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The Grumpy Programmer has Advice for Young Computer Workers (Video)

Art3x Re:Different ages of development (95 comments)

I liked the part about poetry. That rings true. I came to programming from writing. They have a lot in common.

I am not sure there's much advice us older programmers can give new developers because the industry is a lot different now.

Experience counts. It's wiser to hire someone with 25 instead of 5 years experience. I generally get better results from the elders, whether they are my server admin, plumber, or barber. The years round off rough edges, and they're just more relaxed. They may be grumpy, but they always seem ready to make a joke. In their work they are more methodical and deliberate. They seem to be working slowly, but they finish sooner. They're mainly just less frantic, less wasted motion, more thoughful. There's no problem they can't figure out, eventually. They also are more likely to be the ones to insist on doing the job right, or thoroughly, more than the customer is asking them to. They are more likely to describe something as elegant or know what the word means.

This obsession with youth is sort of like how everything's new "on the Internet." Eventually the gleam will wear off, and society hopefully will realize that it's better to hire old people, just like it's better to hire master plumbers, 60-year-old architects, and gray-haired graphic designers. Steve Jobs, for NeXT's logo, paid $100,000 to Paul Rand, who was 72.

I recently worked with a younger programmer on a project and it was miserable. He couldn't give me 20 lines of code that didn't have a bug in it, because he was dependent upon having some QA person test his work and an IDE that would hilight every mistake.

I'm a web programmer in my 30s, but I use vi, psql, and --- well, that's about it.

6 hours ago
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Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

Art3x I'm open to it (753 comments)

I thought this was a nice response, and I would be interested in the naysayers' response to this response: The Biggest Myths, by Lennart Poettering.

Also, the main complaint against systemd is that it is big and monolithic, instead of a series of simple tools strung together, like cat, awk, and sed. But what about Apache, OpenOffice, and PostgreSQL?

Disclaimer: I am just a lowly web programmer, not an operating system developer or even a sysadmin.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

Art3x Writing (548 comments)

I'm going to answer this in a different way: what I knew when I started that I think most programmers, and most people, don't. That may sound arrogant, but I keep seeing it every day of my working life.

I wasn't a computer science major or anywhere close: I was a film major and English minor. It was the English that has helped me more than anything learn very quickly certain secrets to programming effectively. And yet it wasn't even the English classes themselves, because a lot of what is fashionable to teach in English is misleading or harmful.

What really happened was a certain approach to writing. It is taught clearly in just a few books, like The Elements of Style and On Writing Well. Reading these books literally changed my life. If I were to try to summarize it, it would be that the goal of writing is to reach the reader as plainly as possible, instead of writing in a flowery, fancy, or important-sounding way. To do that actually is the greatest amount of work. It actually is the opposite of everyone's inclination. Even for professional, longtime writers, it doesn't happen on the first draft or even the seventh draft. It involves adhering to certain non-glamorous principles like using as few words as possible and preferring the short word over the long one. It means putting yourself in the background. In short, in trying to be elegant.

5 days ago
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Study: Ad-Free Internet Would Cost Everyone $230-a-Year

Art3x Now, how much are ads costing us? (596 comments)

Just $20 a month? And that's from someone biased towards it?

Anyway, now let's see a study of how much advertising has cost each of us from:
- clicking, scrolling, and squinting for the actual content
- giving up, quitting, clicking back, and missing something
- buying, setting up, and using antivirus and adblocking software
- buying some of the frivolous things advertised, after at last being worn down by it, even a bit
- waiting for the page to load
- waiting for computer to run at all, given the heavy load some of our protective software puts on our computers

5 days ago
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Munich Reverses Course, May Ditch Linux For Microsoft

Art3x Re:Surprise? (578 comments)

there are inevitably going to be complaints; that happens any time *anything* changes

Obligatory

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

Art3x Major in UI, minor in docs (199 comments)

GMail is a good example of an interface that you don't need to read a user guide first for --- although they do have short articles for those who get stuck. Google in general does user interfaces well. I credit it to: (1) using one-word, plain-English text labels instead of icons (or at least they used to), (2) clean and simple layout (which, by the way, is anything but simple to make) and (3) just a thousand little things to make the user's life easier. For example, while most email programs showed just the subject in the list, GMail showed as much as the message as possible. After all, people are bad at writing subjects. Little things like that, a hundred times over. There's no one big thing that turns it from a bad UI to a good one. It's just lots and lots and lots of polishing.

37Signals at least writes about what I think is the most efficient route to good software. See their book, Getting Real. I haven't used their software much, so I don't know how well they execute, but lots of people like it.

I think you should major in UI and minor in documentation. I think you will always need some documentation. And maybe your software needs a lot. Some software does. And a few of those projects have outstanding documentation. I don't know, see how PostgreSQL keeps theirs up to date.

about two weeks ago
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Comcast Drops Spurious Fees When Customer Reveals Recording

Art3x Re:What about Oregon and Washington? (368 comments)

It's crazy that each state has its own laws!

I'm taking this quote totally out of context, I know, but I think the idea of The United States, instead of The Large Monolithic Country Spanning This Much People and Land was ingenious. Like anything, it can be abused. No matter how many laws you make, you can't stomp out wickedness. By the way, this was the original meaning phrase, "You can't legislate morality."

about two weeks ago
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Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

Art3x No (421 comments)

I loved school, but I'm for summer break, a generous one from Memorial through Labor Day. In fact I've been mulling whether grown-ups should have summer breaks too, if we could.

School is a narrow, weird world. It readied me in some ways, but in others I was a seedling. There are other ways a child must grow. Playing at home and in the neighborhood, hanging from trees, exploring, etc., are very good for the brain and the heart. Some kids go to camp, whether it be outdoor, sports, music, or whatever. You can't very well spend a month concentrating on a certain field when you have to go to school. I myself wasn't a joiner. I rejected Boy Scouts, band, and all sports. But I made up for it when I discovered moviemaking. In high school I made about 40 movies, short ones, but they had screenplays, multiple camera angles, special effects, editing, the best I could do.

I lament that I no longer have that creativity, and I blame it on the year-round non-stop drudgery that is the American way. Someone once said that a Frenchman told them you need five weeks: one week to get ready, two weeks to go somewhere, and two weeks to recover from vacation. Here we nary get more than week off at a time. There's just never a chance to recharge.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft To Drop Support For Older Versions of Internet Explorer

Art3x Re:they might as well (138 comments)

"Unsupported" is the magic word to get huge companies like mine to at last move on. I can't tell you how happy that will make me, an intranet programmer, if my company's official browser is IE 11 or something.

Right now it's 8. It and 7 were wonderful improvements in CSS from IE 6, which our official browser until just a few years ago. I fought with IE 6 for years and it felt like it would it never quite go away. I know that there are some poor souls in the world still using IE 6, but since it's no longer our company's official browser, I don't have to think about it. The thing that made my company finally upgrade was because a vendor forced them to, saying that their web app would no longer work in IE 6.

While IE 7 and 8 brought real improvements in CSS support, JavaScript is quirky until at least 9. Microsoft's unpredictable implementation of JavaScript is part of the reason JavaScript has a shady reputation. If Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari were the only browsers I had to write against, it would have been a different life.

about three weeks ago
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Comparison: Linux Text Editors

Art3x Stop mentioning vi and emacs (402 comments)

Okay, y'all can stop mentioning how vi and emacs do everything these do plus come preinstalled on Linux systems. From the article:

Two of most popular and powerful plain text editors are Emacs and Vim. However, we didn’t include them in this group test for a couple of reasons. Firstly, if you are using either, congratulations: you don’t need to switch. Secondly, both of these have a steep learning curve, especially to the GUI-oriented desktop generation who have access to alternatives that are much more inviting.

This is for people moving to a text editor from Word.

about three weeks ago
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Google+ Photos To Be Separated From Google+

Art3x About this (114 comments)

I am nonplussed and yet, not nonplussed. Figure that out ;)

about three weeks ago
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Old Apache Code At Root of Android FakeID Mess

Art3x Malicious Actors? (127 comments)

Malicious actors could create a malicious mobile application with a digital identity certificate that claims to be issued by Adobe Systems.

It's a good thing most actors aren't good at programming.

Seriously, why do we feel we must constantly reel words, which were perfectly content in their familiar habitat, into the jargonic fold? "Actor"? Couldn't we have used one of dozens of words already used in everyday English: programmers, hackers, thieves, people? That last suggestion brings up another question: which of the two instances of the word "malicious" could safely be removed from the sentence? Both. After a long introduction about a security hole, we're so ready for a scenario about villainy that we would be positively thrown off otherwise. At least they said "could create" and not "could potentially create."

Someone could put a fake certificate from Adobe into their mobile app.

There.

The flaw appears to have been introduced to Android through an open source component, Apache Harmony. Google turned to Harmony as an alternative means of supporting Java in the absence of a deal with Oracle to license Java directly.

After the lawsuit from Oracle and now this, if I were the one who chose Java as Android's language, I would be kicking myself just about every day now.

about a month ago
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The Almost Forgotten Story of the Amiga 2000

Art3x Re:Not Forgotten (192 comments)

Forgotten? Not by anyone who was in broadcasting in the early 90's. It was quite a machine for us, even though it took all night to render an animated flame-effect title overlay.

I also will always remember it. In my formative junior high years, I took a video class that had among its gear an Amiga 2500, and I tried to make something like a live-action take on Animator's Revenge with Daffy Duck. From the article:

With the Video Toaster card, it was now possible to do with video editing and special effects what before took literally hundreds of thousands of dollars to do.

In the hands of an imaginative seventh grader, the Amiga Toaster was a ton of fun. For the same reason, the execution severely lacking, my videos were hard to watch for anyone but family and friends.

about a month ago
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Microsoft CEO To Slash 18,000 Jobs, 12,500 From Nokia To Go

Art3x Re:Dilbert words: Can anything be as demoralizing? (383 comments)

You think Elon Musk went into Nokia with an understanding of what Nokia needed as a business? Or merely a view that whatever they were doing was wrong because it wasn't based on Microsoft stuff?

You mean Stephen Elop, not Elon Musk. Quite a difference, but I can see myself making the same Elop flip-flop.

about a month ago
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Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

Art3x The Future's So Bright (415 comments)

I can't wait for this generation to saturate the industry. Fewer bugs, better features, from less nonsense to code programs with. They might even be better as people, with clearer heads. Python might even help you think more clearly.

about a month and a half ago
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Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry

Art3x Fools. (370 comments)

Years of experience, to me, is at least as important in programming as in any other field. Experience makes you better at your job, not just 25% better, several times better.

Programming is designing. The hard things in programming are design choices, not learning some new syntax. Anyone can learn a language in a matter of weeks. But a designer can keep improving over the course of his whole life. As Steve Jobs said, the difference between an average taxi driver and the best taxi driver in the world is maybe 10-30%. But between average software and the best, ten or a hundred times.

about 2 months ago
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Apple Announces New Programming Language Called Swift

Art3x First Rhyme (636 comments)

AAPL's YAPL

about 3 months ago
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PHP Next Generation

Art3x PHP isn't the bottleneck (213 comments)

Speed up PHP? It already runs in a fraction of a second. The database queries, meanwhile, can take many times longer.

about 3 months ago
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Why Disney Can't Give Us High-Def Star Wars Where Han Shoots First

Art3x Just get on with it (210 comments)

Disney will have to get Fox's approval and probably cut Fox in for some of the profits, if they were to re-release the series.

First, why hasn't Fox put out DVDs or Blu-rays themselves?

Second, why would Disney scoff at such a deal? Even minus some to Fox, Disney would make a lot of money.

The originals in high resolution would be snatched up, both by fans who just like them that way and by collectors who deem first things higher.

about 4 months ago

Submissions

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What's the cost of build quality?

Art3x Art3x writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Art3x (973401) writes "Do cheap laptops have to be flimsy, with plastic shells instead of metal, dinky hinges, and mushy keys? I’m a programmer, not an industrial designer. Am I missing something? I would think that a solid build takes two things: good materials and fitting them together well. As for material, is metal really more than a dollar or so more per pound than plastic? As for fit, that’s a matter of knowledge and technique. If the manufacturer has well-built laptops at a higher price, they clearly have such knowledge. This same question applies to other devices, such as cameras. Why is anything over a few hundred dollars poorly made, especially by a company that can make it well?"
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Where do you find good programmers?

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "Kernighan said, 'Controlling complexity is the essence of computer programming.' My past four coworkers subscribed to the copy-and-paste method of code reuse, preferred long names (they sound more official), and built unrequested features so they "wouldn't have to code it later." The code samples from applicants indicate they believe the same. Where do you find programmers who believe in tight design, DRY, and less-is-more? I feel that it would be easier to find an architect, painter, or writer and teach him programming than to find a programmer and teach him good design — or even get him to acknowledge its existence."
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The Internet is killing local news, says the FCC

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "The rise of the Internet has led to a 'shortage of local, professional, accountability reporting' says a a 475-page report by the FCC, and the consequences could be 'more government waste, more local corruption,' 'less effective schools' and other problems. Even though there are more media choices today than ever, newspapers have been laying off reporters, leaving a gap that is yet to be filled."
Link to Original Source
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Google Chrome tag to abandon H.264

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "As you know, HTML 5 introduced the <video> tag, so you don't have to use Flash, QuickTime, etc. It can even enclose several versions of the same video (H.264, WebM, Ogg, etc.) for different computers or browsers. Well, for Google Chrome in a couple months, you will have to provide it something other than H.264, because it is dropping support for H.246. 'Though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be removed and our resources directed towards completely open codec technologies,' wrote Mike Jazayeri, Product Manager."
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Netflix likes open source

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "Netflix's VP of Systems and E-commerce Engineering, Kevin McEntee, just blogged his appreciation for open-source software and open standards. 'At Netflix we jumped on for the ride a long time ago and we have benefited enormously from the virtuous cycles of actively evolving open source projects,' he writes, and he says that Netflix not only uses but has contributed back to projects such as Hudson, Hadoop, Hive, Honu, Apache, Tomcat, Ant, Ivy, Cassandra, and HBase. Instantly streamed in a bunch of comments asking why there's no player for Linux."
Link to Original Source
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Google puts forth new image format: WebP

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "Google has come up with another image format: WebP. Based on the intraframe compression of VP8, it shrinks JPEG files another 39%, on average, in their test of a million pictures across the Web. 'Images and photos make up about 65% of the bytes transmitted per web page today.' said Google. 'They can significantly slow down a user's web experience.' While some images shrank a mere 10%, some were 75% smaller than a JPEG at the same quality. Still, do you think a new web image format will take?"
Link to Original Source
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Lightworks video editor to turn open source

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "EditShare will release its video editor as open source this summer. Lightworks handles high-definition media, DPX, and RED, shares projects with Final Cut Pro and Avid, and was recently used by Academy-award-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker on Shutter Island. Introduced in in 1989 and bought by EditShare last year, it 'has come from over one million hours of software development,' says EditShare's James Richings. But he says releasing the source will 'generate concepts and capabilities never seen before. I expect that the Lightworks Open Source initiative will transform not only the technology, but also the opinions on what a professional editing tool can achieve.'"
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Will the iPad usher in HTML5 video?

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "A page on the Apple web site lists a dozen major web sites publishing their audio or video with the HTML 5 tags, including: CNN, the New York Times, ESPN, NPR, The White House, People magazine, CBS, and National Geographic. It might be that the HTML 5 media shows up just if you're on the iPad, but I was surprised by so many so soon."
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Microsoft lost by ignoring search query long tail

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "Microsoft focused on returning good results for popular queries but ignored the minor ones. 'It turned out the long tail was much more important,' said Bing's Yusuf Mehdi. 'One-third of queries that show up on Bing, it's the first time we've ever seen that query.' Yet the long tail is what makes most of Google's money.

Microsoft is so far behind that now maybe they won't crush Google but can live side by side, with Bing specializing in transactions like plane tickets, said Bing Director Stefan Weitz.

I doubt that will ever take off."

Link to Original Source
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Google Chrome Extensions Gallery Opened

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "The Chromium team opened the extensions gallery today. If you are running a beta version of Chrome in Windows or Linux (Mac still to come), then you can now browse a gallery of about 300 extensions.

The closest thing to the coveted Adblock equivalent is Adsweep, but it is right now broken. Who wants to take this on?"

Link to Original Source
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Google releases JavaScript Library

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "Google has released an open-source, modular JavaScript library called the Closure Library," which it developed in house for its own web applications like Gmail and Google Docs. "Web developers can pull just what they need from a wide set of reusable UI widgets and controls, as well as lower-level utilities for the DOM, server communication, animation, data structures, unit testing, rich-text editing, and much, much more.""
Link to Original Source
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Convincing my company to use open source

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "Are there any good resources for helping move a company from Microsoft to open source? I work for a self-proclaimed "Microsoft shop." From time to time I have the a chance to present to the leaders, and I would like at least to plant a seed. Most of them think Microsoft is THE software vendor. Upon mention of open source, they say "Oh, yeah, freeware," — the hobby of a single hacker instead of a serious worldwide effort. Especially, software without "support" is an anathema to them.

I'm sure I could comb the Internet and cobble something together. But are there any good articles or books — or even companies — for just this purpose: to systematically guide an IT department to exchange (no pun intended) each of their Microsoft products for the open-source equivalent?

As a bonus, any article that clearly tells the story of how Microsoft came to dominance (i.e., not by merit) would also be appreciated."

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