top NASA's $349 Million Empty Tower
It's simply not realistically possible to always perfectly plan multiple complex multi-year projects, when every your budget gets cut a little further, and you never know -- it's a roll of the dice -- if or how much it's going to get cut by -- then there is the secondary knock-on effect that of the small budget that remains*, the managers need to very carefully decide where to constantly try shift things around to try keep remaining projects going. The rocket program canceled in 2010 was probably canceled due to budget cuts. NASA's budget has consistently been cut, what, every year for the past 15 years? You can't entirely blame NASA - nobody can plan properly under those circumstances. Nobody, not you, or me, could end up not wasting any of it as a result of the constant shunting around.
If NASA had that same attitude in the 60's, the U.S. would still be trying to put its first man in space.
I think the point is that it isn't NASA's attitude which makes these things happen, it's the attitude of Congress.
top Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?
Kids should have at least a couple of months out of the year when they can just not worry about their studies and have fun and BE KIDS.
The root problem is that school is a stultifying experience in the first place, arguing about whether you're going to somehow improve kids lives by varying the length of vacations isn't really going to change that at all.
One of the reasons we moved our kids to a year-round Montessori school was because of the incredible amount of emphasis public schools have on attendance, at all costs, even at the elementary level. You want to take your kids to Washington, DC to visit the Smithsonian? Fuck that, it's more important for their butts to be in seats at school than to actually engage their minds on something new and challenging. Since we now pay out-of-pocket directly, the main rule on attendance is basically not to be disruptive. Got a chance to take them to the state capitol for a visit on Friday? That's great, go for it!
top Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
No, he has a point. Back in the day, we had few tools and we learned how to use them.
now, we have a tool for every hour of the week, and as soon as you've mastered one, someone comes along and says "your skills are sooo obsolete, you must learn now or fall behind", so you get to grips with it and start top master it, and then realise its a pile of poop and hunt around for a new, cooler tech to use instead.
Apologies, but we still have all those old tools. We just don't use them any longer. Because you can't use Turbo Pascal to make web pages, but you can use jQuery. If you were working on the same problems today as you were working on 20 years ago, you probably would be using many of the same tools. The only reason you're using the new tools is because you'd rather spend 20 hours throwing something together versus 20 weeks writing it from scratch.
Honestly, if you think this is different than it was in the 90s and 80s, then you weren't paying attention in the 90s and 80s. The technical periodicals were FULL of the new stuff that was going to change everything. The only real difference is that it's easier to find stuff and get distracted these days, simply because the industry is much larger. I assume it was similar as you go back further, I just am not old enough to remember it first hand.
top Student Records Kids Who Bully Him, Then Gets Threatened With Wiretapping Charge
Here's the thing:
Everyone has been bullied at some point in their life. Not all children are prone to it, but there is always a bigger kid prone to intimidation tactics when growing up.
Getting bullied that once, for a few minutes, is kind of different from being frightened of school itself because you keep getting slammed into lockers, etc. In one case, a thing happened to you and you move on. In the other case it becomes a formative epoch in your life which you spend decades dealing with, if you ever manage it.
top Ask Slashdot: Should Developers Fix Bugs They Cause On Their Own Time?
What if the boss told him that he had to use these cheap thin bricks. He told his boss the bricks wouldn't work but the boss insisted that he use the inferior bricks. What then?
Then the boss would have to fix things on his own time. Duh.
top Blowing Up a Pointless Job Interview
I do agree on the point that blowing interviews is a bit pretentious. But there are a lot of times an interviewer has clearly asked questions "over the line" or that identify this company as a terrible fit.
Maybe, but I wouldn't judge by any of those low standard questions. Either the interviewer is from HR, then his competence does not necessarily say anything about the engineers technical competences and team atmosphere. Or the guy might still be a quite good engineer and just sucks at interview planning, or was scheduled on short notice to do the interview for another team. I'd probably tell the interviewer that I consider the questions a bit generic, took the time to learn the usually expected answers, but would prefer to go into more job-specific topics. Depending on the reaction, I can still blow the interview, or if they consider the interview blown because of this, I could probably live with it.
My experience from the other side of the table is that candidates who express attitude about the kinds of questions you're asking also tend to be candidates who don't really answer any of the questions very well. In fact, IMHO interviewing candidates helps when you're interviewing for a position. You want to waste our time discussing what order a bunch of C++ constructor anti-patterns execute in? Bully, lets get this done and move on to something more interesting. Even if you just failed part of _my_ interview of _you_, I'm here already and it's free practice.
Also: If you think these are stupid questions, then obviously you've never had to meet with customers to analyze their needs.
top Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Misdirected Email?
I was getting some emails about an event of this type from a gal who thought I was her son. I gave a sarcastic response like this, saying that while I'm sure would be enjoyable, my wife and kids weren't really interested in traveling to Arkansas for my wedding, etc. She politely explained things again, so I suspect that the real son involved probably must also respond sarcastically, and I think she was kind of offended that I was making light of this important event. I switched into the mode I'd use to explain such an issue to my actual mom, it worked a lot better. I hope things worked out for them. *sniff*.
In the end, crafting the witty response was a fine idea the first half-dozen times, but after awhile I just got tired of it. It's not like there's any payback, generally these people aren't early-adopters who get a laugh out of it, they're already confused by all this technology, so my comebacks are basically just mean. It's not my job to fix things for these various people who don't know their own email addresses, so mostly I just filter the emails away and move on.
top Post-post PC: Materials and Technologies That Could Revive Enthusiast Computing
Gallium arsenide has been just about to replace silicon for 25 years, now. And Transputers were invented in the 80s. Sure, maybe it's finally time for these to hit the mass market, but one would be ill-advised to hold one's breath waiting for it.
top Ask Slashdot: How To Start Reading Other's Code?
Spend an afternoon or three skimming around the code pulling threads and following them. Jump around kind of randomly, if things start making sense in one module, go somewhere else for awhile. Take frequent breaks. Take notes about what you think things are doing, or perhaps ideas about how to improve the code - but don't start improving things now, you just want to figure out how much you're in for.
After awhile doing that, you should have a few ideas about good accomplishable problems, now pick one and go deep for a limited time (hour, afternoon, week, depends on the scope of the code and your commitment to it). Again, keep notes, and then throw all your work away (or check it in somewhere - but don't focus on shipping, that detracts from learning). Again, go somewhere else in the code, fix something, take notes, throw it away. Alternate back and forth between research and application, trying not to bias towards one or the other (which can be a form of procrastination).
Now throw away all your notes. They were written by someone who had no idea what was going on. By now you're pretty sure you know what's going on (you don't) and how to make things better (you have no idea), so circle around for another pass. Stop when you start finding that your notes seem to be recognizing actual immediately-actionable problems and solutions, rather than hypothesis and speculation. Or just stop because you're now so busy fixing things that you don't have time for exploration.
about a year and a half ago
top RPiCluster: Another Raspberry Pi Cluster, With Neat Tricks
I'm sorry, but
... what? The locking and other interprocess overhead will not increase on a multi-core single-node solution, it will decrease. If your system can run lock-free on the multi-node solution, they can run lock-free on a multi-core solution. It's a fleet of processes talking to each other via TCP/IP either way (except on a single-node solution you have additional options like UNIX-domain sockets or named pipes).
The only way I could see it possibly being a win is if the system being simulated is itself composed of raspberry pi devices, which isn't at all clear, given that the researcher originally was apparently fine using a shares Xeon cluster in the first place.
about a year and a half ago
top Ask Slashdot: Name Conflicts In Automatically Generated Email Addresses?
It's not like the world needs all that many highly-educated John Smiths anyhow. Bonus: Automatic improvement to diversity scores.
top Ask Slashdot: How Many of You Actually Use Math?
The question is not whether you'll spend all of your time applying math. The question is whether there will come a time where strong math knowledge will help you solve problems which others cannot solve. There are any number of specialties which this applies to. Do you really need parsing abilities? Database abilities? Filesystem abilities? Network abilities? Image-processing? No, of course not - except that if you have them, you will find them helpful at unexpected times.
Unfortunately, it is usually not the case that someone will be weak in a subject AND they will still be able to identify that their skills are not up to the problem. Rather, what usually happens is they just keep hacking away, oblivious to what they're missing, spewing bugs in all directions.
top Gamer Keeps Civilization II Game Going for 10 Years
Actually, IIRC theres good reason NOT to believe that there is a war. As I recall there are several clues point to the fact that there simply isnt any war, and that the entire thing is a hoax to keep the people under control.
I agree, that's how it feels when you read the book. But if true - why switch enemies periodically, only to cover it up later and deny it ever happened? The system would work just fine, and even save some trouble (altering records and disappearing people), if the enemy was always Eurasia.
Totally. It would also be easier to just say 2+2==4, it's more obvious than having to say it is equal to 5.
top Pixel Qi Says Next-Gen Displays Meet or Beat iPad 3 Screen Quality
How much volume did Pixel Qi do last year? One week of iPad3 sales? One day? One *hour*?
Hell, even OLED displays have beaten these guys into volume production, and I didn't think that would ever happen.
top Microsoft Patent Monetizes Your TV Remote
why would anyone use a service that forced them to pay to skip ads
You mean like slashdot subscriptions?
Wait, slashdot has ads?
top What Could Have Been In the Public Domain Today, But Isn't
The fee should have an N^2 or 2^N or N! factor, where N is the number of years since expiration.
top More Schools Go To 4-Day Week To Cut Costs
In many cases, public schools would do better if they *did* think of themselves as a daycare with an educational component. Right now it seems in vogue to imagine schools as sort of mini-universities, treating the kids as little informed consumers (at best - at worse, the kids are treated like waldos remotely operated by their parents. I never could figure out how teachers expected me to change minor quirks in my child's school-time behavior). But, well, even motivated and curious 3rd graders simply don't have the attention span to learn for more than a half hour at a time. For young kids, things like gym, art, and music are not nice-to-have once-a-week extras, they are sanity-preserving essentials that should be used to break up the day.
But, well, I don't think it's clear that the US public school system is about educating future Americans. It's about being a huge political football.
top Don't Go 3D For 3D's Sake, Says Sony
How about you just don't make ANYTHING unless it is using high quality components? A sucky 3D movie is somewhat more annoying because of the extra $3, but it's not like spending $10 to see a sucky 2D movie is a great alternative.
top Can the US Still Lead In Space Despite Shuttle's End?
... with all that awesome technical know-how, we were unable to replace it with a next-gen manned launch vehicle before end-of-lifing it.
I'm not saying your wrong about knowledge bit-rot, but it is entirely possible that the vast experience we had developed was hindering future developments rather than helping them. It's also likely that expecting coherent development from a political program is expecting too much.
top A Solar-Powered 3D Printer Prints Glass From Sand
Also, speaking of ball lenses... you can use your head as a ball lens to extend the range of your car's wireless entry key fob. If you find yourself just out of range of your keys, simply put the transmitter about an inch behind your head, directly *opposite* the car. Your head is mostly transparent to the RF, but has a slightly different index of refraction from air/vaccum, thus acts as a lens. And since your head is approximately spherical, it works well enough to make a practical convergent lens.
Odd, I've always heard it as that you hold the fob under your chin.
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