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NASA's Manned Rocket Contract: $4.2 Billion To Boeing, $2.6 Billion To SpaceX

Stuntmonkey Re:I hate to be this guy... (176 comments)

If everyone stopped buying cars, how exactly would that help the poor people of the world? We would just have a lot of autoworkers getting laid off. In a macroeconomic sense ALL of the money we spend ends up in the hands of other people, helping someone. Like nearly everything else we spend money on, space exploration is part of the "wealthy economy" in that most of those billions will end up in the hands of first-world people (SpaceX employees, various subcontractors' employees, etc.).

12 hours ago
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The Growing Illusion of Single Player Gaming

Stuntmonkey Re:Peer Marketing (286 comments)

because once one of your friend buys it, if you want to continue to play with them, you all need to go out and upgrade.

Microsoft figured this out a long time ago with Office. The network effect (sharing documents, playing multiplayer games together) forces people to upgrade even when they don't want to. It's a good way to make a lot of money. Until people get pissed off.

yesterday
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Unpopular Programming Languages That Are Still Lucrative

Stuntmonkey Comparative advantage (381 comments)

I have yet to see a young person say, "I'm going to learn COBOL so I can spend my career nursing 40-year old code." You want to be building new things instead, and for that you choose the best tools for the job right this moment. Those are also usually the skills that will make you most marketable to companies that are building new things.

Conversely it's rare to see an IT person keep up with the latest technologies throughout their careers. At a certain point in life you get other things that need attention, such as raising kids, taking care of parents, mowing the lawn, or whatever. And you start to get more risk averse because people depend on you. Although you are very good at your job, truthfully your confidence starts to wane a bit when you see all the really good young people coming up, who can absorb the new skills with relative ease.

The result is what economists refer to as comparative advantage: The younger people who are more adaptable focus on the latest and greatest technologies, and the older people focus on problems that benefit from their experience and judgment.

about a week ago
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Why TiVo's Founders Crashed and Burned With Qplay

Stuntmonkey Re:Tivo is very long in the tooth... (50 comments)

Tivo is a story of one missed opportunity after another. Great engineering that failed to iterate. They could have easily led the industry in streaming (from the net a la Netflix, or from home servers). They could have easily worked out interactive ad formats to layer on top of recorded shows. They could have easily gone the premium pay-per-view route (like iTunes/Apple TV/Amazon). It almost makes me angry to see so much wasted potential.

about a month and a half ago
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Arecibo Radio Telescope Confirms Extra-galactic Fast Radio Pulses

Stuntmonkey Re:First contact? (95 comments)

An extragalactic origin, if correct, would put the source likely millions of light years away. An artificial radio source detectable over that distance would take a truly phenomenal amount of power, on par with stellar events like supernovae or black hole mergers. Or it would need to be very narrowly beamed, in which case how does ET know to point in our direction?

Bear in mind that the entire RF output of our planet (radio waves streaming into space) would not be detectable by Arecibo even 10 light years away. Move the source to a million light years, and remembering the inverse square law, gives you a sense of how much more power you'd need to make an isotropic emitter detectable. It's hard to imagine why an ET would want to do this, assuming they could marshall the stellar energies involved.

about 2 months ago
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Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

Stuntmonkey Transitioning to "real" programs (415 comments)

Python lets you dive in quickly, and it has two properties I like in a first language: It encourages good practices, and it's in the C-derived language group so what you learn transfers easily.

The only thing you lose with Python is some of Java's ability to do "real" programming directly. A kid can use Java to do Minecraft modding, and a college student can write Android apps. There aren't so many direct uses of Python. (Yes there are a lot of real-world uses for Python, but not for writing user-level apps.)

about 2 months ago
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Airbus Patents Windowless Cockpit That Would Increase Pilots' Field of View

Stuntmonkey Re: Entrusting our lives to complex software (468 comments)

I have no problem with that, so long as there is a big red "disengage" button that allows a human pilot to assume control. What bothers me is entrusting our lives to software when such an override may be impractical, such as when your car is careening down the highway at 65 mph and you happen to be sleeping or reading a book.

about 2 months ago
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Airbus Patents Windowless Cockpit That Would Increase Pilots' Field of View

Stuntmonkey Entrusting our lives to complex software (468 comments)

Autonomous cars, and now this. I have to say I'm not so eager to entrust my life to complex software. Working in software I've seen countless times that complex systems show behaviors the designers didn't intend. At a minimum I'd want to know what dead-simple failsafe mechanisms have been engineered in to recognize and handle unknown states.

about 2 months ago
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European Commission Spokesman: Google Removing Link Was "not a Good Judgement"

Stuntmonkey Re:The "right to be forgotten" (210 comments)

I agree it's a technically flawed concept.

But in practical terms we have to recognize that information used to decay in a sense. In the old days of my youth, you couldn't make that newspaper clipping go away, but over time it would become buried and hard to find and access. (All of us over a certain age remember going through microfilm archives looking for articles. Even when you knew what you were looking for it was tedious.) So in a practical sense things mostly would be forgotten given enough time.

None of that exists any more in the era of digital information. Content creators have no incentive to take down stale content; it costs nothing to serve and accrues ad revenue. So everything sticks around forever. We like the fact that our hard drives have (nearly) perfect memories, but there's also an ambivalence. It's hard to say what the right answer is.

about 2 months ago
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European Commission Spokesman: Google Removing Link Was "not a Good Judgement"

Stuntmonkey Re:Well, duh... (210 comments)

Perhaps the EU should start their own Ministry to censor

China at least has the common sense to do it that way.

about 2 months ago
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White House May Name Patent Reform Opponent As New Head of Patent Office

Stuntmonkey Re:Why does Obama keep doing this? (211 comments)

He keeps doing it because there is a ton of money to be made by lawyers within the current system.

- Fees to create, file, and defend bogus patents
- Fees involved with court cases over bogus patents and patent trolls (some involving negotiated settlements of billions)
- Fees negotiating licensing deals, contracts, and other instruments felt necessary in the over-litigious environment

Remember Obama is a lawyer and all his friends are too, and he (being a Democrat) gets a lot of financial backing from lawyers. Through that lens I think it's hard for him to see the downsides -- to innovation, to the business environment -- of the current system.

about 3 months ago
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Match.com, Mensa Create Dating Site For Geniuses

Stuntmonkey Re:But people forget what MENSA concluded (561 comments)

The carrot of salary and the stick of unemployment are what's getting many people to accomplish a single goal.

Not sure if troll. Employment and wages are just the start of personal motivation. Those will only cause a person to show up. Did the soldiers who stormed the beaches at Normandy do it because of their paychecks? Do the players in the World Cup only try hard because they think it might lead to lucrative endorsement deals? I know an awful lot of people here in silicon valley who could easily retire, but they keep working because they have dreams and feel their work is meaningful.

about 3 months ago
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Match.com, Mensa Create Dating Site For Geniuses

Stuntmonkey Re:But people forget what MENSA concluded (561 comments)

You misunderstand the job of a senior leader. Their job isn't to have all the answers and be right all the time. It's to steer the organization to success. It's not so different from being a military commander, or the coach of a football team. Some things will go wrong as a result of the calls you make. If you dwell on those failures and second-guess yourself in front of your people, it only serves to harm your team's ability to succeed.

When you're a football coach and your team is down at halftime, what's your locker room speech? "I'm sorry guys I really fucked up a couple of those calls. I guess I have a lot to learn. But our stats guy says there's still an 11% chance we might win, so we might pull out a miracle!" When you act without confidence, it makes your team lack confidence in themselves and that's halfway to defeat.

My experience with senior leaders is they always feel doubt inside. They're just good at hiding it because they know it isn't productive.

about 3 months ago
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Match.com, Mensa Create Dating Site For Geniuses

Stuntmonkey Re:But people forget what MENSA concluded (561 comments)

CEO's are stupid as boxes of rocks, but they can sell themselves and talk others into doing things and convince people they know what they are doing.

The way I think of it is: There are several different kinds of intelligence. IQ tests cover things like pattern recognition because they want to be language-independent and objective. There are other kinds of intelligence like social intelligence -- understanding, inspiring, and motivating people. And intelligence coming up with big new ideas, and so on. The standard IQ tests have blind spots in these areas.

I've worked a lot with CEOs in my 25+ year career, and by and large they are impressive people. And I don't mean in the con-man way you seem to feel. They understand how to read people and motivate action. I'm reminded of the anecdote where an engineer at Apple was responsible for developing a laptop power supply, a classic "boring" task, when Steve Jobs randomly popped by his desk and asked what he was working on. In the course of a 5 minute conversation with Steve he came away feeling he had the most important job at the company. There's a type of intelligence there that IQ doesn't capture, and it isn't pure bullshit.

about 3 months ago
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Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo

Stuntmonkey Re:Diversity is not a virtue (265 comments)

Why force diversity? There is nothing worthwhile in diversity in and of itself

Plenty of research shows that diversity within a team contributes to better problem-solving, and a better overall outcome.

HOWEVER, the kind of diversity that counts most isn't skin color or genital configuration. The diversity that counts is a person's skills, personality, and problem-solving approach. It's about pairing big-picture thinkers with detailed ground-up thinkers. It's about partnering organizers with people who need to be organized. And so on.

Companies know all this. They know what makes teams effective. They talk about skin and genitals because that's what's expected of them.

about 3 months ago
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Google Starts Removing Search Results After EU Ruling

Stuntmonkey Re:Good. (138 comments)

It's not like removing the information from their index without removing it from an actual website is going to make the information 'private' again.

I agree completely. The EU regulators are well-intentioned I'm sure, but they seem to be equating "Google" with "The Internet". That's a compliment to Google but very misleading. People are going to think they can take information off the internet by filing a request with Google.

about 3 months ago
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Google Starts Removing Search Results After EU Ruling

Stuntmonkey Re:Yes I saw that with "Erich Spangenberg" (138 comments)

I see it using the .co.uk, but not the .com

google.com is the US-based site and isn't subject to these rules.

about 3 months ago
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Google Starts Removing Search Results After EU Ruling

Stuntmonkey Re:Yes I saw that with "Erich Spangenberg" (138 comments)

From the FAQ:

When you search for a name, you may see a notice that says that results may have been modified in accordance with data protection law in Europe. We’re showing this notice in Europe when a user searches for most names, not just pages that have been affected by a removal.

about 3 months ago
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Fixing the Humanities Ph.D.

Stuntmonkey Re:Because... (325 comments)

Tensions, stupidity, misguided masculinity, religious stupidity; all those are coming closer by the day; encircle us.

On what basis do you claim these things? Objectively speaking the world has been improving over the last 50 years along almost every dimension you could look at, in some cases dramatically: Air quality, water quality, length of workweek, access to information, health care and lifespan, crime rates of all kinds (murder, theft, sexual assault), standard of living. Even average IQ scores have been rising.

Everybody can contribute to improving our world, whether they are a "bean counter" (your term), writer, or philosopher. I think the key question for any PhD -- independent of field -- is how can you lift your head up from your extremely specialized knowledge, and think more broadly about how your skills could solve a larger problem that people care about. As a PhD myself I always thought of that as the last and final test in getting my degree: It wasn't defending my dissertation, but what came next as I took that training out into the world and figured out how to make something useful of it. What a PhD really teaches is how to think independently and solve problems; and that includes applying the degree and training itself to your future career.

about 3 months ago
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Fixing the Humanities Ph.D.

Stuntmonkey Re:Why go for tenure? (325 comments)

The main rationale for tenure is to provide a safe environment for unpopular ideas. In the sciences at least you do have ideas like plate tectonics and the big bang model, which start out as laughingstock ideas but eventually gain acceptance. The argument is: If people are afraid to propose controversial ideas then what happens to future innovations like this? You could look at a scientist like Hugh Everett, who had his big controversial idea (the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics) too early in his career -- before he got tenure. He was effectively laughed out of academia.

All of this probably only applies at the top research universities where such ideas are being generated and discussed. At a teaching-oriented school there is much less rationale for tenure.

about 3 months ago

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