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Stephen Hawking Looking For Personal Techie

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the polish-up-the-resume dept.

Businesses 289

kaptink writes "One of the great grandmasters of space, time and the history of our existence is seeking an assistant to help develop and maintain the electronic speech system that allows him to communicate his vision of the universe. An informal job ad posted on Stephen's website said the assistant should be computer literate, ready to travel and able to repair electronic devices 'with no instruction manual or technical support.' He lost his real voice in a tracheotomy in 1985, but has something based on NeoSpeech's VoiceText speech synthesizer mounted on his wheelchair that helps synthesize speech by interpreting the twitches of his face. The synthesizer's robotic monotone has become nearly as famous as Hawking himself, but the computer — powered by batteries fastened to the back of Hawking's wheelchair — isn't just for speaking. It can connect to the internet over mobile phone networks and a universal infrared remote enables the physicist to switch on the lights, watch television, or open doors either at home or at the office. It's a complicated, tailor-made system, as the ad makes clear. A photograph of the back of Hawking's wheelchair, loaded with coiled wires and electronic equipment, is pictured under the words: 'Could you maintain this? If your answer is "yes", we'd like to hear from you!'. Hawking's website says that the job's salary is expected to be about $38,500 a year."

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also (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532096)

also he will steal your girlfriend if you have one.

Re:also (5, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532126)

The pay is pretty low, all things considered. I guess Hawking is relying on his rock star status. Would be a helluva thing to put on your resume, though. "Maintained Stephen Hawking's cyborg interface."

Re:also (5, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532448)

Is money the only value you could derive from a working relationship with Stephen Hawking?

Re:also (-1, Troll)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532492)

Yes. Given the logical fallacy in his view of how the universe began, he's way past his original visionary days and is venturing into philosophy- rather badly.

Re:also (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532670)

Always consider the lurker when you discuss things online. Your message is not just to the person you're sending it to ,

I've seen some of your posts and I like what I see, but please fix this.

Re:also (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532564)

When his peers were asked for the highest achievers in his own field, IIRC, he didn't even make the top 100.

He is a rockstar but generally not for the reasons laymen are quick to know or acknowledge.

Re:also (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532766)

Is money the only value you could derive from a working relationship with Stephen Hawking?

On the plus side, somebody on the "care team" gets to wipe his ass once or twice a day. Fringe benefits!

Re:also (4, Funny)

wiedzmin (1269816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38533008)

On the plus side, somebody on the "care team" gets to wipe his ass once or twice a day.

What I see is "Make sure your job contract does not state "and other duties" in small print". Also, the paycheck is miniscule... $18.50 an hour for someone who has IT and electrical engineering knowledge? He obviously agrees with Sheldon Cooper's view on engineers :)

Re:also (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532550)

The pay is pretty low, all things considered. I guess Hawking is relying on his rock star status. Would be a helluva thing to put on your resume, though. "Maintained Stephen Hawking's cyborg interface."

Yes but you could program the speech output to start trying to recruit his audience into the Gay Nigger Association of America. Of course you'd do this right before he delivers a speech to a very, very large audience of academic types. Sure, you'd only do that once before your ass is roughly thrown out the door but once is enough! Those people in the audience, just imagine the looks on their faces...

Re:also (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532696)

Is it really? I don't imagine that the hours would even close to approach a part time job. You are only maintaining a very small amount of electronics.
Getting paid $40K a year for re-soldering a handful of wires is hardly a small amount.

Re:also (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532478)

also he will steal your girlfriend if you have one.

Worse, he'll probably appropriate my last working DECtalk devices.

Peanuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532114)

That salary is peanuts.

Re:Peanuts (1)

augustw (785088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532172)

It's more or less the average wage in the UK.

Re:Peanuts (1)

solidraven (1633185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532286)

You're probably going to need a skilled and experienced EE to maintain a system of such scale and to constantly upgrade it.
And an experienced EE can easily pull in double that wage a year without trying too hard. And that's not including benefits like company car, health insurance, ....

Re:Peanuts (3, Insightful)

augustw (785088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532508)

Easy £50K for an EE? You're not talking about the the UK, are you?
So, it's totally irrelevant to a job based in the UK.

Re:Peanuts (2)

luke923 (778953) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532330)

It's on the low-end in southern California. That's around what most grocery store clerks make out here.

Re:Peanuts (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532388)

Good thing the job isn't being advertised in southern California then. Unless something dramatic happened, Hawking divides his time chiefly between Cambridge and Waterloo.

Seriously, what?

Re:Peanuts (1)

cluedweasel (832743) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532738)

And here in central Oregon, a grocery store clerk will be lucky to make $18,000 per year for a 40 hour week with no benefits. Seeing as Mr. Hawking won't be here either, it's rather irrelevant.

Re:Peanuts (1)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532816)

And a salary in California is on the low end of a salary in Monaco. But it doesn't mean that much - the absolute value of a salary is not usually directly comparable between nations. You need to use a metric like PPP [wikipedia.org] instead.

Re:Peanuts (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532494)

It's actually towards the higher end of average for a technical position.

The thing to keep in mind with UK vs US wages, however, is that we get a LOT more holiday time. Legally it's a 28 days/year minimum: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Employment/Employees/Timeoffandholidays/DG_10029788 [direct.gov.uk]

Re:Peanuts (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532500)

You don't pay the average wage for highly skilled IT work. If you did, nobody would go into it.

Re:Peanuts (1)

augustw (785088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532638)

Junior lecturers (assistant professor in US-speak) in the UK start on about the same -- and they will normally have PhDs. It's not a bad salary for a recent graduate, which seems to be what Hawking is looking for.

Re:Peanuts (4, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532674)

The actual stated value is £25k. Median UK salary is about £24k. The position is advertised as "graduate" and academic research scale (funded by University of Cambridge). Given those constraints, £25k is decent - the low end of the pay scale is around £17k. (Bizarrely, there are people who think academic researchers are all about the money)...

The summary actually overstated the technical aspects, the actual job advert [hawking.org.uk] states that maintaining the speech system is only part of the position.

Managing national and international travel for Prof. Hawking and his care team. Expect to spend around 3 months per year abroad! Development and maintenance of Professor Hawking's communication and speech systems Procurement and maintenance of his wheelchairs and accessible van Preparation of lecture graphics and public speaking Dealing with the media and press Answering inquiries from the public and maintaining the website

Re:Peanuts (4, Informative)

McGruber (1417641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532216)

That salary is peanuts.

The salary is for a "Graduate Assistant to Stephen Hawking".

Most Graduate Assistants don't make 38k...

I' (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532436)

The salary is for a "Graduate Assistant to Stephen Hawking".
Most Graduate Assistants don't make 38k...

Not to mention graduate assistants generally put up with anything and everything that will get them better connections and research experience, typically with little regard to pay, and Stephen Hawking is a big frickin connection. I'm sure there are dozens of graduate students who would pay him to get that job, even take on loans to do it. Hell, I'd do that for this job and I don't give a rats ass about engineering or physics.

Re:I' (5, Funny)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532516)

Which might explain why he's got a totally undocumented piece of shit to begin with.

Re:Peanuts (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532464)

A teaching assistant in grad school probably makes around 24k - 35k. So if you are a student, good at tech then this job will serve you well to pay a big chunk of your student loan. This is infinitely better than making Subway sandwiches at your university student center. This isn't intended to be a job for life you know. Once you graduate you move on to a real job that pays bills.

Re:Peanuts (5, Funny)

Mendy (468439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38533030)

It's only temporary until you learn to make it say to give you a pay increase...

You know... (4, Interesting)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532118)

The significant drop in salary could well be worth it. Being able to talk to the man every day, see how he works. What an interesting job indeed!

Re:You know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532140)

Yeah, for like a week or two..

Re:You know... (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532156)

You could also probably supplement it later by writing a book or something about being Stephen Hawking's techie. It's a nice attention-grabber to have on your resume, too.

Re:You know... (2)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532214)

You seriously don't think this would be a daily affair do you? $38k for a "johnny on the spot" maintenance and upgrades guy is a pretty good pay scale for P/T work.
However, this guy's time is valuable and I highly doubt you'll be afforded any private time to converse and pick his brain on the few occasions you do get around him
Especially since he wont be able to converse while you do your work since his means of talking is what you'll be repairing.

Re:You know... (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532536)

Given the system description- a bunch of cobbled together bits with no documentation- I'd be surprised if it could actually make it more than an hour or two without crashing.

Re:You know... (3, Funny)

cpaalman (696554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532220)

As if he wants to have hours long conversations with his personal gadget repairman.

Re:You know... (2)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532232)

Having an interesting job doesn't pay the bills.

Re:You know... (-1, Offtopic)

luke923 (778953) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532236)

I don't know -- I get the impression that he's bitter about his ALS and says there's no God b/c he has his condition.

Re:You know... (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532370)

I don't know -- I get the impression that he's bitter about his ALS and says there's no God b/c he has his condition.

Well at least he's doing something about it. Trying to prove there is no god and all.. Most people are to lazy to try...

Re:You know... (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532480)

I don't know -- I get the impression that he's bitter about his ALS and says there's no God b/c he has his condition.

Well at least he's doing something about it. Trying to prove there is no god and all.. Most people are to lazy to try...

It's a misnomer to say physics presumes the non-existence of a god. I further fail to see a link between studying black-holes and anything related to god.

That's a difference between science and religion, by the way. All scientific hypothesis must be testable for them ever to become theories. TESTABLE. If a hypothesis can never be tested...it's slipped over to the religion side of things.

Re:You know... (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532558)

Not really. There's an enormous gulf between a religion and the more esoteric parts of string theory. One of them is a religion, and the other is, well, a more esoteric part of string theory. I think it's probably better to say that if a hypothesis can never be tested... it's slipped over to the maths side of things.

Re:You know... (4, Insightful)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532434)

I don't know -- I get the impression that he's bitter about his ALS and says there's no God b/c he has his condition.

Got a reference to back that up?

I've heard he's not a pleasant person to work with in the past. But, I think it's a stretch to say his work in physics has been fueled by some deep hate of his condition and a rage toward some guilty god... ...I bet it's more likely a chance to explore the universe outside of his rather confined body.

Re:You know... (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532556)

His work on atheism isn't physics. It's philosophy, and from what I've seen so far, he's particularly bad at it. He should have stuck to physics.

Re:You know... (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532552)

It's rather presumptuous(and typical) of religious people to assume that people become atheists only out of spite, and not possibly because believing in a supernatural being is batshit insane and is as ridiculous as believing in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. I get that shit all the time from religious people, who respond to my beliefs with ,"Oh, what happened?" as if they cannot comprehend how people can independently arrive at the same, sane conclusion. that's when I roll my eyes and say, "my kitty cat ran away, dumb motherfucker."

...And if Hawking did become an atheist out of spite, it was probably due to the church's past and present treatment of fellow scientists - astrophysicists like Galileo, who was lucky to be put on house arrest instead of killed.

Re:You know... (0)

thinktech (1278026) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532794)

What happened? Not to change your view of religion, but what happened to make you such an angry person? People tell me there's no god all the time... But I don't freak out.

Re:You know... (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532632)

I can't believe Hawking is still around. Someone with his diagnosis usually checks out 10-12 years after the first signs. That he's hung on this long is some testament. I can't see him lingering on for much longer.

Re:You know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532990)

The man is a complete arsehole. I met him once. I wouldn'd do the job for 100K

$38.5k, is that all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532132)

Any tech capable of handling it will just use it as a resume builder. Unless he wants to place this ad every year, he'd better up the pay. OK, if you like to travel the world that's a nice perk and presumeably provided for but... $38.5k? You could make that in many jobs that are much less demanding.

Re:$38.5k, is that all? (2)

dwillden (521345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532226)

It might be fun to take the job and program in some bogus speeches for him to give. Something about him finding religion, discovering creationism to be true and so on and have it end with a comment about maybe he should pay his chair engineer a decent salary so his stuff would actually work right.

You have to admit it would be funny at least once.

Downside (5, Funny)

discord5 (798235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532138)

If you make a mistake the world will say you broke Stephen Hawking.

Re:Downside (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532358)

That is the funniest thing I've read on the Internet in months!

Re:Downside (5, Funny)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532382)

Imagine, you can make him say anything you want. I would make him speak in 'Mars Attack' martian voice: tak tak taaak. Or maybe random obscenities a la Tourette...

Sounds fun but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532146)

Perhaps I've become jaded in my old age and the bubble I live in is a bit opaque these days, but 40 grand a year for someone to develop and maintain a mix of hardware and software components on-site, especially something that could be sold with a small profit for others with similar conditions to use, seem a bit low? His budget for this aside, of course.

Re:Sounds fun but... (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532742)

If only Darth Vader had taken the same attitude with Palpatine approached him. "Well, helping you to dominate the galaxy sounds cool and everything, but $38.5k? You've got to be fucking kidding me."

$38500? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532152)

Sorry if I did not immediately jump for joy when I saw that "salary". If you're a janitor with that salary you might be underpaid.

Once you say "computers" and "maintain" you have to get ready to to pay a bit extra, add "without support" and "electronics" and you've just gotten a license to bleed from your wallet.

Goodluck with the search Mr. Hawking.

Re:$38500? (2)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532394)

Sorry if I did not immediately jump for joy when I saw that "salary". If you're a janitor with that salary you might be underpaid.

Once you say "computers" and "maintain" you have to get ready to to pay a bit extra, add "without support" and "electronics" and you've just gotten a license to bleed from your wallet.

Goodluck with the search Mr. Hawking.

WTF? Really you wouldn't want to pimp his ride? I bet MTV would give you a show and shit... Dang!

Re:$38500? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532594)

Sorry if I did not immediately jump for joy when I saw that "salary". If you're a janitor with that salary you might be underpaid.

Once you say "computers" and "maintain" you have to get ready to to pay a bit extra, add "without support" and "electronics" and you've just gotten a license to bleed from your wallet.

Goodluck with the search Mr. Hawking.

WTF? Really you wouldn't want to pimp his ride? I bet MTV would give you a show and shit... Dang!

Even people that sweep floors on shows that "pimp rides" on MTV earn more. Perhaps the appeal is not in the salary but rather in proximity to the godemperor of text2speech cyborgs.

Of course, most of us poor bastards work for a salary, not "for the love". Some of us have kids to feed, bills to pay, taxes, that sorta thing. The rest, that have nothing better to do with the money just wanna get paid fairly. You can maintain nails with better pay. Dang indeed.

Re:$38500? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532656)

Perhaps the appeal is not comparing the salary with salaries in some utopia where graduate students working as an assistant earn more than £25k/year. This is in the UK, it's a graduate job, it's not aimed at 40 year olds earning $200,000 a year working for some mythical company with money dribbling from their Californian arses.

Re:$38500? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532796)

A graduate job! oh god, sorry. I did not realise we were talking about slavery. They should get on their knees and thank their lucky stars they are even in education, let a lone a job.

"Thank you for choosing to educate yourself; your first lesson being that you are not entitled to fair payment."

Re:$38500? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532906)

Christ you're a prick.

1. Cambridge is not California. Californian salaries - or, indeed, any other salaries - are utterly irrelevant.
2. The salary is actually about the level of a first postdoctoral position. It's not that low.
3. The salary is higher than the UK national average salary.
4. It's unlikely to be for a very long time.
5. It will increase the impact of the CV of the guy who gets the job quite impressively.

Someone who wants more money doesn't apply for the job. Someone who thinks the money is OK and thinks that two years' working as Hawking's mixture of web admin, techie and travel organiser might look good on their CV, does.

link to the picture (5, Informative)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532164)

http://www.hawking.org.uk/ [hawking.org.uk]

Re:link to the picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532234)

Thank you! I hate reading about something when I could just see it.

Re:link to the picture (1)

f8l_0e (775982) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532418)

It looks like a proton pack. I hope whoever he gets to work on it is licensed to work with particle accelerators.

Re:link to the picture (2)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532732)

"These pages have been designed to make your access to the information as straight forward as possible."

Written in a small, fuzzy, white on black font as a gif image *facepalm*

But then again, I guess a screen-reader is kind of the opposite of Steven Hawking and could theoretically (no pun intended) be considered his nemesis...

is it getting hard to lift the de-magnetizer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532170)

is it getting hard to lift the de-magnetizer?

pay is low what is the budget for hardware (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532218)

How much will he pay to just on the hardware costs? If he can't pay a good rate to get a good person much will he pay on the up keep costs?

Just green pieces of paper... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532244)

The salary is just green pieces of paper. Helping to get more ideas out of Prof. Hawking's head is priceless.

Re:Just green pieces of paper... (1)

RebelWithoutAClue (578771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532376)

Well, then! You just volunteered right?

Re:Just green pieces of paper... (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532568)

The job is based in Britain, so the pieces of paper won't be quite as green as you'd expect.

The story behind this (5, Funny)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532254)

most likely goes like this:
- some genius put that original backpack computer together
- he barely made it work, but he was not sure why it worked and he never bothered to write any documentation
- he left as soon as it was up and running, out of fear that it might break any moment and he had no idea what to do then
- now it is breaking apart and the genius is gone.
- it is your job to fix it, good luck

Re:The story behind this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532354)

Sounds like a point and click game from Sierra..

Re:The story behind this (2)

Cus (700562) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532362)

"he barely made it work, but he was not sure why it worked and he never bothered to write any documentation"

From the site:
'Maintenance of "black box" systems with no instruction manual or technical support '

Alarm! Alarm!

Re:The story behind this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532390)

Indeed, I could not maintain it. I have professional standards. I could probably replace it, except I am not licensed or certified in the UK, so well, basically, I just cannot do it. AAnd that is handwaving the questionable pay.

I'll go fix the Grand Coulee dam first.

Re:The story behind this (1)

augustw (785088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532690)

Don't worry; we don't have state licensing or certification for EEs over here.

Re:The story behind this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38533044)

Of course not, you don't have states!

Whether there are any differences between England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, I admit I don't care, nor do I much care about the existence of actual regulations, but I'm sure you do have legal standards for what is acceptable practice and what is not, which would be an issue in terms of insurance and lawsuits.

And don't tell me you don't have civil litigation.

Re:The story behind this (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532408)

most likely goes like this:
- some genius put that original backpack computer together
- he barely made it work, but he was not sure why it worked and he never bothered to write any documentation
- he left as soon as it was up and running, out of fear that it might break any moment and he had no idea what to do then
- now it is breaking apart and the genius is gone.
- it is your job to fix it, good luck

Is this going to be the next Half-life story line?

Re:The story behind this (1)

Hairy1 (180056) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532610)

Sounds like a opportunity to reverse engineer it and make it available more generally for those in a similar situation.

Re:The story behind this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532946)

What a coincidence. That's exactly how God put the universe together. :-)

Diverse skills (5, Informative)

Dan East (318230) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532348)

This entails a lot more than just technical aspects:

  • Managing national and international travel for Prof. Hawking and his care team. Expect to spend around 3 months per year abroad!
  • Preparation of lecture graphics and public speaking
  • Dealing with the media and press
  • Answering inquiries from the public and maintaining the website

Sounds like a lot of direct PR stuff is involved, including scheduling and logistics, and even graphics design, which are probably not skills the typical techie would be strong in. Also, the pay sounds kind of low considering it's a whole lot more than just maintaining his technology.

You Can Keep Your Secrets For Chump Change, Loozah (0, Flamebait)

ph4cr (775696) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532352)

WTF! Are you kidding me! Is he going to pay travel expenses for the lucky boot licking acolyte?! BTW - I'm an agnostic. However, Steve H's latest scribble, that the universe just popped into existence and didn't need a creator was lame. Before the flames begin - At least let's discuss that the universe/multi-verse is more complex then our current understanding of physics allows for. Funny that for a guy in a box, mind is little more then a grey goo theater! It's OK to say "We just don't fucking know, and we may never know!" I would respect that more from a man of science. Pity that human beings never really got solid on Copernicus. I suggest "The Best Of Tom & Jerry" for Steve H's interface to us humble fucks. Good luck with your tech job Loozah!

Re:You Can Keep Your Secrets For Chump Change, Loo (0)

ph4cr (775696) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532712)

Funny! It appears I got modded down. Intelligent conversation is banned here as much as it is at Fox and CNN. Good times..Good times...

Re:You Can Keep Your Secrets For Chump Change, Loo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532964)

Perhaps if there were intelligent conversation, it wouldn't have been modded down. Your post amounted to:

"I don't agree with his universe origin theory. He's stupid, and anyone who wants to work for him is stupid."

Shock and amaze that you didn't start a long and meaningful conversation with that.

He proposed a hypothesis. If you have a different one to refute it, put it forward and see what others say about it. But until you're done your temper tantrum and yelling insults, it's probably just best you go sit facing the corner for a while.

Good luck (4, Insightful)

joh (27088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532364)

Finding someone for that kind of pay who is able to do all of this and do it well won't be easy:

Managing national and international travel for Prof. Hawking and his care team. Expect to spend around 3 months per year abroad!
Development and maintenance of Professor Hawking's communication and speech systems
Procurement and maintenance of his wheelchairs and accessible van
Preparation of lecture graphics and public speaking
Dealing with the media and press
Answering inquiries from the public and maintaining the website
The post requires a wide range of skills, most importantly:
Ability to work under pressure
Maintenance of "black box" systems with no instruction manual or technical support
Computer literacy
Electronics knowledge
Ability to speak to a large audience
Ability to show others how to use complex systems

Re:Good luck (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532514)

I suspect if they get someone it'll be for one or two years, after which they'll drop all the technical requirements and hire someone to focus on just the PR stuff, hoping that the rejigged machine outlasts Hawking.

Re:Good luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532644)

Maintenance of "black box" systems with no instruction manual or technical support

That would be at the top of the list to take care of. Write it all down document it. Then decide how (or if) any upgrades should happen.

  Anything older than 10 years would be up for replacement if you can not source parts for it.

There are my two tips for anyone willing to take that job. I make more already and do not want the pressure :)

This also sounds more like a personal assistant job not a techie job...

Re:Good luck (2)

lazycam (1007621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532880)

It seems to me that this would be an excellent 'internship' opportunity for a young engineer. Internships typically do not pay well (38K seems pretty fair to me) and whoever is hired to work on the system would learn how to reverse-engineer, document, and maintain a complex system. After a year or so of working on the system that individual could walk to any tech company working on high-tech handicap access technology or make a killing. Furthermore, I'm sure there are plenty of young researchers would would enjoy learning from one of the greatest minds of the 20th century.

Autotune! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532452)

Just connect to him an iPhone with an autotune app!

Jedi Hand Wave (2)

RebelWithoutAClue (578771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532522)

"You don't want more than $38,500." Oh, wait, sorry. :P

Are you all kidding me? (5, Insightful)

lonelytrail (1741524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532524)

Ok, so TFA doesn't say it very clearly but his site [hawking.org.uk] does.
This is for a graduate assistant to STEPHEN HAWKING.
My stipend was 1/4 of that at best and, oh yeah, did I mention... This is for a graduate assistant to STEPHEN W. HAWKING.
I know you guys are all so F'ing incredible that you don't need resume bullets or care about other peoples' ideas, but how's about
  1. 2012-2013 - Personal assistant to STEPHEN W. HAWKING

Um, if I were eligible I'd be making them KNOW I was their man!

Re:Are you all kidding me? (4, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38533002)

This is for a graduate assistant to STEPHEN HAWKING.

No, not really. It is for a personal assistant who has some technical skills to maintain the assistive devices he uses.

A graduate assistant position is a part-time position that is used to fund PhD or MS students while they are studying, and the webpage is quite explicit in saying that this is NOT a position for someone who wants to study physics. This position has nothing to do with a graduate student.

One thing universities are quite clear on, at least those I've attended and worked at, is that if you aren't a graduate student you aren't eligible for graduate assistantships. In fact, we just had a student graduate who needed a short-term position until her real job started, and she was not allowed to be a GRA, she had to get an appointment as a faculty assistant.

Not that this job wouldn't be interesting, but it would be more of a caretaker than an academic relationship.

He needs an upgrade. (1)

John Sokol (109591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532616)

It's truly amazing what having to think before you speak can accomplish.

If I remember correctly he was stuck on some long discontinued TI speech synthesis chip. I remember the initial story when they first did it in particular because I also was playing with a similar part at the time in High School.
Finding parts and people has to be getting difficult.

At the same time I can completely understand him not wanting to upgrade his system, from the GUI he's used very successful for 25 years or Voice that has now become that trademark of Steven Hawking's.

Well I am thinking we should be able to emulate that whole system including the speech syntheses. Worst case it can be done as a series of recordings from the original chip.

Maybe do it as a Kickstarter project or something, do the whole thing open source. Surely there must be others with this problem.

I can imaging upgrading him to AR goggles with eye tracking, that's all off the shelf today. Then in to a little Mini PC or ARM board, and nothing but software.

With something like that we should be good till we get direct brain interfaces and quantum computing wrist watches in another 25 years, if he still even needs it.

Does he read /.? (3, Insightful)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532646)

Does he read /.?

That may be important to consider, before you post.

Re:Does he read /.? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532868)

Yes - I do. Now get off my lawn.

I guess even celebrities are cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532652)

His net worth is posted as $20 million dollars. He needs an assistant to ensure that the customized electronic devices he has continue to make his life liveable. That's worth $38,000 a year to him. Don't know what to say.

Wow (5, Interesting)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532660)

So, here we have a golden opportunity to work for one of the most brilliant humans to ever exist, tinkering with an amazing if poorly documented system, jetsetting around the globe, being paid to attend sold-out physics lectures... and all half the /. community can think to do is bitch about the pay grade.

Seems the Green-Eyed Monster (and this global recession) has ruined a lot of folks. The way I see it, the fact that Hawking is likely footing the bill for the room, board, and travel expenses of whoever gets the gig (as they would be considered a member of his 'care team'), not to mention getting to hang out with Stephen fucking Hawking, $38,000 per annum seems like a pretty damn good deal.

Now, if only I could get my wife on board... I wonder if he needs an economist, too...

Re:Wow (2)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532786)

Sad, isn't it? And if it's not about the money, it's because "I think he's wrong about X." As if agreeing with a guy is a necessary condition for respecting a guy. I'm not putting Hawking on a pedestal -- I'd gladly take $38k to work for any of a number of top scientists.

I understand that people with families and debts and complicated lives can't just drop everything... But I get the feeling most of the whiners in here are obnoxious 20-somethings. Older people can recognize the value in this, even if there's no way they could actually make it work. I hope.

Re:Wow (4, Insightful)

RebelWithoutAClue (578771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38532938)

You are exactly wrong. It is young people who are willing to work for less pay. Old people on the other hand have a better idea of how much their expertise is worth. Lets face it, slashdot is getting middle-aged.

Re:Wow (3, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38533038)

Old people on the other hand have a better idea of how much their expertise is worth.

Older people should also have a better understanding of what friends and colleagues are worth.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38533000)

Most people work for money, not because they are in-love with their boss like some soap opera hero. What do you think? you'll be BFFs and he'll chitchat with you about his thoughts of sliding universe theory whilst you try to come to terms with just how much your don't understand?

This is a job, not a best bud or "Hey I'll teach you physics on the side" role. It is to maintain a system, to be a frigging gardner. e.g. You're "the help". If you like that sort of thing, joy. The bitch about pay just show how wrong the pay is, not how this is some majestic of opportunity.

You talk as if famous people are super nice to their car mechanic, interiror decorator and this is going to be such a dream job.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38533080)

No, he's not. Cambridge is (from the website):

"The role of 'Graduate Assistant to Professor Hawking' is funded as a research post at the University of Cambridge. Normally it has been under a 12 month contract, although recent graduate assistants have stayed on for several years."

VoiceHack (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38532686)

However, gets this Job needs to change the voice to glaDOS!!!!!!

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