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Comment To sit... or to stand... (Score 1) 325

My home computers are pretty uncomplicated; an iMac at a conventional desk in the office and a Mac Mini at a standing workstation in the home theater, attached to the projector -- but my office setup is arguably where I've put the most effort and thought. I have five computers at my desk, serving various purposes. (Some are on a stand-alone development network, one is a version control server, one is my internet box... etc.) So needless to say, a KVM was one of the first necessities, there.

I also have three monitors across my desk. The KVM connects to the center 20" display, while the flanking 24" widescreen displays act as secondary displays on one or more computers. None of my computers actually support all three monitors, mind you... but most of them support at least two. Just for fun, I've also copied the same collection of panorama desktop backgrounds to each workstation, so that I can view a contiguous background image across all three displays, regardless of which machines are currently active.

Over time, I started thinking about the idea of having a standing workstation in the office, because I kind'a like the one I have at home, and because everyone has always lauded the health benefits of standing more and sitting less... but getting the Powers That Be to sign off on an expensive new adjustable height desk would be nigh impossible. So I designed my own "poor man's" standing desk. It's still the same desk I've always had, but now there are three stacks of old software engineering books (which nobody cares about) under the monitors, elevating them to standing height. I also used a bookshelf supported by some steel paper organizers (again, which nobody cares about... because who organizes hard copy papers anymore?) to elevate a keyboard and mouse appropriately. As an added element, I connected up a secondary keyboard and mouse on the desk under that bookshelf, so that I can sit down when my legs grow tired.

And they do. I don't think I'll go to all this effort again, when I finally leave this job behind me. Maybe I'll just hit the gym more often, instead...

Comment Dangerous precedent... (Score 3, Insightful) 158

So let's follow the rabbit a little bit further down this hole: If the police manage to set a precedent that cell phone location data can be used to establish the location of a given suspect to a particular crime, then what happens when the criminals start leaving their cell phones at home? Does that now qualify as an alibi?

Is our legal system really ready to go that far down the hole?

Submission + - NVIDIA's Neural Network Drives A Car (i-programmer.info)

mikejuk writes: NVIDIA has moved into AI in a big way, both with hardware and software. Now it has implemented an end-to-end neural network approach to driving a car. This is a much bigger breakthrough than winning at Go and raises fundamental questions of what sort of systems we are willing to accept driving cars for us.
NVIDIA is reporting the results of its end-to-end self driving car project, called Dave-2, the raw input is simply video of the view of the road and the output is steering wheel angle. The neural network in between learns to steer by being shown videos of a human driving and what the human driver did to the steering wheel as a result. You could say that the network learned to drive by sitting next to a human driver.
This is much different than the engineered approach used by Google say where Lidar and highly accurate maps are used to implement if..then rules that formulate how to drive an a precise way.
After testing on a simulation, Dave-2 was taken out on the road — the real road. Performance wasn't perfect, but the system did drive the car for 98% of the time leaving the human just 2% of the driving to do.
The real issue is not that a neural network is better at driving than the engineers solutions offered by Google but that we really don't know how it does it. A neural network can generalize to situations it has never seen before, something the current crop of self driving if..then.. rules cannot. However we can't reduce the network to a set of clear if..then rules that explain the way it behaves. It might not have a specific "bus detector" but this doesn't mean it will crash into a bus as Google's self driving car did.
Do we need to understand a system to have confidence that it will work? If we learn the lessons of traditional buggy software the answer seems to be no.

Submission + - Which Companies Pay Engineers the Most? (ieee.org)

Tekla Perry writes: When deciding to take a job, good "fit," a clear path to advancement, and the numbers on your paycheck are all important. But salary is the first among equals. Apparently, tech firms fully understand that, according to a ranking by job search firm Glassdoor in which Silicon Valley tech companies dominate the list of top 25 highest paying firms in the U.S.

Comment Is this accurate? (Score 1) 213

Well, I didn't entirely remember the two-year delayed increase for grandfathered customers until I read through this post... but upon reflection, I did indeed read about this, two years ago when it was originally announced. The problem is, when I read about it then , the price increase was supposed to be from $7.99 to $8.99 for existing customers. So which is it, really? Did plans change at some point, or did someone get their facts wrong?

Comment Re:Well, sure... but (Score 1) 282

... So back to my point, you're not making a living with "toys" unless you're selling them or intentionally trying to demean the tools you work with.

I would opine that this is a very cynical (and self contradictory) point of view. As I noted in one of my previous responses, everything depends upon your point of view. My referring to computers as toys does not in any way diminish my ability to use them as tools... nor does it follow that I am somehow diminishing my computer is some fashion, merely by calling it a toy. Computers are toys. They are also tools. In fact, from my point of view, to refuse to acknowledge that a given device is multifaceted and well capable of simultaneously being both tool and toy is an example of you intentionally diminishing them; you're trying to force them into a box. You're creating narrowly defined constraints that simply don't need to exist. (To give you one very literal example: You could very easily conduct a business call on an iPhone or Android smartphone, while simultaneously playing a video game on the very same device, entirely unbeknownst to the party (or parties) on the other end of that phone call. It might not be a very wise choice to do so... but it can be done, technically.)

As for my allegation of contradiction: really, you seem to have already acknowledged that these various innovations are capable of both: You yourself pointed out that an iPad can be used as a toy in one setting, and as a tool in another setting. So how can it possibly be demeaning to freely acknowledge the multi-functional nature of any given gadget?

Word meanings change over time. What was historically a derogatory term in certain contexts, need not remain so forever.

Comment Re:Well, sure... but (Score 1) 282

Not at all, but then I'm not sure that fun or enjoy are the defining definitions of a toy either.

Excerpted from a Google search for define toy:

1. an object for a child to play with, typically a model or miniature replica of something.
* an object, especially a gadget or machine, regarded as providing amusement for an adult

(emphasis mine)

Comment Re:Well, sure... but (Score 1) 282

The fact that I happen to make a living using some of those toys is really immaterial.

Does it not by definition cease being a toy at this point?

Does a video game cease to be fun, just because you're good enough to compete in tournaments and win cash prizes? Does a race car driver cease to enjoy the drive just because he makes a living by outracing other racers? Does a musician grow weary of the beat, simply because he's amassed multiple platinum albums?

And the crux of the matter is, each one of these questions might be answered differently, depending upon your personality. So, for me, and my personality... no: the computer in front of me has not ceased to be a toy. Nor have the programming languages which I work with on a daily basis. Nor has the compiler I use to create productivity software. They all still offer me opportunities for enjoyment, even as they happen to also offer me a means of supporting my family... and they are still my favorite toys. (In fact, if that were not so, then I would probably be searching for another line of work.)

Everything depends upon your point of view.

Comment What about pointing out logical fallacies? (Score 1) 642

What about those of us who sometimes enjoy the intellectual banter involved in pointing out logical fallacies often made in weak arguments? As an example: In the argument made herein by this team at the University of Michigan, it seems to me that they're assuming that people who would notice and be bothered by errors, would naturally overlap with people who arrogantly correct every stupid little error that they notice. This sounds a awful lot like a "False Cause" fallacy to me. Likewise, it appears that they make no distinction between actual jerks, and professional educators and/or parents who would very obviously be negligent if they didn't comment on errors made by children and/or pupils under their tutelage... which could easily bin their argument into both the "Black-or-White" fallacy and the "Faulty Generalization" fallacy.

(I have a sneaking suspicion that the U-of-M team would instantly label me a jerk -- especially if I'm right -- but somehow, this doesn't really bother me all that much. Does that also make me a jerk?)

Comment Safari on Windows? (Score 1) 42

... Since the target audience consists mainly of programmers building websites and web applications, it doesn't make sense to limit it to developers building native apps for iOS and OS X. ...

Another limitation which has been a source of annoyance for me personally is that desktop Safari is exclusively available on the Mac. There was a time when a fully supported version of Safari for Windows existed... that has since been discontinued. So here's to hoping that this Tech Preview version also manages to properly resurrect Safari on Windows.

(Note that I'm a MacHead at home, who is forced into the Windows mold at work... and I'm quite certain that many other MacHeads share my fate. There is, of course, a lengthy method for installing Webkit nightly builds under Windows... for those who are extremely dedicated. Unfortunately, that method has the proverbial snowball's chance in hell of making it past the corporate software approval processes... for those of us who just want it, rather then need it for business purposes.)

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Nearly every complex solution to a programming problem that I have looked at carefully has turned out to be wrong. -- Brent Welch

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