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Comcast Confessions

hibiki_r Re:I wonder when... (231 comments)

Yes, it makes some of us cancel, but some companies still do it. Charter will call you mercilessly if you do not have a triple play package. After they managed to call me 5 times in the same week, I just got fed up and switched to another evil company, but at least one that doesn't spend all their days nagging me.

yesterday
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Programming Languages You'll Need Next Year (and Beyond)

hibiki_r Re:Erlang is overrated crap (309 comments)

You'd be surprised if you looked at the real productivity of some of those people that have very real understanding of advanced programming concepts. I've worked, and seen code, from people who build well known functional libraries. Speak in conferences, write papers... all that stuff. But when you hand them a real life problem, they end up going for an extremely convoluted, mathematically correct solution that, when put on a real system, does not work, because some assumptions are wrong.

That doesn't mean that you can't be a good coder if you have a firm understanding of free monads. Understanding of complex, impressive CS stuff and being productive writing reliable, easy to maintain code that does what it's supposed toorthogonal to each other. Do not assume that being good at one makes you good at the other.

2 days ago
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Dungeons & Dragons' Influence and Legacy

hibiki_r Re:Blame the Players, not the Game (127 comments)

There's people that shit on D&D, like me, who say it not because it's an RPG, but because it's arguably the least social RPG system this side of Rolemaster. How many haven't had experiences of groups whose main focus was to try to maximize their combat efficiency, all else be damned? Then you have two games, a fine social game, where the combat people look bored, and suddenly combat, where the people that spend their days pouring over many pages of unnecessary rules enjoy themselves.

I like tabletop strategy games. I like Role playing, but D&D manages to get into the 'ugly valley' of having the worst of both worlds. If I want to play a tactical game, I play that. If I want an RPG, I look for something with a lighter combat system, or one without it altogether. D&D? Yuck.

about two weeks ago
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

hibiki_r Re:Not fungible (529 comments)

Tech skills often just translate very well across companies, so major efforts in training will make it easier for the employee to leave. Compare that with, say, domain knowledge: Knowing what your company does better will not help you get a job that pays better elsewhere. The end result is that training is the most attractive fora company that pays extremely well and rarely loses employees: The kind of company that does NOT need to train anyone, because it becomes a top destination of their market.

Who has trouble hiring? The companies that, for other reasons, have trouble with retention (and no, it's not a money problem except in the most egregious of cases). And if those companies start training people that lack the skills, they will stay for 6-12 months and leave to the next gig at one of those more desirable companies.

In engineering, employees' knowledge translates worse across companies, so they all need to provide training, so this problem of a lack of equilibrium I described is not the first thing hiring managers will talk about.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft's Missed Opportunities: Memo From 1997

hibiki_r Re:Microsoft (161 comments)

Modern dryers offer timed settings, but they are not the most efficient: The recommended settings stop when the clothes are dry enough. This changes with the season, the specific set of clothes you put inside of it, and all that. So if you don't want to go downstairs in the worst case scenario, you will make multiple visits every so often, because you just got there too early.

about two weeks ago
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If Immigration Reform Is Dead, So Is Raising the H-1B Cap

hibiki_r Re:R's support lower H1B caps? (341 comments)

So is this theoretical programmer at home, playing poker, because he doesn't like the current wages? Because if he is at a different programming job, and he switches jobs because wages went up in a different employer, there's still an opening, just in a different company.

I for one do not think there are many people refusing to get a programming job because of low wages, but your local market might be very different from mine,

about a month ago
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Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo

hibiki_r Re:This means nothing without context (265 comments)

Full MIT numbers are not necessarily representative, because the majors people pick in MIT are not really all that close to those found at tech companies.

It's like looking at STEM as a whole vs Software companies. There are plenty of women entering STEM field, they just tend to focus on the S or the M (pun not intended, really), instead of on the T and the E. And even in Engineering, you'll mostly find them working on biotechnology. You'll find plenty of them in companies working on genetics, but not on your typical web company.

If you want to look for discrimination, look at which specialties within computing end up having more women. Everywhere I've worked, DBAs and testers had a much higher representation of women than programming, and it's not as if most people choose to become testers instead of program, since we are still paying those jobs less, although a tester today could end up writing quite a bit of code.

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

hibiki_r Re:The public face of mensa vs (561 comments)

People that you meet in a group that has a certain shared interest aren't necessarily going to behave the same way with people that are not part of the same group.

When it comes down to it, almost everyone ends up behaving in a regular, down to earth way, around some people. We take our barriers down, and we consider people around us equals. But when people are surrounded by those they consider 'other', or just directly inferior, behavior can change dramatically. This is a major reason some people have a much easier way through life than others: Having the capability of making other people relate to you quickly is a major skill that makes sure you only get to face the best part of people. It's the reason some minorities have it rough: The same person that is very nice to you might be pretty terrible to them. You can even see this in groups that are trying to help minorities: If they believe you are one of the oppressors, for whatever reason, you will see how they can quickly have the exact same behaviors that they accuse others of having.

This is very easy to notice if you have friends that provide extremely different first impressions than you do. It's amazing the different treatment that a geeky introvert male that has English as a second language and a white, all-american party girl get. Both get harassment, but from different people, who tend to be perfectly good people around the other one.

So if some people were nice to you, and met you at a Mensa meeting, you just can't assume that they are the same kind of people around non-Mensa members, or when they think they are being watched by their peers.

about a month ago
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GM Names and Fires Engineers Involved In Faulty Ignition Switch

hibiki_r Re: No one will ever buy a GM product again (307 comments)

Finding bugs is not a matter of speculation, but that doesn't mean you can prove that something that already happened was caused by said bug. It's especially fun in cases like the one you describe, a stack overflow. Is it possible that a system was in an undefined state at the time of a crash? Yes. But can we prove it?

In the case of a bug that is hard to reproduce, and where we do not have a good, indisputable account of what happened before, it's easy to cause a recall, but not so easy to prove fault on a specific incident.

about 2 months ago
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Average American Cable Subscriber Gets 189 Channels and Views 17

hibiki_r Wrong conclusions (340 comments)

The fact that most people only watch a few channels doesn't really mean that a la carte would be cheaper overall.

Imagine that there are two channels. It takes a hundred bucks to keep the channel airing for a month. We have two viewers, A and B. A likes channel 1, and B likes channel 2, and they dislike the other channel. Right now, they each pay $100 to watch both channels, although they only look at one. Each channel gets paid $50 per bill.

So imagine that we switched to A la carte. Now A only subscribes to 1, and B only subscribes to 2. They channels still need the same amount of money to stay on the air, so what is the new price? subscribing to channel 1 is $100, and subscribing to channel 2 is $100 too. both channels get the same amount of money, both people pay the same bill... and they now get half the programming. Success?

So let's say that now ESPN charges $20 per subscriber. They do so, because they believe that the value they provide to the average subscriber is about $20. Let's say I don't like ESPN, Well, ESPN didn't get any less valuable, it's just that I will not pay the $20, and said $20 are going to be passed on as rate hikes to the people that want to watch the channel.

So while some people that really just watch very few, cheap channels, might get some savings, if your 17 channels include ESPN, Disney Channel, CNN, AMC and HBO, guess what? You will probably be paying a whole lot more than before, as unbundling makes every single channel more expensive, and you just happened to like 'anchor' channels that can really ask for a premium.

about 3 months ago
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Zenimax Accuses John Carmack of Stealing VR Tech

hibiki_r Re:Make deals with the devil (148 comments)

You must have a very different experience with buyouts than I do. I've seen a few over the years. If there are no relocations, some people stay as long as required to get the customary retention bonus, and they they all disappear en masse.

Companies have a culture. Some cultures are pretty good, others are terrible. An acquisition tends to obliterate the purchased company's culture, while bringing in part of the culture of the buyer, except that the team that remains doesn't really buy in that parent culture in the slightest.

So maybe companies aren't something to cry about, but nice relationships and a culture that is destroyed, all for what in the end is seen is a failure of an acquisition, is something that can make people sad, and for good reason.

about 2 months ago
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The Fall and Rise of Larry Page

hibiki_r Re:Google has sucked since Gmail (99 comments)

The first google maps almost put the entire competition out of business, mostly due to their brutal UI advantage. Big map windows, instead of tiny squares. Scrolling and zooming that made sense. It was as disruptive to a market as anything else Google has ever released.

about 3 months ago
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Kids Can Swipe a Screen But Can't Use LEGOs

hibiki_r Re:most lego's are a rip off (355 comments)

And then there's the Mixels. 5 bucks MSRP, using a subset of blocks that make them very easy to combine with each other. You even get suggestions on how to combine them from the website.

about 3 months ago
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San Francisco's Housing Crisis Explained

hibiki_r Re:Simple problem, simple solution (359 comments)

High densities in Europe are reached by going quite a bit higher than the 4 stories you are allowed to go in most of San Francisco. Most of Madrid, for instance, goes to 10-15. 5 story areas are extremely expensive old buildings where any condo goes for well over a million dollars.

about 4 months ago
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PC Gaming Alive and Dominant

hibiki_r Re:Simple math (245 comments)

The 90s called, they want their arguments back.

Today, the PC market isn't really about pushing hardware. Remember Crysis? It sold nothing, because very few people believed they even had the rig to play it. Nobody releases for really high end hardware anymore: What you get with expensive hardware is insane resolutions. Who are the big players in PC games? The people making MOBAs, MMOs, and indies. Some rely on constant updates, which do not fare well in the console world: Valve tried to keep selling TF2 on the 360, but there was no way in hell they'd be allowed to update the game for free monthly, if not weekly. There's plenty of articles about it, look it up.

So what the PC market gives is both enhanced capabilities for constant engagement, and being able to sell your game for pennies. You'd be mad to target something like Paper's Please as a console-only game. League of Legends or Dota on consoles? yeah right. And none of those games need anything that even resembles a $1500 machine to run.

If we have to compare PC gaming to something, it's mobile games, but with far better control options, and less fear of install sizes.

about 4 months ago
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Crowd Wisdom Better At Predictions Than Top CIA Analysts

hibiki_r Re:Bell Curve (136 comments)

That doesn't make any sense for things where training is needed though. 1% of laymen being better than civil engineers at building extremely large bridges? 1% of laymen being better at fixing cars than a mechanic? How about 1% of laymen being better at basketball than NBA players? It makes absolutely no sense, because we are talking about things where the training time is extremely valuable, and guessing at random will not help you, because there are too many possible answers.

Even in yes/no questions, if 1% beats the professionals, it's because the questions are so hard, that the results might as well be random.

The most you could say is that we are bad at putting the most talented people at a certain field in the right position to use their advantage. For instance, I doubt that the Americans that have the best potential to be soccer stars happen to pick soccer, if just because it's not a very popular sport here compared to most of the world. However, in something like Basketball, where it's very easy to identify talent, as being very tall is a major advantage, it's very likely that we are pretty close to the best there is in the population: For instance, 17% of people in the US that are 7 feet play, or have played, in the NBA!

So yeah, that bell curve... go read again.

about 4 months ago
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Crowd Wisdom Better At Predictions Than Top CIA Analysts

hibiki_r Re:Seems fishy (136 comments)

Except this isn't how it works at all.

The wisdom of crowds works doesn't have anything to do with having experts. After all, the experts have no way of influencing the crowd. It is a well defined phenomenon that works when people's biases are pretty random, so mistakes cancel each other out. It's a lower quality estimation mechanism than a market, where people that are sure of their answer can be 'louder' than those that don't know said answer, and it lacks the feedback mechanisms of a market, but still, it is helpful to predict things based on widely available information. Ask the crowd information few of them have any idea about, and their result will suck.

So what does the average beating CIA personnel? That the CIA's biases are large enough to need quite a bit of quality control.

Now, having a 1% of the respondents be far better than the CIA experts probably means nothing. If I invite 3000 people over to guess how 10 coin flips will turn out, chances are one or two of them will guess all of them correctly, but that would not make them seers capable of seeing the future. how many people were worse than 30% worse than those same CIA experts?

about 4 months ago
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A Rock Paper Scissors Brainteaser

hibiki_r Re:100% paper (167 comments)

The opponent is forced to pick 50% rock, but he has no limitations other than that. If you went 100% paper, you'd not beat me playing 50% rock by more than a tiny sliver of a percent it takes me to realize you are going 50% paper.

And the problem has nothing to do with the someone not just picking rock, but doing so in a very predictable manner. Otherwise, we'd not be talking about someone picking rock 50% of the time, but playing against someone that plays randomly, but tells you what he is picking half the time, never lying. That's a very, very boring brainteaser.

The first naive approach that doesn't assume idiocy on the other side's part is to assume he'll try to guess our play. If we play in a non deterministic fashion, his best options is probably random, but instead of .33/.33/.33, we get .50/.25/.25. Against an opponent doing that, you could go .25/.50/.25, and win quite a bit.

If he is forced to get at least 50% rock after a certain number of plays, then we can change our probabilities depending on how far from the standard distribution our opponent is: For instance, if we were playing to 10 throws, and he never picked rock in the first 5, we'd get him in the last 5, because his moves are forced. To avoid this, someone that has to reach that 50% will probably also change their probabilities after every throw, just to avoid such a 'free' run. One might even consider starting with an over 50% rock probability, because under that set of rules, having overplayed rock lets us play more optimally later, while underplaying rock leads to major losses.

Either way, a more detailed problem specification is required.

about 4 months ago
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Five-Year-Old Uncovers Xbox One Login Flaw

hibiki_r Re:Another reason to use Git. (196 comments)

This is more easily handled in Mercurial's queues system. You can keep a bunch of patches in a queue like that, and those patches will just be magically applied. It's pretty useful for a whole lot of situations.

about 4 months ago
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Subversion Project Migrates To Git

hibiki_r Re:April Fools! (162 comments)

The main practical difference, past the API, is their approach to branching: A git branch is a mercurial bookmark. There are no concept like mercurial's branch in git. There's also how git has this crazy staging area that is the cause of 90% of bad commits to our git repos. Commits that are missing a file, or have an extra file, are the bane of SVN and Git repos. In hg, the expected behavior is commit everything that is not in a patch. More discipline required, less chances of shooting yourself in the foot.

As far as the interface goes, other than the well known stuff, there's the fact that default behaviors seem to be all built around pulls, not pushes, so if your typical corporate environment, where pulls are often nonsense, people get very confused when 'natural' behaviors tell them that the files that changed from a merge are the files from the upstream, that they did not edit, and things like that. To minimize it, I keep telling people to avoid git pull like the plague, and instead use git fetch, followed by git rebase as the baseline case.

Either way, both are pretty useful, and beat SVN in almost all use cases. I just think that it's easier to teach people hg than telling people to learn a bunch about git internals before they can contribute properly.

about 3 months ago

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