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US CompSci Enrollment Leaps For 5th Straight Year

BrianRoach Re:Degree Mills (176 comments)

The companies worth working for have engineers do the interviewing and hiring. HR schedules things and does the paperwork.

about a year and a half ago
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Mayer Terminates Yahoo's Remote Employee Policy

BrianRoach Re:Management panic in action... (524 comments)

You're correct that we didn't evolve with digital communication. We also didn't evolve with telephones, but everyone seems to have figured those out.

The company for which I work is 100% remote when it comes to pretty much everything but C-level, and that's working pretty well for us (We just opened new business offices in Tokyo and London). I work with people in ... 7 timezones? Something like that anyway. The nearest physical office to my home is ~ 1800 miles away.

The trick is you have to hire people capable of working that way. As you say, we didn't evolve with digital communication, but humans have a remarkable ability to learn new things (well, at least some of them). Can you have that guy that needs constant micro-management and someone asking "What did you do today, Bob?" ? No, you can't (although I would make the argument that you really don't want him in an office, either). You also can't have the typical bad mid-level manager that thinks someone sitting in a chair within close physical proximity to them from hour X to hour Y = productive. Or anyone who thinks talking to someone face to face is more effective or productive than the myriad of ways to communicate digitally. I often find great humor in the irony of people building software that allows people from all over the world to communicate and interact with each other ... need to be in one physical location to do so.

In short? Best. Job. Ever. I've always found that I was more productive outside an office due to the constant interrupts and constant stream of often useless "facetime" meetings. Having a job where I do that all the time is simply awesome and I have gotten more honest, real work done in the last year working here than probably any time elsewhere (while it's hard to quantify that when talking about software engineering there is a sense of getting things done and doing so effectively).

I will say, however, that having *everyone* remote is far different than having most people in an office and a couple people remote. This is where you run into the problem of them "not being involved". While not impossible to manage and again the right people make this work, it is more difficult for most people because it's simply that "out of sight, out of mind" problem when it comes to the remote workers. In general you also don't have an environment and tools in place to facilitate those remote people being included because it's not your normal workflow.

about a year ago
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Algorithmic Pricing On Amazon 'Could Spark Flash Crash'

BrianRoach Re:Falling to near zero?? (274 comments)

Businesses will also sell old stock at a loss simply to free up capital that's trapped in stockholding.

Not to mention that often you're charged a restocking fee by your distributor and it counts against your account purchase totals (which grant you perks such as line discounts, better rates overall, etc).

When I was running my business our main distributor would allow a 6 month restock, but with a 15% fee. We'd simply put inventory that wasn't moving that we would have returned on "clearance" at (or up to the 15% below) cost to get rid of it. It was only things that we literally thought we'd never get rid of that we'd return.

more than 2 years ago
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Researchers Can Generate RSA SecurID Random Numbers Flawlessly

BrianRoach Re:Not exactly... (98 comments)

You are absolutely correct.

The difference, of course, is that you would need physical access to the keyfob in my pocket. Even if you managed that feat without me noticing, you'd destroy it in the process of extracting the information you need thus alerting me that something was amiss.

more than 2 years ago
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Facebook Shares Retreat Below IPO Price

BrianRoach Re:Troubling signal, why? (471 comments)

I know what everyone is saying about how the $38 share price was perfectly picked as the correct valuation of the company, but (and I am not a financial expert) what does this mean to the people who bought in on Friday? With no major share price movement they are left with a bunch of stock certificates and all their money in the hands of FB. How does this become a worthwhile investment for them?

Define "people".

Individual investors were chumps from the start (pretty much every analyst had said not to buy it) and allowed the financial institutions to make a nice 20% profit in a few minutes, selling their shares @ $42 - $45 when it opened.

If you're a financial institution ... it's a long term investment that you believe will pan out. They thought $38 was the correct valuation and are in it for the long haul.

more than 2 years ago
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GOP Blocks Senate Debate On Dem Student Loan Bill

BrianRoach Re:Student loans led to the education bubble (834 comments)

How do you think K-12 gets funded? ::Looks at property tax bill:: ::Looks around and notices a distinct lack of progeny::

I pay for for my neighbor's kids. That's how it works. Because it's *better for our country and society* that they get an education.

more than 2 years ago
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Windows 8 and Screen Resolution: WXGA Still Most Popular

BrianRoach Re:Because it isn't as cheap as you think (382 comments)

Exactly.

I also just bought a U3011. It's worth *every frigging penny*, because I sit in front of it at least 8 hours a day (telecommute gig). I have a 6 year old 22" 1680x1050 rotated to portrait next to it.

The average joe user? $180 = TN 16:9 1920x1080.

more than 2 years ago
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Why Fuel Efficiency Advances Haven't Translated To Better Gas Mileage

BrianRoach Re:This is (also) why I ride motorcycles (891 comments)

You'd be amazed at what good gear and being a good rider (e.g. not a squid) can do for you.

I've been riding for over 20 years. I generally put ~ 10k miles a year on my bikes (combined).

more than 2 years ago
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Why Fuel Efficiency Advances Haven't Translated To Better Gas Mileage

BrianRoach This is (also) why I ride motorcycles (891 comments)

Ducati 1098.
0-60mph in 2.9 sec.
35 - 40mpg while being ham-fisted on the throttle.

My other bike is a Triumph Thruxton and it gets 50mpg.

I ride ~ 7 months out of the year here in CO.

more than 2 years ago
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Why We Agonize Over Buying $1 Apps

BrianRoach Re:Math/Fact Check (523 comments)

Not to be pedantic (ok, I am) but one per day was never mentioned.

I watch people at work make multiples of such purchases daily ($4 coffees, $2 cinnamon buns, etc) then complain that they don't have money to buy things ... like a new(er) car.

$10/day buys you a Versa on a 6 year loan at a low interest rate with a minimal down payment.

more than 2 years ago
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The Four Fallacies of IT Metrics

BrianRoach "cards closed per week" (223 comments)

I worked as an engineer at a company the professed to be "agile" (the quotes are because really, not so much). They started judging performance by "cards closed per week".

You'd be amazed at the number of cards that will be created and closed under those conditions. Our productivity *soared* (according the graph that showed productivity as a measurement of cards closed per week ... ).

more than 2 years ago
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Are You Better At Math Than a 4th (or 10th) Grader?

BrianRoach Re:RTFA - really, it's interesting! (845 comments)

First of all, we have to remember that the sample questions were from the 4th and 8th grade, but the test he failed was 10th grade. At that age level, the questions might already be hard enough that it's justifiable to have forgotten a couple of rules and fail as an adult.

Not so much. If you follow the links you'll find up here: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/itmrlsx/landing.aspx

Here's a sample question from the 12th grade mathematics test, specifically one marked "hard":

"The postal rate is 25 cents for the first ounce and 20 cents for each additional ounce or part of an ounce. What would it cost to mail a package that weighs 6.8 ounces?"

So in short, on top of all the other things you detail in your post which IMHO is spot on, the guy really is operating below a functional level when it comes to mathematics. Given this and those things, I'm going to go out on a limb and say he's probably not really that great at much else either.

more than 2 years ago
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USPS Ending Overnight First-Class Letter Service

BrianRoach Re:It's a SERVICE (713 comments)

Actually, no, it's not. At least not for the last 30 years or so.

The only taxpayer money that goes to the USPS is ~ $100mm a year to cover things mostly for the disabled and overseas voters (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Postal_Service). They are only expected to break even.

And therein lies the problem. The basic fact of the matter is that e-mail has eroded their bread-and-butter; people needing to communicate with another person. Bills/invoices are also going this way. While not everyone uses e-mail, enough do that this is a buggy-whip manufacturing situation. Eventually there will simply be little reason for it to exist.

The fact that they suck at delivering actual packages when compared to UPS pretty much rules them out of that business. They're slower, don't provide adequate or accurate tracking, etc, etc.

Oh, and in new neighborhoods like mine? UPS, FedEx, etc actually bring things to my *house*, not a community mailbox a 1/4 mile away.

What it comes down to is either it needs to be completely overhauled and shrunk to fit today's reality, or be subsidized heavily by taxpayer money.

more than 2 years ago
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Half Life of a Tech Worker: 15 Years

BrianRoach Re:One workers opinion at one company in a recessi (473 comments)

No kidding. I could write an article that is the complete opposite of this based on my own personal experiences.

I'm past this "half life" and get at least 3 inquires a week via LinkedIn (either via messages or people calling my phone). I just accepted a new position (Sr. Engineer) that I'll be starting after the first of the new year. I wasn't looking for a job as my current position is quite good; this company actively sought me out and recruited me.

The same as an earlier poster stated about himself, I'm also not the smartest guy on the planet. What I am is someone who really does love this field (been programming since I was 10), has decent logic skills, keeps up with technology, etc.

more than 2 years ago
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What's Keeping You On Windows?

BrianRoach Re:Games (1880 comments)

I've found yEd to be quite useful as well.

more than 2 years ago
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Why Do So Many College Science Majors Drop Out?

BrianRoach Re:Really? The colleges are the problem? (841 comments)

While this would be a reason for many not to get into engineering at all, I don't know that it supports the problem set described in the article(s), specifically the part that says "failing to get any degree".

The core of the problem I think is that the public education system nor the current methods of raising children prepares them for a world where you don't get accolades for just showing up.

more than 2 years ago
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Why Do So Many College Science Majors Drop Out?

BrianRoach Re:Really? The colleges are the problem? (841 comments)

Erm, no ... it doesn't. That would be that "somewhere else in the equation" part I was speaking of.

I agree with you completely and that was my point, though presented in a much more tongue and cheek fashion.

The post talks about changing things at the college level. This reeks of the same logic that got us to where we give kids medals for just showing up.

more than 2 years ago
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Why Do So Many College Science Majors Drop Out?

BrianRoach Really? The colleges are the problem? (841 comments)

If the number of engineers has decreased and the teaching methods have been a constant ...

Seems like the problem is somewhere else in the equation.

more than 2 years ago

Submissions

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Gibson to release first self-tuning "robot"

BrianRoach BrianRoach writes  |  more than 6 years ago

BrianRoach (614397) writes "Gibson has come up with a pretty neat gizmo — The Robot Guitar. While keeping itself in standard tune is fairly nifty, it also has alternative tunings available at the touch of a button. I for one welcome our new self-tuning robot overlords!"
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BrianRoach BrianRoach writes  |  more than 8 years ago

BrianRoach writes "Last night (Friday 8/25) a railcar carrying Styrene developed a leak here in Delaware, between Dover and the town of Cheswold.
What followed (and continues) is an example of how completely unprepared our area is for any type of disaster, even though the area is literally a hub of chemical manufacturers with railcars such as this travelling the rails every day. While I know many Slashdot readers live in major metro areas that include multiple news teams ready to launch helicopters at the slightest hint of a police chase on the highway (as I myself used to), things appear to work a little differently if you don't, and it is incedibly sobering and frightening how much information isn't available via the internet or anywhere else in a potentially lethal situation.

The first indication of a problem came as I attempted to go home from work at about 8:30pm. A roadblock prevented me from doing so, and I was informed by the officer that there was a chemical spill of some sort and I couldn't go home. I asked if he knew what it was, how dangerous, etc ... and his answer was that they didn't know anything except that they were to block off the roads in a 5 mile radius and suggested I go back to work and "close the doors and windows and don't go outside".

Upon returning to my business, I immediatly called my wife at home (remember, I can't get there) and asked if she had heard/read anything on the TV/net/etc. She hadn't but said that now that I mention it there was an odd odor. She then went to the back door, and upon opening it said the air smelled like burning plastic and her eyes started watering. I told her to grab our dogs and get out of there, now in somewhat of a panic as I am seriously worried about them. We ended up spending the night at a friend's house outside of the 5 mile radius. The website linked to above is still the only news outlet we have been able to get any information from.

Today they still have a 1500 foot radius evacuated. The highyway is shut down. If the spill had been worse than it was, the consequences could have been horrific. Even now we have several communities that were exposed to styrene for several hours (including my wife). The only notice anyone ever received was a auto-dialed phone message hours after the spill (and in our case, hours after the airborne styrene had reached our house — we listened to the message today on the answering machine upon returning home), and even then the details were sketchy (they didn't know what spilled) and the local and state police phone lines were swamped with them having no additional information to give. The original message said they would be calling with additional information.

Ironically that call just came as I type this at 3:50pm on Saturday. The recording gave no real details, again, but said that as of now ... we can go outside unless you're within a 1/4 mile, in which case ... you should have evactuated. Looking at Google maps, we're just under a mile from the spill. I don't know how safe I feel at the moment. In addition, the recording provided a website url ... that doesn't work. Poking around the site I was able to actually find what they wanted you to read
I think I'll be leaving the house agian."

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