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Comment: Re:Ask your boss (Score 2) 201

by Okind (#38936527) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Is Online Engineering Coursework Viewed By Employers?

[W]hen you ask your boss if online engineering coursework is good for getting a new job, they would tell you "you're fired".

Maybe in Corporate America, where you have to slave 60 hours a week just to keep your job, and where you're expected to feel guilty for wanting to have a social life. In Europe (at least developing software in the Netherlands), this is simply not true. The reason: employers realise that a high turnover costs a huge amount of money and worse, delays projects. The latter costs time to market, which can be even more expensive and in extreme cases can kill the company.

To be fair, some employers do cover furthering education, but again, usually it cannot come at a cost to your already full workload.

This is true. It is also the reason why your education, even if paid by your employer, is done in your personal time (usually partially for mandated courses). This way both you and your employer invest, which is only fair.

Comment: Predictability (Score 5, Insightful) 446

by Okind (#38887421) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Transitioning From 'Hacker' To 'Engineer'?

Being a software engineer instead of a hacker is all about predictability:

  • Predictable planning: have it done when you say it will be.
  • Software quality: use Test Driven Design to ensure your code behaves as it should.
  • Predictable deployments: practice and simplify deploying your code for systems.
  • Document the structure of your code, so the next guy knows what he's looking at.

There's more to each of these items, of course, but it's all about making it simple (KISS) and predictable. This sets a software engineer apart from a mere hacker.

Comment: Re:Data portability (Score 1) 292

by Okind (#34613090) Attached to: Best Open Source Genealogy Software?

If not, then why would you want it to be open source?

If I was going to be spending a reasonable amount of time inputting data that I want to access for an extended period of time I would want it to be an open source program. That way you can always get the data out of the program again (possibly with some effort) and you are not stuck with regular upgrade fees for the latest version with the bug fix need to make it work with the latest OS version.

Of these two items, the data portability is (luckily) moot: the more knowledgeable users (about genealogy, not software) of this kind of software are actually familiar with its problems, even in the paper world.

The second item, paying for upgrades, still exists though. And sometimes even more than average.

Comment: GEDCOM (Score 4, Informative) 292

by Okind (#34610898) Attached to: Best Open Source Genealogy Software?

For basic usage, any program that supports GEDCOM (the de facto file format all good genealogy software support) will do, and your choice should be on your personal preference. So try them out first, of find your local genealogy association and ask around. Personally, I have good experience with Gramps (you already found that one) and ProGen (a dutch commercial program). The latter not being open source, it'll probably not be interesting to you.

For more advanced usage, you should know that some programs assigns a different meaning to some standard fields, and most programs have their own way of filling in custom fields. If you find yourself using such features, please consider who you'd be sharing your GEDCOM files with, and use the same. Note though, that it'll likely not be open source.

Comment: Re:Legitimate problem with grey market (Score 1) 775

by Okind (#34565078) Attached to: First-Sale Doctrine Lost Overseas

The solution is to require that any imports not authorized by the manufacturer must be clearly advertised as not supported by the manufacturer, with all service provided by the importer.

Which is the law here in the Netherlands.

Say I buy an object from a seller. Then anything that's wrong with the object (and under warranty, whether by choice or by law) is a matter between me and the seller. The manufacturer has nothing to do with it directly. If they're going to be involved (which is likely), that's a matter between the seller and the manufacturer -- I have nothing to do with that.

Comment: Disposable workforce? (Score 1) 484

by Okind (#34560358) Attached to: America's Cubicles Are Shrinking

"Younger workers' lives are all integrated, not segregated," says Larry Rivard. "They have learned to work anywhere — at a kitchen table or wherever."

Maybe I'm an ergonomics nut (I always insist on a proper chair and desk, plus a good monitor height), but do these younger workers expect to make it until their retirement?
Working just anywhere is very destructive to your body, unless you pay sufficient attention to ergonomics.

Comment: Re:do x but not too much! (Score 1) 394

by Okind (#34471976) Attached to: Programming Mistakes To Avoid

Personally, I believe we'd be better off it professional programming transformed from an art into an engineering discipline. IMHO, building robust and efficient applications should be a boring and repetitive exercise in design and implementation of prescribed design patterns... maybe then we'd turn our industry's abysmal success rates around.

A good point. Sadly, I've yet to come across an easy to understand development process that doesn't pin down way too much. We're doing Agile for a reason.

Comment: Re:do x but not too much! (Score 1) 394

by Okind (#34471496) Attached to: Programming Mistakes To Avoid

Programming mistake No. 1: Playing it fast and loose.

Fair enough. So debug while you code. Seems like good advice.

Programming mistake No. 2: Overcommitting to details.

Doesn't mistake number 2 contradict number 1?

Yes it does. The difficult part is knowing the balance, as indicated by the summary: "programming may in fact be transforming into an art, one that requires a skilled hand and a creative mind [...]"

Comment: Re:Not suprising (Score 1) 382

by Okind (#34109180) Attached to: W3C Says IE9 Is Currently the Most HTML5 Compatible Browser

Exactly. They're testing only part of the features. The IE9 team 'just happened' to have implemented these features before other features, and the other major browsers 'just happened' to have prioritized other features before these.

This is an unfair, rigged test result by any standard.

Comment: It could have ended up very different (Score 4, Insightful) 106

by Okind (#33107766) Attached to: Mozilla Finds Flaw With Black Hat Video Stream

Unlike many presenters at Black Hat, Michael responsibly disclosed the flaw to organizers, who quickly fixed the issue.

Bugs cost money to fix. In this case, fixing the bug could also cause more paying customers (the freeloaders also willing to pay, no matter how small their number). So it was in their best interest to fix the bug.

But let's be realistic here: Micheal Coates was lucky.

There are many instances (some of them documented extensively here), where reporting the bug causes the reporter financial and legal harm. Especially with security related bugs, companies see no potential gain in fixing the bug and cleaning up -- only costs, which piss off their investors. That is, unless the story gets out and people get angry. But by starting a fight with the honest, reponsible reporter, people are much more likely to think: 'must be a disgruntled customer/ex-employee/...'. Result: not enough bad publicity to raise a stink.

Comment: Re:Basically (Score 1) 180

by Okind (#32484154) Attached to: Hooked On Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price

"Show me a car that can win the Indy 500 and is the most fuel efficient of all cars."

To be good at something does not mean you'll be rated among the best. And that is what is takes to even have a chance at winning the Indy 500. Or to be the most fuel efficient of all cars -- by definition of the word "most" an extreme case.

BUT: by practicing you can actually be good at both multi-tasking and focusing. Obviously you'll not be the best at either, because there's always someone with more talent and time spent on either multi-tasking or focussing (at the exclusion of the other).

Comment: Re:Stop stressing (Score 1) 521

by Okind (#31157736) Attached to: Did We Lose the Privacy War?

"This is no different, really, than living in a small town."

This is the heart of the matter.

Anything you do with others isn't private. These others may agree not to "gossip" (thus enlarging your privacy), but that is entirely up to them. So just as in any small town, or in any group of friends, anything is as private as the biggest gossip will let it be. That is why you watch your step when near that notorious gossip.

Also note, that anything done in public is, ... public. That includes your dealings with companies, your steps on the internet, and anything else that transmits data about you outside your house. Yes, even that noisy sex or spousal argument that the neighbors heard (ok, bad examples...).

As the parent said: This is no different, really, than living in a small town.

Comment: Re:Sweet! (Score 1) 177

by Okind (#29692785) Attached to: Court Rules For Software Ownership Over Licensing

A EULA usually constitutes general terms of business. General terms of business must be legibly available before purchase to be valid, but they are not negotiable.

Would that include if you walk into a store and see a box for "Joe's CAD" and it says "terms and conditions at www.example.com/terms" which contains the EULA. However, you have nothing to check that on you, and the store doesn't have an available Internet connection. You could always leave, go home, check it, then come back. Or, you could say "the terms were not presented at the place of sale and not visible at the point of sale until after the sale was completed." So where do shrinkwrap license agreements come in?

A very good point. This question is answered differently in the various jurisdictions around the world, in they define how the terms must be available. In some jurisdictions, it's enough that the general terms of business are only deposited (and thus available) via the chamber of commerce. In others, they must be available via the chamber of commerce, the company (website/mail/...), and sometimes also in the store itself.

Fortunately, this question also applies for non-digital purchases. So wherever you live, there is very likely to be a lot of case law and precedents addressing this issue.

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