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Amid Fiscal Uncertainty, Venture Capital Is Way Down In Silicon Valley

kcbrown Re:Oh no (421 comments)

Anybody as freaked out by current government borrowing as you describe is simply being hysterical. Sure the deficit at a historical high in absolute terms, but its nowhere near a historical high as percent of GDP.

While that's true, it's highly misleading. The only time the deficit was higher than it is now was during World War 2 and its immediate aftermath. The current deficit as a percentage of GDP is now even higher than it was during the Great Depression: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Publicly_Held_Federal_Debt_1790-2009.png

Remember that government debt is actually money that is borrowed by the government from the private sector and spent on government expenses, which means that, aside from that which is borrowed from the federal reserve system, it is money that could otherwise be invested in private business ventures. In the case of World War 2, there was good reason for such a high deficit: we were fighting a war of global proportions and diverting the majority of the country's resources towards it. There is no such excuse today. The deficit we have today exists solely because the government is too large and is overspending (on the wrong things, no less -- it would be one thing if it were spending most of that on infrastructure improvements that would benefit the country in the future, but instead it is squandering it on things that yield no significant return on the investment).

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Old Dogs vs. New Technology?

kcbrown Re:It gets old--and so do we (515 comments)

"The problem with learning everything about a system is that once that system becomes obsolete, all that work was wasted. After doing that a few times, we all drift toward learning the minimum required for the immediate problem. When that's not enough, we're grateful to have young folks around who still want to learn every little detail."

This is why the best approach, in my experience, is to nail the fundamentals, which do not change significantly over time. The rest can be looked up as needed or learned (and then discarded) as needed.

Is that as fast as simply knowing what you need to know outright? No, of course not. But it makes you far more adaptable.

Finally, when you learn that something doesn't work, it's important to learn why it doesn't work. Merely that it doesn't isn't terribly useful, because without knowing why it doesn't work, you'll have no means of evaluating whether or not it will work under different circumstances.

Learning without understanding is what I refer to as "cargo cult learning", and is to be avoided. Sadly, a lot of people engage in it, and as a result you wind up with people who are experienced but who lack understanding, and it's important to be able to distinguish between the two when hiring (this is why mere examination of a resume may largely be a waste of time -- there is no substitute for interviewing someone properly, and selecting someone for an interview based on their apparently massive or specific experience can, and often does, yield someone who will ultimately be less successful than would someone who has a solid grasp on the fundamentals but not as much and/or as directly targeted experience. All of which is to say that it's something of a crapshoot as regards resumes).

People make the mistake of buying into the notion that technology "changes quickly". It doesn't. The specific implementations do, but the fundamentals remain just that: fundamental. Understand those well and you'll be pretty much set for life, unless a sea change occurs on your watch (e.g., quantum computing becoming mainstream, and at that point you simply have new fundamentals to learn and master).

more than 2 years ago

Microsoft On List of Most Ethical Companies

kcbrown Re:Coincidence (465 comments)

I was attributing this to Forbes malice, then i noted the message at the bottom of the slashdot page: Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

In my experience, the reverse of Hanlon's Razor is far more often true: Never attribute to stupidity that which is adequately explained by malice.

Note that this doesn't exclude the possibility of both stupidity and malice at the same time, but regardless, it's generally easy to tell the difference between the two: stupidity affects the choice of actions and their execution, as well as the probability of getting caught, while malice affects the goals and the decision of which actions to take only, and is otherwise independent of execution. Actions which are inconsistent in both their effect and their apparent motive are generally the result of stupidity, since stupidity tends not to account for luck, and stupidity results in luck playing a larger role in both the choice of action and the execution. Actions which are inconsistent in their effect but consistent in their apparent motive are generally the result of malice attempting to masquerade as stupidity. Actions which are consistent in their effect are always the result of malice (when the effect is malicious or "evil", of course).

And in my experience, malice is much more often seen when measured that way than is stupidity. Hence the preference for the reverse of Hanlon's Razor (Hanlon's Rozar?).

more than 3 years ago

MPAA Shuts Down Town's Municipal WiFi Over 1 Download

kcbrown Re:There must be something more (323 comments)

Their "Municipal Wifi" covers a one block area around the courthouse, which probably just means the block that the courthouse is on. That's hardly "municipal".

Well, for that particular town, one block probably does cover the whole town!


more than 5 years ago

Cities View Red Light Cameras As Profit Centers

kcbrown Re:False positives? (740 comments)

Once they get the tickets in the mail, you better believe the law will change quickly.

Have you guys still not learned?

The law doesn't change in the face of the influential and powerful being inconvenienced by it. Enforcement of it does.

more than 5 years ago

The Mainframe World Is Alive, Even For Those Under 40

kcbrown Re:Need... (361 comments)

None of the business needs you described sound like something that couldn't be done by just about any UNIX-like OS with appropriate applications (Oracle Financials, JD Edwards OneWorld, SAP). Even the hardware failures you mentioned can be handled with clustering and having cold, warm, and hot spares on hand. And just about any enterprise SAN or NAS has a phone-home feature.

The clustering you're talking about is implemented in software. For instance, in Oracle. The pieces of software that manage the transaction (mainly the database) have to be cluster aware and do the right thing in the event of a failure.

On a mainframe, all the redundancy and hot-swap capability is down at the hardware and OS level, so there's no need for anything, including the database, to know anything about clustering, failover, or any of that junk. In fact, this is true even [i]across sites[/i]: you can set up mainframes in different locations and everything will fail over automatically at the OS level to the alternate site and keep going without realizing anything has happened.

If Unix is capable of this, I haven't heard of it, but in my case that's not saying much because I haven't had my head in it at this level for a while.

more than 6 years ago


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