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Comment Re:Dice have already written off Slashdot (Score 0, Offtopic) 116

No surprise. As I noted elsewhere, increasing profit from Slashdot while maintaining or increasing quality for the current user base would be hard. I would like to see it - the quality around here could really use a boost. But I think a Dilbertesque attempt at sacking the name for short term gains is more likely, possibly followed by a sale of the mangled corpse. Your point that they have already written off slashdot supports this. Maybe we will read about it on The Daily WTF. Too bad Dice isn't trying to make a few bucks by selling Slashdot off to some geek club... Anyway, where should the lifeboats head as the rats flee the sinking Slashdot? What other news sites do people recommend?

Comment Re:Classic Slashdot (Score 1) 131

Seems like an insightful analysis. No real surprise, given the ever present desire corporations have to increase profits. And increasing *profit* from slashdot while maintaining or increasing quality for the current user base would be hard. I would like to see it - the quality around here could really use a boost. But I think a Dilbertesque attempt at sacking the name for short term gains is more likely, possibly followed by a sale of the mangled corpse. Maybe we will read about it on The Daily WTF, assuming they don't suffer the same fate.

... Their current base will migrate away to more geek-friendly websites ...

So, any recommendations? I am yet to find anything that does a good job filling the gap of what slashdot should be.

Some non-replacements, but still worthwhile sites I have found:

* Electoral Vote is a great source for what is happening in US national campaigns. At least, it is when he has something to say (And I don't blame him for not always having something to say - his page must be a tough hobby as is)

* Tikalon is a cool science blog. I recently found it linked from a slashdot comment, and need to read more of it.

* Politico looks like it is worth a look if you want more US politics, but lacks the tech focus of slashdot.

So, where should the lifeboats head as they flee like rats from a sinking slashdot?

Comment Re:CNSFSNP tag needed (Score 1) 185

Yes, you are correct that there are arguments for it solving tiny problems. Especially the horror of having to put a new sticker on the plate every so often. Personally I just round those problems down to zero.

Sadly, I think the wireless tracking is already becoming a reality even without Mr. Senator adding it. GMC is really pushing On Star. No doubt without thinking what will happen if someone hacks On Star and issues all cars the stolen vehicle stop / slow down command. Also, any in-car system, such as a navigation system, that automatically updates has to get that update somehow, and odds are that will also allow tracking.

And, of course, there are the ubiquitous licensee plate scanners. Sooner or later they will be networked into a nation wide tracking system.

Comment Re: Apples to Apples. (Score 1) 274

What can you provide in the way of reputable references of which are applicable to my point? If what you say is true, then why do people often leave for a higher paying job elsewhere?

Work is the sale of labor. Saying that high quality workers should be paid the same as low is like saying that a flimsy chair at wall mart should cost the same as a high quality chair at a good furniture store.

The high quality workers are justified in expecting better pay. Having coworkers that are paid the same as you when they do half the work causes bitterness and resentment. Knowing that you will receive the same raise no matter your performance does not encourage you to perform well.

Comment Re: Apples to Apples. (Score 1) 274

If your union sucks it's your own fault.

Sigh.... This is like saying "If your county council sucks it's your own fault." Things are not that simple. Consider:

*Many unions force the employer to require union membership as a condition of employment.

*Many workers will find that a given job is the best option available even when they consider any relevant unions to be bad.

*Many unions are large enough that a single worker can not realistically change how the union works, given their single vote and time constraints. Could I change how my county council works? Maybe, if I dedicated all my free time to running - but only maybe. And if I spend all my time on that, along with tackling the state and federal government, I won't have the time to do the same with my union.

*In some unions the majority of workers, being below average or about average, vote in rules requiring wages to be based on something other than performance. The top workers hate this because they are no longer paid for being really good. But they are not the majority.

When you are stuck with a bad union it can be a choice of quitting your job or living with it. If a worker chooses not to leave it does not negate their right to complain. In fact, complaining is often a part of trying to correct the problem.

This is not to say that all unions are bad, nor is it a comment on the situation at Alma. Many of unions are good and have benefitted workers across the world. The point is that it is very possible for a worker to do all they reasonably can do and still be stuck with a bad union. Simply blaming bad unions on an unhappy union member is naive.

Comment Re:Think About It This Way (Score 1) 656

Mostly true. Most companies just care about experience after you have 3+ years of it. But some still do filter on GPA. As I understand it, Sandia's policy applies to all hires regardless of experience. Though in rare cases upper management can provide an exemption. I suspect those HR web pages that have mandatory fill in the GPA box are a strong indicator of the companies that still filter based on GPA for senior employes.

However, getting that first job can be very hard. And what that job is can have a major impact on getting your next job. So if AvailableNickname is primary concerned about getting a job after school then GPA is a relevant concern. Not the largest concern, but also not one to be brushed off.

Comment Re:Think About It This Way (Score 1) 656

Yep. That is why I mentioned personal development vs getting a job. I don't know what AvailableNickname's priorities are, so I qualified my comment as only applying if the overriding goal is a good job. Sadly, given the time and cost of going to college, you often have to focus simply on finishing and getting a job instead of learning as much as you can. I know this is contrary to the ideals learning and of many universities. But I don't blame anyone for facing reality.

Don't forget that you can still take some classes, assuming you can find the time. Some of my best classes were taken after I graduated when I managed to fit in some while I was working. I took them simply because I wanted to, I had no concern about GPA or meeting course requirements, and I could keep the class load at what I wanted. It also helped that when I needed extra time to study I could take an afternoon off work (paid vacation is wonderful!).

Yea, I realize that you might have more important things to do with your time. Life is tough.

Comment Re:Think About It This Way (Score 3, Insightful) 656

Challenge yourself.

If the overriding goal is personal intellectual development, absolutely. But if you are worried about getting a good job, no. Most unfortunately, the university and employment system has a very effective built in punishment for this called the GPA. HR departments and hiring managers often filter by GPA. Some employers, like Sandia National Laboratory, have remarkably high GPA requirements. And you don't get the top GPA by challenging yourself.

In your example, with a community college vs a university, the difference in degree would be very relevant, However, it sounds like AvailableNickname has already chosen a (4-5 year?) university and is simply asking what classes to take. When it comes to be job time, the main questions will be: Degree, GPA, coursework relevant to the job, and university reputation. Given his distaste of math I would hesitate to recommend a math intensive career path and study, though I do recommend a solid foundation.

At a minimum, 1 year of Calculus and a semester of statistics. More if piratical. And it sure sounds like he is well into calculus. Beyond that, how about taking the classes most relevant to whatever career he would like? Simultaneously decide if it is work that he might actually enjoy and get something to put on his resume that directly relates to the job he wants.

Also remember that you can study whatever you want and challenge yourself on your time after you finish school. When I hear somebody say "I wish I had taken more of X" I am inclined to say "Well, go study it." Be it books, local classes, or online classes, you can do independent study. Yea, it might not be as good as a real class, but don't let that stop you.

Comment Re: Lump of labor (Score 4, Interesting) 559

Keep in mind that this is not a black and white issue. Yes, it is ridiculous to assume that the demand for labor is fixed. But it is also ridiculous to assume that it is not possible for automation to take over so many jobs that a substantial portion of the workforce can no longer find work.

Based on the changes over the past 250 years new jobs will replace the lost jobs. Short term unemployment occurs due to new technology, in the long term enough new jobs are created to meed demand. What this argument really amounts to is "Because things have happened that way for a long them they will always happen that way." Sure, that is a good assumption to make when you don't have more information, but it does not create an unassailable argument.

The entire point of automation is to eliminate the need for human labor. We can't do it yet; our automation is just not that good. But some day it might be. I don't think that day is anywhere near, and I think panicking about it is silly. But dismissing concerns about the possibility is also unreasonable. Maybe automation really will eliminate the need for human labor . Or, more likely, so many of the low-education jobs will be automated that a substantial portion of the population is not capable of learning what it takes to get one of the remaining jobs.

Comment Progress of automation (Score 1) 559

Once again we can expect a discussion of how displaced workers always move onto other jobs. Que over used examples of buggy whip makes...

So, one question: Isn't the long term goal of automation the elimination of human labor? The only jobs that would remain do so because people want to do them. And only so long as they don't also demand pay - because paying workers to do what can be automated cuts into profit.

So far, the expansion of the economy combined with our inability to automate everything has created enough new jobs to allow a high level of employment. And maybe this will continue to be the case. But I can not find anything guaranteeing it. It is more of an assumption that because things have been that way since the industrial revolution then they will probably remain that way. While a good way to predict what will happen in a few years, I don't think it is a good way to predict what will happen in the long term.

Comment Re:Until they hit the max number of bitcoins (Score 1) 595

Here is an attempt to provide a basic example to help explain how fractional reserve banking expands the money supply:

Suppose that somebody starts a bitcoin banking operation. They:
- Require you to agree that one bitcoin, and one satoshi, is as good as another.
- Provide interest on your deposit.
- Make loans to to others.
- Maintain a 10% or larger reserve of BTC on-hand. The rest can be tied up in (hopefully well managed) loans.

Now consider this sequence of events:

1) You deposit 100 BTC in an interest bearing savings account. Basically, the same thing you do with dollars at your bank. You do this to earn interest, or for other banking services. And because it is harder to stash bitcoins under your mattress than it is to stash gold.

2) CoboyNeal want to buy something from CmdrTaco. The bank loans him 90 of your BTC to make the purchase.

3) CmdrTaco deposits his 90 BTC, hoping that one day the interest will be enough to buy a taco.

4) samzenpus wants to buy something from Mark Gimein. The bank loans him 81 BTC of CmdrTaco's BTC to make the purchase.

5) Mark Gimein deposits the 81BTC...

As you can see, the cycle can continue for a long time, until finally the bank can not loan out another satoshi without going below 10% reserve. Realistically, the bank would stop sooner so it can stay well above that 10% reserve even when a few BTC are withdrawn.

Now take a look at what has happened:

* As of Mark's deposit, there are 271 BTC in the system. 100 real and 171 borrowed. Clearly the some have been borrowed twice.
* You think you own all 100 real BTC. CmdrTaco thinks he owns 90. And Mark Gimein thinks he owns 81.

All this works as long as there is not a run on the bank. And as long as either enough BTC comes into the system to pay interest. Or as long as the depositors use their interest to buy goods from the debtors, thus giving them money to pay off the interest. Of course, a point will come when somebody can't pay, thus introducing the problem of bankruptcy.

Also note that a small change in the 10% reserve has a huge affect on how many perceived BTC the initial 100 expands to be.

There are many ideas out there to control, mitigate, or eliminate this expansion of money. There is also an argument that so long as loans are possible this effect can not be fully eliminated.

Anyway, does this give some idea how fractional reserve banking expands the money supply?

Comment Re:A computer is a tool (Score 1) 126

Yep, you have a good point about the distractions. When I was in 6th grade there was vague discussion that I would benefit from a laptop to do assignments on. Back then the cost put it way beyond being a serious consideration. But I know what I would have done, had I had one: use it to play games. Yea, a laptop would have been used and helped a little on assignments, but games would have been most of my use.

What I really needed (and only figured out 13 years later): For the school to realize that in 3rd grade not everyone's hand / eye coordination and fine motor skills are well developed. At age 8 some students can not learn good handwriting, but a few years later they can. Instead, no serious handwriting practice was done after 3rd grade. Serious handwriting practice in 6th grade is about the best change I can think of (and I am sure some other students needed it, too). That would have been far more useful than a re-run of how Columbus discovered America.

However, not all the use of computers in the schools was misguided. My programing class in high school was one of the most valuable classes I took. The instructor cleverly forced all the students to do his job for him. They had to read the book and then work on the assignments; no lectures. Most of the work was done at the computer in the lab, but advanced students could connect from home via telnet or ssh. During class the instructor was available for questions. And he distinguished between legitimate questions and "I did not read the chapter and don't want to go the effort of thinking so please spoon feed me the answer" questions. Being in a computer lab there was enough supervision to prevent wholesale goofing off (at least when the teacher was not goofing off himself). By far the most chaotic class I had, but also the single most valuable. In this class, the benefit from having computers far outweighed the problems with them. And, while it was a programming class, I have no doubt the same could be done in some (but not all) other classes.

Comment A computer is a tool (Score 4, Insightful) 126

A computer is a very versatile tool. Used correctly it will help with an amazing array of tasks, including education. Used incorrectly they are either worthless or counterproductive. And, like many other tools, if you let kids play with it, they will learn something (which might or might not be what you wanted them to learn).

Asking if computers help education is too broad of a question. A better question is "'When do computers help education and when do they hurt?" You can find good examples of each.

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