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Comment: I've been programming for 45 years (Score 1) 306

by Calibax (#46516869) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Can an Old Programmer Learn New Tricks?

I started programming professionally in 1969 with Fortran, followed by COBOL in 1970, Algol and IBM 360 Assembler in 1972. Since then I've coded projects in Basic, Simula, ESPOL, NDL, Databus, PL/1, PL/S, Rexx, Forth, Pascal, and half a dozen different assembler languages such as 6502, 6800, 68000, x86, Datapoint, PDP-11 and PowerPC. My current languages of choice are C, C++, C#, and JavaScript, although I can do Transact/SQL, Visual Basic, and Python if needed.

Here's my point. A computer language is just a way of expressing simple commands. The concepts are pretty much the same across most procedural languages. A DO loop is a DO loop, regardless of what you call it and the exact syntax. A much bigger issue is learning the idioms and the libraries associated with each implementation of a language. Just like human languages, the more of them you know, the easier it is to pick up the next one.

I've never had any formal computer classes. Back when I started there was no such thing as a computer science degree - most university classes in computing were done the math department. But you still have to learn. Buy books, read them, do small projects to familiarize yourself with the languages. Make yourself learn. It's your career, manage it. Make certain you have the skills that are needed, and if you think you don't have the skills you need then be proactive in getting them. Use the Tiobe index to see what's trending up.

I'm at my sixth company at present. I have never been unemployed. I don't code as much as I used to because I'm in an architectural role now, but I still can code and I enjoy it immensely. I'm still the go-to guy in my areas of expertise. I made the mistake of going the managerial route at one point and discovered I hated it. Computers are easier to handle than people - they don't lie, they do what you tell them, and they don't have hidden agendas, and they don't backstab.

18 years is less than half of your working life. Coders will be needed for long time. Application coders will needed for years to come. People will be needed to code operating systems, drivers, environmental software, IDEs, compilers, etc. for many years. Don't give up, and don't believe all you read about ageism. I interviewed for my current gig with a full head of grey hair.

Comment: Re:Cry me a fucking river... (Score 4, Informative) 374

by Calibax (#45976817) Attached to: Man Jailed For Refusing To Reveal USB Password

In the UK, the right to remain silent has been around since the 17th Century. However, it was removed by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1984.

Since the UK doesn't have a written constitution, it's impossible to argue that a law is unconstitutional. The question cannot be taken to the European Court of Human Rights, because the tight to remain silent is not mentioned in the European Convention on Human Rights, although the majority of E.U. countries have laws giving that right.

Further, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 make it a crime not to disclose an encryption key to police when asked.

Comment: Re:Cry me a fucking river... (Score 1) 374

by Calibax (#45976639) Attached to: Man Jailed For Refusing To Reveal USB Password

In the USA there is a constitutional right against self incrimination, and the right not to answer questions from the police has been the subject of many movies, both fictional and non-fictional. It's generally considered that "taking the fifth" is a well known act by criminals.

Without doubt it is possible to argue that not answering questions is impeding an investigation and therefore obstructing justice, but it is balanced by a suspect's right to remain silent when questioned by police. Now whether a person can be compelled to answer questions about a password is a different twist on the question "where did you hide the key the safe" or whatever, but I think the answer is well settled in U.S. jurisprudence.

Comment: Re:It's about time! (Score 1) 1431

by Calibax (#45952585) Attached to: Man Shot To Death For Texting During Movie

You do know that this occurred BEFORE the movie started? The guy who was shot dead (whom you call a jerk) was not texting during the movie, but during the opening adverts. You know who the real jerk in this story is?

The man who shot him had to go to his car to retrieve his gun. This was an intentional and premeditated act of violence that deserves severe punishment.

Now a child will grow up without his father. A wife will have to bring up the child without her husband's help. All because some jerk didn't like the adverts being interrupted.

Comment: Re:The Mac tax is not just cost, it's expandabilit (Score 1) 804

by Calibax (#45793713) Attached to: What Would It Cost To Build a Windows Version of the Pricey New Mac Pro?

The title of this story is "How much would it cost to build a Windows version of the Mac Pro", so I described a system I specced that is very similar.

The user wanted a system, I specced it for him. It was built and he's happy. Your comment notwithstanding. And I am hideous :)

Comment: Re:Very Doubtful (Score 1) 804

by Calibax (#45793689) Attached to: What Would It Cost To Build a Windows Version of the Pricey New Mac Pro?

The title of this story is "How much would it cost to build a Windows version of the Mac Pro". I claim that the system is an equivalent system to the Mac Pro - and that's the whole point of my listing the system components and the system cost.

In this case the user can't use a Mac Pro because it doesn't support his applications which are written in CUDA - an NVIDIA proprietary language that the user claims is vastly superior to OpenCL for his needs.

I understand that the Mac Pro GPUs are being build specifically for Apple by AMD and are not available elsewhere, so I don't know how you can claim anything about their speed unless you have benchmarked them with the code they are intended to run. Similarly, you say it's "very likely" that the storage is slower, again without doing any benchmarks in the setting they are being used with the intended applications.

In this case, the user needed a new system. He gave me the requirements, and I specced a system that has made him happy. In addition, I think it has some serious advantages over a Mac Pro. And it's fast enough for the user, and in the end, that's all that matters.

Comment: The Mac tax is not just cost, it's expandability (Score 0) 804

by Calibax (#45793253) Attached to: What Would It Cost To Build a Windows Version of the Pricey New Mac Pro?

I recently specced a system quite similar to the Mac Pro. I used a SuperMicro motherboard, a similar Xeon 6-core CPU, 128 GB of ECC RAM, two Samsung 512 GB Pro SSDs (primary and a local backup), and an NVIDIA Quadro GPU. All the other components (case, power supply, CPU cooler, fans) are top quality. My supplier ordered the parts and charged $100 to assemble and test it. The user is running Linux and he's happy with the system - happy enough that he's demoed it around his department and says it has generated much interest. In any case, a new Mac Pro wasn't an option for him as he's using CUDA rather than OpenCL.

The total cost was $4,150. The system has twice as much RAM as the Mac Pro supports, an upgradeable GPU, space for many more drives in the box, and a savings of about $1,500 over an equivalent Mac Pro with 64GB RAM. OK, the box doesn't look as nice, but since it's under the user's desk that's not so terrible.

The cost saving is not the biggest improvement over the Mac Pro. The big items are having an upgradeable GPU and expandability inside the box - Thunderbolt just doesn't have the product base yet. I'm beginning to doubt it ever will with higher speed USB in the pipeline.

Comment: Can you run a Tech Company on Grade A folks only? (Score 5, Interesting) 397

by Calibax (#45781283) Attached to: Netflix: Non-'A' Players Unworthy of Jobs

Here's the problem. Grade A people expect to do grade A work. In almost every organization there is a ton of work that doesn't fit into this category but still needs attention. Code gets old and has to be updated, and there's a ton of work that doesn't require the brightest and best but still has to be done.

Now the grade A people don't want to know that. They want to work on the sexy new stuff that makes them look like the superstars they are. They might put up with maintenance coding for a while, but they won't stay there. They will want to move to better things, and if they can't they will move to another company - and because they are grade A, they can do that with relative ease.

Google used to have the same issue with a grade A requirement, and they found that products stayed in beta for years as a result of engineers moving on when the interesting parts of the code was done. They even had to cancel some products because they couldn't get engineering resources that wanted to work on them. So they lowered their standards a little and things improved somewhat.

By the way, I'm not knocking maintenance programming - that's often difficult work. Maintenance guys have to come up to speed quickly on systems they never wrote and then make the code do things it was never designed to do, and finish it in an impossible short deadline, because it's "only" maintenance. But it's not sexy enough for most grade A folks.

Comment: Bill is doing the right things (Score 5, Insightful) 247

by Calibax (#45304631) Attached to: Bill Gates: Internet Will Not Save the World

Years ago, when I was a zoology major in university, I spent some time working on a study of elephant migration paths in Africa.

It was an eye opening experience. I was staggered by the sheer poverty, the lack of access to safe drinking water and food, the high rates of preventable illness, and the high rate of child deaths. I remember a woman living in Uganda who made "biscuits" for children made with washed dirt simply so they could get something into their stomachs that would reduce the hunger pains and not kill them. I don't give to USA charities since then. I give all my charity dollars to people who are doing outstanding work in areas of disease and poverty.

I have no idea what people struggling to find food would do with the internet. Would it enrich their lives? I don't see how. Would it save them from disease? Would it allow their children greater likelyhood to see their fifth birthday?

Bill Gates has the right idea. I just wish other very rich people had as much sense and willingness to spend their money to help people.

Comment: Do you think you are special? (Score 3, Insightful) 234

by Calibax (#45246177) Attached to: Ten Steps You Can Take Against Internet Surveillance

According to news reports, there are around 1000 analysts at NSA engaged in surveillance. Let's assume half of them are looking at foreign traffic and half at domestic traffic. That's 500 analysts for 350 million population, or 1 analyst for every 700,000 people. What makes you think you are special enough to deserve their attention?

Personally, I'm much more concerned about the way commercial organizations are spying on us. I think the loss of privacy to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, and other social media is much more creepy than some secret government bureau knowing that I called my parents 3 times last week.

Of course, there are those that worry about cops knowing when they are calling their drug supplier to set up a buy, but all indications so far is that the data is not available to regular police organizations.

+ - Parallels Update Installs Unrelated Deamon Without Permission

Submitted by Calibax
Calibax (151875) writes "Parallels recently released version 9 of Parallels Desktop, their popular hypervisor application for Mac. They also released a new product named Parallels Access that offers access to Windows applications from an iPad for $80 per year. Access has received less than stellar reviews.

When a user upgrades Parallels Desktop, he is asked if he wants a free six month subscription to Parallels Access. Even if he says no, the product is installed on his system and the application is started each time the system is rebooted. It is installed with ancillary files scattered around several directories in the system and Parallels has not supplied an uninstaller or listed the steps to fully uninstall the application, despite a number of requests.

In other words, Parallels has decided it's a good idea to silently install a difficult to remove deamon application on the system, even if the user has explicitly stated they do not want it. They have not provided an uninstaller or a list of files installed or instructions on how to remove the application files. These are scattered to at least four Mac OS X OS system level directories."

Comment: Give value for money (Score 1) 687

by Calibax (#43228761) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Is a Reasonable Way To Deter Piracy?

Assuming you have a good product, the best way to deter pirates is to set a reasonable price so that people feel they are getting value for their money. The lower the price, the less people will want or need to evade the cost. There are studies showing the price points where you tend to meet increasing resistence, although I don't think they have much data on the sub-$10 field.

Having a free trial period with limited time or limited features would probably help to ensure people can feel good about spending their money.
Offering support would help also.
Free updates would also be a plus.

Any sort of serious DRM will turn people off for low cost products, but some sort of protection (serial number tied to user name?) will be necessary if you offer a free trial.

Comment: Re:Musk isn't doing himself any favors here (Score 1) 841

by Calibax (#42897791) Attached to: Elon Musk Lays Out His Evidence That NYT Tesla Test Drive Was Staged

You might not want to. However, some of us have a different lifestyle and may have different concerns. It would be an ideal car for people who spend most of their time in their car commuting and can charge it every night. Given the large reduction in fuel and pollution costs some might consider that worthwhile.

In my case I have 48 solar panels on top of my house and the ability to charge an electric vehicle for free. Yes, I will be getting an EV when costs of being at the bleeding edge of development are reduced.

Comment: Re:Stay low (Score 5, Insightful) 143

by Calibax (#42817409) Attached to: Chinese Blogger Becomes Celebrity Exposing Corruption

Almost certainly the guy who posed the video is being used by someone who passed him the tape.

The real whistle blower is probably a higher level functionary who wanted the tape released to discredit a political enemy and able to protect this guy, for now. How long the poster will continue to be protected is anyone's guess.

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. -- Thomas Alva Edison

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