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

mcmonkey It's a lie. (467 comments)

The code groupies you hear about.

Not true. :(

6 hours 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 a week ago

Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

mcmonkey Would like to (550 comments)

But my secret identity relies on wearing glasses.

about a month 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 2 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 2 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Configuring Development Environment On a Shared Workstation?

mcmonkey Re:Let work provide tools for work (158 comments)

Agreed. My first thought was, "If he is doing this for a new job why aren't they supplying him with a laptop so he can use it at home AND at work?" You know, like a sane company would, or at least one with a clue. If they are expecting you to do this extra work, or if you volunteered, the least they could do is supply you with a portable dev machine. Run. Run away from that company.

Because he told them he could do all this stuff. He's already committed to be an expert with .Net and MS-SQL and Porterzebbi and whatever else they asked in the interview. That's why he can't ask them for help with training.

I know it's cliche to complain about Ask /., but this one is really bad. If you can't even figure out how to set up an environment where you can teach yourself programming, you shouldn't be telling other people you know how to program.

The answers here are mind-numbingly trivial. You don't want your kids to access your pr0n...I mean "work stuff," that what user profiles and permissions are for. Don't want your background services (IIS, SQL, etc) to affect performance when you're not working?

1) They won't. How old is the hardware you have? Are we talking turn-of-century type old? If you need anything, it'll be RAM. And if you livelihood depends on it, you can't afford to NOT buy more RAM, no matter how poor you are.

2) Set the services to start manually and create 2 batch files--start_work and stop_work--to start and stop those services with a single command.

Of course another option is VM. But I'll assume since the OP couldn't figure out 1 and 2 above that configuring and using a VM is way above the skill level we have here.

about 7 months ago

The Whole Story Behind Low AP CS Exam Stats

mcmonkey Re:Do all schools even offer CS classes? (325 comments)

This is not a recent addition to the AP schedule. AP CS has existed at least as far back as the mid 1980s.

As for acceptance, according the College Board, "AP is accepted by more than 3,600 colleges and universities worldwide for college credit, advanced placement, or both on the basis of successful AP Exam grades. This includes over 90 percent of four-year institutions in the United States."

Even if a school doesn't offer credit, having the course on your schedule (or having an AP test score if taken Junior year or earlier) will like help your chances for admission. (Unless there's a low score on the exam.)

Something I expected to see in this thread is a discussion of the material covered by AP CS. I suspect that is at least part of the problem.

AP CS uses Java to teach algorithms, data structures, OOP concepts, and documentation. Is the use of Java part of the issue? I realize a course like this can never be cutting edge or using the latest and greatest, but with all the other resources available, how many high school kids are excited about learning Java?

My take is this: as a high school student if you want to learn calculus, your best bet is probably the AP Calc course (unless there is a near-by university with a decent math department). If you want to learn chemistry or physics, there isn't competition for what an AP course can do for you.

But if you want to learn programming and basic CS concepts, there are a myriad of options--variety not just of course but also of language. I've seen these discussions here, on where to start with teaching or learning programming. If memory serves, Java doesn't come out of such discussions as a clear choice for young students.

about 7 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Getting an Uncooperative Website To Delete One's Account?

mcmonkey Re:bit of a tricky question with forums (171 comments)

How does being the owner of something entitle you to someone else being required to provide the means to destroy it?

That's what "ownership" means. You get to control it.

If you want that capability you should have thought about that before you created it.

Without question.

But the policy at is that you own your content. If in fact you can't control aspects of access or the current state (destroy or keep), than you *don't* own it.

What does that mean for your posts here? "Comments owned by the poster." Yet you can't edit or delete posts.

Seems Subby is the type who doesn't learn from mistakes. In trying to remove "owned" content from one site, you just get more content created with the same issues on a different site.

about 8 months ago

How much of your media do you store locally?

mcmonkey A is A (187 comments)

The question is tautological.

How much of my media do I store locally? If it's not local, it's not mine.

So 100%.

about 8 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  |  more than 2 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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