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Comments

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Meet the Guy Who Fact-Checks Stephen King On Stephen King

JavaRob 300 million books, each unique (121 comments)

Why does this lead in with "Stephen King has sold more than 300 million books of horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy" -- sure, he's been a popular author, but the relevant info would be how many books he has *written*, no? How many *words* would be interesting to learn.

But if he wrote one book and sold 300 million copies, I doubt he'd need a continuity adviser.

about 10 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Practices Impede Developers' Productivity?

JavaRob Re:Lack of flexibility; misaligned communication (457 comments)

:shudder

I've never worked for a megacorp, so I've never even seen this, and hope I never do.

Though I suppose it'd be nice to have down-time to catch up on my reading now & again.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Practices Impede Developers' Productivity?

JavaRob Re:Bad meetings? (457 comments)

Here's what my current dev team has settled on -- we ran into many of those issues early on, and modified our approach.

We have brief meetings MWF (calls w/ screen sharing, technically, since we're distributed).

We make up meeting notes in advance (on the wiki), each person adding in briefly what they've done, what's next, and what they'd like to discuss (if anything).

In the meeting, we only actually discuss the points listed for discussion, unless someone brings up what someone else is working on (like, "if it's useful, last year I did something quite similar to X that may be helpful to you").

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Practices Impede Developers' Productivity?

JavaRob Lack of flexibility; misaligned communication (457 comments)

Imagine a manager who asks you about what helps you be productive, and what is slowing you down, then works to change your working environment, schedule, hours, etc. to maximize your quality of life & productivity....

Naturally, it's not common, because instead managers assume their developers won't know the first thing about their own work habits (and what improves/degrades them), and instead blindly tries to establish top-down processes that will make "the team" more productive.

Sometimes it'll work out; but to be sure, people are individuals, the best developers are *already* thinking about these things (and how to hack their own lives), and the ones that aren't will become better if they're encouraged to think about how they actually work.

One thing that applies to everyone, at a general level -- getting the level (and kind) of communication right.

Some people can't get difficult tasks done unless they can retreat into a silent bubble for days on end, free from distractions and completely focused. Most people, however, need at least some level of communication along the way, to intercept them (and help) if they're getting bogged down, getting lost and attacking the problem via brute force, or getting tangled up in their own perfectionism and spending way too much time polishing the first step when they have 19 steps of the solution still to go.

So they need regular (but short and very focused) communication where they're comfortable honestly discussing where they are and where they're going. (Hint: it's hard to avoid triggering ego traps in these kinds of discussions, but if you do, you'll quickly make the whole relationship completely dysfunctional, and useless).

Other people thing best in conversation, and will work best when more-or-less permanently paired with someone else (with similar needs, of course... don't pair them with the solo deep thinker!) -- together they can be far more clever and productive than they could possibly be separate.

about a year and a half ago
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Indonesian Man Faces Five Years For Atheist Facebook Post

JavaRob Re:abortion is legitimate question (907 comments)

It never was "pre-conception" for the Catholic doctrine

I think the point was that Catholics are officially against using contraception. Masturbation is also "wrong".

Hence, they're also opposed to "ending" a fetus' life before it has even been conceived.

It's useful to also capture that particular bit of lunacy, but I agree it's a stretch to phrase it that way.

more than 2 years ago
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Setting the various household clocks ...

JavaRob Hack: cut the power at 5 to midnight (344 comments)

And turn it back on at midnight.
That's the simple way to reset the clocks on my alarm clock, pellet stove, oven, clothes dryer, etc. (why do all these things have clocks? It's anything with fancy scheduling options, like "run at 4am").

The car clock is the only annoying one that way (I'm not going to cut the battery and lose my mileage stats...).

The computers are fine of course.
That just leaves the one battery-powered clock up on the wall, which I simply don't adjust. I kind of like it showing the time an hour late for a chunk of the year... when it catches my eye, I think for a second that I'm really running late today -- then it's a pleasant surprise when I realize I'm fine.

more than 2 years ago
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How and Why Wall Street Programmers Earn Top Salaries

JavaRob Re:I am a Google engineer (791 comments)

WRT Google -- the moral question of whether to use the loopholes is not completely clear-cut. The loopholes are perfectly legal, and all of their competitors use them. I suspect they could be sued by stockholders if they decided to optionally pay far more taxes than they were legally required to pay.

There's also the question of what the taxes will actually be used for -- this isn't so bad with EU taxes, but the biggest chunk of any US taxes you pay go straight to the military.

Morally, the best solution might be for Google to publicly post the amount of taxes they are not paying in different locations thanks to legal loopholes (thus putting pressure on governments to actually close them), NOT lobby for keeping the loopholes open, and to use at least some portion of the "loophole money" to do some direct good in the regions affected.

more than 2 years ago
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How and Why Wall Street Programmers Earn Top Salaries

JavaRob Re:I am a Google engineer (791 comments)

Right; the bottom line is that there are known loopholes that all of the major international corporations use to avoid taxes... and the governments could certainly close the loopholes, if the corporations didn't have such massive influence over the entire political process.

So every once in a while there's a big "exposé" of one loophole or other, and various politicians start bills which are all destined to die or be completely neutered -- as hoped even by the politicians flogging them, because of course if you're the one who successfully pushes through the law that closes a serious loophole, you're screwed.

more than 2 years ago
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How and Why Wall Street Programmers Earn Top Salaries

JavaRob Re:I am an HFT programmer (791 comments)

He doesn't say he averages 100-hour work weeks, just that he does them (presumably in case of emergencies).

more than 2 years ago
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How and Why Wall Street Programmers Earn Top Salaries

JavaRob Re:I am an HFT programmer (791 comments)

He didn't say he works 100-hour weeks on average, just that he "does them" - assume "sometimes" or "occasionally", since he DID say he averages 12-hour days.

He also gets vacation, even though sometimes it is interrupted by emergencies.

Let's assume 2 weeks off even including the 10 or so federal holidays (likely he actually gets more than this!) minus 2 days of emergency work.
He averages 12-hour days, an estimate probably based on a 5-day week (the stock markets are closed on the weekend, and he'd mention it if he had a non-standard work week, right?).

So: 50 weeks * 5 day week + 2 days lost vacation = 252 days * 12-hours = 3024 hours.
500000/3024 = $165.34/hour.

If "average 12-hour days" was within a 6-day work week => $137.97/hour
7-day work week => $118.37

more than 2 years ago
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How and Why Wall Street Programmers Earn Top Salaries

JavaRob Re:I am an HFT programmer (791 comments)

Err... he didn't say he does 100 hour weeks *on average*, just that he does them.

I.e., his average week is 84 hours (assuming he works 7 days a week; otherwise 72 or 60 hours a week), and sometimes he works as much as a 100-hour week (7 14-hour days, or some other split).

Come on now,

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Is SHA-512 the Way To Go?

JavaRob Re:Calm down and read up (223 comments)

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=difference+between+a+hash+and+encryption :D

[Okay, I admit this is slightly mean fun. And to be sure, responses that just say "you clearly are in way over your head -- go hire a lawyer/expert/whatever" are far less helpful than ones that say "you may need to hire an expert... they'll probably tell you to do X or Y based on your Z". But while I think the original poster was asking a valid question that's not trivially answered by google, finding the difference between a hash and encryption isn't so hard to find.]

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Is SHA-512 the Way To Go?

JavaRob Re:Calm down and read up (223 comments)

doing multiple hashes of the password in a big enough magnitude for it to become slow

Hash algorithms like SHA1 and MD5 are designed to be fast. This is great if you are fingerprinting large amounts of data looking for patterns, comparing files, etc.. This is not great if you don't want your passwords to be brute-forced.

Rainbow tables are not the real danger to hashes. The real danger is simply that brute-forcing many password hashes is startlingly fast on modern hardware.

If you're hashing passwords that need to be safe from brute-forcing, use something like bcrypt, which let's you set a work factor.

More explanation here:
http://codahale.com/how-to-safely-store-a-password/

more than 3 years ago
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Malaysian Government Offers Free E-mail To All Citizens

JavaRob Re:What difference .... (189 comments)

Do some reading on the Malaysian government, though.

They do not do things by the book. There is no book. The corruption, the nepotism, the thuggery, the ridiculous government-endorsed racism, the sheer idiocy and ignorance....

They (the party that's been in power since the 60's -- not a good sign, is it?) don't come under pressure to clean house from the wider world because there aren't genocides going on, no large-scale horrors. They keep the abuses relatively low-key (like heavy "affirmative action" for the majority race, gross misuse of government funds, only occasional murders), so even their own citizenry generally think it's not worth it to stick their necks out to fix things. Sure, the education system sucks, and if you aren't of the right "race" you have to send your kids out of the country to get any higher education, and the corruption is embarrassing, but it's fed by oil wealth more than out of citizen's pockets directly, so it just goes on & on.

Er, if it's not clear, no, I would not trust the Malaysian government-run email service. The internet is finally making it possible to fight back against government abuses in Malaysia with some level of anonymity and safety, and I have no doubt they're dying to get their hands on a good way to keep an eye out for citizens who might become troublemakers. Admittedly, you'd have to be a bit stupid to use your government-given email address to talk to your friends about a protest, but their education system nowadays doesn't exactly focus on critical thinking.

more than 2 years ago
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Testing Free English Anti-Malware On Non-English Threats

JavaRob I've noticed this problem with spam (78 comments)

Not exactly the same thing, but I've been getting a lot of spam in Greek for some reason -- and I have no idea how to filter it out (I could just capture any message with a common Greek word, but it's... gibberish to me). It's clearly spam, and probably all from the same sender, because the formatting is always similar, though of course the links vary.

more than 3 years ago
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Which Language To Learn?

JavaRob Re:Why be language specific? (897 comments)

First, a language is more than just a tool; it's an entire ecosystem. Writing working code in a new language -- learning the syntax -- isn't too tough for most people. But beyond that... well, just remember that every task can be accomplished in many different ways (sometimes using core libraries, sometimes using 3rd party APIs, and with many different approaches to implementation), and you aren't going to have a clue when you're new to a language. Even with languages that are only relatively newly popular (like Ruby) there are often multiple libraries offering similar functionality that you want to include in a new project, and it's quite hard to know which is better until you've used them for a while.

The benefit of someone with experience in a given language is that they'll already *know* about the weird pitfalls and bugs in specific core libraries, bugs in specific versions of this or that, the best library to use for threading, or HTML scraping, or PDF generation, etc. etc.. The syntax is a fairly small part of what you need to be an effective developer in a new language (being a developer also involves estimating effort for tasks, debugging, doing security analysis, optimizing/scaling, etc. -- all things that are doable if you know the language "ecosystem", but not possible just knowing the syntax.

Second, existing code base and existing developer experience mean that even if Python is a better fit for a new task, and you could do it in Python in 10 minutes, you may still have to use Java because most of the other guys are "Java developers" and they're going to need to maintain it.

more than 3 years ago
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Family To Receive $1.5M+ In Vaccine-Autism Award

JavaRob Re:Previous condition (594 comments)

Another factor is that diseases evolve.

Every infected person -- even if they're a healthy child who will probably be fine after a bit of misery -- is a little disease factory and laboratory. Some of the virus they produce will be the same as what they caught. Some of it will be slightly different. Some of the different strains will be the same, or less potent/communicable/etc.. Some of them will be worse, or even much much worse.

And another hint for the grandparent poster: not every child is in good health when they get a given disease. Did you have any classmates who were out all the time due to health problems? Did you pass on your measles or rubella to any of them? Or hell, just pass on your germs to a newborn infant, or a pregnant woman, etc..

more than 3 years ago
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Family To Receive $1.5M+ In Vaccine-Autism Award

JavaRob Re:What? (594 comments)

The sad thing is that *yes*, of course there are large numbers of parents around the world who will see their child's first signs of autism in the first few days after a vaccine, and many of those parents will be completely convinced that the vaccine did it. "Post hoc ergo propter hoc" is how most people think.

And those poor parents will try all kinds of quackery, and develop a drastic distrust of actual scientifically-based medicine, and simply not understand that autism generally shows up in early childhood, and vaccines are during early childhood... so simply by normal chance, we're guaranteed a percentage of austistic kids who will have their first clear signs immediately after a vaccine.

Listen people, thinking that X was caused by Y simply because it happened soon after, and treating your child's autism via "trying things" until something seems to work... you are doing *shitty*, flawed science, and you are probably going to do serious harm to your child. Please take the time to learn from people doing actual, valid science.

more than 3 years ago
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Spam email that gets past any relevant filters ...

JavaRob Re:Canned (183 comments)

The canned version still gets through my filters

Ditto; it takes some force and persistence, but given enough time I can even get it through the tea strainer.

The result looks great as cupcake frosting!
Note: looks can be deceiving.

more than 3 years ago
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My Automobile Gets __ MPG

JavaRob Re:16-20, used to be 26 to 30 (1141 comments)

Checking her cellphone messages, unfortunately -- without paying attention to traffic, or the safety of her location.

Sadly, her death could have been easily avoided if she had simply kept her attention on traffic as long as she was exposed to it.

One useful tip -- it helps a lot if you bike in a group, because you're more easily spotted; i.e., you're relative safe if your kids are with you (and dressed in bright clothing), because collectively you can be just as visible as another car.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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JavaRob JavaRob writes  |  more than 7 years ago

JavaRob (28971) writes "A study by the Online Journalism Review using eye tracking to improve page layouts turned up an odd result: men tend to reliably look at crotches in photos.

"Although both men and women look at the image of George Brett when directed to find out information about his sport and position, men tend to focus on private anatomy as well as the face. For the women, the face is the only place they viewed. [...]This difference doesn't just occur with images of people. Men tend to fixate more on areas of private anatomy on animals as well, as evidenced when users were directed to browse the American Kennel Club site."

Interestingly, it seems like even knowing that their eye movements were being recorded didn't affect the habit.

Side note: the main article is actually interesting, if you can manage to tear your eyes away from George Brett's groin."
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JavaRob JavaRob writes  |  more than 7 years ago

JavaRob (28971) writes "From the WordPress development blog: "If you downloaded WordPress 2.1.1 within the past 3-4 days, your files may include a security exploit that was added by a cracker, and you should upgrade all of your files to 2.1.2 immediately."

Fortunately, they got a tipoff, but it's not clear how long the altered download (the cracker altered a couple of files to add in remote execution capabilities) would have stayed up otherwise.

Note: the cracker did not sneak in code by posing as an OSS developer (the common FUD scare scenario...); they just managed to crack one of the site's servers, and altered the download directly.

Apparently, WordPress has taken steps to ensure it doesn't happen again. Personally, I'm wondering about ways browsers and/or operating systems might be improved to automate checksum validation for downloaded executables."

Journals

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Embryonic Rights, part V

JavaRob JavaRob writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Onward...
I had managed to reply to some of your posts before the comments closed on the last journal entry; here are the ones I didn't get to in time.

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Embryonic Rights, part IV

JavaRob JavaRob writes  |  more than 8 years ago

One of these days I'm going to set up a blog where I can have indefinite exchanges; in the meantime, I had to get started on a new project, and comments were archived, so here's the next continuation.

I'll just quote the comments I'm responding to in bold (seems simpler than recreating those posts).

Cheers!
Rob

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Embryonic Rights, part III

JavaRob JavaRob writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Picking up the thread again, as time permits. I just totally ran out of spare time for a while there.

Discussion background for the random visitor:
* Started in the "Start of Life Gene Discovered" article. Comments closed mid-discussion.
* Rescued when cagle_.25 hosted a continuation in his journal. Comments closed mid-discussion.

I'll insert full copies of the posts I'm responding to (as the anon user) so there's some kind of continuity. cagle_.25, if/when you have the time we can keep making our way through; when this one gets archived (if we're still going) I can pop up another journal entry.

I like this method of conversation -- we can take the time to mull over a new idea before replying; we can check back to what we argued earlier; we have the time to double-check some dimly-remembered stat, etc..

Cheers,
Rob

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