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Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?

dbrueck Use social pressure, not gov't regulation (1039 comments)

Instead of trying to make this be regulated and overtly forcing people to get vaccinated, it could be much more effective to try to address this via social pressure.

Somehow in some places getting vaccinated has fallen out of favor - or at least not vaccinating is no longer seen as being a really bad idea. A coordinated campaign to change public opinion could do the trick, a combination of celebrity endorsements, news reports on how lack of vaccination is hurting the children, social media campaigns that get people to brag that their kids are vaccinated, etc.

If you make it cool/positive to be vaccinated and backwards/dumb to not be vaccinated, the majority of this problem will go away. You'll always have the exceptions, sure, but I'd bet that with them you'd still be well above the herd immunity threshold, so who cares.

We try to solve too many problems via regulation, and having the government force stuff on people comes with its own set of downsides, not the least of which is that people naturally resist anything you try to force them to do.

about a week ago
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Want To Work For a Cool Tech Company? Hone Your Social Skills

dbrueck Re:Skilled Introverted programmers need not apply (139 comments)

Good points. Yeah, I don't know if we've just been really lucky or what, but I haven't seen the tech worker shortage (despite all of the yelling about it).

Thanks for the discussion!

about two weeks ago
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Want To Work For a Cool Tech Company? Hone Your Social Skills

dbrueck Re:Skilled Introverted programmers need not apply (139 comments)

Please read my other posts - not only did I not complain about a shortage, I went so far as to say that I don't really think there is a shortage.

Regardless, I think you're missing my point: my position is that some people, no matter how good their skills are, are a *net negative*, because tech skills are only a part of the equation (an equation that includes things like interpersonal skills), and that people/teams/companies that don't properly weigh that part of the equation end up paying the price for a long time to come and end being worse off than had they not hired that person. So, no, it's not a good idea to hire people just on the basis of technical qualifications.

Put another way, if someone is applying for a dev job at my company and they have really poor interpersonal skills, I'd argue they aren't qualified for the job. They're at best partially qualified, so we don't hire them.

And it's not the "easy route", not by a long shot. It's actually harder, especially up front, but you do it because you know it's better in the long run.

But is it putting an emphasis on people who are easy to manage? Absolutely. Anything else is insanity. I run a business, not some volunteer organization where you work with whatever you've got.

about two weeks ago
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Want To Work For a Cool Tech Company? Hone Your Social Skills

dbrueck Re:Skilled Introverted programmers need not apply (139 comments)

This post is excellent. You captured what I was trying to say and expressed it much better than I did, thank you!

about two weeks ago
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Want To Work For a Cool Tech Company? Hone Your Social Skills

dbrueck Re:Skilled Introverted programmers need not apply (139 comments)

I turn away people who are qualified (in terms of technical skill) but don't pass the personality test *all the time*.

In the past month alone I've passed on 2 candidates who were very technically competent, but one could barely carry on a conversation and the other was obnoxiously arrogant and smug.

OTOH in the past 4-5 months I've hired about a dozen developers who have a variety of skill levels but are just great to be around and to work with - they have a good work-life balance, they aren't easily offended, they're personable and team-oriented.

It's not at all about finding a "perfect" fit but is about weighing all factors that matter, and things like communicating, being personable, and other social skills are *crucial* to success. Of course it doesn't mean you hire people that are fun to be around but are lousy developers, but it also doesn't mean that you jeopardize the team and/or the business by bringing on someone you have to constantly "deal with" in some way or another. Everyone has their quirks and off days, I'm not talking about that, but people that have to be coddled or who are hyper-sensitive or contentious or can't articulate thoughts or have a normal discussion - it's nearly impossible for really good technical skill to outweigh those kinds of drawbacks.

And for the record, while I agree that there are oodles of crummy candidates out there, I'm also skeptical there is some sort of widespread shortage - we don't seem to have trouble finding candidates that range from "very good" to "superstar" and everything in between.

about two weeks ago
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Want To Work For a Cool Tech Company? Hone Your Social Skills

dbrueck Re:Skilled Introverted programmers need not apply (139 comments)

Oh, it's not on a whim at all. It's the realization that the degree to which a person can work well with, communicate with, interact with, etc. (basically, "fit in with") others is massively important, so much so that if a person is too lacking in those areas then it's better for your team and for your business to not hire them, no matter how good they look on paper.

about two weeks ago
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Want To Work For a Cool Tech Company? Hone Your Social Skills

dbrueck Re:Skilled Introverted programmers need not apply (139 comments)

*sigh* I wasn't. Read the article, then the parent subject line. I was saying that the more general issue is finding people who can be the right fit for a team, regardless of their skill level.

So that disqualifies various sets of people - those who are so extremely introverted that they can't interact with the rest of the team very well, those who are poor communicators, those who are prima donnas, and those who have poor reading comprehension.

about two weeks ago
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Want To Work For a Cool Tech Company? Hone Your Social Skills

dbrueck Re:Skilled Introverted programmers need not apply (139 comments)

Nah, you can be /somewhat/ introverted and still do well. But the fact of the matter is that social skills *are* crucial. It's not discriminatory, it's business, and a person who can't communicate well, who can't interact well, is a net negative, no matter how awesome a coder they are. It's not fair to the business and it's not fair to the rest of the team to have to "deal" with the guy or gal who just can't mesh with the team.

I've wasted so much time dealing with prima donnas and socially inept "geniuses" that I don't hire either these days. The very first interview is always a personality interview, and if I struggle seeing the person fitting in with the rest of the team, I don't even bother moving on to a technical/skills phase of the interview.

That doesn't mean we don't hire people that just geek out on tech, but they are people who are passionate but also kind of laid back, people with a good sense of humor, people who can express themselves clearly and can communicate well, people who don't get offended when someone disagrees with them, people just cocky enough to take some risks but who aren't arrogant - they have individual humility while still being very bullish on what they can do to help the team.

If a candidate doesn't have these qualities, then I genuinely don't care if they are the greatest developer in the history of the world - without the right personality type, they are just too much of a hassle and I pass on them and let them be some other company's problem.

about two weeks ago
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NASA Offering Contracts To Encourage Asteroid Mining

dbrueck Re:Legal Issue (153 comments)

Actually it was just meant as a joke, but thanks for the link and info anyway! :)

about three weeks ago
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NASA Offering Contracts To Encourage Asteroid Mining

dbrueck Re:Legal Issue (153 comments)

Do asteroids really have a defined legal status? I mean, clearly the US owns the moon (what with its flag being there and all), but I didn't know that ownership of the asteroids had been sorted out yet.

about three weeks ago
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Do Good Programmers Need Agents?

dbrueck Re:Here's the deal (215 comments)

This is exactly right. Others have noted that this agent thing is similar to realtors and there's good evidence to suggest that realtors don't really have much incentive to find the highest bidder for your home (see e.g. http://curbed.com/archives/201...) but have more incentive to get rid of your home quickly.

about a month ago
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Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Crashes

dbrueck Re:Not a good week... (445 comments)

Nah, I think the goal can be a bit broader than just that.

The larger goal is getting people and cargo to and from space cheaply, reliably, and downright commonplace. Getting the private sector involved is almost certainly a key to making that happen.

In the short term it might have a lot to do with low-orbit tourism and profits and losses, but that's ok. That's part of what it takes to get the money spent, that's part of what will lead to making it economically feasible, it's what will (hopefully) lead to greater interest by the public, and a lot of the technology and discoveries that make it all work well will move things forward towards the big picture goal.

Taking the reference to the Empire State Building: you can look at the construction of that building purely in terms of the economics and the time period or whatever. But regardless of whatever motives caused it to be built, it pushed the envelope of large scale construction and now, nearly a century later, a new building of that size is hardly noteworthy because now there are structures over twice as tall. Similarly, I hope companies like Virgin Galactic do the same thing for the space travel industry, regardless of what their publicly stated goals are.

Also, I'm betting that many (most?) of the people involved aren't putting their lives on the line just because of a paycheck, but because they really want to advance the space travel industry.

about a month and a half ago
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Michigan Builds Driverless Town For Testing Autonomous Cars

dbrueck Great but lower priority (86 comments)

This whole field is interesting to me and so I'm glad to see research being done. That said, for me the place where I most want driverless cars is on the open highway. The problem with driving on the open highway is that it's just complex enough to require some of your attention, but not interesting enough to keep you mentally engaged, so it's really easy to get bored or sleepy or just plain distracted. In other words, it's a perfect candidate for automation.

In an urban environment I have no problem staying focused /because of/ all the chaos these researchers are dealing with. It seems like all of the times I've come close to a serious auto accident have been on freeway / high speed roads and have let myself lose focus. In urban environments I've rarely come close to a major accident both because I'm so much more focused on driving and because the speeds are significantly lower.

Long term I hope we get to driverless cars in all environments, but I hope that sometime sooner we can get driverless cars on the freeway that switch over to human control as you approach the off-ramp or enter a more urban area.

about 2 months ago
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Amazon Instant Video Now Available On Android

dbrueck Re:finally (77 comments)

Weird - works on my Note 2. Playback stutters some so far but not too bad.

about 3 months ago
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Nuclear Missile Command Drops Grades From Tests To Discourage Cheating

dbrueck Re:What partisan wrote this? (122 comments)

Maybe, but I read it it slightly differently. 'Disproportionate' means 'too large or too small in comparison with something else'.

So I took it to mean that someone who got two percentage points higher on their test ended up being promoted at a much higher rate than would generally be expected for that small of a difference in scores.

As a made up example, if you scored two percentage points higher on your final than me, and all else equal, as a result over the course of your career that single test caused you to get promoted at a rate that was double the rate at which I got promoted, then one could realistically say that the rate of promotion is disproportionately higher than expected because in many cases a two percentage point difference would not be statistically significant while a doubling would be. The two are so different that it doesn't seem unreasonable to call them disproportionate. To be clear, those aren't the numbers from the article, but the article was just suggesting that there was that type of mismatch - small test score difference leading to a large, long term difference.

And that long term effect is key because it magnifies the issue: a very small difference in a score on one test you take early in your career has large ramifications for potentially decades? That creates a large incentive to cheat. And that's just it - I'm not arguing what's fair or unfair or what's right or wrong in this scenario, just saying that it sounds like there were some pretty big incentives to cheat.

about 5 months ago
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Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa

dbrueck Blog post gone? (390 comments)

L3's blog still has a summary blurb, but the link to the actual post gets a 404 - did they take it down or did they just link it wrong? Anybody have a cached copy?

about 5 months ago
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Slashdot Asks: Do You Want a Smart Watch?

dbrueck Device convergence (381 comments)

No thanks. The watch is just another device on the long list of separate things that got consolidated into my phone (mp3 player, camera, calendar, ebook reader, flashlight, GPS, alarm clock, etc.). As with all those other things, the version on my phone is so far into the "good enough" range that having a separate device for the same functionality just doesn't offer much appeal.

Too many of the smart watches seem to try to move functionality back off the phone, which seems pretty pointless (until at such time as it could completely replace everything on my phone, which case I might be interested. You know, some sort of holographic magic screen that replaces the need for a large physical screen, or maybe interfaces with some futuristic contact lenses that project a HUD that only I can see).

Anyway, that seems to be the core problem - these watches just don't do anything worthwhile compared to what I'll already be carrying with me. I don't want a watch as a status symbol, I don't need a watch to just tell time, and I don't need/want a watch to do a bunch of stuff my phone already does.

An exception would be for highly niche purposes. I have a kid with type I diabetes. If he could have a watch that could monitor is blood sugar levels and dispense insulin, I'd buy it.

about 5 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Rapid Development Language To Learn Today?

dbrueck Re:Python (466 comments)

Native code, for example, refers to code in its binary (processor-specific) form. No processor that I'm aware of knows how to run C code natively - it has to first be taken from its portable format and translated into native (assembly and then machine) code. It's not a matter of when or how that translation happens; processors simply don't speak C.

You still don't get it.

Actually I /do/ get it. I'm really quite familiar with how Python works, as well as how C, assembly, and machine language work. I'm not debating one is the other, nor that VM vs not is better than the other. What I *am* saying, however, is that the thing you're talking about is not the same thing as a processor supporting such and such a language natively. "Natively" means something specific, and what you're talking about isn't it.

I'm not saying that Python does or doesn't require a runtime, a virtual machine, etc. (even though there are some versions that don't). What I /am/ saying is that I don't know of any processor that runs C natively. Make up a different term for the concept you're talking about, because "natively" already has a meaning in this context, and how C works is definitely not native.

about 6 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Rapid Development Language To Learn Today?

dbrueck Re:Python (466 comments)

Claiming that hardware can run C natively is quite a reach. Your definition of what it means to run a language natively is so broad that it encompasses a large number of programming languages (if not all of them).

It's not about the number of passes of the compiler or if a language is supposed to be portable or not, but about the "virtual machine" abstraction a language is assuming, and how far is that from what typical hardware has to offer.

So, by your definition, most modern machines run Pascal natively? All I'm pointing out is that this is a pretty atypical use of the term "natively". Native code, for example, refers to code in its binary (processor-specific) form. No processor that I'm aware of knows how to run C code natively - it has to first be taken from its portable format and translated into native (assembly and then machine) code. It's not a matter of when or how that translation happens; processors simply don't speak C.

The abstraction of a virtual machine is definitely interesting, it just has nothing to do with whether or not processors can run C natively.

about 6 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Rapid Development Language To Learn Today?

dbrueck Re:Python (466 comments)

I haven't kept up on what the latest and greatest things are in this area, but last time I checked Shedskin seemed the most mature and had a relatively small set of restrictions (in most cases, converting Python to a statically-compiled language involves either giving up some of Python's dynamicness to make it "fit" into the more static language or adding some sort of layer on top of the static language to support more dynamic functionality - Python is strongly but dynamically typed).

Anyway, py2c and Nuitka both seem to be in the same space as Shedskin but I haven't used either.

Cython bills itself as an "optimizing static compiler" for Python, although I think it's geared more towards writing Python extensions in C as opposed to trying to convert your entire program away from Python (i.e. it's a good fit if you're writing in Python but want to statically compile some performance critical parts of your app in C, or if you are calling some C library and don't want to use ctypes or cffi).

I believe that for awhile rpython (from the pypy project) optionally targeted the LLVM; not sure if that ever went anywhere.

The above are just the ones I've heard about; don't know if there are others.

about 6 months ago

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