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Comment: My take on this (Score 2) 557

It has been a great many years since I was fresh out of school. I now own my own company and employ nearly 50 people.

The way I got to live the dream is by being honest and having integrity from the get go. That means saying what is on your mind, professionally and personally, and above all, being NICE about it. Also, being flexible and eager to go outside my comfort zone was a huge help in learning everything I had to learn to go out on my own. The biggest mistakes I see "green" engineers make are:

1) Getting defensive. You're going to be wrong. A lot. You have a lot to learn, and a winning attitude is to accept this and seek out learning opportunities. There are certain school I just won't hire from anymore because they program their students with ultra large egos, probably to compensate for the ultra large price of tuition. There isn't much room for ego in an Associate Engineer position.

2) Getting lazy. We all realize you've been busting your ass to get your degree, and that being a good student is more than a full time job. But, you don't get to stop working hard just because you graduate.

3) Closely related to being lazy is: doing the bare minimum. You'll likely not be assigned enough work to keep you busy for 40 hours, but it will generally be expected that you spend the remaining time seeking out learning opportunities, reaching out to people for new work, and generally being eager and inquisitive.

4) Pigeon-holing: I see this one a lot too. Having your first real job is scary, and often I've seen new grads learn their first new skill, get comfortable with it, and then not want to do anything else. I would say the first 10 years of your career are not the time to specialize in something. The first 10 years are for exploring different skills and use cases and finding out what you're really good at.

I think the top three things you can do during the first year in your new job are:

1) Get to know everyone you can and what they do, and learn something about it, and how it ties in to the overall goals of the company

2) Be helpful. Offer to assist more senior engineers with testing, documentation, or whatever. You need to learn how to do the mundane and seniors will definitely appreciate your help in doing some of those tasks.

3) SAY SOMETHING when you get into trouble. If you're getting behind, don't know how to do something, or need help, SAY IT. You will not get in trouble for not knowing what to do, and the only way to learn is to ask. "I don't know" is not an obscene phrase.

Comment: If maintenance is the excuse, then wrong units (Score 1) 837

by EmagGeek (#49736959) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

If they really want to make road taxes usage based, then they need to charge by the ton-mile or something like that. Wear and tear on roads goes by the weight of the vehicle, and if I remember correctly it is a non-linear relationship (square or cube, I can't remember).

It's pretty trivial for a vehicle to compute its own weight, so it is similarly trivial for a vehicle to compute its own road tax as well. Many cars are now coming equipped with GSM modems as well, so your car could simply upload your road impact once/month and you can be billed for your use tax.

Piece of cake.

Comment: Re:Language, Density, and Whitespace (Score 1) 244

by EmagGeek (#49719165) Attached to: RTFM? How To Write a Manual Worth Reading

Oversimplified language creates more ambiguity, not less. It may *seem* less ambiguous to people who don't understand the subject matter. But, to people who do, failing to be both precise and descriptive in your language creates more questions than are answered by your text, or worse, sends an inaccurate message.

Comment: Re:Typical government response... (Score 2) 393

I think you're right except for a couple of glaring, incorrect assumptions on your part. First, PTC is not new technology. It has been around for a very long time. Second, it is not under "rush" deployment because it has been under deployment for a very long time. In fact, George W. Bush signed into Law a mandate to deploy this technology where appropriate by this year. Finally, the curve in question does not require PTC because the speed limit leading up to the curve is below the maximum safe speed for it. Under normal operating conditions a slow-down is not required beforehand.

The only thing that I find super-shocking about this whole event is that Bush has not yet been blamed for it. After all, he could have sent the Law back to Congress asking for a faster deployment, not that it would have made a difference in this case since it is not a requirement for this curve.


Schools That Ban Mobile Phones See Better Academic Results 113

Posted by samzenpus
from the put-that-thing-down dept. writes: Jamie Doward reports at The Guardian that according to a recent study in the UK, the effect of banning mobile phones from school premises adds up to the equivalent of an extra week's schooling over a pupil's academic year with the test scores of students aged 16 improved by 6.4% after schools banned mobile phones, "We found that not only did student achievement improve, but also that low-achieving and low-income students gained the most. We found the impact of banning phones for these students was equivalent to an additional hour a week in school, or to increasing the school year by five days." In the UK, more than 90% of teenagers own a mobile phone; in the US, just under three quarters have one. In a survey conducted in 2001, no school banned mobiles. By 2007, this had risen to 50%, and by 2012 some 98% of schools either did not allow phones on school premises or required them to be handed in at the beginning of the day. But some schools are starting to allow limited use of the devices. New York mayor Bill de Blasio has lifted a 10-year ban on phones on school premises, with the city's chancellor of schools stating that it would reduce inequality.

The research was carried out at Birmingham, London, Leicester and Manchester schools before and after bans were introduced (PDF). It factored in characteristics such as gender, eligibility for free school meals, special educational needs status and prior educational attainment. "Technological advancements are commonly viewed as increasing productivity," write Louis-Philippe Beland and Richard Murphy. "Modern technology is used in the classroom to engage students and improve performance. There are, however, potential drawbacks as well, as they could lead to distractions."

Comment: Language, Density, and Whitespace (Score 3, Funny) 244

by EmagGeek (#49689489) Attached to: RTFM? How To Write a Manual Worth Reading

What I've learned from decades of reading professionally-written manuals can be summed up in two steps:

The first step in writing a good manual is to have a very weak grasp of the language used by your target audience. It is important to use many grammatical and spelling errors, just to make sure the reader stays on their toes and pays attention. Research has also shown that users do not like to read manuals that use advanced vocabulary or complex grammatical structures.

The second step is to manage the density of information on the pages properly. A piece of paper is pretty large, and so are most screens, so a lot of information can be included on a single pane of view. It is important to make the most of this space and convey as much information as possible, as densely as possible. The more information a user can see without having to turn pages, the better. Use of separating devices, indications, and other correlative marks should be avoided, as it takes away from space that can be used for more information. They also can cause there to be more whitespace on a page, which should be avoided at all costs.

The Military

US Successfully Tests Self-Steering Bullets 216

Posted by Soulskill
from the bad-news-for-Neo dept.
mpicpp sends this report from The Independent: The United States Department of Defense has carried out what it says is its most successful test yet of a bullet that can steer itself towards moving targets. Experienced testers have used the technology to hit targets that were actively evading the shot, and even novices that were using the system for the first time were able to hit moving targets. The project, which is known as Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance weapon, or Exacto, is being made for the American government's military research agency, DARPA. It is thought to use small fins that shoot out of the bullet and re-direct its path, but the U.S. has not disclosed how it works. Technology in the bullet allows it to compensate for weather and wind, as well as the movement of people it is being fired at, and curve itself in the air as it heads towards its target.

Real programmers don't bring brown-bag lunches. If the vending machine doesn't sell it, they don't eat it. Vending machines don't sell quiche.