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Do We Need Running Shoes To Run?

GregWebb Re:you just think you're joking. (776 comments)

The flip-side is that, on some issues, it is quite common to refuse to accept any explanation that _isn't_ grounded in science - a religions explanation isn't scientific, ergo it's wrong. I (largely) agree with what you seem to be saying, but the follow-on reasoning from that of many is decidedly suspect IMO.

more than 5 years ago
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Windows 7 Starter Edition — 3 Apps Only

GregWebb Re:Wow, this would wind me up fast (695 comments)

They think they're not aiming at me, but I'm still on their radar. It's absurd that I should have to buy an expensive 'professional' model to achieve something the cheap model would be quite capable of doing were it not given an artificial restriction - assuming this is even offered as an option. Buying laptops with XP Pro rather than Home got difficult enough and I don't want to end up having to jump through fifteen hoops to achieve something that should be perfectly normal.

Linux returns of netbooks have been far higher than Windows, from what I've seen. People have got used to running lots at once and, if they're suddenly told they can't, I'd expect Windows returns to suddenly climb as well.

(Assuming of course that the netbook market doesn't go the way of the PDA market. I _love_ having proper portable computers again - I was an old-style Psion user and having that sort of thing at my fingertips is just brilliant. Kinda worried that we might have an overhyped market that promptly dies because it can't sustain the hype though...)

more than 5 years ago
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Where's Your Coding Happy Place?

GregWebb Comfort, minimal distraction, motivation (508 comments)

That's about it, really (though I've written quite a lot of code in a freezing office on the weekend - huge motivation boosts productivity for obvious reasons).

What kills productivity? Colleagues interrupting my train of thought, either by requesting my input or simply by doing something that inherently distracts. Sharing an office with sales staff can be a killer, simply because they're so often on the phone or running round assembling information. Music can help with the happy place but isn't even always on at home (and I love music, have far too many albums at my fingertips :-)) - its benefit for work is partly comfort but mostly for me in providing a background noise I can predict and so tune out. It might as well be a white noise generator in some ways.

I've been in offices where you shivered all morning, or where every last movement caused sweat to drip off you - neither was very productive. I can type just as easily on a laptop (heck, I've written a fair bit of code on a 9" netbook) but accept I'm unusual in that way :-) - but a machine that gets in your way is never ideal.

What can be the biggest killer though? Motivation. You tell me you code as efficiently when presented with a task which will achieve almost nothing of benefit if it ever goes live and involves large-scale maintenance on a poorly-built legacy codebase. We do our best work when there's a reward of pride, and when we know that our best work is still only polishing a turd, it's far harder to summon the energy.

more than 5 years ago
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Do We Need Running Shoes To Run?

GregWebb Re:you just think you're joking. (776 comments)

Yes, but this surely presupposes that there are no observable phenomena with unobservable causes?

I confess I'm not remotely an expert in the field, but my interested observer perception is of a bootstrap problem in pretty much all scenarios. If we believe all matter was formed in a Big Bang of which we detect traces that match current hypothesese, what was the cause of the Big Bang event? I love and value science, but am deeply uncomfortable with the quasi-religious assertions from some that if it can't be measured then it isn't real. We've learnt to measure a great many things which we previously couldn't.

In all honesty though, if you wish to oppose intelligent design, let it be taught. The underground, opposed, rebel argument that They don't want you to hear will always have power - if you honestly believe it's rubbish, teach its tenets and then teach why you believe they don't match the data. If you're a good teacher with good information and the students are intellectually up to the argument, they'll likely agree and the rest weren't likely to have their minds changed either way in any case.

more than 5 years ago
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Windows 7 Starter Edition — 3 Apps Only

GregWebb Wow, this would wind me up fast (695 comments)

I've got a netbook, which gets used heavily as an ultraportable machine. As long as you're sensible, it's fine. It's far from unusual for it to be running:
* Visual Studio
* OpenOffice showing some documentation or notes
* Web browser
* DB program of some description, usually SQLite Admin. ...and I'm already over the limit while very plausibly doing a single task (albeit not a typical one for a netbook, but one that is surprisingly usable from experience). I'm working on some graphics software at present - perhaps I'm checking something in Paintshop Pro or similar. I use the Windows calculator a lot (lazy I know :-) - that would suddenly become unviable.

Why, why, why? Anyway, as has been pointed out, plenty of apps seem to have already found ways round this. Annoy your customers in their day-to-day use and they'll find ways to stop the annoyance - if that means you're creating a group motivated to hack your security, that's just a terrible idea.

Stay out of your users' way and let them work the way they want to. If I'm daft enough to want to try to host a commercial website or want to do serious software development on a netbook, that's my problem.

more than 5 years ago
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Blackboard Wins Patent Suit Against Desire2Learn

GregWebb Further meat (186 comments)

(Disclaimer - I don't know the patent in detail, I haven't read it, only the summaries here.)

I worked for a small UK-based LMS vendor between October 2000 and March 2006. We deployed a huge number of bespoke and off-the-shelf LMSs to customers, mostly in the UK but a few overseas. For the first year, I was their sole developer, and was responsible for maintenance of what was already in the wild. I'm not saying who they are here just in case Blackboard's lawyers are bored ;-)

Not one of these systems prohibited administrators from running courses, and I can't think of any reason why we would have done - I met near enough all our clients in the early stages of their projects and I don't remember any ever querying this. It'd have been more work to reduce functionality and (through likely user habits) security. Admins had all the normal tools you'd expect, could do any monitoring, mentoring etc, and could also run courses.

The idea that a jury of my peers could consider my _not_ doing something stupid to be an amazing innovation is frankly horrifying. Something has gone horribly wrong here.

more than 6 years ago

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