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Comment: Bullying (Score 5, Informative) 610

by Andy Smith (#49346283) Attached to: Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear

Anyone who has been bullied at work must be sickened by the public support for Jeremy Clarkson. Even in sacking him for the physical assault on Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon, BBC director general Tony Hall seemed almost apologetic, taking the opportunity to thank Clarkson for his work on Top Gear and wishing him the best for the future.

But if you've experienced bullying first hand then you know what a destructive force the Clarksons of the world are. Your workplace becomes a place of dread and fear. The stress becomes not just a part of your daily life, but a part of who you are as a person. It changes you.

My own experience of being bullied began when I took a job with a company that had just promoted a long-standing employee in to a management position. He had no experience of managing people, he received no training, and he openly said that he didn't want the job. He was visibly stressed almost constantly, and resented that he was still expected to work and not just manage other people's work.

Very early in the job I was shouted at in the middle of a busy office for completing a task that should have been cancelled. It was a foul-mouthed and very personal tirade of abuse, accusing me of being untrustworthy, and came totally out of the blue. Then my manager realised that he had forgotten to mark the task as cancelled, and quietly in a private room away from other staff, he apologised and promised never to speak to me like that in front of people again.

The details of bullying incidents are generally repetitive and boring, so suffice to say, this was just the beginning of what became regular abuse: Shouted at in the middle of the office for things I had allegedly done wrong, and then apologised to in private.

I put up with the abuse for way too long. I'd spoken to my union rep and kept a bullying diary as advised, but I never started a grievance procedure. Colleagues said I should, and one day I ended up talking to the company secretary about it, but I backed off, determined to resolve the issue myself. Ultimately, I told myself, this is a case of two grown men having a clash of personalities, and I should be able to resolve it. But of course I couldn't.

After about a year I had to take time off work for an unconnected health reason, which seemed to go on a lot longer than one might expect. After a week back at work, I was off again with flu, which seemed to go on forever. My doctor was puzzled and I was sent to the hospital for tests. But in conversation with my doctor one time I mentioned about how it was actually quite nice to be off work because it was an escape from the bullying, and it was as if I'd said the magic word. My doctor was certain that the stress of being bullied was the root cause of my poor health. It explained everything. It turns out that a year of sleepless nights and constant anxiety isn't very good for you.

The BBC has done the right thing in sacking Clarkson. When I finally had to take formal action against my manager, the company was combative, and handled it on the basis that I was making it all up. I opted for the least "official" form of grievance, third-party arbitration, and my manager held his hands up to what he'd been doing and promised to change. Whether he could or not, I don't know, as I've not been well enough to return to work yet.

I've watched every episode of Top Gear since Clarkson joined the programme. I like him as a presenter. But I see him now for what he really is: A person who knows how to present himself to the people who control his career -- his bosses and the viewers -- but feels he can abuse the people below him. No doubt he will now be snapped up by another TV channel, or Netflix, and he'll continue to make great programmes that entertain millions. But we know now what he's like behind the scenes, and even a bully that knows he's a bully will still be a bully.

Comment: What about prevention? (Score 1) 258

by Andy Smith (#49339945) Attached to: RadioShack Puts Customer Data Up For Sale In Bankruptcy Auction

"New York's Attorney General says his office will take 'appropriate action' if the data is handed over."

So they must think handing over the data would be unlawful. Why not prevent it from happening in the first place?

Submit the customers to a lifetime of real world spam, and then do what, take action against a company that doesn't exist anymore?

+ - Apple dismisses screen faults as cosmetic damage

Submitted by Andy Smith
Andy Smith (55346) writes "MacBook owners who have experienced large "stains" on their laptop screens are trying to force a change of repair policy from Apple, who have dismissed the damage as cosmetic and want to charge $800 for repairs. So far 480 people have registered with the Staingate web site."

+ - Flash bug exploited to hold gamers to ransom

Submitted by Andy Smith
Andy Smith (55346) writes "In 30 years of computing the only virus I've ever had was sneaked on to a Windows machine through a vulnerability in Adobe's Acrobat PDF reader. Now gamers worldwide are behind held to ransom by a virus that encrypts their saved game files until they pay $500. The virus gets on to their machines through a vulnerability in Adobe's Flash player."

Comment: Randomness (Score 5, Interesting) 367

by Andy Smith (#49214427) Attached to: Yik Yak Raises Controversy On College Campuses

The trouble with Yik Yak is that you're hostage to other people's whims, and this app seems to attract people that prefer negativity. I tried a little experiment -- I posted one "funny" comment, one positive comment, and one negative comment. Both the funny and positive comments were quickly down-voted to -5 and removed, whereas the negative comment was up-voted and quickly became the most popular yak in my area. Most of the other top-rated yaks are people moaning about the town, the people, the night life, etc. Usually by the time you see a nice / positive yak it's already at -3 or -4 and when you refresh the list it's gone. I deleted the app.

Comment: empirical evidence (Score 1) 247

by Andy Smith (#49176755) Attached to: Study: Refactoring Doesn't Improve Code Quality

Refactoring is the process of improving the design of existing code by changing its internal structure without affecting its external behaviour, with the main aims of improving the quality of software product. Therefore, there is a belief that refactoring improves quality factors such as understandability, flexibility, and reusability. However, there is limited empirical evidence to support such assumptions.

If my code looks scruffy then I refactor it. When I come back to it, I can read it better. That's all the empirical evidence I need.

Comment: Way too many issues (Score 1) 143

by Andy Smith (#49168703) Attached to: Unreal Engine 4 Is Now Free

I've spent the evening with UE and I'm running back to Unity. I don't know about the PC version but the Mac version isn't ready for primetime yet. I know it's quite new so hopefully they'll work on it some more. A lot more.

Currently, nearly everything fails. Create an empty project and add a Player Controller... fail. Plus this is personal taste but the viewport camera controls are utterly awful. Keep in mind that I use Unity and Blender every day, two apps that are known for their poor viewport controls, and I get on just fine with those. UE's controls are so bad that they even have one way of zooming the camera in 2D viewports and a different way in 3D viewports.

Oh and the W, E and R keys for move, rotate and scale, sometimes work and sometimes don't. The quad view doesn't track mouse movements so to switch from one view to another you have to either left-click (which can mess with your selection) or right-click (which brings up a menu that you have to dismiss).

I could go on... But, bottom line, I didn't like using UE at all. Unity is wonderful in its own right, but compared to UE it is beyond words. UE is an over-engineered mess that doesn't work.

All of this is on Mac remember. I'm sure the PC version will work a lot better.

Comment: Not a great start (Score 1) 143

by Andy Smith (#49167389) Attached to: Unreal Engine 4 Is Now Free

Fantastic news, in theory. I'm 3 days in to development of a new game in Unity so I tried to download UE4 to see if it was worth switching. Instead of a normal installer you have to download some Epic "community" app which will then install the engine for you. Except... it doesn't. Googling it reveals that the problem dates back at least eight months and there's still no fix.

Comment: Presumed guilty? (Score 1) 181

by Andy Smith (#48950905) Attached to: The Pirate Bay Is Back Online, Properly

The "new" pirate bay site is blocked here in the UK, which makes me question what kind of process the police have to go through to get sites blocked. Can a site be blocked simply because it shares the name of a site that's already blocked? Because it has a similar domain name?

Also, if Barrett Brown can be jailed for linking to allegedly illegal material, can you, I, or Slashdot's owners be jailed for linking to an allegedly illegal torrent site?

It's hard to think of you as the end result of millions of years of evolution.