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Comment Re:Computer scientists don't understand sociology (Score 2) 1321

To be fair, this is the standard, accepted mechanism for dealing with any emotionally charged issue today. What people FEEL about it is considered more valid than the facts of the matter, to the point that asking for, much less providing and citing facts is considered politically incorrect on one side and unpatriotic/traitorous on the other.

For example;
    - any reason other than sexism for male/female hiring rates, pay differences, or if there is a wage gap
    - any reason other than racism for black crime rates, including victim and convicted rates
    - gun ownership demographics compared to violent crime involving guns
    - the 'war on drugs' and discussions of what its achieved
    - anything about abortion

etc.

The problem is that the loudest voices are often the craziest or zaniest, and that gets the most headlines in an era where invoking moral outrage and shouting down an argument is considered a critical public debate technique. Calm analysis is considered a trademark of 'the elite', where 'the elite' is anyone who is an authority on a subject but doesn't agree with the listener, and therefore can be ignored as the mouthpiece some collective, coordinated socio-facist attempt to force people to think in a specific way.

Comment It'll require legal enforcement. (Score 1) 280

Right now, the majority of people writing code are writing code because they're being paid to do so, either by individuals or more likely, a business.

Those people, in turn, are not hiring programmers purely for altruism, they're doing it to achieve some goal, usually profit, increase in efficiency, and so on. They have to cope with estimating the curve for diminishing returns. They can figure out having a product that works 95% of the time, or one that works 96% of the time but costs 2x as much and takes 3x as long to develop may or may not be worth it. ... and ignore for now that developers are pretty bad at estimating project efforts as a whole, much less individual pieces of code.

There's no incentive for these employers to pay their people to produce 'perfect' code. Even in the field of medical devices or self driving cars or a number of other systems, there's still a point of diminishing returns, and largely the business determines it based on market expectations, and adjusts it based on market reactions (no one will buy a self-driving car that crashes 1/5'th of the time, but they might buy one that crashes only 1 in 500,000 times).

So developers aren't going to be given the time and other resources required to write perfect code. There will always be a balance between time, money, and quality, and outside of hobbists and a few industries, that'll never change. Unless there's some requirement that it change.

I think it's very likely that in the near future, we'll have legal regulation regarding software that runs in certain environments; medical and transportation industry is very likely, but also public works like water or power management subsystems. On the other hand, there's really no reason to engage the entertainment or office productivity industry, and that includes cell phones and most personal computer apps.

What form this regulation will take, I can't tell you, but due to the very nature of the process, it can be very difficult to detect flaws. My guess is that it'll be more of a fine-upon-discovery mechanism. Again, not much different than how we work now, with the added difficulty of a legal fine on top of market loss.

Of course, were I in this situation, I would assign the rights of software bundles to do-nothing child corporations that act as defacto owners of the code, and then declare bankruptcy due to the cost of fixing the software AND paying fines. At the same time, child corporation 2.0 has a wholly compatible new app that will fix that issue...

but that's me - I'm a problem solver, and this is just a paperwork issue.

Comment To play the devil's advocate (Score 1) 182

I agree with many of the above posts: We play video games for recreation as a form of escapism and mental exercise. If we could do the things in video games - live another life, have super powers, fight terrorists with the backing of a shadow government, and so on - we would. Potentially. Unless we're having a lazy day. So the idea of my life activities being gamified and affecting my recreational play is actually a violation of my game space. It's a way to penalize me for not changing my life to suit the game du jour. ... and if they make me pay for that, perform certain activities that provide benefit to corporations, political parties, or governments, that's sticking the knife in and twisting it. Even things that are supposed to benefit me personally - like public work projects, social projects, or personal fitness - that I don't associate with the game itself - feels like a shackle. It's a fine I have to pay to play the game, and NOT in any way an enhancement.

At least, that's how it is in western culture.

I think many of the above folks have not considered:
      - The degree to which products, people, and brands are commoditized in asian nations
      - How the above commoditization is considered normal, if not expected
      - The level of competitiveness that some asian cultures place on games
      - How the combination of the above 3 come together to make it ludicrously easy for providers to monetize video game
      - The size of these populations when it comes to video games and what that means for target markets in the future

For these target markets, video games are not recreation specifically, any more than football is recreation for a college football hopeful, with the added pressure of maintaining a separate and likely much more engaging social life around it. These sorts of tie-ins are considered value adds to these players. "I was already going to drink GAMER/X FUEL brand energy drink, and now I get bonus XP with a code? Awesome!" It's not necessarily considered a detriment to develop a brand loyalty because of these sorts of tie-ins, but could even be a sort of badge of honor, like name brand loyalty was in the 1980's US (anyone remember cola wars?)

As more and more of the chinese population enters the market, I wouldn't be surprised to see the focus of video games especially swing in this direction. Just because it's not as popular or lucrative in the US, who cares, there's 20x the market elsewhere, and money follows the market.

Comment Re:This will be a very interesting experiment (Score 5, Insightful) 320

The thing is, manufacturing jobs won't come back, because they're gone. In the 70's and 80's, it took 200 people to do what 3 machines running 24/7 with almost no error do now. Even if you were to set up a new factory, you'd have like 40 jobs where you used to have 1000 - enough to actually support a reasonable town. So point 1,

1. You aren't bringing the jobs back.

Here's another amusing point: even if we do get jobs, the value of them will be based against the value of that job globally - so long as businesses and currency is still traded globally, so until we have really brought the quality of life and cost of living to some sort of equilibrium world wide, these jobs will never provide the value they used to. Back when we didn't have to compete with other countries for this work, it was viable. That's no longer the case and it won't ever be. We avoid manufacturing now because it's simply not the best return on investment for a business OR an employee. So point 2,

2. Manufacturing work doesn't make enough money for the business or employee to incentivize companies or workers to do it in the US in past large numbers.

Last, you mentioned vocational skills. Surprising many who haven't looked into it, we do have some vocational training and even government programs to make it cheap and relatively available. The problem? If you churn out 70-200, let's say, air conditioner repairman from the same school, in the same location, every 6 months, you're not going to have enough jobs available for them. The only way that would work is if you got trained and then were required to move at least 20 miles from any other graduate at any point in time. So point 3,

3. Vocational training doesn't work at scale because it saturates the local markets past the point of available jobs

The end tally is this: Neither manufacturing nor vocational jobs have the ability or potential to support a nationwide middle class, nor provide economic mobility to enter the middle class in numbers greater than what we have today, with all likelihood of them actually decreasing in the future.

In layman's terms, manufacturing can't support a large middle class population.

Even China, the manufacturing king of the world, is dealing with this issue right now. It's prompting their hurried transition to a more service-based economy.

Advocating to bring back factory work, you may as well advocate to bring back rat catchers, switchboard operators and video rental stores for all the good it'll do the middle class. The reality is that we're moving towards a more maintainable, fully service-based economy and that necessitates higher levels of education to meet the ever rising bar for good paying skilled jobs if we want to maintain a large middle class. For good or for ill, the college degree is fast becoming the old highschool diploma as far as job hunting goes.

Comment Time/Money/Quality competition (Score 1) 167

It's the standard triangle. You can cut from one at the increased detriment of the others. As long as the others are finite resources you always have to cut somewhere. The problem so many developers can't understand is that the 'where' is a business problem, not a theoretical engineering issue.

If it's more important to remain under budget, or be first to market, yeah, quality might suffer big time, and it's easy to ignore the academic's concept of a perfect engineering development lifecycle with a full QA and test system that, by it's very nature, must be more expensive than the actual production system itself (because it's the production system PLUS extra bits for testing).

Companies learn to handle this fairly well - or they go out of business. They gauge the severity and frequency of errors their users are willing to tolerate to keep them around the top of the maximized profit curve.

This means that as much as you want to refactor all that crap code, it just doesn't pay out to the company.
It means that while you'd love a perfect QA test environment, 3 VM's the lead dev set up on one of spare dev systems is going to have to be good enough because the money for the hardware isn't there.
You'd love to make a fully functional semi-autonomous system to manage common issues, instead of making devs work a rotating on-call shift but it's not financially worth it. ... and so on.

What so many of us don't understand is that our job as software devs or other technical engineers is NOT to make a high-functioning, beautifully coded, well maintained product. Our job, the reason we were hired, is to build revenue for the company. Anything else is just a byproduct of work towards that goal. If you can make more money with an app that crashes every hour than you would from spending 3 months testing it, then that's what you do.

Not that it doesn't irritate me too, every time one of my products is pushed out the door without a proper shakedown, but you gotta face reality.

Comment Re: 'Genuine' is how luxury brands protect themsel (Score 2) 192

Having worked with a chinese company that did this sort of thing before, the 'easiest' way to do it is just use the same assembly line, machinery, and workers to roll off a duplicate version with the exact same materials from the exact same material providers.

That's not always the way, but it is the easiest.

Comment 'Genuine' is how luxury brands protect themselves (Score 1) 192

I have very little insight into the world of fashion, but I do know that since there are no laws against creating the exact same dress, shirt, purse, or whatever, luxury brands tend to plaster their name or logo all over their products. You can't copy the name because that's trademarked.

As a result, you have folks seeing the popularity of an item making knockoffs. These vary in quality, of course, but in some cases, they're made from the exact same materials, in the exact same plant that the originals are made. The only difference is they have to print a different brand name on them or risk criminal activities, so a Coach bag becomes a "Loach" bag, with the mark spelled out in the same font with an extra curvy 'L'. Sure, technological devices are usually protected by more than trademark - patents and such which are often ignored by certain eastern markets - but since a piece of paper half a world a way isn't an actual barrier to producing a physical product, so it often comes down to the same thing.

The funny thing here is that even with off brands that may exceed the quality of the item, the original brand is still much more highly prized. Why? Because of marketing generating a social expectation that a 'genuine' object affords prestige. It could just be that it's expensive, or that it's advertisements paradoxically indicate that you must both be beautiful enough to wear it and simultaneously that you must wear it to be beautiful (like Abercrombie & Fitch, for example). It says, "Even if it's not as high quality, I both went through the trouble to find it AND paid more, and I passed through the filter that says I'm worth owning this, and that says something positive about me as a person!"

Sound like any company you know? Starts with an A, ends with A -pple, nothing in the middle?

This is just Apple selling it's product not as a piece of technology, but as a lifestyle accessory, as they've done ever since they realized that was the way to success. The claims of technological merit are just fluff, but necessary fluff to keep up their brand pretension and justify their walled garden environments.

Comment We lack the altruism to avoid revolution (Score 1) 917

As I posted before in 2013, again in 2013 and latest in 2015

I'll summarize it for you all though. In order to avoid a situation where the majority are unsustainably poor and ready to revolt, we'll need to meet the following criteria:
    - Every country in the world needs to be at about the same technological level at about the same time
    - Every government in the world (and all the people within them) embrace strong socialist beliefs that make current socialist states look like anarchists
    - We need to abolish the concept that work is directly related to value, and in turn, diminish the concept that scarcity and demand have real impact on value.
    - We have to accept that there is going to be a sizable number of people in the world who add no value to society or the world, and simply exist as consumers

The average person would have a trade skill that they use when they feel like it, perhaps no more than 1-3 hours a week, live in a house or home they like, and their things (clothing, devices, transportation, food etc) would be freely given to them with only limits placed on quantity by need - for example, no one needs more than 1 car, but you might - from time to time- need a truck or a motorcycle. There'd be no such thing as money, private ownership of property (items & land) is almost completely gone, and naturally limited resources would be metered out by some merit plus popularity based system, so not everyone would have a starship, for example. ... but the reality is that we're probably going to have to go through at least one, if not more cycles of horrific violence or strife, to the point that it forces us to radically redefine our thoughts and behaviors. We're just too caught up in concepts of justice-as-defined-by-the-beholder, us-vs-them, and so on to do it right now.

Comment Re:Tinfoil hat? (Score 1) 552

Pretty sure the description indicated that it's a locking mechanism similar to that in clothing stores. You have a plastic chit with a magnet in the right place, slide it over the 'locking disc' and it slides off. Obviously the 'phone-free zone' would have ushers or whomever at it's borders, applying and removing the 'yondr' case, in the same way they might hand out and collect 3-d glasses at a movie theater. Why have a complex, error-prone technical solution when a manual solution is cheaper, easier, and more reliable?

Comment This suggests the *current* expected max age (Score 3, Insightful) 290

From the article, this is not an estimate of upper max based on species capability, biological understanding of the aging process, or knowledge and subsequent realistic & accepted explanation of the limitations. They just graphed the current max age on a year by year basis and noticed that the last 20 years or so, there seems to be a plateau. At least in the countries that keep good track of age of citizens over the last 150 years or so.

Even with poor or missing data, we can see that if we used this same technique in say, 1700, the expected max age would look a bit different. At one time, our expected max age was 30!

Using a study like this to claim knowledge about the limits of age is like using a crime statistics study in the us to prove that certain minority groups are *genetically* prone to be criminals, and about exactly as useful.

As mankind progresses and continues to innovate in the fields of medicine, biology, sociology, psychology, and technology, we'll keep pushing this limit, perhaps in fits and starts, but it'll continue to advance. That is, unless there's some difficult-to-impossible ACTUAL limitation that we hit. A study of statistics like this might hint at *a* current barrier, but this doesn't identify, describe, or explain it. It certainly can't claim it's the *final* barrier.

Comment Fixing the wrong problem gets you nowhere. (Score 1) 290

The problem isn't email or voice mail or voice mail called 'voice memos'. It's people, man. It's always been people.

Look, if you're bad at communication - either producing it or receiving it - you're bad at it. Having a smart phone app that you use to take notes during your commute (plus the ambient noise and pauses from distraction) that you send out at 7 pm, expecting your employees to have linked their personal phone to company email and IM services, and ready to listen and respond ... it's not going to fix things, it'll just move the apparent source of conflict around, spread it out, exacerbate it, obfuscate it, or some combination of the above.

In any given day, the amount of time you should devote to whole-group communication should probably never be more than 15 minutes. If it's taking longer than that, try fixing that issue first, because that IS an issue. Get better at communicating, not just filling pages or airwaves with low-info-density content.

Here's a hint to achieving this: there is no technological mechanism that yet exists which is as information rich as a simple 2-way, face to face meeting. Even video chat isn't as good. You want to communicate with most efficiency, you need to do face to face. So schedule meetings at least a day before (and if you can't, then fix your scheduling problem too!), sit down, look them in the eye, remain focused, and then get back to work.

Comment Re:Shying away from OOP(s) (Score 4, Informative) 674

I had to work under a lead who had "Design Pattern Prejudice". Every class had to be named based on the pattern it took after, and everything had to come from factory factories that worked off interfaces to abstract parents at every step, everything had to be immutable, and in any given review, he'd point to a section of code and ask what design pattern this followed. If you couldn't specify one, he'd fail the review, and if you could, he'd want you to rewrite it to use at least 2 or 3 more patterns.

Granted, he'd spend a whole week writing code, fail to complete any of his issues, and check in around 40 new classes & interfaces, but not one of them had any business logic in them at all, and then demand everyone refactor their code to use his new architecture.

We only got things done when we started ignoring him.

Comment Really.... (Score 1, Insightful) 37

"It's incredible that this community is still going so strong after so long."

I checked the Tiobe index and I guess they're right, it IS on the rise. They're almost more popular than Visual Basic .Net, but they've got a ways to go to catch up to Perl.

To be fair though, they've more than doubled in popularity since a low in early 2015, going from sub 1% to over 2%!

Comment Maybe focus on the problem, not the symptoms? (Score 1) 1144

The problem scope:
    Some people in any given society are given to illegal and violent actions that cause harm to the society they're in and the people and infrastructure within it. We don't want them to do those things.

There's two real solutions:
    - Make people think in a different way which precludes this sort of behavior
    - Eliminate the root cause(s) which engender this sort of behavior.

Technology can't really help much here, not as the magic bullet people desire. These are all long term issues where 'technology' can help, but no one in the world is very good at making people think in specific ways or changing how societies work, even when they're the guys in power. In the end, eliminating poverty, sickness, and not just need, but the larger human problem of 'want' are very hard issues indeed. They won't fit in sound bites or a single person's elected term.

Which brings us to the the bigger problem: the current round of political turds are trumpeting their curealls when they're really only addressing symptoms:
    - Identify individuals prior to their negative activity and remove them from society
    - Remove any tools which could be used to harm society from society

Technology may be able to say something about theses in the short term; loss of privacy and elimination of encryption may allow law enforcement to track criminals more effectively. To be fair though, mandatory lobotomies for presumed anti-social/society individuals would also work pretty well, if you consider medical science to be a technology. All the blathering about the ill-defined 'assault weapons' while handguns are the deadly weapon of choice - and the majority of firearm deaths are from suicides to boot? It's all just hot air. No interest in solving problems, only winning political points. It's the same security theater we see in the airports writ large across the nation. Lots of visible frenetic activity but results - nope. Lots of hand-waving and sound bites instead.

Not that I want to be all negative, I do have one constructive suggestion for these short term issues. A guideline that will help us reel in these claims that, for example, encryption should be criminalized, and 2 hours in a security line at every public venue is considered reasonable. The guideline is this:

Do not believe, for a second, that you can eliminate terrorism, domestic or otherwise. Instead, realize that the best you can do is mitigate the risk.

Look, as soon as we say we're going to eliminate it, that no cost is too high to make the world safe for every citizen, there's no end. It's like citing the will of god in a religious debate, you can never refute it, and it's an 'answer' that can be used to justify any deed, no matter how horrible. If you instead focus on managing the risk, putting an actual value on it, and using that metric to assign resources, you'll come up with a more reasonable solution.

Maybe hire an economist to explain the hard facts without any sort of emotional or moral outrage?

Comment This is already the law! (Score 1) 347

There's a broad category of self-assessment taxes you're supposed to be paying : use tax and their ilk.

State laws almost always indicate that it is the responsibility of the purchaser to account for this. Generally, they require that you pay the taxable difference by percent between the point of purchase and the state of residence.

Example 1: You purchase a good on the internet from out of state. You pay no (sales) tax on it at the time of purchase , but if you were to buy it in your state, you'd be assessed a 10% tax. You now owe your state a 10% tax.

Example 2: You live in one state, but purchase a car in another. Autos are taxed at 10% in your state, and at 5% in the state where you purchased it. The tax for the state of purchase IS collected, but you still owe 5% tax in your state.

The reason this doesn't come up very often is that most of these sums are very very small. Certainly far smaller than the cost of litigation to investigate, find proof, and litigate remuneration of those sums. The states still want that money! They can't afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars to recover two dollars from an individual, but they're willing to spend a hundred thousand if it brings in millions. So they target specific retailers because it IS cost effective for them to force THEM to collect the sales tax as if they were in-state sellers. Thus Amazon now collects per-state tax.

The short version is that the state wants money, and they'll keep creating laws until they can both legally take it, and it's cost effective (and easy) to do so. The same idea drives universal fingerprinting/ID and encryption backdoor initiatives. There are laws that cover the situation, but they're too hard to enforce. So they add more laws simply so it's easier to enforce the other ones.

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