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We Need Distributed Social Networks More Than Ello

machineghost Re:Cool Idea, Bra (252 comments)

Altrag already answered this very well, but I just wanted to make one other point: in lots of industries the consumer can already "defect" to a competitor with absolutely no impedance. It doesn't matter if I'm buying a computer from Dell or a box of Cheerios from Safeway: nothing stops me from buying a computer or cereal from a different manufacturer the next time I want one.

However, the "defectability" possible with all those products hasn't caused Dell or General Mills to go bankrupt; quite to the contrary both companies (and many others) have found ways to make the user want to continue purchasing their goods. Similarly here, even if a social network with almost no cost of leaving were to exist, it wouldn't necessarily mean that any company operating it would go out of business. Instead, it would just mean that company has to figure out how to please its customers.

yesterday
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We Need Distributed Social Networks More Than Ello

machineghost Re:Idiotic premise (252 comments)

If you create a service, and price it reasonably, you can charge a subscription / membership fee, and have a perfectly profitable business.

I pay for services all the time, why should an online service be any different?

There is very little evidence that that is true if you look at services on the web today. To the contrary, ads very often are the only way entire industries can profit on the web. Take newspapers: with only a handful of exceptions like the WSJ, every major newspaper in the country has had to switch to an entirely ad-supported model on the web, abandoning all their old subscription profits.

I'm not saying a paid Facebook-like service is impossible, just that there's (relatively) scant evidence that one could succeed.

yesterday
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We Need Distributed Social Networks More Than Ello

machineghost Re:Bullshit ... (252 comments)

Isn't that the idea? Everyone gets the Facebook(-like thing) they already know and love, only without the evil corporate overlord. If that "large player" became evil, the transitory nature of the setup would let everyone easily abandon that evil player.

yesterday
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U.K. Supermarkets Beta Test Full-Body 3D Scanners For Selfie Figurines

machineghost Re:Hypernarcissism?? (159 comments)

Artec (the company behind this) has a storefront in downtown Palo Alto, so I decided to go in and get one myself. I'm not a narcissist, I just thought it would be fun, and wound up giving my figurine to my wife as an anniversary present (like a framed photo, only 3D).

BTW for those that are curious the storefront literally uses an XBox to do the scanning (unless you pay a lot, I think $200, to use a professional grade scanner). They don't do the printing on-site so I'm not sure how that's done, and I also don't know if the booths are any different (but I wouldn't be surprised if they had an XBox powering them).

Personally I enjoyed the whole experience and would recommend it to others. Getting a 3D-printed version of yourself feels very futuristic, and it's certainly something unique to have.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

machineghost Re:I have both (392 comments)

I think there's a special clarity one gets by being able to express the same idea in different ways and choosing the simplest -- whether that language is Lisp or English.

Amen. As a Literature major I've long felt that my essay writing skills have helped me write easier to understand and better documented code.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do After Digitizing VHS Tapes?

machineghost Re:Welp. (268 comments)

So let's say there's a one in five chance of a burned CD going bad within the first 20 years (total B.S. number, just trying to prove a point; the real number is likely worse). That means, in addition to you, there are also three other people out there, also thinking people spout "that same tired crap".

But one guy out there just lost his life's photos/videos. Welcome to the joys of backing up on unstable media that are just "fine" most of the time.

about a month ago
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Kickstarter's Problem: You Have To Make the Game Before You Ask For Money

machineghost Re:Actually a good thing. (215 comments)

Here's the thing: words have multiple meanings. You can cherry-pick those definitions to "prove" KS isn't investing, or you could pick other definitions to prove the opposite.

For instance, let's take Wiktionary: if you look at the first definition instead of the second, it's "The act of investing, or state of being invested". Follow the hyperlink to investing and you'll see: "To spend money, time, or energy into something, especially for some benefit or purpose." Now, to be fair that's definition #5, but since definition #1 is "To clothe or wrap (with garments)." I think it's safe to assume the definitions aren't in order of relevance :-)

And really, the order doesn't even matter, nor does the dictionary. I imagine if I looked at some (if not all) of those other dictionaries, there'd be a similar definition of investing that does qualify for KS. But that wouldnt' prove you're "wrong"; it'd just prove that the word has multiple definitions.

So while "investing" may mean "purchasing an asset" to you, to many others it's closer to "spending money in the hope of a positive future outcome". Both definitions of the word are valid, even though once implies that KS is investing and the other implies it isn't.

about a month and a half ago
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Kickstarter's Problem: You Have To Make the Game Before You Ask For Money

machineghost Re:Actually a good thing. (215 comments)

From Google, the definition of "investment" is:

"the action or process of investing money for profit or material result."

With Kickstarter you invest money for a material result (the rewards). Seems like an investment to me.

about a month and a half ago
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Net Neutrality Comments Surge Past 1.7M, an All-Time Record For the FCC

machineghost Wow (81 comments)

Man, when personal citizens' rights and powerful corporate interests align, amazing things can happen.

Now if we could only get powerful corporations to do the same thing on NSA overreach, CIA overreach, money in politiics, ...

about a month and a half ago
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CBC Warns Canadians of "US Law Enforcement Money Extortion Program"

machineghost Re:In other words....Don't look like a drug traffi (462 comments)

You're missing the point: here in America you're *supposed* to be able to "do things that make you look like you are hauling drugs". You're supposed to be able to do whatever you want, as long as it's legal, no matter how illegal it looks.

Let's say I look like a burglar because I locked my keys in the house and now I have to climb in a window: the police have every right to stop me. If I'm (somehow) using my wallet to try and jimmy the window open, the police have a right to seize that wallet. But once I've shown that I'm not a burglar, I should get my wallet back.

The point of this article is, that's not actually how it works. From TFA:

"You’ll have the right to seek its return in court, but of course that will mean big lawyer’s fees, and legally documenting exactly where the money came from. You will need to prove you are not a drug dealer or a terrorist.

It might take a year or two. And several trips back to the jurisdiction where you were pulled over. Sorry.

In places like Tijuana, police don’t make any pretense about this sort of thing. Here in the U.S., though, it’s dressed up in terms like “interdiction and forfeiture,” or “the equitable sharing program.”"

about a month and a half ago
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Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

machineghost Re:Is Coding Computer Science? Of Course! (546 comments)

The development of robust, efficient, and maintainable software more than just knowing how to mash the keyboard and hit "compile". The theory of application for those APIs, the theory underlying data structures and algorithms, theories of architecture, etc.. With out these your projects will suffer as you constantly reinvent the wheel and "learn from your mistakes."

Amen, but ...

Yet, those who went the self-teaching route most often skip the theory, skip the mental exercise, narrowly focusing on syntax and APIs.

Now you just made a logical leap that I can't follow. Especialy when we both agree:

I think many colleges are missing the mark on providing necessary experiences encountered by those in the trenches.

So is there more to being a good programmer than just syntax and APIs? Absolutely. But you'll need to give me some sort of evidence if you want to claim that fresh college graduates have more of the practical "theory of application" knowledge than an un-schooled coder, since that goes directly in the face of my experience. The way I see it, a college graduate is more likely to know how to implement a linked list (which they likely never will do), while the self-taught coder of the same age has at least worked on some projects and learned from some "reinvent the wheel" mistakes.

about 1 month ago
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Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

machineghost Re:Is Coding Computer Science? Of Course! (546 comments)

Maybe that analogy holds up for some companies; as I said, there are companies that need computer scientists who can code just like there are companies that *need* biologists, architects, or artists that can code. I want the Adobe Illustrator team to have artists on board, and I want Google's search team to have computer scientists on board.

But the reason your analogy falls apart is that not all applications are Google search. At all of the software companies I've ever worked for, and most of the ones my friends have worked at, knowing big O notation is *completely* useless. In contrast knowing that you want to cache your jQuery selector before starting a for loop (vs. re-querying on every iteration) is pretty important. But even still, I've interviewed plenty of developers with major companies on their resumes that didn't even know that much.

The simple truth is that a large number, if not the majority, of applications you use and websites you visit have team members with no CS degree. Some of them don't even have a person with a CS degree on the team. But those applications/websites aren't crashing and burning because they lack academic knowledge: they're (successfully) powering your life.

about 1 month ago
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Japanese Firm Showcases "Touchable" 3-D Technology

machineghost I guess I'm the only one ... (41 comments)

Wow, I guess I'm the only person on Slashdot whose first thought was "virtual keyboards I can actually feel, how cool is that?" and not "tentacle porn!"

about 2 months ago
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Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

machineghost Re:Is Coding Computer Science? Of Course! (546 comments)

Sorry, I wasn't trying to ask the question my subject line asks, it's just that Slashdot silently ate my ">" character. I was trying to ask "Is Coding > Computer Science?"

about 2 months ago
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Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

machineghost Re:Is Coding Computer Science? Of Course! (546 comments)

This is EXACTLY the right approach. Not that everyone needs a "crack team of commando programmers" necessarily, but just that every programmer should write for maintability/readability primarily first. Then, AFTER looking at real performance metrics (and not just "Bob thinks it's probably slow because of X") specific performance pain points should be addressed, and in those areas only readability/maintainability should be sacrified for the benefit of performance.

But again, if you get to where you have a performance issue, and it's possible to solve it by throwing money at a hardware solution (which isn't always the case), it's very likely that you should throw the money at the hardware, and not at a programmer to fix the issue. Not all the time of course, but with the cost of hardware dropping and the cost of programmers rising, most of the time the hardware solution will be cheaper.

about 2 months ago
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Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

machineghost Re:Is Coding Computer Science? Of Course! (546 comments)

The amount of data and the complexity of the calculations involved demanded either a machine with a large number of compute cycles or some nifty CS theory-style rejiggering on the back end. In the end, the whole thing will run nicely on a modern, fairly average laptop as opposed to requiring the processing power of a huge server (or cluster).

I can't speak to your case specifically, but there's a trend in our industry (because of virtualization, AWS, etc.) to do the exact opposite of what you did. The basic equation of why goes like this:

X = the cost of a programmer for a month (or however long it took), including not just their salary but also their medical, 401k, the fractional cost of their manager's time, etc.
Y = the cost of the cheapest AWS machine you could get away with for the next 5 years

If X > Y then you're wasting money/your programmer's time by making them optimize the code.

So again, I can't speak to your specific case, but a basic truth is that people are expensive and hardware is cheap, so it takes a lot of hardware to make an optimizing programmer worthwhile.

about 2 months ago
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Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

machineghost Re:False premise (546 comments)

Well, to be fair my current company is a "20ish people shop" :-) But that being said, my previous company was 100+ people, had an HR department, and was just as in need of qualified programmers (and just as willing to hire candidates without degrees).

I think you've had experiences with one specific type of company, but you shouldn't over-generalize your experience to assume the whole industry is identical.

Also, keep in mind that for many Silicon Valley companies these days, HR isn't the gateway, the on-site recruiter is. And that guy measures his success by how many qualified people he gets hired, so you can bet that (unless his employer tells him otherwise) he's not going to turn down opportunities simply because they lack a degree.

about 2 months ago
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Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

machineghost Re:False premise (546 comments)

Since I'm directly involved in the hiring for my company I can tell you for a fact that we are desperate for qualified candidates, and their college status is like item #25 on the list of things we care about. Given the incredibly competative job market we have, the idea that we (or any Silicon Valley company) would turn down an otherwise-qualified applicant simply because they lack a diploma is laughable.

Now, that being said, we have multiple PhDs on staff, so it's not like we're anti-education. I'm just saying, when you can't hire enough qualified people, the last thing you want to do is throw up hiring roadblocks that don't server any real purpose.

about 2 months ago
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Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

machineghost Re:Is Coding Computer Science? Of Course! (546 comments)

I'm assuming the vast majority of programming jobs require the ability to code, and no further domain specific knowledge. This is just based on my reading of many, many programming job listings over the years.

I'm sure there are jobs that require CS knowledge, just as I'm sure there are (programming-related) jobs that require Biology knowledge or Architecture knowledge or whatever. But all of those are niches: a very small subset of all programming jobs require those specific areas of knowledge. ALL programming jobs require coding though, and even among the ones that require domain-specific knoweldge, I'd imagine the bulk involve a lot more coding than anything else.

about 2 months ago
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Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

machineghost Re:False premise (546 comments)

>>A college degree may not the best route when it comes to jobs in coding.

If you plan to be employed in the technology field, then you have to have a degree in computer science, engineering, math, or physics. Without a degree you will find nearly impossible to get past HR gatekeepers. Nobody actually cares where the degree is from, just that you have one.

Sure, you can beat the odds and be The Exception, but life is hard enough already that it is unwise to invite additional difficulties.

Maybe you missed this part of the heading (not even TFA):
"Nearly half of the software developers in the United States do not have a college degree."

That isn't just saying not a "computer science, engineering, math, or physics" degree, it's saying any college degree at all. So, presumably a lot more have college degrees with other majors.

So how exactly is almost half plus every programmer with a non-STEM degree "The Exception"? It seems to me the STEM majors are the exception.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Bookies Predict the Future of Tech

machineghost machineghost writes  |  about 6 months ago

machineghost (622031) writes "It's one thing to make predictions about the future of tech; that happens all the time on Slashdot. But it's quite a different thing to put money on the line to back up those predictions, which is exactly what this British bookie has done. Think you know whether Google Glass will beat the iPhone, or whether we'll be ready to go to Mars and back by 2020? Now's your chance to capitalize on those predictions!"

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