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Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

mcmonkey Re:just for comparison (546 comments)

this is an interesting discussion..

..if you think confusing computer science and software development is interesting.

Complaining about the lack of programming in a CS degree is like complaining that physics majors don't build bridges.

"the courses taught in virtually all computer science [curricula] focus on theory, and they only dabble in teaching practical programming skills"

Well, it's good to hear virtually all computer science programs are doing it right!

about 1 month ago

Fish Raised On Land Give Clues To How Early Animals Left the Seas

mcmonkey Animals? Or vertebrates? (62 comments)

I've heard the same story as left the seas to spawn amphibians, reptiles, and other land animals.

Such stories never address invertebrates. If, as the headline suggests, all land animals come from fish who left the water, does this mean insects and other land invertebrates evolved from fish?

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What To Do About Repeated Internet Overbilling?

mcmonkey Re:AT&T DSL/Uverse Data Limits (355 comments)

And if you're using email to transfer a 10M file, you should be banished frmo the internet.

about 2 months ago

California DMV Told Google Cars Still Need Steering Wheels

mcmonkey "immediate physical control" for current vehicles (506 comments)

If they're insistent there's a way for an occupant to take "immediate physical control", why do they allow current cars on the road?

I'm not sure about steering, but certainly for acceleration and braking there's no way for drivers to take physical control of a modern automobile. Anything we do with those pedals on the floor sends a signal to a computer. The computer then decides what actions to take--open the throttle or apply the brakes.

There's a person initiating those functions, but the person does not have physical control.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Where Can I Find Good Replacement Batteries?

mcmonkey LMGTFY (131 comments)

On second thought, google it yourself.

Worst. Ask Slashdot. Ever.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

mcmonkey It's a lie. (548 comments)

The code groupies you hear about.

Not true. :(

about 2 months ago

Samsung Buys Kickstarter-Funded Internet of Things Startup For $200MM

mcmonkey Re:How much do the backers get? (107 comments)

Is it pure risk for the backers? e.g. if they make a product, they get something they bought, but if the product flops, they loose their money.
And now if the product makes a fortune, they only get their product they bought.
In other words, is kickstarter just a pre-order sales website?

It's zero risk for the kickstarter backers. There is zero chance they will lose more than they pledged through kickstarter.

Product? They didn't buy any product. Kickstarter has been quite clear, it is not a pre-order service. Anything offered in return for a kickstarter pledge is essentially a thank-you gift. Like all gifts, you're shouldn't demand one or complain when you don't get one.

If a kickstarter campaign fails (that is, raises the requested funds, but never manages to complete the product), the backers get nothing and have no recourse. I don't see how it would be any different if the campaign succeeds, as it did in this case. (Other than for P.R. reasons)

So back to the question of risk, once the campaign reached its funding goal, that money pledged was gone. Not a risk, but a certainty. It's like asking, what is the risk if I drop $5 into a Salvation Army bucket? No risk--you're just out $5.

about 2 months ago

Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

mcmonkey Would like to (550 comments)

But my secret identity relies on wearing glasses.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For You To Buy a Smartwatch?

mcmonkey Re:Only if... (427 comments)

I could make phone calls on it without carrying a separate phone. Beyond that and telling time, I can't think of any other use for a screen I'd want to wear on my wrist.

My first thought in response to the question was, "never".

But if a smartwatch was a phone replacement instead of just a remote control for something that is generally not out of reach, I might consider it.

Of course, I was never a big fan of wrist watches. I could never get comfortable with one. I prefer pocket watches. So I would buy a pocket smart watch. And being a pocket watch, it would be a little bigger than a wrist watch, with a larger screen.

Oh wait! I already have that. It's called, "my phone."

So never. My answer is never.

about 4 months ago

GM Names and Fires Engineers Involved In Faulty Ignition Switch

mcmonkey Re:So Scott Oldham of is a liar? (307 comments)

I'm not calling Oldham a liar. I'm saying, GM's story means either they are calling him a liar, or they're saying the engineer in the car with him on his test drive just happened to be the one engineer who knew about the issue. How else can they say only one person knew about the issue?

However, reading a bit more closely, we could be talking about different time frames. I.E. in 2002 only one person knew, as the GM statement claims, and only later in 2004 did other engineers become aware.

Of course none of that explains how one person gets a part changed without changing the part number and there's no oversight or visibility, and what happened between 2004 and 2014.

about 5 months ago

GM Names and Fires Engineers Involved In Faulty Ignition Switch

mcmonkey So Scott Oldham of is a liar? (307 comments)

According to this NPR story:

Scott Oldham of had a test drive of the Cobalt in 2004, with a GM engineer in the car. Multiple times Oldham's knee hit the key fob and car shut down.

Also, a major factor preventing identification of the ignition switch issue (or at least providing plausible deniability) is the part number. GM had 2 sets of cars: one set supposedly had this issue, the other did not. Both had the same ignition switch, so if there was a difference between the two sets, the ignition switch was not it.

Now we know the ignition switch was changed, but the part number stayed the same, making it difficult to correctly identify the issue. We're supposed to believe a single engineer was responsible for changing a part but not the part number?

Not that it matters much to me. My car searches start with Consumer Reports reviews and reliability ratings, and so no GM car has been in consideration for a while.

about 5 months ago

The World's Worst Planes: Aircraft Designs That Failed

mcmonkey Re:The Spruce Goose (209 comments)

What about the Spruce Moose?

Huge oversight missing from the list.

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Joining a Startup As an Older Programmer?

mcmonkey Was that an interview or an audition? (274 comments)

Because what you describe sounds more like the Hollywood version of a tech start up than any of the actual start-ups I've worked for and with.

Not that there can't be issues from the cultural differences between established companies and start-ups or between 40-something married with children and 20 & 30-something single, but if I'm looking to join a company as a programmer and Burning Man is on my list of concerns, I would not be looking to join this company.

about 6 months ago

Can Science Ever Be "Settled?"

mcmonkey How long is string? (497 comments)

Can "science" ever be settled?

No, almost certainly not, since that implies perfect knowledge of all existence--all that is, was, or ever could be.

Can science settle particular questions? Yes.

about 8 months ago

Is Verizon Already Slowing Netflix Down?

mcmonkey Apple, meet Orange (298 comments)

Comparing a residential account and a business account? I don't see a story here.

about 9 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Do You Do If You're Given a Broken Project?

mcmonkey Re:You were not hired to finish the project (308 comments)

If he makes it work, the original "respected" designer will jump in and claim all the credit.

If he doesn't, he, as the scapegoat contractor, will get all the blame.

No-win situation. Leave now.

No win? You mean OP isn't getting paid?

Assuming X10 is getting paid, that's win. If something is accomplished that can go on a resume, that's a win. If useful experience is gained or new skills learned, that's a win. Not every job can be win-win-win. But at very least, get paid. Then there is no 'no-win' situation.

My advice: act like a grown-up. They're paying you to code new features? Code new features. Paying you to fix bugs? Fix bugs. If you have the time and resources, refactor and fix existing code as you are able.

Other than that, I don't understand the question. If it were easy and everything worked as expected, they wouldn't need you. They very fact that they felt the need to bring in a developer means the code wasn't doing what they wanted it to.

Yes, I know you wanted a job where you got paid to surf the web all day. Welcome to the real world. If you consider this a no-win situation, either start your own company and code your own apps from scratch, or get in to another line of work. The situation described in the question applies to 99% of all programming positions. Again, if it worked, they wouldn't need you.

about 9 months ago

Atlanta Gambled With Winter Storm and Lost

mcmonkey Re:You weren't there. I was. (723 comments)

So don't freaking patronize us. There's stuff that could have been done better in terms of planning by the city and in terms of more people keeping an eye on the weather (the midday snow took everyone at our office by surprise), but it wasn't a matter of just driving better. There was literally *nothing* many of us could have done from that angle. 99% of the people I saw drove sensibly. (Well, more like self-entitled jackasses who wouldn't spit on a man if he was on fire because it might make them thirsty, the way they refused let people over or tried to skip ahead using the middle lanes, but generally safely.)

The issues with how the forecast was handled and what preparation was done before the snow have been addressed by others. What I'll add is, what could have been done once the snow started is, 1) don't send everybody out on the road at the same time! Other cities in other storms have made this same mistake. And it always causes the same issues. Once the decision is made to keep schools and offices open, not sending everyone out on to the road before the plows and salt spreaders have a chance to clear the roads is something that should have been obvious.

You close early to avoid people driving in bad weather/on bad roads. Once it's start snowing, closing everything early sends people out to drive in bad weather/on bad roads.

2) My mind literally cannot comprehend some of the reports coming out of Atlanta. 13 1/2 hours to only go 8.5 miles? We're talking about automobiles, right? Not trains on tracks?

People down south know cars have steering wheels, right? I don't want to freaking patronize anyone, but what about sitting in the car for hour, realizing traffic isn't moving, and heading back to wherever you came from? Even if traffic is twice as bad going the other direction, that's 3 hours to get off the road.

I know many people listen to podcasts and other non-live forms of entertainment, but cars in the south still have radios, don't they? At some point, doesn't the thought occur to check a traffic report? And didn't those traffic reports give an accurate assessment of the situation? And upon hearing that assessment, did the thought arise to just head back to your point of origin or just pull off where you are?

about 9 months ago

CERN Antimatter Experiment Produces First Beam of Antihydrogen

mcmonkey Typical egg-heads, over thinking (136 comments)

This may be a case where the experts are too close to the problem to see the simple solution.

Put the antihydrogen in a container made of antimatter, then annihilation will not be an issue.

Perhaps some sort of rigid anti-dirigible

about 9 months ago

Microsoft Researchers Slash Skype Fraud By 68%

mcmonkey What is skype fraud? (114 comments)

I've only used skype a few times. What is skype fraud?

My understanding of skype is it's basically a video phone using your general purpose computer.

I read some of TFA looking for what types of fraud they are talking about, but didn't see any detail. They mention credit card fraud, but that's not a feature of skype. I mean, if some stranger knocks on your door, and when you answer, asks for your credit card number, and you give your credit card number, that's not a weakness in your door or lock, that's a weakness in you.

What I do with my landline is never answer if I don't recognize the number or name in the caller ID. Couldn't I do the same with skype, never answer if I don't know who is calling? There you go, 100% fraud prevention.

about 9 months ago



Career model for developers at a non-IS company?

mcmonkey mcmonkey writes  |  about 2 years ago

mcmonkey (96054) writes "What should the IS career model for developers in a non-technical company look like?

I am a developer for a large manufacturer. 85% of our software is off-the-shelf, and primary support is either through the vendor or an off-shore consultant, with the remaining systems home-grown. Most of the folks in IS are business analysts and management-types. I would like to stick with this employer for a bit longer, but the lack of a clear career path for technical IS workers is an issue.

(This is not just an issue for me, but a recognized need. There is management support for major revision of the technical career model.)

For the few technical folks within IS, there isn't a clear career ladder or path for moving to positions of larger scope and higher responsibility. There is a career management document which is good for junior developers. It describes the progression from performing specific assigned tasks to leading small projects and working without immediate oversight.

But the career ladder--as documented and in reality--breaks down past that mid-career point. Past the 'expert with 5 to 10 years experience' there isn't any where to go other than in to non-technical management or out of the company.

Most of my career has been at smaller companies without a formal career ladder and promotion process. This was never an issue for me--I was changing companies every few years and was able to move in to positions of increasing responsibility (and compensation) without ever getting a promotion.

Now that I am looking to settle down, I would like to have an active roll in shaping the career model. But I do not have any first hand experience of a functioning technical career ladder or promotion process.

What should the IS career model for developers in a non-technical company look like? What steps should be in the career ladder? Can there be a technical career path for developers at such a company?"

Ideas for an IT Masters thesis?

mcmonkey mcmonkey writes  |  about 3 years ago

mcmonkey writes "I'm in a Masters program for IT with a concentration on computation and mathematics. Course work is going well, but I've got serious developer's block when it comes to a thesis topic. So I'm turning to my friends at Ask Slashdot.

What are your suggestions for a Masters thesis topic, or ideas to spark my own creativity? The project should be original, have a "significant programming component," and be appropriate for publication in an academic journal. But other than that, I've got pretty free reign. And I think that's part of my problem. Programming assignments and exams I can knock off with little stress. But given a blank piece of paper (or text editor) and say "fill this," I'm at a loss.

To anticipate some questions you might have:
"Why should I do your homework for you?" The thesis proposal is typically 15 to 20 pages, with the completed thesis 30 to 50 pages, not including source code. While your ideas are appreciated and are helpful, I wouldn't say one or two sentences counts as 'doing my work for me.'

"Why not go to professors at your school?" At my school it's considered very bad form to go to professors for thesis ideas. I do not know why. I can, and have, gone to profs for feedback on ideas I've had (and that feedback has generally been, "yeah, what else you got?"), but I can't go to office hours and fish for thesis topics.

"Contribute to an open source project, take over an orphaned app on Source Forge, etc." I'm in a computational, not engineering, track. A project that is programmatically significant but theoretically uninteresting won't do. Now something that uses a novel heuristic so solve an intractable problem would fit the bill.

"This is the worst Ask Slashdot question ever." There's been worse, and you know it."


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