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WhatsApp vs. WhatsApp Plus Fight Gets Ugly For Users

American AC in Paris Really? (176 comments)

To be clear: "WhatsApp Plus" is an imitation app that uses the WhatsApp name.

Go out and make "Internet Explorer Plus" and see how well that works for you. Maybe you can get Timothy to post something about it to Slashdot.

yesterday
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What Will Google Glass 2.0 Need To Actually Succeed?

American AC in Paris tbh (321 comments)

a different userbase?

3 days ago
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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

American AC in Paris Re:Look To History (479 comments)

We should let those skills themselves (and nothing else) determine who gets to practice them.

And that works wonderfully, given that we assume humans are frictionless spheres in a vacuum.

In the world in which we live, though, millennia of societal mores and pressures have resulted in a situation where huge swaths of people are presented with unique challenges and roadblocks simply by dint of their genetic makeup.

You simply cannot have a society based on merit so long as these deficiencies exist. If you want our world to become a meritocracy, then the responsibility of the coming generations is to work to eradicate these social discrepancies. To pretend they are no longer a factor does not move us towards a society built on merit.

about a week ago
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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

American AC in Paris Re:Look To History (479 comments)

This is when moms started joining the workforce. Educated in the 60s and beyond.

But there were already many women participating in the workforce, particularly as teachers, nurses, and clerical workers. Women formed the backbone of the war machine for World War II--and were basically kicked out of those jobs when the fighting ended, whether or not they wanted to be. The concept of women working wasn't foreign back then; it was the concept of women doing jobs they weren't supposed to do that was the big sticking point.

A woman invented half of the computer junk we use today at Xerox parc. Some of the greatest programmers of the past 40 years have been women.

Yes, absolutely yes! Until the 60's, this was completely true, because programming was viewed as women's work! Then something happened, and women dropped like flies from the ranks of computer programming. Did they suddenly stop being good programmers, or was something else going on?

I work for a giant company. Huge. You may have heard of us. Its women all up and down. Management and Tech.

I'm going to guess that you're with a Fortune 500 company, then. Consider this Senate testimony that goes into considerable detail as to the persistent gender challenges faced by women in large corporations in America, particularly in professional and higher-level positions. It includes data pulled from the Fortune 500, and goes into painstaking detail as to the disparities--both in numbers of women and their compensation--that continue to exist in large corporations.

Yes it's EDUCATION for women. Everything else follows. You want women in tech, incentivize them to LEARN TECH so they may achieve MERIT.

That's absolutely part of the solution, but it's only part of the solution. Those of us already in the tech sector need to be asking ourselves exactly why, for an industry that repeatedly insists that it is rooted on merit, we look so very different from the society in which we exist.

Further, there exists a clear and significant disparity between women and men pursuing CS degrees--a gap that didn't exist until the 90's. Something happened, and "well, that's just how things played out" doesn't cut it for me.

To focus on one industry is just bizarre handwaving.

Oh, this is a problem across many industries, but that doesn't mean we're somehow absolved of trying to get our own house in order. Further, we have some unique challenges of our own in this regard--the large drop in CS college enrollment, for example.

And the understanding that if gender doesn't want to get involved in a subject it doesn't mean we should establish a quota.

Oh, I recommended a quota? I must be getting old. I have no memory of doing any such thing.

Let's work on getting women in the middle east educated first.

Yes, we wouldn't want to overtax ourselves with doing more than one thing at the same time.

OK? Can we just cut the nonsense?

That would be wonderful.

about a week ago
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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

American AC in Paris Re:Look To History (479 comments)

Honestly I have never once witnessed sexism in my workplace when it comes to hiring.

Then you either work for an outlier of a company, or you haven't been able to see it where you are. When as many women--from as many levels and walks of life as we've seen--come out and very clearly state that this is, in fact, a problem, it behooves us to consider that they see and experience things that other people--men, for example--don't.

The problem is many women just don't apply or don't have the credentials!

It's a big part of it, yes! It was also a problem for the medical and legal professions in 1970!

Let's work on that sure, but I do not believe Tech has a problem as it is a meritocracy, and as such I have met many brilliant women in my line of work.

Tech is emphatically not a meritocracy. We really, really want to believe it is, but it simply isn't. It's about who you know. It's about growing up with the right teachers, the right environment, the right access. It's about having the luxury of time--years and years of time--to develop your skills on your own. Tech requires comprehension of advanced, abstract concepts--a thing that is difficult to get without sound educational roots. Tech is still, by and large, an elite playground.

This problem isn't up to the tech sector alone to solve. This is a huge, structural, society-wide problem, its roots going back for centuries. But we're part of that society, and for us to ignore our role in trying to fix it--or worse, claim that things are basically as they should be--would not be particularly meritorious of us.

about a week ago
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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

American AC in Paris Re:Look To History (479 comments)

I'm going to take two sentences from your original post and run with them. First, the opening sentence:

Your proposal begs the question that more women in those fields is beneficial.

...and the opener to your third paragraph:

Presuming that there is no fundamental gender-based inequality in skill is unwise.

If one presumes that there is, in fact, fundamental gender-based inequality in skill, then the most sensible stance to take in this matter would be "therefore, unless we get more women into these fields, we won't really be able to get good data on whether they make better doctors and lawyers than men!"

If we never have a world where women dominate the legal and medical fields, we'll never even have the opportunity to know whether or not we've been royally screwing it up for the past few centuries. After all, we're not about to presuppose that men are better at this than women, are we?

about a week ago
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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

American AC in Paris Re:Great post (479 comments)

I'm glad to hear it--thank you!

about a week ago
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NASA, NOAA: 2014 Was the Warmest Year In the Modern Record

American AC in Paris Joy (357 comments)

...note that there's a large ball of cooler-than-average over the mid-Atlantic, riiiight on top of the largest and most influential concentration of climate change deniers...

about a week ago
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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

American AC in Paris Re:Look To History (479 comments)

I was just a kid in the 70's, but I'd suggest that the overall employment of women was a key part, but far from the whole, of this issue. Specifically, while there were very few women who were doctors back in 1970, the medical profession had large numbers of women performing medical work: nurses. Similarly, in the legal profession, there were a good number of women fighting to break into the profession as lawyers (as opposed to clerical workers,) with generally disheartening results.

While overall employment of women back then was decidedly lower, those women who did seek employment were virtually guaranteed to be excluded from positions "not suited" to women. It took generations of coordination, organization, education, training, and flat-out grit to overcome this--and we're still far from "done".

about a week ago
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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

American AC in Paris Look To History (479 comments)

Well, we could look to both the legal and medical professions.

For example, back in 1970, about 8% of all doctors were women. Today, roughly 1/3 of all doctors are women--hardly parity, but a significant improvement, nonetheless. Similarly, about 1/3 of all lawyers are now women; back in 1970, that number was closer to 5%.

So what happened between the 1970s and today in the legal and medical professions? For one, there was a concerted effort to even make these professions accept that there was a problem. In both the industry and the public eye, it was generally accepted that women weren't lawyers or doctors because women simply weren't cut out for that kind of work--it was too demanding, too rigorous, too technical, too high-stakes, and required an 'instinct' that women just generally didn't have.

Additionally, there was a very active and ongoing effort to encourage women to enter these fields--efforts that took a long time to gain steam, as these fields require years of specialized study and training on top of a sound primary and secondary education. Professional organizations dedicated to supporting and encouraging women in these fields were created. Major existing professional organizations--like the AMA and the ABA--started paying attention to the issue, as well.

Today, you won't find many people defending the position that women are somehow less fit to be doctors or lawyers than men. That's gone. It took a long time, and it took a lot of people--mostly women--fighting a grueling and protracted battle against a broader community that was, at best, condescendingly tolerant of them, so long as their numbers were small enough and they accepted adapting themselves to life in a man's profession. You still see gender disparity, both in pay and people, and you still see a lot of the vestiges of the old system that need to be retooled, but there's been real progress.

Getting a solid number on how many women are employed as software engineers/programmers is tricky, but one recent effort compiled information from around 200 companies and found that about 15% of software engineers are women. Certainly not as bad as the medical and legal professions in 1970, but a far cry from what you'd expect--and, frankly, a far cry from where software engineering and programming has been in the past.

So here we are, in 2015. There's a lot to be done. We've barely even begun to accept that this is a problem yet, and the backlash against this concept is virulent, to put it lightly. That said, there's momentum building, and I'm hopeful that we're finally--finally--starting to move in the right direction.

The system won't be burned down, but the system won't survive in its current form, either. With any luck, 40 years from now, we'll be looking back on this with the same incredulity as we do on the legal and medical professions of yore.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Can I Really Do With a Smart Watch?

American AC in Paris Re:Who wants a watch that you have to recharge dai (232 comments)

The entire point of having a battery in a watch is so that you don't have to worry about winding it every day,,, it's good for 3 years and then you replace the battery when it goes.

If I'm going to replace my watch, something that I've been using for years, and have only had to replace the battery twice since I got it, with something newer, then that newer thing should not create additional inconveniences that far outweigh anything it can do that a watch might not, particularly when there is nothing that it will do which a smart phone does not already do anyways.

There are a fair number of people out there who happily traded the 2-week battery life of their perfectly functional cell phones for dead-in-a-day smartphones. As it turns out, the inconvenience of having to constantly recharge a smartphone was worth putting up with in exchange for being able to do all the things you can do with a smartphone. Clearly, not everyone shared this sentiment, as you can still see any number of people using non-smartphones today--but significant numbers of people chose functionality over battery life.

It's hardly a stretch of the imagination to see the same thing happening with smart watches.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop?

American AC in Paris Re: First and foremost (176 comments)

Even before that: have a business plan. Do your best to determine what you want to create, how expensive it will be to make it, how many people you'll need to manage, how much you expect to charge for it, and how big your likely market is. If you discover that there's no way to make your endeavor even close to profitable, you can save yourself months of heartache and mountains of lost money. Always have a plan, even if you don't stick to it in the end.

about 2 months ago
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Amazon's Echo Chamber

American AC in Paris Re:Chech back next year... (112 comments)

The Fire line of tablets, for example, provided much more compelling competition to the iPad than the MS Surface.

This, folks, is a textbook example of "damning with faint praise".

about 3 months ago
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Apple's Next Hit Could Be a Microsoft Surface Pro Clone

American AC in Paris Re: It's the OS, Stupid (252 comments)

Apple didn't develop it. They bought NeXT, which had adapted it from Mach.

NeXT was a l--o--n--g time ago, man. Things have changed since.

...and as I recall, the guy who founded and ran NeXT was someone who not only was an Apple founder but came back to Apple later, as well. Ended up being pretty important at Apple, too, I think.

No, no, his name's right on the tip of my tongue...give me juuuuust a second...

about 3 months ago
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iPhone 6 Sales Crush Means Late-Night Waits For Some Early Adopters

American AC in Paris Re:I just want the new Nexus. (222 comments)

There are three professions where being untruthful is the key to success: Lawyers, salespeople, and marketing. All three are hired to portray their client in the most favorable light possible, and the very best ones lie through their teeth. The worst of these three are the marketers because they have legions of psychologists and scientists trying to figure out the best way to lie to people.

Yes! You're both presenting a perfectly defensible argument against marketing and reinforcing my original point! Because geeks tend to abhor marketing, we dismiss its significance, and are perennially gobsmacked as to why an intrinsically emotional, manipulatable species is so susceptible to emotional manipulation.

So long as humanity is what it is, reason will only ever get you so far. You either need to blow the doors off with a staggeringly amazing thing, or come to terms with the fact that every single entity who might care about your thing has feelings, and bending those feelings in your favor can work wonders.

It's not all bad, though; emotional manipulation works under much the same constraints. Unless you're a Level 80 Snake Oil Salesman with a hat full of luck, you're going to have a very hard time making your thing last if it doesn't live up to the hype--and your reputation will suffer for it.

about 4 months ago
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iPhone 6 Sales Crush Means Late-Night Waits For Some Early Adopters

American AC in Paris Re:I just want the new Nexus. (222 comments)

The only real feature of note was Apple Pay, which might finally make NFC payments take off in the US. It's been a technology that should have hit it big a couple of years ago, but has never seen much consumer buy-in for some reason.

It's pretty straightforward, to my mind. With the exception of all but the most staggering technological advancements, widespread adoption of new technology typically requires:

  1. a sound implementation,
  2. a robust support infrastructure, and
  3. an effective marketing campaign.

Geeks, for a variety of reasons, tend to respect the first, grok the second, and abhor the third. I personally believe it's what drives our perpetual cycle of incredulity on this subject--because we so detest the last part of this equation, we refuse to see its importance in getting all those squishy, distracted, emotional bags of water to adopt cool new stuff.

NFC has never had the effective marketing campaign in the US, and only kinda had the support infrastructure. The iPhone has incredible inertia on the marketing front, and Apple have clearly done the legwork on building a good starting lineup of financial institutions and retailers for Apple Pay. It remains to be seen whether this'll be sufficient to make NFC catch on, but it's easily the closest we've come to covering all three of the bases above.

about 4 months ago
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NASA Announces Mars 2020 Rover Payload

American AC in Paris Re:Why do we do these things? (109 comments)

I am not saying there's no advantage to space exploration, but I simply wonder why we continue to do these things yet we have a very big [budget] deficit. Why?

Apart from knowledge of how space works, what has the ordinary American gained from the billions spent on the space program? Can anyone point me to any tangible or intangible goods resulting from space exploration?

Because each time we overcome a monumental challenge for the first time, we expand the frontier of human knowledge and endeavor.

As our frontier expands, that which was undone becomes possible; that which was possible, replicable; that which was replicable, automatable; that which was automatable, trivial; that which was trivial, obsolete.

Just over a century ago, tinkers managed to propel a glorified kite a few feet through the air. The tangible benefit of this flight of fancy is that today, we complain about the comfort of the seats in mass-produced aircraft that can send us around the globe for a historically infinitesimal cost in time and money.

Seventy years ago, the US government was one year into the construction of ENIAC, one of the first general-purpose digital computers ever created. Upon its completion two years later, it would occupy 680 square feet, require the power of roughly six modern households, process up to 500 operations per second, and spend roughly half its time being repaired. The tangible benefit of this monstrosity is that today you likely carry, on your person, roughly 25 million times more computing power than ENIAC. It is quite likely that use the bulk of this computing power primarily for your own personal entertainment.

45 years ago, after years of research and significant government funding, ARPANET was launched. Not many people expected it to be of any significant practical value; in fact, the first message ever sent over ARPANET only managed to deliver two characters before crashing the entire network for an hour. The tangible benefit of this boondoggle is that today, we have the Internet, the direct descendant of ARPANET.

about 6 months ago
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Goodbye, Ctrl-S

American AC in Paris Re:I'd rather not use (521 comments)

a text editor that is so error prone that *needs* to autosave constantly("continuously"). Or software in general, for that matter.

You've got it backwards--it ain't an error-prone text editor, it's an error-prone human. Even conscientious, process-driven users make stupid mistakes and forget to save their work (especially when they're on a roll.) This protects us from ourselves, not the machines we're working on.

Now, you may be among that handful of people who never forgets to save--in which case, I congratulate you on being in one of the outlier cohorts that software engineers really shouldn't ever spend their time worrying about. :D

about 8 months ago
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Report: Samsung Building VR Headset For Its Phones & Tablets

American AC in Paris Timeline (49 comments)

Year 1: "You guys, this is even better than [current industry leader]'s tech! Amazing!"
Year 2: "Hardly anybody who has updated to version 5.4 still bleeds from their eyeballs. [current industry leader] hasn't updated their tech for months!"
Year 3: "Samsung is the undisputed leader in virtual reality headsets! They've shipped five times as many units as [current industry leader], and there's no stopping this tidal wave!"
Year 6: "Hey, you should really check out the high-end Samsung VR units. They're every bit as good as [current industry leader] nowadays."

about 8 months ago

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