Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Comments

top

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 three weeks ago
top

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 a month ago
top

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 a month and a half ago
top

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 a month and a half ago
top

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 a month and a half ago
top

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 a month and a half ago
top

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 a month and a half ago
top

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 2 months ago
top

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 2 months ago
top

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 2 months ago
top

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 2 months ago
top

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 2 months ago
top

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 2 months ago
top

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 2 months ago
top

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 2 months ago
top

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 2 months ago
top

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 2 months ago
top

Fixing the Humanities Ph.D.

Stuntmonkey Mathematics makes it so (325 comments)

I have a PhD in physics, where a much fewer percentage of people get tenure-track positions. I feel every grad student's pain here.

Mathematically the entire doctoral system is designed to turn out more PhDs than can be absorbed by academia. Seeing why is simple: If the number of academic positions is constant over time, then every tenured professor who advises PhD students can only expect on average one of his or her students to get a similar position. This is just the mathematics of population replacement. The problem of course is that many professors turn out dozens of PhD students, far above replacement.

The key for any PhD student -- regardless of field -- is to accept the fact that you will most likely spend the bulk of your career employed outside of academia. In engineering and many of the sciences this is understood, and people regularly go to tech companies and other places where the PhD profile is valuable. In humanities there aren't so many obvious places for PhDs to go HOWEVER this in my experience is more perception than reality. Marketing departments are full of English PhDs with very successful careers. The absolute key is to not define your skills too narrowly. If you bill yourself as, "I'm an expert in X, Y, or Z" you'll likely be disappointed, but if you can think of yourself as "I'm a good writer and problem-solver." you'll have a much better time of it.

Unfortunately when you're a student, the "system" has no incentive to prepare you for this likely reality. They think of their mission as turning out academics, and because of selection bias (every professor by definition succeeded in getting an academic position) it's a self-reinforcing belief. There is a huge risk of disillusionment and bitterness if you the student have unrealistic expectations. I maintain that if more degree-granting institutions looked at where their graduates end up, then with some simple adjustments they could make it a far more useful experience: For example shortening the time to PhD, providing greater opportunity to acquire marketable skills, and more interaction with program graduates.

about 2 months ago
top

iPad Fever Is Officially Cooling

Stuntmonkey Re:I never thought I'd live to see the day... (386 comments)

Calling a modern mobile device a "cell phone" is like calling your car "a horse".

In similar vein how many of us use our "computers" to do actual mathematical computations? Technology often ends up being misnamed.

about 4 months ago
top

Investors Value Yahoo's Core Business At Less Than $0

Stuntmonkey Re:Been there. (150 comments)

There is nothing strange about this. If I buy a loss making company, it takes time and money to run it down before I get to raid the till. There are pending bills, severance pays, long term rent agreements, people are gonna sue the bankruptcy, legal fees to deal with all of this.

No, this is a much stronger statement. Yahoo is not losing money, they are profitable. And they have relatively little debt for a company -- $1.2billion. When the net value of a company like this is negative, it's the market's way of telling management that they should close up shop, pay off the creditors, and give all the money back to shareholders.

This situation (profitable company where cash/investments minus liabilities exceeds market cap) isn't all that common. Apple was in this situation back in the mid-1990s. Fortunately for shareholders the executive management didn't just close up shop.

about 4 months ago

Submissions

Stuntmonkey hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

Stuntmonkey has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>