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Comment Re: Obama Loyalists (Score 1) 188

I've seen what passes as higher education and I can tell you that from this republican's perspective it comes with a HUGE liberal slant.

Only in the liberal arts college. I can tell you that higher education has no political slant whatsoever in the engineering college. There's no time for political bullshit when there isn't really enough time to cover all the useful factual stuff we learn in engineering. That and the equations that describe the behavior of a transistor don't care about your fucking family values, regardless of whether they're of the "manly men and women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen" or of the "sensitive men and women aren't equal enough" variety. The professor standing in front of the class certainly gave no hint what his (or in several cases, her) opinion was. If your answer to the boolean algebra question on the exam is, "Why is it either/or? I reject your hetero-normative culture!" then you fail.

Comment Re:Don't bother - the money is poor and weather sh (Score 1) 55

and still would like to have an easy access to Asian and Australian markets and attractions,

What makes "Asia" any easier to get to from NZ than anywhere else? Aukland-Bangkok is still a 12 hour flight. It's actually less flying time to Santiago, Chile than Bangkok. Once you're at the 12 hour flight duration, you might as well say anywhere is close to anywhere so long as you have access to an international airport.

My impression is that while New Zealand is has stunning scenery, the people I've met that have been there or live there say it's astonishingly expensive because almost everything has to be imported and the taxes are high. And you're a zillion miles from everywhere except Australia, which I will grant may be a reason to live there.

Comment How I interview my candidates. (Score 1) 468

Lucky for me I have not had to take an interview since 1994. And I have been on the asking side ever since.

I give them a problem to solve. I ask for an algorithm, not specific language. Something like: "A trip has a starting city and an ending city. There is a list of all the trips made by John. Where did he start and where did he finish?". Then the interview proceeds based on the answers I get. Most people do linear search. "How does this answer scale as the number of trip increases?" "What happens if he started and ended in the same city?" "What if the trips did not form one chain?" "Can you find how many chains there are?" "How will you speed up your code?".

More than the solution or the answer, I am looking to see if the candidate understands me and can he/she tell me what she/he is doing. If I say, "ok, Let us say you build a map between starting point and the trip index. Would that help you speed up your code?" can the candidate understand what I am saying, if he/she can't understand ask intelligent questions to understand me, do they show an interest in understanding and solving the problem, are they comfortable in communication etc.

Puzzles have their place. If you solve puzzle instantly, it just means you have seen it before. That gives me no input. If you muddle through the solution, it means it is a fresh puzzle. Opens up lots of avenues for communication, letting me ask questions, offer suggestions and hints, and see how these hints are understood etc. I take extreme pains to put the candidates at ease. Tell them up front, "I am not looking for a final finished correct answer. I am looking to see how you find the answer. So feel free to think aloud, tell me how you plan to solve the problem, ask me if something would work or not etc. "

Comment Re:Well... (Score 1) 519

You are talking about David Hahn, and while he had enough stuff to contaminate his mother's garden shed, he didn't have anything he could make a bomb with.

He was attempting to implement the thorium fuel cycle in which neutron bombardment of thorium-232 produces uranium-233. He scavenged small amounts of thorium from gas lantern mantles; however to obtain enough U-233 to build a bomb he'd have had to obtain 1.6 metric tons of pure metalic thorium-232.

So far, so good, but one of the advantages of the thorium fuel cycle is reduced potential for proliferation. The U-233 produced is contaminated with other uranium isotopes and if made into a bomb will produce a fizzle. U-233's tendency to fizzle is why it's never been used by itself in a weapon, but always in conjunction with U-235 or Pu-239.

But Hahn never had the tons of pure metallic thorium he'd need to obtain a critical mass of U-233. He had the thorium oxide from a couple hundred lantern mantles -- maybe a few hundred milligrams. He'd have needed to scale his operation up by over a million times.

Comment Re:Hello from the NSA (Score 1) 188

It's military and government infrastructure and it turns out that a lot of government infrastructure runs on commodity hardware and software (actually, so does a lot of military stuff). This means that they end up auditing a lot of proprietary and open source code that's widely deployed. This is why Heartbleed was so embarrassing for them: OpenSSL was explicitly on the list of 'critical infrastructure' software that they're meant to be securing.

Comment Re: Sanitizing Untrusted Input (Score 1) 55

Actually, to some degree, PHP is the issue. PHP has supported ways of performing MySQL queries that use placeholders for many years, but they also resisted breaking existing code by ripping out the old interfaces for way longer than made sense. Note that in PHP 7, they finally removed them, so we should start to see PHP app security improve dramatically as panicked admins realize that they have to replace all this crappy code.

Comment Re:Why Now? (Score 1) 188

Well, my point is that specifics matter. I don't think we should issue blanket condemnations of the NSA, nor blanket pats on the back.

What they do is important, but also full of temptations for abuse. They're a lot like police in that respect. The police play a critical role in our society, but that doesn't make them beyond criticism, in fact quite the opposite. People on either "side" (the very notion of "side" is broken) can't seem to grasp the necessity for standards that are both tough AND fair.

Comment Re:Only MS (Score 3, Insightful) 120

Of course they knew it, but they figured the longer they could get away with the forced updates, the better off they were at stemming any disruption to their business model. It is all about monetization of the "user experience". You are nothing more than a fat, information bloated meat sack waiting to sucked dry the MS Mosquito.

Comment Re:Monetenizing user data (Score 1) 108

At least on iOS it's just a usability regression. You can go to settings and remove the permission to access location data at all and as long as you toggle it back before you book a ride. I think recent Android versions are the same, but on older ones it's a choice of privacy violations or uninstalling the app.

Comment Re:The sexism is the straw the broke the camel's b (Score 3, Interesting) 108

You have to wonder a bit whether a boycott would actually help. Uber is currently cheap because they're using VC money to subsidise every ride and making a loss to build up market share. Is it better to use them and cost the company money, or not use them and help ensure that competitors stay in business?

Comment Other agendas (Score 1) 468

I wonder if it hasn't gotten this way simply as a synthesis of multiple agendas and their outcomes.

Management wants to hire the cheapest possible talent. For a while, they achieve this goal, and the staff mix shifts towards less talented people. Productivity expectations don't go away and the more experienced/better staff shoulder the burden.

Management notices (perhaps even having to fire some quantity of cheap staff for obvious gaffes and lack of productivity), and listens to the chorus of "hire smarter people". So the interviews get harder, with the idea that this will allow smarter *and* cheaper hires.

This works to a degree, but now the more experienced people are somewhat threatened by an influx of smart *and* cheap staff. So the interview questions get much harder and more unrealistic under the guise of ever-smarter people requirements, but the actual goal is just raising the bar so that you wind up with really smart people but too far out on the spectrum, deficient in the soft skills that would allow them to rise in the organization. The old hands gain talent that eases the workload but greatly reduce the risk to their own organization standing.

Even if none of this is true, it still seems that an obviously flawed hiring process like this has to be a byproduct of agendas other than simply "hiring the most capable people". Still I think cost and self-preservation are probably large factors in these processes.

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