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Comments

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Is Ruby Dying?

Zarf Re:Short answer: no (400 comments)

Ruby is standing stronger than ever.

By this metric Java is still kicking everyone's butts. Also... *all* programming languages are "dying".

I've been around the block enough times to know that if you want to survive as a programmer you had better damn well learn to program. And not in just one language, you need to know a survey of language types. Ruby is just one type in the same category as Python and Javascript. If you really want to survive 20 years as a programmer (like I did) you need to branch out more.

Now, you kids get off my lawn.

about 4 months ago
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Is a Computer Science Degree Worth Getting Anymore?

Zarf Re:A different model for hiring/interviewing? (630 comments)

I think Andy is complaining about the bad CS degree mills that I've run into. I am definitely in the camp that a CS degree should be *harder* to get. That said, we should probably re-evaluate our interview process as an industry. Instead of grilling a kid on if he has skill X ... we need some way to determine if they are smart, competent, and motivated.

If you can't attract smart, competent, and motivated people ... maybe you need to re-examine your organisation.

about a year and a half ago
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4G Phones Are Really Fast — At Draining Batteries

Zarf Re:enormous battery FTW (281 comments)

Now that you mention it, I *can* hang around for DAYS on wifi. My record so far is two and a half *days* on wifi. But, I usually use the phone as a mobile computer while traveling. In those situations it's a little TV for around 4 to 5 hours and it's a phone for 2 to 4 hours during lay overs and while navigating airports. For several hours before and after, it's a GPS... but it gets to be plugged into a car during those times.

more than 2 years ago
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4G Phones Are Really Fast — At Draining Batteries

Zarf enormous battery FTW (281 comments)

I bought a triple sized battery for my 4G phone. My phone is friggin' enormous now... but I can use it on 4G for 12 to 16 hours. I have yet to completely kill it... even while using it on coast to coast flights.

more than 2 years ago
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I would pay ___ monthly for a good online newspaper/magazine

Zarf Re:Pandora|ONE (315 comments)

Maybe we could have "fund a reporter" sites where we the people would give money to the reporter we liked best.

more than 3 years ago
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I would pay ___ monthly for a good online newspaper/magazine

Zarf Pandora|ONE (315 comments)

I don't know how effective a marketing ploy it would be for the general population but the Pandora versus Pandora|ONE marketing trick worked on me.

If you don't know, Pandora works like this: you get a certain amount of "radio" for free with advertisements. If you want more than that amount (something like 40 hours a month or so I think) then you can elect to pay $30 a year for unlimited commercial free "radio".

If there was a service that delivered premium news content like that ... say allowing 10 stories a month free but charging $24 a year for unlimited ... I might pay for it if I really liked the service.

more than 3 years ago
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Android Trojan Found, Spreading From Chinese App Stores

Zarf can you feel the FUD coming? (277 comments)

I can feel the FUD storm building...

more than 3 years ago
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Nintendo Warns 3D Games Can Ruin Children's Eyes

Zarf 3D in the lab caused me headaches (229 comments)

I remember when I was in grad school 10 years ago the experimental 3D systems would give me horrible headaches after a few hours of use. I remember thinking that if we shipped 3D systems like those to average consumers it would be a disaster. Other grad students reported vertigo and one even vomited after an extended session.

The saving grace of these systems might be that they aren't fully immersive so you would avoid the vertigo we felt standing inside the CAVE. The headaches came from the shutter systems we used. I'm glad 3D in theaters today uses some sort of polarized light these are much more pleasant to look at.

I think as long as 3D remains a "treat" instead of a default experience we'll be okay. The fact remains that no matter what the system used to produce 3D illusions on 2D surfaces we are ultimately causing a pair of binocular eyes to see objects that are not there. Seeing things that aren't there just sounds bad for you.

more than 3 years ago
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4chan Declares War On Snow

Zarf Dear Slashdot, this is a joke site. (201 comments)

This same site is reporting the TSA has integrated full body scanners with Facebook.

Now, if Slashdot wishes to be taken as seriously as Wonder-Tonic or The ONION ...

more than 3 years ago
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'I Just Need a Programmer'

Zarf Re:Reversal. (735 comments)

I wouldn't ascribe that level of intelligence (or malice) to a professor from Iowa.

more than 3 years ago
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'I Just Need a Programmer'

Zarf Re:Send me a great idea and I'll program it (735 comments)

I put forward the same offer (and I'm not anonymous) with the caveat that I get a major share of the corporation built around the idea I select.

Just remember who will have the power in our working relationship. Me. You can't make your idea real. I can.

By way of analogy...
I already have the sword. Your idea might be for a gun. Last I checked, a real sword beats and imaginary gun.

If someone can truly send me a great idea that 'just needs a programmer', I will commit to writing the code. Out of the hundreds of 'ideas' that I get pitched 99% of them are already done (and often better than their plans), the 'idea owners' haven't even taken the time to review the market. Additionally, rarely does an 'idea' just need a programmer, it typically needs lots of capital to get over the hump of turning and idea into reality.

If your idea can pass a few simple questions
- How large is the potential market?
- Has this idea been done before, what makes it unique? It is patented, patentable?
- What have you invested in it?

My offer stands.

more than 3 years ago
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'I Just Need a Programmer'

Zarf Re:Reversal. (735 comments)

Yes, a lot of self-described "idea guys" have lousy ideas and aren't interested in details like programming. Is perhaps the thesis here that idea guys can be taught to program, but mere programmers can't be taught to have ideas? Because that's a bit insulting.

Very insightful. Somehow, I had missed the implicit insult. However, I think the insult was accidental. The author is trying to convince these oh-so-bright "idea guys" that they are oh-so-bright and can make their ideas come true themselves. The desired effect is these oh-so-bright "idea guys" will discover just how outlandish it is to think that three inexperienced graduate students could recreate all the functionality of Windows 7 using Javascript and HTML5.

more than 3 years ago
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How the 'Tech Worker Visa' Is Remaking IT In America

Zarf Re:You people are angering me... (436 comments)

I'm open to suggestions. Personally, I've been trying to figure out how to create my own company that would attract and retain the best technology talent... I just haven't figured out how we're going to put bread on the table yet.

more than 3 years ago
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Facebook, Microsoft Team Up Against Google

Zarf We're rooting for you Beowulf! (297 comments)

Go and slay Grendel! You can do it! Imma stay here behind this fortress of GPL. KTHXBAI.

more than 3 years ago
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Study Finds Most Would Become Supervillians If Given Powers

Zarf Re:"slide into corruption" (419 comments)

Thank you. I did not remember where I read that.

more than 3 years ago
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Study Finds Most Would Become Supervillians If Given Powers

Zarf Re:"slide into corruption" (419 comments)

Sliding into corruption? What rot. Most of us would run head long into it.

I either want less corruption or more opportunity to participate in it.

more than 3 years ago
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Why Are We Losing Vertical Pixels?

Zarf Re:Obvious (1140 comments)

Buy a 4:3 display for a development machine?

I keep around some 4:3 monitors for development. When using two screens I typically stack them, I don't go side-to-side.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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The dangers of being really, really tired.

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Sleepy Dog Millionare (5735) writes "Brian Palmer writing for Slate asks Can you die from lack of sleep? and shockingly the answer may very well be yes you can. Palmer points to "ground breaking experiments" in the areas of sleep research. It turns out that sleep deprivation can actually be deadly in rats. The obvious conclusion is that it is probably deadly in all mammals. So the next time you think you need to pull multiple all-night hack-a-thon ask yourself if it's worth risking your life for?"
Link to Original Source
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Google App Engine now with Groovy meta-programming

Zarf Zarf writes  |  about 5 years ago

Zarf (5735) writes "Yesterday Google announced that GAE (Google App Engine) now supports Java development but fast on the heels of the Java announcement is this announcement for Groovy support! Groovy is a dynamic programming language for the JVM that is a near super-set of Java. Much Java syntax is valid Groovy syntax, however, Groovy adds powerful meta-programming features and Groovy on GAE will bring these meta-programming features to App Engine development. Groovy got special attention from the SpringSource Groovy team and the Google App Engine Java team and it was this collaboration that helped create the changes that were the big secret in the recent Groovy release of 1.6.1. The Groovy Developer community is very excited to see this level of collaboration between the Groovy team and Google!"
Link to Original Source
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RIAA: strapped for cash, stops suing

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Zarf (5735) writes "The real Paul Jones (of iBiblio fame) tweets: "Facing shrinking budget RIAA abandons suing listeners — instead turns ISPs into their thugs." The Wall Street Journal article reports: "the Recording Industry Association of America said it plans to try an approach that relies on the cooperation of Internet-service providers." Is this finally some good news from the economic melt down?"
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Google Praises the FCC's White Space decision

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Zarf (5735) writes "Google praises the FCC vote to allow the use of White Space spectrum for wifi. White Space spectrum for those who don't know is the intentionally unused spectrum between TV stations. The NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) argues that using the previously untouched white space regions of the spectrum will degrade TV signals. The use of this additional spectrum will allow for more wifi services. Larry Page calls the white space broadband technology "Wi-Fi on steroids!" I personally welcome our super-buffed white-space spectrum overlords."
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Math Skills Suffer in US Schools

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Zarf (5735) writes "I'd like to file a bug report on the US educational system.
The New York Times reports on a recent study that shows the US fails to encourage academic talent as a culture.

"There is something about the culture in American society today which doesn't really seem to encourage men or women in mathematics," said Michael Sipser, the head of M.I.T.'s math department. "Sports achievement gets lots of coverage in the media. Academic achievement gets almost none."

While we've suspected that the US might be falling behind academically, this study shows that it is actually due to cultural factors that are devaluing the success of our students. I suspect there's a flaw in the US cultural system that prevents achievement on the academic front as valuable. Could anyone suggest a patch for this bug or is this cause for a rewrite?"
Link to Original Source

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Why do we write software?

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Zarf (5735) writes "What is the point of the software we write? Why do we bother? I have had the misfortune of working on projects that lose sight of this and I have to ask: Why do we do it? Why do we write software or create new software products? It clearly isn't to make the programmer's life easier is it? The programmer should be trying to make their user's life easier. After all isn't that why a programmer even has a job?"
Link to Original Source
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Perl guy looks to stay employed

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Not Old yet Perl Guy (5735) writes "So I'm a guy who has been hacking code non-stop Perl since 1996. I never got around to making any CPAN contributions. I used to know C and other nifty things like that but all those skills have aged out in light of do-or-die year after year Perl hacking. I'm wondering how employable I am? What new skill should I add to my tool box if I want to keep employed for the next 10 years? What skills other than Perl do slashdotters find that they need? What hot new projects are rolling out in Perl. (Pretend I've been under a rock for five years.) And, where have all the Perl jobs gone?"
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GPL v3 + Microsoft + Peer to Patent at TriLug

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Zarf (5735) writes "Back in June the TriLug had a guest speaker Sapna Kumar from Duke university. The meeting covered GPL version 3, the Novel and Microsoft deal, the SCO law suit, and the Peer to Patent project that lets you inform patent officers about prior art. Interesting and vital new developments in law space that might affect kernel space, join your local LUG and get involved! BTW: Video quotes slashdot articles."
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Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Zarf writes "A Johnston County, North Carolina resident found tax payers' personal information by entering his own address into a Google search: story here. The county had posted tax payer data to its site, but, removed the file within an hour of being notified. County officials contacted google which responded that it would take five days to remove the information from their cache. The county had the information posted on their website for six weeks. The company Bi-Tek is named as the contractor that accidentally released the personal information. I've written about the article here in more depth but the story seems to be generally DOA in local media. How would people in a more tech savvy area react to this? What if the city of Boston had made the same mistake? And, what should happen to help people deal with the potential identity theft? Should anything happen to a software company that mistakenly posts tax payer personal data to the internet?"

Journals

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Best troll evah!

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 3 years ago

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1655148&cid=32242734

So easy to manipulate. *LOL*

Only half troll. It is conceivable that someday it won't really matter what system you have on your desk or in your hand. Only that it is a "web compliant" device of some kind. This is idealistic though. There will always be some inconsistency. It is *possible* that someday "average" people won't use "computers" but "phones" ... in that world neither term is all that well defined.

I think Apple already acts like the web is the only standard that matters. I think Google wants the web to be the only standard (but doesn't believe it is yet). I think Microsoft wants to pretend its iron grip on the market is natural and inevitable (and thus ignore web standards).

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QRCode Linkulator speaking Gaelyk

Zarf Zarf writes  |  about 4 years ago

I've written here about my experience this weekend writing a google app engine application for people with iPhones or Android phones. The demo video for the site is here.

I'm still fighting some scaling problems. So I'm not ready to publicize the app.

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Is it just me or is Slashdot really really hard to use now?

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 3 years ago

I'm trying to submit a news story about Microsoft charging for Linux and a company actually paying for it... with links... carefully crafted... and I can't submit it because the server says I must wait to submit it.

This is the first story I've submitted in years.

Why do I have to wait?

I haven't commented here in *hours*

If all this is to get people to use slashdot less then I'd say it's working.

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Cellphones... just do it.

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 4 years ago

I'm looking to start working with Android. I found this tutorial. Basically my thought is this: cellphones are going to go boom. The last time I saw this kind of hype storm and positioning it was around this silly thing called "the internet" and if my pattern matching software is working right we're getting ready for a new boom in the next decade or so... this time fueled by whatever the cellphone is about to become.

I like the German term "Handi"

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Why aren't Journals just like blogs?

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 4 years ago

I stopped writing in my journal regularly because over the last few years I've moved to using my blog more. The blog has even lead to me contributing to several articles to an industry magazine. Now, maybe my writing is better... or maybe that would never happen in a journal.

Why? Why aren't journals more like blogs? Why doesn't journal publication naturally lead to the kinds of connections that blog entries do? Is slashdot just like facebook in that respect? Is /. a walled garden?

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Things I miss from Linux while on my MacBook Pro...

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 4 years ago Fortunately, Fink and MacPorts have brought back tools like Gimp, wget, nmap, and kismet to my arsenal... but still I miss:

  1. 3D cube. "Spaces" just ain't it.
  2. Flaming window effect... (oh man that was so cool)
  3. the vast application selection in aptget
  4. ability to use VIM/gvim/kvim ubiquitously
  5. telinit
  6. simple script based init system was easier to manage
  7. ability to change file to program associations from a text editor
  8. virtual terminals
  9. hackable keyboard macros/keys (although the mac defaults are pretty damn good)
  10. custom keystroke to lock screen

What do you (or would you) miss most about your Linux desktop?

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This is not a Troll

Zarf Zarf writes  |  about 5 years ago

The fact that this post I made is marked troll has opened my eyes to something. It genuinely wasn't a troll. I remember doing work with Perl and Python in XML and it really didn't work that well. I remember working with django, rails, and several Perl frameworks... and being wholly unimpressed.

The fact of the matter is. If I want to get taken seriously I need to learn Python and Django and I need to learn to like it.

It really wasn't a troll. I just didn't think Python, Ruby, or associated technologies were all that great. Obviously, this is a problem with me. No. Really. I can't see it yet. I need to spend some more time learning so I can get over my misconceptions. I've obviously missed something.

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Learning Objective-C for iPhone

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 5 years ago

I have decided never to code Perl again. I am currently doing my day job in a mix of Java and Groovy with Spring, Grails, and straight J2EE. I have already authored and opensourced a few platform extensions to Spring and Grails. I've also authored a new Single Sign On system. I hope to spend the next three to five years in this day job. I like it a lot and I get to do lots of cutting edge work. Even if it doesn't pay well. I have a plan to fix that.

At night I am learning to write software for the iPhone in Objective-C. I hope to bring back my skills from C/C++ and OpenGL to write 3D graphics games for the iPhone and sell them on the AppStore. I figure the AppStore sales should bring me just enough additional income to not mind the lower salary. The work really is quite fun.

Let's see if I can pull this off. Anyone want to come with me? Anyone have tips?

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Java where to start?

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 5 years ago

As someone who's just moved to Java myself... I suggest starting here: http://grails.org the Grails framework will get you started in Java based web development and you can learn more diving deeper into Java as you get more and more proficient. Grails is built on Spring which is a Java Enterprise platform but Grails saves you from having to learn all those "enterprisey" bits. Instead Grails picks defaults that are the most sensible for web development.

As you get better you can graduate to adding your own features to the framework or even beginning to use the more advanced Java frameworks outside Grails tying everything back together using Spring's IoC and Java JNDI. Or you can keep things light weight and web2.0 by using various remoting technologies inside Grails. It's a quick way to learn that doesn't put training wheels on you.

Get going in an afternoon... scale out using Java as your project grows.

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Moving from Perl to Java for real...

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 5 years ago

... looks like I'll be packing up my bags and leaving the Perl kingdom for the lands of Java. Forever this time. Not entirely from choice but from pragmatic concern over my career. All the cool vibe has rubbed off the Perl kingdom. Most of it dribbled onto the Rails zealots. I'm beginning to think the Django fans may have gotten some of it too. But, I'll be making money by day doing huge scale Java applications for medical, clinical, and biotech applications from now on.

My only hope is that the lands of Java will be invaded by the "cool vibe" again ... somehow ... I don't think there will be a Perl rebirth anymore. It seems more likely that there will be a turbulent season of integration efforts between a new incarnation of Java born from open source, some language redesign, and a smattering of Linux distributions. There is a very good shot at Groovy, JRuby, or Jython becoming the "new Java" on the Java platform. I also sense the inkling of a Red Hat, JBoss, Java, Jython integration story happening at Red Hat over the next few years.

For reasons that are just becoming apparent Groovy/Grails is not as popular in my region. There is no technical reason in fact if you are running in a Java environment you'd be myopic to not pickup Groovy... and you would be well served to at least build a demo app in Grails. This region however is a Python/Jython stronghold. I didn't know why, but, I just learned that a major Jython contributor is a member of my Jug. That explains a lot. I know RedHat is primarily a Python shop so Java to Jython in the region surrounding the Red Hat campus makes perfect sense. I suspect that Java running Jython code would be the main way Red Hatters will use Java going forward. They are big on Python. And so too are some parts of Google apparently...

I'm beginning to learn that political forces more than technical merit can shape the technological landscape. It's a sad thing to learn because we techies want to believe we're more like mathematicians and only proof and merit rule our decisions. It's not true. For example, Slashdot is among the last strongholds of the Perl kingdom. Outside these hallowed walls the PerlBe are under constant threat.

Each of the major technologies have their own little world they live in and very few technologists actually have a realistic view of the whole technical landscape. I've found that http://www.indeed.com/ is an invaluable tool for looking into the reality of what the tech landscape was. The fact is companies hire for the technologies that they were using three to five years ago. Most do not hire for what they will use or what they are going to use. The hiring managers simply don't know where tech is going tomorrow. If the job is on a job board it's probably a legacy application that's being supported and that means it's a few years old.

You start to bundle these technologies into sets. Perl and C go together better than Perl and Java for example. Python, Perl, C and C++ all roll together for example. So to me it looks like if you were after sheer job security you should learn C really well. In fact from this data C is the unassailable emperor of computing languages. And even though I'm packing my bags for Java land that's the truth of the tech landscape ... Java land is firmly in second place. It's shocking that the whole of the kingdoms of Pythonistas, Rubyists, and the PerlBe are all half of what the C++ers get.

Truth hurts. I'm going to have to go and play with some open source C again at some point. I figure if I can cross between Java and C I'll be a sight better off than someone trapped on either island. Both of these are pretty big islands now though.

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Slashdot Idea: Hyper-dimensional karma

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Each kind of karma point would be aligned along it's own axis in N-Dimensional space. The resulting total karma score would be expressible as an N-dimensional manifold. You could then filter the resultant N-ary manifolds using your own total karma manifold. The results would be utterly transparent to you... instead as you accumulate karma points it informs the shape of your own manifold that is being projected onto the comment moderation system results.

In short you would experience the Slashdot that best fits your perceptions of reality.

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Movie Idea: Indiana Jones in Outer Space!

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 5 years ago

... it's gonna rock! Or at least orbit an asteroid.

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New software guy meed Old software guy

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 5 years ago

The problem with always writing new software is that you never learn to maintain old software. Old software maintenance is harder, takes longer, and is far less glamorous... paying far less. Yet there's a species of "new software" guys out there that run around building new systems all the time leaving horrid messes. I wonder if the success of some companies isn't that "new software guy" invented something or that "old software guy" came and fixed things silently in the night.

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What a...

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fabulous, crabulous day! Hurray!

I want a Futurama themed topic. Make it a bust of bender and call it "Futurism" I wonder if the copyrights would fly?

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The economy... It's not so bad...

Zarf Zarf writes  |  more than 5 years ago

... at least to look at indeed.com things aren't so bad in the technology sector. I'm not looking for work but one of the things I do every six months is see how many jobs are open out there and how many of them I'm over qualified for. It looks like there are about 1,600 positions within 100 miles of me that I'm over qualified for.

I check for jobs I'm over qualified for because I figure that means I can easily land those jobs in a big hurry if I have to. Since the US dot-com bust I've always been paranoid of getting laid-off with no notice and for no cause.

In other news a young fella I drink beer with decided to take a job in Syria. Syria... I know... but he's excited about it and can't be dissuaded. So I guess he's got his big adventure... his quest if you will. I honestly think every young man needs his dragon to slay, his quest, his adventure. With out it they become bitter old men who swill beer in tacky sports-bars (aka pubs). Once a fella has lived his quest he becomes an old man who swills beer in tacky sports-bars that tells stories that make young men go on quests.

I wish him luck. I can't wait to hear his stories when he gets back from his contract... in two years.

Now I've always wanted to work and live in Australia. I won't do that until my kid is done with high school and college but I figure maybe old men need to go on quests too. And on the topic of questing...

I think my son will be one of those environmentalist nut-jobs I hate... just like my father. Well, at least he'll have a cause he believes is just and all that. I deeply respect that. So I've tried to get him to meet with and spend time with some environmentalists that are doing work with marine animals (an interest of his) we'll see how all this works out.

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