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Comment Dear Editors (Score 5, Interesting) 461

Why can I never figure out where a link is going? Read back over that. There are two hyperlinks in the summary. One is "an article by two early Apple designers" the other is "lost its marbles when it comes to user interface design."

So which one of those goes to the article that the summary is about? It's the second! That's so counter-intuitive! Seriously! Why do I have to click through your links to figure out what you're linking to?

Comment Re:And what if we were just colder 160 years ago (Score 1) 735

The paper you cite raises the idea that while West Antarctica is losing ice fast, East Antarctica is gaining mass. However, a couple caveats.

1. That result hasn't been reproduced, and there is some healthy skepticism that they're measuring right since they used satellites to estimate snowfall and then estimate how much of that turned to ice (a surprisingly complicated process). Plus, it used old data (8 years old, and we know that ice loss has increased dramatically since then). So, the short version is, the paper you linked may end up being right, but the consensus view among scientists is still that Antarctica is losing ice.

2. Even if it turns out to be true, the authors of the very paper you cite say that Antarctic ice loss is accelerating as the snowfall remains pretty confident, and their opinion is that within a few years, ice will loss will outpace gain.

Comment Re:Thermometer accuracy (Score 2) 735

It doesn't matter, on average. Let's say we know thermometers are off +/- 1 degrees. Maybe because the thermometer, maybe because of human error eyeballing the mercury, whatever. However, assuming it's as likely to be over as under (and there's been extensive research on that as well), the bad readings will more or less cancel each other out.

If you only had one reading, for instance, you could really only say what the temperature was +/- 1 degrees. If you have a million, you could say you know almost for certain (just like the more times you flip a coin, the closer your distribution is likely to be 50/50). The reality is somewhere in between, so there are error bars, but they're known quantities. And as a previous poster mentioned, the thermometers of the time were surprisingly accurate anyway.

Comment Re:Complete Bullshit - funded by Koch-funded CATO (Score 2) 417

Economics 101 is that when faced with fierce competition in the job market, wages will rise. They haven't been rising for software developers. Ergo, while the job market is certainly better for us than many other professions, the "job shortage" is a fiction.

What businesses *do* see is we're not as desperate for a job. They're so used to having a hundred people apply for one job mopping floors that they think that's normal, and the way things should be.

Comment Wasted Day (Score 1) 377

I worked for a 3PL (third party logistics) company. Years ago, they'd decided they were going to make $$$ with SaaS, basically selling our services to others. A huge undertaking had been embarked upon to make our system usable for other companies. They got a grand total of one client.

A few years later I was working there, and we got a second client! Bad news was, literally no one was still working there that had been when the first SaaS client had been set up. So there was a lot of guesswork trying to recreate it. I was a Junior Developer at the time, and was tracking down why some data loading wasn't working right. I knew the issue was almost definitely a trigger in the database, so that day I made some changes, loaded the days's data import into the Test DB, and checked if my fixed worked. It didn't, so I cleared out the load, made another change, and did it again. OK, now it was kind of fixed, but there was a problem somewhere else. Wash, rinse repeat.

I'm sure you see where things went wrong.

About the sixth or seventh time I did this, I accidentally ran it against production. I distinctly remember the panic that gripped me the moment I hit the F5 key to execute that SQL statement - I realized what I'd done immediately. The drivers (this was a logistics company, remember?) had been out on the road for about two hours at this point, and all the sudden all their handheld devices just stopped working. Where's the next stop? As far as their handheld was concerned they didn't even have a route, much less anything on the truck. This happened for all of the Office Depot drivers in Florida. And we couldn't just reload the day either. After the initial import happened at around 1:00 am a lot of virtual paperwork was done by humans to optimize routes and such, work that couldn't be easily duplicated.

I spun around in my cubicle and told him what I'd done immediately (I was told later I looked white as a sheet) and he assured me it'd be OK. An hourly snapshot was taken by the database. We'd lose a bit of data, but it wasn't the end of the world. He went to talk to the DB Admin.

Those snapshots? It turned out six weeks ago they'd just stopped running. Why? I don't think we ever figured out for sure, but either way they weren't there. Now everyone was panicking a bit. This was a new client we'd just picked up and we didn't want to screw the pooch. In the end, they ended up doing an emergency purchase of some software that allowed them to roll the database back using the transaction logs. Fun times.

Comment Re:Wasn't Java open sourced? (Score 4, Insightful) 223

This is why when Microsoft open sourced the new .NET framework recently, they also included a "Covenant not the Sue" document saying you were free to re-implement the .NET API with your own code. Basically, promising not to pull an Oracle. The upshot is .NET is now more free-as-in-freedom than Java. It's enough to make your head explode.

Comment Re:It's not a networking issue. (Score 1) 384

I used to work as a field tech, back in the day. The nice thing is, there's no clock and no one is checking up on you. If they gave me an assignment that they expected to take 3 hours, and I did it in 30 minutes... well, I didn't tell them that. I went home early and got paid. Seriously, I regularly worked about 4 hours a day and got paid for 8. Granted, the pay was shit, but there you go.

Comment Re:America is finished! OVER! (Score 1) 285

OK, let me explain. Fifty years ago, the largest employer in America was General Motors, and they paid their workers an inflation-adjusted average of about $50/hr. They were also taxed about twice as much as we are now. That average person would pay 25% of their income in taxes. In the end, you'd take home about $75k/yr in income (again, adjusted for inflation).

Today, the largest employer is Wal-Mart, and they pay $11/hr on average. This person makes 22k per year if they manage to work 40 hours a week, and get taxed at 15% and thus brings home about 19K/yr.

75k vs 19k. It's not the taxes. Seriously. In fact, taxes are good when well-utilized by the government. Not only do they pay for the kinds of things that lift all boats (roads, education, etc), but they serve as a way to keep wealth from collecting at the top. In 1965, the top marginal tax rate was 70%. That's right 70%. That's how much the Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburgs paid in taxes every year back then. You know who benefited from that massive tax on the wealthy? The middle class, because the government spent money on crazy things like going to space or public works projects the employed millions and fueled the economy.

Comment Re:America is finished! OVER! (Score 4, Interesting) 285

You're an idiot. The middle class isn't being drained via taxation. Taxes are lower right now than at any point in the last century. It's the stagnation of wages that's causing the middle class to have problems. It's amazing how people will assert something as true that can be debunked with five seconds of Google searching.

The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.