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Non-profit writes its own software - good idea?

tigersha Re:After working with a non-profit for 10 years (3 comments)

What do they define as a "sign-up" site. This can range from simple to horrendously complicated. The large project I worked on was also a sign-up site but for a federated society with branches all over the world, and each of those branches had different membership rules and products that they wanted to sell through or with the part I worked on.

It can also be a get-your-name-and-put-it-into-a-database kind of deal, which is not complicated at all.

2 hours ago
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Non-profit writes its own software - good idea?

tigersha After working with a non-profit for 10 years (3 comments)

Like in all cases like this, it depends.

The question is, does the non-profit have salaried staff?. Or are all employees working without pay? There is a difference. I worked in both roles in different non-profits.

This question is not any different to any one that asks "Do I roll my own or do I buy?" All software must be customized, and you need to weight the costs of customization against the cost of writing your own thing which can involve lots of small details.

I once wrote a small speech scheduling web-app for our toastmasters club. Yeah we could have used the standard one, but it sucked. And I wanted to learn AJAX in Ruby on Rails so it was a good fit. And the program was pretty OK (and still is). But it is small and does not really need maintenance.

I also wrote a very extensive membership management system as a salaried employee for another non-profit. In hindsight, this was a mistake. The prime reason was that the non-profit was sponsored by Lotus Notes back in the 90s and Mr Senior Manager decided to write the MMS in Notes. This was a truly bad idea. There is nothing wrong with Notes as a workflow and Office management tool, and it worked very well in our org. But as a general swiss army knife web application platform it sucks so much that it bends space-time. Fine for small apps, disaster for medium and long-term maintainability. After I left (because of corruption) it took them 7 years to recover proper operations.

At the time the choice was politically correct because we wanted to show some love to our sponsor. In that case (this was the late 90s') a RDBMS actually cost money or was at least not even remotely as mature as they are now, so no having to pay for software infrastructure was a factor. Keep that in mind if you have to run a large project. Often you need to pay for tools, and in a non-profit case this is not necessarily viable. Getting things for free severely distorts the cost part of a cost-benefit analysis and beggars can't be choosers. In a non-profit decisions about capital expenditures are often much more political than a simple cost-benefits analysis would suggest.

I can give you one piece advice though: Whatever road you take absolutely concentrate on increasing the productivity of the volunteer at all other costs. You get way more bang for your few bucks that way.

Another last thing to watch: People who run a non-profit sometimes think they are saints and therefore god will look away if they steal. Because they think they are saving the world it can get to their heads. Watch for that, it can cause you a lot of grief.

8 hours ago
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Favorite clickbait hook?

tigersha Re:Missing option (194 comments)

And the favorite hook at the end of the description is "Could this be the end of Microsoft/Apple/IBM/Closed Source/Whatever riles the editors?

Usually after the most inane, stupid thing you could imagine. Once there was an article about a student who spend an evening writing a wrapper around HTML contenteditable and the ./ article was "Could this be the end of Word?"
No.Really.

9 hours ago
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Favorite clickbait hook?

tigersha Re:Click Here (194 comments)

Real one: "Your friends and colleagues will be amazed at your new size"

Colleagues??!! So after swallowing the blue pill I am going to run through the office with my new enlarged,
em, tool in my hand and show it off? Seriously?!?!

9 hours ago
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CSS Proposed 20 Years Ago Today

tigersha Re:The tragedy of CSS (180 comments)

Also, the viewport units only work for calculations based on the size of the whole screen. It is not possible to do something
like set the width of element X to be the same as the width of element Y on another part of the screen. Sizes between elements cannot be used. I know it is a hard problem, and might (or might not, depending on how you do it) require a constraint solver, but often a simple calculation would solve a lot of CSS problems.

about two weeks ago
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CSS Proposed 20 Years Ago Today

tigersha Re:The tragedy of CSS (180 comments)

> Yes, because layouts have never had to react to a viewport before browsers came along

Programs written in C++ for Windows and MacOS/X and Qt and Xwindows can, and often does, react to resizing viewports (Ok, windows used to suck in this regard). They could do a lot of what CSS can only do now 20 years ago.

Java 1.2 was released on December 8, 1998 with Swing as the GUI toolkit. While resizable viewport programming was (and still is, I maintain a Swing app) a PITA it was possible and most Java programs did support it. Much better than most Windows programs of the era, I might add. Swing had a spring abstraction for flexible layout from day 1.

> Visual Studio or other RAD development tools that made things measurably easier than CSS.

I agree with this. this has always been a tooling problem. I also agree that it is hard to do, and many programmers won't bother. But the tools used for GUI apps did support this and CSS did not.

about two weeks ago
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CSS Proposed 20 Years Ago Today

tigersha Re:The tragedy of CSS (180 comments)

> Try these CSS Units: vh, vw, vmax, vmin, and %

% is not quite what you want. The other units are not supported widely enough yet. IE still does not support them correctly, IE 8 (and I have IE8 users) does not. canIuse: Global 57.35% + 20.71% = 78.07%

> display: table, display: table-cell, etc. should help you with that.

I know display-table can emulate width="*" for HORIZONTAL spacing. It is not usable for VERTICAL spacing. And a spring is still a easier abstraction IMHO.

> Thankfully, we have box-sizing: border-box and box-sizing: content-box
I know that. I use it too. It took 20 years to get to this point which was by far the most stupid part of the CSS spec. box-sizing content-box was a catastrophe.
You could not use these things 2-3 years ago.

> Layout is not a trivial problem. Particularly when the layout needs to react to the viewport.

I know it is not a trivial problem. But is was mostly solved before CSS came to the scene and CSS put us 20 years backwards.

about two weeks ago
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CSS Proposed 20 Years Ago Today

tigersha Re:The tragedy of CSS (180 comments)

I said that in 5 years CSS will be at the point where the elimination of the main pain points are supported widely enough to be able to use them in actual websites. The grid module in particular. It is there now, but few browsers implement it. Grid will remove most of CSS's pain points and it will be actually useful in the real world where CSS is 25 years old. I can't use the grid module now in production. I will be able to in 5 years.

And I actually like CSS, I just think it took too long to get to this point. Why this is so is beyond me. Other technologies have advanced much, much faster.

about two weeks ago
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CSS Proposed 20 Years Ago Today

tigersha The tragedy of CSS (180 comments)

CSS is good. Really. It is not too bad, has a few warts and so, but we are finally there. Or will be in 5 years when all the browsers finally support the new Grid layout module.

The problem with CSS is that it took 25 damn years to get to the point where windowing system were already in the 90s. There are 2 main problems up to now

First, the block model. Seriously people, if I specify that a block has a width of 300 pixels I mean that the block has 300 pixels, and not the content inside the block without the padding. Really. That makes no sense. For some reason it did to the authors of the standard. It hurts me to say this, but Internet Explorer 5.5 got this right and simply ignored the stupid, dumb standard. Most of the nightare that is CSS layout was caused by this clusterfck of stupidity. Now there is finally a solution, one can set the box-sizing and almost all browsers support it. Those that do not are old and can fly.

Secondly, tables vs grid. I get the whole tag is not semantic thing. Really. But often, strangely standards people, we DO WANT THINGS TO BLOODY LINE UP IN A TABLE. But nooooo, we must not use tables because it is not fashionable or something.

Floats were meant to be used to put pictures inside a large block of text. It is great for that. Now it is used for laying out elements on a page. And this is supposed to be LESS hacky than using a table? Seriously??

CSS grid layout finally, finally, finally solves all of this hacker bull. It does something that should have been in there since the 90s. After all, pretty much any window manage on the planet could deal with this back then. People still use tables because it is easier. Grid also decouples the sequence of the elements in the markup from the sequence on the screen, which is cool. But, but even Chrome only experimentally supports grid layout so I have to wait another 5 years.

A couple of other things on my wishlist.

Calculation. Based on the current state of the screen. Sometimes saying that I want the thing should be 500px - the width of the div with id #blabla would make a lot of all the CSS shenanigans unnecessary. Yes, I know that some designers can't add, but I can and I want to. And no, I do not want mathematica in there. Simple basic arithmetic would be fine. Right now you can do 3D transform in CSS3 but you can't subtract the width of an element??!! FFS why??!!! There is a new calc module but that will take another 5 yars to become commonplace.

Better control of height. I want to say "This div fills the rest of the container vertically/horizontally" One of the reasons tables are useful for layout is that you CAN do this by setting the width of a column to *. Layout engines in GUI land, such as Interface builder and the oooold News uses a concept called Springs which expand. Coool feature, missing from CSS.

The fact that you can book loads of courses and read lots of book on how to arrange things on a page with CSS is a real shame. It simply should not be necessary to have that level of expertise just to such a trivial thing.

25 years. This is the time from the end of WW2 to the day I was born (almost precisely). 25 years is the time between the invention of the transistor and the invention of the CPU. 25 years is the time between the first flight and the first ocean crossing over the Atlantic. 25 years is the time that someone goes from being born to being a working productive adult. 26 years is the time between Columbus' discovery of the new world and Hernando Cortes conquest of the entire Aztec empire.

25 years is a quarter of a century.

25 years is the time between the invention of CSS and the moment it is viable to lay out a page without being an expert in some very arcane hackery. Why was this really necessary??!!!

about two weeks ago
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New OS X Backdoor Malware Roping Macs Into Botnet

tigersha Re:but but but.... (172 comments)

And the control software has a real slick UI

Which reminds, me, I have go patch my Macs...

about three weeks ago
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My resting heart rate:

tigersha Re:Lower, if ... (169 comments)

Correct, beta blockers will reduce your heart rate!

about a month ago
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Microsoft Killing Off Windows Phone Brand Name In Favor of Just Windows

tigersha Re:Unified Kernel (352 comments)

Why is it dumb? A modern phone has a better CPU than the first CPUs that was running Windows NT Kernel. an iPad 4 is faster than a Cray X/MP!

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

tigersha 6x6 Film (635 comments)

Still have a Minolta Autocord with Agfa Scala (you can still develop it in Germany) Medium format Roll Film.

I shoot Digital too, but occasionally break out one of the old commiecameras.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

tigersha Re:Morse code straight key (635 comments)

My mom has one of those. She hates cellphones, she hates computers do not use tech but she can Morse at 15 WPM. Even has her Ham license.

about 2 months ago
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Ebola Quarantine Center In Liberia Looted

tigersha Re: Forget the Purple Hearts (359 comments)

Most 'arab' science (and a lot of hellenistic culture) came from the Persians. The Persians civilization had a very large reach.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Life Beyond the WRT54G Series?

tigersha The canonical best household router is (427 comments)

One example of too-much-integration I have. My edge router (Deutsche Telekom, Germany, some Fritzbox variant) has integrated modem, WAP and switch. Despite the fact that my entire house is wired with CAT6 and I have a patch panel and rack in the cellar my WAP/Router/Switch box is physically constrained by the point the phone line comes into the house, and by the room's geometry. The problem is that, from there, the WiFi reception is very spotty in some places, most notably my favourite bench in the kitchen where I like to browse the days news on my iPad early in the morning with coffee before the kids wake up.

Since I can't split the devices I had to buy another WAP to get reasonable reception in the kitchen cause that is a major use-case for me.

L

about 2 months ago
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Lionsgate Sues Limetorrents, Played.to, and Others Over Expendables 3 Leak

tigersha Re:Copyresponsibility (207 comments)

The Expendables is hardly art and definitely not science

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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tigersha tigersha writes  |  more than 7 years ago

tigersha (151319) writes "I am the boss of a young lad who worked for me for a few years as an intern. He is about to graduate with a degree in computer science and I would like to give him a book as present. Does not have to be CS. Any suggestions?"

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