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Our Education System Is Failing IT

scamper_22 It's not the education system (276 comments)

I don't know how we got here, but education is touted as the solution and the cause of all of life's problems.

Lack of jobs? People need more education.
Crime? People just need more education.

Most of these problems are huge and have more to do with other factors like industrial policy, culture... than education which tends to mean the school system.

There was an article recently about Japan making sure people can make things by hand to keep the knowledge so we can automate it better. That is part industrial policy, part culture, part education, part corporate policy...

Or for that matter, during the big recession, Germany paid the wages of its industrial workers, to keep them employed at companies producing goods. Again, industrial policy.

Similarly, this guy has a problem with people not being able to think critically. Here's a magic thought. There isn't a profession on Earth where most people 'think critically' to the level people want of IT workers. Even doctors and lawyer who make hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most just end up learning some very key skills and repeat it. There are a few brilliant lawyers and doctors, but most are just pretty skilled at doing the same tasks over and over. I don't mean to belittle it and I hope no one else does either.

And he wants critical thinking from IT workers who make a decent, but not top wage.

Here's the problem with 'IT'.
You shouldn't need lots of people with critical thinking skills. Most of 'IT" work can and should be run like infrastructure. Well trained people, probably unionized/accredited/guild (like construction),

Right now, people only think IT needs a lot of critical thinking because it is so poorly run. Things constantly changing with no benefit, a skilled and trained workforce is not maintained, architecture and planning not done. Standard tools not there...

Note, that I speak of IT here. There is definite design work that does need critical thinking and innovation. But the number of these jobs is small and these people are definitely out there. Whether they stick around or are in the right role is a different story.


In the US, Rich Now Work Longer Hours Than the Poor

scamper_22 Re:That's a strange definition of "rich" (283 comments)

Only the super super mega wealthy rich don't really work hard... and even that is purely based on my imagination of how they live.

Every other person from executives down to managers down to the middle class workers works damn hard. It's one of the reasons I've often turned down the management path. I saw my old managers and I thought, that is not my life.

It's one of the reasons it is very hard to say raise taxes. People are working so damn hard. 50+ hour week, deadlines, no security... and people want to take more of their money to give it to people who often work less. Then they're often pushed to even work harder to keep up their living or generate more profits...

We could certainly become more leftist, but that has to start with the middle class/rich workers. More vacation time. More job security. Less overtime... This makes people more amenable to then providing other programs and higher taxes and what not.

But the way things stand right now. It's pretty crazy.
Automation, computing... should be having us working less, job sharing...
We should not be having a smaller and smaller group of highly educated folks working harder and harder to support the welfare state. It's almost mathematically impossible at this point.


$42,000 Prosthetic Hand Outperformed By $50 3D Printed Hand

scamper_22 Re:Sunk Costs (276 comments)

You're absolutely right about the cost of labor.

However., I think there is a general trend line out there where medical products are significantly overpriced relative to the actual cost of production or use. A lot of the industry is based on keeping the medical professionals and companies filled with decent money.

Things like 3d printers, scanners, generic parts will reduce the cost significantly. It is definitely an area where automation and computing could reduce costs significantly. And yes, perhaps for a while, there will still be some optimization that could be provided for by the super skilled labor. However, there is always a trade off between cost and quality.

If you could get 95% of the quality for 1/20th the cost, it's probably a good idea for most of the population.

Not everyone needs a professional camera person. Sometimes most people can do quite well with a simply point and click of their own. And yes, healthcare is no different in that respect.

2 days ago

Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

scamper_22 Re:Not even much money (420 comments)

Maybe I've naive, but I really don't think lobbying is just about buying votes.

That is to say, I don't think the government has a perfectly reasonably policy, like simplified tax returns.

Then Intuit comes along and says 'This is gonna hurt our profits', so lets pay politician X some money to stop this bill.

More than likely, lobbying is backed by 'real needs'
Let's face it, there are a lot of people employed as accountants and I guess nowadays, a fair amount of software developers and business. These are real concerns and they lobby to have them addressed. You can't just rip disrupt entire industries via legislation without concern for the people and businesses that are dependent on them.

The same would be done if something impacted doctors, teachers, engineers, factory workers...

Maybe I am naive and it's just as simple as dropping a few million in the hands of some politician.

about a week ago

Job Automation and the Minimum Wage Debate

scamper_22 Re:One thing's for sure... (870 comments)

I don't think anyone thinks employers create jobs out of altruistic motives.

However, they do create jobs by virtue of being willing to take the risk of their own time and money and effort. Something most of the population is not willing to do.

Most plumbers don't bother building a big huge plumbing corporation even though there is plenty of demand. Most are more than comfortable knowing there is good demand for their services and making a good living. Most don't care about expanding their business and employing people.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Can an Old Programmer Learn New Tricks?

scamper_22 A framework is a new language (306 comments)

I'm probably quite young, but I learned programming in C and assembler as my starting languages.

That said, I have worked on many frameworks including things like ASP.NET and Java Enterprise stuff. My first one was probably MFC.

Here's the key thing that got me for a long time.
Learning a new framework is like learning a new programming language from scratch. You have to put in the same effort into it. At least I need to as I need to understand what the framework is doing before I feel comfortable using it.

I reflect at all all the time I spent learning C/C++ and it was filled with books and trial and error and nuances.

Yet, when first presented with Frameworks, that is generally not how it is approached in companies. It took me years to get pretty good at C and C++ including STL... Frameworks are thrown around so quickly, it is almost like they just expect it to be easy to use and you just call a few methods and away you go.

So that is the first thing, you need to put in the time to learn it properly. There is also a certain amount of trust that occurs. I've found myself learning to trust frameworks more. I can't really explain it, but I trusted MFC when I used it. For all the weirdness it used and preprocessor crap, Microsoft provided a pretty good IDE that made it easy enough to use and get started. Boy was there a lot of mysterious boiler plate code.

And yes, MFC is technically C++ I guess, but you really needed to learn MFC to actually do and understand anything.

It's the same with say Java. You might learn Java, but you need to learn Spring or Hibernate or Maven or whatever.

A lot of modern frameworks don't really come with that nice custom tailored IDE. Some do integrate nicely with say Eclipse or whatever, but it still generally leaves you in a state of uncertainty.

That is one area I've always appreciate MS in. For their frameworks, they tend to provide the custom tailored tools to actually let you use it.

But lesson. The lesson is, it's going to take you a while to learn the framework. It's going to take you even longer if you plan on being an expert and knowing how it works underneath.

about a month ago

Religion Is Good For Your Brain

scamper_22 Re:"Religious Activities" not Religion per se (529 comments)

In either case, having a strong belief does not mean believing in a religious text.

Someone can have equally strong views on politics or anything else they are passionate about. In all these areas, there are people who give speeches, have gatherings... and other such activities.

I don't see anything controversial with the idea that meditation, group belonging, and believing in a greater ideal, or leadership, is going to reduce stress levels.

And of course all of these activities that bring such benefits can also bring the same harm religion does. Strong political beliefs can result in war and atrocities (communism, Nazism...). Adherance to leadership and deference to community can result in totalitarianism or submissive populations.

about a month ago

Silicon Valley's Youth Problem

scamper_22 I'd also say training (225 comments)

App development is something you can pick and contribute to fairly quickly. Similar to say building Facebook.

Contrast that with 'real problems'.
You want to cure cancer, build a new generation of graphics technology... then you need a whole swath of domain level knowledge that many companies today don't train for. More than that, when that technology is done, you can be easily discarded. So what's the purpose of getting deep into a really deep technical domain?

As to why not fix healthcare.gov? I'm pretty sure even the youngest and most naive tech student knows to stay away from CGI or Accenture... Sadly, these organization know how to get government and enterprise contracts. You're not solving any real problems with healthcare.gov. You're playing bureaucracy and checklists and billable hours.

You want people in the 'real problems'.
Train them, ensure they can have a long term viable career in that field, and pay them decently.
It's not rocket science.

about a month ago

Girl's Facebook Post Costs Her Dad $80,000

scamper_22 Re:So why is this here? (387 comments)

It's funny, but what you say is actually true.

Let us suppose before the internet, this girl might have bragged about it to a few of her friends. Maybe in a live conversation, somoene close to her would find out and then her parents could have corrected her... In many cases, there would be no record or the interested party might not even find out.

With technology and Facebook, the message is broadcast to a much wider audience with a recorded trail.

It really is a technology issue.
When using technology you have to be much more aware and careful than with the manual things you did in the past.

Speed and scale do indeed make things a different issue.

about a month and a half ago

Quebec Language Police Target Store Owner's Facebook Page

scamper_22 Re:much ado about nothing (506 comments)

It depends on what your definition of society is.

Some people view society as little more than a financial transaction with the government. I pay my tax. I get these services.

Others view society as sharing common values and culture. And this is a feedback loop. Government influences culture and values and people influence government.

I don't understand the attachment to language, but I know people do. I'm of Indian descent and there are lots of Indians who have a strong attachment to language. Many will say, we need to keep our language. The kids will learn English in school anyways. So I have plenty of exposure to this French way of thinking.

Quebec, for whatever reason wishes to maintain its culture, which includes the French Language. I think that is a valid goal even if I don't agree with it. But I acknowledge I'm an odd person who doesn't get attached to symbols and I'm a live and let live person.

Believe it or not, I think white people have a right to their culture as much as all other cultures on Earth. I don't get why white people are so keen on making sure immigrants get to keep their culture while doing nothing to support their own. But whatever... that is a side rant.

Does it go too far? Maybe. Maybe not. I don't live in Quebec. I live in the evil Toronto. But I certainly don't think invalid for a country/province/area to try and enforce its culture. Maybe it is a losing fight. I happen to think so. I'd much rather try and push culture positively by having quality French based media, controlling immigration... than punitive things like this.

But I think it is a strange day when people don't think a government has a role in culture of the society it governments.

about 2 months ago

Scientists Study Permian Mass Extinction Event As Lesson For 21st Century

scamper_22 Re:Here's a Good Summary (235 comments)

Yeop, I agree.

But the problems will also be highly local. By that I mean some areas will be relatively okay. Others will be devastated. But most of us seem to cope and have coped just fine when devastating things happen in another part of the world.

Genocides happen, millions die... those of us not in the area seem to get by.
Wars and civil strife happen in Syria, the middle east, Africa... most of us not in the area get by okay.
Africa as a whole is already a crap hole... and most of us go through our days okay.
World wars happened... millions died. Communism happened... millions died... We got on okay.

I hope this doesn't come off as cold. Although it probably will. It's not that I'm saying it is okay that these things happen. It's not.

All I'm saying, is people who are able to not be associated with the problem seem to move on with life eventually even through the struggle.

We've dealt with such huge problems before and we have continued.

If you're in Syria right now, is your worry climate change or the civil war blowing up your family?

Like I said. I'm not down playing the impact.
I'm not saying huge issues won't arrive.

I'm simply saying we have had and continue to have really big disasters in humanity. Climate change is just one of them... and the human race can handle a lot more.

about 2 months ago

Scientists Study Permian Mass Extinction Event As Lesson For 21st Century

scamper_22 Re:Here's a Good Summary (235 comments)

How do you come to the conclusion that a 4-10C rise will wipe out nearly everyone and everything?

I just never understood this mentality that rising temperatures will have an existential threat to humanity.

I'm not down playing it by any stretch. I'm sure mass areas will need to be evacuated. Farmland will be lost. Extreme weather will become more common. Flooding will take over entire cities. Some areas will become totally uninhabitable...

But I just don't see that being an existential threat to humanity. We're not blindly ruled by nature. We have irrigation systems. We can build better shelters. We can relocate to cooler parts of the planet that would become more habitable. We can control the climate we live in via AC and heating...

It will simply take a lot to truly wipe us out... and I'm just not convinced a 4-10C will be death of humanity.

about 2 months ago

Star Trek Economics

scamper_22 Re:It is the journey to post-scarcity that is vita (888 comments)

Most definitely, I think work sharing is the way forward as a means.

But again, it means addressing labor unions, 'forcing' or 'assigning' people to work while still somehow making sure they are productive.

It's a socially difficult thing to do.

about 2 months ago

Star Trek Economics

scamper_22 It is the journey to post-scarcity that is vital (888 comments)

Like many utopias, it is the how you get there that is the issue.

I would venture to say we could have had a post-scarcity economy ever since 1920s or so (plus or minus a few decades) . I would suggest communism became a reality precisely because people could see that we could organize society and create adequate production and distribution for all.

The hard part is getting there.
As long as there is a single human job that needs doing, it will be hard to get there.

As long as you need people to do jobs that are not of their interest, it will be hard to get there.

This is a big one. It is relatively easy to imagine a world of people doing things out of their interest if you're an academic or doing something you love. It is much harder when you think of jobs you'd rather not do.

Even something like a doctor, which would be a job that might exist just out of interest. You'd have to ask, if you'd want to be that doctor working the 3 AM midnight shift in the ER instead of lounging off the state?

Already in the Western world, we have the mentality that some jobs should be done by immigrants or overseas? We don't want to work our own farms, take care of our own elderly in old homes...

Already we have issues with labor unions wanting a better standard of living than the rest. We have rich people who want to keep more of their money. Already we have homelessness. We have people who demand more of the state than the state can afford. We have monetary issues...

I'm not saying some government won't come up with way of solving this. I'm just saying, it is the how we get there that is the hard part. We'd had the technical means for quite some time.

about 2 months ago

Financing College With a Tax On All Graduates

scamper_22 Re:Holy cow, a decent idea! (597 comments)

I agree it is a horrible idea.

On a more general note, there is this huge push in government to find 'revenue tools'

I use that word because it is the word they use now. I'm in Ontario, Canada and this is the new word of the day to find ways to pay for new infrastructure or healthcare or whatever.

The issue is that these revenue tools are just meant to hide reality or to shove the costs onto a group of people as if there is a moral reason they deserve it!

Probably the most obvious case for this is taxing drivers to fund transit, and this is 'moral' because cars are 'bad'. I have nothing against more transit, but I do have a beef that drivers should pay for transit. In many cases, it is the rich who live downtown near a subway and then won't have to pay a darn thing. Meanwhile, it is the poor and middle class who live in areas where you need a car. It's just not a moral cause to take transit. We'd all take transit if we lived near it and our work was near a stop as well and we could get there in a timely manner. It's just many people don't and so they drive.

We already have all the taxes in place to fund these things. We have income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, estate taxes...
There is no need for any other form of revenue tool. Just raise the rates for the current ones if you think society needs to. Otherwise, make the program cheaper or don't do it.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Should Developers Fix Bugs They Cause On Their Own Time?

scamper_22 Re:Guarantee (716 comments)

The day software is repetitive as the wall builder is the day we can offer such a guarantee.

Lucky for us, the compiler is pretty darn good and repetitive that we could do it for such a task.

I will guarantee that the same code compiled over and over again will perform the same.

The answer to the boss is really that the compiler is the builder.
I am not a manufacturing worker. I am the mechanical engineer.
I am not a construction worker. I am a civil engineer.
I am not a compiler. I am a designer.

How often do designers of any kind offer guarantees? It is rare.
If they do it it is for routine things. I could offer a guarantee for a simple SQL select statement!

That is the perspective your boss needs.

about 2 months ago

Adjusting GPAs: A Statistician's Effort To Tackle Grade Inflation

scamper_22 Re:The whole system needs to change (264 comments)

I'm also often amazed how people miss this rather obvious point. So much of education IS to differentiate students. I wouldn't say it's the whole of it, but it's a very big part of how our society operates.

Who gets into med school?
Who gets into law school?
How do you justify some jobs getting paid more than others in areas that are not ruled by the free market (governement jobs, professions...)
Who gets some great grad school spot
Who gets a professional job after graduation?
Who gets the high end law articling position? ...

All these things are very much based on education and what grades you get.

Take that away, and 90% of the population would end up being a doctor/lawyer and no doubt we'd introduce some silliness to stop that from happening.

about 2 months ago

Wozniak Gets Personal On Innovation

scamper_22 Re:I blame textbook monopolies. (161 comments)

What evidence do you have that teachers are underpaid in America relative to other countries?

America spends more per student on education than most countries.


That's one link, but almost any other will show the same result.

Even comparing teacher salaries to other jobs results in them being paid well in the United States.

about 3 months ago

Getting Young Women Interested In Open Source

scamper_22 Re:The Life We live (545 comments)

I think preference is a big part of it.

However, this does not mean systemic issues cannot be a factor. There are a lot of things about STEM that are not inherent to STEM or anyone being interested in STEM.

1. Be willing to be on call 24/7... why should this be the case? Maybe this should change.
2. Spend free time researching and learning? Really... I need this for my job? No I don't and companies can train people.
3. Forgoing human contact? There is no reason for this again. Many tech jobs heavily involve communication be it for product planning, support, design meetings... ...

I would dare say these are issues for many men as well.
Many more woman have become doctors as well for example. It has been documented they don't work as hard or as crazy as their male counterparts.

But is that a problem? Sure, they can and probably are paid less. Yet, they still serve patients very well.
I'm sure there are many young men as well who would want to be a less overworked doctor as well.

There is nothing intrinsic about being a doctor that involves working crazy hours or 24 hour shifts in the ER.

The same is true for software/engineering.

We can and we should be legislating and addressing these lifestyle issues in regards to careers. If after that is all done people still choose gender like jobs... well that is all fine and dandy.

about 3 months ago

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

scamper_22 Document and Charge Appropriately (308 comments)

Bad projects get dumped on other teams and contractors all the time. As a regular employee, you sometimes have little choice in the matter. You simply voice your opinion to your manager and hope they can side line it. Alternatively, you move around internally and try and work on good projects.

But as a contractor, I am curious why you don't approach this as every other contractor you deal with in other fields. Ever tried to hire a home renovator, repair person...

1. Look at the job
2. If the current software is a mess, just like every other home renovator or auto mechanic, it's not something you want to work on for your regular price. You're going to have to charge more and take more time to fix various things. So make a note of what needs to change and the risks...
3. Present that to your client without judgment. Who knows why it got in this state. The superstar developer could be a superstar, but just rushed something as a prototype that management decided to put into production for example. Then see if they're want to do and if they're willing to put in the time and effort to fix it.

But just remember your status as a contractor like any other. If you renovate basements, but someone didn't do the foundation properly, the walls were leaking, the insulation was missing, someone already tried to patch it up with filler and left all kinds of bumps on the wall... you're not going to just do it for the regular fee.

Treat software the same way.

about 3 months ago


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