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Ask Slashdot: Can an Old Programmer Learn New Tricks?

Sarusa Pick a problem first, not the solution (306 comments)

I've been programming longer than you have and I'm still learning new things every day. That's not an exaggeration - we have so many cool projects at work that I can't stagnate.

The key here is to have a problem to solve, then learn whatever you need to learn to solve that problem.

You don't decide 'Well I should learn PHP now... okay, now what do I do with this?' or 'I hear Java is good on a resume.' You find a problem that's interesting to you (I want to make a game that... I want to make a neat device that...) and then you learn whatever it is you have to learn. For instance starting to deal with firmware, motors, devices, etc is like a rebirth for a lot of people compared to the boring ennui of database and web services. It's amazing how much you can do with a little Arduino or Raspberry Pi or the equivalent, and that's often enough to kick you out of your stupor.

If you can't think of anything, or if coming up with a game or trying a neat little embedded system doesn't put you back into obsessive creative mode then it's probably time to consider a new line of work, or just how to ride out your days till retirement.

about a month ago

PC Game Prices — Valve Starts the Race To Zero

Sarusa Make sure you read the dev comments (212 comments)

If you're going to read the article, read the comments (on Gamasutra). Other devs point out that you've always been able to set your price on Steam games - it just takes less intervention to change it now. You could always launch a free or 99 cent game there. The Steam market is not the mobile market (thank god).

about a month and a half ago

Good Engineering Managers Just "Don't Exist"

Sarusa They exist. I work for one right now. (312 comments)

I work for one of them. I've worked for two others previously.

Current boss likes being able to have his fingers in all the design pies, which he can do because he doesn't have to code any more. That could be a disaster if he were a micromanaging ego driven tool who wanted to own everything, but he knows what he doesn't know and defers to the area experts/leaders. He comes up with very good ideas or ties it together with another part of the project, so he's also contributing.

He spends the other half of the time doing all those horrible managery things the rest of us don't want to do. And for that he makes more money.

Everyone wins!

Of course this /requires/ someone who can manage his time and his ego effectively to work well, but they do exist.

about 2 months ago

Headhunters Can't Tell Anything From Facebook Profiles

Sarusa Recruiters can't even tell anything from a resume (209 comments)

This seems to be a common theme, but recruiters on LinkedIn, who have easy access to prefiltered data right from my own fingers, can't even manage to comprehend that.

My info: EE/CS, no interest in management, no interest in relocating from west coast.

Recruiter: Hey Sarusa, plz call me about this great ME (Mechanical Engineer) management opportunity in Madison, Wisconsin that just opened up.

I'm not making that one up. I wish I were. Ones that bad happen rarely, but weaker forms of that happen constantly.

about 3 months ago

Clam That Was Killed Determining Its Age Was Over 100 Years Older Than Estimated

Sarusa Ming the Aphrodisiac King (366 comments)

Since the Chinese formula is rarity + cost = raging boners, I sure hope they ground this guy up into aphrodisiac powder and saved a couple tigers or black rhinos.

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Choose Frameworks That Will Survive?

Sarusa You're at the whim of the owner. It's political. (227 comments)

Sadly, this isn't a technical question, it's a political question. You've got the following considerations:
      - Is it a clean, well designed framework with good docs and good support?
      - Can I count on the ecosystem it's designed for surviving?
      - What's the owner's record on this?

Only the first is really technical. In the case of Flex, at the time you couldn't predict that Flash would fall from grace so fast and that Adobe would abandon the Linux version. In the case of Qt, well, there's always a need for embedded device GUIs - but there was a chance that after Nokia bought Trolltech it might have ended up being bought and killed by Microsoft when they bought Nokia. Luckily it was already spun off into Digia.

I guess you could collapse this into 'Do I trust the owner?' I don't trust Adobe, so I would have skipped Flex, but on the other hand Flash had a good long run. I know going in that any MS framework like XNA will be obsoleted in a couple years, but will be supported for quite a while at least. I trusted Trolltech, but then they got bought by Nokia - that's the sort of thing you can't really predict.

about 6 months ago

Facebook May Dislike the Social Fixer Extension, but Many Users Love It (Video)

Sarusa Re:"Moo"ving off-topic (176 comments)

And of course in theory you can actually leave Facebook, though in practice the peer pressure works pretty damn well.

Let me just bury that metaphor under a rock somewhere.

about 6 months ago

Facebook May Dislike the Social Fixer Extension, but Many Users Love It (Video)

Sarusa They don't want your experience streamlined (176 comments)

The fundamental bad assumption here is that FaceBook would be happy about the user experience being streamlined and more efficient. If they're showing something to you it's *because they want you to see it*, even if (or especially if) it slows you down and means you have to click more and see things you didn't want to see. You didn't want to see it, but *they* want you to see it. This extension takes away their total control.

You aren't the customer, you are the product. The cow doesn't get to choose how it gets milked.

about 6 months ago

What Developers Can Learn From Healthcare.gov

Sarusa How about management? (267 comments)

When your boss says you're going to launch on October 3 no matter what, you get whatever you've got.

I've occasionally (thankfully not often) had to turn out things I'm not proud of for customers who have no idea how to schedule and won't hear otherwise. Stuff like the front end/back end error handling is high up the chopping block.

about 6 months ago

Will New Red-Text Warnings Kill Casual Use of Java?

Sarusa That would be great - drive by malware protection (282 comments)

Nobody should be running Java in browser. It's a blinking, gaping 'zero day me here!' for any drive-by malware and Oracle can't keep up with the exploits (though they still keep trying to re-enable their plugin on install, along with trying to install junkware, the evil bastards).

I do use Java for standalone apps, this is not an anti-Java thing - it's the browser plugin that is the problem.

Big slow institutions that are stuck using Java can pay the $100 and still get the extra drive-by protection. Everyone wins. Of course the baddies could still get a cert... but then we're back to 'don't run it in browser.'

about 7 months ago

Reddit Bans Subreddit Dedicated To Finding Navy Yard Shooters

Sarusa Hiding the truth! (159 comments)

And right after they'd managed to finger Lee Harvey Oswald.

Coincidence? Follow the money, sheeple!

about 7 months ago

Un-Un-Pentium On Your Periodic Table of the Elements?

Sarusa Sabbath (172 comments)

Let's call it Sabbath. As a bonus, Ozzy is 115 this year.

about 8 months ago

Ask Slashdot: When Is It OK To Not Give Notice?

Sarusa Do you hate your co-workers and your boss? (892 comments)

Keep in mind that when you just quit you're hurting your co-workers. All your stuff is going to get dropped on them. Definitely short term, possibly long term. It will be much easier with a transition period. If the boss says 'Fine, get out now!', well, you tried. Or perhaps you hate them all!

I would definitely take the time to contact your good co-workers and tell them what happened and why ('Sorry, but...'). It's also a surprisingly small industry at times - word gets around more than you might expect. I keep running into people from 20 years ago!

I wouldn't stress about exactly two weeks if you miss by a day because the boss was out.

about 8 months ago

First California AMBER Alert Shows AT&T's Emergency Alerts Are a Mess

Sarusa Re:Worse than useless - here's how to disable them (380 comments)

I haven't tried - I suspect you'd have to root.

Still, I've never seen a Presidential Alert, so won't worry about it - presumably that's something really freaking important like 'Nukes are in the air.' If we ever get campaign messages or 'Flooding in [another state]' on it then I'm sure someone will figure it out.

about 8 months ago

First California AMBER Alert Shows AT&T's Emergency Alerts Are a Mess

Sarusa Re:Worse than useless - here's how to disable them (380 comments)

WAP push messages let you buy ringtones, themes, etc and have them installed on your phone by 'pushing' them at your phone. Not so bad to have disabled. I think Gingerbread is too old to even have support for the super annoying Amber Alerts, so you'd only get them as normal SMS messages. Though I could be wrong.

about 8 months ago

First California AMBER Alert Shows AT&T's Emergency Alerts Are a Mess

Sarusa Worse than useless - here's how to disable them. (380 comments)

On iOS: settings -> notifications -> Government Alerts down at the bottom. You can turn off just Amber alerts.

On Android: open the Android messaging /application/, then menu -> settings -> emergency alerts -> disable Amber alerts.

about 8 months ago

New JavaScript-Based Timing Attack Steals All Browser Source Data

Sarusa Noscript + Adblock (167 comments)

I'll second (or fifth) the NoScript recommendation. Yes, NoScript can be a bit of a pain in the ass at times, but it sure trims down the the amount of crap that runs. JavaScript wasn't designed with security in mind, so it'll never be secure - they can only spackle over the cracks. Best you can do is minimize how much runs in the cesspit of the Internet. I also find that I only have to allow it for a few regular sites, so once you're past that there's not much maintenance. Most sites still work without it, even if you don't get all the features - for instance, /. is working fine with no javascript allowed at all.

If you don't want the hassle at least install Ghostery and turn off the GhostRank. Most sites are pulling in random JS from 6-12 other sites for tracking/ad/social purposes.

And since most browser malware is delivered by drive-by ads (often through legitimate ad networks who don't realize it), add Adblock to keep those out.

It's also a prophylactic prevention against whatever new zero-days come along since they very rarely can do anything without JS or Flash. I guess we'll see what happens with HTML5...

I'm always amazed when I see someone else go to the same sites I go to and there is SO MUCH CRAP that you can barely find the content. To me that also makes the NoScript hassle worth it.

about 8 months ago



FunnyJunk steals The Oatmeal's cartoons, sends him $20K extortion demand

Sarusa Sarusa writes  |  about 2 years ago

Sarusa (104047) writes "From the Oatmeal: 'Almost exactly a year ago I published a blog post about my comics being stolen, re-hosted, and monetized on FunnyJunk's website. The owner of the site responded and some of the comics were taken down, He still had a ton of my comics hosted without credit, but the energy it would take to get him to take them down wasn't worth it. I thought the issue was done and over with so I let him be.

A few days ago I was served papers informing me that the owner of FunnyJunk is going to file a federal lawsuit against me unless I pay him $20,000 in damages.'

The text is not quite safe for work, as The Oatmeal rarely is, but well worth reading."

Link to Original Source

Sony working hard on DRMing AC power

Sarusa Sarusa writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Sarusa writes "It takes a very special company like Sony to realize that something as fundamental as 120v 60hz power could be DRMed and crippled. After making this fundamental conceptual breakthrough, they're devoting all their technical skill to making AC power fragile, which certainly takes a world class company like Sony. Of course, the proprietary Sony electrons will spin the wrong way, so you'll need a proprietary Sony transformer — that last bit isn't true, but only because they can't figure out how to do it yet."
Link to Original Source

How Voodoo Kills You (The Nocebo Effect)

Sarusa Sarusa writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Sarusa (104047) writes "What you think you know can kill you. The Nocebo effect is the evil twin of the Placebo effect — if you think you're dying you have a real chance of actually dying, even if there's nothing wrong with you. My favorite case in here is 'The Overdose' at the bottom, where someone tried to kill himself with a drug overdose, and was dying till someone realized the 'drugs' were just harmless sugar pills from a study and informed him of this. Or were they? Will either way, it worked!"
Link to Original Source

Sony's Little Big Planet Moderation Inscrutable

Sarusa Sarusa writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Sarusa (104047) writes "Sony, being Sony, are being arbitrary and random in their deletion of some of the best user created levels in Little Big Planet. Hours and days of work vanishing into the ether without recourse or explanation. Azure Palace was incredibly good (video included in the story), and as far as anyone can tell had nothing banhammer-worthy, but now it's gone. So is World of Color. I suspect they're just being dumb again instead of malicious, but since they're not communicating at all it's all the same. This is your only killer app, guys, stop screwing it up."
Link to Original Source

Sarusa Sarusa writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Sarusa (104047) writes "If this is true, it's Beta vs VHS all over again and HD-DVD may be the foregone winner of the format wars. First, Heise reports (summarized from the German by sgknox.com) that Digital Playground (NSFW), who were committed to Blu-ray last year, are now producing HD-DVD titles instead. No Blu-ray disk manufacturer would make their disks because Sony doesn't want porn on Blu-ray (just as with Betamax). Second, as reported by tgdaily, the porn industry at CES overwhelmingly favors HD-DVD because it's much cheaper and easier to produce. As noted in the tgdaily article, porn was a huge factor in VHS winning the VHS/Beta format wars even though most people don't like to acknowledge it. Porn, like gaming, pushes tech adoption."


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