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Slashdot Asks: How Prepared Are You For an Earthquake?

brian.stinar Not Very Prepared (191 comments)

I live in New Mexico, and we don't have many earthquakes, or tall buildings, so I am not prepared at all.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: "Real" Computer Scientists vs. Modern Curriculum?

brian.stinar Three Divisions of Computer Science (637 comments)

The department I go my masters in computer science from divided the discipline into three chunks:
      systems
      languages
      theory

I think this is a good way to divide computer science.

It sounds like your Java / C question involves mostly languages, and a little bit about systems (since Java programmers do not need to have a fundamental understanding of memory works at a system's level.)

I don't think this question really addresses the underlying issue - what is computer science? To me, I tell people that my formal education is closer to applied mathematics than what I do on a day to day basis. I also like to humorously use the derogatory term "code monkey" to people that have learned everything through the "languages" chunk above. A lot of times when I've worked with these people, they haven't even really studied languages (Why did the language designers make the choice that they did? What does the formal language specification say the language should do in this case? How is this language related to earlier languages?)

Again, about 90% of what I do on a daily basis could be considered "code monkey" level. It's when a customer has a REALLY difficult math problem that my formal education comes into play, and for giving people confidence in me.

For your direct question, I'd study the book Computer Architecture, Fifth Edition: A Quantitative Approach (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Computer Architecture and Design)

That's what I used, and it helped me understand a ton of memory management. Then again, my undergrad curriculum was based on C....

about a month and a half ago
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Match.com, Mensa Create Dating Site For Geniuses

brian.stinar Re:Let's be fair (561 comments)

... you insensitive clod!

about 3 months ago
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Meet Canada's Goosebuster Drone

brian.stinar Shoot Them? (74 comments)

Why not shoot the geese? The article didn't say that they were protected, endangered, or otherwise not-shootable. Is the section of Ottaway the geese are polluting not safe for discharging firearms?

In New Mexico, we have a number of animals that require culling (due to the elimination of top level predators) and the way New Mexico Game and Fish solves the problem is by issuing hunting licenses. This seems to work pretty well for us.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Back Up Physical Data?

brian.stinar Re:Have you ever heard the phrase "off-site backup (245 comments)

My bank allows more than one person to open my safety deposit box, if I tell them who I want to be on the access list. It's a good idea to have people you trust be able to open your safety deposit box.

Honestly, I think this entire post makes me feel a bit sad for the poster. I drink beer with my personal bankers, and the tellers at the bank know my name. If I had no ID for a little while, I'd still be able to do ALL of my banking - online and in person. About all I'd lose would be ATM access if I lost my ATM card, and the bank would probably give me a new one without an ID after I told them my crazy story. I keep my passport at my house, and my driver's license on me usually. Which reminds me, I keep my *expired* passport at my house...

If no one knows who this poster is without his ID, I think that is the problem. The problem isn't that he (doubtful it's a she) needs an offsite backup plan. It's probably that they should be making human connections with people that could be close with them in their life, or at least that their priorities are skewed towards making offsite backup plans. My neighbors could identify me, my business associates could, all my family could, my ex-girlfriends could. If someone horrible happened and I needed help for a few weeks, all of them would help me out (even some of the ex-girlfriends!) Having a social support network is (should be?) way more important than having an offsite backup scheme. However, this is slashdot...

about 5 months ago
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The $100,000 Device That Could Have Solved Missing Plane Mystery

brian.stinar It ONLY costs NNNNN, but could have saved Y lives. (461 comments)

I think an American is now only worth 6.9 million (according to Fox News...)
          http://www.foxnews.com/story/2...

I couldn't find how much a Malasian life was worth. I think both of these numbers, the mix of people on the plane, and the probability of the crash, are what you'd need to compute if it's "worth" it.

If you think it's "worth" it, then install those devices in airplanes you own. Personally, I'd rather not have to pay more for tickets, or taxes, to have them installed in every plane, flying everywhere, in the world.

about 6 months ago
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Do We Really Have a Shortage of STEM Workers?

brian.stinar Lack of Economic Knowledge Demonstrated By Questio (491 comments)

There are elastic, and inelastic, demand curves. Normally, things purchased (like STEM labor) are never truly inelastic. The only inelastic example I can come up with would be a lifesaving medicine. If a medicine were 100% guaranteed to save your life, you would probably pay (almost any) economic cost. Even then, I don't think most people would pay ANY cost. This is also true over different time periods - gasoline may appear inelastic over the short term, but over the long term people make substitutions (public transit, electric vehicles, flex fuel...) to deal with rising costs.

Any 'shortage' or 'surplus' is ONLY AT A SPECIFIC PRICE POINT (and more specifically, also for a specific time period.) There are not ever really any such things are shortages or surpluses - just buyers and sellers that will not change their perspective on what something "should" cost. If there is a shortage, the price will go up until people stop wanting to buy. If there is a surplus, the price will go down until everything is bought or production is no longer profitable. No one ever talks about the surplus of worthless college degrees - the price employers pay for them simply goes down until it is equal to unskilled labor. The only reason these terms even exist in economics is because of externalities (governments restricting the input of some good, or the output of another.)

I took about a year of college economics. The fact that I constantly hear about shortages of things is crazy to me, jack the price (increase profit) and less buyers will be interested in purchasing. There will be no shortage. If there is a surplus, drop the price until there is no profit, then stop production. That takes care of the surplus.

about 7 months ago
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Your 60-Hour Work Week Is Not a Badge of Honor

brian.stinar Re:12-hour days (717 comments)

I did as a lumberjack. This required about 10,000+ dietary calories per day though... Chopping down trees, moving wood, and burning doesn't require anywhere near the same order of mental strength as programming. At first I could only do the work for 2-3 hours a day, but my body became stronger and by the end of the summer I was able to do 15 hour days, and I liked working long and hard. My dad received a grant from the forest service to put in fire breaks the summer before I went to college. This was an effort to encourage private landowners to create firebreaks so that the Gila National forest could be left to burn during a fire, without as much pressure on the Forest Service to stop it because private property was threatened. His land borders the Gila on three sides.

For programming (and other mental jobs), I 100% agree with you based on my experience. I try and do about 20 hours a week of actual coding, 10-20 hours of business development and sales, and then about 10-20 hours per week of construction. That helps me keep my balance. Thankfully, I am self employed as a software developer and have rental property. The most I was ever actually able to code at a "job" was about 30 hours a week - the other 10-15 were usually spent in meetings, design, talking with customers and helping other people work through their problems (also meetings, but super informal.)

I think people are different. With the right amount of physical training, my body could handle 12 hour days at lumberjacking at 19 years old. Maybe I could do that again at 30, but I'm not sure. Maybe someone else would be very happy programming at their job for 60 hours a week. One of my buddies programs 40 for his job, and then does at least another 20 on his personal projects. He might take a 60 hour per week deal if his work offered him 1.5-2.0x his current salary, and be totally happy. I'm not sure, people are different.

about 7 months ago
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Your 60-Hour Work Week Is Not a Badge of Honor

brian.stinar Historical Perspective...? (717 comments)

Didn't this use to be standard?

I mean, this author is generalizing from his experiences at a graphic design company to the entire American workforce. Does anyone else see a problem with this? Historically, everyone used to work a ton on a farm or in manufacturing. Maybe it makes sense for people to work a ton on a farm, or in (industrializing, pre-robot) manufacturing. Maybe it doesn't make sense for people to work a ton at paper-leaf.com.

I don't think it's possible to generalize accurately. I'm totally happy, and productive, working 60 hour weeks split between programming and construction projects.

about 7 months ago
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Best Valentine's Day gift (as recipient):

brian.stinar Re:Something crafted (197 comments)

Nice! That's really cool!!

about 7 months ago
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Best Valentine's Day gift (as recipient):

brian.stinar Day After (197 comments)

My girlfriend and I decided to celebrate on the day after Valentine's Day. That should help me save on presents, and not to be in a crazy mad restaurant rush. We're going to go out for lunch. We talked about our plans and she wanted to have a nice date, and something romantic (flowers, a card...) and thought scheduling it afterwards would be a great way to save on money and congestion.

about 7 months ago
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How loud is your primary computer?

brian.stinar Re:Water cooling FTW (371 comments)

I believe it's actually:
          "Pump's make far le's's noi'se than fan's!" (Don't forget the exclamation point.)

If you want to refer to an apo'strophe-then-an-'s by it'self, it's important to e'scape it, \'s. Otherwi'se it's interpreted literally.

Thank's,

      -Brian J. 'Stinar-

about 8 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Why Are Tech Job Requirements So Specific?

brian.stinar So There Is a Justifiable Reason To Reject Someone (465 comments)

Many of these comments place H1B's as a target of their wrath. I have never experienced this to be the case, but I also don't like to go around blaming immigrants for problems I created for myself. I have seen (and benefited from!) a job posting being specifically opened for me, exactly, to fulfill some corporate requirements.

I think the people that bash H1B's and internal posts are on to something. These super specific requirements are to reject someone (Americans & external applications described above.) I disagree that this tends to be on the basis of citizenship, but I'm sure that does happen. What I saw was super specific requirements used for was a way to reject someone you didn't really want to work with, because they were basically unpleasant, but probably technically competent. I imagine that this actually classification fits into a large portion of the slashdot community, with the negativity I read in the majority of comments on pretty much every post. At the places I worked as an employee, it was a lot "easier" (in terms of not getting sued, and rejecting someone) to possibly allow them to interview if they seemed technical competent, and then reject them based on an unrealistic, wish-list of skills, as opposed to rejecting them because they kept complaining, or for some other (politically incorrect/illegal/lawsuit-prone) reason.

It is very, very, VERY difficult to fire someone in the United States. Even in "right to work" states, employers have a lot of fear about lawsuits and other employment related issues. I took the independent contractor route, and it is BY FAR easier for me to score clients than it any of the multi-phase, tons of telephone, and in-person, interviews required to be an employee. Wouldn't you want to be extra careful on the hiring side, if the firing side is going to be difficult? As a contractor, if someone doesn't like me, I'm gone in an instant! Between this, and being able to ramp-up / ramp-down my time, it's a way more flexible agreement than permanent employment, and I find marketing myself as a contractor to be much more pleasant than the four or five times I marketed myself as a technical employee.

I hope you find this useful, entertaining, and not too offensive.

      -Brian J. Stinar-

about 10 months ago
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'Eraser' Law Will Let California Kids Scrub Online Past

brian.stinar Funding? Oh that's right, the shareholders... (266 comments)

Who will pay for this? Since the article did not mention, I assume that will be the owners of these companies. Unless California starts paying me for development, it's going to be kind of slow to add the ($_POSTED['state'] == 'CA' && $_POSTED['age] 18) { bunch of code...} to the sites I work on....

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Convince a Company Their Subscriber List Is Compromised?

brian.stinar Re:why care? (247 comments)

Exactly! Why would this person go to so much trouble to even find a "next course of action?" Having your own mail domain is pretty cool for this kind of thing, but why spend ANY time trying to ensure the integrity of a mail list for some other company? I think a generic letter to send out when this happens is probably the extent any good Samaritan should reasonably go to.

I would recommend the "next course of action" being to delete the email address that is part of a compromised list, make a new one for communicating with the company, and then don't worry about it anymore.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Starting From Scratch After a Burglary?

brian.stinar Re:Wait (770 comments)

I agree 100%. My suggestion for waiting is due to the fact that you don't actually know how much money the insurance company will give you, until they actually give you the money. Why spend money you don't have, or mentally prepare to spend such money, on consumption of consumer electronics? Honestly, I think most people spend money they don't have, but it would be a better idea to know what your budget is before you spend it, or made decisions regarding spending it.

If I had to replace all the technology in my house, I would immediately replace my laptop (as an independent software contractor it is my livelihood) and my cell phone. There is nothing else I would start mentally replacing before I had the cash in my hand, and even after that point, I'm not sure if I would replace anything, since my electronics sound like they suck compared to yours, and my insurance company MIGHT give me $15 for my crappy speakers.

There might be something you enjoy spending 10k on more than TVs and electronics too. That's why I like the post I replied to. The above approach might help you find out if there is something you like more.

      -Brian J. Stinar-

about a year and a half ago

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