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Comment Maybe 1.5 out of 5 (Score 1) 269

The first 2 reason are real things, but don't require everyone's full time presence.
It is helpful to have folks together for the head scratching design phase of a software project, but all that social time will be a burden later on in the project. It is also useful to have a relationship with your co-workers. In some situations the relationships can happen while everyone is remote, but it has always helped me to visit once in a while to do some bullshitting, if only with my manager. I find face to face time fosters empathy, but every day face time can be tedious and painful.

The last 3 reasons are signs the office infrastructure and culture will not promote helpful communication within the team regardless of where they are. I have been lucky in that I've never had a direct pointy haired manager. Every manager I have had worked hard to protect us from the pointy hairs.

I telecommuted from 1990 to 2015 when I liberated myself. I always started a new job with at least a few weeks on site so they could get to know me. At my last job at a large software company by the time I left most of the group I worked with telecommuted most of the time. It was to the point where facilities started poaching offices from some of my colleagues who lived close and only came in for meetings.

Comment Both, of course (Score 1) 407

If you really want to understand one then learn both while doing some compare and contrast.
Ideally you should have a few simple projects that you can implement in either language and try to maintain both.
Of course you will need to do nearly the same with C as well since they are both "based" on C.

Your understanding will be far deeper in the end.

Comment No silver bullet (Score 1) 222

I would think software developers would remember that in a complex problem there is no silver bullet solution.
Remember that coal is extremely cheap if you ignore the externalities.
I hope they didn't think they would come up with cheap and efficient solar panels that I can paint onto my roof plus the perfect energy storage medium that fits in my closet or even see a clear path to these things in a few years. This is a complex problem that would take some technology/engineering and basic science, but also a lot of political and economic thinking.

Comment Re:Languages for professionals (Score 1) 232

Yes Deep understanding comes from deep and interesting use. A professional is forced into deep understanding. A hobbyist, dabbler, autodidact or amateur is unlikely to go deep, but some do. A week is not really enough time to go deep.
All that said this sounds like it will be a good learning experience if he can pull it off. The first thing is just getting over syntax. Just translating between all the procedural languages will get you somewhere, but will get severely boring. A lot of people stumble over syntax.
The more interesting thing is noticing the underlying fundamentals for each language. I hope he can use some of the interesting ideas behind each language even though most will allow you to just translate the syntax using the procedural subset. The fact that he used haskell first bodes well.

Comment In the good old days (Score 1) 547

When I was in middle school (sometime around 1970) someone would call in a bomb threat every afternoon for about a week. They were beautiful spring afternoons spent outside horsing around with my friends.

They finally caught the guy. He always called from the same pay phone a couple of blocks from school during lunch. He wanted to get out of his french class. They gave him a good finger wagging and explained that this was actually a serious federal offense the could land him in gigantic trouble and made him go to french class. It didn't happen any more. I wonder if he continued to stay out of jail.

Comment Markets are always rigged (Score 2) 1030

All this idealized free market reverence is misplaced. Even the free-est markets are not free.

Every time there is a lot of money at stake and there are some extra-large entities involved (very large corporations and governments come to mind, but I'm sure you can think of others) those large entities try to push the system by manipulating the meta-market so the rules work in their interest. The more money or power the entity has the more it is able to game the system in its favor. When government is working well it is gaming the system based on the interest of its constituents (the people, the long view, individual freedom, fairness) but the other big entities can also influence the government in many ways to game the system to their liking.
Corporations today are almost completely beholden to stockholders and a quarterly report based view of the world. Modern democracy-based governments are designed to take their directions from the people, but none is perfect.

Every time the rules change, either because of disruptive technology, scarcities, changes in government, or whatever, someone is going to be on the losing end of it. The big entities will fight any change that makes them the loser. If it is a change that can't be controlled then they will try to change the rules so they can't lose.

There is some ebb and flow here. The big actors don't always know what the best thing for them will be, but they will be out there pushing things around in a direction that someone thinks is in their favor. There will be bizarre structures left in place by strange interactions between some big actors and some (perhaps different) big actors will fight to keep that bizarre structure in place and it can get pretty Byzantine.

This is the nature of the world. Economics and politics are always intertwined. Whether it's the government or a giant corporation someone is picking winners and losers and influencing the "market" in ways contrary to what a "free" market might be.

Anyway I hope there are some big actors that can take the long view and try to make things generally safer, and more stable while also being aware it is a 900 pound gorilla. Promoting alternatives to fossil fuels seems like a good idea.

Comment Too many secretes in the first place (Score 1) 216

The problem with the spy industrial complex (aside from all the actual bad things they do) is that there are so many secrets that they need to have too many people in on them just to do their jobs.
If everything is secret then everybody needs to have access to secrets.
The first rule about keeping anything secret is to limit the number of people with access to it.
The normal spy industry attitude is normally that almost everything must be classified, and there's nobody thinking about and pointing out the silly stuff.

Comment gas fires ought to be more common (Score 1) 375

I'm amazed that we don't have more gasoline fire incidents. It's really everywhere and extremely flammable. This would seem to be a testament to the ability of all concerned to design all the gasoline handling systems very well.
It's also a sign that the gasoline internal combustion engine is a really mature and ubiquitous technology. The designers of all the systems involved know what works.

Relatively portable high energy content batteries are much less mature, and the lithium batteries even more cutting edge.
I have a tech/nerd's (maybe over) confidence in tech/nerds tesla that they can reduce the likelyhood of future fires. We'll see.

For one data point or an anecdote my mom's gasoline car spontaneously caught fire while she was driving it. Turns out a rodent had built a nest on the manifold. The car was totaled and no one was hurt.

Comment similar campaign against wind power in Idaho (Score 3, Informative) 207

There's a similar campaign against wind power in general going on in Idaho. I've only really seen billboards with vague questions associating wind power projects so corruption and insider deals, but it is pretty obviously a political campaign to stir up ill will in the voting public.

As if the utilities never made any corrupt or insider deals.

The way public utilities were originally set up was intended to deal with a regulated structural monopoly and keep a fair balance between ratepayers and the "owners" of the infrastructure. Since laissez-faire capitalism has been the fashion for the last 30 years the utility commisions have been packed with insiders and had any regulatory teeth taken away. Thank you Saint Ronnie of Alzheim.

Submission + - How to avoid corporate rights grabs as a condition of employment? 1

An anonymous reader writes: Have you ever read the new hire paperwork companies make you sign? Well, I recently got a new job and they insist that anything I think of during my employment with them belongs to them in its entirety. Is there any legal protection against this blatantly exploitative practice other than only ever working for yourself or small businesses who don't have legal departments sitting around waiting to steal from the employees? Here's the clause in question:

5. All ideas, inventions, discoveries, concepts, trademarks and other developments or improvements, whether patentable or not, conceived by Employee, alone or with others (including those conceived on behalf of or in conjunction with a Company customer or supplier), at any time during Employee’s employment, whether or not during working hours or on the Company's premises, that are within the scope of or related to the business operations of the Company ("New Developments"), shall (as between the Company and Employee) be and remain the exclusive property of the Company. Employee shall do all things reasonably necessary to ensure ownership of such New Developments by the Company or its designee, including the execution of documents assigning and transferring to the Company or its designee all of Employee’s rights, title, and interest in and to such New Developments, and the execution of all documents required to enable the Company or its designee to file and obtain patents, trademarks, and copyrights in the United States and foreign countries on any of such New Developments. Employee agrees to make prompt written disclosure to the Company, to hold in trust for the sole right and benefit of the Company, and Employee assigns to the Company all right, title, and interest in and to any ideas, inventions, original works of authorship (published or not), developments, improvements, or trade secrets that Employee may solely or jointly conceive or reduce to practice, or cause to be conceived or reduced to practice, during employment with the Company. Employee acknowledges that all original works of authorship that are made by Employee (solely or jointly with others) within the scope of Employee’s employment and that are protectable by copyright are “works made for hire,” as that term is defined in the United States Copyright Act (17 U.S.C., Section 101). Employee agrees to keep and maintain adequate records (in the form of notes, sketches, or drawings, and in any other form that may be required by the Company) of all New Developments, which records shall be available to and remain the sole property of the Company.

Submission + - Naps Nurture Growing Brains (

sciencehabit writes: Few features of child-rearing occupy as much parental brain space as sleep, and with it the timeless question: Is my child getting enough? Despite the craving among many parents for more sleep in their offspring (and, by extension, themselves), the purpose that sleep serves in young kids remains something of a mystery—especially when it comes to daytime naps. Do they help children retain information, as overnight sleep has been found to do in adults? A new study provides the first evidence that daytime sleep is in fact critical for effective learning in young children.

Comment Re:Sharing not good for a debt-based economy (Score 1) 192

Money is a medium of exchange. Having a good medium of exchange makes the economy much more efficient.
If people think hoarding money is a good idea then it becomes a lousy medium of exchange. Deflation is far more destabilizing than inflation. It will make your cash worth more, but it will make everyone poorer. Hoarding money looks very attractive if inflation goes negative and begins to look attractive with positive inflation near zero.
Inflation forces the medium of exchange (currency) into the market, but it also makes people have to think about what to do with their accumulated wealth. (Hint: cash is a poor investment and it's intended to be that way.)
If you want to hoard something hoard gold or toilet paper or bottle caps or something.
If you want to protect your accumulated wealth you will need to invest one way or another.

On topic:
The companies bringing individual buyers and sellers of services together more directly have some interesting problems with maintaining trust between clients and satisfying the local regulations. On some level the local regulations are about maintaining that trust, but often they are about protecting some vested interest in the guise of maintaining trust or safety. It will be interesting to see how this disruption goes.

Comment This is not very efficient (Score 1) 372

If we really wanted to be fully efficient then we would all work in cubicles (or the nearest equivalent for the job) and live in 8-to-a-room dormitories sharing with others who work alternate shifts so we can share a bed with them. Then to make sure nobody is a freeloader we need some compliance officers who are authorized to press anyone who looks like they might be a freeloader into service.
But that sounds like some sort of dystopic future doesn't it?

Comment We'll never really know, will we. (Score 1) 423

This kind of Gladwellian thought experiment is interesting and thought-provoking. Maybe some cultural proscription against questioning one's elders/superiors had at least a partial influence on how this crash played out. Maybe we can take that as a lesson about cockpit communication. Or communication in general.

The point I'd like to make is that we'll never know if that was the cause or not. It's most likely a lot more complicated than that.

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