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Comment: A couple different tips (Score 2) 561

by Gribflex (#43179747) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Block Noise In a Dorm?

I've run into this a lot; in dorms, in a house with other mates from uni, at work, and so on.
Here are some things that work for me:

  - If you can afford it, noise canceling headphones are awesome. If you put yourself in a quiet place, they help a huge amount. Expensive though.
  - Always have ear plugs in your bag. They are small, and you can use them in a pinch. Super good for exam situations where things are quiet anyway and you just want to block out that guy who keeps clicking his pen.
  - Go to a hardware store, and find the ear protection section. For 20-40$ you should be able to find industrial grade ear protection. This works really, really well; and lasts longer than ear plugs. These are more effective than bose noise canceling headphones, but less comfy and won't play music.

Note that all of the above will only lessen the sounds around you; if you are already in a loud place, it won't make it silent. Which leads me to my next piece of advice:

Go somewhere else. I still have to do this to this day. There is a quiet, distraction free place somewhere on campus where you can go. You have to find it though. I ended up with a collection of about 6 places that were generally super quiet.
You'll also want to find places that are distraction free in other ways too (eg. a desk in a basement at the end of a hall; there was nothing there but what I brought with me, and very few people ever came by). Try to avoid populous study areas; there are other distractions there. Extra good if you can find somewhere that's not too far from a toilet for those long study sessions. If I had to walk too far to find a bathroom, it would take me 10 minutes to get there, and 90 to get back on account of interesting everything.

Music that you can't process. In my case it was chinese pop music, or very loud punk rock. Experiment with different things, you'll probably find something that your brain considers passive background noise. Note that it's not enough to simply change the language or find something without words. I'll happily hum along to classical, and I have no problem singing along to bhangra music. I'd suggest looking at pop music from other cultures, or genre's that are known to be loud and noisy.

Watch the chemicals. Getting the right amount of caffeine is a tricky balance. Obviously it keeps you awake, which is a plus. But having a hit can help sharpen your mind to the work at hand a little bit. Having too much will end up being a huge distraction.

Have a refocus point. Eventually you're mind is going to wander, I found it was helpful to have something that brought it back. Some people use excercise, or a smoke break for this. For me, I printed a little sign that I would stick at eye level that read simple "GRADUATE". Whenever my mind went, this little sign would act as a mental kick in the pants. Most times I could pull it together and get back to the task at hand. Maybe after a few breathes, or something.

Know when to quit. If it's just not working; stop. Take a break (ideally, a limited break; like having no more than three printed sheets of sudoku in your bag), or just switch tasks and come back in a bit.

Games

Are You Gaming For the Right Reasons? 220

Posted by Soulskill
from the gotta-make-that-int-bigger dept.
An editorial at IGN discusses healthy (and unhealthy) ways to play video games. The author says that while gaming is a perfectly legitimate hobby, it needs to be approached with moderation and an understanding of what you get out of playing. Without understanding your motivations and compulsions, it's quite possible to play video games in a way that's detrimental. From the article: "Games, especially modern ones, revolve around the principle that if you put the time in, you will be rewarded. Many gamers claim to not understand how anyone could put up with grinding in a video game. But grinding is comforting. Grinding tells us that, no matter what, if you keep playing you'll become more powerful. ... The real world does not operate this way. You can 'grind' at a job for 10 years and still be laid off. You can 'grind' at your physical health your whole life but if you switch to an unhealthy lifestyle you will immediately begin losing this progress. ... It's important for gamers to have mastery of their own mind. Are you grinding out a level in World of Warcraft because you're truly enjoying the experience, or are you doing it to replace missing feelings of self-worth that you don't want to confront? Do you revel in your virtual successes to avoid the uncomfortable internal dialogue regarding of your abandoned gym routine? Are you playing games because you're having fun, or because you have an unconfronted fear of failure?

Comment: Facebook is Prior Art (Score 1) 214

by Gribflex (#39536235) Attached to: The Phantoms of Google+

This was actually a feature of Facebook for a while, at least when I joined up. The number one driver for me to create an account on facebook was that I already had a sort of ghost account created by the people I knew. Even though I didn't have an account, people could still tag me in photos (prompting an email), view collections of photos that I'd been tagged in, and a few other basic functions. I joined solely so that I could change my privacy settings.

Comment: Re:Stay Classy Microsoft (Score 1) 304

by Gribflex (#39133395) Attached to: Microsoft's Anti-Google Video Campaign

Gotcha -- thanks for that.
However, that still has a workflow where you edit my file directly, and diffs are tracked by revisions. Is there anyway to make it so that I have to accept/reject changes, or where changes are managed on a change-by-change basis?

As for passing copies of files around, I think it's a fine workaround to put a doc on a file share, in sharepoint, or in source control. Google Docs is actually way better for simultaneous collaboration though, I have to agree with that.

Comment: Re:Stay Classy Microsoft (Score 1) 304

by Gribflex (#39132657) Attached to: Microsoft's Anti-Google Video Campaign

"Usually she agrees, but not always, and she can always see exactly what I did and easily revert what she doesn't like."

How?!
I've started using it a ton for collaboration, but I haven't been able to find a reasonable replacement for Track Changes that you'd find in Word.
Sure, I can comment, or I can just change the text. But, if I want to make changes to the text and have someone be able to see what was changed and accept/reject, I can't seem to do that.

Comment: Re:So much for returns. (Score 1) 184

by Gribflex (#38811097) Attached to: Apple Has Spent More Than $100 Million Suing Android Manufacturers

I think Microsoft's strategy is to generate revenue by accepting licensing payments from android manufacturers. This is good for their bottom line as they are making steady income from other people.

Apple's strategy, I think, is to damage their competitors. By keeping android in court, they are hurting sales numbers directly (samsung products being banned for sale, even for just a few months), or indirectly (third party developers question whether android is the right platform; manufacturers reducing their focus on android phones).

They aren't making any money directly from their legal action, but if you look at the whole picture, I'll bet they are doing at least as well as Microsoft. The iPhone still has a hefty market share - which is important for Apple because they make the bulk of their iPhone related money on the iTunes store commissions. If they took licensing payments instead, they would get some money from the manufacturers, but potentially lose their cut on movies, music, apps, etc.

Comment: Change up the problem domain, or methods (Score 2) 165

by Gribflex (#38690832) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Advancing a Programming Career?

Given the restrictions that you have (keep doing what you're doing, but more advanced) then I would suggest one of two things.

[1] Change to a completely new set of problems. If you've been working in business software, change to games. In this way you will still be doing dev, but the kinds of problems that you are trying to solve will be completely different, which will lead to new challenges.

[2] Try changing up the 'how' of what you're doing. For example, look for a team that's using scrum methodology, or test-driven-development. Alternately, new tools, programming languages, platforms (Mostly focussing on windows? Go mac/mobile/unix/web.). Even just somewhere with a vastly different release cycle could be interesting - by last employer measured their dev cycles in years; my current employer in weeks. If you put the focus on the skills, instead of the work, it can be really rewarding. See Software Craftsman movement for related inspiration in this direction.

[3] Move. I'm on my third country now, and I can tell you that doing the same thing in a different country totally changes the game. French engineers do not think the same way as Canadian engineers. So much of our work is about problem solving, and being able to transform real world problems into software. It's been very cool to working through a problem with someone with a totally different world view.

To use an analogy: You are a great French chef; you've worked in a wide range of sit down restaurants from very small to very large. And you've always felt successful, but you now feel you're only option is to start your own business. I'm recommending that you [1] go work at a japanese restaurant, [2] try a catering company or 'fast food', or [3] try working in Vietnam.

Comment: Consider hiring a technical writer (Score 1) 114

by Gribflex (#38631170) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Documenting Scattered Sites and Systems?

Have you considered hiring a Technical Writer on contract?
From the work you describe, someone with the right experience should be able to pull all of that together for you in about a month -- maybe a bit longer to make sure that it's usable for you in the long term. Writers spend a lot their time summarizing, re-organizing, and pulling together disjointed pieces of information. I'd consider hiring someone to get you running, and then having them show you a few things for how to keep the wheels greased in the long term.

It'll cost a bit extra, but it's likely to get done faster than if you DIY, and you won't have to take as much time off from your existing IT duties.

Mozilla

Mozilla Issues Do-Not-Track Guide For Advertisers 74

Posted by samzenpus
from the stop-following-me dept.
angry tapir writes "Mozilla has issued a do not track field guide to encourage advertisers and publishers to implement do-not-track (DNT) functionality. The guide contains tutorials, case studies and sample code to illustrate how companies use the DNT technology. Mozilla aims to inspire developers, publishers and advertisers to adopt DNT and wants to put the control over Internet tracking into the hands of users. The browser maker wants to put a stop to behavioral targeting and pervasive tracking on the Web. The guide can be found here (PDF)."

Comment: Similar to Bruce Perens article from 2009 (Score 1) 210

by Gribflex (#36261340) Attached to: FSF On How To Choose a License

There was a similar article from Bruce Perens a few years back: http://news.slashdot.org/story/09/02/16/1633200/How-Many-Open-Source-Licenses-Do-You-Need

He describes his reasons differently, but arrives at the same conclusions. For those of you worried about the missing option of the BSD license, he does talk about this a little bit. But only a little bit -- it's quite a short article. Worth a read for an alternate take of the same point of view.

Comment: Re:As usual, it depends (Score 1) 235

by Gribflex (#36080142) Attached to: I Like My IT Budget Tight and My Developers Stupid

I can tell you what happened, at least from the people I know in doc and training.
You mostly got it right, btw.

Documentation used to be a big investment area.
Then training came along. Training made money; Documentation cost money.
Companies started by de-investing in doc, and investing heavily in training departments.
After a while, organizations would start to ask their doc teams to intentionally include less information so that customers would be 'encouraged' to buy training.

But, there was a problem. Where did the training teams get their information from?
Documentation.

Documentation fills the role of a primary researcher for the training departments. They know what's going into the product, how it is supposed to work, and what it actually does as soon as the product is released. Training teams follow a several month lag, as they need to train what's installed on the customers site, not what's in development. Without the source material coming from Doc, it's a lot harder for trainers to pull together great content. They now have to do both the primary and secondary research, but with the added difficulty that the developers are now working on the *next* iteration, and aren't really that interested in talking about the last release.

Comment: Re:as always depends on the person (Score 3, Interesting) 557

by Gribflex (#35407958) Attached to: Can For-Profit Tech Colleges Be Trusted?

"otherwise we'll be like europe where if you don't do well on the high school tests they give you will never go to college and never have a chance to change your life in the future"

When I first moved to France, it was the season when test results were just coming out.
A major paper ran a story about 'What do do if your kid doesn't get into a Top 10 school?'
The answer: enroll them in an IT program, or ship them to America.

Kinda took the wind outta my sails a bit to read that what I'd considered a good career choice (Ok, I went to a Canadian school but still) was the second rate choice here. After spending two more years here, I've realized that it was only partly a jab. While it's true that IT careers are not typically highly regarded over here, it's also true that in both North America, and IT worldwide, your test scores are not considered a primary qualifier for success.

Comment: Highly educated, yes, but were they using it? (Score 1) 622

by Gribflex (#35404518) Attached to: Is Software Driving a Falling Demand For Brains?

Let's be open here -- these people were highly educated, yes, but where they using their education in this role?
I think not.

What they were doing was simply reading through mounds of material looking for something that could be interesting to the case. It requires some deduction, some common sense, a good grasp of the concepts of the problems they are trying to solve, etc. But, it does not require a law degree. This is grunt work. One could easily imagine a situation where several legal assistants do the same work, and report into a senior person who really does need that education.

From other job sectors, one could make this distinction between Nurses and Doctors. (Yes, i know Nurses are also skilled, but not as much so as a Doctor for most definitions of 'Nurse'). You don't need your MD to answer a slough of 'Does this rash look funny to you?' questions at a health clinic. Just a simple 'No, put this cream on it' or 'OMG, what did you do? You need to see a Doctor' will suffice. Four good nurses and one doctor is as effective as 5 doctors for most family style medicine, and a heck of a lot cheaper.

Or, closer to home, you don't need someone with a degree and 6 certifications to work Tier 1 tech support. Tier 2 or 3, perhaps. But not Tier 1.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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