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Comment: You won't be a software developer anymore... (Score 1) 397

by JRHodel (#41322449) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Much Is a Fun Job Worth?

If you take a job as software director, you won't be developing software any more, you'll be managing software developers. I took that promotion myself, and enjoyed the new and different work. But it meant lots of meetings where I talked to other managers who didn't know anything about software development, trying to explain why systems take so long, cost so much, and can't be developed correctly without participation by the senior members of the "customer" work group.

I also met with funding providers for the software unit often, to justify progress, schedule changes mostly doe to discovering new complexity in the data requirements or interfaces.

I worked in management for about 10 years before retiring, and I became a wizard at grant applications, spreadsheets, project scheduling, interviewing potential developers, but I didn't really ever code, or even do system analysis at the specification level, ever again.

If you're good with that, then maybe a 10% raise is a good thing. But dealing with personnel problems, people's health problems, needs, and family problems, HR requirements, etc is not the same as coding at all.

Just sayin' ...

Comment: Sat service will work everywhere... (Score 1) 365

by JRHodel (#41214019) Attached to: Taking Telecommuting To the Next Level - the RV

We live in rural W Va, and have no hi speed option but sat dish service. Now I commonly see sat dishes for RVs that will even work while moving for TV... not sure about for data connection.

Of course no gaming works well with orbital distances, the time lag get you shot/fallen/lost/abandoned almost immediately. But for systems work, or other types of telecommuting for software related careers it seems to be fine.

As you see, it gets me on /. just fine...

Comment: BSCS 1984, used Discrete Structures in 1985 (Score 2) 1086

by JRHodel (#40941761) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Many of You Actually Use Math?

I went to college (for the 3rd time) at the age of 30. I had a hard time with Calc etc. and hated the first two semesters of Comp Sci, but got over that. I literally had to ask the Prof in 101 where the switch was on the machine.

My first job was with a government tax department. One of their biggest problems was that small businesses kept changing their names trying to escape from last quarters' tax bill. I got assigned to write a routine to track business names - really to invent a way to track businesses changing their names. This led to designing an artificial key for a business, and assembling a list of all their names and date the changes.

Then after some work I found that some of the businesses randomly changing their names would reuse a name eventually. Not smart if you're fleeing debt associated with that name, but what can I say? That created a closed loop that would circulate endlessly, or until a main frame operator got suspicious and stopped the job; or until I wrote code to escape a closed data loop.

Making a really long story a little shorter, you will need math, and the skills learned working on math, no matter what kind of work you do, unless you are just a code monkey coding things with all the complexity designed by a systems analyst with 2 degrees in math.

If that's all you want, to be a code monkey on a system you don't understand large parts of, then you don't need a degree in Computer Science. If you want to be any kind of scientist, or systems designer, like those who build gaming engines or rastor graphics programs, or tracking genetic variability in organisms being studied in labs in Research Triangle Park, NC; or at C-M University, in Pittsburgh; or Cal Tech where they just landed a curious robot on F'Ing MARS, then don't get a degree, don't study math, stay ignorant.

That kind of work is actually going on everywhere now, not just these examples I pulled from my a**, I never left my home state to have a good career doing important work. I didn't use Calc every day, but I knew that I could if I needed to.

"You can cure ignorance, but there is no cure for stupid."

Comment: Hillbillies, you left us out! (Score 1) 841

by JRHodel (#39262451) Attached to: Why Distributing Music As 24-bit/192kHz Downloads Is Pointless

I'm a proud Hillbilly, lived my whole life in the WVa hills, even managed to have a career as a software developer, only moved out while I was in the service/drafted.

Not that we don't like NYC, Caribbean Islands, the different hills and mountains in Colorado, WY, AZ, NM, etc.

But you can call me Hillbilly and be accurate. I think it's illegal to discriminate against Hillbillies in Cincinnati, where lots of us have gone looking for good jobs.

Government

UK Man Prevented From Finding Chipped Pet Under Data Protection Act 340

Posted by samzenpus
from the clause-22 dept.
Dave Moorhouse was elated when he was informed that a microchip provider had information on the whereabouts of his stolen dog. This joy soon faded when the company informed him that it could not divulge the Jack Russell terrier's location because it would breach the Data Protection Act. Last week a court agreed with the chip company and refused Mr Moorhouse's request for a court order compelling them to reveal the name and address of the new owners. Steven Wildridge, managing director of the chip company said: “This is not a choice, it’s an obligation under the Data Protection Act. If the individuals involved do not want us to pass on their details to the original owner then we cannot do so unless compelled to following a criminal or civil proceeding."

Comment: Back in the 1990s our Ford Ranger... (Score 2, Interesting) 930

by JRHodel (#32901678) Attached to: Toyota Sudden Acceleration Is Driver Error

Had a wide-open throttle condition, that happened with my wife driving from Charleston WV to Beckley, WV on the Turnpike. A limited access toll highway, where towing is really expensive.

She drove all the way to the Ford dealer in town, slowing at toll-booths with the brakes and throwing money at the staff. It was a 4-cyl Ranger and mostly uphill, which helped too. She shut the engine off to stop, and when she started it, full throttle. We were 12,000 miles and a year out of warranty and the Ford dealer replaced the ECM no questions asked. It wasn't even the shop where we bought the truck!

This was before cars had black boxes, but as others have commented, when a computer screws up, often the .log file is as screwed up as the rest of the output. But don't tell me that complex code can't have unintended results. Maybe Toyota outsourced the code to Elbownia?

Comment: I was there once, (Score 2, Informative) 291

by JRHodel (#32847720) Attached to: Good Database Design Books?

the 3rd member of the staff, hired by a friend who was the second member of the staff. Eventually we wound up with nearly 2 dozen people, many better than me or my friend.

But even when I was Application Development manager, I designed table structures and wrote custom queries to reply to FOIA requests for data.

I took some graduate school classes after getting my BSCS, so as to have access to a computer while looking for my first job, which tells you something about when this was. The best class was Relational Data Base using "An Introduction to Database Systems" by C. J. Date. ISBN 0-201-14471-9.

Mr. Date, along with Mr. Codd, invented relational calculus, including normal forms. In later classes at work we were strongly advised to use 3rd normal form, as even mainframes of the day couldn't really support 4th or 5th. That instructor had participated in a project to rebuild a 5th normal form system into 3rd for Westinghouse, whose mainframe choked on the small (low column count) tables
and huge keys required by 5th normal form.

The book covers other styles of databases, network and hierarchical, but both are antique now. So I'd skip or at most skim those chapters. They show how Relational DB design grew out of experience with shortcomings of Multics and IMS, early network and hierarchical DBs, respectively.

Other commentors are correct, which DB software you use isn't terribly important for good table structure design. Learning how to select keys for uniqueness and design tables to be non-redundant are not database-specific solutions.

Do good backups, and practise restoring from them regularly, it doesn't matter how well-deswigned a DB is if the hardware fails and you can't recover the data.

Science

The Proton Just Got Smaller 289

Posted by samzenpus
from the size-does-matter dept.
inflame writes "A new paper published in Nature has said that the proton may be smaller than we previously thought. The article states 'The difference is so infinitesimal that it might defy belief that anyone, even physicists, would care. But the new measurements could mean that there is a gap in existing theories of quantum mechanics. "It's a very serious discrepancy," says Ingo Sick, a physicist at the University of Basel in Switzerland, who has tried to reconcile the finding with four decades of previous measurements. "There is really something seriously wrong someplace."' Would this indicate new physics if proven?"

Comment: Re:Handy conspiracy theory??? (Score 2, Insightful) 688

by JRHodel (#32562904) Attached to: $1 Trillion In Minerals Found In Afghanistan

It only takes a geologist or a google to show this has been publicly known for decades. Google "Afgan mineral specimens" and add -ebay for better results. The gem minerals being sold from Afgan locales are primarily those found in lithium-rich pegmatite deposits. The gems are worth from $100-100,000 for something that fits in a ziplock baggy. Raw lithium is valuable, but in rail-car amounts. I'm just an amateur geologist and if you had asked me I could have listed 3rd world countries with rich undeveloped minerals.

The same is true of Pakistan. Neither country has heavy rail. Bolivia has rich mineral deposits and mines, and the natives are dirt-poor and poisoned by mining related pollution, so don't hold your breath for the Afgans/Pakis to become developed countries.

Comment: In my experience, (Score 4, Informative) 645

by JRHodel (#30192966) Attached to: Facebook Photos Lead To Cancellation of Quebec Woman's Insurance

people with depression, even deep depression, can smile, laugh, and be outgoing right up until the moment they commit suicide.

It's part of the syndrome that they want to act like a natural, happy person, even if they're on a brink - no matter what. Many won't admit they're ill until fatal results happen.

Insurance companies shouldn't have anything to do with diagnosis, they aren't qualified (not being doctors), and they have a conflict of interest, making money by denying illness. Frankly I think making money by denying health care to people is nearly as unethical as just shooting them up front.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson

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