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Comment Re:The end justifies the means (Score 1) 234

It's probably not that meaningful, anyway. Somewhere around 20-40% of the info in these documents will turn out to be wrong or misleading in some critical way. Mostly, it'll just be a case of "name files", with info about different people with the same (or similar) names entered in the wrong place. People will learn pretty quickly to deny anything they don't like. Of course, others will believe whatever they want about you, especially if it was in some "secret" document. But they too will learn that the info about them is also full of errors. More importantly, your friends and relatives will learn the same thing.

I've yet to see any official document about me (including medical records) that didn't have some bizarre thing with unknown origin. The people who keep the records just respond with a grin and a comment starting with "Yeah ....".

Actually, my favorite example, which my wife loves telling other people, is one of those "not even wrong" things that a nurse wrote down after a routine exam, saying that I was 5'13" tall and weighted 135 pounds. I am in fact about six feet one inch, but 135 pounds would make me one of the scrawniest six-footers on the planet. She'd used one of those old-fashioned scales with sliding weights, and had forgotten that she'd slid over a third 50-pound weight. But I've since then seen several personal histories that include that 135-pound weight back then. Once such things get into the database, they're almost impossible to correct. This is especially true of medical records. This can be really annoying to those that've had a "false positive" diagnosis somewhere along the line. But such things are pretty good at teaching you how much you can trust the "official" data about other people.

(I sometimes wonder if official records in other "advanced" countries are as screwed up as they are here in the US. I'd guess that they probably are.)


people do have their names :)

Not really; according to the US Census Bureau, there are about 1800 Americans with my (first+last) name. And probably a whole bunch of them have the same middle name, which is also one of the top 10 men's names in the US. My parents didn't have much imagination when it came to baby names.

OTOH, my wife continues to use her birth name for most purposes (which is fine by me). She likes the fact that, as far as she can determine, she's the only living human with that name. (And it's not even some unpronounceable "foreign" sounding name. She also likes to point out to people that her name is a syntactically correct English sentence. She has even found archived newspaper images that have her name at the top of a story. ;-)

But anyway, most of us don't "have" our names in any meaningful sense. We're just one of many who are using the name for a few decades, until we drop out of the crowd that are using it.

In college, I had a friend who was a member of the Bill Smith Club, whose only membership criterion is that you be named (or married to someone named) Bill Smith (or William Smythe or Wilhelm Schmidt or anything else that maps onto the name).

Comment Re:Nah (Score 1) 146

Porsche 918 Spyder is 0-60 in 2.3s. Elon has a ways to go still.

On the other hand, an electric motor can easily produce its maximum torque at stall.

An electric car, with adequately sized motors, controllers, and batteries (or other power sources) should be able to drive the tires to the traction limit from a standing start to the speed where the available power will no longer sustain that level of acceleration - well over 60 MPH. This means the acceleration is limited solely by the coefficient of friction of the tire/road contact surface - a critical parameter that can be tightly tracked, during acceleration, by drive electronics akin to non-skid brake controllers.

So an electric car should be able to get the best possible standing-start rating out of any given tire technology - and be literally unbeatable in such a contest.

IMHO the only reason (pre-Tesla) electric cars had a reputation for being underpowered creampuffs rather than unbeatable sprint sports cars, is that the automobile manufacturers thought the purchasers would all be eco-freaks, more interested in mileage and ideology than performance, and designed lower-manufacturing-cost, underpowered, cars for this market.

Comment Re:doh! (Score 2) 484

Obama didn't release his birth certificate for one very good reason, he is very clever and Trump is very stupid.

The fact is that the Republicans will always invent some crazy idiotic 'scandal' that they obsess about and endlessly throw up smoke. The birther conspiracy was mind numbingly ridiculous. It would require someone to go back in time to plant the birth notice in the papers. Or for some group of conspirators to go to an enormous amount of trouble in order to make a particular black kid president.

So rather than release the birth certificate and let the Republicans invent a new scandal, Obama held onto it and let them obsess about a scandal nobody else thought made the slightest sense, knowing that he could knock their house of cards down any time he chose. Which of course he did a week before the Bin Laden raid which was guaranteed to end the story.

George W. Bush opened torture chambers across the world and collected photographs for a sick sexual thrill. Yet nobody ever talks about that. None of the people complaining about Hilary ever complained about GWB refusing to comply with Congressional investigation or the deletion of 5 million emails.

So here is what is going to happen. Trump is going to go down to the biggest defeat since Carter and he is going to drag the rest of his party down with him. And afterwards there is going to be a new civil rights act that prohibits Republican voter suppression tactics and the gerrymandering that give them a 5% advantage in elections. And by the time it is all done the Republican party will have two choices, either boot the racist conspiracy theorists and Trumpists out or face two decades in the wilderness.

Comment Grey Goo Limit (Score 1) 148

I recall a joke scenario from a couple years ago:

Earth is in the throws of a Nanotech Grey Goo scenario. The microscopic self-replicating robots have converted about half the planet to more of themselves. And then they stop. The few surviving humans, observing from space, are puzzled.

Zoom in. Thought balloon from the mass of Grey Goo: "Damn! We shouldn't have stuck with IPV6. We've run out of addresses!"

Comment Re:Stealth (Score 1) 117

... airframes still can't match pilots. An aircraft on a mission may need to execute some spectacular maneuvers, and the pilot can often survive quite well, especially with active flight suits. However, the airframe is still damaged by the maneuver, and might not be usable again.

Which just means that they didn't throw extra weight and strength (a constant cost) into insuring that the meat-sack-carrying vehicle would take no damage in ANY extreme, momentary, corner case that the meat-sack COULD survive.

Remove the meat-sack-guidance-computer, its support systems, emergency ejection systems, and that big space in the middle for it, and the design potential is drastically altered.

So there's no conflict between your point and the predecessor's claim.

Comment There are plenty of job ADS. (Score 5, Insightful) 329

There are plenty of jobs for [this, that, and the other thing]

There are plenty of job ADS.

This is because, in order to hire an H1-B, the employer must first advertise the job to US persons.

But there are whole classes given on how to gimmick the hiring process so that anyone who applies, other than the desired H1-B, can be plausibly turned down as unqualified. The US applicants waste their time, and the H1-Bs get the positions.

Give us a call when there are plenty of HIRES of US citizens for these, or any, positions.

Comment Re:Up to date? (Score 2) 329

The last point, about the college kids, is a good point. What engineers learn is that there is a new gradated class while employers pick the best of, and then replace their worst employees. From what I can tell employees get three years of training, and if they don't do well, they get replaced. It is not all milk and sugar for the graduates. There are years when less than 50% of graduates get hired because really only the bad employees are going to get fired.

One wonders why employees choose to train their replacements instead of just quit. It seems to me that if a person is so qualified that they are being fired no for cause but just because they are too expensive, they could get another job. It is like complaining that there are no more jobs in the US, but never buying a product made in the US.

Clearly if the visa program did not exist companies would be forced to hire the maybe less qualified US workers, or perhaps open office outside the US. OTOH, I tend to believe that the US is the greatest place in the world, with a great deal of cheap capital, and many people agree. The problem is that people in the US tend to be much more complacent about living up to that greatness than highly motivated people in other countries. It is the greatness of the US that encourages workers to come here, not the ability of employers to pay less. Yes it may lead to the same outcome, but if we look at the former we only complain, but the later gives us solutions.

Here is what happened to me early in my career. At first if was easy because I was competing with the to 5% of the 18-30 year old living in the US, those who had access to technology but also to schools who were more interested in teaching novel skills than the three R's as we used to call them. As the years went on, and more people became computer literate, in the broad sense, not MS Office, then I had to compete with more people. Finally, I was competing with the world, and at that point, since I was not in the top 1%, it all fell apart, so to speak.

Again, when I was a kid the entire engineering class would be hired straight out college. Now one can be in the top 50% and not be hired. It is not just visas, it is not just that technology has made things more efficient, it is also that so many of us are simply complacent about our futures.

Comment Re:Recaptcha for Audio (Score 1) 110

what color is grass when it is dead? 1 green, 2 blue, 3 yellow, 4 brown.

I HATE questions like this. All those captchas, as well as text book questions back in my school days, you have to pretend to be an idiot in order to guess the answer they want (which is often different from the "right" or "correct" answer).

What color is dead grass? Yellow seems a reasonable choice to me. I've seen lots of yellow spots in otherwise green lawns everybody calls "dead patches". Green might be the correct answer in many places where owners have resorted to painting the dead grass (or dirt) to fulfill HOA or city requirements. And all these exceptions to the simplest question you could come up with!

Google's capchas are pretty terrible, too. Click on photos containing houses? Lots of squareish (possibly commercial) buildings in there could go either way. And how many people call their condo or apartment their "house"? So those high-rises might qualify, depending on your POV. And that's before you get into homelessness and photos of bridges, dumpsters, empty cardboard boxes, etc.

My physics textbook had the worst stupid questions. Some seemed intentional tricks, but I'm not so sure in hindsight, as so many others were just idiotic and wrong. "What falls faster, a bowling ball or a feather?" The supposed correct answer is both are equal, because you're wrong to just assume we're on Earth in an atmosphere. But with "Does a car use more gas when the headlights turn on?" the accepted answer is Yes, and there's no consideration of different models with massively overpowered engines which won't even notice the different in load.

I'll wrap up my rant here.

Comment Re:Here's a better solution (Score 1) 290

If your job really requires that you get hundreds of emails a day, odds are, you really should be replaced by a robot.

But it's the robots sending the emails.... they take the work as far as they can based on filtering and rules, then email out when they need a real human to help figure out what needs to happen next with something. Then a human might take 10 of those and summarize them into a few lines explaining it to everyone else on the emails.

Surely I'm not the only one on /. who gets more automatically generated email every day than email from real people.... I mean, my team and I manage about 10k devices per person, so the devices tend to have a lot more to say collectively, even if the people communicate more per individual.

Comment If queueing could be fair this would be no issue. (Score 2) 193

Last time we had unlimited data plans, there were people who would tether hundreds of gigabytes a month ...

If, when the network became congested, the available bandwidth were fairly divided among the competing users, such usage would not be an issue. Everyone asking for less than their share would get all their data through at line rate, everyone asking for more would evenly divide the remainder. At times when the pipes were too clogged to handle it all, the "data hogs" would get the same data rate as everyone else trying to use the "Information Superhighway". They wouldn't degrade the other users' experience any more than any other user's traffic did. (It's just like the way a driver who likes to cruise flat-out at night doesn't end up going any faster than the rest of the traffic at rush hour.)

I used to wonder why it wasn't done that way. Then I get a job designing router chips, including the special-purpose coprocessors to handle bandwidth division.

It turns out that actually making fair division happen in real time requires enormous amounts of sideways communication between the states of the (otherwise independent) throttling mechanisms for each user, flow, etc. It's much easier to preset the limits and only adjust them occasionally. But that means the "data hogs" either get throttled or, when rush hour comes and they're still trying to pump lots of data, they clog the pipes. So the ISPs identify customers who use a lot of data in off hours and turn down their limits, to keep them from degrading things for everybody else. It's not good. It's not fair to those who are just trying to use the service that was advertised, or those who carefully do their data-hogging on off hours only. But it's about the best ISPs can do with the available tools.

I was starting to look into practical ways to "do it right". But the network equipment company downsized me before I'd gotten rolling on it. Now I'm fully employed doing other stuff. So somebody else will have to figure this out, and get it designed and deployed in a future equipment generation, or we'll keep having this problem.

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"Necessity is the mother of invention" is a silly proverb. "Necessity is the mother of futile dodges" is much nearer the truth. -- Alfred North Whitehead