45 posts • joined 14 Nov 2012
Too much of a good thing
A recent study suggested gas fracking is bad, because the fall in energy prices will stimulate the economy too much, and encourage us to use more energy. But if you are not prioritising GDP, and happiness is a priority, you might be more concerned that fracking seems to make some people really upset - so its obviously a bad thing.
Re: Wolf, wolf I say!!
At least Butterfly won't be lonely in the dock - Bitcoin kit suppliers are notorious for ahem "underperformance".
Microsoft Office is in Big Doo Doo
If you haven't tried Google Office lately, you should. I recently switched banks, and forgot to update Microsoft 365, which caused my subscription to be suspended temporarily. While I was waiting for Microsoft to sort out my new bank details, I tried Google Office.
I was astounded - as easy, if not easier to user than Microsoft Office, ability to download high quality compatible word or PDF documents, and it was all free. Google does some kind of professional version, but if you just want to edit a few documents, you can function perfectly well with the free version.
Guess what - I cancelled my subscription to Microsoft 365, and I have no plan to reactivate it. I don't see the point of paying the M$ tax, when I can get everything I need for free.
Be a specialist in a lot of things
You're not a generalist - you're a polymath specialist. Anyone who can learn C# in 2 days, well enough to spot the mistakes, is already good enough to add value to a C# project, and would be a tremendous asset to any IT project.
Obtaining recognition for this ability is just a matter of demonstrating your value to your potential clients.
Before starting my own app business in 2012, I was an IT contractor in London, working the merchant banking circuit. I never had trouble landing the highest paid contracts, despite the fact each role was significantly different to the previous role.
The reason - I never present myself as a generalist, I presented myself as a specialist with a broad range of skills.
When pitching to a client, I work out what they want, and list recent occasions on which I used the skills they require. If I don't have that exact skill, I try to demonstrate the relevance of a similar skill.
When I wanted to move into C++, I was straight up - I said "I don't have a lot of commercial C++ experience, but I've been working hard to learn it. I'm hoping my skills will be useful to you"
Obviously this was a challenge to ask a lot of difficult questions - but I passed.
When interviewing once for Microsoft, they got so desperate to find a question I couldn't answer, they started asking about internal details of SQL Server. I said "come on guys, I haven't seen the sourcecode". I got that contract as well.
Be positive about your approach. Nobody has the exact skills clients need. But you can demonstrate that you will add value to their project, by being confident, by demonstrating your relevant experience, and by demonstrating how you have handled learning new skills in the past.
Eric Worrall (click the link if you want to ask me more questions offline).
Re: The takeaway . . .
My point is the models did not predict the pause in surface temperature. It is all very well coming up with excuses after the fact, but I prefer models I trust to get predictions right before they occur.
Since the models did not get this most important metric, surface temperature, correct, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the models are defective.
All the other fields of science listed have the important distinction that their theories make predictions which can be verified with observations.
For example, Charles Darwin used his theory to predict the existence of a moth with a 12 inch tongue - a prediction which was laughed at in its day, but which was borne out by observation, when such a moth was finally discovered.
Only in the field of Climate Science are we expected to accept computer projections as if they are themselves evidence, even when they don't match real world observations.
I used to work in financial modelling. One thing we observed was it was always easier to retrofit models to past price changes, than to predict the future. Claiming models which can't predict the future can tell us anything useful about the future is nonsense.
I don't claim to know more than the entire world's body of climate science. But since I am affected by whatever decisions are made on my behalf, I have the right to demand that they get their science right, before my tax money is spent on mitigation measures which their defective models predict are necessary.
Re: The takeaway . . .
I accept the theory of evolution because there is plenty of supporting evidence, such as Darwin's moth - non trivial predictions which have been confirmed by observation.
I do not accept that the world is warming dangerously, because the evidence is that the models on which such assertions are based are deeply flawed.
1. The models did not predict the pause in global warming since the late 90s.
2. The instrumental record shows similar rates of warming to the late 1980s warming, upon which the global warming scare is based.
3. Having a lot of scientists say something is so is not evidence. Every scientific advance has occurred because a scientist or group of scientists proved what everyone believed is wrong.
Until climate scientists produce some models which work, there is no reason to take what they say seriously.
The climate facts are not that complex
The climate models are predicting warming which isn't happening. We've released a gigantic amount of CO2 into the atmosphere since the late 90s, and it has done diddly squat to global temperature.
Until climate scientists produce some models which work, and stop calling critics rude names, their discipline deserves the same respect as ESP research or UFOology.
Left Wing success stories
Climate change? Really?
According to Hans Von Storch, one of the giants of climate research, 98% of climate models cannot be reconciled to observations. In a few years, if the world doesn't start warming, this will rise to 100%. All of the models are running too hot, predicting warming which simply has not happened.
Yet people still run the vicious smear that doubting the theory of anthropogenic climate change, which has an abysmal track record of prediction, is the same as doubting evolution, which has a long history of validated predictions.
Some apple apps have OpenSSL compiled into the app. In addition, many Apple apps communicate with server components on Linux machines. So suggesting iOS is "immune", while probably technically true, isn't the full story.
Live Project - https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/live-project/id808101896
Missing the target...
I'm an Abbott supporter, but this is a stupid idea.
Criminals can easily circumvent this law using steganography - concealing a hidden message inside another message.
So they could surrender the "fake" keys, without compromising their real message.
There's quite a story behind this... :-)
Electrostatic inertial confinement fusion is one of the great maybe / almost stories of nuclear fusion. It works - well enough so it is used in neutron particle beam generators (useful for say detecting concealed nuclear weapons in a cargo container), but nobody has ever quite figured out how to extract power from it.
The problem is it leaks too much energy - as the particles violently change direction, upon approaching one of the electrodes, or actually strike the electrodes, they emit high energy photons - x-rays and suchlike - which very efficiently carry energy out of the system. So you have to keep topping up the energy in the plasma, to keep it hot enough for nuclear fusion to occur, with far more energy than the nuclear fusion process actually generates.
Having said that, Robert Bussard, one of the giants of 20th century nuclear physics, claimed he had found a way to overcome this issue, and was attempting to raise finance for a full scale test device, until his unfortunate death from cancer. If he was right, the world came very close to a viable nuclear fusion system.
Maybe Jamie will take up Bussard's work, and find the final key to the puzzle - will discover the secret of limitless zero carbon energy.
I'd rather vote LDP - http://www.ldp.org.au/
Even "the oceans will boil" green fanatic James Hansen, in between being arrested, issued an open letter which says nuclear power is the way to go, if you want to reduce CO2 - that renewables won't work.
Mono on Linux is easy
Is being arrogant really more important than keeping your clients happy?
Obviously you try to steer clients to using tech you prefer, for good reasons, but if they insist on .NET, then .NET on Linux is IMO better than .NET on M$.
Setting up a .NET environment on Linux is a straightforward compile - easy for someone familiar with Linux to do. Of course, you also have to be familiar with IIS / .NET application packages to make the .NET code work ;-).
Re: Why downgrade?
Don't be a snob :-). I prefer Linux / PHP as a backend server for my apps, for security and simplicity, but sometimes clients have legacy code, or maybe they just plain want to run a .NET component. In these situations, .NET on Linux is IMO a better solution than .NET on M$.
C# / .NET on Linux is easy
It is not difficult to install a Mono / c# environment on Linux. I did this for a client who had a ASP.NET component they wanted to run on Linux / Amazon EC2.
There are a few gotchas. You have to be careful with compilation dependencies if you want SSL support, while building the Mono environment, and you have to check which language features are supported on Mono (some of the .NET 4 stuff was not well supported, last time I used this).
Obviously code which has a strong dependency on explicit Windows components won't work, without refactoring.
Otherwise it works OOTB.
Re: Balancing Imbalance
Wasps in every crack or cavity, most of the world's deadly snakes and spiders, even ticks which can paralyse and kill you with their venom, tiny thumbnail size irukandji jellyfish which can't be seen or felt whose sting is fatal, great white sharks cruising the waters, a risk of nasty tropical fevers every time one of the plentiful mossies bites you, the risk of meeting a crocodile on your next bush walk, but hey, its home :-)
Wasps here in Queensland are an absolute pest. I've even found the beginning of small wasps nests in the plastic cavities of clothes pegs. They're very fast, and a total nuisance if you don't euthanise them with a good squirt of outdoor surface spray.
New Barbarian Manifesto
I first saw "No Representation without Taxation" in "The New Barbarian Manifesto", a book written over a decade ago by a London School of Economics Professor.
His point was very simple. If the number of voters consuming government money outnumber the people providing government money, then Democracy will fail. Consumers of government money have no stake in the productive side of the economy, they will simply vote themselves more and more benefits, regardless of the damage to economic productivity.
As a solution, he suggest the future might embrace altered forms of democracy, such as no representation without taxation.
Very interesting book, it was written over a decade ago, yet it hasn't aged - it could have been written yesterday.
Why doesn't China adopt Android OS? Android OS is open source, has bazillions of apps, and a large, loyal following in PRC, and can and has been adapted for desktop use. It should be a no brainer.
The trucks navigate via GPS - OMG, supply trains for any enemy clever enough to push the on switch on a GPS spoofer.
Even Iran has GPS subversion technology these days...
A convient crisis
A crisis, even an imaginary crisis, makes politics easy. People will put up with overpriced food, with poor roads, with bad housing, with high electricity charges, with political incompetence, even with a little corruption, if they think their sacrifice means something - if they think their politicians are doing a good job of addressing the crisis.
If politicians admit the climate crisis isn't a big deal, people will hold them to account for their failings - so they are as likely to let go of this cornucopia of false virtue as they are to let go of their parliamentary expenses.
Waste of effort
There is already a small, portable (even hand held) device which can stop a car. So even aside from the moral dimension, this EU research effort is an utter waste of time and money.
Waste of time
I've been an IT professional for over 20 years. This scheme is a waste of time.
The reason - most people find software development mind numbingly boring. The money or societal need simply isn't enough reason to be an IT professional - you have to love what you do, to be any good at it.
Programming is a gift, a calling, a mental illness, it takes an unusual mindset to find joy in it - kindof like oddballs who spend time creating intricate model train sets. If you don't have that strange psychological aberration, you will never be any good at software.
By all means expose the young darlings to a little IT - until you try it, you can't know whether it is for you. But don't force the poor kids to study a course which most of them will find unendurably tedious.
Because if you force kids to suffer through a course like that, their response will be to disrupt class - anything to relieve the pain. And the few kids who enjoy the course and find their calling will be denied a proper education, by the many who want to do anything other than sit still and have to listen to an IT teacher.
Perhaps a Soviet Double Agent ordered Turing's Death
If MI5 was seriously considering assassinating Turing, perhaps a high level Soviet agent made the final decision - Turing was more a threat to the Soviets than to the UK.
I created TxtGone - https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/txtgone/id722557310 - for a client, it allows you to send selfies which only last a few seconds before self destructing. No replay feature in TxtGone :-).
Perhaps, and this is only speculation, the $10 million went directly to whoever made the decision to use the flawed algorithm - RSA bosses might not have known anything about it.
Write a mobile app
Easiest way to get an IT job, especially if you don't have much verifiable experience, is to write and publish a few mobile apps - iPhone and if possible Android.
Employers know your CV is a pack of lies, but if your iPhone app impresses them, you'll get the job.
Install rsync, then backup to Google Drive, Drop Box, whatever you want. On my mac I've installed rsync for backing up project files, makes life simple.
Old IT vs New IT
Being an IT drone in an office is how most people see IT - and they rightly see it as a seriously unattractive career. But there is more to IT than this.
There are a growing number of IT people who work from home, on their own time, helping clients, cutting code for clients who matter. Who treat IT as a craft rather than a profession. Next week I'm moving to a tropical beach - in this modern age of Skype and high speed internet, there is no need for me to ever personally meet most of my clients. The few I do travel to meet are worth the trip.
And the best part - I'm more productive now than I ever was doing 9-5, doing more interesting work, enjoying life, spending more time with my wife and daughter, working the hours I want to work, on my terms.
Life is good.
Next time you think about that tropical beach, think about what you would to do pay for the lifestyle. If waiting tables or taking shifts in the local night owl doesn't grab you as a good career choice, you might want to give a little thought to learning some IT skills.
Prostitution may have been the first profession, but software development will be the last. When they don't need us anymore, the machines will be thinking for themselves, and the age of employment shall be well and truly over.
Everyone should be *exposed* to software development - if someone has the knack, its a wonderful skill - it gives you a level of empowerment and control over the electronic toys in our life which few others achieve
But very few people will be drawn to coding - if you don't have the "dull weirdo" mindset, it just won't interest you.
Which is rather a shame, because in a few years, there may be precious little else to do, if you want to earn a living.
We live in an age where cars can drive themselves, where CNC metal working machines have replaced entire teams of skilled craftsmen, where rules engines diagnose disease with inhuman skill, where every profession is slowly being encroached by artificial intelligence.
In a few years, the blessed things will even start to have *ideas* - so what will you do then, ideas man?
Coding skill is a hedge against a future of unemployment - but only for those who love to code.
Lousy watch, great clock
This should have been sold as an alarm clock, or a pocket watch, not a wrist watch...
Americans should feel a sense of relief that their horendous government deficit and growing accumulated debts in excess of $16 TRILLION are taking a breather.
Human Brain 1000000x more powerful than a computer
The computation power of the human brain - at least a million times more powerful than any desktop computer, running on a fraction of the energy per computation operation - shows that computers can be improved by at least six orders of magnitude, without even trying.
This decade will see a serious rampup of efforts to reverse engineer the brain. Such efforts should produce a spectacular array of computing improvements, more than enough to keep Moore's Law alive and kicking.
As to people who think that only a brain can produce brain like computation - if all else fails, that is exactly what will happen. The next generation of computers may need nutrient solution as well as electricity.
Windows 8 - why I left Windows
Well not entirely, but I'm sooo glad I never had to deal with building surface apps. The horror stories from my mates who are still within the clutches of Redmond make me more than happy with my decision.
Nowdays I create mobile apps - for Apple and Android. A much happier place to be!
There is smoke
There is a tiny puff of smoke, which is visible with some of the shots, consistent with the ammo. Modern ammunition uses "smokeless" powder, so called because it doesn't emit much smoke - nowhere near as much as black powder.
I think the video is real - the guy certainly didn't try to hide the defects with the gun, such as the dodgy firing mechanism. When I was a kid I build a couple of Saturday Night Specials in my grandpa's machine shop (since destroyed - I just wanted to see if it could be done), my Grandpa was a WW2 munitions machinist, so he showed me some of his skills. The gun design is IMO plausible.
The porn filtering proposal is a disaster for Britain.
If only smart people can jack off while viewing porn, stupid people might have to settle for having sex - which might lead to lots more stupid people.
Interviewing an Aspergers
Aaron Milne, please send me an email, so I have your contact details, just in case I ever need someone with your gifts - I also provide IT services in Brisbane - I develop mobile apps. You can reach me via http://www.desirableapps.com
Back when I had a normal job, I used to help interview candidates.
One interview I will never forget was with someone who almost certainly had Aspergers.
He said wildly inappropriate things in the interview - talking in detail about what he didn't like about his current job (rule of interviews - you *never* do that - keep it positive!). He was completely factual and honest with his answers, but he didn't notice any non verbal queues, and answered every question in the technical interview perfectly.
After the interview, one of my fellow interviewers said "that was weird". I said "I think he has Aspergers". The others asked "what is that?". I said "Its a high functioning form of Autism. He will never be good at managing people. You would never put him in front of a client. But what he gets in return is a superhuman ability to concentrate, to solve problems. He would be perfect to track down your software stability issues, he will track them down, and solve them.".
I recommended they hire - a recommendation which was sadly overruled.
5 days of interviews isn't a job application process, its a consultancy assignment. I'd hand them an invoice at the end of the week.
Free Markets Reduce Emissions
America is the only major country which has substantially reduced emissions - the shale gas revolution has reduced coal use. Overall American energy use has risen, but coal emits far more CO2 for a given amount of energy than gas, so the switch to gas has led to an overall reduction.
"Green" Europe on the other hand has failed to reign in emissions. Through a combination of perverse incentives, irrational opposition to shale gas, and post Fukishima panic, Europe has substantially increased emissions of CO2.
Given how close scientists are to breakeven nuclear fusion, Thorium fission, and other breakthrough technologies, it is doubtful we will be using carbon intensive energy in 20 years, let alone 50 years (at least not on the same scale as today).
But there's a catch - only rich societies can afford to experiment, to try new things. Any environmental legislation which harms economic growth is likely to cause emissions to rise, just as they have risen in restrictive, legislation happy Europe.
I don't have any IT qualifications, and have never felt any need to get them.
I was hired by a bank when I was 20 on the basis of an aptitude test - they were having trouble finding the right people, so they widened the net. Since then I've worked freelance for governments, merchant banks, power companies, Microsoft Corporation - none of them even asked about my qualifications.
I currently build phone apps for a living, working from home. Give it a try - its much more fun than being a suit.
Here is some previous research into this pressing problem.
Cheap Satellite Launch
Rather than launching traditional expensive satellites, isn't it time countries dusted off old plans for launching small, cheap satellites, which could be replaced easily?
For example, Gerald Bull's HARP based supergun. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Bull
Although Bull's project had a colourful and tragic end, with Bull himself being assassinated in his apartment in Belgium, the fact is his technology worked - he successfully launched small payloads into suborbital trajectories, and had a clear engineering path to creating a simple space launcher capable of pushing payloads into orbit at a fraction of the cost of traditional launches.
That way countries wouldn't be stuck with trying to fund expensive launch programmes at times of national financial distress - they could simply push whatever they needed into orbit, for thousands rather than millions of dollars, as and when they needed.
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- Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know