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Ransom Stephens

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Ransom Stephens is a technologist (ransomsnotes.com), science writer (ransomstephens.com), novelist (novels.ransomstephens.com), and Raiders fan.


Ransom Stephens

's contributions
  • 09.15.2014
  • 10 Things I saw at IDF2014
  • My first IDF in 2004 had all the negative components of a trade show with none of the buzz. Instead of showcasing new technologies from the EE physical layer all the way to the gee whiz gadgets, it was more like a plugfest centered on what vendors could do with Intel products and none of the vendors expected to generate sales leads, so they weren't very enthusiastic. While parts of IDF14 were kind of silly in their attempts to mimic an Apple product release, they also had some fun with the Makers and Arduino apps along with a nice spectrum of tech from active optical cables to 100 GbE to cutting edge dozen+ core server blades (which didn't make my top 10 because I couldn't get a good photo). Plus, the swag. At IDF04 I think they gave out pens, this year I got a killer one-arm backpack. And the food. Oysters in 2014, I don't think they even had donuts back in 2004.
  • 08.06.2013
  • The science and technology of Sensory Deception
  • Thought I'd mention... The Sensory Deception is a "Big Deal" on Kindle, which means it's cheap: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009R2WK82/ref=s9_hps_bw_g351_i17/192-9093052-3358250?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-10&pf_rd_r=0K2FP9PZSNKWB825ZJ24&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1876970902&pf_rd_i=6180870011
  • 08.05.2014
  • Measuring money—the beer standard
  • Hey Rich, Interesting comments, though I don't think anything in this article contradicts what you say. Of course, it's worse than printing, only 8% of the US Dollars in circulation take the form of cash! Printing money is really a metaphor for increasing (and decreasing) numbers in accounting databases by manipulating the bond market--but that's a topic for another article. If you put your money under the mattress, then it's out of circulation. Money that's out of circulation can cause deflation which, I'm led to believe but am just barely convinced, has far worse repercussions than inflation. Instead, you put money in a bank. The bank loans a good deal of that money to people---well, you saw It's a Wonderful Life and George Bailey's rant when there was the run on his Building and Loan. The result is that savings in banks and their subsequent loans add to the money supply. Say I put $100 in the bank and the bank loans $80 of it to you. Then I've got $100 in my database and you've put $80 to work and we end up with $180 out there. Of course you have no guarantee that "fiat" currency--i.e., engraved paper and cheap metal disks-- can be exchanged for anything, but the same is true for gold or land or even beer! If you're starving and I'm thirsty, you're not accepting gold from me for your beer and I'm not accepting gold from you for my food. Ultimately this is my thinly veiled point: a beer standard is no more nor less arbitrary than a gold standard. As for that 50 year-old beer... Sir, how dare you insinuate that a beer would find solace in my fridge for more than a week! :) Ransom
  • 06.27.2014
  • Don't major in CS: 5 reasons why
  • Tania Lombrozo, pscyh prof at Cal, argues the opposite in this: http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2014/06/09/320309576/learn-to-code-learn-to-think
  • 06.27.2014
  • Don't major in CS: 5 reasons why
  • One other thing, Durgasharan, Matt S. also suggested Knuth's book. I will read it and if it's as wonderful as you guys say, I'll follow up with something like the top 5 reasons to major in CS. Thanks for the suggestion.
  • 06.27.2014
  • Don't major in CS: 5 reasons why
  • One other thing, Durgasharan, Matt S. also suggested Knuth's book. I will read it and if it's as wonderful as you guys say, I'll follow up with something like the top 5 reasons to major in CS. Thanks for the suggestion.
  • 06.27.2014
  • Don't major in CS: 5 reasons why
  • I chose the phrase "ditch-diggers" for a variety of reasons. First, ditches are a metaphor for infrastructure, the sort of labor intensive things that absolutely must be done and done well. Second, it was irresistibly edgy. Third, of all the tasks in high tech that I enjoy, development of OSs or UIs or any purely support software would never appear on that list. I've written plenty of code including some embedded code, all algorithmic problem solving, data analysis, pattern recognition, optimization, and simulation stuff that really turns me on, but the thought of support code... I think I'd rather dig a ditch. No I've never worked on an RTOS, though there have been times when I have both cherished and disparaged the developers of various OSs for different reasons, as have we all.
  • 06.27.2014
  • Don't major in CS: 5 reasons why
  • Your experience is part of my motivation for writing this article. There are huge fields out there to be learned. The thought that Peter Thiel is in position to make economic decisions that will affect huge populations without the benefit of a few mandatory courses in history and literature rather frightens me. Am I wrong to think that CS is perhaps more of a vocational degree than math, physics, chem, bio, or other fields of engineering?