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World's Youngest Microsoft Certificated Professional Is Five Years Old

mrthoughtful Re:Exactly why we test all candidates. (276 comments)

We only recruit managers from our existing workforce, and we only choose directors from our existing managers.
There are only two people who haven't taken a test to be employed - and both are the founders of the company.

about a month ago
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World's Youngest Microsoft Certificated Professional Is Five Years Old

mrthoughtful Re:Exactly why we test all candidates. (276 comments)

We do allow our candidates to use the web. We also write the tests specifically for the job at hand. We do NOT penalise for mashing, copying, or even asking for help. What we do penalise is for when someone grabs something and doesn't understand what it is, how it works, and cannot make it 'theirs'.

We also penalise people who copy code from the net and then attempt to pass it off as their own.
We don't monitor the test - we allow the candidate to work against their own clock.

We aren't fearful of hiring wrong people - but we don't have time for them either. We also find it's an extremely good means of filtering out what can be up to 1,000 applications. Those who apply for the job are those who really want to work for us, and are willing to show us their skills.

Our questions tend to be qualitative, which means that it's very hard to 'find the answer on the net'. They will include questions such as (eg for a web designer) - "In what ways could you significantly improve the BBC news website, and why do you think the BBC have not made those improvements already?"

For a (S)CSS engineer, we will be asking questions to demonstrate approaches to carving and presenting a responsive page, based upon a simple flat visual.

For all of these things, there are no right answers, but there are good answers.

The funniest response we once got from a programmer, to about 9 out of 10 of the questions we had on the test for the position he was applying for, was "It's not my department." - needless to say he wasn't shortlisted.

about a month ago
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World's Youngest Microsoft Certificated Professional Is Five Years Old

mrthoughtful Re:Exactly why we test all candidates. (276 comments)

Well, it depends upon the job. As OneSmartFellow correctly divines, a recent post was for a sysadmin / sysops post. We don't require other devs to know what ARP is, but it's always good if they have some idea about the network stack.

We have been repeatedly amazed by the levels of ignorance that IT-qualified candidates have had. One of the most disappointing finds is that very few who have come from university have any substantial programming experience. Likewise, 'hack-a-day' php coders and sql-ers about, but most of them do not know when to apply a left join, some of them don't even know what a key is used for (just think of all that wasted cpu time due to ridiculously poor sql implementations. It makes me shudder).

Regarding the idea of methods for developing a re-usable, maintainable codebase for our work (primarily webwork) - seems to be beyond everyone that we recruit. The team that we have right now is second to none - but we have found that a well-written test reduces the initial number of applicants from about 700 to 800 down to about 10, most of whom we will interview.

about a month ago
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World's Youngest Microsoft Certificated Professional Is Five Years Old

mrthoughtful Exactly why we test all candidates. (276 comments)

The only way that we have found for being able to assess a candidate's suitability for work at our company is to write tests that suit the job, and then ask the candidates to demonstrate their skills. We've had people with all sorts of qualifications relevant to the LAMP architecture not know the basics of regex, sql, bash, etc. Let alone what ARP is.

IMO qualifications in IT aren't really very relevant, other than showing the intent/interests of the individual. Also, as IT is changing so rapidly, by the time a (non-theoretical) qualification has been published, it is pretty much out of date.

My response, as an employer, to this news could be summarised as: 'We never had much credence to the MS qualification in the first place - and now we have none.

about a month ago
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Photon Pair Coupled in Glass Fiber

mrthoughtful It's an efficient photonic switch. (91 comments)

What it 'means' is that we are a step closer to optical switching - i.e., optical computers.

The important aspect of the work, as I see it, is that the switch is activated optically also, and the complexity of the switch is low (allowing it to be manufactured easily).

However, I'm no expert in the field. I just read the article, and am geek enough to read /.

about a month and a half ago
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Preferred smartphone screen size?

mrthoughtful Re:SI Units for nerds, please (258 comments)

Everyone knows how big screen sizes are when given in inches...

Along with the AC, I couldn't agree less. SI Units are used for measuring distance by every country in the world except for Liberia, Myanmar and the USA.
I can, sort of, imagine using an arbitrary unit such as palm-widths, however that is a completely personal (and therefore a dynamic) system of measurement. While we still deal with static datasets, SI units provide a far more appropriate base conversion.

about a month and a half ago
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Preferred smartphone screen size?

mrthoughtful SI Units for nerds, please (258 comments)

Can we have SI Units on slashdot please? Especially as this site if for nerds like me.

about 2 months ago
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50 Years of BASIC, the Language That Made Computers Personal

mrthoughtful Re:I say BS (224 comments)

Why is BASIC bad?
(1) It encourages poor programming practices by
  a) not including good code block semantics.
  b) not supporting classes
  c) not separating library (or OS) calls from language primitives
  d) having no proper concept of scope
  e) not having a standard

(2) Being a suboptimal interpreted language - I remember that CLS was around 100 times slower than a Z80 routine.

Of course, you may be thinking of modern BASIC implementations - well, that's a different thing altogether.
The BASICs (eg on the Spectrum, C64, etc) I knew were just rubbish.
I guess you could argue that it's an implementation thing - but actually, it's hard to go wrong with something like Java, or C. I remember some LISP interpreters were pretty slow also..

about 8 months ago
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C++ and the STL 12 Years Later: What Do You Think Now?

mrthoughtful I use it, love it. (435 comments)

We just migrated our codebase from C++ STL to C++11 and in general, it was worth the pain.
The main benefits for us were better awareness of modern character encoding - but stuff like lamda functions are pretty cool too, and we could probably tidy up a lot of our earlier code to use more C++11 features.

I was brought up on Assembler (Z80, 680x0) and moved to 'C', and then migrated to 'C++', so my early C++ was very C-like (not unusual). However, I've not looked back. I know that you are asking about C++11, but C++ itself is probably worth highlighting.

I also know Java, Obj-C, (and a bunch of other languages that I have used in less commercially sensitive contexts) and there's a lot to be said for them too. But when I feel like getting close to the metal, it's C++ for me. I guess it's b/c one can still (just about) follow the assembler generated by it.

But then I'm old in my approach. Modern optimising compilers, with coding strategies, static analysis (as well as excellent IDEs) probably have more effect on my productivity than any language sub-variant.

about 8 months ago
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50 Years of BASIC, the Language That Made Computers Personal

mrthoughtful I say BS (224 comments)

(1) It wasn't a language that made computers personal, it was the advent of the microchip, and, as a consequence, the microcomputer.
(2) The first language I learned was BASIC. It was so bad that I then learned assembler.
(3) My experience of BASIC was so bad that I didn't want anything to do with it, even though using it to compose LUTs would have been very useful
(4) Then 'C' became cheap, and then free. I haven't written anything in BASIC for over 30 years.

about 8 months ago
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Can Reactive Programming Handle Complexity?

mrthoughtful Marketing Hype... (149 comments)

This is just marketing hype dressed up as a question. Having said that, anything that gets anyone enthused about programming is good, I guess.

What I really don't like is when Val Huber refers to a previous article he submitted as if it were written by a third party.
Now, I love SQL (and triggers are ok) - and so does Val Huber - I'm sure we would get along fine.
Val, you've been doing SQL for 20 years! woot. So that means you started back 'round '94.
(Aw. I started back in '85. I was doing websites in '94 - remember Lycos?)

But it's just using SQL Triggers, Val - why give it some sort of fancy name? Ohh everyone else does that, like "Web2"? or "The Cloud", etc?
Still stinks - but hopefully someone may actually pick up how to use some of the cool features of SQL.

about 10 months ago
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Australia's Bureau of Meteorology Dumps Water Data Project

mrthoughtful Agencies taking their clients money (112 comments)

It sucks when some designers or an agency comes along and takes all your money and then produces utter shite, which you are expected to pay for, because you asked for their advice. Like Slashdot. What an epic mess.

about 10 months ago
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Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

mrthoughtful Fail (2219 comments)

OMG, no UTF-8?! OMFG driving everything via javascript?

My fellow slashdotters, we have a voice. We know how to use it.

about 10 months ago
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Sound System Simulates the Roar of a Rocket Launch

mrthoughtful In space no-one can hear you scream. (113 comments)

The obvious interpretation, that this device blasts satellites and spacecraft while they are in space, is impossible. Actually all sorts of things (including the aforementioned) are placed into a chamber for sonic vibration testing. Satellites are tested this way for launch-worthiness, not space-worthiness.

about 10 months ago
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Drone-Mounted Laser Weapons Are On the Way

mrthoughtful Re:Someone at DARPA reads way too much Sci Fi. (116 comments)

If I'm understanding the summary correctly, the purpose isn't to have a way for the drones to defend themselves, but to have drones that can defend a Navy ship, an army base, etc.

TFA is about drone self-defence..

If a Predator drone were to get shot down [...] the bad side is that you just lost a $4 million piece of equipment. So, in a bid to keep drones protected, DARPA is funding research into drone-mounted laser weapons.

and

The project, called Endurance, is [...] being tasked with the development of "technology for pod-mounted lasers to protect a variety of airborne platforms from emerging and legacy EO/IR guided surface-to-air missiles."

Moreover, ships and bases already have great anti-missile defence technology - and the only advantage that would have using drones in a defensive role would be if there is poor LOS, in which case the strategists would be out of a job, if not court-martialed. Moreover, the ship/base airspace would be cluttered. Most UAV designs are for long endurance missions. the article refers to MALE UAVS (Predator / Reaper), and hints at HALE UAVs such as the RQ-4 Global Hawk and the RQ-170 Sentinel .

Note that the Iranians downed an ultra-secret RQ-170 Sentinel using EW (electronic warfare), not missiles. Lasers won't be much help with emerging EW technology.

about a year ago
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Drone-Mounted Laser Weapons Are On the Way

mrthoughtful Re:Someone at DARPA reads way too much Sci Fi. (116 comments)

...

I believe this is a sign that an AI has gone rogue and managed to sneak this project in as a "DARPA Initiative" as a means to protect its fledgeling race of flying robot killers.

...

Hah, well assuming that you aren't merely posting for humour value, I would suggest that; as the primary cause of failure in these UAVs is equipment failure, operator error, and weather; the AI you refer to isn't particularly intelligent. If it were intelligent then it would be attempting to fund research into greater autonomy for AI systems...

about a year ago
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Drone-Mounted Laser Weapons Are On the Way

mrthoughtful Someone at DARPA reads way too much Sci Fi. (116 comments)

Drone figures from WP show that as of Q1 2009, of the 223 USAF UAVs in operational service, only 4 were shot down. Whereas 11 were lost due to accidents (mainly flying into things), and 55 were lost due to equipment failure, operator error, or weather.

Importantly, the current failsafe for OOC UAVs is to shoot them down with AIM-9 missiles, which is what happened to a reaper on 13 September 2009. Developing an autonomous laser defence would preclude this failsafe.

In brief, the US government should be spending it's money on other problems. Given a vote, I doubt that the US populace would sign up for this particular budgetary spend.

about a year ago
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NSA Scraping Buddy Lists and Address Books From Live Internet Traffic

mrthoughtful Cloud Service Security = Oxymoron (188 comments)

Yes. Posting all your contacts on the Internet is open to breaches of privacy (regardless of zero-day exploits).

Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft - all of them kowtow to the NSA, the CIA, the FBI. Why?
Because in return their lobbyists get to bend the ears of the legislators.

Why is anyone surprised by any of this?

about a year ago
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What Are the Genuinely Useful Ideas In Programming?

mrthoughtful Assembler (598 comments)

I know this sounds strange at first, but before I learned assembler, I didn't really understand what was going on in the heart of the machine. If I were to introduce a programme starting from fundamentals, it would start with an easy assembler (eg Z80, 68000, PIC); this itself introduces the fundamental operations of programming, including assignment, de-referencing, LUTs, stacks, etc.

The next progression would be 'C'. This abstracts out the hardware dependency, but keeps the underlying structure.
This assists with more complex algorithm development, but also shows how the approach to programming developed from assembler.

Following that, I would move onto one of the modern 'C' successors. Personally I use C++, but maybe objective-C would be better.

It totally depends upon your purpose though.. If you want to cover UI/UX stuff, then you should think of a different approach. If you want to cover databases, that's something else again.

But in programming - IMO, the most genuinely 'useful' ideas are things like the registers and special registers that make up a CPU.

about a year ago

Submissions

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Neutrinos: Yup, they're faster than light.

mrthoughtful mrthoughtful writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mrthoughtful (466814) writes "The CERN team who announced neutrinos may travel faster than light has carried out an improved version of their experiment — and found the same result.

Acknowledged critics of the first report had said that the long bunches of neutrinos used could introduce an error into the test.

The new work, posted to http://arxiv.org/pdf/1109.4897v2, used much shorter bunches.

It has been submitted to the Journal of High Energy Physics, but has not yet been reviewed by the scientific community."

Link to Original Source
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How can we get a user-base for our GPL language?

mrthoughtful mrthoughtful writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mrthoughtful (466814) writes "Obyx is an innovative GPLv3 licensed, C++ based, XML-syntax, web template language and engine that we have been developing over the last seven years; and we have used it successfully in the field for the last three years or so for many willing and happy clients.

The language is designed to be easy to learn and to encourage Model-View-Control development. With an XML syntax, and working on XML, it could also be called a Formatting engine (think XSLT but easier), or a Pipeline language (think XProc but more developed); and with a trivial extension to the XPath syntax it does away with the need for FLWR expressions; it is also strongly integrated with RMDBS (either Mysql or PostgreSQL) for storage, having been designed for LAMP architectures.

Because we are a small team, we haven't got the budget or the human resource available to take up membership with W3C, or go out and spend fortunes on marketing. We aren't a great university, or some mega corporation. So far, we can count the number of users on the fingers of one hand. There are lots of other languages that do the same sorts of thing, like PHP.

So, how can we pick up a user base? What kind of community involvement should we expect to invest?"

Link to Original Source
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mrthoughtful mrthoughtful writes  |  more than 7 years ago

mrthoughtful (466814) writes "We have worked for several man-years on the development of various proprietary software components, some of which we have no decided to release under GPL, including a new xml scripting language.

What we are looking for is a checklist, or a licensing migration guide in order to best manage the transition regarding the distribution, maintenance and management of OSS under GPL.

Unfortunately, most of the links I can find are based on how users may convert from proprietary to GPL software — but there is little I can find regarding the migration process from the supplier's point of view."

Journals

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A (possibly) new didactic metaphor for the photon.

mrthoughtful mrthoughtful writes  |  more than 11 years ago As a non-scientist, theoretical and experimental science appears to be concerned with:

  • Recording (in a communicable and replicable manner) an experiment.
  • Interpreting the result to improve our understanding.

At a didactic level, a model normally uses a metaphoric representation of the interpretation. A criteria of success for the improvement of our understanding is whether the proposed didactic model is one (or more) of the following:

  1. Provides a better platform for predicting future results ...
  2. Provides more consistent results ...
  3. Without compromising 1 or 2, is easier to grasp ...

... than prevailing models.
What intrigues me is that if we agree with the above, we do not need to be professional scientists to open new theory, but it helps!

This Article
The well-known didactic metaphors for light are particle, wave, and wavicle. All of these have their strengths and weaknesses, and the purpose of this article is to propose an alternative metaphor, (on the lines of point 3) which may be less paradoxical or restricted than current metaphors. Not being a scientist or a mathematician, the goal is not to eliminate current theory, but merely to provide an easier view into current theory, therefore there must be no wild claims that effect experimental evidence.

The Metaphor
The idea behind this metaphor is first of all a photon is:

  • NOT an itty-bitty thing (aka a classical particle)
  • NOT a wave
  • NOT a wavelike-itty-bitty-thing or 'wavicle'.

All of these have a commonality which we want to get rid of: The photon travels over time and distance.
This is an important flaw in current models: While we are dealing with the idea of an instance travelling over distance and time, we cannot easily reconcile experimental behaviour.

In this model, we shall bring a wave in, but the wave is NOT the photon. The wave is a 'cone' of potentiality of instance, which propogates at the speed of light. The released photon energy occurs within that cone according to the well-known theories that tell us where a photon will 'arrive'.
Let's trace a photon's life.

  1. An electron drops an orbit and a photon-event is initiated.
  2. The photon-event propogates a directed potentiality-of-instance cone at light-speed.
  3. The photon energy manifests probabilistically within than cone (manifests, such as raising an electron up an orbit).

So, the energy does NOT travel. Merely the probability for the energy to arise. This may be (remember, I'm not a scientist) similar to the way an electron does NOT travel between one orbit and another; but for the photon distance is not similarly restricted.
Regarding wavelength, this does not need to be covering distance either. It can be considered to be just a part of the shape of the probability cone.
Regarding conservation of energy - the photon exists in zero-time in all models. There is no time for a traveller while moving at light speed; so conservation is preserved, because in order to leave, the photon must always arrive!
Now we can explain light to non-scientists to our hearts desire, with no problem! No wave, no particle! No Paradox! No contradiction of results!
Why is this not different from photon-as-a-wave?
We are not identifying the wave with the photon. If we do, we have problems associated with dispersal of energy. (I.e. the particle's energy is distributed across the wavefront, and then simultaneously absorbed at a single point!)
Why is this not different from a wavicle?
A wavicle is a poor didactic model, because it implies a sort of tilde-shaped particle, which fails when visualising e.g. grating experiments.

Maybe the photon as a particle goes altogether!
Maybe it is nothing more than a function of probability of instantiation of the electron-shell energy propogating at light-speed!

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