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Not All Bugs Are Random

cruachan No shit Sherlock (165 comments)

You know, I remember writing test plans to to test input that were one below, at, and one above, some arbitrary limit when I was a trainee programmer coding up COBOL on mainframes back in the mid 80s.

How on earth does this drivel make it onto Slashdot? This is 30 year old news at least (which makes it straight out of the 17th C in internet years)

about 10 months ago

Records Labels Prepare Massive 'Pirate Site' Domain Blocking Blitz

cruachan Offshore VPS (110 comments)

Like you can't get a perfectly usable VPS in Russia, Hong Kong, The Netherlands or lots of other places for around €10 a month or less

about a year and a half ago

Live Tweeting the Symphony?

cruachan No, Because coding requires concentration (166 comments)

It could be true that your average Jock is progressively loosing the ability for sustained concentration (did they ever have it, really?) but I see no shortage of talented young coders writing complex code. You can't do that if you can't do sustained concentration.

Maybe we're going to end up with more of an intellectual elite again compared to the masses - which would not be desirable of course, but I don't think we're going to loose that ability from the population, per se

about a year and a half ago

Linux Mint 14 Is Out

cruachan Re:Supports four monitors (129 comments)

Yes, that's exactly my setup, a pair of identical graphics cards... on a twin PCIe motherboard. It's just really frustrating, I'd love to dump windows but linux seems so far behind on this (and you wouldn't have thought 3+ monitors was that unusual among geeks)

about 2 years ago

Linux Mint 14 Is Out

cruachan Supports four monitors (129 comments)

Anyone know if this... or any other debian distro... can support 4 monitors? I run Ubuntu on most of my machines, but my main desktop has a motherboard with dual graphics cards and four (large) monitors. I'm running windows 7 which allows me a nice continuous desktop with all the eye candy, but I'd like to move to a debian based distro (I'm agnostic over what UI I use) but when I tried this 6 months ago with Ubuntu 12.04 and the corresponding Kubuntu/MiNT variants none would support 4 monitors without sever limitations.

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Is Going To a Technical College Worth It?

cruachan Re:School is worthless... (309 comments)

Sure you can pay Tata $10,000 - you just end up with poor bug-ridden code thrown together with the minimal amount of rigor to meet whatever specification you sent. Even if your offshore coders speak the same language they don't understand your culture and what you get isn't what you want.

I've been a developer for nearly 30 years, 10 years ago I was getting a little worried about the offshore developers - not anymore, I make quite a nice living charging people European rates to redevelop systems properly they've tried to get done for next to nothing offshore.

Of course there are some success stories, but generally any potential client who thinks off-shoring development is a good idea is not one you want as a client.

more than 2 years ago

If I had a time machine, I would first visit...

cruachan Re:Evil Baby Orphanage (658 comments)

Completely true. The French had been spoiling for a fight since 1870 when they lost Alsace and Lorraine to the Prussians. Famously there was (is?) a bridge somewhere in Paris with a human representation of all the Departments on and after 1870 these two were shrouded in black as a permanent reminder. It manifested in other ways too - part of the reason the whole Dreyfus affair was such a mess was because the Army was understood to have a sacred duty one day to get the two provinces back, and as such were above criticism for large groups of the population - which failed spectacularly when they fitted Dreyfus up (many of the people who were in the guilty camp knew he wasn't or chose to believe he was because supporting the mystical place of the army was more important than one Jew being incorrectly accused).

While it is true that tensions had been higher between France and Germany a few years earlier and actually were decreasing in 1914 until Ferdinand was shot, the situation was unstable and inevitably was going to blow up sooner or later. To unravel this particular knot you'd need to go back to 1870 and either give France a better leader somehow (and arms, Prussian Krupps artillery did for France in 1870) or better still just assassinate Bismark. Personally I'd do this in 1864 or 5 and head off the Austria-Prussian conflict of 1866. If unification of Germany was delayed for a few years, or even better occurred under Austrian (or Bavarian) and not Prussian leadership then the whole inevitable toxic clockwork of 1870, 1914 and 1945 would have developed along completely different lines.

more than 2 years ago

Is the Earth Special?

cruachan Re:Life Adapts (745 comments)

Actually that's not as certain as you might suppose. Just like there is a habitable zone around stars there's probably a habitable zone around the galaxy where there is the correct concentration of heavy elements to create life sustainable planets and life itself. In fact the evidence suggests that the sun formed somewhat nearer the galactic center than us. So it could be that (a) we're not particularly late to the party at all and (b) we've been flung out into a quiet neighborhood. There could well be an advancing galactic civilization, it's just a few thousand light years center-ward of us and it's not reached the backwaters yet.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Learning Dart Development?

cruachan Re:Translation (107 comments)

To stay young requires unceasing cultivation of the ability to unlearn old falsehoods.
Lazarus Long, aka Robert Heinlien

Possibly my favorite quote as I grow older. You on the other hand Sir are embracing the geriatric

about 3 years ago

Things That Turbo Pascal Is Smaller Than

cruachan The real tragedy is Borland (487 comments)

Turbo Pascal was among the first languages/systems I ever coded in. Stunningly fast and capable in an age where Microsoft didn't have a clue, Borland went on from this to produce the Turbo Pascal for Mac (apparently now written out of Mac history - most people don't even know it existed, left Apple in its dust) which was similarly blindingly fast, Pascal for Windows (first Windows system I ever coded on, far better than the Microsoft offerings) and finally Delphi which wiped the floor of anything Microsoft produced on Windows for a decade - Visual Basic was truly pathetic in comparison.

But somewhere around Delphi 2 or 3 Borland started to loose its way. Sure it continued to be good up until Delphi 7 despite Microsoft progressively catching up, but then came the 'we don't want to be a software development company' fiasco of 'look we're Inprise, or look we're Borland again, oh look we want to sell **anything** but the best thing we ever produced'.

True Embarcadero do seem to have rescued Delphi somewhat, and it will probably have some sort of ongoing future, But back in he day Borland nearly owned the development space, and it though it away because it took it's eye off the ball and its vision faltered. Simply a tragedy.

about 3 years ago

Mozilla Foundation Releases Firefox 7

cruachan Re:Fail (452 comments)

I used to be a big fan of Opera and until about 6 months ago used it as my default browser. Unfortunately it had *worse* memory issues than Firefox. Run both on my (6Gb) system and it was a toss-up as to which would slow the system to a halt first with inordinate memory consumption.

Having said that I have strong suspicions that the issue is not actually the browser but Flash, and apart from running it in Chrome where I think it stands a better chance of being constrained I now disable it.

more than 3 years ago

Microsoft Wants Your Feedback On Its New Python IDE

cruachan Re:Why? (303 comments)

Well I've been implementing a WinForms project under Iron Python for a few months now, but because WinForms was not supported under the previous released of Python for VS I've been using SharpDevelop (which is actually pretty good, although debugging is a hassle). VS however is one of the nicest IDEs on the market and I'll certainly look at this.

IronPython is really nice, quick and a lot less hassle than C#.

more than 3 years ago

2nd Edition of Learn Python the Hard Way Released

cruachan 'learn new languages in about a day".... Bullshit (167 comments)

Most of this "advice" is bullshit. The "line I've been programming for a very long time. So long that it's incredibly boring to me. At the time that I wrote this book, I knew about 20 programming languages and could learn new ones in about a day to a week depending on how weird they were. " gives it away.

Sure if you've got a background covering C you can pick up those languages based on C syntax pretty quickly - in terms of writing raw statements - but that means very little as most of the heavy lifting these days is done using the supporting libraries. Sure myself I picked up C# syntax in about that, but groking .Net to a productive level takes a fair bit longer. Even Javascript, which appears very simple for someone with a C background is deceptively simple to think you've got but you're probably missing out on the subtleties whole protoypical inheritance model. And then there's C++. Can anyone who doesn't code C++ as their day-job for less than two years really claim to have C++ and completely under their fingers?

And we haven't even considered more unusual things like Haskell or Prolog, or even Lisp where it's not just a question of the syntax. Sure if by 'picking up' you mean getting to the point of being able to code Quicksort then yes, but otherwise - well I call bullshit. And I've got over 20 years experience and an average of one language a year over that (but I'd only claim to really have half a dozen completely understood).

more than 2 years ago

Mozilla MemShrink Set To Fix Firefox Memory

cruachan Not as bad as Opera (375 comments)

Firefox uses massive amounts of memory, but it's not as bad as Opera which I'm starting to suspect has a serious memory leak. On my system at the moment - Window 7 ultimate 64 bit with 6Gb memory, Firefox is using 336Mb, but Opera, with less pages open, is up to 445Mb and it's using 4% CPU in the background too. I used to use Opera a lot, but increasingly I'm relegating it because of this issue.

OTOH Chrome seems to be becoming increasingly frugal over how much it uses.

more than 3 years ago

Skylon Spaceplane Design Passes Key Review

cruachan Re:PopSci != Tech Breakthrough (136 comments)

Well, there's another point which you might be confusing things with - you're accelerating to Mach 5 though a lot of dense atmosphere, but once you're up at the heights this will be at Mach 5 then there's far less atmospheric resistance so the amount of energy required to accelerate further will be much less. I don't see how increasing the speed of fuel in itself can increase the amount of energy it contains (seems nonsensical to me) but you'd certainly get a lot more out of the fuel you do have.

By way of a thought consider the size of the rocket that launched the astronauts back off the moon - 1/6 gravity but far, far smaller than a saturn 5

more than 3 years ago

P2P Music Downloads At All-Time Low

cruachan Re:Give me good services (369 comments)

Amen to that. Spotify totally stopped me downloading any music whatsoever, and now not only do I have a full paid subscription for myself (so I can use it for my iphone) my son at university chooses to have me pay a subscription for him as a regular birthday present, and my daughter has a 'lite' subscription for her own use - in total £25 a month to them.

And worth every penny. I even buy subscription vouchers a presents for people from time to time.

Of course the downside for the music industry is I just never, ever, buy CDs now, and the amount a pay is probably a little less than the two or three CDs I used to buy a month. OK so I now longer have the physical product and I only have the music as long as I keep paying, but the shear breadth and convenience of Spotify make that a price worth paying.

more than 3 years ago

Tech's Dark Secret, It's All About Age

cruachan Well I'm 50 (602 comments)

I wrote this last year on Stackoverflow. Still holds true this year. Edited slightly to remove reference to another post there.

I'm 49 and I'm a programmer.

Well actually I'm a DBA, IT consultant and Business Analyst too. But in my heart I'm a coder - and I think I'm getting better with age. And I make a nice living at it, thank you - but I put a lot of effort into setting myself up that way.

There has always been ageism in IT. I entered commercial IT relatively late in my mid-20 after being a research scientist (biological - but writing scientific code for analysis). When I went to move jobs at 28 looking for an Analyst/Programmer job one recruitment company told me I was 'too old'.

Ha. Since then I've done a rollercoaster so far as coding is concerned - followed the big corporate trail up though systems analyst to project manager by my mid-30s before deciding I really missed coding. Went to a small organisation as senior developer then morphed into DBA for 7 years - but started writing code at home which grew contacts and income until I started running my own consultancy a little over 10 years ago. I purposely don't grow larger because I don't want to spend my time managing other people, but I do have a large network of other consultants in complementary fields (graphics, management consultancy etc) I can collaborate with.

My clients are nearly all in the SME sector, most I talk to the boss directly and they no or limited development support inhouse. Age in this case is an advantage as experience with systems in business means that people trust me as I can both deliver software, and deliver the right software for the business context. There is something awfully satisfying about being able to go to a client and say 'you need to spend $10k on this hardware and software development to support this' and the client does it because they trust your abilities and the experience you bring to recommend that decision. It helps I'm a complete neophile too and I replace my skillset every 5 or 6 years - I'm currently moving to Python and .Net (and raving about Ironpython for desktop apps)

So I spend about 50% of my time writing code, 25% doing 'business IT consultancy' and 25% general purpose IT to support that - for instance several of the systems I've developed for my clients are web based - and I run the web servers to host them.

And lastly it's a great job for fitting with family life and commitments. I have my office in the house (large room, lots of computers and screens) and I work probably 10 hours a day, but it fits with family. I've been at home when my kids were small and when they've come back from school as they've grown older. I don't even have to be in one place - last week I had to see a client on site at the same city when my son is a student, so I go in, see my client at lunchtime, sit in Starbucks all afternoon coding on my laptop, then take him out for dinner. Perfect mix :-)

So ageism - phah. Ageism is only a problem if you associate with people who are ageist - and as a society we're growing older and many of those older people who do have work going are not going to be comfortable with giving it to youngsters. There's plenty of opportunity for older developers, but you have to play to the strength of the experience you've accumulated and adapt. If you don't learn new technologies and stay excited by what's happening then that's your problem, not ageism.

Myself I see myself coding until I drop. I'm actually looking forward to being more flexible as I get older - when all the kids have left home we've plans to equip a camper-van with all the tech I need and wander around europe nomadically for a year or three working remotely as needed.

Coding is the best occupation ever invented. Who on earth would want to give it up?

more than 4 years ago

Is RFID Really That Scary?

cruachan Re:If only the chips worked! (338 comments)

The boxes are for particular recyclables - plastic bottles, tin cans, newspaper etc. We record weight against household so we can track who recycles and who doesn't (we give out prizes for participation), and look at it on an are level to see what differences there are and so how we could improve performance.

Not as fun as snapping garbage :-)

more than 4 years ago

Is RFID Really That Scary?

cruachan If only the chips worked! (338 comments)

I am extremely skeptical of the current generation of RFID tags when used in practice out there in the wild.

About three years back I set up software to support a recycling scheme, whereby every household in a community (ca 10,000) were given a couple of plastic boxes in which to place recycled goods. The boxes where chipped *and* barcoded, and there were scales on the collection lorry to weigh the box and automatically scan the rfid chip at the same time, thus collecting usage data.

Three years on it turns out that the one thing we were not expecting - the rfid chips not to be reliable - has proven a major issue. The failure rate is not high, but we consistently have a score or more boxes needing replacing every month, which is a far higher rate than we were lead to expect. We did think it might be the manufacturer, but we've talked to several people doing similar things now and everyone has similar stories - the chips do fail.

Perversely - the barcodes, which we sealed in transparent plastic but didn't expect to last (hence going with rfid tags as major impact) have given us less than a dozen damaged to the point we can't scan them in the whole three years.

more than 4 years ago

Blizzard To Require Real First and Last Names For Official Forums

cruachan Re:I actually like this trend... (833 comments)

3 .. year .. 'veteran'?

Jeez, is that all it takes to be a veteran these days. What price those of us who remember the dawn of the endless September.

more than 4 years ago


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