1923 posts • joined Wednesday 10th June 2009 14:47 GMT
Re: Thinning the hurdle
> total random selection would be just as good a selection method,
You may well be correct. However the very first time your randomly-selected candidate screws up, the blame-balls will start flying. Sooner or later someone will ask two questions: was this person qualified? and who hired this idiot?
Now, it may be that if you're hiring CEOs for The Co-Op Bank people won't ask - but for any normal organisation you don't want anyone putting your name up to answer those questions. At that time it's no good saying "Well I saw an article on Wikipedia that said random selection was just as reliable as academic selection", as you could soon be finding out, personally, that the recruitment process is much more arduous and deeper probing than that. As for the competency point: yes, nobody can assess whether a recruit will be able to do a particular job. However since the name of the game is CYA (or "indemnity" as professionals call it), if you can point to some objective criteria - no matter how irrelevant - and say that this person scored better than others, you stand some chance of still sitting at the same desk tomorrow. The worst that will happen is some jobsworth will set up a process review and witter on about "continuous improvement" and "learning lessons" - the lesson to learn is to avoid these people.
Finally, there's the perennial issue about HR. While they don't care about whether a person can do a particular job, they do care that the organisation (or more properly: they) doesn't get accused of unfair hiring practices. Therefore a process must be in place. It must have been approved and there must be documentary evidence to show it's been followed. If that all sounds a bit "ITIL-y" or "ISO-y", then I agree. However it's one of the hoops you have to jump through.
Re: Do I need to explain
> If some of these major companies actually paid their taxes in the UK
So if these mega-corps are required to pay extra taxes, where will the money come from? They won't raise their prices and hurt their market share and they're already squeezing their suppliers dry - so the only viable source of money to give to the government is from the pay (and numbers) of the employees.
It might be nice for a few idealists to say "oooh look, we made these companies pay their fair share of taxes". But what about the wage cuts and redundancies that are imposed to move that money from being in employees pockets, to being in government coffers?
What would yo say to a freshly-sacked employee, then?
Thinning the hurdle
> merely as an easy screening criteria
The problem is when you have 1 vacancy and you get 200 applicants for it. What do you do?
It is impractical to diligently read each CV - I once got one of 40 pages (instant rejection, BTW) - so you need some way to come up with a list of "possibles", then a list of "probables" which you interview.
Also, for better or for worse, HR insist that any selection criteria must be non-discriminatory - which is a lovely idea, but very subjective (oh yes, and must be within the skill-set of HR's newest trainee). So a first pass: that has to be quick, objective, legal and relevant is to search for academic qualifications. (Another: that's based on spelling and typo's on the application is possible - but so many HR-types have such poor spelling & grammar that "LOL" and smilies would probably pass their filter).
After that, once you have got down to 10-20, you can start to actually read the CVs. Just bear in mind that you also have real work to do, in addition to recruitment duties. So detailed analysis of what the candidates (as they now are, as opposed to merely applicants) have to say is still a long way off.
Yes, it's largely random. Sure, some gems will slip through, Time consuming it certainly is. However it's still better than one proposal a colleague suggested: throw all the CVs into the air. If one of them sticks to the ceiling, that's the one to hire - since luck is as good as excellence (esp. if you're Napoleon and you are recruiting generals). However, the "lucky" ones might be the ones who don't get to work for you.
A time machine helps, too.
> A degree is not enough
Indeed not. According to some recruitment agencies, 5 years experience in 3 year-old technologies is a must-have.
Master of all I survey
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'
And on the same basis, that allows the FTSE Group (an organisation I had previously credited with more common sense) to redefine words willy-nilly, I henceforth declare that day is night, good is bad, tv is quality entertainment and that our politicians are caring, dutiful, honest individuals.
I see no ships!
> "rich in fireballs"
Well, rich in some sort of balls.
We had a supposedly bright comet at the start of the year. Barely visible in the haze of sunset (aircraft contrails look almost the same, are brighter and more plentiful). There was another one a week or two ago that fizzled out and more meteor showers at irregular intervals every year. All of which get hyped by ignorant media, uncritically cut'n'pasting somewhat hysterical press releases from individuals and organisations that should know better.
Now I like a good stargaze as much as the next geek (but please: let's not talk about the BBCs Stargazing Live which contains no stargazing at all). But all the squeaking from over-enthusiastic media types - and the subsequent disappointments have reduced their credibility to an all-time low.
So can we, please, cut down on the media hype? Remember that most people live in overly-lit streets and therefore only ever see orange skies at night - with possibly the Moon and a few of the brightest stars visible.
If you want to promote amateur stargazing, a better line would be: this is what you could see, but since you live in a light polluted city, with almost permanent cloud cover - you don't stand a chance. If you want to see the glory of the starlit night, get your local authorities to turn down the light pollution.
Re: About that Star Trek stuff...
> they're working on 3d printers for housing and food
But what is "printing" for housing - or building in general? I'd suggest it's a process where materials are stacked layer by layer according to a design. If that's not what a brickie does already, then what is it?
The scarecest resource of all
> post-scarcity society
Where the rarest resource is, as now too it would appear, common sense.
Quickly followed by the simple, innocent, yet very hard to answer questions about where the raw materials will come from, the sustainability/cost/efficiency of the energy the printer uses and possibly something about reliable designs, as well?
> swerved a huge corporation tax bill
Maybe FB should convert all their excess cash into Bitcoin. That'll soon reduce their profits and thus, their tax bill.
Oaks from acorns
The thing about importing talent is: what do you do with it, once it's here?
It appears that the government has swallowed the idea of a "magic bullet". That if you have a problem ... if nobody else can help ... that all you need is an "A team" and they'll somehow use their "world-leading talent" to sort you out.
Most of the problems that the UK's IT industry have are nothing to do with IT. So bringing in outsiders to give it a boost won't produce the hoped-for results. The fixes that are needed start with better technical education, move on to recognising the worth of people who can wield a soldering iron (at the right end) or spanner or stack trace, and also address the basic issues of expensive cost-of-living, unworthy management, short-sighted investors, an innovation-stifling environment and a reticence to taking risks and recognsing opportunities.
As a country, the UK is quite capable of producing its own top-quality IT people - rather than sucking the talent out of other countries. But it needs to nuture, grow and reward those people. Not just cover them in fertiliser.
Haven't they hit what they're aiming at yet?
Re: I'm not the pheasant plucker ...
... and I'm only plucking pheasants
'til the pheasant plucker comes.
Yup, still gets my vote.
Although one of the later verses is, IMHO, more likely to trip you over:
I'm not the pheasant plucker
I'm the pheasant plucker's wife
Me and the pheasant plucker
have a pheasant plucking life.
I guess this rhyme didn't make the cut as the "downside" of getting it wrong wouldn't appeal to too many. Especially if a newsreader (ill-advisedly) tried it live on air.
Though, considering the number of people who are unable to pronounce "nuclear", I'd say it doesn't take much to be a tongue-twister, these days.
Re: not just faults
> He was convinced his code was not to blame
And that's the problem. While his code worked, it sounds like it had many unforeseen (and on a production system: unforgivably untested for) side-effects: possibly including high I-O usage, unintended database locks, de-cacheing, or futzing (technical term) with the middleware - among other possibilities.
Too many outfits I've worked at regard "testing" as merely checking the known input produces the expected output. They don't bother checking boundaries, error handling, scalability or resource-hogging. Since a lot of these other tests would require having access to a complete replica of the production system - with a simulation of all the users and their workloads - most companies can neither afford, nor organise such a massive testing operation.
When Usenet was new, I saw a couple of posts discussing a kernel bug. The discoverer posted the method of replicating the fault - instructions on which programs to run and what options to use. This was followed by the warning that doing this would reliably kill your machine (A Sun platform IIRC).
A few posts later, someone replied "Oh yes, it does - doesn't it".
Could it be that someone within RBS had identified the cause of (one of their many) cockups, told his/her/its colleagues - one of whom then replicated the conditions ...
Re: @ Pete 2 Wither telly?
> How does that affect your point?
Yes, the Beeb have always given away their content for free (within the UK, at any rate). They have also been the home of minority-interest programmes that no commercial outfit could make money from. However it's only in the past couple of decades that they've abandoned the niches and moved into the ITV space (others might say "dumbed down") so aggressively, in a bid to retain viewer numbers and thus, their justification for so many £££billions from everyone. While there were only a handful of channels, they were pretty much bound to get 10+million viewers per night for peak time programmes. However to get even close to that now, they have to attract people who wouldn't naturally be BBC viewers - hence they've decided to eat the lunch of other channels that are in no position (financially) to do anything about it.
Or "screwing up the commercial business model" to be a little less subtle about it. Using their guaranteed income to compete with, rather than complement and play "nice" with those who rely on advertising to survive.
Re: Kerrrr splat!
> Ah I see you saw the film Gravity as well
Errrm, nope. Though I'm disappointed you'd think so. As all I've heard about the film is how shaky the science is.
> businesses can hope to have access to consumer eyeballs for several hours a day
Is this a case of inventing the facts to fit the story?
ISTR there used to be a company that had access to the eyeballs of a large proportion of the country for several hours every day. They were called ITV - though I don't know what ever happened to them. once their competitor corporation discovered they could screw up the commercial business model by giving away for free (i.e. sans annoying advertisements) exactly the same content.
The moral being that while there may be a new monopoly in town, one should never underestimate the capricious nature of the public. All it takes is a change in the wind (or privacy, or advertising nusiances - or the next generation wanting to distance themselves from "their parents internet") and all of that hard-won "market share" can disappear. Just look at the junk heap of generation#1 internet companies to see what can and does happen to all the success stories, eventually.
> That's ok, we have an atmosphere
Ahhh, but you don't have to toss big chunks at the planet. Just squirt a bag o' sand into the Clarke Orbit - or sun-synchronous - or GPS paths, and watch all the fragile little (but vital) satellites fail.
Or [ FX: stroking of fluffy white cat ] erect a sun shield somewhere around L1 and "solve" the planet's global warming crisis for them.
The Wild-West days are here again
> the UN decided ...
Once habitats in space become self-sufficient, the decisions of a planetary based talking shop will be completely irrelevant. Note the proviso: self-sufficient.
Laws, rules and regulations only work when they can be backed up (ultimately) by force. If a mining operation, in orbit or beyond , decided to cede, there's not a lot - short of sending up a "police" action to point out the error of their ways - that a ground based legal system can do. As readers of Lucifer's Hammer will recall: being at the top of the gravity well trumps being at the top of the food chain. And throwing rocks can be terribly effective.
So, just like settlement in other colonies, there will be a period of lawlessness, probably a revolutionary war (or war of independence, depending on who's history you subscribe to) and almost certainly a civil war or two. After that the occupants take it upon themselves to formulate their own laws, for their own domains over which they have the ability to enforce them. Given the size of spaaaaaace, it's more than likely that several empires (striking back, or not) and hegemonies will arise - whether the UN or any earthly government approves or disapproves.
Isn't this a case of buy a cheap item and get a drone for free?
How do Amazon intend to recover their drones, their expensive, highly desirable drones, after they've delivered your goods.
Maybe they'll just drop your package down the chimney? (Wherever that idea came from). Just check for smoke emissions first, please.
I think the guy had a lucky escape.
If he had got his article in "print" and then submitted the same piece of work for course assessment he could have set off alarm bells from the college's systems that detect students copying stuff wholesale off t'net.
Obv. having the same name as the submitted work's author could help his case, but it could still lead to some awkward questions and some unwelcome scrutiny. Although any El Reg. in-house editing could be difficult to explain.
Re: Agree with most comments here...
> I gotta admit £2,4 million tax paid on £4,3 billion in sales is taking the biscuit
Yes, but what's a few billion in uncollected taxes when compared with the opportunity for some political grandstanding?
Turn the other cheek
> The site could be viewed ... in Chester Cathedral cafe
Sounds like a cheap and highly effective way to attract exactly the kind of people most in need of the church's "guidance" into their fold.
Afterthought: or was this just a case of a reporter who got caught viewing smut at work and used the tired old excuse "it's for an article I'm writing" and then had to follow through?
Blinded by the light
Beaming energy towards earth at any sort of "optical" wavelengths sounds like a great way to kill amateur astronomy stone dead. Whether the energy was beamed from the Moon (easily avoided) or satellites (not so much).
Although radiation densities would (you'd hope) be made safe for normal eyeballs to gaze upwards, the added collecting power of a telescope could make stargazing as hazardous as turning your telescope sunwards. The normal advice given to those who might be tempted to try is "Do not repeat this with your remaining good eye".
It might be a good time to invest in white-stick makers.
Pearls of wisdom?
As far as hardware goes, I'd suggest 1 core, plus another one for each VM you plan to run and as much memory as you can afford. As a start, reckon on 2GB + 1GB per VM. Add more as the fancy takes you.
> What about the choice of Hypervisor
OK, as you say that you're "playing" I'd suggest you get straight on and ... play.
A quick google search of all the technical terms you have mentioned will give you all the alternatives and possibilities you are searching for.
Start off by grabbing copies of all the *free* bare metal hypervisors and giving each of them a test drive. After that, load up whatever O/Ss you are licenced for and try out the other VM environments you can download.
At some point you'll either find a product (there aren't that many) that jumps out at you and seems to do all the things you want - hopefully part of your experience gaining process will allow you to come up with a list of features you value - or at least fail to tick the fewest possible boxes.
At that point, I'd be interested to hear how you got on.
The only thing to remember is that if you don't know where you're going, you'll never know when you've arrived. So apart from playing around, you could help yourself by taking half an hour to work out what your goals are: learning, running some "production" services, gaining some marketable experience or whatever.
Have a nice play.
"to counter the extremist narrative ...
In my inexpert view (I've never met an extremist, and would probably just think: nutter, if I ever did) it seems that the best way to neutralise the views they hold, is to make "our" stories better than theirs.
If you spend a large amount of your formative youth hearing about how bad the west is, how morally bankrupt we all are and that our whole society is venal, ungodly and otherwise damned - then the best defence would be a charm offensive instead of confirming their worst fears by raining down firey death on anything that happens to bear a passing resemblance to the CIA's Most Wanted list.
Maybe our lot should be out there with stories about how caring we are, how we all love small furry animals and our mothers. That we have a highly charitable society that doesn't want to screw over the rest of the world and that, best of all, we'll open some Pizza Express and Starbucks in their towns, too. Maybe even a Hooters in their capitals? So that their leaders can "know thine enemy"?
Then, once their children can see all the good things we have to offer, just like their communist counterparts did a generation ago, all the hate, fear and insecurity will evaporate. Instead of bombing the crap out of their villages, we'll parachute in washing machines, Playboy, waffle-makers and icecream instead.
Make them just as dumb, fat and happy as the rest of us.
> how many £68k iPhones it has sold or expects to sell
But will they manage to sell a £30k extended warranty to go with it?
A bit harsh?
> nothing short of a "revolution".
A revolution means you go round in a circle and end up back where you started.
I know MLF is leaving the job half done, but she did make some progress.
Although the other part of a revolution is the spin ...
> that was two weeks wages for me back then
Well, you were earning more than me, then. A week's hard graft at the MAD LAB (Materials Applications and Development) left me with £22.78 in my pocket. Something over 100 pints of beer, to use a more practical unit of measure.
Did you not read the manual?
Not the computer manual, silly. The child rearing one.
The boy is 12. He doesn't want *buntu or *nux.
What he wants is something like all his friends have, but just that leeeeeetle bit better¹, cooler and (if he can pull it off) more expensive.
And next year. Repeat.
 better: bigger screen, faster, thinner, LOUDER, breaks into more piece when it is (inevitably) dropped. Plays more games. Homework? you ask? LOL.
Re: Don't be fooled...
> your certainly going to scare away any good candidates
Interestingly one IT shop I worked for in the late 80s took a similar view with its sales positions.
The SM (sales manager) made the observation that the blacker he painted the picture, the harder the job and the greater the challenge, the more enthusiastic the candidates became.
The problem was that these "enthusiastic" candidates were complete and utter arseholes: to a man - and they were all men. Their primary personality trait was "I can sell anything" (basically, they'd have won The Apprentice every year running) and everyone else in the organisation should thank me for it.. However, most of them were all bluster and no talent. They would get a "let" on their first-quarter reviews. A "must improve" on their Q2's and be out the door without completing a full year of employment.
So I would consider an advertisement like this to be a buyer-beware situation. Yes, it might be a truthful description of what the company thinks it wants. But the result will be that it will attract applicants who are completely unsuited to the kind of high-pressure yet humdrum work that understaffed (and by implication, under-resourced) IT support requires.
If you want a collection of drama-queens, sure. Go for it. But if any place I worked for was to put out a want-ad like this, they'd very soon have two vacancies to fill.
> ... already in homes: they range from network addressable lightbulbs to the bleeding-edge biosensors and medical equipment
If I might be so bold. NONE of these things appear in "homes". There might be one or two examples of one or two things that appear in one or two technology-sampler buildings in a few of the world's most advanced counties. But thats all. And that's all it will ever be,
Most people neither want nor care about making their houses intelligent. Most people just want some basic stuff that does what it's told to: when you press the button to tell it. No options, arguments, further questions or "This app has crashed and set you house on fire. OK" dialogs. Just simple, no-questions-asked obedience.
So let's leave off about the Internet of Things. Maybe one day in the distant future there will be some small uptake of already built-in devices in new homes. One thing we learned from trying to manage the vast array of telco nodes and devices is that it's very, very hard and is a massive block to the adoption of standards. So the chances of the "average user" being able to use or configure some IoT devices is about as likely as them learning and using ASN.1 and BER.
Stop reading the hype and forget it all. A fish tank with some sensors and maybe an internet connection doesn't cut it - and is a poor substitute for having a reliable system (that doesn't need remote monitoring) in the first place.
More intelligent psychopaths?
> the more violent the game the more beneficial the effect. ... help kids learn problem-solving skills and creativity
So if this research is correct, gaming does have an effect on the players. Whether the benefits outweigh the negative (for society, not the game-player) effects is a matter that has yet to be resolved. It would be nice to have some research into *why* violence makes people (appear) more intelligent - or whether the intelligence tests are just measuring traits that grow when a person is exposed to a violent situation. There's an obvious benefit: the ability to think your way out of a threat. However we need to know if that is what;'s happening, or if the games just give children the ability to think up more ways to hurt people - or helps keep those attracted to violence in their bedrooms, acting it out virtually.
Aren't we lucky ...
... that aircraft aren't made of plasterboard (drywall).
While I can see past this rather hopeless example, to the bigger picture (and this obsession that americans seem to have with gun-shaped weapons - seriously guys ... move with the times). The basic principle is that a nice sharp piece of glass is still all you need. And that's never been in short supply.
However, since we don't find that aircraft are being threatened every day by baddies with home-made glass daggers held to the throat of aircrew (no matter how irritating they can be) we should be able to draw some rather simple conclusions that availability does not inevitably lead to implementation.
Re: Scientists! Repeat after me: We don't know
> Please send a copy of your post to the IPCC
Independent Police Complaints Committee?
Ahhh, now I understand why Climate Change research is in such a mess.
A big but
This device came out about a year ago. Maybe things have changed since then, but I remember reading about it that you can ONLY program it and access it through IMP's cloud-based servers. You have no direct access to the device and no direct control over it, yourself. Even though it needs continuous access to your network to perform any function.
The plan seemed to be that everything that talked to the IMP device (and each one had to be registered individually) had to go through IMPs cloud and therefore they would know (presuming their website and cloud systems didn't crash, go bankrupt or get bought-out by someone who's only goal was to crush the company) who was doing what, to whom, when and where. No biggie for a single "play" device. But to make a major long-term investment that's dependent on the whims and financial fortunes of someone else is a pretty big turn-off.
This device sounds like a nice idea, if a rather expensive one (at £30 a node - you could buy a lot of light switches for that). However it's in need of some fairly severe hacking to free it up for everyday, personal, use. Maybe once it breaks from from IMP-Central I'll be more interested.
Scientists! Repeat after me: We don't know
There's a certain hubris to a lot of so-called science. The assumption is that we can explain everything - or that we could, if only we got enough research grants.
So it is with the Sun. We know the basics of what makes it shine: in theory, at least. We know that it is the single biggest, overwhelmingly significant, all other factors pale in comparison, source of energy we have access to. Yet we presume that our scant knowledge is sufficient to make prognostications about temperature fluctuations, sunspot forecasts, satellite survivability and numerous other fields of "knowledge". If nothing else, this current major deviation from expectation would be enough to invalidate any other field of knowledge and make us reconsider the fundamentals.
Considering no-one's ever even been there, anything said about the Sun or its affect on us should be tacitly prefixed with "our best guess is ..."
Re: What could possibly go wrong?
> It seems to me there's too little cost to the complainant in this system
All that needs to happen is for Mega-corp's lackeys to do a quick Google for the company name each and every morning. Get the URLs of the mentioners, cross off the list the ones who've simply re-printed the company approved press release and fire off take-down notices to all the rest.
Just getting as far as a court hearing will cost in the £ five-figures, with no legal aid available and a full judgment can multiply that by 10 times. Plus, no defence lawyers would take on the year-long preparation for a case without some up-front guarantees that their fees would be paid (win or lose - especially: lose) which would basically mean any defendant having to pony-up the largest wad they're ever likely to see, to even start to defend themselves.
All for the "privilege" of calling Mega-corp a bunch of lying shysters? Hardly.
> This wine's recipe was strictly followed in each and every jar
Surely the ancients were savvy enough to make their "special recipe" wine in a large batch and then store (or sell) it in more manageable portions. That's the simplest explanation for a consistent mix in each jar.
But I suppose when the researchers want to "big up" their discovery (basically, a load of empty pots), then any little helps.
Re: What the law says makes no difference
> a comment can be stood up, so long as the commentard is willing to stand up and be counted
Yes, I appreciate that this law rearranges the responsibilities - much like rearranging deck chairs. But the basic injustice still stands. That mega-corp only has to send out a letter to effectively suppress any comments that they might / do / could decide were not wholly to their benefit. The problem is not so much who gets that letter posted into whichever orifice is open at the time (unless you're the hosting website), but that ALL IT TAKES to suppress a comment is the price of a stamp, as there is no practical or affordable alternative to folding.
No individual or website owner is in a financial position to defend their comment - even if they believe it is either relevant, not defamatory or can be backed up by evidence they actually possess. The cost of getting in to the game, let alone ante-ing up spells financial ruin for all but the most well-heeled. That's the reason the law makes no difference, because the law never has a chance to get involved. The law is still only for the rich.
When you stop to consider it, a wristwatch is a very poor concept. Half the time it's covered up by sleeves you always need to move your arm to see the watch face and it's often prone to that comedic staple: the cup full of coffee poured over the time-seeker.
So for a device, placing it on the wrist will always be a poor choice of location.
As far as the actual functionality of a smartwatch is concerned - did anyone actually THINK before implementing it? For example, the Samsung Gear has an LCD screen, so (like any phone or similar portable device) its display will be virtually invisible in daylight. The need to interact with the touch-screen means that to operate the smartwatch's functions, both hands are required: one attached to the wrist bearing the watch and the other to smear greasy fingers all over its tiny little screen.
Add to that the paltry capacity of the batteries severely limits the smartwatch's ability to perform useful functions (though why you'd ever want, need or use a camera in a wristwatch is beyond speculation). All I can think of is that these things were designed by people who were, as children, far too impressionable and had somehow imprinted the idea that 1960's TV "spies" devices were both cool and practical.
How wrong were they? (Ans: not quite as wrong as the technology analysts, who jumped on a bandwagon who's wheels have fallen off.)
What the law says makes no difference
... as website owners will never, ever be in a position to spend the money needed to defend themselves against something a pseudo-anonymous poster wrote. Merely the threat of legal action and the amount of dosh needed just to contest the simple, early complaint will be enough to make most websites cave with nary a whimper. In fact, pretty much the situation we have now.
So we'll still be in a position where any company that feels it's been the victim of
the truth a smear, only has to bang out a threatening letter and .... whoosh! the comment will be expunged so quickly that Prof. Hawking will have to be called in to rewrite the laws of Physics,
Cheap at twice the price
> prices of up to £800 an hour, which would seem expensive
Isn't that why MPs have expenses?
.... and I seem to recall Cameron himself being involved in a "cash for access" scheme a couple of years ago, He was charging a dam' sight more for his time then. Makes you wonder: who's really getting screwed?
Re: Yes, a "solution looking for a problem"
> where are all these lasers
LASERs will (are?) like electric motors. Not something you own per se, but an "invisible" component inside something else.
However, just like electric motors didn't make an "industrial revolution", neither will LASERs or 3D printers. However, given time, they might be incorporated into things or machines that do gain widespread acceptance.
The post-stuff age
Ask any kid what they want for christmas and the answer is more likely to be a download, or a game, or something off itunes, People today are eschewing physical things in favour of the intangible: information and entertainment. So the draw of a 3D printer in the home is not so much in what it makes, but in the process of making. Just as we are well past the time of peak-paper in the home.
The same applies at work. Less and less printing is taking place and most information only appears on the screens of devices - sometimes desk-bound and sometimes portable. So far as workplace 3D printing, the needs will be for much more specialised, high-quality and better designed products. So commercial 3D printing will only be found on the industrial estate, in the workshop of the specialist prototyper or short-run fabricator. Never in the corner of the office next to the coffee machine.
So where does that leave domestic 3D printers? In the same place as those other tools for making things: in the workshop. Just like hobbyist woodworkers, who will spend many more hours producing something hand-made than it would take them to earn the money to buy off the shelf - so there will always be a place for people for whom the making is more important, or fun, than the having. However, just like the market for lathes, compound-mitre saws and drill presses is quite active (among the cognoscenti) so will be the market for 3D printers. However they will never be a 1-per-home item.
> males exhibit a disproportionate increase in nasal size
So it's not because men tell more lies?
The next giant leap
We already know how to improve the performance of computers by several hundred percent - possibly by some orders of magnitude. It doesn't involve any technologies we don't already have. Nor does it require any major changes so far as the users are concerned. Indeed, for them, the improvements will be pretty transparent - expect for the screamingly fast performance they will see.
What is this change? Not new hardware, just properly designed and written software.
It's time to toss the bloated, inefficient existing software - with it's mess of interdependencies, incompatibilities and patched patches and start teaching people to write clean code with low overheads and that does no more than is required of it. At present the world of software development works on the same basis that NASA used for its moonshots: waste anything but time. In this case, time to market.
So we have software tools that put programmer productivity before runtime performance, resource requirements and size - on the basis that technology will provide whatever is necessary to run this stuff. That's fine while the curve is still on its upward climb and hardware is getting cheaper all the time. But all "S" curves reach their limits, eventually. Sooner or later the hardware won't be getting faster every year and then we'll start to see push-back from users who won't accept the Minimum Hardware requirements and will look for software that runs on their existing systems.
We already get this on smartphones and tablets, where a typical Android app weighs in at a few megabytes, compared with the hundreds of MB needed for a PC (or Linux) based package.
You never know: the root-and-branch reworking needed to remove all the cruft that existing software has accumulated over the decades might even give rise to more secure designs and possibly even less buggy code (and will definitely obviate all the workarounds built in for backwards compatibility). It's unlikely that the corporate behemoths will want to play, since this attacks their fundamental existence. But that might just be another advantage.
Seeing the good
> university education probably isn't a public good
Well, that kinda depends on the subject being studied.
We can probably agree that most degree courses these days involve adequately educated 18 year-olds leaving home (much to their parents' relief) and going off to study a subject they like, think they'll like or were coerced into by their secondary school's in a bid to improve their ratings. Most of those who survive the parties, house-sharing dramas, love affairs, exams and occasional spot of intellectual striving will soon be moving back in with their parents (if they didn't move house at the first opportunity and "forget" to mention that to their offspring), when they realise their qualification is no help whatsoever in putting food on the table, or paying the rent.
However, some degrees for some students result in "goods" so far beyond the average, mode or median (choose whatever statistical measure you like), that they are undeniably a public good. Take as an example any technological advance over the past 60 years. Almost all have been made by degree-educated individuals and would not have been made if they hadn't received their tertiary education.
Obviously, there is no way to predict which particular student(s) in which particular course(s) will go one to invent or discover something that will change the world. But we can say, that for certain types of course: lets call them "sciences", the more people who study them at a sufficiently high level, the more discoveries and inventions will benefit the world as a whole. Though the same probably can't be said for economics students.
Therefore it follows that for the world as a whole, it is a sound investment to promote, grow and even pay for these sorts of courses: the ones that as a numbers-game do create things that make our world better, safer, more prosperous and nicer. As over time, we will want, use and even need the stuff these people will go one to give us. Patents or no patents.
An untapped market
> Getting fast and accurate information to the public ...
One wonders what (future) advertisements would get linked to these emergency tweets? Medical insurance, fire extinguishers, bomb shelters