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Comment: Re:Laziness (Score 1) 112

You don't have to understand everything, but you do need to at least understand the basics, like how networking works, how crypto works, etc. at a conceptual level. I feel like too many developers learn how to program by learning JavaScript and other scripting languages on their own, then jump into app programming thinking that it's only one step harder because you can sort of do it in Python/Ruby/other Obj-C bridged languages/other .NET languages, or because Swift looks like JavaScript, or whatever their logic might be. Unfortunately, it's not one step harder if you care about doing it right; it's a hundred steps harder, but the apparent accessibility of app programming tries to hide that fact, resulting in a lot of people getting in way over their heads.

Too many developers then balk when we tell them that they need to read conceptual books, insisting that they just want to learn how to solve their particular problem. The result is that they understand just enough of what they're doing to be dangerous. It's like deciding to build a house and telling someone, "I just want to know how to cut a board and hammer in a nail." You're likely to get a very strange looking house with no right angles. You really need to start with higher-level design and philosophy texts, then work your way down to the practical texts. That's equally true in programming, but the short-attention-span instant-gratification crowd just doesn't get that.

And I understand the desire to just learn how to solve the problem. I've been there, and I've done that, but only in areas where I was reasonably comfortable. Even then, I've often later discovered that snippets that looked right weren't quite right in certain edge cases, but at least this happens fairly infrequently, because I've taken the time to learn what I'm doing. Developers who don't do this aren't just hurting themselves; they're hurting their users. There's just no reason for that.

Comment: This explains a lot (Score 5, Insightful) 233

No wonder there's so much shitty software being thrown out. People are too stoned or drugged up to have any idea of what they're doing and as a result we get crap such as Windows 8 or the near-monthly Facebook "updates".

But hey, drugs are cool and in no way should the deaths of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Peaches Geldoff, Cory Monteith, Heath Ledger, Dee Dee Ramone and a whole slew of other folks who felt being high was so great that they didn't care if they killed themselves in the process.

Unfortunately we'll have to keep hearing about how poor [insert name] died, how they were a good person and blah, blah, blah.

Fuck that. You think drugs are cool and being high is the thing to do, go for it. Just don't expect the rest of us to give a shit when you're found face down in your home.

Comment: Re:Laziness (Score 5, Informative) 112

Code recycling is one thing, but not understanding what that code does when you put it into a production app or not following best practices is another. As Android gains popularity as a platform to develop for, we're going to lose quality as the new folks jumping onto the band wagon don't care how their apps work or look beyond the end goal. This mentality is already popping up with Android Wear developers who cram as much information as they can on the screen and claim that design guidelines are "just recommendations."

The exact same thing happens on every other platform, though perhaps to varying degrees. I refer to it as the Stack Overflow effect. One developer who doesn't know the right way to do something posts a question. Then, a developer who also doesn't know the right way to do it posts how he or she did it. Then ten thousand developers who don't know the right way to do it copy the code without understanding what it does or why it's the wrong way to do it. By the time somebody notices it, signs up for the site, builds up enough reputation points to point out the serious flaw in the code, and actually gets a correction, those developers have moved on, and the bad code is in shipping apps. Those developers, of course, think that they've found the answer, so there's no reason for them to ever revisit the page in question, thus ensuring that the flaw never gets fixed.

Case in point, there's a scary big number of posts from people telling developers how to turn off SSL chain validation so that they can use self-signed certs, and a scary small number of posts reminding developers that they'd better not even think about shipping it without removing that code, and bordering on zero posts explaining how to replace the SSL chain validation with a proper check so that their app will actually be moderately secure with that self-signed cert even if it does ship. The result is that those ten thousand developers end up (statistically) finding the wrong way far more often than the right way.

Of course, it's not entirely fair to blame this problem solely on sites like Stack Overflow for limiting people's ability to comment on other people's answers unless they have a certain amount of reputation (a policy that is, IMO, dangerous as h***), and for treating everybody's upvotes and downvotes equally regardless of the reputation of the voter. A fair amount of blame has to be placed on the companies that create the technology itself. As I told one of my former coworkers, "The advantage of making it easier to write software is that more people write software. The disadvantage of making it easier to write software is that... more people write software." Ease of programming is a two-edged sword, and particularly when you're forced to run other people's software without any sort of actual code review, you'd like it to have been as hard as possible for the developer to write that software, to ensure that only people with a certain level of competence will even make the attempt—sort of a "You must be this tall to ride the ride" bar.

To put it another way, complying with or not complying with design guidelines are the least of app developers' problems. I'd be happy if all the developers just learned not to point the gun at other people's feet and pull the trigger without at least making sure it's not loaded, but for some reason, everybody seems to be hell-bent on removing the safeties that would confuse them in their attempts to do so. Some degree of opaqueness and some lack of documentation have historically been safety checks against complete idiots writing software. Yes, I'm wearing my UNIX curmudgeon hat when I say that, but you have to admit that the easier programming has become, the lower the average quality of code has seemed to be. I know correlation is not causation, but the only plausible alternative is that everyone is trying to make programming easier because the average developer is getting dumber and can't handle the hard stuff, which while possible, is even more cynical than the original assertion and makes me weep for the future.

Either way, there's something really, really wrong at a fundamental level with the way we search for solutions to coding problems. There needs to be an easy way to annotate the fact that a code snippet was derived from a particular forum post, and to automatically receive email notifications (or bug reports) whenever someone flags the snippet on the original forum as being wrong or dangerous. And we as developers need to take the time to learn enough about the OS and the programming environment to ensure that we at least mostly understand what a piece of code does before we ship it in a product.

Comment: Re:Oh, bore off (Score 0) 412

by CrimsonAvenger (#47545269) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

Iraq on the basis of made-up "evidence" of non-existing weapons of mass destructions

You are probably unaware that chemical weapons are defined as WMDs in all the treaties related to WMDs.

And you are likely also unaware that Hussein used chemical weapons against his Kurdish population.

You are most likely also unaware that some chemical weapons were found when the US Army moved into Iraq.

Note that all those things were mentioned in the news at the time (at the time meant the Clinton Presidency in the first two cases, the Bush one for the third case), but presumably you don't (or can't) read the news either.

Which is why, presumably, you're still blathering about non-existant WMDs in Iraq.

Comment: Re:You having problems, John Galt? (Score 2) 90

by CrimsonAvenger (#47545089) Attached to: SpaceX Executive Calls For $22-25 Billion NASA Budget

Interesting you should say that when Musk has the cheapest space launch capabilities in the world, is in the process of making his first stage reusable (and thus cheaper still), is in the process of man-rating a seven-man capsule that will be reusable and will cost less to launch than the three-man Soyuz, and is developing a heavy-lift launcher that can put more payload into orbit than Shuttle ever could.

And all on his own dime....

Comment: Re:What is the business case of SpaceX? (Score 3, Insightful) 90

by CrimsonAvenger (#47544247) Attached to: SpaceX Executive Calls For $22-25 Billion NASA Budget

SpaceX has scheduled eleven launches over the next several years with the US Government as the customer (ISS resupply missions).

In addition, it has 17 launches scheduled for other customers (private satellite launches).

So, no, SpaceX doesn't have to do space tourism, nor do asteroid mining, nor make all their money being a government contractor. What they are is a LAUNCH company. They don't do payloads, they just put other people's payloads into orbit for them cheaply.

Comment: Re:don't have money to waste (Score 4, Insightful) 90

by CrimsonAvenger (#47544227) Attached to: SpaceX Executive Calls For $22-25 Billion NASA Budget

It should be noted that deficits for Obama's years in office amount to $4T to $6T. And those had nothing to do with our wars.

It should also be noted that unless we're counting Vietnam, Korea, and WW2, we haven't had $4T to $6T in war costs. Military budgets were higher as a result of Iraq and Afghanistan, but you'd have to count the entire military budget as "war costs" to reach even $4T, much less $6T.

It should also be noted that we're making absolutely no attempt to "pay down" our debts. The National Debt goes up every year, by rather more than $500B (rather more than $1T during most of Obama's terms).

Comment: Re:The human side of the story (Score 1) 120

Perhaps you don't understand how governments and large corporations structure themselves in order to save money: they use contractors instead of employees for exactly that reason.

Regardless of the disaster scenario, employee/employer rules stipulate they have to pay their employees during the time when they're normally expected to work, even if they can get no productive work from them. If they have extended downtime due to fire, construction, etc., They would have to lay off the unused workers, which means paying unemployment benefits. Contracts, on the other hand, can be written so they can be paused or terminated at will. It's up to the contracting firm to manage the pay when they're "sitting on the bench", and most of those contracts provide no compensation for periods of non-work.

On the flip side, when you are hired as a contractor, you explicitly sign up for those risks. Even though it may look like a regular job, it isn't. It's a contract.

The human side of the equation was carefully measured and surgically extracted back when the government decided to use contractors instead of employees. Employees cost too much.

Comment: Re:Earthshaking (Score 2) 120

When the Chicago loop flooded in 1991, the Marshall Field's State Street store was impacted. Being the headquarters for the Marshall Field's chain, they had their data and networking centers on the tenth floor. Their network topology was a hub and spoke affair, and the State Street store was the hub. The operators continued working in the building the entire duration of the flood. They had to wade through water on the ground floor to reach the stairs to climb the 10 stories to work. The electrical bus normally feeds from the lower levels, but when power was cut the computers and routers had to be kept running, so the generator on the roof was fired up. The generator was not dedicated to the computer systems, and powered the entire building. The operators said they saw the water boiling around the electrified bus.

I don't know if all that was actually true, but I do know that throughout the entire flood and recovery, the chain experienced no network outages. The fiber optic cables carrying the data had no problems being immersed, and all the terminations and transceivers were in the data center on the tenth floor.

Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 1) 211

It sounds like this transformer had its center tap grounded and was the path to ground on one side of a ground loop as the geomagnetic field moved under pressure from a CME, inducing a common-mode current in the long-distance power line. A gas pipeline in an area of poor ground conductivity in Russia was also destroyed, it is said, resulting in 500 deaths.

One can protect against this phenomenon by use of common-mode breakers and perhaps even overheat breakers. The system will not stay up but nor will it be destroyed. This is a high-current rather than high-voltage phenomenon and thus the various methods used to dissipate lightning currents might not be effective.

Comment: Re:Stability (Score 2) 84

by plover (#47539733) Attached to: Nightfall: Can Kalgash Exist?

Couldn't an already evolved planet be orbiting a star that is traveling, and is then captured by a multi-star system?

Assuming that evolution has produced other forms of life in many systems around the universe, it makes sense that it's done so on stars that have then had their travels altered. And yes, there are all kinds of problems. During the transition, would the evolved planet remain a safe distance from the other stars in the cluster? Would any of the life on it survive as it changes to the new orbit? I don't imagine much life would survive on Earth if we had to make a pass as close to the sun as Mercury, but it's possible a few microbes would make it and evolve again in another billion years.

...this is an awesome sight. The entire rebel resistance buried under six million hardbound copies of "The Naked Lunch." - The Firesign Theater

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