'Just Let Me Code!'
Source control is a big thing. Someone needs to setup the servers, scale it properly, investigate performance issues, know how to fix things when things go wrong, do complex work that is not normally done (maybe changing history on a git server) or whatever the case maybe, settingup/planning branches, integrating with the build system...
The devs should naturally know how to do the basics for their job (checkin/checkout/commit...) But there's a whole lot there that is not normal. On every Git project I've worked on, there has always been a case where something messed up and we had the one git expert who happened to be a dev who could come in and fix it. Ideally, that person is not doing regular day to day coding and is a git expert. That's the point I'm making.
Yes, using premade solutions or hosted things is a great way to reduce the size of the team needed in such functions.
'Just Let Me Code!'
The fundamental problem is that developers do everything. Heck, even in companies where there are entire teams dedicated to the task, developers still up doing them.
Maybe it's just because organizations are short staffed, lack of training, lack of skilled specialization. I won't dwell on the causes. I'll just state the reality.
In some theoretical world, source control is handled by a separate team, environment setup is handled by a separate team, testing is handled by a separate team. Each of whom are skilled enough to tackle the challenges they face.
From what I hear from some of the 'older' folks who worked back in the day at places like Nortel, this is how it was done. I'm in Toronto, so there are a lot of such people around. I'm sure similar stories could be had from other companies.
Yet, in too many roles, Ive seen devs basically writing the test plans and cases; doing the job of the test team, which doesn't want to 'know' the product. They just want to execute a script. I've seen devs knowing more about the environment than the environment team. This is even in cases where there are dedicated teams for these functions. Sometimes devs are even creating and assigning tasks in agile environment because project management doesn't know how to break down the task.
Let me emphasize, I'm not criticizing people in test or environment. It is just what it is.
Due to so many factors, it's basically up to devs to do it all. We might be able to on some level as we're reasonably smart and investigative people, but on any large project, it eats away. Since the ultimate deliverable is what we produce, many of us take it on, probably when we shouldn't.
You won't find a brain surgeon doing Vasectomies.
You won't find a corporate lawyer in acquisitions doing divorce law.
Heck, it's rare to find an English teacher teaching calculus.
This is not to say they couldn't. I'm sure a brain surgeon could pick up what is needed to do a vasectomy given the training. But they won't just do it. That is part of being a professional is demanding professional conditions.
I've seen the software field continuously scale back on people and specialization to the point where a problem does seem complex and daunting the second something is not ideal.
Can we often hack by? Yes, but not without this great unknowing which kills the professional inside of me. Yes, I know I can setup an environment, change webserver configs, setup git, test things... but there should be dedicated people who know these well.
'Just Let me Code' might seem like a whiny statement from someone who wants work to be fun. But it really is a big problem when you look at it. Companies are understaffed and under-specialized and they're quite frankly spoiled by having a bunch of devs who are capable of hacking away at things to get them working.
States That Raised Minimum Wage See No Slow-Down In Job Growth
The minimum income is one thing.
I'm much more in favor of work sharing.
Here's my reasoning.
We're at an odd point in society where despite having massive efficiencies as you rightly point out via automation, people are still working extremely hard.
It's pretty tough to keep demanding some people continue working so hard and then keep increasing their taxes and hand other people free money. It's one of the reasons asking people to pay higher taxes in America is very hard.
American professionals work very hard. Ask that IT person/accountant/engineer/doctor/lawyer working 60 hour weeks to pay more taxes.
Now suppose you have a 35 hour work week with 6 week vacation... then your professionals are not feeling like they're carrying the whole weight and will come to support more benefits for others and they're getting some of the benefits of socialism rather than just paying and paying for it.
Unfortunately, the mixed-market economy has in some places produced a weird situations were countries are addicted to the high performance of these hardworking people and the tax money they generate. Do you think silicon valley or Wall Street would exist with a mandated 35 hour work week and 8 weeks vacation?
This of course is not the case in all countries.
Now could the minimum income encourage employers to make working conditions better? Possibly.
But you also run the risk of many jobs not being filled. I don't know enough in every sector to know if those jobs could be made nice enough to be attractive. If a minimum wage is good enough to give me nice housing, food, shelter, cellphone, tv... you couldn't pay me enough to go mine Lithium in some remote area.
I think it's much safer to move to job sharing. We still have enough human jobs that we don't want to risk them not being done. Maybe all it takes is 2 weeks per year for me to go mine lithium to get a good years salary. I might choose to do that.
Selectively Reusing Bad Passwords Is Not a Bad Idea, Researchers Say
Yeah, this one is the worst. These low-complexity sites started to have more rules. Things like minimum 8 chars, mix of case, at least one number and one letter...
Now, for all these low priority sites, I have to remember permutations of my password.
Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
There's a few themes going on.
I think he just doesn't see the world of 'regular' programmers. Has he heard of things like SAP or People Soft or SharePoint.
All of these offer pretty regular people to write applications and web applications.
Next comes the point you make that I will just reiterate. Programming is a skilled job. I taught high school computer science. I don't know how long its been since you were in high school, but most students can't even understand assigning a variable properly. If they can't get it in algebra, they don't get it in cs. That's for even basic programming. For anything more complex, it really takes another level.
The point about the web is valid to a certain extent. You can't just 'learn' it and be happy. It's a process of constant learning and research and working with the community. I can't think of a field that changes so much. I doubt AngularJS is crazy complicated, but darn it, I haven't even touched it and I'd have to learn it a new in all its complexities and idioms if I want to work on it.
You learn a trade like construction, you will learn what a 2x4 is and how to frame and that is eternal knowledge. Not so with writing software.
Lastly is programming culture. He doesn't spend enough on this point, but its a big thing that is affecting even good programmers.
The constant desire to learn the same thing in a different way is something that you probably need to be a bit autistic as he says. I can't explain what happened. I used to get so involved in a game like Baldur's Gate, I'd spend weeks so focussed on it. I'd to the same with programming. I have no desire to do that anymore. But, I know some people who still have that. Good on them. I'm hardly normal, but if I'm feeling the edge, imagine an actual normal person :P
To top it off, getting involved in software development used to be easier when more people were hired. Today, I'm finding developers need to write documentation of all sorts, figure out the requirements, code it up, write up the test cases, figure out the environment issues, do the database work...
Basically do everything. Some companies even have teams dedicated to these tasks, but they don't have enough skilled people to not have the developer do it with the speed at which companies have to operate.
In previous times, you could indeed have a skilled engineer design the system. Write a proper document. Then hand off some UI work to some application developer or even a junior developer. They would take the time to explain the system to the test team, who would then know how to use it and thus craft a test plan. All these people would be able to be involved.
But that's no the world we live in today. Everyone wants speed and moving fast, without building the long term technical base. This reduces the number of people capable of entering the field in a useful way.
When Beliefs and Facts Collide
Unfortunately, that is not true.
So many political opinions are viable within any party IF you frame it correctly.
Somehow many anarchist/libertarians end up on the progressive/leftist portion of political because they are against corporation/banks/police/war.
Similarly, many anarchist/libertarians end up on the 'right' because they are against corporations/banks/police/war/government excess..
I'll give my own example.
I grew up in pretty conservative Islam. Now, as I grew up, I was still a Muslim. I could sit around and interpret the texts any which way I want and I could have a decent conversation and be a part of *most* Muslim communities. I didn't pray, didn't really believe in any of the rules, barely fasted... yet I was still by in large welcomed in *most* Islamic communities.
Eventually, I left Islam and would not be called a cultural Muslim or an ex-Muslim or whatever label you want. In practical things, I believe and act pretty much the same. Yet, by denying God and Mohamed was God's messenger/perfect man, suddenly I am shunned. I knew that going in. People suddenly stopped communicating.
The point I am making here, is that whatever practical issues I had with Islam, I could deliberate and discuss with people as long as I didn't threaten the Islamic identity and Islamic power. The moment I did, my opinion becomes meaningless.
The same is largely true of politics.
People think Climate Change is merely science. It is not. By admitting the 'science' you are automatically subscribing to a whole host of political initiatives from carbon taxes, road tolls, increased government spending...
But all that has nothing to do with the science. In some ideal world, climate change science could be independent of policy. But that is not the world we live in today.
How many scientists say we must act on global warming and have more taxes, more government spending...
Buying into climate change MEANS buying into the political policies of 'the other team'. Hence you are more likely to reject it the science.
The same is true again of religion. Evolution is pretty convincing. I know many Muslims who believe in Evolution as well. Some kind of God guided evolution :P But much better than the creation story.
In any case, however, if buying into evolution means rejecting god, siding with secularists... then they are likely to just ignore the science of evolution.
I'd be willing to wager that if the climate science was presented to republications without any stipulation of Big government / Left political action, most would not fight it.
And just to emphasize, there is no reason climate change should entail carbon taxes or anything of hte like. Those are all policy tools we choose. We could just as easily pay the oil companies extra money for them to deveolop green energy. We could just as easily reduce healthcare spending and entitlement spending, and use that money to build levies, green power....
It's not what we need. We've always had what we need.
It's about getting everyone to use the same thing.
Basically we have debates on screen layout, networking... other APIs. We've been building such APIs for decades.
It is just hard to get everyone to use the same API.
It began as a markup language (more to display documents like Word). Then it moved to become dynamic pages. Again like adding VBScripting to Word. Now we keep hacking and putting stuff on top of it to make it a full fledged programming environment.
We can hope for niceness, but this seems to be repeated over and over and our field. Yet, somehow, things get made.
Amazon Sues After Ex-Worker Takes Google Job
Yeop, most definitely agree.
However, maybe I'm just jaded, but the fault is not with the MBA, it is largely with us (engineers/developers). The MBAs think highly of themselves and value themselves and attempt to maximize their own power.
That is no different from any other group of people (doctors, teachers, lawyers, accountant, trades people...).
Most engineers/developers don't seek to maximize their power and value themselves quite low. In a sense, we (as a collective group) don't respect ourselves, yet we somehow think MBAs should respect us? The world sadly does not work like that.
Be it unions, professional organizations, credentials, or just having high alpha type personalities in your profession, you need that respect.
While you held your ground and acted in a way that demands respect, 95% of engineers/developers don't. MBA types are right to think "I wouldn't pay some nerd X money".
Most developers/engineers are either push overs or uncooperative grumps. They're not assertive professionals (me included)
Do you think they'd treat a lawyer or doctor like that?
It has more to do with the lawyer or doctor, than it does with the MBA.
Amazon Sues After Ex-Worker Takes Google Job
Yeah, but really you should be allowed to poach all customers and what not.
If the company values you, they should be making your life 'nice' so you stay. The problem is most employees don't even value their own knowledge base. Many still think in terms of only being paid when I am working.
When in reality, you should be paid heavily for what you know.
Know key customers... you should be being paid not to leave and take them with you.
Are you the only one who knows how to setup the work VPN? You should be being paid for that knowledge ...
Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry
We see a lot of these articles. It is not about ageism or anything of the like. In every industry there are always people willing to work for less, work harder, working with less standards, take shortcuts...
Most other industries, put in some barriers. Those that don't... well... let's just say they're not for most people looking for good work.
Doctors, lawyers, teachers, trades people, nurses, dentists, accountants... all have some kind of union or professional association to enforce working conditions and standards.
Then again, there are two kind of engineers and software developers.
Those that view it as a career. They want to do an honest days work for an honest days pay.
Those that view as greatness or changing the world.
That ultimately determines how you view it.
For me at least, I'm in the honest days work for honest days pay.
2 US Senators Propose 12-Cent Gas Tax Increase
This is why I'm a big believer in simple taxation.
Sales Tax (to capture consumption)
Income Tax (to capture income)
Property Tax (to handle local infrastructure)
Wealth/Inheritance Tax (if you have to.... to prevent a concentration of wealth)
If something needs to paid for, we pay for it by raising the taxes for everyone.
Playing around with all these specific taxes and proxy taxes and sin taxes... just creates massive complexities
We'd all take transit if our work was right beside a subway station and there was a subway station next to our home.
All sin-taxes or fines should NEVER go to revenue.
Speeding tickets, smoking taxes, alcohol taxes... rather they should go to 'victims' of said activity. Speeding ticket revenue goes into a pool for accident victims. Smoking taxes goes to help those who got lung cancer from smoking...
As best as possible it should go to the victim. I know it can complicated and I don't pretend it would be perfect, but it would definitely be more honest and transparent and have less corruption.
And yes, there are ways to do things without taxes. Non-profits, pay per use, subscriptions... are all ways to do things without taxes. For example, let us suppose a community wanted to build it's own ISP. But they can't convince the whole populace. Rather than taxing the whole populace, they could people a stake in a non-profit entity to build it out. Maybe it works. Maybe it doesn't. But no taxation money flows into it.
Why United States Patent Reform Has Stalled
Money influences politics isn't really an explanation. It gives the impression people just buy off politics.
Almost every such policy is partly money, partly ideology, partly special interest, partly regional politics...
My brother used to be an engineer, and is now in patent law. He genuinely believes that patent law is essential to protecting IP so Western businesses can thrive and long term intellectual property is protected.
I heard a similar story on TVO (Canada's version of PBS). A bunch of lawyers and such talking about free trade and competition. They genuinely believe they are fighting the good fight on behalf of Western industry.
Now of course, it just so happens they benefit very much from this patent business.
So there is a real ideology behind this patent system. People really do believe. Think about politicians who speak about free trade. What idea do they push? They push the idea that the Western world can still thrive via education and IP. So how do we protect this IP? Yep patents. without patents everything is made cheap and their whole intellectual basis for the 'new economy' goes out the window.
I don't agree with their ideology. I'm just stating that people believe in that ideology and so they base their assumptions and what not on it.
Then yes, there is money form lawyers, big companies... do try and influence politics.
This is not unlike say teacher unions. Many genuinely believe education is the future and education will solve any number of problems. It just so happens of course that they benefit from the union and tenure system.
So there is this ideology that education solves all problems. It is what will allow us to compete globally and keep our standard of living. again, I don't agree with this ideology. I'm just stating what they say.
Then they ally themselves as allys of politicians and ideology and money...
It's all a very complex intertwined system.
Thinking all of politics is just people in briefcases buying off votes is just silly.
The real devil is and will always be ideology, institutions, special interests...
Google Engineer: We Need More Web Programming Languages
On the contrary. We just need to use existing languages. And make use of good libraries and good patterns.
Most new languages offer very little. Most of the good changes are in the libraries.
They need a good caching mechanism of web requests / responses. Easily done as a library.
They might need a background updater/fetcher. Easily done as a library again.
Now there a lot of details to work out. And perhaps you can have a common library for the caching mechanism to coordinate between client and server.
I've worked on something like this and it can be very tricky. I don't want to discount the complexity. But it is nothing that needs a new language. Just some good libraries and patterns.
In the end though, it's all just a library.
Belief In Evolution Doesn't Measure Science Literacy
I'll put a little twist on it as often even when we speak of 'science' we can use 'facts' that are not truly 'facts'.
I think science is a process that uses logic, experimentation, mathematics, hypothesize... to arrive at conclusions.
Religion uses belief to arrive at conclusions.
For example, the idea of God has no other basis... except the belief in God. You can't experiment on it, use mathematics, hypothesize and test...
You will never get a religious person to say "if this is done... then this should happen religiously... and if it does not happen, then my faith is wrong"
Now, let's take a whacky scientific theory that many would say is 'belief'. Let's say string theory. It is an interesting theory. There is math involved. It has to fit in with the rest of what we know about physics, quantum physics. There's a variety of tests that have been proposed to detect if it is accurate or not. It is possible given enough and energy to perform such tests and get a result which would determine if string theory is true or not.
Ask Slashdot: Tech Customers Forced Into Supporting Each Other?
Real support costs money. Most people aren't willing to pay the proper cost for it.
The next best example of something we all own and often need troubleshooting is a car.
Routine car things are costly enough (oil change...). But that's the equivalent of running a virus scan or defrag.
If you ever have a real problem where something isn't working, it is costly. Diagnostic work? Even costlier and no guarantee it will work.
And the PC is ever more complex as you mod it will all kinds of stuff. Custom hardware. Custom software installed on it. Custom configuration.
Now, how much do you think it will cost you to fix a problem with your car that had it's engine replaced with a more powerful model, software modded... and all the other fancy things car modders do? Yeop... it's going to cost you a hell of a lot more.
And with cars, the normal answer is to just replace parts as a whole.
If you have a problem with some application crashing. Would you consider it valid support if they just said, let's try replacing your ram or upgrading your video card. Cost $500. And no guarantee of working.
And yes, car manufacturers do offer warranties. But they're typically void if you do anything to mod the car.
You'd no doubt not find that acceptable. You want them to fix the software.
Computers are just that complex. And for the rest of the industry, it is heavily cost driven.
Driverless Cars Could Cripple Law Enforcement Budgets
The real issue is regulation.
As you point out conflict of interest.
I hope we all learned about conflict of interest from the great recession of 2008 with respect to the financial sector.
They came out with new products/services that the regulatory bodies hadn't dealt with and in many cases, reduces regulation.
That is to say, anytime you grant some powerful organization a new power or tool, it needs to be examined for conflict of interest and other pitfalls.
What hasn't happened is regulation on government.
Well that is not true. Historically, we have regulation on government dating all the way back to English common law.
The government was granted the right to enforce the law. Many centuries have passed and we have pretty reasonable laws to regulate government in how it enforces law (warrants, search and seizure, trial, juries...) It's not perfect and the regulation varies, but it is actually pretty reasonable in most of the western world.
What has not happened is the regulation on government in all the new areas it has gained power.
Everything from pensions (special for public sector workers), to administrating common fines, regulating daily lives of people, debt, taxation...
You can tell we don't have regulation in these areas as there is really nothing stopping the government from doing anything, except that is doesn't do it. We can have 99% taxation. Nothing illegal about it. We can have the government grant arbitrary benefits to any segment of the population...
In this case, we have a conflict of interest between revenue, fines, pay...
So we could have rules and regulations like the following:
1. All fine revenue from regulatory activities can only be used for victims of the act. It cannot be used for revenue or paying salaries...
This would keep fining honest and removes the conflict of interest.
Now that is just a sample regulation, but that is the general idea.
Programmers: It's OK To Grow Up
It's not just about cost.
It's also about their priorities.
Older people generally want some time for their lives. Things like family and other interests.
They might also be less driven to just plow through the work as they've been through it a million times. So the younger candidate is more beneficial as he is naive per se.
There's also not much professionalism is software, so things like experience and mentorship and long term platforms are not really there for most companies.
Percentage of Elderly In Japan Continues to Grow as Number of Children Drops
Just a little caveat as it is a big caveat.
It is not the young people the young people that support the old people.
It is young people with 'good' jobs that support the old people.
If we look throughout the world right now, young people aren't exactly basking in good high paying jobs that would be net payers into a tax system.
So yes, an aging Japanese population is a problem.
It might actually be a worse problem to have a large population of elderly people AND a large amount of unemployed or underemployed young people.
I'm Canadian and I just thought I'd point this out as I'm sure it is the same in most countries. The 'economists' have been saying for years we need to have more kids to provide a tax base for our aging baby boomers. Yet, we can't even find good jobs for our current youth.
Seems to me, many of the youth will not be net payers into the tax system. They might get government work, funded by tax dollars or whatever.
F.C.C., In Net Neutrality Turnaround, Plans To Allow Fast Lane
I guess as long as they publish those rates for specific traffic or maintain some kind of neutrality on providers, they can manage it on their end.
F.C.C., In Net Neutrality Turnaround, Plans To Allow Fast Lane
I personally have nothing against a 'fast-lane'. As in your VOIP example, as a consumer, I should be able to tell my ISP to reserve such traffic and pay for that enhanced service.
But what is really important is who pays.
In my view, your connection to the 'internet' should be paid for by you. You want more speed. You pay for it. You want reserved traffic for VOIP, you pay for it.
You could use that reserved lane for VOIP, torrenting, gaming, or just your own personal FTP.
By letting the deals be made by content providers and ISPs, you lose a lot of the transparency.