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Ask Slashdot: Corporate Open Source Policy?

jwthompson2 Just do it all open from the start (57 comments)

My company has released a handful of open source projects that are mostly used by us. But we just release them as open source from the start. Part of the rationale behind that is that each of the libraries are meant to implement some kind of protocol or perform some specific, but generic, functionality that we wouldn't mind feedback on early in the development process. So, we just do them as open source from the first line of code that is committed. No legal review, just the developers that will be working on the project and one manager signing off on doing it this way. We're not a huge company, but we're a couple hundred employees strong and the development team basically makes the call, since they are the experts.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Unattended Maintenance Windows?

jwthompson2 It depends on the size of your operation... (265 comments)

If you really want to automate this sort of thing you should have redundant systems with working and routinely tested automatic fail-over and fallback behavior. With that in place you can more safely setup scheduled maintenance windows for routine stuff and/or pre-written maintenance scripts. But, if you are dealing with individual servers that aren't part of a redundancy plan then you should babysit your maintenance. Now, I say babysit because you should test and automate the actual maintenance with a script to prevent typos and other human errors when you are doing the maintenance on production machines. The human is just there in case something goes haywire with your well-tested script.

Fully automating these sorts of things is out of reach more many small to medium sized firms because they don't want, or can't, invest in the added hardware to build out redundant setups that can continue operating when one participant is offline for maintenance. So, depending on the size of your operation and how much your company is willing to invest to "do it the right way" is the limiting factor in how much you are going to be able to effectively automate this sort of task.

about 2 months ago

Who Is Liable When a Self-Driving Car Crashes?

jwthompson2 Public Transit (937 comments)

If you want to read, or nap or do anything other than pay attention to driving just use public transit. It's not always an option, but if you really just don't want to worry about driving it's the best choice. And it adds efficiency that even a self-driving car can't bring to commuting.

about 8 months ago

Ask Slashdot: As a Programmer/Geek, Should I Learn Business?

jwthompson2 Yes, to an extent (167 comments)

The answer depends on where you want your career to go. But, regardless I would say that all programmers should invest the time to understand the business they work for so that they can best serve the interests of their employer. This is different from getting an MBA or studying business in the general sense. Programmers need to understand the problems that their company deals with, otherwise they're not going to see the best solutions.

As an example I currently work for a company that manufactures packaged food products. As the lead developer it is part of my job to understand how the business operates; from how our inventory is managed, to how our customers pay us, to how our shipping personnel process incoming and outgoing items. Understanding this and talking to people in all these areas allows me to spot inefficiencies and address problems, sometimes before others realize they are a big deal. That means I can help put technology to work in a way that makes our business more efficient, which leads to better profits and happy bosses and better compensation for myself and those I work with.

Unless all you ever want to be is a low-rung developer, or if you don't have any desire to stay with the company you're with long-term; then it always makes sense to get to know your business, and it will make you a more valuable employee.

about a year ago

World's Biggest 'Agile' Software Project Close To Failure

jwthompson2 Where's the testing? (349 comments)

That question would indicate to me that they're doing Agile wrong. Agile development ought to include a short feedback loop that includes not only the client, but automated tests. So, if this question is legitimate, then something is very wrong with how this project has been run.

about a year ago

Sorry, Larry Page: Tech-Industry Viciousness Is Here To Stay

jwthompson2 FOSS ain't exactly a love fest... (201 comments)

FOSS ain't exactly a love fest, and they lack to direct profit motive of large corporations. Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds aren't consistently known for being just the nicest guys you've ever met. The only open source community that overtly talks about being nice and polite is the Ruby community with it's "Matz is nice, so we are nice" mantra that falls down just as often as it shows through. Competition and even brutal competition are part of life, for good and ill.

about a year ago

Irish Judge Orders 'The Internet' To Delete Video

jwthompson2 Good luck with that... (243 comments)

At least the court has asked it it's even technically feasible; good luck with that.

about a year ago

Unredacted Documents In Apple/Samsung Case, No Evidence of 'Copy' Instruction

jwthompson2 Lawyers (178 comments)

"Groklaw suggests, rather shockingly, that Apple's lawyers might have been a little selective in how they presented some of this evidence to the court, by picking little parts of it that offered a different shade of nuance."

Lawyers presenting evidence in a way that is beneficial to their clients? Outrageous!

Wait...Isn't that their job? And isn't the job of the other party's lawyer to do the same and, if possible, poke holes in their opponents line of argument?

about 2 years ago

Why Has Blu-ray Failed To Catch Hold?

jwthompson2 Re:Do they have HDTVs? (1162 comments)

Same here. I'll be acquiring my first HDTV in the next month or so. I've got a few Blu-Rays on account of being able to watch them via my PS3 and because I was able to get good deals that included a digital copy. But, I'm just now comfortable enough with the price and feature mix in the HD space to start caring.

more than 3 years ago

Why Mac OS X Is Unsuitable For Web Development

jwthompson2 Cry me a river... (831 comments)

What a whiner. I use a Mac every single day for doing web development. Know how I get over the fact that I'm not deploying to a Mac in production? It's called a continuous integration (CI) and staging setup! You build your app locally and ensure the core of the test suite passes and then you push your changes up to CI where everything gets run against a test server stack that should be nearly identical to your production environment. And if the CI passes then the code get auto-deployed to the staging server for QA evaluation by the client, or other responsible party. And after they've signed off you kick-off a deployment of the code into production. And if I can't, don't want to, run CI and staging environments outside my system, I can fire up Parallels or VirtualBox and create a test environment. Boo hoo! This problem isn't remotely interesting unless you don't know what you're doing.

more than 3 years ago

Congresswoman and Staff Gunned Down

jwthompson2 Re:Ban guns (2166 comments)

Banning the possession of firearms by civilians will ensure that only tyrants and criminals will have them.

more than 3 years ago

What To Load On a 4-Year-Old's Netbook?

jwthompson2 Re:Start with a good hosts file (742 comments)

Unless you are going to do a whitelist approach I would use the hosts file to address adware/crapware issues and then use a content filter to address porn/mature content. If you want to go the whitelist route I'd use OpenDNS or DansGuardian since they both have that capability and then you don't need to worry about the hosts file.

more than 3 years ago

What To Load On a 4-Year-Old's Netbook?

jwthompson2 Re:Huh? (742 comments)

Because it's worth the time to have them start learning what is possible. All my kids, except the youngest ( 2 y/o) work on the computer for school and recreation. They all also go outside and engage with the bright orb of the sky. It is possible to do both and not be any poorer for it. I spent some time at the kids track that was organized for RubyConf a couple of weeks ago and while much of the stuff was too much for my six year old, she still really liked hanging around and doing what her dad does as best she could. She even went home and played "geek conference" with her siblings afterwards, keynote presentation and all. Not to mention all my kids love seeing what can be done with an Arduino. I got started programming not much older than my oldest daughter is now and I was in Boy Scouts, so I spent plenty of time going back and forth between equally fulfilling activities that exposed me to a broader range of what is out there to do and enjoy.

more than 3 years ago

What To Load On a 4-Year-Old's Netbook?

jwthompson2 Start with a good hosts file (742 comments)

Whether you keep him using Windows or load up a flavor of Linux I'd put a good hosts file on there to block adware and other known sources of crapware. Beyond that, you could setup something like Dans Guardian or set the machine to use filtered DNS services, such as OpenDNS. If you are gonna keep Windows on there then there are tons of commercial filtering products out there, all the stuff I mentioned is free.

more than 3 years ago

What Software Specification Tools Do You Use?

jwthompson2 My Test Suite (200 comments)

I use the output of my test suite. Between the unit, functional and integration tests this provides a great specification of what my software is suppose to do and what the various internal APIs are. And the great thing about the test suite is that I can prove to a certain degree that the software conforms to the spec because the spec itself is executable and actually exercises the software. Specs that you can't prove are accurate are useless anyways, write a good test suite and use testing tools that output human readable results. Since I work in Ruby predominantly those tools would be mini-test, test-unit, rspec and cucumber.

more than 3 years ago

Which Language To Learn?

jwthompson2 It depends...on a lot (897 comments)

I'm a Ruby developer in New Orleans, LA and I wouldn't want it any other way here in this city. My skills are in high demand, but that is the state of things here in New Orleans. There is demand for other language developers, mostly PHP, but not nearly the quality of jobs as what is available for a Ruby developer. I suspect that the right answer to this question is highly contingent on the place where one wants to live and work. In San Francisco I know the situation is even more exaggerated than it is in New Orleans with Ruby developers being even more highly in demand.

The answer to this question is always to look around and see what is needed where you are. If you want to move then look at what is in demand where you'd like to move to. In either case, answer the market by adapting your skills. And why choose one language when you could choose multiple. Be a polyglot and pick up Python, Ruby and Erlang. Paired with a knowledge of C/C++ and Java those five languages should keep you in demand in most major markets. PHP developers are a dime a dozen, and the pay reflects that. Only the best PHP developers make good money, and even then I've found it more lucrative to know Perl, than PHP.

But that is just what I know.

more than 3 years ago

Rackspace vs. Amazon — the Cloud Wars

jwthompson2 Sometimes you need real hardware (114 comments)

They missed the fact that RackSpace offers hybrid cloud options that Amazon just can't match at this point. Got IO issues? So did GitHub when they were running on Amazon's infrastructure. Know how they solved it? They moved to Rackspace and married the cloud for front-end with physical hardware for their IO intense workloads. It seems to me these guys may just be naive. They've probably only sidestepped their problems for now.

more than 3 years ago

Senate Approves the ______Act Of____

jwthompson2 Re:Sorry, What?? (571 comments)

You think a massive influx of government spending is a good thing? That's where massive deficits come from since the government always spends beyond its income/revenues and "stimulus" spending is always borrowed money on top of the normal budget. The problem is that we've created a culture where we think we can spend our way out of problems. We do it at a personal level thinking: well I can always declare bankruptcy if I rack up too much debt and don't get that promotion/new job/whatever. And we've now done it on governmental levels from the municipality up to the national stage.

What we are facing is a debt crisis that needs to be dealt with soon. We need to stop new spending, stabilize taxes for the time being and then start taking a hard look at the numbers and figure out how to reduce the national debt load. That may mean increases in taxes for everybody (not just those making over $250k), but a faster way would be to cut spending and allocate the difference to paying the people we owe the money to.

Both Republicans and Democrats have been part of the problem. We need to run all the idiots out on a rail and elect replacements who are fiscally conservative first and foremost and are willing to lay any other issues aside until we fix the problem our government has with borrowing way more than it can sustain.

more than 4 years ago

Senate Approves the ______Act Of____

jwthompson2 Any objections? (571 comments)

At this stage are there any objections to simply unseating every single encumbent? Certainly a large influx of "freshmen" to the halls of congress couldn't make matters any worse.

more than 4 years ago

Stallman Says Pirate Party Hurts Free Software

jwthompson2 Re:Lessig Already Proposed this (546 comments)

The second session of the United States Congress established 14 year Copyright terms with an optional 14 year renewal. Going back to that and requiring publication for application of Copyright would be a good step.

more than 5 years ago


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