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Comment No one understands the forces at work (Score 1) 147

I can think of at least 2 major forces at work, and not just in China:
1. Birthrates are down
2. Automation is changing the nature of work.

These aren't new, particularly increasing automation isn't new, but that doesn't mean their impact on the future is well understood or predictable.

Millenials may be conscious of the uncertainty of work and reluctant to invest in learning skills and spending time in a job that disappears in 10 years. I suspect also that they haven't suffered the hardships of their parents and may have a more casual attitude about it all.

Comment Re:Learn C for advanced security, not for basics (Score 1) 374

I learned C after I learned assembly language. As a matter of fact, when I was reading the C programming language book, I would write sample programs, compile them (what was it, the -S option? Been so long) and look at the assembly language output to figure out what was going on. (The architecture I was doing this on was the Motorola 68000.)

Now, using a lot of C, people will probably get familiar with how pointers work, gain experience with malloc and free, and a bit of longjump would help also, even if they don't know assembler. But I think they'd catch on to the concepts a lot sooner if they had a dash of assembler to go with it. Particularly with experience writing a few interrupt service routines thrown in for good measure.

Also, they wouldn't go around showing off their ignorance by saying C is an 'advanced' or 'universal' assembly language.

Comment They are very different things, BUT... (Score 2) 328

I studied foreign languages, Latin in High School, German in college. I also was stationed in Japan in the Navy and tried to learn Japanese (with much more success than I ever had with Latin or German.)

I also learned how to program a computer. My first experience of that, Fortran on a PDP 8 in 1966, was pretty bad. But, after the Navy, I tried again and got pretty good at it. (Mostly programming in assembly and C.)

What the two disciplines have in common is a basic sort of new kind of mental activity that probably is good exercise for the brain in the way that physical exercise is good for the muscles.

The big advantage that teaching programming might have in my opinion, is that you can tell whether you're really learning it or not. A lot of language teaching is woefully incompetent, and nobody seems to care. (Maybe they care, but they say 'What can we do?' with a shrug.) With computers though, the program you write either works or it doesn't. And there's no ambiguous subjective interpretation of whether it works or not. That's a good educational experience for anybody who can handle the initial frustration. So yeah, it's probably not so bad to teach programming instead of foreign languages. Especially if they start out with assembly, so the student can actually see where the rubber meets the road. (But how many people can teach assembly language?)

Comment Re:Don't deuterostomes form the anus first? MOD UP (Score 4, Interesting) 136

So far, jfdavis668 is the only person to make a sensible comment. (As opposed to some lame, obvious, snarky, schoolboy type joke.)

I was thinking about that deuterostome angle myself. I wondered if this critter was supposed to be before the deuterostome/protostome split. But they explicitly say in the article that it is a deuterostome. Well, the article didn't say there was no anus, just that they hadn't found one (yet).
.

Comment Re:USB TV stick was my problem (Score 2) 115

Yeah, I got a Raspberry Pi because I thought I could turn it into a cheap TV recorder with my USB TV stick. Something low power that I could easily leave on all the time so I wouldn't have to remember to leave my regular computer on just to record some program while I was out of the house or asleep.

Didn't work out. Everything had to breath through that slow USB interface so, while I got recordings, they were all chopped up.

Comment Somebody help, what I don't get about batteries (Score 1) 468

With batteries, there is the time it takes to recharge. If you could somehow deliver the amps faster, what does that do to the power grid?

Way back in the 70s when I was studying Computer Science. I had a class focused on emulations, and we students had to come up with some sort of thing/system to emulate which the instructor approve and then we'd go and do it. I chose to emulate various forms of electric auto, including hybrids etc. My main source was a book called Alternatives to the Internal Combustion Engine by Robert U. Ayres and Richard P. McKenna.

My conclusion, as I recall, was aluminum oxide batteries which, when exhausted, would be left at the equivalent of a filling station, where you would install fresh batteries the way nowadays you fill up with gasoline. The exhausted batteries would be collected and recharged at special facilities then returned to the 'filling stations'. Thinking about it now, my utopian fantasy is taking the exhausted batteries to a solar recharging plant out in the desert.

There are problems with aluminum oxide batteries, but it always seemed to me they should be solvable problems.

Now, other people, including Elon Musk no doubt, must have considered the model of quickly exchanging exhausted batteries for fresh ones (even if not the aluminum oxide part), and rejected it. Why? (My thought is that maybe they are in a hurry and think building up the infrastructure would take too long. One could start with some particular locale. Maybe I-6 between California's Bay Area and LA. Renting cars to drive along there perhaps with the 'filling stations' at each end?)

Comment Keynes failed prediction, the 15 hr work week (Score 1) 370

John Maynard Keynes was a famous economist from the 1st half of the 20th Century. I vaguely remembered reading a remark he made about a shorter work week, a little googling and I came up with this from https://www.theguardian.com/business/2008/sep/01/economics:

Back in 1930, Keynes predicted that the working week would be drastically cut, to perhaps 15 hours a week, with people choosing to have far more leisure as their material needs were satisfied

So, as productivity increases, why haven't we just started having a shorter work week? It seems to me that Parkinson's law trumps Keynes's vision. (Named after C. Northcote Parkinson) that work expands to fill the time allotted. I find it very depressing myself. On the one hand, you have unemployed people, on the other hand, you have people employed in a lot of 'busy work'.

Comment Rise and Fall of Nations:Forces of Change.. Sharma (Score 1) 338

Full Title:
Rise and Fall of Nations: Forces of Change in The Post-Crisis World
by Ruchir Sharma,

Sharma is an investment analyst and brings a very pragmatic perspective to the economic situation in the world. He backs up his opinions with a lot history and statistics, but it is not a dry or hard to read book. Apparently he has met everybody. For example, he cites an incident when he gave a talk in Russia, with Putin present. He praised how Putin had done things to revive the economy, but suggested that he was now steering a wrong course. He saw Putin taking notes and thought Putin was writing down his advice. Uh Uh, he became very much persona non grata in Russia after that.

I think I should also mention my runner up, Hillbilly Elegy a sort of memoir of growing up by J. D. Vance. He grew up mostly in Ohio, but with a Hillbilly ancestry and cultural milieu. Eventually he graduated from Harvard Law School even though he was a fish out of water there. But I would say his main purpose was to provide insight into the poor, and poorly educated, lower class white segment of America, from an insider's point of view.

Comment Does this show what a billion accounts is worth? (Score 1) 71

A billion accounts, how many are really valid? How much sifting does somebody have to do? And, when they get something, what can they do with it?
OK, you hack somebody's account, get answers to questions like date of birth, (Mother's maiden name?), so then you 'steal their identity' and do what? I know there are times when it can be a nightmare for somebody, but the real horror stories seem to be when somebody was specifically targeted, like for revenge. Are all those zombie bots out there compromised from this kind of stuff? I don't know.
These are not rhetorical questions. I'd really like to know how bad it is. I see ads that try to be scary about it all, but there have been so many stories about accounts being compromised, and then life goes on that I have to wonder.

Comment Re:Cue the hipocrisy...It's ALWAYS like that (Score 4, Interesting) 412

Since the beginning there has been a struggle with those in power trying to suppress inconvient truth. (Maybe with the exception of Thomas Jefferson's presidency.) The grandson of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin Bache was a newsman who criticized George Washington and John Adams and the government passed the 'Alien and Sedition Acts' of 1798 and had him arrested. From the wikipedia article on Bache:

The law [Alien and Sedition Acts] may have been written to suppress opponents such as Bache. The persistent theme of Republican journalism of the 1790s was that the federal government had fallen into the hands of an aristocratic party aligned with Britain, and that the Federalists (particularly Washington and Alexander Hamilton) were hostile to the interests of the general public while promoting corporate interests

Another quote from abolitionist Wendell Phillips in 1852:

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few.

Comment Why not postgres? (Score 1) 153

OK, I'm not a DBA (IANADBA? Hmm, I like the sound of that, 'yanadba', which syllable to put the accent on though.)

But, really, why do corporations not use postgres? Is it some inherit deficiency in the product? A general antipathy to Open Source? Lack of publicity and marketing on the part of Postgres? Nobody from the company to hold the customer's hand when they first get it? (In that case, maybe there needs to be a Red Hat Postgres) Or something else?

Comment Re:The Greene Machine, 8/N/1, Eskimo North, RIME,. (Score 1) 181

The old BBSs were too frustrating for me, and too limited. Usenet of the 80s may not have been all that civil, but its sheer breadth was kind of exhilarating. People from other countries, new boards popping up. Even the flames were sometimes witty or at least over the top! That's what I feel nostalgic for. I confess I've never used Facebook, or Twitter, or them other things, so I can't say whether they're better or not. I do think Slashdot's moderation system is a somewhat useful noise filter, but Slashdot has changed since the days when my 5 digit ID was a 'high' number, and not for the better. Nevertheless, I'm still here.

Comment Newtonian is wrong though, so if he derived... (Score 1) 164

Isn't Newtonian gravity wrong though? It failed to predict the precession of the orbit of Mercury. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it just basically the inverse square law, which applies to radiant phenomena (like the intensity of light radiating from a point source.)

So, if this guy 'derived Newtonian Gravity' from his theory, then his theory is wrong too, isn't it?

What am I missing here?

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