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Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?

MadKeithV Re:Don't put PhD in the resume (479 comments)

Warning: the following reply may be somewhat acerbic due to real-world experience on both ends of the interviewing table.

That's only because those who haven't been through a PhD program are ignorant as to the amount of intense work, self-motivation, and ingenuity a PhD requires.

As someone who's been through a PhD program and dropped out in disgust, and has subsequently interviewed quite a few PhDs for industry jobs: baloney, it's pretty much as the GP describes in a great number of places. It's a highly-politicised who-do-you-know academic circlejerk. And PhD work is usually nowhere near as "intense" as proper high-level real-world work anyway (something a lot of them learn to their detriment in the first few months on the job).

Many PhDs have already worked extensively in industry.

Whoa, hold on there, now we're not just talking about PhDs, we're talking about PhDs with actual real world experience. That's a much smaller subset than you imply, and quite a few of that subset had *failed* real world experience that made them go back to PhDs. Someone with a PhD who's made it work in the real world is extremely valuable, because at that point you actually have evidence that you really have found that smart, motivated, ingenuous person with serious specialization who can be forgiven for naively believing the academic fairy-story that a PhD would actually be valuable outside of the world of academia.

The less you know, the less you realize how much you don't know.


about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development?

MadKeithV Re:Fear of changing code.... (232 comments)

I have also seen/heard of circumstances where "doing the minimum to keep the thing working" is allowed but actually improving the code is not because improving the code counts as "new work" and comes from a different budget than maintenance. Seems stupid but that's how some shops operate.

"The minimum to keep the thing working" nearly always implies improving the code. All developers need to realize this and stop this silly false dichotomy between "maintenance" and "refactoring".

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development?

MadKeithV Re:Wow... (232 comments)

A small number of dysfunctional shops like that has virtually always existed.

90% is a small number, right?

I'm joking, I've never had to work in a truly dysfunctional shop, and yet "fear-driven development" tends to make an appearance whenever stress levels get higher. Pressure makes people take funny decisions that they think are "safe", such as not touching a legacy code base for another 5 years because "it works and we don't want to break it", until it finally collapses under its own weight and technological advancement (in the case I'm thinking of it was the lack of multithreading and 64bit support).

Often its the fear of other people's reactions if you stick your neck out and get it wrong that will doom you to inaction. It helps to remind yourself and others constantly that you cannot have improvement without change, and the only way to do nothing wrong is to do nothing. Build up trust at detecting and *recovering* from mistakes is at least as important as having a process that avoids mistakes. Mistakes happen. Learn to deal with them instead of expending inordinate amounts of time trying to avoid them.

about a month ago

HP Recalls 6 Million Power Cables Over Fire Hazard

MadKeithV Re:Same folks who made my LED flashlight? (137 comments)

9. flickering again. this time it is my campfire. A rhinoceros appears and stamps the fire out.

10. It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

about 2 months ago

DEA Paid Amtrak Employee To Pilfer Passenger Lists

MadKeithV Perfectly normal business (127 comments)

Sounds like perfectly normal business to me. Getting paid $900.000 to tell you something you already know? That's called Consulting.

about 2 months ago

CDC Closes Anthrax, Flu Labs After Potentially Deadly Mix-Ups Come to Light

MadKeithV Re:Killing the employees seems a bit harsh (89 comments)

I've often wished that writers of the English language were required to use parenthesis to help with parsing.

In fact, that is the purpose of the comma, which is often incorrectly replaced with parentheses.

The comma operator could be overloaded, the parentheses operator can't be.

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Correlation Between Text Editor and Programming Language?

MadKeithV Re:Uh, sure.. (359 comments)

Intelisense: There was a trick, you make the intelisense files not writable and then it won't update anymore. Then you use Visual Assist and you're golden :)

You could also rename the intellisense DLL which solved the problem globally. That everyone at my company did this was a testament to how bad a pile of shit Intellisense for C++ was in VS2005 and VS2010. It's a hell of a lot better in 2012 - haven't used 2013 yet.

about 4 months ago

How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

MadKeithV Re:Step 1 (196 comments)

I also agree that audiophiles can be properly full of BS. A good way to get a laugh is to go to, look up a popular set of cheap ass headphones and read some of the lengthy comments written by the audiophile crowd. You'll be tempted to think that they expected live concert quality sound from the thing.

You want a proper laugh? Look at these power cables. There are no words.

about 4 months ago

How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

MadKeithV Re:Step 1 (196 comments)

In my spare time, I've been an audio technician for the past 5 years. Before that, I was a DJ as a hobby, and I've been on stage crew occasionally for the last decade...

In other words, you really have fucked up your ears.

No wonder $15 earbuds sound good to you.

No, he's right. In 90% of the situations that you'd use headphones you wouldn't get much mileage out of anything above decent $15-$30 earbuds. Don't get me wrong, I've got my expensive monitoring headphones for tracking, and I have a set of studio monitor speakers for my home recording setup, but I equally enjoy m $30 Pioneer phone buds and Creative desktop audio set for the kitchen. To a point the grandparent and I have it slightly easier than the people who absolutely want to have earthquake bass. You don't get earthquake bass with any kind of fidelity out of small drivers. It's just not physically possible. All these "bass enhanced!" tiny headphones and in-ears just have a resonant spike somewhere in the lows. Better lows? Bigger drivers. That means over-ears. And then they are either open and comfortable for large periods of time, but leaky as all hell meaning you either suffer from sound degradation from sound leaking in from outside so forget "fidelity", or you're annoying the crap out of everyone around you by the loud noise leaking away from you. Or you get closed over-ears. And sweat your ears off after anything longer than 20-30 minutes. And then you realize that if you add it all up, you can get an awful lot of enjoyment out of a good cheap pair of phones, and save your money to get a good amp and speakers with good drivers and crossovers for the spaces where you can listen to music on your own terms, in actual high fidelity.

about 4 months ago

Workaholism In America Is Hurting the Economy

MadKeithV Re:What choice do we have? (710 comments)

You're given X amount of work to do and Y amount of time and if you don't do X you're fired, so you put in extra hours. Again and again and again.

Except that the studies show that when Y goes over 40 hours a week, the total amount of work you actually get done goes down. Not the average, not the work per hour, you get less work done in total than you did at 40 hours a week. So it is actually very much an "ism" - people repeating the same completely counterproductive action over and over in the hope that somehow they'll be more productive when they won't be.

Just be "that guy" at work that packs up and leaves at 8 hours that day. You'll get more done. Whenever you get flak, point back to these studies, and hammer home over and over again that you are getting the work done. In time the company culture will adjust and everyone there will be happier, including the bosses because more is being done with happier workers. Or you discover that you're working for a pathological employer who doesn't care about actual results but about appearances, but then you should leave anyway before you kill yourself working.

about 4 months ago

Geothermal Heat Contributing To West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting

MadKeithV Re:Queue the deniers (387 comments)

I have to respond to this, because it's clearly an attempt at a "balanced" view but missing some very important key points that distort your opinion.

First of all reducing the AGW debate to "both sides" with a neutral "middle ground" is disingenuous - in the count of number of people the balance is very strongly in favor of accepting AGW to degrees ( e.g. this recent set of studies arriving at between 91-97% consensus ). The denialists get disproportionate attention, which is actually a known type of political manipulation (e.g. argument to moderation) and this type of attention has been shown to disproportionately affect people who aren't specialized in the subject matter to moderate their position when no such moderation is required (more on this subject, though I can't find the scientific paper about it right now.

Second, appeal to "scientific purity" is overshooting. Science is constantly advancing, improving models, replacing wrong assumptions with less wrong assumptions. There is nothing "pure" about it, and in no way does it need to be to advance the cause and be useful to our lives. Words such as "purity" are much too loaded to be used, exactly because of the scientific approach. There's no need to deny - the scientific world does not have all the T's crossed and the I's dotted on AGW, just as it doesn't on gravity, physics and quantum theory, but we still happily cross bridges every day. The degree of certainty has long reached sufficient levels to warrant seriously looking at how to realistically (not politically, stupid carbon credits) mitigate instead of discussing a black and white position on AGW's existence.

And thirdly the AGW debate is much bigger than the USA. I understand that you have bipartisan issues across the board (not just AGW, and to be clear: I think both parties are in the wrong) but that doesn't extend to the rest of the world and this is a global issue.

So I think that while I don't entirely agree with your argumentation, I agree with your position. AGW is a science thing - and science has agreed that it exists though not to which degree. The challenge is to find solutions, and that's also with science.

Finally, I find the actual article very intriguing and somewhat challenging to my own views on AGW, as evidenced by my first thoughts on this: could it be that the geology of the antarctic is becoming destabilized because of the lessening of the weight of the ice sheet, in turn causing more geological activity? But that's a conjecture from an explanation that wouldn't challenge AGW, and real science must of course also look for other hypotheses.

about 4 months ago

Study: Rats Regret Making the Wrong Decision

MadKeithV Re:Well, better than all the women I know (94 comments)

None of them are able to express regret at a bad decision ;-)

Fool. Women don't make bad decisions - it's just that reality reacts badly.

about 4 months ago

Official MPG Figures Unrealistic, Says UK Auto Magazine

MadKeithV Re:No fuel economy figures are going be right (238 comments)

An inaccurate but precise measure is great if it's consistently inaccurate. But if it's consistently inaccurate, why not just measure the inaccuracy and correct all the values?

Because inaccurate measurements are rarely consistently so.

The test isn't claimed to be inaccurate, it's claimed to be non-representative of real-world usage.

about 5 months ago

The 69 Words GM Employees Can Never Say

MadKeithV Re:words (373 comments)

I like how the article explains to us the meaning behind the words Hindenburg and Titanic.

I wouldn't be surprised if some folks don't know the story behind these words. I mean some folks don't know the difference between "your" and "you're".

On the plus side you could use the result to cook you're toast at the end of it all.

If you're inside the car then you ARE toast at the end of it all.

about 5 months ago

Programmers: It's OK To Grow Up

MadKeithV Re:most young developers are at least as bad (232 comments)

Then it was XML. Everything had to be XML because XML would automagically make everything merge together and work in harmony.....or not.

I remember that one vividly. It's when the following phrase was coined "XML is like violence. If it's not working, you're not using enough of it yet.".

about 5 months ago

The Truth About OpenGL Driver Quality

MadKeithV Re:Advertisement for Intel (158 comments)

Slashdot has become an advertising site. Intel is always the best. Any article which compares Intel with AMD or Nvidia is a piece of crap. Intel 20 years behind in graphics.

They really aren't that far behind anymore for an enormous amount of uses, some pretty graphics-intensive. From the HD integrated graphics onwards Intel has been making great strides with every iX generation, catching up in most ways that matter in all but the most demanding areas (high end games and GPGPU). And I'm not saying that because I love these guys, I spent a decade telling customer after customer that Intel just straight up lied (as did the driver) about the graphics capabilities of the 9XX series of integrated graphics, that our software would never, ever work properly on these cards, and they should have read the minimum specs that clearly stated that we didn't support these chipset (this is software that was an order of magnitude more expensive than the laptops they were buying to run it on, but customers can be a silly bunch). Having that same argument with management every two years "because thousands of people have these chipsets!" (they'd usually shut up after a realistic time estimate of the work to support these cards, along with a table of probable performance and visual quality).

No, the HD-series integrated chipsets make me quite happy, because now we can at least have minimal support for people who buy these laptops (it's nearly always laptops), and their experience will actually be pretty good.

As an aside, it's easy to tell that TFA is absolutely true by how few major gaming titles ship. Oh, wait.

about 5 months ago

Apple Reportedly Buying Beats Electronics For $3.2 Billion

MadKeithV Re:Beats sound like garbage (198 comments)

For home audiophile headphones at an affordable price, I've been pretty happy with my AKG K701. Maybe it's just prejudice, but I'd much rather go with a company that has a reputation for doing one thing (decent headphones) and doing it well, as opposed to Sony whose headphone offerings include plenty of bottom-end Chinese-contracted crap.

The Sony MDR's are highly regarded in pro audio circles. I hate Sony-the-company with a vengeance, but I have a pair of ancient MDR-V900s that are incredible. I've used them for tracking, monitoring, live sound (where they really shine, because they lock out a LOT of external noise), and occasional mix reference. They were recommended to me by a person who tracks some of the biggest Belgian rock bands, and runs live sound at festivals of up to 60.000 people.

Downside: they fit so well around the ear that they aren't very comfortable for long periods of time (hot, sweaty ears), they are a professional, specialist tool. My day-to-day portable music headphones are Pioneer in-ears - where it doesn't really matter all that much because I want to *hear* what's going on around me when I'm hiking/jogging/commuting, so my audiophile experience is severely compromised anyway. When I'm really listening to music, I do it on speakers (Adam A5x).

about 5 months ago

C++ and the STL 12 Years Later: What Do You Think Now?

MadKeithV Re:Ha ha (435 comments)

Taking a page out of badanalogyguy's playbook, I compare it to a hand-built high performance racing car. It's really fast, but when you're driving it close to the edge of its performance it's twitchy as hell and you need a lot of experience to keep it from breaking out and careening off the track. A professional driver can make it do things you didn't even know were possible, and when you try to do the same following a detailed description you spin it out of control time and time again. It doesn't start with an ignition key, you need to flick a bunch of arcane switches in a complicated order to start all the car subsystems. When something goes wrong an unlabeled lights display looking straight out of Space:1999 lights up, and while the errors are described in the huge manual they are still so vague that you only begin to understand the errors after about the 10th time you've seen the same one. And whenever it needs maintenance or extension it turns out that someone manually hammered and bent the standard parts inside to fit, and nothing you can buy fits straight in without adaptation.

But man, it feels great when you run that thing around fast bends doing a great lap time. It doesn't really get you anywhere, but it makes you feel invincible.

about 5 months ago

Space Telescope Reveals Weird Star Cluster Conundrum

MadKeithV Re:I really object to this (80 comments)

To the untrained eye it says "this just in: science WRONG again!".

And isn't it awesome? More stuff to learn, new things to unearth! One of the coolest science shows I've seen recently is Neil deGrasse Tyson's "the inexplicable universe" lectures - all about things we do not understand yet.
It doesn't matter all that much that quite a few people think that science being wrong is a bad thing, as long as enough actual scientists know that science being wrong is how it works. Without science finding wrong bits or inexplicable bits how would we know where to keep digging and looking for better explanations?

And in the mean time, those of us who know how it works can keep enlightening those that don't with stories of the coolness of our universe and science. Every kid I know is fascinated by many cool things they can find out about in science. Dinosaurs, flight, space travel, the variety of life forms, menthos bottle rockets, slow motion explosions and car crash physics, growing things in the garden, there is SO MUCH out there that doesn't even take an effort to get them interested in. Take a 6-year old around the Science Museum in London, and you'll find their curiosity will inspire you to learn more about everything. They'll come up with questions you can't answer, and you'll have to look things up together and figure it out, and it's just totally awesome.
Mankind is inherently curious. Don't let a minority of (admittedly very vocal) conservative (lifestyle, not politics) old fogeys drain you of your curiosity and excitement about being wrong.

about 5 months ago


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