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Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop?

codeButcher Standards and methodologies (151 comments)

Many others have already mentioned that for a 1-(+-)4 person "company" admin, payrol, HR, legal etc. can take up a lot of those resources' time (or money, if you get in an employee to do those), which could rather be spent on doing your core (technical) work. I have seen it time and again.

I want to chip in about the general topic of standards and methodologies. Please remember that one isn't (necessarily) better than the other - they are all simply tools working towards a goal and you use whatever tool works best in your circumstances. Now, your GOAL is the important thing: communicating between different members of the company (communication over space) and remembering (communication over time) - which sometimes is important even if you are one person. Using a formal standard to do this should accomplish several things:

  • All members speaking the same "language" or format (know what to expect);
  • Things should be stored in a physical or electronic medium (well-indexed), not in brains, so that interrogating that source takes only one person out of his task and not two (or more);
  • Should enable the organisation to function as an organism distinct from the people that make it up - so that people joining, leaving, or just turnover influences as little as possible;
  • Should be adaptable, because the organisation (from the previous point) should be a learning and developing organism.

yesterday
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How "Big Ideas" Are Actually Hurting International Development

codeButcher Re:Why giving ? (80 comments)

Personally, I do favour a more hands-off approach. Let people figure out their own future, as (IMHO) it seems that western aid often brings with it a perpetual dependence on that aid.

On the other hand, from some of your previous posts I gather that you personally are an emigrant from China to a large western state. A lot of emigration from "poor countries" to western countries happens because people are not happy with the way those countries (the people in it) survive, they want to "survive" somewhat "better". "Better" being in part defined by the standard of living such aid seems to suggest. (Because there are also some "worse" aspects to western culture in comparison to what is left behind.) I guess your opinion would carry more weight if you were still living and working in China. Just saying.

yesterday
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Department of Justice Harvests Cell Phone Data Using Planes

codeButcher Re:BB strikes again (201 comments)

Were the government a force for good, I'd be pacified, but since they have proven to be in the service of big syndicate, I'm worried.

That's the problem of this post-modernist world. Your definition of "good" does not coincide with the next guy's definition of "good".

about two weeks ago
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Comet Probe Philae To Deploy Drill As Battery Life Wanes

codeButcher Re:I know it! (223 comments)

A man has to get there and do all the hardwork himself.

Pity they didn't send Bruce Willis with. What with all his previous experience. Would have been a win-win.

about two weeks ago
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HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

codeButcher Re:Time Jumps (242 comments)

Or they could give it the Edmond Blackadder treatment....

about two weeks ago
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Big Data Knows When You Are About To Quit Your Job

codeButcher Re:Does it know if I've been bad or good? (185 comments)

Big data knows who you voted for. Big data knows what kind of hamburger you get from McDonalds. Big data knows what fragrance your girlfriend/wife wears.

THAT IS THE POINT OF BIG DATA.

Big data takes shit loads of seemingly unrelated bits of information that people foolishly air in public, cross-references it, then uses it to make correlation based predictions.

I haven't voted in quite a number of years.
I don't eat fast food.
I don't have a girlfriend/wife.

The best that Big Data (Facebook) was able to do with that last bit of information (which I explicitly filled in) was to serve up ads for 2 or 3 recurring online dating sites. I don't do online dating (any more), because big data seems to be quite inept at matching me up with someone with the same views on politics and health as me. Let's not even get started on religion, education, sense of humour.....

I want ads that I actually want to click on!
I want that perfect match as promised!
And where's my flying car?

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Minimizing Oil and Gas Dependency In a Central European City?

codeButcher Electricity, wood (250 comments)

An acquaintance who lives in Germany once showed me an experimental setup he had: replaced his house's heating with a small generator (sealed unit) that generated electricity as well as heating the house from the waste heat. Apparently it was still allowed to run on the "heating oil" (diesel fuel), while natural "heating" gas-burning versions were available too. So you still get the heat for which the fuel originally was intended, but some electricity as a bonus. You'd still be dependent on a stockpile of fuel though...

This may not be practical in a densely populated first-world city (with more regulations than sane) but I still like wood as a renewable fuel source for space heating (and emergency cooking). While there are a lot of wood (and coal and even gas) burning stoves being manufactured in various North-European countries (and South American, South Africa, China etc.) Rocket Stove Mass Heaters (which may be googled) seem to be cheaper to construct and cleaner burning - IF you can get the building plans approved.... Retrofitting an existing building can however be a pain.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Minimizing Oil and Gas Dependency In a Central European City?

codeButcher Re:citation, please? (250 comments)

Good on you for having a larger.... errrr.... more severe winter than Europe. But getting back on topic: do you cycle in those -25C for 20 or 30 km?

about two weeks ago
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New Particle Collider Is One Foot Long

codeButcher Re:Not exactly (161 comments)

It's still a death ray, just a 2km + 1 foot long death ray

Oh the mix of imperial + metric - now my head hurts :-)

about two weeks ago
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New Particle Collider Is One Foot Long

codeButcher Re:so size DOESN'T matter? (161 comments)

See, you don't even need 12 inches to accelerate the particles of a whoosh to near light speed.

Unfortunately the mechanism (*) wasn't invented by Obama, but he sure as hell is using it to his advantage.

(* = and by this I mean the mechanism allowing for whooshes, not the 12 inch particle accelerator.)

about two weeks ago
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Shift Work Dulls Brain Performance

codeButcher My "me too" anecdote (131 comments)

Due to some medical problems involving endocrinology, I imagine my body being somewhat more sensitive to hormonal/nutrient changes than the norm. Nothing insurmountable - apart from my chronic medication, the normal rules of eating healthily, exercising, and getting enough sleep seem to do the trick well enough to see me through the normal day-to-day.

A year or two ago I started in a job that required (tele or physical) presence for releases every second week (a lot of people where involved each time, it mostly involved waiting for everyone to do what they do, doing some checks in your own area of responsibility when the time came around). This normally was scheduled to start at 22:00 or 00:00, often it only finished around 06:00 or 07:00. (This was after working a normal 8-5 workday...)

Of course, everyone was given time off for the time spent on releases. But getting home at (say) 7, trying to sleep was nearly impossible for me. In my case I'd sleep maybe an hour or two, then wake up tired and grumpy, and because there was nothing else to do, eventually go back to work to put in a handful of (sluggish) hours. I did feel that I only got back into a fairly normal routine, waking up refreshed and ready, after about a week. Rinse and repeat. Apart from an inability to concentrate sufficiently at work, it also left me listless and tired. My social life suffered, as well as "reading up" I would normally do on subject matter in the evenings to keep up with developments in my field. Not good for work performance, or career in general....

Yeah, imagine a multi-million company thinking that such practices are good w.r.t. their mission critical systems.... (You can imagine what other "innovations" such an organisation can dream up.) I'm glad I'm out of there, money or not.

(I don't envy parents of small babies in this regard, but that is another matter for now.)

While sleep researchers seem to be clear that they still know very little about their subject, the basics of the light/dark cycle (including "blue" and "yellow" light) and its influence on hormones (melatonin, serotonin, ...) seem to be in place. These hormones can have a profound effect on brain function and other health issues. It's a no-brainer, really.

I'm currently trying to uphold a routine (including weekends and holidays) of bedtime around 21:00 or 22:00 at the latest, which allows me to wake up naturally (no alarms) around sunrise. Routine does not go together well with exceptions, which is a bit sucky when you are doing a little evening coding and get into the "flow" and just want to finish one last thing... Might also interfere with some socialising. But on the whole, a healthy sleep routine is benefiting me at least as much as all the healthy eating and exercising combined.

about three weeks ago
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UN Climate Change Panel: It's Happening, and It's Almost Entirely Man's Fault

codeButcher Man's Fault??? (695 comments)

Just another one of those covert feminism-agenda-pushing articles....

They omitted that the man they are blaming is also white, then it would have been perfect.

about three weeks ago
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New Crash Test Dummies Reflect Rising American Bodyweight

codeButcher Automakers do not want (144 comments)

They might not want to buy these crash test dummies, because they do not fit so well in some of their cars.

about three weeks ago
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US Post Office Increases Secret Tracking of Mail

codeButcher Re:Wanna put an end to it? (112 comments)

Next week's your big chance.

I'm from a bit out of town (country/continent/hemisphere), so pardon my ignorance. But are you telling us that 3-year old stories get dredged up now for the sole purpose of swaying election outcomes?

about three weeks ago
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LAX To London Flight Delayed Over "Al-Quida" Wi-Fi Name

codeButcher Re:This was no AP. (339 comments)

The third meaning. See my sig for details.

about a month ago
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The Airplane of the Future May Not Have Windows

codeButcher Collateral (286 comments)

The savings in aircraft construction is only part of the puzzle. Now, they can do away with all the shiny glass and steel, marble and lettering proclaiming "Welcome at Abc Airport!" etc. Littering, air pollution and urban decay will also be much less noticeable.

about a month ago
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Elon Musk Warns Against Unleashing Artificial Intelligence "Demon"

codeButcher Lemme get this straight... (583 comments)

With artificial intelligence we're summoning the demon. You know those stories where there's the guy with the pentagram, and the holy water, and he's like — Yeah, he's sure he can control the demon? Doesn't work out.

So, Musk is using some scenario from unrealistic fantasy fiction, which builds on fallacious religious dogma, to motivate his views on some far-off technology? Yeah, makes totally sense.

One criticism I have against the Turing Test is the fact that an intelligence indistinguishable from humans is pretty useless, we already have an oversupply of them. An intelligence that is alien in some aspect would be much more useful, and perhaps much harder to predict what it will or won't do.

about a month ago
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U.K. Supermarkets Beta Test Full-Body 3D Scanners For Selfie Figurines

codeButcher Clothes (165 comments)

I wouldn't mind a time when shops had this and could use it to print (or, somewhat more old-fashioned: sew) clothes THAT ACTUALLY FIT. For some or other reason I have a hard time to find clothes that are long enough around the legs, arms, and body, not too tight around the shoulders and a little less tent-like around the waist. No, I'm not exceptionally tall and I also do not have a body builder upper body. Just dislike the Made In China (for Americans, presumably) stuff sold where I live.

about 1 month ago
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Shooting At Canadian Parliament

codeButcher Not a big fan of politicians in general (529 comments)

... so whenever I read things like this, it always strikes me how badly (not at all) planned these "excursions" are, with how little actual attrition in the politician camp. Don't whoever do these sort of things have access to some DVDs? Just watch Olympus Has Fallen or some other such tripe for some basic inspiration next time, won't you?

about a month ago
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Isaac Asimov: How Do People Get New Ideas?

codeButcher Edward de Bono (150 comments)

Not much different from Edward de Bono's writings on Lateral Thinking, which of course go into somewhat more depth and systematize a method for doing the creative/lateral thinking.

about a month ago

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