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Comment: Re:Wow... (Score 1) 150

by ultranova (#47927001) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development?

As for FDD... standard on the east coast USA and many other parts of the world. It works for unthinking peons but utterly fails for jobs that require imagination.

If you treat your employees like unthinking peons, they will respond by behaving like that - and that means turning a blind eye towards the innumerable small irregularities and problems a workforce that doesn't actively hate you could easily correct before they have a noticeable effect on production. That is the difference between workplaces where everything seems to work as if by magic and one that does a passable impression of being haunted by an evil spirit because it is, specifically yours.

There are no jobs that don't benefit from thinking about how it fits to the bigger picture.

Comment: Re:Experience counts (Score 1) 150

by ultranova (#47926861) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development?

But if you're afraid to do your job, it's because you have a problem with confidence in your own skills. Blaming management for such fears just takes the incompetence you exhibit to a whole new level of blame-gaming.

Unless it's not just you, but every one of your fellow employees. Then the problem is systematic in that workplace, and thus must be in the system itself.

The thing is, managers are humans and sometimes have serious issues or even outright mental problems, such as ego too powerful for them to handle. And sometimes they're simply afraid of their superiors. Competence only matters in a healthy organization where everyone is trying to meet its goals; in an ill one they concentrate on covering their ass, not just against mistakes but also against backstabbing.

Comment: Re:Wow... (Score 1) 150

by ultranova (#47926163) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development?

It seems like you're extrapolating from that experience, to thinking "FDD" is a current trend. AFAIK it's not.

Sure it is. What's happening to programming is what happens to anything when there's more supply than demand: a race to the bottom. Personal computers used to be rare, so programmers could rely on their skills being so as well; now they're ubiquitous, and the industry is entering the same phase others did during the Industrial Revolution. The only known solution is to unionize and bargain collectively, but of course that requires giving up the cherished illusions of being able to make it on your own.

Comment: Re:Edge routers are expensive (Score 1) 73

by dgatwood (#47924071) Attached to: Why Is It Taking So Long To Secure Internet Routing?

I keep thinking that if an ISP really wanted to cut costs, they could proactively monitor their network for problems:

  • Provide the CPE preconfigured, at no additional cost to the customer. (Build the hardware cost into the price of service.)
  • Ensure that the CPE keeps a persistent capacitor-backed log across reboots. If the reboot was caused by anything other than the customer yanking the cord out of the wall or a power outage, send that failure info upstream. Upon multiple failures in less than a few weeks, assume that the customer's CPE is failing, and call the customer with a robocall to tell them that you're mailing them new CPE to improve the quality of their service.
  • Detect frequent disconnects and reconnects, monitor the line for high error rates, etc. and when you see this happening, treat it the same way you treat a CPE failure.
  • If the new hardware behaves the same way, silently schedule a truck roll to fix the lines.

If done correctly (and if clearly advertised by the ISP so that users would know that they didn't need to call to report any outages), it would eliminate the need for all customer service except for billing, and a decent online billing system could significantly reduce the need for that as well.

Comment: Re:Article shows fundamental lack of understanding (Score 2) 178

by dgatwood (#47921615) Attached to: Why Apple Should Open-Source Swift -- But Won't

They won't see people switching to Swift uniformly. There are trillions of lines of code written in Objective-C, and programmers already know it and are comfortable with it. There are no tools for migrating code from Objective-C to Swift, much less the hodgepodge of mixed C, Objective-C, and sometimes C++ that quite frequently occurs in real-world apps, so for the foreseeable future, you'd end up just adding Swift to your existing apps, which means you now have three or four languages mixed in one app instead of two or three, and now one of them looks completely different than the others. I just don't see very many developers seriously considering adopting Swift without a robust translator tool in place.

I do, however, expect to see Swift become the language of choice for new programmers who are coming from scripting languages like Python and Ruby, because it is more like what they're used to. In the long term, they'll outnumber the Objective-C developers, but the big, expensive apps will still mostly be written in Objective-C, simply because most of them will be new versions of apps that already exist.

BTW, Apple never really treated Java like a first-class citizen; it was always a half-hearted bolt-on language. My gut says that they added Java support under the belief that more developers knew Java than Objective-C, so it would attract developers to the platform faster. In practice, however, almost nobody ever really adopted it, so it withered on the vine. Since then, they have shipped and subsequently dropped bridges for both Ruby and Python.

Any implication that Swift will supplant Objective-C like Objective-C supplanted Java requires revisionist history. Objective-C supplanted C, not Java. Java was never even in the running. And Objective-C still hasn't supplanted C. You'll still find tons of application code for OS X written in C even after nearly a decade and a half of Apple encouraging developers to move away from C and towards Objective-C. (Mind you, most of the UI code is in Objective-C at this point.) And that's when moving to a language that's close enough to C that you don't have to retrain all your programmers.

Compared with the C to Objective-C transition, any transition from Objective-C to Swift is likely to occur at a speed that can only be described as glacial. IMO, unless Apple miraculously makes the translation process nearly painless, they'll be lucky to be able to get rid of Objective C significantly before the dawn of the next century. I just don't see it happening, for precisely the same reason that nine years after Rails, there are still a couple orders of magnitude more websites built with PHP. If a language doesn't cause insane amounts of pain (e.g. Perl), people are reluctant to leave it and rewrite everything in another language just to obtain a marginal improvement in programmer comfort.

Comment: Re: Apple not in my best interests either (Score 1) 178

by dgatwood (#47919715) Attached to: Why Apple Should Open-Source Swift -- But Won't

No, they're saying Apple switched because GCC's core wasn't designed in a way that made it easy to extend the Objective-C bits in the way that Apple wanted. And that could well be part of it—I'm not sure.

But I think a bigger reason was that Apple could use Clang to make Xcode better, whereas GCC's parsing libraries were A. pretty tightly coupled to GCC (making it technically difficult to reuse them) and B. licensed under a license that made linking them into non-open-source software problematic at best.

Comment: Symmetric gameplay is all we get now (Score 1) 277

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47916435) Attached to: The Growing Illusion of Single Player Gaming

I find many games where the AI is just too dumb for it to be fun. Overall, it's not smart, and it works for a casual player, but for hardcore games, it's just too dumb.

I agree. The thing is, I'm not a 19 year old student any more. I don't want to be a hardcore gamer today. I don't have time to learn FPS maps well enough to navigate them with my eyes closed and still lob a grenade/rocket everywhere the respawn/power-up/camper is likely to be. I can't sustain multiple keyboard/mouse actions per second over a half-hour RTS game. I have no interest in playing against an arena where 1 in 3 opponents is a bot that never misses, nor installing so much mandatory crapware to prevent this on my computer that something outside the game breaks.

For symmetric competitive games, things like arena-based FPS or RTS genres, the "single player" has been going up against bots on PCs since at least the days of Quake 3 Arena, which was around the turn of the century. The big RTSes of that era often had some sort of contrived plot and a series of preplanned missions, but the replay value as a single player was all in open gaming against bots. In each case, playing against real people on-line was always the natural successor; this is not a new thing.

But there used to be asymmetric games as well, where the storyline and gameworld made for a much more compelling experience that could feel more like being in an interactive movie than playing round 17 of laser tag. Classics like the Baldur's Gate series or the original Deus Ex come immediately to mind. They avoided the boredom of facing what you called "pattern AIs" by having actual progression through the game, so the situations and capabilities you'd face would be changing. You can't really do this in a multiplayer gameworld when everyone wants to start with everything and the game only ships with 2 maps. (*97 more maps are available as DLC. Payment required.)

AIs have improved since those days anyway, but the biggest problem for single-player gaming is that the industry has so completely given up on games that require actual progression and development that fighting AIs on the same handful of maps is all the replay value they've got.

Comment: Re:Will continue to be developed for other platfor (Score 2) 324

by dgatwood (#47911603) Attached to: Microsoft To Buy Minecraft Maker Mojang For $2.5 Billion

And you know what Mojang's opinion means at this point? Absolutely NOTHING. They can't tell their new owner to honor their intended promises, even if it were written into the deal. All they have to do is replace the boss with someone willing to change the company on Microsoft's behalf and POOF! It's happened with every other developer that's been bought out thus far that came out and said they were told/promised nothing would be changing.

Depends on how good their lawyers are. If they write into the contract a term that says that all rights revert to the original authors if the new owner violates such a term, then yes, they can force the new owners to honor those promises.

Comment: Re: +-2000 deaths? (Score 3, Interesting) 119

by dgatwood (#47899259) Attached to: US Scientists Predict Long Battle Against Ebola

Ebola may not be easy to transmit, but it sure as heck isn't hard to transmit. It's not pedantically known to be airborne, but it is believed to be spread by droplets (e.g. sneezes). There's a very, very, very fine line between the two.

And yes, I can provide citations if you'd like, but it's not like they're very hard to find with a Google search.

Comment: Re:What is a customer? (Score 1) 287

by ultranova (#47896675) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

telling us the name, address and phone number of the human responding to the mail

I'm pretty sure Google is not allowed to give anyone's private information without proper court warrant, and I'm very sure that an email saying "I'm a Judge, honest!" is not a proper warrant.

Not replying to this email will result in a doubling of your fine.

Courts of law don't have the power to arbitrarily double the punishment because they happen to be feeling ornery. They can add contempt of court charges to the case, but it's highly questionable whether ignoring an e-mail - which can be from anyone - counts as contempt, especially when said e-mail seems to involve illegal action and blackmail.

Comment: Re:Well now. (Score 1) 102

The argument about committing crime being outlawed would be more convincing if basic copyright infringement were treated as a crime and was actually investigated and punished in some proportionate way by the authorities when it occurs. The reality is that copyright is in most cases a civil matter, which means that while the cumulative damage to a genuine victim can be significant, they are essentially responsible for their own protection, without any police or public prosecutors to help them the way a victim of say theft or fraud would have. And the costs of bringing an action to recover losses are disproportionate in most cases, because copyright infringement kills with a thousand cuts.

Also, we're talking about the EU. Everything your wrote about fair use doesn't apply here. We tend to have more specific exemptions to copyright in our national laws in Europe, often including certain special privileges for libraries because of their unique public service role, and that is the matter at hand.

Many people write memos to tell you they have nothing to say.

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