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Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Becoming a Complacent Software Developer?

ILongForDarkness Re:Change Jobs (254 comments)

Good points. I'd also add: management/companies can fail developers many ways.

1) Too cost sensitive so forcing developers to work with out dated tools/restrictive computers. I worked in healthcare and you needed middle manager approval for a monitor larger than 19" (not your boss but your bosses boss). So you got a single 19" screen and windows XP (because IT didn't want to bother trying to support anything but the standard that all the secretaries already knew how to use).

2) Similar to 1) but a lack of bravery. In this case there is money around your boss is just too shy to step up and say: "hey our development staff could use a couple new people, or a week off to do training, or a new CI server". Another one is culture: not fighting for a culture that is supportive of creative people/professionals. Requiring a 9-5 day in suits and ties from developers when the team would rather work 10:30-6:30 in shorts. Your free to require that and developers are free to go somewhere that doesn't make them dress up like they are front desk clerks dealing with customers face to face all day. They manage by keeping their department of senior managements TODO list.

3) Giving detailed technical specs when they no longer have the technical knowledge to understand the tools that are currently being used. Manage towards maintainable business outcomes not lines of code on a screen.

Part of the problem is as others have pointed out already too: most engineering isn't innovative. How much of everyone's day is adding/making more a new page to list a customers address and order information? But is more than that too it is inertia a lot of which we do to ourselves. Things were done a certain way because the projects senior dev at the time code reviewed it into that standard. Now you have 1M+ lines of code all structured a particular way. Guess which way you'll be expected to code your new module? Guess how far a request to change that still and refactor the existing code base this month rather than pound out a few more features will go? You can get lucky and have management that understands and is good enough to say: we aren't going to do it that way anymore but it becomes the culture. You can go to a newer project, perhaps even in the same company, where the culture is still forming and either it is the way you like our perhaps you can help steer it that way: but guess what? You've just become that senior developer that people 10 years from know will likely be wishing it wasn't done that way. Change is the way developers like it: standardization is the way process management and product lines like it.

yesterday
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On Independence for Scotland:

ILongForDarkness Re:Shetland and Orkney (190 comments)

Not sure what your third point is. I was saying "just move" isn't as easy as it sounds: ask Palestinians. It is the way it is but it doesn't make it easy that because a plurality of your province decided to separate you are going to go to great cost and move away from extended family so you can live under the government you want too. Democracies can have their problems just like anything made by people. For hundreds of years "we the people" didn't include anyone not a white male. Even the fear of a vocal minority can prevent things that the majority want because the vocal minority might stear funding needed to buy, er, "convince" voters your platform is the right one. I'd argue that is the case for large parts of the US for gun control, gay rights and healthcare reform: an issue become so hot button for a large minority that rather than making policies the majority want legislators just avoid even bringing the issue to a vote.

Additionally, the majority can infringe on the minorities property rights as I'd argue progressive taxation, tax exceptions for particular groups (like married couples, or people with children, people earning their incomes from capital, etc): the majority decides that the minority are better able to pay or they are more entitled to help because of situations they are in (often by choice). Better than a single dictator/ethnic group making all the decisions but still far from perfect.

2 days ago
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On Independence for Scotland:

ILongForDarkness Re:Shetland and Orkney (190 comments)

The problem is if you own property, you are your kids are part way through an education etc. Depending on how good of terms they leave on you might need a travel visa to go back and forth (say the FLQ started up again we we had some "troubles"). If you have a criminal record often presto you can't travel internationally and often if you are on the wrong side of a revolution you are a criminal.

2 days ago
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On Independence for Scotland:

ILongForDarkness Re:Shetland and Orkney (190 comments)

Same difference I think. It didn't make sense for Newfoundland to stay independent so they confederated. If Quebec separated they'd likely chose either to stay part of Canada, join Quebec, from an Atlantic trade club etc. They'd find someone to trade with. I'm guessing a lot of the coastal provinces do a lot of their trade with Quebec so maybe they'd still pal around. Problem is always the people that don't want to separate. If 100% of Quebecers wanted to separate I'd be all for it. No more mandatory/priority treatment to a bastard dialect of French, separate legal systems, they'd get to take their share of the national debt, Maple Leaf fans maybe would stop bitching all the time etc.

2 days ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

ILongForDarkness Re:my solution is the gym (818 comments)

Because just because I'm 20% bigger than you doesn't mean I'm 3X richer than you.

about two weeks ago
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Ontario Government Wants To Regulate the Internet

ILongForDarkness Re:Government doesn't get it. (184 comments)

I know several white teenagers in the Eminem era that would disagree.

about two weeks ago
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Ontario Government Wants To Regulate the Internet

ILongForDarkness Re:Government doesn't get it. (184 comments)

What exactly wouldn't be "new media"? Does Flickr and the ilk count if they allow you to search what would otherwise be impossible with random hard copy photos? How about FB? If you start spending 4 hours a day reading your friends blog rather than watching TV does that become "new media"? Slippery slope. If they restrict it to precisely the areas of old media it is replacing, music, long format video maybe.

about two weeks ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

ILongForDarkness Re:How about... (818 comments)

Yep right next the in seat TV there was a USB port. I've seen it on about half the flights I've been on over the last couple years. Though I'm usually flying transatlantic so perhaps it is only bigger planes or longer flights that they bother to provide it. Pretty sweet when they have them tough: you arrive at your destination and your gadgets are all still fully charged. No: I need to go to the hotel for a couple hours to get my phone/tablet charged again.

about two weeks ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

ILongForDarkness Re:my solution is the gym (818 comments)

No I need the space to prevent serious cramping/bruising. They need the space (for the most part) because they want to take a knap. Pain wins over knap time.

about two weeks ago
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DNA sequencing of coffee's best use:

ILongForDarkness Re:Say wow and litfa (228 comments)

Yeah. If Monsanto gets a hold of it and has their way every coffee would taste the same, the agri-gestapo will be suing farmers because they collected their beans rather than buy new ones every year etc.

about two weeks ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

ILongForDarkness Re:my solution is the gym (818 comments)

Wrong. 36" between seats. Just measured it I'm 30" from ass to knee sitting with my ass right against a wooden seat. The other 6" is the thickness or close enough not to matter of the chair. It isn't 36" leg room it is 36" from one seat to the same spot on the seat in front so the thickness of the chair is a factor too. I can just barely not touch the seat in front if when I seat down I sit perfectly straight and press with my legs back to flatten my back padding as much as possible. Anything short of that and I'm touching the seat in front.

about two weeks ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

ILongForDarkness Re:my solution is the gym (818 comments)

They absolutely must be placed there because they are attached to my leg. I can't raise my feet off the floor and to my chest for a 10hr flight without touching the seat in front sorry not going to happen. Why I do this is more times than not people start to move the seat back and feel some resistence. They look back see that there is a 6'3" person behind them and that it is my knees they are hitting and then they push to try to still get there seat back. Sorry jackness if we are in a pushing match I win. I'm not getting bruises on my knees so you can recline your sit 10 degrees.

about two weeks ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

ILongForDarkness Re:How about... (818 comments)

Probably reasonable. The problem is the first time you fly with an airline you have no idea how crammed they are versus the competition. Add to that they keep changing the configuration of the planes and you have no idea. I flew recently to Prague on Air Transit. On the way there the most comfortable I've flown yet other than when in an emergency aisle (and in a way better since the seat in front was close enough that I had access to a usb charger). On the way back: cramped as hell with about 20 3 yr olds in the surrounding 5 rows front and back. Same airline and route 1 week apart. You never know what you are getting for your $1000 and that isn't right.

about two weeks ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

ILongForDarkness my solution is the gym (818 comments)

When a dude tries slamming their sit into my knees I press back. I'm 240lb 6'3" and a muscular frame. I win more times than not and the jackass in front of me gets a sore back for their troubles.

about two weeks ago
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Did you use technology to get into mischief as a child?

ILongForDarkness Re:I waited till highschool (231 comments)

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-u...

Thank you come again. Didn't know a lot about NetWare but I gather from Wikipedia/the time of when I was playing around our network was likely NetWare 2.0 with a few 386 and 486's that had just come in the last couple years. Sim City (original, or at least the first one I'd ever saw) was 32 bit I think. The FAT was loaded in memory which wouldn't have worked for 286 computers because they don't support 32bit addressing so kaboom.

about two weeks ago
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Did you use technology to get into mischief as a child?

ILongForDarkness Re:I waited till highschool (231 comments)

Oh but I also deployed Office 95 I think it was and OCR'd the course catalog for a teacher. So: teachers liked me, administration not so much.

about two weeks ago
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Did you use technology to get into mischief as a child?

ILongForDarkness I waited till highschool (231 comments)

Then installed SimCIty on the school network and in doing so brought the network down (unintentional, SimCity had a different bitness than the network and supposedly it didn't like it too much). Got admin rights and used Novell messaging stuff (forget what it was called) to taunt the sysadmin. Wiped the Apple IIe's and IIc's that we had in the library because it annoyed me that the librarian was such a Apple fanboy he replaced the PCs with 10year older macs (could my earlier hijack of the network been part of the reason ;)).

about two weeks ago
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Is There a Creativity Deficit In Science?

ILongForDarkness yes and no (203 comments)

To get proposals funded you need to point to something already existing for the most part and say how yours is very similar to that/likely to succeed. So yeah the funding and financial steering is towards things that are not very innovative. However there are a few a compensating factors. 1) Doing something similar both verifies theories/that we actually understand what we thing we do and has the chance of something different happening which either invalidates the theory or adds nuance. 2) Most people aren't really that capable of innovation: science has their equivalent of timecard punchers too: lots of people are smart enough to do science, few are able to do it well, and even fewer will come up with the new ideas. 3) Even those that are innovative aren't going to come up with that many new ideas. Take Einstein, he was a theorist so didn't have as much of a time requirement in terms of designing ordering and using equipment etc. Still (I might miss something) he only had a 3 really big ideas: energy matter equivalence, Brownian motion, and arguably relativity (GR and SR are really just consequences of energy-matter equivalence + the invariability of the speed of light). 3 ideas in a 50 year career.

Once the idea is out there the timepunchers (relatively, still very smart people and they might be innovating techniques that make things more accurate, quicker etc but they aren't the one with the big foundational ideas) quickly become able to run the experiments that build up the data and there are much more of them. So naturally the job of allocating resources focuses on sending the money to the timepunchers not to the innovators: they'll likely hack something together with equipment they already have on the weekend for free anyways, be theorists so not need a lot of resources, or for biomed go the private financing/corporate route.

about two weeks ago
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How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms

ILongForDarkness Re:TI calculators are not outdated, just overprice (359 comments)

The technology in them is probably dirt cheap (and may have been at the time of release) a low res grayscale ~2" screen plus enough processing power to solve relatively simple math probably all of $5 cost. The rest is usability and brand recognition. That said there is something to being able to visualize things in your head. Perhaps not everyone is wired the same way but I managed my way through an honours physics degree with nothing better than a $10 basic scientific calculator: graphs, intersections, roots of a function etc I know how to calculate them and am pretty good at once I know where they are visualizing how the graph should look. Regardless of how common it is I suspect you never are going to be among those skilled at math intensive fields if you need to consult a calculator some times. Sometimes you just need to be able to figure out from the direction of current in a wire which direction the magnetic field will be generated and thus what direction the induced field in the second conductor will be traveling sort of like a sense of direction: if you don't have one don't be a cabby (though GPS makes that easier now I suppose).

about two weeks ago
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Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

ILongForDarkness Re:"Accidentally" (455 comments)

Yeah beauty of technology. Back in the day I'm guessing dashboard cams were recording to magnetic media (VHS) which would be kind of hard to carry around when you are chasing someone. Now with (still magnetic) but solid state storage and digital cameras ... much much smaller. I think a lot of the resistance is that there is a lot of choices being made by the cops that they don't want double guessed all the time. Was the taser really needed seeing as the suspect was all of 120lbs and there were two officers on the scene already? You let this guy off but nailed this other one ... why? etc. I guess cameras can protect you from being treated unfairly but it also makes it hard for the cop to give anyone a break since their actions constantly are under review.

about three weeks ago

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