawyer who wasn't a member of the state's bar? Probably not, because you don't know if you can trust their skills. A state's "engineer" stamp is a similar scenario: "this person is trustworthy in their trade and their opinions deserve respect."

Comment Game of Thrones (Score 1) 338

Yes, I'm reading it. I've never watched it on TV or DVD. I started reading it in June (?) and am now about halfway through the 5th novel. Each one runs right about 1000 pages, apparently regardless of book format (I have Book 4 in small paperback and Book 5 in supersize / trade paperback, and both clock in at something north of 1000 pages).

Needless to say, I'm an avid reader.

Also needless to say, it was a shock to my system when I was finishing up the 4th book, bought the 5th, and *then* found out that there will be 2 more books before this saga wraps up. They've all been really good reads, and Martin weaves a very complex and entertaining tale. I simply didn't realize that I was committing to *not* reading anything else until I get through this. The writing is compelling, and the characters are as good as (e.g.) Tolstoy's - and just as numerous.

Comment Re:Internet of things (Score 1) 133

One division of my employer is in the business of testing cell phones for compatibility with the various cell switches, prior to the phone's release to the market. Part of my paycheck is funded by the work we do for these companies. NotInHere's comments are true: the consumer is at the mercy of the manufacturer (and probably the cell phone provider too) in terms of receiving updates.

The question should stand, imho.

Comment Re:What is a valid use case for this? (Score 2) 60

People probably asked Steven Sasson the same thing back in 1975. He ignored them, and his work resulted in changes to the world. For one thing, he opened up the doors for small projects that would go on to become Facebook, Twitter...I'm sure Sasson didn't picture them when he was working on his invention, but others took it and ran with it very successfully. The same could happen here.

Just because you don't see this as useful to you, right now, doesn't mean that it doesn't have huge implications for the future.

Comment All of the above (Score 2) 172

I've taken great delight in using 5 of the options in the past. I haven't talked dirty to the telemarketer...but when I kept getting mortgage refi calls I started by telling the telemarketer "Boy your boss doesn't give a rip about need to get a new job because your employer just doesn't care." In the silence that ensued, I'd explain (truthfully, mind you) that the mortgage (a) had been the previous owner's, not mine, I could tell because I'm not a veteran, and (b) I'd paid off the mortgage 8 years previously. So the employer was feeding the poor telemarketer schmuck contact lists at least 8 years old; how would said schmuck ever make any money with this job? But I have called them back on their own number (very entertaining). And it's also fun to "answer" but just put the receiver down, and see how long their dialer will wait for me to speak before it hangs up. Lately though I'm mostly a "don't answer" or "answer but hang up before they even start" consumer.

Comment For does not equal With (Score 1) 246

"substitutes common ASCII characters for obscure homoglyphs"

I believe the post reversed the logic here. It substitutes obscure homoglyphs for common ASCII characters. Otherwise we'd all have to be coding with obscure Greek question marks every day. Only then would substituting common ASCII for homoglyphs be a problem.

Comment Re:As an option, OK. As mandatory, NO. (Score 1) 77

That's why I said "average intelligence and background." Neither one is sufficient. If you dumb it down too far then there's no difference between your presentation and that of dozens of others working in your same field. If you don't dumb it down - and it's not groundbreaking results, and obviously so - then many, perhaps most, people will lose interest within a minute or so.

Frankly, what I was afraid of is that sponsors of research would start making such presentations a requirement of funding. I still am afraid of that, all the above comments notwithstanding.

btw: my BS was in astrophysics, and I'm working in the tech industry now. I'm not someone afraid of science.

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