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Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

CrankyFool Re:What? (440 comments)

Not to start an argument, but are you sure about the 2nd amendment?

I'm a documented permanent legal alien here (Green Card); I own numerous guns. While as a non-citizen I have to show one extra piece of ID when purchasing a firearm, even in California (known for restrictive gun laws) I have the ability to purchase every firearm that a citizen can. I've never seen any indication of permanent residents being treated differently in terms of the ability to own firearms compared to citizens, and it feels like if the 2nd amendment (which refers to "people," not "citizens") could be construed to not include residents, someone would have already passed a law taking that particular capability out of my hands.

5 days ago
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Doctors Replace Patient's Thoracic Vertebrae With 3D-Printed Replica

CrankyFool Re:How about replacing with an adamantium vertebra (55 comments)

No. At present, our current knowledge of materials does not cover Adamantium. Basically, it's not actually a real material (to the best of our knowledge).

about a week ago
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New Effort To Grant Legal Rights To Chimpanzees Fails

CrankyFool Re:Damn Dirty Apes (341 comments)

Meh. I found it sort of a speciest argument.

about two weeks ago
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'Moneyball' Approach Reduces Crime In New York City

CrankyFool Wait, what? (218 comments)

The database contains "more than 9,000 chronic offenders" which include "uncooperative witnesses"? Does anyone else worry about this?

about two weeks ago
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Study: HIV Becoming Less Deadly, Less Infectious

CrankyFool Re:Raining on the parade (172 comments)

Over the long term, you're going to die anyway.

If HIV becomes the sort of virus that basically will take decades and decades to kill you (with lots of medicine, it pretty much is already that, except that in a lot of countries you don't get "lots of medicine"), then its relevance to your lifespan decreases.

There's a form of prostate cancer that develops so slowly that if you're old enough when you get it, it's considered quite reasonable to not even treat it, but rather monitor it to make sure it continues to develop slowly.

about three weeks ago
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James Watson's Nobel Prize Goes On Auction This Week

CrankyFool Re:Is it true... (355 comments)

About a year after I came to the US, at the age of 14, I underwent an IQ test and was asked how many pounds are in a ton.

(This was a bit of a problem for me as having grown up in a metric country I could have easily told you how many kilograms were in a ton, of course, but pounds? I ended up torn between the long ton definition (2240 lbs) and the short ton definition (2000 lbs)

about three weeks ago
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Want To Work For a Cool Tech Company? Hone Your Social Skills

CrankyFool It's more nuanced than that (139 comments)

Meritocracy:
1. government or the holding of power by people selected on the basis of their ability.
2. a ruling or influential class of educated or skilled people.

"skills" or "ability" don't just mean "technical skills," or "technical ability."

Personally, I find that in many tiny companies you actually see the opposite of "social skills" -- they become so deeply, desperately, dependent on the particular technical genius of one or two people that those people can basically do everything and anything they want to do, because the company doesn't think it could survive without them. I've worked in small startups where one of the three principal engineers was allowed to sexually harass an ex-girlfriend; in the same place, another principal engineer was such an asshole people basically routed around him. And the third one? He was a a perfectly pleasant guy I loved working with.

Getting things done, in most environments, includes working with other people. I'm a big fan of the "no brilliant jerks" rule. See "The No Asshole Rule" book for more discussion of this.

about three weeks ago
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Google, National Parks Partner To Let Girls Program White House Xmas Tree Lights

CrankyFool Re:Gender discrimination is cool now? (333 comments)

Speaking as a supporter of the ERA, I think if it had been passed in the 80's our society would be very different today, and I'd accept this minor cost pretty happily.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: IT Career Path After 35?

CrankyFool I Don't Know How Universal It Is ... (376 comments)

But it can happen.

I'm 43, and managing a group of software engineers at a streaming company; my peers range from early 30s to early 50s, but there are other managers and directors here who are (at least somewhat) older than that.

More importantly, though, there are engineers here who are older than me, and who you could argue are as senior as I am, or more senior (in either the "more people listen to them" sense or the "they get paid more than I do" sense). This company also has a strong belief that you shouldn't go into management because you want a promotion or more money, so people who enjoy being engineers are encouraged to continue being engineers. There's no salary cap on being an engineer, and for pretty much as long as I've been a manager here, I've had engineers reporting to me who made more money (sometimes, significantly more money) than I do.

Having demonstrated pretty decent Individual Contributor (IC) skills, my last two bosses have always said that if I ever got tired of management and wanted to do the IC thing again for a while, they'd be delighted to find a slot for me.

But that's us. And we aren't representative of the business, I suspect. We're not QUITE the outlier -- high tech company, Silicon Valley, ~16 years in operation -- but we're definitely not your 20-person SOMA startup running on Red Bull and testosterone.

I'll tell you one life lesson my parents taught me, though, that has served me well: Figure out what you love doing, and do that. You'll occasionally be buffeted off-course. That's OK -- get back on-course.

I've been married for about 7 years now; early in our relationship, when I was an IC in another company, making a lot less money, my wife argued I should be thinking about maximizing my family's income and financial stability and go into management just because of that; she persuaded me, and I went into management at that company, and was profoundly unhappy. Finally, luckily, got laid off in 2009. We both learned our lesson, and these days my wife's only rule is "pick a job that will make you happy; if we need more money I'll go out and make it." Works well.

about three weeks ago
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Forbes Revisits the Surface Pro 3, Which May Face LG Competition

CrankyFool Re:Sensible skepticism? (101 comments)

This. I won't buy, nor install software from, software developers who won't get their software right the first time, every time. If you need to release updates, clearly you've released your product before it was ready.

That's why I don't use any operating system, made by anyone, ever.

about three weeks ago
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BlackBerry Will Buy Your iPhone For $550

CrankyFool Re:Not enough (120 comments)

They could totally pay me to use or carry that monstrosity. The rest is just negotiations ...

about three weeks ago
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Apple To Donate Profit Portion From Black Friday For AIDS Fight

CrankyFool Re:AIDS is bad (102 comments)

What's your problem with shopping on Black Friday? Do you draw a distinction between shopping on-line vs in-store?

(Me, I'm usually grateful to have a grocery store open the morning of Thanksgiving (for last-minute stuff I forgot) and Black Friday (to replenish whatever I ran out of); I could give up the latter without too much pain. I do bargain-shop on Black Friday, but only on-line, which feels like a reasonable way to minimize impact on retail-type people)

about a month ago
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Corning Reveals Gorilla Glass 4, Promises No More Broken IPhones

CrankyFool Re:"Two" times, not ten times (203 comments)

News for nerds, remember? Ten is simply the base-2 representation of the same number that two represents in base-10. It's exactly the same statement.

about a month ago
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Mozilla's 2013 Report: Revenue Up 1% To $314M; 90% From Google

CrankyFool Re:How's this going to work (161 comments)

This is a profoundly incorrect assertion. Maybe, sure, techgeeks and other people who are allergic to this kind of stuff would use it, but everyone else? No way. And would you really use a browser that blocked gmail? Do you really think everyone else would?

about a month ago
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Is a Moral Compass a Hindrance Or a Help For Startups?

CrankyFool Re:morality a hindrance or help? (197 comments)

You raise a really good point that gets ignored often.

As a startup, you're fighting not just for money and customers, but also talent. Speaking as your typical tech person in the bay area, I'll say that the place is lousy with startups doing interesting tech work where I could solve interesting problems, and it's full with a plethora of places that will pay me well. One thing that I consider in companies is their moral and ethical profile. I work where I work because, irrespective of the crazy wages and the problems, I feel like it leads the way in ethical and humane management of high-performance engineers, and its approach to its customers is transparent and ethical. I wouldn't work for a company I considered evil, or whose execs I had serious ethical problems with -- and Uber falls into that category.

Summary: Not appearing like you're ethical will noticeably impact your ability to compete for talent.

about a month ago
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Japanese Maglev Train Hits 500kph

CrankyFool Re:One of these is easy ... (419 comments)

Sadly, I suspect that what will happen if this becomes real is that the difference in hassle will be eliminated by implementing TSA-like processes for boarding trains.

about a month ago
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Your Incompetent Boss Is Making You Unhappy

CrankyFool Re:Looks Like This May Be Controversial ... (204 comments)

It's worth noting that this isn't always the manager's fault. A bunch of companies look for their managers to do both the classic people management stuff and the technical leadership stuff. I interviewed at Facebook some time ago, for example; FB tries to create heterogeneous engineering teams with widely disparate levels of technical expertise. While the more experienced engineers are expected to provide some technical mentoring to the engineers, most of the responsibility seems to be expected to fall to the manager, so the manager has to provide technical leadership to the team, in various degrees based on which team member they're dealing with. Once you open the door to "the manager knows best sometimes," I think it makes it much harder to know where to draw the line.

about a month ago
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Your Incompetent Boss Is Making You Unhappy

CrankyFool Re:Peter Principle (204 comments)

My company seems to have gotten to the point of doing this reasonably well -- in the last 18 months or so, I saw three individual contributors (IC) get promoted to manager, and then within 3-6 months decide the job wasn't for them. In all cases, the general perception from around them was admiration they were introspective enough to realize this, and happiness they'd decide to go back to IC instead of leaving (I've also seen at least one case of someone promoted to management, who didn't realize he wasn't into management until another company offered him an IC position, at which point he jumped ship. I was sad about that).

It helps to work in an environment where there are no formalized payscales that are affected by the mgmt/IC choice -- typical managers here get paid somewhere around the average for their team's salaries, so it's not like you're going to get an automatic raise if you go to management, nor get a pay cut if you go back to being an IC.

(That said, an important distinction here is that this was driven by the new managers' own decisions. I suspect that if they were terrible, but decided they were happy being managers and clawed onto the role with all their might, the only way we'd have dislodged them would have been through more ... traditional means).

about a month ago
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Your Incompetent Boss Is Making You Unhappy

CrankyFool Looks Like This May Be Controversial ... (204 comments)

I manage a group of engineers; I've spent about half of my career being an IC engineer and half managing engineers, and it's been intertwined -- in this company, I started off as an IC, then became a manager, moved to another group as an IC, then became a manager. When my boss proposed to me that I manage the group I manage today, I declined because I didn't think I was technically competent enough -- I'd never actually built the huge, scalable, systems they built, and I knew they could run laps around me.

Eventually, he persuaded me to take the position, with my team's consent. On my first day with my team I sat down with each person in the team and literally my first question to each of them was "What's my job around here?" And they told me they didn't need or want someone to review or approve their technical decisions -- when they had doubt, they talked with each other. They wanted someone to help them understand our customers a little better, and that's why they wanted me.

Generally speaking, I figure my job is to act as a retention aid (my presence around should make my engineers want to stick around more than if I wasn't around) and doing whatever the hell my team needs done that engineers don't want to do. I have technical opinions, sure, and sometimes I even disagree with my engineers. And they do whatever they think is the right thing to do. I think about 80% of the time we disagree, they're right.

I'm good at some things; I'm bad at others. I wonder if the issue is not whether or not a manager is technically competent, but whether or not a manager is competent in the area in which that manager actually spends their time, and their team expects them to spend their time.

about a month ago

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My Wife Wants to Learn Programming

CrankyFool CrankyFool writes  |  more than 2 years ago

CrankyFool (680025) writes "Me: Been around computers for most of my adult life; most of it in IT, but spent some time doing QA and software development

My wife: Not so much. She's an attorney, for heavens' sake. But she's got an interest in technical/geek things (and most of her friends are tech/geeks).

So my wife wants to learn programming, for some amorphous reasons. In her words, "I just want to see if I can learn it and do cool things with it." How's that for vague?

She's got an Android phone and a Windows PC, in case it matters. I can, obviously, easily give her access to a UNIX system if it makes a difference.

Anyone have any suggestions? She thought she'd start with C++, which struck me as ENTIRELY INSANE. I'm thinking maybe Scala (which I don't know) or Python (which I do), but ... it's been a long time since I've thought about how to get started in programming."

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