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When We Don't Like the Solution, We Deny the Problem

sisukapalli1 Re:never mix science and politics (282 comments)

Another dimension to consider what a politician says publicly and what they do privately. The joke about northern and southern racists comes to mind -- a southern racists won't mind a minorities stay near him as long as they don't become uppity; the northern racist won't mind minorities become uppity as long as they don't stay near him.

So, the false choice of people saying things is not enough (though saying the wrong things is of concern) -- there should be some action along the lines too. However, it looks like the red team versus blue team stuff is managed by a team (actually multiple teams) with a lot of green. It may sound like giving up, but societal changes are very tough -- and the problem of climate change is too big and the viable solutions have a lot of impact... It may be something over which there will be a lot of geopolitical problems that will arise.

about a month and a half ago

Silicon Valley Swings To Republicans

sisukapalli1 Re:This is great news! (485 comments)

If you think the peace and prosperity (or war and destruction) are simply a matter of whether the red team wins or blue team wins in a game influenced by numerous vested interests, you are in for a surprise.

about a month and a half ago

Computer Science Enrollments Rocketed Last Year, Up 22%

sisukapalli1 Re:CS is not IT / system admin (137 comments)

Telugu person with a Kannada speaking spouse here...

Unless people are talking with their own friends that speak the same language at home about personal stuff (or they are bad-mouthing or saying "good but inappropriate" things), may people speak English. For almost all things computer related, I don't know of anyone that uses native language words.

This sort of venting definitely needs a native-language "MASK":
"This MASK(native-language based identifier of the colleague -- like tall guy, fat guy, etc) is a MASK(major league body cavity and x-ref to his mother), so MASK(be very careful)."

about 9 months ago

Computer Science Enrollments Rocketed Last Year, Up 22%

sisukapalli1 Re:CS is not IT / system admin (137 comments)

I feel there is some good news in there.

Thanks to Big Data awareness (there is potential there even if we factor in all the hype), the focus of the curriculum in many CS schools will shift more towards math and algorithms (for databases, system resource considerations, etc. -- core math/science and engineering), instead of "pure IT" or "software/computer use" [e.g. teaching html markups, office suites, configuring networks, basic sysadmin, etc.]

Or, may be I am in my own bubble and we are going to see degree programs that are named "computer science" and focus on HTML5, web app development, game development, etc. In which case, the wheels on the bus go round and round...

about 9 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Do You Run a Copy-Cat Installation At Home?

sisukapalli1 Re:what about VM's at work? (308 comments)

For things like Hadoop, it makes sense to have a reasonably large enough set of machines at one's disposal. On work machines, one is likely to run into disk space issues (vs. multiple terabytes at disposal at home). Unless the company one is working at has virtualized everything and can give clusters on demand.

I found it to be easier to buy a "cloud server" from ebay for a little over 1k (fairly reasonable specs) and just go crazy with it.

1 year,18 hours

Ask Slashdot: How Do I Convince Management To Hire More IT Staff?

sisukapalli1 Hire more temporary desktop support people? (383 comments)

If you are stuck between mundane (e.g. boss's email not working) and serious (e.g. database servers are not responding), it may be wiser to offload that part at a lower cost per employee (instead of a network admin to be a backup while you work on help desk issues)?

I've seen the problem where expensive servers are never installed (they sit unplugged for months) because people are busy fixing email client configs...

1 year,17 days

Is a Postdoc Worth it?

sisukapalli1 Re:Horse already left the barn (233 comments)

"String 'em along, get lots of cheap labor, and every once in a while give somebody a faculty position so the rest could dream."

It is worse when the postdoc is at the same place as the Ph.D. The incentive is that one sees a "jump" in salary from one stage to another (a grad student making 25k becomes a postdoc making 50k, who in turn becomes a "research professor" or assistant professor without tenure making 75k). By the time the person realizes the missed opportunity cost and lack of good prospects in the future, it is often a bit too late. In some cases, one would end up specializing way too much in one obscure area (which would have seemed to be the most important thing when one is in the thick of it), and really may not be able to figure out why the rest of the world doesn't care. Worse when the obscure area is a shrinking field.

For people that are motivated, there is still some good if one excels at the game. This rule of prison life is very applicable: Assert your dominance [independence, importance, etc.] from the start or you'd become someone's bitch.

1 year,25 days

How Did You Learn How To Program?

sisukapalli1 Started it for the wrong reason, on a mainframe! (623 comments)

I was 17, just got into an Engineering college in India. Never saw a computer up close till then. We had to take either Thermodynamics or Computers in first semester (and the other in the second semester). Thank God I didn't take Computers in first semester, or else I may have hated it.

So, during winter time, I went to the computer center (nice, air conditioned place). Outside weather is horrible, and the computer center let us take printouts - that could be used for note books (I was/am a cheap ba*tard). So, it started with writing small math codes (my first program was something like "sin(x**3) = 1; print x", and a guy next to me nicely said, "well, you can write anything you want, but it won't work!". My second program was a =1; b = 3; print a+b!) I've spend hours together to solve problems that would take minutes to do if one read up related stuff in a book! No games, not much fun, just trying to make a piece of mathematical code working -- worked harder, not smarter! Only reason I can think of is that the climate control of the computer center.

Loved the computers ever since -- been close to 25 years! Was in a different field for majority of the time. Eventually moved over recently to applied computing.

about a year and a half ago

A Least Half a Million Raspberry Pis Sold

sisukapalli1 Re:What do they do? (212 comments)

I've set it up as a gateway into my home network (low power, can leave it on, no spinning disks), and not worry about needing it for something else... Runs all the basic stuff, ssh, wordpress, and I have it on a screen with things like emacs loaded.

It doesn't do anything that bigger computers can't, so, unless the form factor issues are critical, there aren't many killer apps.

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Current State of Linux Email Clients?

sisukapalli1 Re:All mail clients suck. This one just sucks less (464 comments)

I recently started using mutt + offlineimap (to have a sync'ed local copy of mail) + davmail (exchange connector) + notmuchmail (indexing and searching)

It runs under a screen/tmux session (I am using tmux panes inside screen) and way much easier to access all mail accounts (and nicer interface than gmail and outlook web exchange). I am usually a couple of keystrokes away to mail windows (and I am using a large monitor for a full screen shell window)

It helps that most of my work is text based (documentation is markdown/wiki type), though I jump into a web browser once in a while

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: The Search For the Ultimate Engineer's Pen

sisukapalli1 Pilot FriXion Erasable Gel-Ink Pens (712 comments)

Lots of colors, nice, erasable (don't leave a smudge after erasing). Fine and ultra-fine tips.

I don't know how long each cartridge lasts though.

more than 2 years ago

The Rage For MOOCs

sisukapalli1 Yes. This time, it's different (109 comments)

Here are some reasons, in random order:

1. The courses are "immersive" with frequent short quizzes, explanation of answers, etc. (in case of udacity, it is almost like once every couple of minutes). This is a big plus compared to correspondence courses.
2. There is a strong online community, instant access to reference material, forums, discussions, etc., which is a big plus.
3. Most of the material is free (I do not have any experience with non-free material).
4. The teachers are top class -- I mean, really top class, and the material they teach is high class and very unique [*].
5. The classes are massively scalable, archivable, easily made available, etc. (correspondence courses aren't).
6. There is an Indian saying "knowledge is wealth". So far, the top 1% have rarely helped the bottom 99% (and made them think that they should only "occupy wall street"). The MOOCs help in making the knowledge available to the 99% (turns out, it is a simpler problem to solve than the financial one).

The only major point people make is with respect to evaluating the credentials of a student who has taken these courses (and any types of cheating)... It is not a problem of the educator -- my belief is that the job of evaluating a candidate is mostly that of the interviewer. Employers that rely on lazy interviews in hiring people help the society at large -- they take away people that game the system out of the pool! And, slashdot should be the last place where education becomes secondary to grades (mind you, there are still grades for the MOOCs, and one can repeat the courses multiple times -- so one actually learns and deserves a top grade).

[*] To give a perspective, I am old, not from comp.sci background, didn't know python as of January (and have been destined to amount to nothing much!). I completed two courses on Udacity (CS101 -- thinking they'd focus on search, but they taught me python; and Peter Norvig's course). I had a phone interview with a "big deal" company where I gave a one-line answer based on what Peter Norvig taught [which impressed the interviewer -- and I explained him that their guy taught me the stuff]. I also took a course with Tim Roughgarden on Algorithms, and that helped me re-discover the joy of math and formal treatment of problems. I met him [Roughgarden] recently when he was visiting a nearby university, and his point was, if someone spends one hour on his class and learns something, he is more than happy. Without these courses, I'd still be wondering, "where did I screw up". Not any more.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: What Defines Good Developer Culture?

sisukapalli1 Re:Good Development Culture (239 comments)

"Don't ever let intellectually lazy developers onto your team."

Or, at least let those developers know that they should start changing their approach -- and have some leverage and resources in achieving that goal. Beware of standard push backs: if you address issues of efficiency or design, there will be a push back in terms of "timeliness". Worst case is if higher ups don't want to be bothered with any of the underlying process related issues.

If you are in the middle position where the higher ups do not care about the process, and the developers are a bit lazy and complacent (e.g. "I am fine as long as the higher ups are happy"), tough luck!

more than 2 years ago

Texas GOP Educational Platform Opposes Teaching Critical Thinking Skills

sisukapalli1 Re:Breathless summary by the clueless (734 comments)

As a leftie, I still see some logic behind what the OP mentioned. Even though I do not agree with it (in fact, I find the last two paragraphs of attacks a bit offensive), I still find it odd that it was modded down as a troll.

Without context, it will sound like a red-team vs blue-team fight. I may need to read more to see where the specific contentious issues would be.

A bit OT, but some radical experiments in education are happening on the tech side -- udacity, coursera, etc. Not sure if they fall under 'progressive' (more like cool-techie-engineering solutions), and would be extremely disruptive to established interests both on the red and blue teams :)

more than 2 years ago

Online Courses and the $100 Graduate Degree

sisukapalli1 Re:and why should I have to pay $$$ for humanities (339 comments)

And as a citizen in a democracy, I find it amazing and frightening that a significant portion of people who actually vote see no value in general education courses.

Have you been following the news lately?

It seems that a significant portion of people who actually vote see no value in any education...

more than 2 years ago

Online Courses and the $100 Graduate Degree

sisukapalli1 Re:Long way to go (339 comments)

I felt that the CS212 course by Peter Norvig was excellent -- the clarifications for the finals were so minor that I did not even notice them as odd, especially when we consider that they were multiple programming assignments to be done within a week. As time goes by, these things will only get much better (and will meet your criteria for serious value).

The course, in its present form, definitely beats the equivalent class at a large number of universities (and it will get better with each iteration). We cannot compare this with a similar, in-person course taught by Peter Norvig (though it gets tricky if such a course was in a big lecture hall with the condition that you lose if you snooze). It would be really unfair to compare it with the experience of a highly skilled and motivated group of friends taking a course at a top school.

Some major advantages I see are: (a) the lectures can be understood at one's own pace and are available 24x7 (contrast it with missing a class in college, or not paying attention in class for whatever reason), (b) there is a vast amount of discussion on course material (mostly junk but some material goes beyond how to get the right answer on a homework -- simply because of the vast number of people enrolled, and useful stuff gets modded up), (c) the format itself is highly interactive and engaging -- ironically, it is a more personalized experience (due to the large number of quizzes, ability to rewind, etc.,) than many classes in the university, and (d) this model can scale like crazy, not just with respect to number of students, but also with respect to number of courses [if we take a breather from the grading process, we can simply reuse an existing course].

Most of the information is out there on the web, but there is no systematic or guided process to learn. There is an Indian saying that goes like "knowledge without a guru (guide) is useless". These online universities provide such a virtual guide.

If the complaints about the courses are that some questions on the exams weren't correctly phrased and required clarifications... or that the professor had a math typo, then it is a good thing (since when did a typo became a sign of incompetence? he's not running for a close election in a polarized society).

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Shortcuts To a High Tech House

sisukapalli1 Re:Going further... (281 comments)

... once you have saved to pay off the mortgage; the simple fact that you are no longer desperate to keep your job in a recession is worth more than all the toys combined.

In US, with rising property taxes, those taxes can be more than the rest of the mortgage payment, especially in some "good school districts". So, there is no solution to the desperation :). The definition of "own a house" becomes long term renting if one doesn't want to sell the house (or cannot find a buyer).

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Use For a New Supercomputing Cluster?

sisukapalli1 Multiple super-computers instead of a single one? (387 comments)

You need to specify additional information:

1) What about the data and storage? Many complex applications require vast amounts of data (e.g. climate change models, CFD models, GIS data sets that can complement or take advantage of modeling). Many end users may not be very adept at accessing these data.
2) What about the software? For example, CFD modeling software is very expensive. In some cases, open source software may not make the cut.
3) Does it have to be a single supercomputer? Why not split into multiple supercomputers and merge them as needed? That way, some groups have a more dedicated resource for themselves. The "biggest X ever" isn't as cool as it appears to be.
4) I presume the funds came in as a result of some proposal (using the word informally here, it could even be a one-pager that was sent to the university). The costs should be at least 5k per sever (based on what I've seen recently), so it's 6 million [I'd say 10 million even, unless my weak math is catching up with me]? So, that proposal would have some intended uses already.
5) Leasing it internally (to other groups in the university) may be reasonable -- it may even be a sweeter deal if you allocate a set of 10 or 20 servers for a group, instead of having it as part of a broader account access. You can tell them it is their "own machine".

I say this with no offense meant... I've noticed way too many people for whom the tool or technology seems to be the primary purpose (e.g. I do it using *EJB* or *distributed cluster* or *high availability database*). I spoke to someone that was working on app infrastructure for first responders, and was focusing on IDEs and integration, and his killer app was a download link to a weather channel app! When I mentioned that he needs some apps that really differentiate the system from others, his response was that we can run a contest for the apps. So, please avoid going that route -- in general, the tools are there to solve problems and not the other way round [with all caveats, sometimes the tools have to come first before we even realize what we had before that was very bad].

Well, congratulations on getting to play with 10M. I think I was rambling a bit, but the bottom line is: (a) don't make it one computer unless you can find a reason, and (b) approach different groups and offer the tool/service -- you need to do that till you get some traction.

more than 3 years ago

Obama To Reverse Bush Limits On Stem Cell Work

sisukapalli1 Re:Didn't Bush restricted ALL stem-cell science? (508 comments)

You seem to imply that George W. Bush actually championed the cause of embryonic stem cell research. He *vetoed* the bill that allowed federal funding for embryonic stem cell research [with new cell lines beyond the already available lines -- fewer than 20?].

This reminds me of an assertion that George W Bush made in one of the debates with Al Gore, that he [Bush] got the legislation passed on Patients Bill of Rights as governor of TX. However, the truth is that he vetoed that bill, the legislation then overrode his veto, and then he claimed credit for signing it.


more than 5 years ago

Obama To Reverse Bush Limits On Stem Cell Work

sisukapalli1 Re:Didn't Bush restricted ALL stem-cell science? (508 comments)

Seconding parent's point that there was no blanket ban on stem cell research. At least two major states, CA and NJ have funded embryonic stem cell research. It is a different point altogether that both states are in a bad financial situation -- NJ has cut funds drastically, and I presume CA has done the same.

I think the constraints from Bush administration were strict though. No federal funds for labs pursuing embryonic stem cell research.


more than 5 years ago


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