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Comment: Re:Hostile environments (Score 2) 634

by IamTheRealMike (#49570869) Attached to: How To Increase the Number of Female Engineers

The hostile environment is sometimes present in subtle ways, such as important discussions that occur spontaneously in the men's restroom

Look, if you find your work environment to be hostile then that's entirely your opinion and none of us here can really judge except through what you just wrote.

That said, what you just wrote makes me wonder if I woke up this morning in a parallel universe. Important discussions happening spontaneously in the men's restroom? Seriously?

I have spent my entire life being a man. In this time I can remember exactly zero conversations that took place in the bathroom at work. I have never taken part in one, I have never overheard one happening whilst I've been doing my business there. I do not believe this is some bizarre fluke - there's a strong social convention amongst men that nobody interacts with each other in the restroom. This social convention is only slightly less strong outside the workplace: it's extremely rare for men, even friends, to dawdle or hold a conversation longer than a few sentences in the bathroom. This is one reason why men's bathrooms tend not to have long queues outside them.

In contrast if I had a pound for every time I've been out with a bunch of women and one stood up to say, "I'm going to the bathroom" and suddenly the others all decided they needed to go right at the same time ...... well, I'd be a rich man. The amount of girls-only gossiping that goes in female bathrooms is ridiculous.

If you seriously believe that men are frequently having important business conversations in toilets then I don't know what to say to you. You either work in an extremely weird office, or you live in a country with radically different social norms, or no such conversations are actually happening but you've already decided you're being excluded somehow and can't figure out how or when, so decided to blame potty breaks. In which case you're just paranoid.

Comment: Re:Soooo.... (Score 4, Insightful) 634

by IamTheRealMike (#49568167) Attached to: How To Increase the Number of Female Engineers

Yes they are making an argument. The author of the article explicitly says:

What does all this show? It shows that the key to increasing the number of female engineers may not just be mentorship programs or child care centers, although those are important. It may be about reframing the goals of engineering research and curriculums to be more relevant to societal needs. It is not just about gender equity — it is about doing better engineering for us all

i.e. engineering that is "socially meaningful" is "better engineering" and by logical implication, the reason women were not signing up before is because engineering had no positive social impact and was somehow not good enough.

This is a load of crap that's highly insulting to men, of course. They're seeing what they want to see in this data: that the reasons women don't do high paid engineering work is because of a fault with engineering rather than because of the choices of women. It's a fundamentally biased, feminist perspective.

By the way, despite the name this "Development Engineering" course does not have any prerequisites, like actual training in engineering. Their website says students from any department can apply. So it sounds a lot like they've invented some entirely new course from scratch, called it engineering and are now marketing this as a success for getting women to study tough, high earning subjects. But I see no reason why an employer would desire people with such a qualification.

So here's a different theory: it's just another example of men choosing higher paid work than women. Instead of studying an entirely new subject (specific to one university) which only focuses on very poor parts of the world and thus is likely to have far more constrained earning potential, men choose to do a PhD that has a better chance of letting them pay off their student debt faster (like an actual pure engineering PhD). With fewer men choosing to do the course, the proportion of women rises.

Comment: Re:But it doesn't work (Score 2) 64

There have been multiple leakers from the various US national security industrial complexes since Snowden. It's hard to spot unless you're really paying attention, but it's clear that it's happened several times now - I think we're up to at least three other leakers, all of whom are anonymous. You can tell because the info comes from non-NSA agencies, or the material is dated after Snowden left, or (most subtly of all) the articles don't attribute the source of the leak to Snowden.

So it's not obviously useless. There are people leaking anonymously. Though for obvious reasons they don't tend to shout from the hills about it.

Comment: Re:Yes, Please!!! (Score 1) 161

by IamTheRealMike (#49563703) Attached to: Has the Native Vs. HTML5 Mobile Debate Changed?

For context, I develop complex scientific software. We use the browser (desktop) as our client and push the limits of what you can do there.

That's the problem with web development. People are always pushing the limits of browsers. Nobody used to talk about "pushing the limits of the Windows API" back when I used to write desktop apps in Delphi, because it hardly limited you.

At some point our industry has to get past this collective web fetish. The browser was never intended to run apps. Trying to use it as an app platform results in stuff that's horribly bloated and bug ridden, with decades of accumulated experience in how to write good software just thrown down the toilet because HTML5 got fashionable. When was the last time a mobile or desktop app had an XSS exploit?

Comment: Email IDs? (Score 2, Interesting) 21

Back when I was a lad, we knew that an "email address" was like a physical address - useless unless people know it. People even made them publicly available on the web!

Yes, spammers abused this. But hiding addresses hardly helped. So many addresses have been dumped or dictionary brute forced by now it's hardly a big deal if your email address appears in one more place.

So colour me unexcited by this terrible misstep.

Comment: Re:Damn... (Score 4, Informative) 492

That's like the opposite of what happened.

Pakistan does not exist because of the machinations of the British. Rather, Pakistan came into existence due to the withdrawal and general shutdown of the British Empire, which like many occupations was suppressing tribal and ethnic dissent in order to keep their territories together. The moment the Empire (which was weak and failing at this point in time anyway) released its hold on the country there was a huge bloody massacre and a civil war ("The Partition") which resulted in the creation of Pakistan.

So it's not like the British stood around and encouraged Muslims and Hindus to fight each other. They did that all on their own.

Comment: Re:Google: Select jurors who understand stats. (Score 1) 349

by IamTheRealMike (#49544707) Attached to: Median Age At Google Is 29, Says Age Discrimination Lawsuit

The context is US employees. The majority of employees are in the US

No it's not and no they aren't. Most Google employees and most Google revenues are outside the USA.

Name your country with a significant number of Google employees in which Google routinely hires people who do not speak an official language of that country, please.

Switzerland, as just one example.

Young people are working long hours, as you said yourself. Those young people are not staying, as the data confirms

Jesus christ, you're bad at this. The data doesn't say that. Google has very low attrition rates and always has. If all the young people were burning out and leaving the average age would be higher than it is, wouldn't it?

Google are low on gender, age, and race diversity compared to nearly every other tech company

You haven't shown that, or even begun to lay the groundwork for that. The demographics of Google engineering are pretty similar to the demographics of people taking CS courses at universities, which should not be surprising to anyone.

Like a few of my friends who walked away from the Google interview process, the moment I started hearing discussions of fitting into the "culture", I saw that it was a business comprised of smart but narrowminded techs who did not really know any better

All organisations have cultures, it's inherent to any group of people that's allowed to be selective. If you don't believe this then all that suggests to me is you work at a place where you fit in well enough that you don't recognise that there is a culture at all.

Comment: Re:Google: Select jurors who understand stats. (Score 1) 349

by IamTheRealMike (#49544163) Attached to: Median Age At Google Is 29, Says Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Who said anything about the USA? You realise Google has offices all over the world, right?

And who said anything about burning out? You're the one who decided that must happen. I've not seen any burned out young people at Google. The only burnout I knew there was a guy in his 50s.

And the only "evidence" of discrimination in hiring comes from this article, which is deeply questionable. Amongst other things it assumes every employee at Google does software development, which is very far from true (there is a massive sales division that skews young for the same reason bar staff do - it's not a very appealing long term job).

Comment: Re:Personally, I don't think he was talking to Goo (Score 1) 349

by IamTheRealMike (#49543943) Attached to: Median Age At Google Is 29, Says Age Discrimination Lawsuit

It's sounds bizarre but could have happened. Some people do crazy stuff to get a job there. When I was an interviewer there, part of interview training was learning tricks to detect candidates who were looking up answers on the internet. Sometimes you could ask a question and hear them typing in the background.

The article says the interviewer requested him to read the code out over the phone and that the interviewer was barely fluent in English. Those are two massive red flags that something odd was happening.

Google has a large pool of interviewers and some of them are better than others. There's no doubt about that. But in many years of working there I never encountered anyone with less than excellent English skills, and I cannot imagine anyone asking a candidate to read code out over the phone. That's just an obviously stupid thing to try and do, especially when the candidate offered to share it via Google Docs. SOP there is to send the candidate a Docs link for shared coding together, but even if something went wrong with that process, when the candidate offers to fix it that sounds and the interviewer refuses that sounds very much like he wasn't really talking to a Google employee. Think about it - if the person on the other end of the phone was a MITM then he'd need to have given his own very obviously non email address to receive the document. Busted.

Comment: Re:That shouldn't surprise anyone (Score 1) 349

by IamTheRealMike (#49543921) Attached to: Median Age At Google Is 29, Says Age Discrimination Lawsuit

I always joked that if you ask me to write a sort routine in the interview, I'm going to lecture you about why you need to go off the shelf, and doesn't Google have anyone who can make a shareable library? Do we really need to know how to code a lightning sort ad hoc? To sell more ads? heh

Then you wouldn't get hired. Former Google interviewer, 220+ interviews. I used to pretty frequently ask candidates to solve the following problem: write a program that loads lines of text from a file, shuffles them, and writes them back out again.

The reason companies like Google ask ridiculously academic questions in interviews (and that question is academic) is not because they're all ignoramuses who can't imagine anything outside their PhD box. It's because judging someone's technical and programming ability in under an hour any other way is really freaking hard. If you haven't done a lot of interviewing then it's easy to imagine, "If I were hiring, I'd only ask questions that REAL programmers would solve". But then you try lots of different kinds of questions and discover that for most of them, by the end of the interview you often have no real clue about whether the candidate can actually write a functioning program. CVs and qualifications are no help - they routinely seem to have no correlation with actual demonstrated skill.

Speed-coding whilst someone is watching you in a high pressure environment is difficult at the best of times. Doing it from scratch for any kind program of you're likely to actually write in the real job is impossible - nobody codes up a fully blown web app with the latest stack de jure (which Google doesn't use anyway) in 45 minutes. You don't even know what languages the candidate knows, in some cases, as not everyone thinks to put them on the CV. So you end up asking for a small, simple program that shows basic knowledge of basic language constructs like looping and different kinds of lists. Then there's time to write some code and ask questions about it. Additionally, there are multiple "off ramps" so even slow candidates don't feel like they are running out of time and panic, but faster candidates can keep being challenged with minor modifications to the task.

For what it's worth, if someone answered this question by writing a program that ran Collections.shuffle() or their chosen languages equivalent, that resulted in them being marked up not down, because you're right - knowledge of standard libraries is important and a good sign of experience. Then I'd ask them to do it again without using the standard library because I also want to see if they can write the code themselves. Using the most correct or optimal algorithm is not the goal, even if the question sounds algorithmic. It's just a scenario to get them doing things with data structures and basic control logic.

For what it's worth I am skeptical about the ages in the summary. If the average age at Google is 29 then that pretty much matches the average age across 25,000 developers on StackOverflow, which gave an answer of 30. However I suspect that the median age in engineering is higher if you take into account tech leads and technical management, and the age for the entire company is biased lower by the enormous ad sales organisation. That always seemed to me to be populated entirely by recent university grads. Selling ads is hardly exciting work with great potential for career advancement and doesn't require any specialist skills, so the people who do that tend to be young, and there have historically been massive numbers of them (like half the company).

Comment: Re:Google: Select jurors who understand stats. (Score 4, Insightful) 349

by IamTheRealMike (#49543885) Attached to: Median Age At Google Is 29, Says Age Discrimination Lawsuit

So, you're confirming that young employees are overworking, which is the first part of the hypothesis, although then you go into a marketing style tangent with, "It's just that they are so excited that they don't want to go home!!!" That sounds pretty unhealthy to me, especially given the present evidence of attrition suggesting that it is not a sustainable way of working.

It's not marketing, it's the truth. I worked there for nearly 8 years. By the way, I'm 31.

Google is (a) a very desirable employer and (b) hires people from all over the world. The combination of these things mean that many, many developers, especially younger ones that move from poorer countries, get relocated across borders. They arrive in a new country where they don't speak the language, quite often with a girlfriend or wife in tow, and frankly many of them don't quite dive into making friends and socialising as much as perhaps would be a good idea. Combination of new city, no social life + interesting work == lots of people working odd hours. Eventually they do settle down and the hours get more normal.

But programming has always been this way, hasn't it? I never heard a lawyer say, "I've been doing lawyering since I was 8 years old" but it happens in software all the time. It's a sort of work that many people just enjoy doing, and do it as a hobby as well as a job.

Comment: Re:Doublethink (Score 3, Insightful) 685

by IamTheRealMike (#49537875) Attached to: Except For Millennials, Most Americans Dislike Snowden

It's always been this way - younger people tend to care less about voting

I could equally say it's always been this way because politicians and The Establishment have always been old.

My theory is at that age you're still so engrossed with exploring your environment, that you put little thought into shaping your environment.

My theory is that political parties run by older people tend to focus on the wishes of people just like them i.e. older people. Due to the party political whipping system, young people who investigate politics quickly realise they will be forced to vote in support of social policies they disagree with, making the career unattractive. This results in a downward spiral in which politicians ignore people unlike them, those people get turned off from politics, and thus the demographic makeup of the political elite can never self correct.

As the trials of life continue to take their toll, remember that there is always a future in Computer Maintenance. -- National Lampoon, "Deteriorata"