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Ask Slashdot: Joining a Startup As an Older Programmer?

RetiredMidn Get off my lawn, youngster! (274 comments)

I'm turning 60 this month. My current (startup) employer had less than 50 employees when I started a year and a half ago; my previous employer was at about 200 employees, pre-IPO, when I started my 2+ year stint there. At both places I had co-workers younger than my youngest child.

I don't think missing the extra-curricular stuff is going to be a big impediment. What's most important is whether your skills and knowledge are current, and being able to adapt to the work environment. I have contemporaries who have struggled with new technologies, languages or methodologies (i.e., scrum vs. waterfall) and therefore haven't thrived in the same environments. I haven't gone out of my way to adapt "culturally" (music, entertainment, etc.), but there's usually something of common interest to talk about.

If you've gone through several interviews and there is a mutual desire to work together, go for it. The startup could be the best place to keep you from becoming sold a calcified before you're 50! :-)

about 3 months ago

NASA Chief Tells the Critics of Exploration Plan: "Get Over It"

RetiredMidn Bold words (216 comments)

Bold words from someone who probably be long gone from the job before NASA even tries to get someone into low earth orbit again.

about 3 months ago

Is a Super-Sized iPad the Future of Education?

RetiredMidn Re:iPads do support HTML5 (234 comments)

iPad is a mobile browser based on other capabilities than just HTML5 support.

I agree with the previous reply that "mobile browser" suggests a significantly less capable browser than Safari on iOS (iPad or iPhone). One frustration of using iOS Safari is that too many web sites unnecessarily decide the browser is "mobile" and re-directs to their dumbed-down "mobile" variant, requiring me to specifically ask for the "full site", which typically works fine.

about 7 months ago

The Business of Attention Deficit Disorder

RetiredMidn Re:What is it then? (246 comments)

So ADHD is certainly over diagnosed, but certainly not YOUR sons.

Well... yes. In my reading on the subject at the time, it was clear that some pediatricians and parents were reaching a diagnosis and proceeding to medication on anecdotal observations and not by thorough evaluation; even advocates of ADHD treatment cautioned against jumping to conclusions. By contrast, as I noted, we did not initially embrace the diagnosis or treatment, and were relatively conservative in applying it. The markedly higher diagnosis rates today make me think that this is more or a problem today, especially since acceptance of the diagnosis and medication is way more mainstream now. Up to a point, it's possible that acceptance has caused fewer people to resist the diagnosis, but the numbers are too overwhelming.

Curiously, I can't tell if you're doubting my son's diagnosis, or doubting my doubts of the number of diagnoses today. In conversations about ADHD, I encounter people that assume all diagnoses are fake (i.e., there's no such disorder), and those who think all the cases are real and caused by environment, diet, video games, etc., without any evidence. I tend to think the answer is somewhere in the middle; some cases are real, some are mis-diagnosed.

about 7 months ago

The Business of Attention Deficit Disorder

RetiredMidn Re:What is it then? (246 comments)

Is it big pharma pushing doctors to prescribe more? Is it doctors too lazy/busy to do a proper diagnosis? Is it mothers, fathers and teachers who seek to explain bad behavior and poor discipline (which is largely their fault) on medical conditions? Is it our foods which have changed over to GMO based content over the same period of time?

The basic cause of this is simple: lack of physical activity causes kids to be fidgety. They can't concentrate. Kids that fidget in class are disruptive. They are marked as "trouble".

Crap. My son was diagnosed in the early 90's. We resisted the diagnosis at first, then balked at medication. In the end, the medications did help him succeed in school and at such activities as soccer, where the difference in his ability to pay attention was easiest to observe.

The counter-intuitive thing about ADHD medications is that they are typically stimulants, hardly something you would think of giving to a hyper-active child. Our doctor described the symptoms as something more akin to the restlessness that can come with drowsiness than an over-active mind or metabolism.

Maybe some parents diagnose and treat to make life easier, but I'm here to tell you that we specifically did not medicate my son during weekends and vacations, partly to minimize the medication, and partly to be able to observe his baseline behavior to see whether it changed over time.

As for teachers, my wife has taught first and second grade for about 20 years, and in her school system, teachers are prohibited from offering a diagnosis or even acknowledging the possibility when asked; that is the domain of medical professionals, not teachers. YMMV, of course.

All that said, ADHD is certainly over-diagnosed, and that was almost certainly the case back when my son was diagnosed, at the early end of the chart in TFA. I have to say I was shocked at how much more prevalent the diagnosis has become. I tend to lay the blame at the feet of Big Pharma marketing treatments to lay people; the lengths they go to in advertising in magazines (with pages of fine print that few read or understand) and television, carefully staying within the guidelines of regulations (that clearly aren't helping) is absurd.

about 7 months ago

Critics Reassess Starship Troopers As a Misunderstood Masterpiece

RetiredMidn Re:The Only Good Bug is a Dead Bug. (726 comments)

(For those who haven't read it the gist of it is that the world is governed by a democracy in which only those who have served in the military can vote. The argument is that voting rights are open to anybody, but only after demonstrating a willingness to sacrifice for the common good. Non-voters still obtain the same freedoms/rights/etc, but are not trusted with the operation of the government.)

I beg to differ, but IIRC, the "franchise" (to vote) is granted to anyone who enters (and leaves) public service of any kind, not just the military, and only a small percentage actually end up serving in the military. Readers may be forgiven for overlooking this, because many of the arguments about this qualification for voting is specific to military veterans.

about 9 months ago

USS Zumwalt — a Guided Missile Destroyer Running On Linux

RetiredMidn Re:Left out the best part (229 comments)

Thank you; it was mentioned in TFA, but your link is better.

about 9 months ago

USS Zumwalt — a Guided Missile Destroyer Running On Linux

RetiredMidn Left out the best part (229 comments)

The captain's name is James Kirk.

about 9 months ago

How Gen Y Should Talk To Old People At Work

RetiredMidn Re:Backwards (459 comments)


Bottle of Bordeaux.

And yes, I do have a private office.

Hey, I was a lot younger then! As it turns out, I visited Bordeaux last week, and now realize I have a lot of lost time to make up!

Open office plan at work, but I've been working at home 3-4 days per week lately, which is pretty private...

about a year ago

How Gen Y Should Talk To Old People At Work

RetiredMidn Backwards (459 comments)

As a Boomer (age 59), I'm finding it more important to embrace the future than ask the young 'uns to adopt the past. I think the last time I used a land line phone at work was over three years ago, and that was an exception; it's all Skype and Hangouts now, and I like it better.

I do miss some of the perqs of the past: private offices, beer at lunch...

That said, now get off my lawn!

about a year ago

Why Bob Mansfield Was Cut From Apple's Executive Team

RetiredMidn Another way to look at it (100 comments)

Mansfield tried to retire in 2012. It's just possible he wanted out again and Tim Cook asked him to stick around and lend his expertise without the management responsibilities. It's the perfect semi-retirement: get rid of the tedious part of the job, work on the fun stuff, and continue to get compensated. I'd jump at an offer like that. Get removed from the management bio page? pfft.

1 year,1 day

US Air Force Reporting Pilot Shortage

RetiredMidn Re:F35 and F22 (270 comments)

I think every fighter produced starting with the F-4 Phantom II was criticized as having some fatal flaw, and most ended up being liked by their pilots.

1 year,8 days

Edward Snowden Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize

RetiredMidn Re:Two wrongs don't make a right (719 comments)

Wow. A Stranger in a Strange Land quote. Apropos of everything.

Not at all. My initial thought was that there is a lot to sort out about what Snowden did and ultimately will do, and it's probably not time to rush to judgement on the totality of Snowden's actions yet. A lot has come to light that people have legitimately reacted to, and that is ultimately a good thing. I just haven't sussed out the totality of Snowden's intentions and actions yet, and that's why I'm withholding my final personal judgement, and why I think it's early to award him a Peace Prize. If he's truly deserving, will a year or two matter? Others have waited much longer. Personally, I'd rather receive a carefully considered, even if delayed, approbation.

1 year,15 days

Edward Snowden Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize

RetiredMidn Re:Two wrongs don't make a right (719 comments)

It's more complex than I have time for here, but...

To the extent that Snowden exposed the overreach of widespread data collection and surveillance of US citizens without probable cause, he may well be a hero.

If he truly has information that could badly damage legitimate U.S. interests (something the Guardian reporter claims, which I think may be overblown), and if he is willing to share that directly (or even indirectly) with foreign governments specifically to inflict that damage, then I have a problem with that.

There is a wide range of legitimate points of view about U.S. foreign policy, legitimacy of various techniques to protect national security, and so on. I respect many people's differing opinions on this. One thing I do think has been helpful is that the current debates have broken across once impenetrable ideological boundaries; people usually on opposite sides of the political divide are finding themselves agreeing with each other. It's forcing people on all sides to focus on the facts and issues rather than cling to ideology. That can't be bad.

1 year,15 days

Edward Snowden Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize

RetiredMidn Two wrongs don't make a right (719 comments)

I'm still ambivalent about the Snowden case, as I believe many still are. So we're going to compensate the rush to give the award to Obama by rushing to give it to Snowden?

In the words of Valentine Michael Smith, "Waiting is."

1 year,15 days

Boston Marathon Bomber Charged With Using 'Weapon of Mass Destruction'

RetiredMidn This is not new (533 comments)

The Times Square (attempted) bomb was termed a "weapon of mass destruction" in the charges that were filed. I do think "WMD" is over-kill for those cases.

about a year ago

Goodbye, Lotus 1-2-3

RetiredMidn Re:DOS ain't done til Lotus don't run! (276 comments)

Several factors over many years contributed to the decline and demise of 1-2-3:

- What eventually became Lotus Symphony was originally planned to be 1-2-3 Release 2.0. Lotus fixed this by releasing Symphony as a separate product; Symphony did very well, but the more tightly focused 1-2-3 out-sold it. However...

- Lotus's first product for the Mac, Lotus Jazz, was a GUI implementation of Symphony, not 1-2-3, and was relatively unsuccessful because it was more than many customers wanted (and too much for the 512K Mac of its day. So, where Microsoft had a successful implementation of a GUI spreadsheet on the Mac, Lotus perceived that it had a failure (although Jazz's implementation was quite nice, if perhaps ahead of its time). (An implementation of 1-2-3 for the Mac wouldn't appear until 1991.)

- Lotus's Intel-based GUI efforts were targeted at OS/2, which turned out to be a dead-end. It should be noted that Microsoft strongly encouraged Lotus to follow that path even as Microsoft was pursuing Windows.

- The first major effort to "modernize" the 1-2-3 codebase with a re-implementation in C (vs. assembler), Release 3, took a long time and was targeted specifically at DOS, lacking any accommodation for GUIs. Rudimentary graphics support was later bolted on the side with acquired (as opposed to in-house) software, requiring an awkward auxiliary file format.

- Trying to catch up in the Windows space, Lotus rushed an implementation for Windows on top of the awkward implementation of Release-3-with-graphics. This implementation was as weak as one might expect. (1-2-3 for Mac was built on top of the same infrastructure; necessarily, much more time and effort was spent adapting the code base for a new platform, with arguably better, but still compromised, results.)

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Am I Too Old To Retrain?

RetiredMidn Gotta keep learning (418 comments)

I'm 58. During my career, I have worked with PDP-11 assembly language, 68000 assembly, FORTRAN and PL/I on VAX/VMS, x86 assembly and C on MS-DOS, "C with Objects" and later C++ on Classic Mac, C++ and Java on Windows, server-side Java for a short time, Curl, client-side Java, Objective-C/C++ on MacOS and iOS, and I'm currently doing cross-platform Qt development while I spin up a new phase of my career doing independent and/or contract iOS development.

The thing that saved my career was the personal computer, which allowed me to develop new skills at home on my own time. A lot of my Java training was self-driven, and I am completely self-taught on Objective-C and Cocoa.

At 40, I wouldn't hesitate to go back to school for formal training if I could find an appropriate program, but until then, pick something that looks like fun (in my case, it's iOS development), pick a project that's fun enough to motivate you (even if it'll never get marketed, or even "finished"), and dig in.

If you don't find software development fun or motivating, find something else that is. On this anniversary of Steve Job's death, remember that life is too short to do something that doesn't motivate you.

Good luck!

about 2 years ago

Apple Is Giving Away Its Secrets By Litigating

RetiredMidn Seriously? (149 comments)

These are the important secrets?

It's more likely that Apple's competitors are going to look at this thin slice of evidence and apply it badly, as has been done so frequently in the past.

I'm more worried about Apple drifting away from its own successful values than I am about somebody else "discovering" them on the basis of this trial's discovery.

about 2 years ago

Preparing For Life After the PC

RetiredMidn "Trucks and cars" (636 comments)

Steve Jobs used the analogy of trucks and cars; some of us need trucks for heavy lifting and special tasks, but most of us don't. The PC running Solitaire on a receptionist's desk will probably go away; the engineer's workstation will not.

about 2 years ago


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