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Comment: Won't hire 'monolingual' developers (Score 1) 174

by david.emery (#49622251) Attached to: Is It Worth Learning a Little-Known Programming Language?

I explicitly will not hire any programmer who knows only one programming language (C and C++ count as 1 for that score.) Learning a different programming language introduces you to alternative ways to think about problems and solutions. Lisp or Scheme, Ada or Eiffel, COBOL or MUMPS, all provide a different perspective on software design, coding, test and integration.

Too many hiring managers play "buzzword bingos" in search of "flying purple unicorns," candidates whose buzzwords match their current search list. Sure, you can make a living chasing buzzwords that way, with a combination of (primarily) resume engineering and (secondarily) training. And some people who do this are actually pretty good developers. But many more don't know how to apply the technology, they're just able to produce toy programs learned from " for Idiots" who produce the stuff documented on But the people I want are those who can think creatively about a problem, using more tools than just one hammer, and who can learn new stuff on the job. What's the half-life of a technology these days, 3 years?

Comment: Re:Hmmm Tasty Whale Tongue (Score 1) 45

Were you trying to say:

"LOL, nei, (th)að var ekki augljóst að "here" ((væri?)) Ísland og að (th)ú værir íslensk. En ((??????)) Google Translate get ég látið eins og hálfviti á tveimur tungumálum. Ef gert er ráð fyrir auðvitað að Slashdot ((sé ekki að flækja Unicodeið?))"

That is:

"LOL, no, it wasn't clear that here is Iceland and that you were were Icelandic. But (????) Google Translate I can come across like an idiot in two languages. If one assumes of course that Slashdot isn't screwing up the Unicode"?

Comment: Re:Hmmm Tasty Whale Tongue (Score 1) 45

I'll reiterate: People here think it's a ridiculous product. The page is stupid marketing to foreigners. Yes, there are separate accent and apostrophe keys (in case you're curious, here's what an Icelandic keyboard layout looks like). Hákarl (the fermented shark you refer to) isn't eaten commonly, it's actually fairly rarely eaten (though some people do like it). Most of the foods you'd consider weird are rarely consumed, like sheep heads, skate, etc, often associated with a particular festival or whatnot. Probably the only things you'd find weird that are eaten fairly commonly are horse and fish jerky (harðfiskur). Lamb is commonly eaten here but you probably wouldn't find that weird. We also have a lot of dairy products you don't have but I don't think you'd find most of them that weird. Anyway, probably the most commonly-eaten food here is pizza ;) Hamburgers and hotdogs are common too (though our hotdogs are made of lamb).

Whale is eaten here but rarely. Nearly half of the catch consumed in Iceland is eaten by tourists (a large percentage of which, I should add, come from America). Also I'm continually surprised by the percentage of Americans who criticize Iceland for whaling but don't know that America whales too, and no small amount (producing thousands of tonnes of whale meat per year). Yes, they're "natives" whaling, but 1) it's no less traditional for Icelanders to whale than it is for Alaskan natives, 2) Alaskan natives use modern equipment for whaling too, including chasing them down in speedboats, killing them with modern equipment, and dragging them on shore with backhoes; and 3) Alaskan whales end up no less dead than Icelandic ones. None of the Icelandic whale populations are threatened.

Anyone who wants to discourage whaling over here, a few tips.

One, don't come out with the self-righteous stuff, because it doesn't fly. Not only does the US whale too, but receiving lectures on morality from a country where a majority of the population supports torture and who engages in all sorts of obscene human rights abuses and whose domestic livestock are mostly raised in factory farms in horrible conditions doesn't exactly come across well.

Secondly, know that any overt pressure is just going to cause backlash, and the more overt, the more the backlash. Many of you may see for example Paul Watson as a hero. Here he's seen as a ecoterrorist; he literally sent people in to sink ships right in the public harbour. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to distance yourself from these sort of people. You don't make friends by talking up people who come in and wreck up the place.

Third, understand the local perspective. It's not only that they've been eaten traditionally since Iceland was settled (indeed, the word for "beached whale" also means "jackpot" or "godsend", because in the old days it could mean the difference between life or death for a whole town). It's that they live free out in the open ocean, growing up their whole lives unhindered by man (except when, say, a NATO ship uses a super-powerful anti-sub sonar in the area or whatnot :P), living a pretty much idyllic life - and a single whale provides a vast amount of meat. Meanwhile, pigs for example - also highly intelligent animals - grow up in horrible squalid conditions in many of the countries that criticize Iceland .

Fourth, there are actual arguments you can make that have effect, and have on their own been discouraging whale consumption - but which foreigners who oppose whaling rarely make. Probably the foremost of these is the health issue. Whales, being top predators, tend to have dangerously high levels of heavy metal and organic pollutant contamination. If you want to make someone feel uncomfortable about eating whale meat, point out how much mercury and lead they're eating in that serving. There are also lesser arguments you can make that may or may not have effects on the person, depending on the individual - intelligence (but you better be well versed in the scientific literature, unbacked claims won't fly), for example, or how long it takes a whale to die versus other types of animals slaughtered for meat - but depending on the person, that may or may not be seen as a good argument. But the toxin contamination issue will have an effect on pretty much everyone.

(also, realize that not everyone here eats whale at all, and most people who do eat it only rarely)

Lastly, focus on the tourists. They come in for just a couple days and yet a large chunk of them order whale while they're here. Many of them oppose whaling back home, but it's as if when they come here their strict "morality" goes out the door, in the interest of "trying new things". I don't think they realize that they eat such a large percentage of the Icelandic catch, or that they somehow disconnect from where the meat comes from. There's a campaign here called "Meet Us, Don't Eat Us", encouraging whale watching instead of eating whale meat, and I think that's a very good strategy. The whale watching industry is economic counterpressure to the whaling industry.

(As a side note - I say all of this as a vegetarian).

Comment: Re:Depends how you evaluate the curve (Score 4, Insightful) 331

by radtea (#49621265) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

If you're looking for people who generate a profit from their time, the curve is almost certainly U-shaped based on my now not-so-light 30+ years in the trenches.

The skill distribution doesn't have to be U-shaped to produce a U-shaped distribution. All there has to be is a threshold of skill that must be reached to perform effectively:

I liken this to a wall-climbing task in an obstacle course: some combination of height/weight/strength is necessary to get over the wall. If you measure them individually you'll see broad distributions with soft correlations with ability to get over the wall (because short/strong/light people will be able to do it and tall/strong/heavy people will be able to do it, but short/strong/heavy people won't and tall/weak/light people won't, etc). The wall-climbing task requires the right combination of a small number of such skills to be over some threshold. This trivially (as the simple model in the link shows) generates the observed U-shaped distribution in programming outcomes.

People who claim that anyone can be taught to code well enough to pass a first year computer science course have the opportunity to make a very simple, compelling argument in favour of their thesis: tell us how to teach people to program! If you can do that--if you can get rid of the U-shaped mark distribution that has been documented in first year computing for decades despite all kinds of efforts to understand and deal with it, your argument will be made. Everything else is just hot air: ideological and unconvincing.

There are certain things we know do not cause the bimodal mark distribution in first year computing:

1) Bad teaching (because the issue has been researched and any number of caring, intelligent teachers have thrown themselves at it, and anyone's sucky first year computing prof does not disprove this)

2) Language (because the bimodal mark distribution persists in all languages)

3) Years of coding experience of incoming students (because if that were the case it would have been identified as the differentiator in the decades of research that have gone into this: someone with no coding experience can do as well as someone with years... if they are over some threshold of skill.)

So while it's fun to watch equalitarian ideologues tub-thump this issue, they unfortunately bring nothing to the discussion but ideological blather. The U-shaped, bimodal, mark distribution in first-year computing is robust evidence of a threshold of some kind that people have to be over to code well. There may be other thresholds higher up the scale (I've seen estimates that 25% of coders will never get OO... god knows what the figure is for FP, which I'm still struggling with myself.) But the claim "It would be dreadful if everyone can't code!" is not an argument, it's an emotional outburst, and we need to focus on the data, not the way we wish the world is.

Personally, I would love it if we could figure out how to teach coding better. I see journalists, economists, politicians, business-people, all sorts who are dependent on coders to help them out on the most rudimentary questions. If we could teach everyone to code the level of data-driven discourse would go through the roof. But I'm not counting on that happening any time soon.

Comment: Re:Hmmm Tasty Whale Tongue (Score 1) 45

Oh god, it's rare to see such bad English here. Maybe they got my ex's brother to write that page ;) And can they not tell the difference between their accent and apostrophe keys? Also, what stupid stereotyping-about-Iceland-to-market-to-foreigners is this? Just letting people know: almost everyone here thinks this is an absurd product.

Comment: Re: Prefer support (Score 1) 276

It isn't like any polynesians had a navy capable of transporting the people and resources needed to conquer the islands. Nor was there economic value in such an endeavor. Refugees and explorers showing up and assimilating? Absolutely. A conquering force? Not a chance.

Maori didn't quite conquer New Zealand that way (there was no-one to conquer it from), but they definitely did assemble a fleet large enough to be an invasion force.

The earth is like a tiny grain of sand, only much, much heavier.