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Comment Re:Unless NASA is paying people (Score 1) 166

I agree. I worked for NASA for several years. There were NASA people doing useful work. I did computer programming along with several others in my small group. At the time I thought it would be more economical to hire more government workers. The purpose of a government agency is not simply to transfer money to private contractors, so the presentation is flawed.

Comment 3D for scientific data display is also over-rated (Score 4, Informative) 399

I have worked with a couple of 3D displays for scientific visualization. The university I worked for had a fairly expensive system with an 8 foot by 10 foot 3D display "wall". It was great for demos, but after a year or so of mostly demos, it was largely abandoned. I also got a set of 3D glasses for a 20 inch CRT system and added 3D support to a program I wrote for a physicist friend to display movies of particle simulations. Most of the benefit of seeing the 3D structure could be obtained by simply rotating the scene or movie. Another friend said that chemical display software frequently uses a "wobble" option to add some 3D-like effect to molecule displays. I added a wobble option to my program and it worked pretty well. My experience was that people didn't care enough to walk down the hall to use the big 3D wall and even with 3D glasses in his office, my physicist friend didn't bother. It's not much of a surprise to me that 3D TV is largely a bust. It is cool for a demo, but it seems destined to be used only for demos. Maybe with 3D systems not using goggles or perhaps with lightweight glasses there will be a future for 3D displays. I hope so, even after seeing no one really using it.

Comment Re: And Russians landed on that thing, 10 times (Score 1) 211

Your link was for federal income tax. There are many other taxes which hit the poor and up their percentages drastically. They pay sales tax on a large portion of their income. They pay gas taxes. They must buy car tags and pay a variety of other fees. Either directly or indirectly (as part of their rent) they pay real estate taxes. I found 1 site stating that the bottom 20% pay about 10.9% in state and local taxes. Overall this probably means about 13% vs 30% which is progressive, but the top group is quite mixed. You might recall that Mitt Romney's reported income tax rate was 14% for 2011. My guess is that the richer you are the lower your income tax rate. It is quite possible that Mitt Romney's total tax rate would be lower than many people making $50K per year. For those at the maximum taxable rate for SS, they would likely pay over 20% total taxes. I personally recall many years back when Jimmy Carter was President there was one year when he owed no income tax and donated $5000. I paid more than that on less than $30K. I believe the top marginal rate was 70% back then, but I never really believed that people paid 70% tax on any of their income. The tax breaks for the rich are not really available for the vast majority of us.

Comment Re:Bad analogies can do a lot of damage. (Score 1) 436

That's a good analogy. I suggest that the people involved could understand an API vs the implementation by observing the prototype for a function and then the actual function. They don't need to understand the code. They need to know that the provider for the implementation allows people to call the function by observing the API and not the code. It is simple enough to discuss without analogies. The decision needs to be made on the real thing and not on analogies.

Comment Re:Not really news at this point (Score 1) 186

Good suggestion! Articles could be rated much like SlashDot. There could be any number of reviewers for an article. Some reviewers would have more weight than others. Knowing that a large number of reviewers think an article is worth reading is good enough. This need not cut out the publish or perish game, but the rules would need to change.

Comment Re:seems about the same (Score 2) 320

The question of teaching quality is a part of the problem. Almost no university in the US judges professors based on teaching. They claim to do so, but the tenure decision is primarily a judgement of publications and external funding. In my case the quality of publications was largely irrelevant. I assume that better universities judge quality of research, but I haven't been there. We need to seriously consider having teaching positions for PhDs in addition to research positions. I am not sure if the institutional motivation is money or prestige, but I think that many schools short-change students to pursue research. Expecting research and funding degrades teaching. Better teaching will help to produce better research.

I also like the idea of researchers not being under such huge pressure to survive. Pressure, along with incentives, contributes to the willingness to take shortcuts and to publish made-up results.

My last comment is that publicly funded research should not result in private wealth. If the public pays for the research, we should get cheaper prices on the goods. Perhaps there could be a system where such products are public domain and available for all to develop and market competitively.

Comment Re:It's high time for a new consumer protection la (Score 0) 227

I like your plan. It's one of my pet peeves that I pay for satellite TV service and still have to watch ads. It seemed fair enough 50 years ago when the only choice was over the air and ads were the only way TV could make money. Those days are gone and the ads should die.

Comment Re:Follow the Ubuntu versioning scheme. (Score 1) 199

I like this suggestion. There could be revisions by year, month and day. So 15.2.13 would be Feb. 13, 2015. There would be a need for a few times with multiple releases in a day. This could be done with an optional sequence number: 15.2.13-3 for the third release for 2/13/15 (or 15/2/13 for a more rational date format). At least the version numbering has some meaning. It's almost meaningless to me to see 3.16.0-30 as a version number.

Comment Re:The Middle Class is the Bedrock of Society (Score 1) 839

There is some limit to the amount of physical resources on the Earth. There is likely a smaller limit of the amount of resources which can be harvested without destroying the planet's ecosystem. Malthus was basically correct in his assessment of population growth. We can probably feed 10B people but not 100B. There are other types of resources which are more mental in nature to which the limits are harder to assess. Over time we can increase the ability to amass mental resources. Of course, it may be possible to move into space and then perhaps there is no limit to physical resources. I do agree with your concept of balance. We can be socialistic enough to provide for comfortable living for the masses while allowing those with ambition and talent to live more comfortably. We will always have wealthy people. In my mind the proper balance includes a comfortable, though not luxurious lifestyle for all, with enough economic mobility for people to be motivated to work. The top 1% can live like kings without the 99% being serfs.

Comment Re:Linux (Score 1) 194

It's never been a nightmare for me to maintain a Linux computer remotely. I would never suggest having non-savvy people keeping a computer up to date with Linux, Windows or OS X. Kubuntu will keep itself up to date if set to auto-update and ssh can be used to remotely manage the computer if needed. This might be a poor solution if the original poster has no Linux experience. I suppose the fact that the question was asked should have been a clue that this wasn't a Linux-savvy person or there would have been no question. Given the assumption that the original poster was a newb, then you might be right. Hopefully experienced help is available for whatever choice is made.

Comment Re:Uh, sure.. (Score 1) 359

I have been working on an IDE (primarily for assembly language) for almost 2 years. It runs on Linux, Windows and OS X, using Qt for the GUI components. I edit exclusively in vim on all 3 platforms and compile with g++ on Linux and OS X, but compile with cl on Windows. Well, truthfully I use the Qt qmake tool to prepare a proper Makefile for the OS and then use either make or nmake. I debug typically under Linux and generally use the qDebug function. I will use gdb for a few commands here and there. I haven't yet needed to use the Visual Studio GUI or debugger. Editing with vim is much more efficient than nearly any IDE. I have done a little VB and liked IntelliSense there. I haven't tried it with C++. I suppose I need to add: "Stay off my lawn."

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Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984