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Programmer Father Asks: What Gets Little Girls Interested In Science?

ahoffer0 Re:Yeesh (584 comments)

I am the father of two girls. They are only 3 and 7. The older one wants to be an artist and the younger one wants to be a a fairy princess (when she wants to be anything at all).
Would I be remiss if I didn't introduce them to science and software? Yes.
Would I be flattered if they chose to follow in my footsteps career-wise? Yes, I would be flattered.
Will I use guilt, or gifts, or some other form of subtle coercion to force them down the STEM road? Absolutely not. It be would be selfish and egotistical of me to do that. As a father I want to encourage their curiosity and support them in the pursuit of their dreams. To expect that their interests and my interests must align is silly; I'm not out to make female Mini-Mes.

about two weeks ago
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Coding Bootcamps Presented As "College Alternative"

ahoffer0 Re: Given how most spend their time in college... (226 comments)

I'm with you for two reasons. First, a lot of enterprise IT is adding new fields, changing a web page or link, or changing a db connection. There is usually a legacy application that provides a framework into which changes can be retrofitted.

Second (and maybe a little of topic) was my experience working in Switzerland. Developers, business people, and such typically attended two year technical institutes. Those institutes graduated competent employees who formed the bulk of my co-workers. The system was very successful. A degree from an ETH was not a prerequisite for being a useful Dev.

about a month ago
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Why Military Personnel Make the Best IT Pros

ahoffer0 Re:Good attitude but rarely much aptitude (299 comments)

...not one of them is an actual geek... If it isn't something they're trained in they just don't do very well.

As a general comment, I'd say there is nothing wrong with that. It can be unreasonable to ask people to be good at something for which they have no training. I'd like to think I'm some kind of exception-- a person who can adroitly accomplish any odd ball request thrown at him. The truth is that I'm much more likely to be successful if I have been trained to do the work.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

ahoffer0 Music (392 comments)

A disproportionate number of talented programmers I know studied music.

about 3 months ago
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Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

ahoffer0 White s p a c e is magic! (415 comments)

I found someone else who things so too: http://carolinefrenette.com/th...

Ok. Serious now. The white space debate has always intrigued me. I've been people really, really mad about attaching significance to white space. To some it is heresy. Personally, I don't care if the block delimiters are implied by non-visible characters or made explicit by visible characters. It reminds me of the Big-Endian/Little-Endian debate between Lilliput and Blefuscu.

about 5 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Switching From SAS To Python Or R For Data Analysis and Modeling?

ahoffer0 Re:R is better for non-programmers (143 comments)

I agree that R is better for non-programmers. R is a tool you can use to answer all kinds of questions. It is popular economists, psychologists, mathematicians and people who need a computer to get their work done.

I'm more of a computer person. R drives me nuts. To me, R feels like a hodge-podge of features that aggregated together over decades. Python is different. It has a Benevolent Dictator For Life and it feels cohesive. If Python is the Parthenon, then R is the Grand Bazaar. Your individual mileage may vary.

about 6 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Switching From SAS To Python Or R For Data Analysis and Modeling?

ahoffer0 Re: Julia (language)? (143 comments)

I'd recommend Julia for traditional scientific computing- things based on continuous math like systems of equations. Julia's sweet spot is similar to MATLAB.

While the R has a lot of similarities to MATLAB, but it "feels" like it is aimed at the stats & machine learning user.

about 6 months ago
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Computational Thinking: AP Computer Science Vs AP Statistics?

ahoffer0 Re:What about statistics vs calculus (155 comments)

I took trigonometry, calculus, and (later) differential equations and vector calculus. Integrating sin(2x) did not contribute enough to by education to be worth the effort.

As a computer programmer, I need discrete math for my job. (The only computer people I know using continuous math for their day jobs are in HPC /scientific computing). As a citizen, voter, and member of society, I need probability, statistics, and a good understanding of logical fallacies.

I'm just another jerk with an opinion, but I'd drop the trig and calculus curriculum in favor of discrete math and stats in secondary education. In post-secondary education, I like another poster's idea to teach calculus in the context of other disciplines (i.e. physics)... at the undergrad level for non-math majors. Or better, I'd run a controlled experiment with random sampling to determine the effects of a curriculum change.

about 6 months ago
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Could High Bay-Area Prices Make Sacramento the Next Big Startup Hub?

ahoffer0 I've been there (190 comments)

Davis is an agricultural school (a good one at that). Sacramento itself is a tough sell. It is a state capital that descended on a region of cowboy wannabes.

about 7 months ago
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WebKit Unifies JavaScript Compilation With LLVM Optimizer

ahoffer0 Re:The real question. (170 comments)

What idiot would want JavaScript for application development?

Me. I am one of the idiots. I like prototypes over classes and like I like first-class functions. I'm in good company. Other idiots include Google, DataHero, Facebook, Dow Jones, and Uber.

about 7 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Minimum Programming Competence In Order To Get a Job?

ahoffer0 location, location (466 comments)

I live in the home Amazon and Microsoft. The region is starving for more developers, but it's very hard to land a job. I'm not a prodigy; just a solid programmer, with a Masters. It took it a couple of dozen interviews and a year to get a job. It is going great. Companies here compete to see who can be the pickiest. I heard some one brag once that they flew in half a dozen candidates from Sweden and that only one Swede made the cut.

So where are you looking for work? Every region has its own peculiarities.

about 7 months ago
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Programmer Privilege

ahoffer0 For thousands of years... (353 comments)

This is a specific example of a more general phenomenon. Why do people where business suits? It is so they look the part. Why do kings hold an orb and scepter? ... so they look the part.

Why do I say 'I have some experience with that.' When what I really mean is 'I read a Slashdot post about that.'? It is so I sound the part.

about a year ago
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Users Revolt Over Yahoo Groups Update

ahoffer0 The Nineties are calling... (331 comments)

They say they they are sitting right next to Yahoo in the conference room, just across the table from Netscape and SGI. They are telling me that any Yahoo walking the streets in 2013 is most certainly an imposter, and possibly a time-traveling zombie. Whatever it is, they recommend a bullet to its head, just to be safe.

Hold on.
My teenagers are asking me "what is a yahoo?"
It is a good thing I have a copy of Gulliver's Travels on the book shelf for just such emergencies.

about a year ago
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Lord Blair Calls for Laws To Stop 'Principled' Leaking of State Secrets

ahoffer0 Wrong side of history (395 comments)

Maybe I'm just sensitized to these kinds of headlines, but it sure seems like many, many officials in the US and UK governments will go to their graves without every having realized they were on the wrong side of history.

To be fair, those same officials would probably think the same of me. Or they would, if they gave a rat's ass about what ordinary people like myself think. The treatment of Snowden and Manning leads me to believe they have no interest in the opinion of hoi polloi. On the contrary, our officials seem little put out that they should have to answer to the unwashed masses.

It is sad to think that Obama's legacy as the first black President and as a health care reformer is being overshadowed by the institutionalization of the surveillance state and the persecution of those would challenge it.

about a year ago
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Security Community Raises $12k For Researcher Snubbed By Facebook

ahoffer0 Re:Of the 12,000 (95 comments)

Even $1 of "screw you, Facebook" money must taste indescribably sweet.

about a year ago
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US States Banned From Exporting Trash To China Are Drowning In Plastic

ahoffer0 Re:Externalized costs (427 comments)

I lived in Switzerland for a few years. To dispose of your trash, you bought specially marked garbage bags at a store. The cost of the bag included the cost of waste disposal. Fill up the bag with trash, leave it out on trash day, and it was hauled it away. There was an incentive to recycle because you did not need to place your recyclables in a trash bag.

In fact, if you put recyclables inside of your trash bag, you were mailed a fine for putting them in the wrong stream. (I never did understand how they knew who was responsible, but they did).

about a year ago
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CenturyLink's Nationwide Outage Affects Millions

ahoffer0 Re:Once upon a qwest (105 comments)

I saved a bundle switching from Comcast to Century Link. I get 8 Mbps/down which is fine for my Netflix and other streaming needs. If the price goes up, I'll just switch back to Comcast on one of their introductory plans. Then again, in a year from now, it is likely that HSPA+ and LTE wireless broadband will be competitive with Comcast and Century link in terms of price for my personal bandwidth needs.

It's a good time to be a customer.

PS: I'm lucky. My Century Link connection is still up.

about a year and a half ago
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A Case For a Software Testing Undergrad Major

ahoffer0 Re:Author doesn't understand what college ed is ab (220 comments)

Amen. There were engineers before there were accredited engineering programs. There were business professionals before there were business degrees. How was that even possible? Universities taught students to think well. After that, anything was possible.

about a year and a half ago

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