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New AP Course, "Computer Science Principles," Aims To Make CS More Accessible

BVis Re:what is this crap (205 comments)

Or shall we get right to the point: profiteers are sick to death of paying a disproportionately living wage to a set of highly skilled workers.

Ding ding ding. What I say to that is "Tough shit, do without your third summer home and pay people what they're worth."

2 days ago
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Rosetta Results: Comets "Did Not Bring Water To Earth"

BVis Re: Water is Water (135 comments)

You're not wrong about water being H2O, the difference is in the H part. Hydrogen is one proton orbited by one electron (an oversimplification, but work with me here). An isotope of hydrogen called "deuterium" also has a neutron in its nucleus. So, both deuterium and protium (the "normal" isotope of hydrogen, without the extra neutron) are hydrogen, but deuterium has more mass due to the neutron. Water can be formed with either isotope; water formed from deuterium and oxygen is sometimes called "heavy water".

Now what they're looking at here is the ratio of ordinary water to heavy water naturally occurring in a given environment. Here, they've determined that the ratio on the comet is not the same as what's commonly found on Earth. They've therefore put forward the hypothesis that the current thinking about the origin of water on this planet may be wrong, because this particular comet's ratio is different, and the assumption is that most comets are composed of similar material.

about a week ago
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Seeking Coders, Tech Titans Turn To K-12 Schools

BVis Re:Delusional much? (105 comments)

If what you say is true, then the efforts to suppress wages won't work, as the "graduates" won't be able to fill the roles required of them

Sure they will. They're warm bodies that will accept below-market salaries. Yes, the product they turn out will be total shit, but it was CHEAP total shit, and that's really all that matters to the non-technical management types.

about two weeks ago
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Seeking Coders, Tech Titans Turn To K-12 Schools

BVis Re:Motives (105 comments)

The motive of tech companies is to fill the pipeline with people who will work for peanuts, work 90 hours a week, and agree to never see their families again.

FTFY.

about two weeks ago
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Seeking Coders, Tech Titans Turn To K-12 Schools

BVis Re:Motives (105 comments)

As a manager, I'd like to be able to find someone in less than 6 months who has those skills.

They're out there. They're just working for other companies. If you can't find someone in 6 months, you're doing something wrong. Either you're not looking hard enough, or you want the purple squirrel instead of someone you can train to fill in gaps in their skill set, or the compensation package you're offering isn't enough to lure the good workers away from their current positions, or prospective candidates ask questions about the culture and workflow of your business and what they hear in response makes them bolt for the door, or you stubbornly refuse to consider non-local candidates (either remote workers or workers you can pay to relocate). I personally have been on an interview where I've been asked "How do you feel about routine overtime?". It was the second or third question I was asked in the interview. Should have NOPEd out of there right then, but I went through the motions anyway, to get experience in interviewing. If a smart candidate (which is what you want) figures out that your workflow puts the devs at a disadvantage as compared to the business concerns (that same company told me that their workflow is this: Business decides they want something, business decides when they want it by, business decides what an adequate spec is, and then the project is tossed over the wall to Engineering, where it's now their problem. No consultation with anyone in Engineering until it's tossed over the wall with a hearty "Do this, if you don't like it, go work somewhere else.") Yeah, I wonder why they're having trouble attracting people..

I would definitely like it to be someone who is an American citizen and pay them well.

Well, I'm sure that YOU would prefer that. However, I'd bet a dollar that whoever controls the budget wants you to find a world-class coder and pay them minimum wage.

Again, the "shortage" of STEM workers in this country is a lie, perpetuated by the tech giants so they can hire indentured servants from overseas on H1-B visas. There's a shortage of STEM workers that will accept the compensation packages and culture from companies that don't get it. But, if your culture rocks, Marketing is kept in check (meaning that Engineering can tell them to fuck off if they ask for anything too stupid), you provide a fun place to work, and offer them $20k more than they're making now, you'll find yourself much better able to headhunt people who are already working.

Back to the topic, this is nothing more than a blatant attempt to flood the market with young coders without families to support or spend time with (because that's what losers do, coffee is for closers). It's simple supply and demand. Right now, supply (again, of people that can/will accept what the company is offering, not of coders themselves) is restricted, demand is constant or increasing, and the natural order of things is for prices (salaries) to go up. But, can't have that, the 1% needs their fifth summer home, so instead of paying people more, they hire H1-B visa holders and work to increase supply, because both of those things mean lower salaries.

about two weeks ago
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Tesla Wants Texas Auto Sales Regulations Loosened

BVis Re: "there's a certain logic to doing those in Tex (137 comments)

The dealerships have forfeited any right they might have once had to protection. The current model is an atrocity. Consumers have consistently rated buying a car as one of the most stressful retail experiences that you could have. The dealership model is irredeemably broken. Many consumers have expressed that they would prefer to buy cars directly from the manufacturer and avoid the dealership altogether. I personally would spend thousands more on a car if it meant I didn't have to deal with professional slime buckets in order to get something that I need to maintain my lifestyle and provide for my family.

If it's bad for dealerships, it's a good thing. Remember, also, that in this case, we're talking about removing regulation that is stifling innovation. The Tesla model is the better mousetrap. I would have thought that a free(er) market would be something that libertarian conservatives would be in favor of, and that the original protectionist nature of the laws that the current dealers are hiding behind would be anathema to the libertarian conservative philosophy, as it makes government larger. My understanding of the philosophy is that the more laws there are, the less free the society. Getting rid of these laws would therefore make the society more free.

I think what is really being defended here is the right for dealership owners to shamelessly swindle consumers out of their money, with no recourse for the consumer. If any other business treated their customers as poorly, they 1) would be out of business in weeks, and 2) would get pressure from the parent organization to fix their shit, lest they lose their ability to sell their product. I had a dealership blackball me for asking too many questions about a particular fee on the worksheet. After getting no action from the owner of the chain the dealership was owned by (I think they actually hung up on me at one point), I went to the national marketing organization for that manufacturer. They, to their credit, at least acted like they agreed that what had happened was unacceptable, and contacted the dealer on my behalf. A couple of weeks went by with no response from the dealer. I called again to check on the status, and what the rep told me was that the dealer had told them they contacted me on a particular date. I checked my phone records. There was no such call. The dealer lied to the manufacturer. Currently, the manufacturer basically has no recourse to affect the way their product is sold. That this acceptable in this industry but not another is because of these laws. They're bad laws. They need to go.

about two weeks ago
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Tesla Wants Texas Auto Sales Regulations Loosened

BVis Re: "there's a certain logic to doing those in Te (137 comments)

It isn't that simple, much as the right would like you to think. In this case, competition would be good for the consumer. This is in contrast to the right, who define "competitiveness" as "give us tax breaks and cheap labor that will wreck the economy and bankrupt the states (see Kansas for what lower taxes really do) or we'll pitch a fit, call you anti-business, and close factories just to spite you".

The current car dealership model is bad for the consumer. It's great for the rich that own the dealer chains, but at the consumer level, it's a model of sleazy sales tactics and outright lies. Liberals, contrary to what the echo chamber would like you to think, are not out to destroy businesses and pass regulations just for their own sakes. These laws are bad laws. Removing them gives new business models a level playing field, instead of one that's drastically slanted in favor of the status quo.

about two weeks ago
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Tesla Wants Texas Auto Sales Regulations Loosened

BVis Re: "there's a certain logic to doing those in Tex (137 comments)

I think the story here is "man bites dog". Texas, home of the "fuck the people, give businesses ALL the money, regulation-is-literally-Hitler" attitude is resisting innovation with unnecessary regulation. So much for the free(er) market.

This is why car dealers can treat their (sales) customers like total dogshit and get away with it; the dealer chain owners are able to afford buying legislators outright, and protectionist laws give the dealerships unreasonable leverage in the manufacturer trying to get bad (well, worse than the rest, which is beyond horrible) dealerships to change their practices. Revoking a dealership's franchise is only slightly less hard than getting a Buick through the eye of a needle.

about two weeks ago
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You're Doing It All Wrong: Solar Panels Should Face West, Not South

BVis Re:Retarded (327 comments)

Your analogy can extend to the fact that a car's engine can be put in the front, amidships, or the rear of the car, or can be transversely placed, or can have anywhere from 2 to 12 cylinders, or can have carburetors or fuel injectors, or can be air- or liquid-cooled... and so on. They don't know where to put the engine! They don't know how many cylinders to use! They don't know how to get gas into the engine! They don't know how to cool the engine! What a joke! Not ready for prime time!

Why did we move from carburetors to fuel injectors? Why did we mount engines in different places? Why are cars liquid-cooled now, instead of air-cooled (unless you have an old Microbus or a motorcycle)? Because someone thought of something that could improve the technology. The fact that someone realized there could be a better way to do something does not mean that solar isn't ready for prime time. It means that new thinking led to an improvement in the application. It happens all the time with all kinds of mature technology. It's called "progress".

If you were to look back at how cars progressed, there would be lots of instances in which one technology was replaced with another that was far superior. With the advantage of hindsight, you could look at people who used the old tech and say "Boy, were they stupid", but you'd be wrong. They were using what was available at the moment, until someone figured out a better way to do it. So, you could look at south-facing placement as stupid, if you wanted to grind that particular axe. Sure, when you look at new ways to configure the arrays, you can say "They don't know what they're doing", but what they're doing has been common wisdom in solar applications for decades. Someone looked at that in the context of residential energy usage patterns and utility rate schedules, and figured out a better way to do it. Huzzah! Seems obvious in hindsight, of course, as do many things when a new technique or technology reaches the common consciousness.

If we were to compare solar to automobile technology, it's probably at the "Model T" mass-production consumer-consumption stage at the moment. Compared to modern cars, the Model T is hopelessly outdated, because new thinking led to improvements. Ford had his detractors too, and history made fools of them. I think history has its sights trained on you and those who think as you do. When was the last time you developed a solution to a problem instead of bitching about those who are trying to do the same? Maybe if you did that, you'd find the billion dollar idea that cuts our conventionally-generated electricity usage in half at a price point that made it viable. Or maybe not. In any event, condemning people who are developing solar tech as stupid is by far not the most useful thing you could do.

Or are you one of those neanderthals that "rolls coal" and tries to run bicyclists off the road?

about two weeks ago
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You're Doing It All Wrong: Solar Panels Should Face West, Not South

BVis Re:Retarded (327 comments)

Yeah, because every technology emerged fully formed from the forehead of Zeus. I guess that since Henry Ford didn't put fuel injection or power steering in his cars, he should have just given up. Clearly there was no future in those newfangled horseless carriage thingys.

It's not that they don't know "which way to point the damned things", "At the sun" is pretty hard to fuck up. The current status quo of home solar installs is to mount the panels fixed and pointing south; this article points out that there might be a better way to do it. Oh, shit, we don't have it perfect yet! Better shitcan the whole thing! Clearly we're not going to learn any more and won't be able to advance the technology, like everything else that enables our modern standard of living.

No, it's not perfect yet. No, it doesn't provide 100% of our energy needs. Those are not reasons to abandon the technology completely; incremental improvement is still improvement. If there were a tech that provided 100% of our energy needs without any of the drawbacks of our current energy tech, we would all be using it and there would be no need to push the newer tech further. The fact that we don't have that (yet) doesn't mean we should throw our hands up in the air, tell the renewable energy hippies to get a job and a haircut, slash the tires on their Priuses (Prii?) and resign ourselves to the fact that we are slowly making our planet uninhabitable.

about two weeks ago
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Want To Work For a Cool Tech Company? Hone Your Social Skills

BVis Re:I'll never be employed (139 comments)

I don't understand the downmods. This is a legitimate thing; I personally would much rather be a coder for the balance of my career than get pushed into a lead/management role where I'd be miserable and ineffective. Sure, I could probably learn enough to fake it, but it's not what I want to do. It's career-limiting, sure, but does it have to be that way? Doesn't actually doing useful work mean anything anymore? Is engineering turning into marketing? Do we want technical decisions to really be made based on who plays golf with whom?

I thought I left cliques and the "popular kids" bullshit back in high school. Why drag it into the workplace unless you don't have the actual skills to prove your usefulness even if you don't do the glad-handing presentation-to-pinhead-managers-who-wont-understand-it schmoozing-to-get-stuff-approved-instead-of-on-the-ideas-merits thing?

"People skills" are for MBAs and useless non-technical managers. They have their place, but that's not in the trenches where actual work gets done. Coders should be polite, reasonably groomed, with a useful attitude in meetings etc. but asking them to do the "people skills" thing is counter-productive and a waste of time and talent. Any time a coder spends cultivating his "people skills" is time they could be doing something more directly related to their job, like actual work.

about two weeks ago
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Researchers Say the Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist

BVis Re:There's a tech job shortage, not a worker short (454 comments)

That assumes that they care about losing "the best". They would rather have a bunch of mediocre workers that get the job done and accept poor treatment than have good workers who want crazy shit like market wages and to be treated like human beings. At a certain point "good" is no longer profitable, you reach the point of diminishing returns. Cheap > good again. The Walmart effect in action.

about three weeks ago
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Researchers Say the Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist

BVis Re:Yup, that's the case (454 comments)

Bottom line: They're cheap. They can hire 4 of them for the cost of one FTE here. That's all they care about. Dollars are easy to quantify; quality of work is more difficult, especially when you're a walking haircut in an empty suit with an MBA and remarkable myopia. Trying to get an MBA to understand the difference between "cheap" and "good" is like talking to a wall most of the time. In their mind, they are the same. They don't understand what their reports do, and refuse to listen to them when they raise a problem that might require 1) actual work on their part, or 2) (shock horror) SPENDING MONEY.

about three weeks ago
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Researchers Say the Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist

BVis Re:Well Duh (454 comments)

You might want to get your sarcasm detector checked :)

about three weeks ago
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Researchers Say the Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist

BVis Re:The Same Game (454 comments)

Because, frequently, they are better off financially on unemployment. Finding a minimum wage job that provides health coverage is pretty much impossible; if you're on assistance, you probably qualify for Medicaid. So, minimum wage + buy your own health insurance (although the ACA makes this much more feasible), or (probably) better than minimum wage and Medicaid coverage. Is it any shock what some people choose? If the minimum wage wasn't such a fucking joke, and we had a single-payer health system like all the grownup countries have, this would cease to be so big a problem.

about three weeks ago
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Researchers Say the Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist

BVis Re:There's a tech job shortage, not a worker short (454 comments)

I don't know why they bother; if those are exempt employees (which they are, if the employer has any brains). It's perfectly legal to require your exempt employees to work many many more hours than the 40 they're getting paid for on paper, and not compensate them for anything over 40. At least for now, if someone complains about long hours, as far as the employer is concerned, they can either 1) shut the fuck up and get back to work, or 2) be threatened with replacement by a cheaper worker. It's harder to do that in technical roles, but not impossible. The effort is probably worth it if you make an example out of someone; the others will be less likely to complain if they see someone frogmarched to the door for speaking up.

about three weeks ago
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Researchers Say the Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist

BVis Re:Duh (454 comments)

So, it's ok to treat them like slaves, because they have a lower COL? Sounds a bit like socialism, "From each according to their ability, to each according to their need."

about three weeks ago
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Researchers Say the Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist

BVis Re:Duh (454 comments)

$40k a YEAR, you mean.

about three weeks ago
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Researchers Say the Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist

BVis Re:Well Duh (454 comments)

Just rare enough to be worth a premium, and to have the audacity to demand things like good benefits and a work-life balance.

Why do they hate America?

about three weeks ago

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