Thursday, December 31, 2009

The modern economic dilemma: Everything is free, but no one has a job.

Excerpt from the The Google decade:
... consider all the mortal foes Google has racked up in the last decade. Microsoft. Amazon. Viacom. News Corp. AT&T. Every publishing house and newspaper in America. That’s quite a list for two men who once merely aspired to put the Gettysburg Address on your screen in a microsecond or two. What other businesses will they disrupt in the coming years? ... In industry after industry, by offering services for nothing, Google has metastasized the modern economic dilemma: Everything is free, but no one has a job. This was probably inevitable, and maybe we should thank Google for forcing us to face reality now, and in such a dramatic fashion.

Friday, October 30, 2009

WiFi disconnects every 5-10 minutes when laptop runs on battery

A possible solution:
The problem isn't interference, it isnt the router. The problem has to do with the power settings for the wireless card itself.

To *attempt* to fix it:
1. Right click on "My Network Places" and hit properties.
2. Right click on your wireless connection icon and hit properties.
3. Under the "General" tab, click on the Configure button next to the device description (the button next to the box with the label "Connect Using:"
4. Click on the "Advanced" tab
5. Click on "Power Management" in the list box and then uncheck the "Use Default Value" box and set the slider to "highest".

You may need to update your drivers before you can get to these menus, to do that, go to the Intel website and search their support for drivers for the Intel Pro/Wireless 2100 series. They should only have a couple drivers to choose from.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The state of computer science

On why MIT switched from Scheme to Python:

In 1980, good programmers spent a lot of time thinking, and then produced spare code that they thought should work. ... But programming now isn’t so much like that ... . Nowadays you muck around with incomprehensible or nonexistent man pages for software you don’t know who wrote. You have to do basic science on your libraries to see how they work, trying out different inputs and seeing how the code reacts. This is a fundamentally different job. ...

Comment #1: 

So the reason, basically, is that software today is a train wreck, and you might as well embrace helplessness and random tinkering from the start?

More insightful words have not been uttered about the state of computer science.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

That's capitalism

Excerpt from an interesting post about hedge fund replication:
If you are one of the best doctors in the country, chances are you are working somewhere like the Mayo Clinic. Or perhaps you may be at Johns Hopkins, UCSF, or even the Cleveland Clinic. But it is rather unlikely (as much as Michael J Fox would have you believe in Doc Hollywood) that you will be the family practicioner in Grady, SC. (And that’s no knock on SC!)

Simply, the top talent in each in industry gravitates to where the best compensation is. That’s capitalism.

Alan Greenspan did not believe in regulating fraud.

Fascinating documentary on Frontline (PBS) - The Warning about the CFTC's efforts under Brooksley Born to prevent fraud in the derivatives markets, and to regulate it. A quote:
"We didn't truly know the dangers of the market, because it was a dark market," says Brooksley Born, the head of an obscure federal regulatory agency -- the Commodity Futures Trading Commission [CFTC] -- who not only warned of the potential for economic meltdown in the late 1990s, but also tried to convince the country's key economic powerbrokers to take actions that could have helped avert the crisis. "They were totally opposed to it," Born says. "That puzzled me. What was it that was in this market that had to be hidden?"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The so called scarcity of scientists

There is a lot of hand wringing about how wall street drains the real economy of bright people who might otherwise have become scientists. See for instance this recent article. An excerpt:

"Graduates in these three fields all too frequently choose careers in finance rather than the real economy because the financial sector provides far greater executive compensation"

That is pure baloney.

I am one of those persons "with strong mathematical, engineering, and scientific backgrounds" with a PhD from a top university.

The sub sector of the industry I worked in was dominated by 2 billion dollar companies. First Company C announced they were shutting down all R&D operations to cut costs. Within weeks, company S followed suit by shutting down their R&D department as well. The day to day work at both places has gotten to be mind numbingly boring with 0 innovation.

Where should people like me find interesting, challenging and rewarding work that involves Mathematics, Sciences and Engineering? I will give you a clue - there are no high paying technical jobs outside of finance in America.

Stop paying the lawyers, sportsmen and Hollywood stars so much and pay more to scientists - you will immediately see a large number of scientists and technologists. This has happened only twice in 20th century America - the post Sputnik era was the first and the tech boom of the late 90's was the second.

Enough of this "we need more scientists" nonsense. The highly trained scientists are willingly walking to Wall street because this society does not value science. People like me are in no mood to ruin our life and health slaving away at unappreciated technology jobs when society pays us neither good money nor social respect. Put your money where your mouth is or else shut up.

Here is a simple proposition: if you want me to work in science instead of on Wall Street, then pay me more on Main Street.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Why I do not like the Kindle

I will not tolerate Borders walking into my house and removing a book from my bookshelf, unless they show a search warrant from a magistrate. Why should it be any different with any other bookstore?

Such an event was only bothering me as a theoretical possibility but now it appears that something like this actually transpired: Amazon deletes purchased copies of 1984 from Kindle users' devices - it would have been even more ironic if the book in question had been Fahrenheit 450.