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Ask Slashdot: Keyboard Layout To Reduce Right Pinky/Ring Finger Usage?

AardvarkCelery Superglue and key mappings (165 comments)

Here's how I solved my pinky problem:

  1. Learn to type without your pinky fingers. Your left pinkies normally cover Q, A, Z. You can use your left 4th (ring) finger on those if you train your wrist a little. Similarly, you can also use your right 4th finger on 0, P, ; (semicolon), and . (period). For -, =, [, ], \, ', and, /, you'll need to move your elbow, which is less coordinated (unless you're also a violinist, I guess). To make it easier, I put a dot of superglue on the 0 and P keys so I could position my 2nd (pointer) finger on them and then find the keys next to them without looking down every time. Ctrl is easy to find since it's at the corner of the keyboard. Alt is next to the spacebar which is long and smooth, so I learned it find it, too, without looking.
  2. Remap the apps you use most to use stronger fingers. I primarily use Vim for coding and Opera as a web browser. Both are extremely customizable. In Vim, I set <F5> to _ (underscore), <F6> to [] (pair of square brackets), <F7> to () parentheses, and so on. I made the spacebar a substitute for the : (colon), which is ubiquitous in Vim. I set up Opera so I can browse most sites mouse-free using the fingers other than the pinkies. For example, < goes back, > goes forward, and j/k/h/l move through the links in the page.
  3. Beware of your wrists. As I was learning to do this, I developed a very sore wrist from the new rotation that I wasn't used to. Chair arm rests were helpful to move at least a little of the burden to my elbows. Also, a custom made (by me) keyboard wrist pad helped give my wrists some rest. Most importantly, I set timers to force myself to take breaks.

My problem was not dystonia, but a combination of tendinitis and carpel tunnel syndrome (diagnosed by a neurologist, but mild as far as CTS goes). However, I think the solutions I found might be useful for any programmer trying to cut down on pinky strain.

about 2 years ago
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Is Google Plus deliberately crippling Opera?

AardvarkCelery Was buggy before (2 comments)

I use Opera primarily. About a month ago, I sent G+ a bug report because the notification indicator wasn't working properly in Opera. It was very broken (opening a blank window, etc.). It worked fine in other browsers. I think they just gave up on fixing it. I don't care. The indicator is distracting. I get more work done without it.

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Ebook Reader for Scientific Papers?

AardvarkCelery Re:Sony PRS 950 (254 comments)

PRS 950 screen (7.1") is far smaller than the Kindle DX (9.7"). For reading letter/A4 sized scientific articles, screen size matters.

more than 3 years ago
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Is attending a CS conference worth the time?

AardvarkCelery DO IT... absolutely! (1 comments)

I published a paper at a small conference when I was an undergrad. After working for a few years, I started to apply to graduate schools. My grades were good, but not great. Same goes for GRE scores. I also had a few especially awkward blemishes. Nevertheless, I got into the place I wanted. I strongly believe it is because I had published a paper about my own work. That's what grad students do, so having done it as an undergrad proves to them that you can be successful as a grad student.

Even if I hadn't gone to grad school, the conference was amazing in that it showed me how much was going on in one little area. It helped me learn to think a little bit by seeing a lot of people trying many different directions within that area. That was useful when I was working in industry. There were always better programmers than me, but I had a special knack for exploring a solution space to solve whatever was problem of the day.

This stuff may or may not apply to you and you don't know the future now. However, for the $1500 (or whatever) that it will cost to attend (including airfare, hotel, registration fee, etc.) your best bet is to go.

more than 3 years ago
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China Makes World's Fastest Supercomputer

AardvarkCelery Re:How much stolen technology is inside? (222 comments)

Washington Times (reprint): U.S. secrets aboard latest Chinese sub
http://www.taiwandc.org/washt9908.htm

Popular Mechanics: How China Steals U.S. Military Secrets
http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military/news/3319656

San Francisco Chronicle: China's war on the U.S. economy
http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-01-15/opinion/17828392_1_security-review-commission-china-s-internet-currency-manipulation

Wired: Good Old Fashioned Espionage
http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/07/good-old-fashioned-industrial-espionage/

more than 4 years ago
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China Makes World's Fastest Supercomputer

AardvarkCelery How much stolen technology is inside? (222 comments)

It's hard to get too excited about technological advances in a country that aggressively steals from the US, Japan, Europe and anybody else that has technology that they think would be nice to have.

It reminds me of the announcement of a new Chinese submarine a while back, where the critical technology had been stolen from the US through espionage.

If it turns out they made this system honestly, then I'll gladly congratulate them. However, their record on intellectual integrity so far is pretty dismal.

more than 4 years ago
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A Million Kids Misdiagnosed with ADHD?

AardvarkCelery The anti-ADHD sentiment on Slashdot is frustrating (711 comments)

I have ADHD. I've had it since I was a young child. It has been diagnosed independently at various points in my life by several psychiatrists and psychologists, most of whom are ADHD specialists. I have no doubt that ADHD continues to be overdiagnosed, especially by family physicians who don't have enough knowledge and experience on the subject. However, there are also a lot of people on Slashdot who know even less about it but still go on and on about how ADHD doesn't exist and parents just need to be more tolerant. It's not all about the parents.

Right now, I'm in the home stretch of a PhD in computer science. Getting to this point would have been nearly impossible if it weren't for getting treatment for the ADHD. At first, I tried to do without the medicine. I don't like it and I worry about the long-term effects. However, I wasn't getting things done and I was sinking into a hole to a point where I knew I couldn't possibly finish the PhD if I didn't get treatment. As it stands, medication is one component of the overall plan for coping with my inability to concentrate on my work and get things done normally. I've learned a lot of strategies from reading bits here and there, and just studying the problem as I worked my way through undergrad and now grad school. There are dozens of tactics that I use regularly that have worked well. As one example, I carry a supply of earplugs everywhere I go and use them whenever I need to study or work. There's no silver bullet, but together, they have helped a lot.

That said, without the medicine, I don't think I could accomplish what I'm trying to do. That's not a lack of confidence. It's just a realization that if you have to read 5+ research papers a week on top of a bunch of other stuff, it's not going to work if it takes you an hour to read two pages - 4-5 hours for a 10-page conference paper of any substance. Before I got on the medicine, people around me thought I might end up dropping out.

While I totally agree that overdiagnosis of ADHD is a problem, it would be kinder if folks here would recognize that for some people, ADHD it really is an important component of the problem and getting treatment can help them get on their way.

There are a variety of perspectives out there, but one that is gathering steam (and makes a lot of sense to me personally) is Thomas Brown's work on executive functioning. A couple of references:

more than 4 years ago
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FTC Greenlights Google-AdMob Deal

AardvarkCelery Greedy Apple (42 comments)

I'll bet the people at Apple are kicking themselves now for jumping into the ad market so soon. Had they been less greedy, it would have held their big competitor at bay to some extent.

more than 4 years ago
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How Do You Accurately Estimate Programming Time?

AardvarkCelery It's all about uncertainty (483 comments)

Agreed. The main complicating factor is the level of uncertainty:

  • Ambiguity in the specification
  • Unfamiliar technology
  • Code design with non-obvious solutions
  • Interface constraints that must be reconciled

I list the uncertainties, make a wild guess on each one, and finally triple the result. Historically I only successfully predict about 1/3 of the problems that are going to come up.

The hard part is justifying the inflated estimate when asked, since it's based on difficulties that I haven't actually identified yet.

more than 4 years ago
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MIT Offers Picture-Centric Programming To the Masses With Sikuli

AardvarkCelery Re:My grandmother knows python (154 comments)

If a friend wanted to learn just enough programming to do a few light chores, what would you recommend? Python is arguably one of the easiest languages to learn. Randy Pausch used it for Alice, which has been successful for teaching middle school girls how to program. So if "computer users with rudimentary skills" means rudimentary programming, then that works for me.

more than 4 years ago
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MIT Offers Picture-Centric Programming To the Masses With Sikuli

AardvarkCelery Re:FrontPage? (154 comments)

Yeah, that's real easy for a programmer to say. Ever used a brownie mix? I'll bet a pastry chef would say, "I'd like to see people who wish to bake brownies actually learn how to bake brownies properly." Tools like Sikuli are the programming equivalent to brownie mix. It's easy gratification. (... or at least easier than learning to capture part of the screen and then do fuzzy image pattern matching on it.) If I were a very casual, light duty programmer, this would be pretty helpful sometimes.

more than 4 years ago
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MIT Offers Picture-Centric Programming To the Masses With Sikuli

AardvarkCelery What's so wrong with TurboTax? (154 comments)

Some accountants seem to think everyone needs to learn accounting in order to function in society. But people have other jobs. Some of us like our dumbed down tools because they fill a need. My tax software lets me do my taxes without learning "proper" accounting. Similarly, I know some people who benefit greatly from a little passing knowledge of high-level scripting languages like VB, JavaScript, or even Python.

For those kinds of people, Sikuli looks pretty cool because they can do things that would be pretty difficult otherwise. Hey, even for a lot of experienced programmers, capturing a region of the screen and doing fuzzy pattern matching might be a significant task. I haven't tried Sikuli yet, but it looks like it would be very helpful for some things, and a lot easier to deal with than AutoIt or AutoHotkey.

(BTW, TurboTax was just an example. I actually use something I like better, but you get the idea.)

more than 4 years ago
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China Luring Scientists Back Home

AardvarkCelery Re:We are asking the same in India (292 comments)

As a leader, it is the responsibility of a country like US to help everyone grow. If the US does not demonstrate leadership traits, someone else will. Leadership is not simply about more money/resources/power. It is about being a "leader" and behaving like one.

Hogwash. China and India are directly competing with the United States on several levels. China builds weapons specifically targeted at the United States. Frequently, the weapons are based on stolen US technology.

What logic says we have to help our competitors grow???

(Granted, our relationship with India is far simpler and more cordial than our awkward tie-up with China, but there's still enough competition in some areas to take notice.)

more than 4 years ago
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Music By Natural Selection

AardvarkCelery Site hacked? (164 comments)

The first time I clicked the link...
http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2009/12/amanda-gefter-books-arts.php
... I got a bogus system scan web page and then it tried to get me to run an EXE file. I tried the link a few minutes later and it seemed okay. I'm perplexed as to what happened. From my browser history, the bad link was...
h t t p : / / n i s s a n - r e n t . c n / g o . p h p ? i d = 2 0 0 6 - 5 1 & k e y = 0 5 2 2 c 7 0 6 6 & d = 1

I'm using Opera 10.10 (latest) and haven't been anywhere other than major news sites today. Just thought I'd mention it in case anyone else sees the same.

more than 4 years ago
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Microsoft Letting Patents Move To Linux Firms

AardvarkCelery Is this goodwill? (228 comments)

In any case, this is a good thing. Is it goodwill from Microsoft? I'm not sure. When they made the big internet patent grab several years ago, it seemed about as evil as you can get. But in having done that, one could argue that they kept other more evil companies from grabbing and exploiting them. If Microsoft simply gave them away now, that would be goodwill. If they charged $100B, that would be evil. If they charge essentially what they've spent to acquire and hold them, well, that still seems like a good thing. Twenty-two patents at $50K each would be $1.1M. So if the price was >$5M, I'd call it evil.

more than 5 years ago
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FDA Says Homeopathic Cure Can Cause Loss of Smell

AardvarkCelery Re:Zicam is not homeopathic... (452 comments)

The quote in the Q&A is regarding a different product. The article is about the zinc gluconate gel for colds. Your quote has to do with the allergy gel that does not contain the offending zinc gluconate.

more than 5 years ago
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Opera Mini Not Rejected From iPhone (Yet)

AardvarkCelery Safari is one of my biggest iPhone complaints (202 comments)

Well, suffice it to say that people have a variety of opinions on this. I bought an iPhone (mainly due to some work-related reasons).

Safari, and the lack of an Opera option, were the main reason I really wanted to go with a Blackberry and NOT buy the iPhone. IMHO, Safari is great for making iPhone commercials that look cool, but in terms of usability, it has some serious problems, mainly that you cannot change the size of the text, independent of the layout. So, if I zoom in to make the text readable, then I have to constantly scroll right, and then left, and then right, and then left, and then right, and so on. Opera handles this much more gracefully, albeit with less glamour. Another problem with Safari on iPhone is that it crashes every few minutes. It is extremely unstable. Furthermore, Safari on iPhone doesn't let me sync my bookmarks and other things that would be awfully nice to have on iPhone.

I'm happy if you (and others) enjoy Safari and don't think these shortcomings are important to you, but personally I'd love to have some viable option, preferably Opera.

more than 6 years ago

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