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Comment Re:never mix science and politics (Score 1) 282

Another dimension to consider what a politician says publicly and what they do privately. The joke about northern and southern racists comes to mind -- a southern racists won't mind a minorities stay near him as long as they don't become uppity; the northern racist won't mind minorities become uppity as long as they don't stay near him.

So, the false choice of people saying things is not enough (though saying the wrong things is of concern) -- there should be some action along the lines too. However, it looks like the red team versus blue team stuff is managed by a team (actually multiple teams) with a lot of green. It may sound like giving up, but societal changes are very tough -- and the problem of climate change is too big and the viable solutions have a lot of impact... It may be something over which there will be a lot of geopolitical problems that will arise.

Comment Re:CS is not IT / system admin (Score 1) 137

Telugu person with a Kannada speaking spouse here...

Unless people are talking with their own friends that speak the same language at home about personal stuff (or they are bad-mouthing or saying "good but inappropriate" things), may people speak English. For almost all things computer related, I don't know of anyone that uses native language words.

This sort of venting definitely needs a native-language "MASK":
"This MASK(native-language based identifier of the colleague -- like tall guy, fat guy, etc) is a MASK(major league body cavity and x-ref to his mother), so MASK(be very careful)."

Comment Re:CS is not IT / system admin (Score 1) 137

I feel there is some good news in there.

Thanks to Big Data awareness (there is potential there even if we factor in all the hype), the focus of the curriculum in many CS schools will shift more towards math and algorithms (for databases, system resource considerations, etc. -- core math/science and engineering), instead of "pure IT" or "software/computer use" [e.g. teaching html markups, office suites, configuring networks, basic sysadmin, etc.]

Or, may be I am in my own bubble and we are going to see degree programs that are named "computer science" and focus on HTML5, web app development, game development, etc. In which case, the wheels on the bus go round and round...

Comment Re:what about VM's at work? (Score 1) 308

For things like Hadoop, it makes sense to have a reasonably large enough set of machines at one's disposal. On work machines, one is likely to run into disk space issues (vs. multiple terabytes at disposal at home). Unless the company one is working at has virtualized everything and can give clusters on demand.

I found it to be easier to buy a "cloud server" from ebay for a little over 1k (fairly reasonable specs) and just go crazy with it.

Comment Hire more temporary desktop support people? (Score 2) 383

If you are stuck between mundane (e.g. boss's email not working) and serious (e.g. database servers are not responding), it may be wiser to offload that part at a lower cost per employee (instead of a network admin to be a backup while you work on help desk issues)?

I've seen the problem where expensive servers are never installed (they sit unplugged for months) because people are busy fixing email client configs...

Comment Re:Horse already left the barn (Score 2) 233

"String 'em along, get lots of cheap labor, and every once in a while give somebody a faculty position so the rest could dream."

It is worse when the postdoc is at the same place as the Ph.D. The incentive is that one sees a "jump" in salary from one stage to another (a grad student making 25k becomes a postdoc making 50k, who in turn becomes a "research professor" or assistant professor without tenure making 75k). By the time the person realizes the missed opportunity cost and lack of good prospects in the future, it is often a bit too late. In some cases, one would end up specializing way too much in one obscure area (which would have seemed to be the most important thing when one is in the thick of it), and really may not be able to figure out why the rest of the world doesn't care. Worse when the obscure area is a shrinking field.

For people that are motivated, there is still some good if one excels at the game. This rule of prison life is very applicable: Assert your dominance [independence, importance, etc.] from the start or you'd become someone's bitch.

Comment Started it for the wrong reason, on a mainframe! (Score 1) 623

I was 17, just got into an Engineering college in India. Never saw a computer up close till then. We had to take either Thermodynamics or Computers in first semester (and the other in the second semester). Thank God I didn't take Computers in first semester, or else I may have hated it.

So, during winter time, I went to the computer center (nice, air conditioned place). Outside weather is horrible, and the computer center let us take printouts - that could be used for note books (I was/am a cheap ba*tard). So, it started with writing small math codes (my first program was something like "sin(x**3) = 1; print x", and a guy next to me nicely said, "well, you can write anything you want, but it won't work!". My second program was a =1; b = 3; print a+b!) I've spend hours together to solve problems that would take minutes to do if one read up related stuff in a book! No games, not much fun, just trying to make a piece of mathematical code working -- worked harder, not smarter! Only reason I can think of is that the climate control of the computer center.

Loved the computers ever since -- been close to 25 years! Was in a different field for majority of the time. Eventually moved over recently to applied computing.

Comment Re:What do they do? (Score 1) 212

I've set it up as a gateway into my home network (low power, can leave it on, no spinning disks), and not worry about needing it for something else... Runs all the basic stuff, ssh, wordpress, and I have it on a screen with things like emacs loaded.

It doesn't do anything that bigger computers can't, so, unless the form factor issues are critical, there aren't many killer apps.

Comment Re:All mail clients suck. This one just sucks less (Score 1) 464

I recently started using mutt + offlineimap (to have a sync'ed local copy of mail) + davmail (exchange connector) + notmuchmail (indexing and searching)

It runs under a screen/tmux session (I am using tmux panes inside screen) and way much easier to access all mail accounts (and nicer interface than gmail and outlook web exchange). I am usually a couple of keystrokes away to mail windows (and I am using a large monitor for a full screen shell window)

It helps that most of my work is text based (documentation is markdown/wiki type), though I jump into a web browser once in a while

Comment Yes. This time, it's different (Score 4, Interesting) 109

Here are some reasons, in random order:

1. The courses are "immersive" with frequent short quizzes, explanation of answers, etc. (in case of udacity, it is almost like once every couple of minutes). This is a big plus compared to correspondence courses.
2. There is a strong online community, instant access to reference material, forums, discussions, etc., which is a big plus.
3. Most of the material is free (I do not have any experience with non-free material).
4. The teachers are top class -- I mean, really top class, and the material they teach is high class and very unique [*].
5. The classes are massively scalable, archivable, easily made available, etc. (correspondence courses aren't).
6. There is an Indian saying "knowledge is wealth". So far, the top 1% have rarely helped the bottom 99% (and made them think that they should only "occupy wall street"). The MOOCs help in making the knowledge available to the 99% (turns out, it is a simpler problem to solve than the financial one).

The only major point people make is with respect to evaluating the credentials of a student who has taken these courses (and any types of cheating)... It is not a problem of the educator -- my belief is that the job of evaluating a candidate is mostly that of the interviewer. Employers that rely on lazy interviews in hiring people help the society at large -- they take away people that game the system out of the pool! And, slashdot should be the last place where education becomes secondary to grades (mind you, there are still grades for the MOOCs, and one can repeat the courses multiple times -- so one actually learns and deserves a top grade).

[*] To give a perspective, I am old, not from comp.sci background, didn't know python as of January (and have been destined to amount to nothing much!). I completed two courses on Udacity (CS101 -- thinking they'd focus on search, but they taught me python; and Peter Norvig's course). I had a phone interview with a "big deal" company where I gave a one-line answer based on what Peter Norvig taught [which impressed the interviewer -- and I explained him that their guy taught me the stuff]. I also took a course with Tim Roughgarden on Algorithms, and that helped me re-discover the joy of math and formal treatment of problems. I met him [Roughgarden] recently when he was visiting a nearby university, and his point was, if someone spends one hour on his class and learns something, he is more than happy. Without these courses, I'd still be wondering, "where did I screw up". Not any more.

Comment Re:Good Development Culture (Score 1) 239

"Don't ever let intellectually lazy developers onto your team."

Or, at least let those developers know that they should start changing their approach -- and have some leverage and resources in achieving that goal. Beware of standard push backs: if you address issues of efficiency or design, there will be a push back in terms of "timeliness". Worst case is if higher ups don't want to be bothered with any of the underlying process related issues.

If you are in the middle position where the higher ups do not care about the process, and the developers are a bit lazy and complacent (e.g. "I am fine as long as the higher ups are happy"), tough luck!

Comment Re:Breathless summary by the clueless (Score 3, Insightful) 734

As a leftie, I still see some logic behind what the OP mentioned. Even though I do not agree with it (in fact, I find the last two paragraphs of attacks a bit offensive), I still find it odd that it was modded down as a troll.

Without context, it will sound like a red-team vs blue-team fight. I may need to read more to see where the specific contentious issues would be.

A bit OT, but some radical experiments in education are happening on the tech side -- udacity, coursera, etc. Not sure if they fall under 'progressive' (more like cool-techie-engineering solutions), and would be extremely disruptive to established interests both on the red and blue teams :)

Comment Re:and why should I have to pay $$$ for humanities (Score 1) 339

And as a citizen in a democracy, I find it amazing and frightening that a significant portion of people who actually vote see no value in general education courses.

Have you been following the news lately?

It seems that a significant portion of people who actually vote see no value in any education...

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