top Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?
I completed my PhD in EE/CS 4 years ago. Right after submission, I was unemployed for 6 months and during which time, I applied for 1000+ positions. Only on my 3rd interview, I was offered a junior dev position with minimum compensation in a SME.
Initially, things were good. I paid my bills and was doing many things I couldn't do as as a grad student i.e. going on holiday, fine dining, drinking binges. Work wise, I enjoyed the first year or so learning and coding new languages/platforms.
After a while, I woke up to the fact that my firm has deep problems in terms of work flow and project management. Almost 90% of the web projects we completed in last 3 years were failures. Perhaps I was too naive, I fed them back to the management and highlighted that the problem is with our SDLC and some incompetencies in mid-layer management and tech people. This did not rhyme well, I was kicked out from dev team and transferred to a different department; and my promotion was denied while every other fresh grad was promoted before me.
Overall my experience is, PhD can work against you. For a start, bosses are always intimidated with your superior intellectual brain and over the top communication skills (and don't forget, most bosses will be at your age too). Other aspect is, rest of your co-workers been there or has cut-teeth in corporate politics, so in an event of political power-struggle, quite literally you don't know what to do. Also most firms has no idea what to do with a PhD qualified human resource, let alone having a boss who can manage one. Lastly, not being mastered in some technologies (like Java) can be a disadvantage.
As of today, I'm feeling quite dejected and unappreciated at my firm. Lately I am looking for a new job (preferably something outside IT). I don't know what the future holds for me. As much as I regret taking up above position, on the hindsight, I landed on that position during recession years and helped me to sail through those critical years.
top Ask Slashdot: Joining a Startup As an Older Programmer?
Please don't !
I made a similar horrible mistake... and only now I'm regretting.
After my graduate studies, I joined to a SME, which was supposed to be in between start up and IPO (this is in far east in Asia). Though the company rolls financially, human resources are what I called "Sub-par" quality. Simply because they don't have any real competition, they think they are the best and ignores all other good ideas coming both internally or externally. In addition, there are no standard workflows to handle situations. So working in such environments is analogous to running around with your head on fire. Lately we have done few projects that are, by all means, text-book quality death marches. Finally, as everyone is pretty young (& not to forget, dumb!), it is pretty hard to get them on the same team spirit and work ethic... which is a major problem when it comes to running projects. And one final thought, it is highly unlikely you will learn anything much from peers... and most likely you will not have time to improve yourself because of above reasons.
Good luck !
top A Dedicated Shell For Git Commands
Web developer here and used git for last 2 years on a daily basis.
Gitsh looks promising, but I will hold my verdict until I use it for an extended period, and see how it can improve my work life.
Currently I use a combination of SmartGit and Git Bash. SmartGit is mainly used in visualizing branch history, resolve conflicts, tagging and do some odd jobs here and there e.g. edit message of the last commit. Git Bash is used for checking out branches, merging, pulling, pushing sort of stuff i.e. any operation that is more straight forward on the command line, which I happened to feel "clunky" on SmartGit.
Overall, my underline philosophy is, developers should not spend lot of time in version control related tasks, rather should resort to many tools if necessary to expedite it and move on with tackling big problems i.e. features, bug smashing, optimising.
top Internet Commenting Growing Away From Anonymity
FYI, I work in far east in a country where total population is about 5 million (40% are immigrants).
Recently I have worked for the top news broadcaster in the country to revamp their website. As part of the support duties, I had the pleasure of sitting in their news room. I met a guy there, whose 9-5 duty is to 1) update news organization's official FaceBook account with up to date news updates, 2) Remove any comment with obscene words; sexist or racist remarks; and other comments alike them. He was telling me, he has to act ASAP for any comment that is beyond acceptable levels. Also he was telling me, he received 500+ emails a day questioning or criticising the moderation policy.
On the same work floor, there was another girl doing exactly same work for the Twitter account. And they have to hire 3 people per account to cover the 24 hours a day (this is not including other expenses like travel, F&B etc.). So, it ain't an easy nor cheap operation.
Later on, when we proposed to implement a commenting system to their new website, they were rather reluctant due to the man power need to maintain it. So they opted out with FaceBook commenting within web pages. such that they are not liable for any comments as it is a 3rd party application. (Note: However, we ended up implementing out-of-the-box comment moderating with the FaceBook, such that they could remove comments when necessary)
top The Book That Is Making All Movies the Same
perhaps Shakespeare is the pioneer of this... with his comedy, history & tragedy plays.. e.g. Romeo Juliet
If you watch any Bollywood film today (or last 20-30 years for that matter), it follows similar plot like Romeo Juliet
top Ask Slashdot: How To Handle a Colleague's Sloppy Work?
Here is my story... I work as a web developer at a SME somewhere in far east. So far I have worked in couple of small to large scale Agile projects. And yes, I had company of college interns, developers, senior developers, consultants and architects alike. To be brutally honest, I abhorred my senior's work with a passion. I always pondered how this kind of incompetent, useless people end up handling multi-million dollar worth mission-critical projects.
Based on my so far analysis, this is how I see it:
1. Most of these seniors have survived simply because of a historical reason you might not know.
In my case, most my seniors survived during the 2008-2009 retrench season. Some survived totally through political clout; some by sacrificing their salary and other benefits. So in management's point of view, these are really valuable employees, and they should retain them at every cost.
2. They were there at the right time.
Around the time they were promoted, may be there weren't anybody to around to challenge them. After all the good crop leaves a firm, there is a window for all the sloppy bafoons to inflate their ego, convince management and climb the promotion ladder without much external challenge.
3. They know how to find scapegoats efficiently and effectively pass the buck.
How do I know about this ? I was a victim ! My firm practiced this 'Russian roulette' style of assigning task, such that everyone ends up get to work in every module of a project; or, bugs get assigned to you, even though you never worked on that module before. Most often, these experienced developer's work break down spectacularly, and I am the one brought in to clear their mess; and when I fail to fix, I end up in prison-cell meeting rooms to receive the brunt of senior management. Over the time, these seniors painted this nice picture of me as a lazy, unreliable, incompetent developer. And the funny thing is, most of these code bases, I didn't write a single line of code and I have absolutely no idea what's going inside. And these code bases are poorly documented/commented, making troubleshooting is a mini-IT project it self (call it "reverse engineering feature XYZ")
Sadly for most of us in junior positions, it is an arduous task to challenge the existing establishment. But at least you can dampen or insulate your self from the shocks from these stupidos. Here's what I do:
1. Don't volunteer to amend their codes.
I made this mistake many times as mentioned. Find who originally developed it in your team. If he/she is there, get him/her to work on it. If he is in a different team, ask project manager to bring him/her back. And importantly, if you are taking up these kind of responsibility, have a written understanding with your project manager that "You are doing your best effort to fix the issue, and if it fails, it is not your fault, it is due to poor implementation of the original developer". Stand up for your self ! in corporate world, nobody is there to stand up for you after all.
Trust me on this, "it is good a senior doing a bad patch that temporarily fix the problem and eventually breaks in future, than you failing to do a perfect job in fixing it for posterity"
2. Give seniors a chance !
Don't bother helping them out of your kindness. Let them shoot their own foot. You entering the picture is the biggest disservice you can do to your self, by becoming the dummy they can shoot.
In my current team, I have a tech lead, who was doing an important module. I had plenty of time to help him, as I finished my module early. Instead, I sat down and watched him failing brilliantly and had a silent laugh. Maybe I could have helped him in many ways, but I digressed and let him eat his own dog food.
3. Promote yourself often
I am not very good in this either. But in this world, hardly people pay attention to other individuals. So if there is an opportunity to shine, or talk about your work... just do it! And if management is still deaf and doesn't acknowledge/appreciate your contributions, move to another firm !
top Is the Era of Groundbreaking Science Over?
I have two points to back up my answer.....
1. We are living in the most peaceful period in the entire history. As much as I hate to say this... I am in the opinion "War accelerates innovation". Let's face it, without wars such as WW2 and cold war, most technologies would've either never evolve into the sophisticated stage there right now, or never would've thought of. Until another major war dawns upon us, where contemporary weapons are inadequate for one party to dominate... most technologies will evolve at a slower pace. (at least that's my prediction).
2. Academic research now rewards people who write more papers, not people do genuinely innovative work. I've been in academic research, and I have first hand experience on "publish-or-perish". Most academics I see today, they do research with the mindset "Save my career, family and future first", rather with the noble intention of serving the knowledge sphere. Most research now-a-days geared towards "publication generating exercise"... rather true down-to-earth investigations. I don't think we will return to golden age of research, where funding doesn't demand things like "X number of publications", "Y number of patents" and "business plan to sell million units".
about a year and a half ago
top Java Vs. C#: Which Performs Better In the 'Real World'?
but I've been working last year or so on a large Java based web development project for a news media company. This project had to be built around Spring framework due to the enterprise CMS we have bought from another company is using it.
Not ranting, but giving my honest opinion, I am quite unsatisfied with the overall outcome. Mainly because, development takes quite a long time as every minor change needs maven compiling, which takes ages unless you have a server as your development machine. Even we opted for custom hardware, still servers hangs up quite frequently due to memory leaks and common solution is to allocate more memory. Finally, I find it pretty difficult to get things stable and functional in the staging/production servers, despite things works smoothly on a local machine/development server.
I don't scapegoat Java language. Once discarded some of the idiosyncrasies (let's face it, all languages has it merits and ugly stuff), I think Java is a nice language to write code. But frameworks are bigger culprits in my opinion. Also some of the early architectural decisions made in this particular project were not sound, and now we are paying a massive price i.e. failed to deliver on time, lot of overtime + cheap pizza, no x-mas bonus, no holidays.
How are things in the C# world? any better? any worse?
On a side note:
I think it is ridiculous to test OO languages for performance, as they never directly talks with the hardware. about a year and a half ago
top Computer Science vs. Software Engineering
As a web-dev... I work day in day out with CS grads. As an engineering major, what my observation is, they are pretty bad at seeing the "big picture", and more often, very bad team players.
I attended a top-8 Australian university. In the engineering major, the mantra from day one is "be a team player, look at the big picture, plan ahead and well in advance". In my undergrad years, I have done many group assignment, presentations. These kind of activities will train undergrads to horn their communication and planning skills.
As far as my understanding, if you fail to communicate well, be a team player and plan projects well ahead i.e. see the big picture; you are pretty much doomed when you have to work in professional environments and have to handle big projects.
top New Study Links Caffeinated Coffee To Vision Loss
coffee drinkers are more white-collar, sedentary types who read lot of documents either physical ones or on a LCD screen for the most part of the day... and at occasions, under poor lighting. Isn't this the cause of losing eye-sight ??
Personally, I consume reasonable amount of coffee daily basis and I am close to 30 now. So far I can manage reading without glasses. Since 2 years ago or so, I get very tired reading... somewhat an early sign of losing eye sight. Before that, for 10 years or so, I used to study + code... seems all these heavy duty work is paying the price.. not the coffee...
top Study Attempts To Predict Scientists' Career Success
...cynical about a career as a Scientist/Academic Researcher.
IMHO, there is absolutely no legitimate way of quantifying "success of a scientist". It is down to: 1) how a particular study stands the test of time; 2) extended studies that reassures the accuracy of original results, will make the original investigating scientist a true success. Best example I can provide is, Prof Higgs... even Prof Einstein.
All these 'publish-and-perish' claptrap will only do is: dilute the quality of academic research, discourage collaborations, proliferation of academic malpractices/dishonesty, and perhaps drive-away all the truly passionate scientists/researchers-alike from active research in to obscurity.
I finished my PhD last year in EE/CS. Personally, I did enjoy the pain/pleasure of doing research and the campus life in large. However, about half way through my graduate school, I increasingly felt hopeless being a researcher in academia. I went with the good intention of becoming a down-to-earth true-blue scientist/researcher. But the environment I worked was too toxic to keep to my humble wishes. I just couldn't stay there and keep doing research with a clear conscience knowing the academic dishonesty going around, and wrong-doers getting ahead in the "academic rat race" while I am getting scrutinised constantly for not being productive as them. So I did the bare minimum to defend my thesis, and got out on time with a sane mind to start a career in the industry as a software developer.
I regret about my decision in many ways. But I am happy that I do not have to sell-my-soul to cling on to my current position. Plus, I foresee a much better career path now compared to academia (promotions, ability to move to different institutions/career paths); and finally, got decent pay-cheques to enjoy life like I never did before.
top Is a Computer Science Degree Worth Getting Anymore?
I am a Electrical Engineer turned web-dev.
I worked with a fair number of CS grads in my current job. Certainly I am neither a rock-star developer, nor the yard-stick to measure their CS theory... I can tell you that half of them have bad habits like: writing spaghetti/un-maintainable code, not testing code for errors/exceptions, rarely documenting what they code, hardly or never clean up the code for optimal performance and pushing un-compilable code to the main branch. At times, it is undiluted agony to work with them.
I have absolutely no idea what they learn at school. But from the information I gathered from a recent intern who worked with me, he doesn't give a s#!@ about coding, and just killing time to join a bank/financial firm. Surprisingly, he didn't know how to debug codes using a given IDE or initiative to pick up that skill.
Increasingly, my team is getting filled with developers from other majors... mostly Engineering grads, instead of CS majors.
top Drinking Too Much? Blame Your Glass
I am a regular social drinker, and I have some fair doubts about this study.
I have tried many different beers in their trademark glasses. But regardless the glass, I always stop at 4 (British) pints of regular beer (5% alcohol level) , as that's the absolute limit of liquids I can hold in my body cage.
My answer for "why some people drink too much?".. I think they are genetically able to process alcohol much faster. Also, the colder climate can make you drink slightly more. Or it could be just that, beer is so cheap*
* - I live in south east Asia, and a pint of good beer (say Guinness, Kilkenny, Hoegarden, Leffe... even Heineken) can be as steep as 12-13 US dollars!
top Windows 7 Is the Next Windows XP
I work as a web developer. During my working hours, I regularly open up 10-20 windows (anything from browsers, development tools, documents, etc) for development purpose. I generally like to pin all my app shortcuts icons on the 'start' menu; thus opening up things is a matter of two mouse clicks. But with the so-called-metro style interface, such conveniences have gone down the drain it seems.
As far as my work concerned, I think I will never move to a win 8 machine. IMHO, win 8 is terrible for developers and anybody alike. Sometimes I can't believe why M$ go down this route to marginalize out developers.
Having explained my displeasure, I must admit.. tile window has some advantages. I like the fact that I don't have to launch apps like mail, news, currency converters to see the latest updates. It really saves some fraction of time and system resources.
top How Will Amazon, Barnes & Noble Survive The iPad Mini?
1. Who already subscribed to Apple content services i.e. iTunes
2. Who found regular iPad is too big/clunky to carry around 3. Who never heard other available tablets options
Sorry, but I am not excited at all about this device. I completely ruled out the possibility of buying any size tablet for the foreseeable future.
As for my justification, I still think tablets are just a *toy*, and you can't use it for any hardcore productive activities i.e. coding, writing technical papers. Yes, it serves the purpose of content consumption. Having weighed all these pros & cons, I ordered a highly customized ThinkPad X230... and got it just today.
If I have a little hope in the tablet space... it has to be the M$ Surface; but I am not sure how far I can get used to Win8... so far, I have a love-hate relationship with it.
top Microsoft's Lost Decade
I RTFA the whole article... but IMO, it has forgot one or two things....
M$ vs DOJ: If you have read daily technology news back in 90s, you might remember how narrowly M$ escaped from a major anti-trust case. Since then, M$ had to play nice with DOJ to avoid getting the worm can re-opened. So it is somewhat obvious M$ didn't work aggressively in taking over other markets in last decade. All the new players, they do not have to answer DOJ for any anti-trust violations. So... new players are very lucky when it comes to approaching new markets.. be it search, consumer media, social networking etc.
At the very heart of the DOJ case...M$ was accused of "locking-in" customers for their products. And now, fast forward to 2012... Apple is literally locking in consumers behind their gardened walls with a plethora of their own hardware and software, Google & FB literally collecting private details from its consumers. Playing the devil's advocate here, I wonder how come they are not scrutinised intensely ?
M$ massive hiring spree: Though I can't exactly remember the figures and fact, I believe M$'s staff count has gone up by few folds since the turn of the century. Though I am not sure what's the reason behind this; but I am pretty sure this is the real reason why wheels started getting off. More staff means more HR to handle them. My best guess for this 'staff head count inflation' is, having lot of cash in bank.
But my overall conclusion is... markets are wide open only for a brief period of time. One can concur that market only during that brief moment. Late comers will always have to play "do or die" battle before totally convert the market to their camp, or die an early shameful death. M$'s biggest issue it seems, not discovering wide open markets to concur like the rest.
Having said all that, during last decade, M$ consumer products have become more stable and secure than in 90s. That's something worth noting.
Also, I would like to see Steven Sinofsky to head the Redmond camp after Ballmer... looking at his track record, I believe he can stop this plunging boat from drowning.
I have to agree that 'management style' in M$ is somewhat deleterious. My software house has this ghastly 6-month review cycle despite being a SMB. In the most recent review, I was accused of not having any initiatives during work by the reviewing HR boss. My sad situation is, my technical boss disagrees with my initiatives. To avoid annoying him too much, and get the team working on one direction; I have learnt to suspend my ideas and just to be a "yes-boss" guy. But would the HR boss understand my situation fully? Personally, I put lot of hours in writing well-polished reliable code. In return, both my bosses are nit-picking on me. IMO, these reviews are good for "failing" employees.. but the rest, why bother.. just throw them free candy or coffee.
top Is TV Over the 'Net Really Cheaper Than Cable?
I left my parent's basement 10 years ago. Throughout my extended college years and following professional years, I lived in a single room without a tele or cable.
I mainly survived by streaming things over the internet, which was the most economical option. I thought of subscribing cable many times in between; but the related monthly cost and the initial investment -- AKA giant-flat-screen-TV -- was too big for my student stipend.
I am not a soap-opera, series-drama kind of guy. I mostly watch documentaries (especially BBC ones). Since the invent of youtube, and especially in recent years; web is full of useful educational documentaries. Google's very own video search is a great way of finding them out.
On-and-off, I go down to the local pub to catch the Formula 1 and Footy action, which is a far better way of enjoying sport than sitting on a couch alone and watching with a bag of crisps & soda.
If the BBC opens up its great iPlayer service to the world, I will be subscribing that. This might require me to upgrade the broadband plan, but I think it is worth every penny!
top Does Grammar Matter Anymore?
I truly and greatly appreciate your correction !
top Does Grammar Matter Anymore?
I am residing in South-East Asia for the last decade or so. You must come here (even for a short holiday) to witness yourself how little natives over here care about English grammar and/or sentence structures. Apparently, there are local dialects such as Singlish (Singaporean English) and Manglish (Malaysian English). Give or take, both dialects are quite similar; and as far as the origins goes, it is direct word-to-word translation of Chinese phrases into English; though they have evolved over time with many more borrowed words and expressions.
Some interesting examples being:
English: "Would you like to join us for lunch now?"
Singlish/Manglish: "You wanna go lunch or not?"
[in a situation you disagree/reject something]
(E): "I do not agree with your suggestion" (S/M): "Cannot one!"
[giving a lift to your friend]
(E): "I will come and pick you at the library, and drop you at the railway station" (M): "I fetch you from library, then fetch you back to the station"
Search youtube.. there are plenty of Singlish videos.
Though I find these dialects are an energy efficient way of speaking English, and somewhat amusing to listen; I must confess that I find them nothing more than a nuisance, especially in a professional working environment. I often have communication issues with colleagues who are proficient in these dialects. Most of the time, they do not understand what I am talking about, and gives me strange looks. Then, I happen to run into the problem of misunderstanding instructions from my bosses, now that was pretty bad and costly.
I am finding it difficult to tell natives "Your English sucks!" to their face. Partly because it is rude and such remarks could go down quite horribly. On the other end, they them selves have this high esteem that they speak proper English, since most of them spoken or studied in English medium since a very young age.
Though I admit I am not perfect (after all, English is still my second tongue), I always thrive to write grammatically correct English, even when I am sending a text message. All in all, getting the right message delivered is much important than anything else in any form of communication. It puzzles me why internet age kids do not pay much attention, nor put effort in proper communication skills these days.
top LHC Discovers New Particle That Looks Like the Higgs Boson
Phew.. that was close !!!