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Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Working With Awful Legacy Code?

tcort To avoid legacy code, constantly change jobs ;) (360 comments)

Unless you hop from startup to startup, you'll have to deal with legacy code at some point, either someone else's or your own. Here are some indicators I came up with (warning: a lot of broad generalizations follow; they don't always apply):

1) "was the code base developed in-house?" in-house developers generally have a deeper understanding of the requirements, resources, and the company. Some contractors do just enough to meet the requirements so that they can get paid and move on to the next project. Quality is generally higher when someone has to maintain the code and/or face their peers every day in the office.

2) "how many projects are developers involved in at once?" if a developer has to juggle more than a few projects at once, one or more might not get the attention that is needed to be of the highest quality. Conversely, if someone is just focused on one project, the quality might be better due to their deeper commitment to the project and understanding of the internals.

3) "what's the employee turn over rate?" your experience is likely to be less awful if the original author or authors are still around; they can at least explain some of the reasoning behind the design decision. Conversely, if the original designer is long gone and many people have dabbled in the code, the quality might suffer due to developers having different ideas about how to best maintain the code and different understandings of how everything fits together.

4) To follow on the "Are there code review processes?" question, you might want to ask "how is performance evaluated?" It's a good question to ask in anyway, and that might give you an insight into how much oversight there is of a developer's work quality.

Also keep in mind that you need to strike a balance between beautiful code, functionality, and time/cost. Sometimes less elegant code is more maintainable, takes less time to develop (i.e. costs less in labour), and does the job well enough.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Distros Have You Used, In What Order?

tcort Lots of Changes -- Still not Happy (867 comments)

I started out around 2000 with RedHat 5.2. I quickly moved to Slackware 4.0 and stayed with it for a while. I played with a few distros until late 2003 / early 2004 when I switched to Gentoo. I stuck with Gentoo for several year but finally switched over to Fedora around 2006 or 2007 when I wanted to spend more time using my computer than maintaining it. I spent about a year on Fedora. After that I tried debian for a few months, but I didn't like that I had to choose between really old but stable software and really new but unstable software (at least that was what it felt like at the time for me). Then, I switched to Ubuntu. I'm still on Ubuntu for my desktop, but I've got a laptop running Arch Linux.

I'm considering doing a fresh install of something else on my desktop (maybe Arch Linux or Fedora). I find that Ubuntu isn't going where I want it to go, and the upgrades are getting to be more of a pain than a reward. They changed the desktop environment (gnome 'classic' to unity), they changed the location of the minimize/maximize/close buttons, they added an annoying 'report the problem to ubuntu' dialog that comes up whenever a program crashes (which is too often BTW), and many other things. Each upgrade has a ton of changes that I have to correct / set back. If I stay with Ubuntu through another upgrade, I'll have to uninstall the Amazon ads as well.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Explaining Version Control To Non-Technical People?

tcort Explain it in terms of something they already know (383 comments)

Explain it as being like Apple's Time Machine or Microsoft Office's Track Changes. It's a really smart backup system that lets you roll back to a specific point in time, see when someone changed something, see who changed something, and see why someone changed something (via the commit log message).

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Ask College To Change Intro To Computing?

tcort Talk to the Department Head (337 comments)

Writing a letter "to the college" usually has little impact. The suggestions usually don't filter down to the right people. From my experience (4 years in University, 3 years in College), the right person to talk to is the department head. While the course professor has some flexibility, he or she isn't likely to be able to change a "How to use MS Office" course into an actual computing course. The department head can instigate broader course changes, with the proper approval from stakeholders and higher ups. Also, I'd suggest talking to the department head if possible instead of writing a letter.

about 2 years ago
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Shuttleworth: Trust Us, We're Trying to Make Shopping Better

tcort Re:NSFW Search Results (255 comments)

What you see on TV might not be appropriate for small children or business meetings with potential clients.

about 2 years ago
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Are Commercial Games Finally Going To Make It To Linux?

tcort They're already on Linux! (242 comments)

I played Far Cry on Linux today (via wine), Minecraft yesterday (native), and Counter-Strike (via wine/playonlinux) the day before. A lot of commercial games run on Linux, but hardly anybody knows about it and even fewer promote it.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Should a Unix Fan Look For In a Windows Expert?

tcort Ask: What do you do after a fresh Windows install? (454 comments)

I find that a good judge of someone's familiarity with an operating system is what they do after an installation on the first boot. Seasoned pros have a whole routine (install this, uninstall that, disable something, enable something else, etc), and when asked they can provide justification for their actions. I find that in general, people who are completely happy with the defaults are either A) not that passionate about their job or B) don't know enough or have enough experience to handle running real world servers.

about 2 years ago
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Slashdot Anniversary: Barre, VT, US

tcort Re:whee! (12 comments)

Me three.

more than 6 years ago

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