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Comment The 80-20 Rule (Score 1) 314

This is another case where the 80-20 rule comes into play. Almost everyone could switch to LibreOffice, but there are edge cases where Microsoft works better.

I uninstalled Microsoft Office and installed LibreOffice on my work laptop about a year or so ago. I'm a web programmer, so I use it only once every couple of weeks, to read and sometimes edit Word and Excel files from coworkers. So far so good. I even made a user guide with Write, including drawings made in Draw. I published it to PDF, so compatibility doesn't come up. Still, I liked using OpenOffice more than Microsoft Office, even ten years ago.

Comment Re:I am not a rock star. (Score 1) 80

I could not agree more, but with one slight modification:

I do not think that "quietly" needs to fit. I think that RMS (who should be on your list), Linus and others who are among the pantheon of great programmers are not necessarily quiet. In fact, I don't want them to be. I want them to proclaim their lessons and techniques. I want to hear about how they go about their jobs. I want to learn from them.

That said, I completely agree with what I think was your sentiment in saying, "quietly". Perhaps humble or thoughtful is a better way to put it.

Yes, I accept your patch for my comment ;)

Comment I am not a rock star. (Score 3, Interesting) 80

"Rock star programmer" just makes me think diva, someone who is hard to deal with, because they think highly of themselves. Generally these people are not awful. They are either average or good, but they normally not good enough to put up with their pride. "Rock star" also makes me think of programmers who subscribe to the latest trends.

Would you call these people "rock stars": Dennis Ritchie, Brian Kernighan, Rob Pike, Larry Wall, Linus Tovalds? The good programmers don't make me think rock star. They make me think expert, master, craftsman, or journeyman. In other words, someone who works quietly, turning out software that quietly does the job reliably.

Comment Re:Did you get paid?` (Score 1) 193

Well no, it's called slashdot (/.) but you do know where that comes from right?

Well I do, but you might not - it was intended as a joke to make the site name hard to read out, i.e. h-t-t-p-colon-slash-slash-slashdot-dot-org.

I think it would have been cleverer to call it DotSlash (./) with the slogan "You are here."

Comment Re:If you don't have time, just say "no". (Score 1) 38

Part if it may be a emotional distance from dealing for 35 years with customers. Or from being a manager.

I can tell that I myself have got jaded after being alive for 35 years. I have had to deal with only dozens of customers. And I have been the boss of only one other person. And I have consciously tried not to get jaded, to remain open and welcoming. And yet I can see that I'm different than I was 10 or 20 years ago.

Comment Patents at work (Score 5, Insightful) 145

From the summary:

We also hired patent lawyers and consultants familiar with this technology area. We created a new codec development process which would allow us to work through the long list of patents in this space, and continually evolve our codec to work around or avoid those patents.

I'm so glad that patents are doing their intended purpose of encouraging progress. Nothing fosters progress like taking a long, circuitous route instead of the straight and patently obvious one.

Comment Re:Stop teaching slicing (Score 3, Insightful) 233

Slicing PSDs is crude, antiquated (even though most shops still do it), and reinforces the fallacy that web design begins in Photoshop.

Modernize your curriculum to teach progressive enhancement of wireframe layouts in the browser. At some point you teach about creating the individual image assets for what they are (backgrounds, icons, etc) rather than treating a PSD as a giant slab of source material. For this, you can use GIMP, Inkscape, or anything else Free.

You are perpetuating Adobe's dominance by furthering a bad workflow that benefits them. Your course isn't about Photoshop, that shouldn't be the keystone of it.

Slicing PSDs is the equivalent of beginning a construction project from a child's crayon drawing of the not-yet-existing building.

I agree, and this is coming from someone who came into web programming from graphic design. I first learned Photoshop. I soon abandoned it once I got a job in web programming.

It is better to write HTML in a text editor. Then add CSS. If you must, add images from Photoshop or whatever. But I hardly ever even do that anymore. Granted, it's harder to learn to code raw HTML in a text editor. But I would rather you start with Dreamweaver or some WYSIWYG editor than making a web page in Photoshop, slicing it up, and converting it into a web page.

Photoshop is pixel-based. The web is elastic. Photoshop encourages you to make image-heavy, user-unfriendly, obnoxious brochures --- instead of lean, useful, get-out-of-the-way web pages.

Comment Re:Let me rephrase that quesion (Score 1) 365

I think the question is whether everyone should be writing software AND then attempting to sell it to others via the app store. The answer to that, IMHO is no, as making software for others requires a level of professionalism and quality not everyone can reach.

But it would be nice if we could somehow rewind back to the 80s in which every computer came with a simple programming language so that if I wanted to throw together some code to do a simple task for my own benefit, I could do so quickly and easily.

(Note to Apple: Bring back HyperCard, please!)

In my limited experience, the simple tool that someone makes to scratch their own itch is often better than the bloated, passionless produkt from some corporate labyrinth.

Comment Re:Where is our 350GHz room temp CPU? (Score 2) 89

In 2006 they developed a 350GHz room temperature capable silicon gallium CPU. Where is that?

No they didn't. They developed a 350 GHz room temperature transistor.

According to this article it was a CPU:


Maybe the article is wrong?

In 2002 they developed a 350 GHz silicon-germanium transistor.
In 2006 they developed a silicon-germanium processor that reached 350 GHz at room temperature and 500 GHz when supercooled with liquid helium.

Comment Good Summary (Score 5, Insightful) 195

This summary is well written. It is:

  • Complete: It covers all of the main facts. There was no big question left in my mind after reading it. It's so complete that many will not go on to the article itself. (Not that they would anyway. This is Slashdot.) But that's what headlines and leads are supposed to do. They are supposed to tell the whole story, from beginning to end --- just not with every last detail. If you want all the last details, you read the rest of the article.
  • Approachable: It defines all but the most common acroynms. For one it even goes further than just spelling out the acronym and also gives a nice little picture: ". . . 3D V-NAND technology, which stacks 32 layers of NAND atop one another in a microscopic skyscraper."
  • Well-built: The English is good. Although technical, it uses plain English where it can instead of buzzwords. The sentences are not too long or tangled with several interdependent clauses. They have a good rhythm. You hear the words in your head even when reading silently, so sonic things still matter, like rhythm, alliteration, and rhyme (That doesn't mean you should rhyme all the time).

As a former professional technical writer, I am always on the look-out for good explanatory writing. I wanted to call it out here, especially since often we just complain when the summary's bad. When something's good, we're often silent. I suppose that's partly because when things are working, like the utility company, they don't attract attention and we just take them for granted. But writing like this is no accident.

Comment Article Highlights (Score 5, Informative) 288

First, this survey was not mainly about grandmothers. They had "ages ranging from their 30s to well into their 90s," and "a vast number of responses involved highly skilled, technologically-savvy individuals -- often engineers themselves."

The overwhelming complaints were of:

- "low-contrast interfaces and fonts, gray fonts on gray backgrounds"

- "Hidden menus. Obscure interface elements (e.g., tiny upside-down arrows). Interface and menu elements that only appear if you've moused over a particular location on the display. Interface elements that are so small or ephemeral that they can be a challenge to click even if you still have the motor skills of youth."

- "the sudden change of an icon from a wrench to a gear, or a change in a commonly used icon's position"

Comment Battery Technology (Score 1) 688

Forget programmers. We need to encourage kids to go into battery technology (joking). Although batteries have gotten better, their pace seems stubbornly slow when you consider that we've tried making electric cars since the nineteenth century:

1. Price. The reason for the high price of electric cars has got to be the batteries. An electric car can throw out many of the parts a gas car has, including the transmission. Yet they still cost more. It's got to be the batteries.

2. Range. Electric cars need much more range than gas cars to really catch on, because they have fewer places to recharge. When an electric car has a range of 500 miles and sells for 25% less than the gas-powered equivalent, then it will catch on.

Stellar rays prove fibbing never pays. Embezzlement is another matter.