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Comment: Understanding. Achievement. Reference (Score 1) 244

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#49691049) Attached to: RTFM? How To Write a Manual Worth Reading
  • Understanding what it's all about, including checking the reader is the target audience.
  • Achievement getting started on concepts or running a tweakable demo. Lots of little steps that each have a 'reward'. (A box-out try-yourself example is a good format in a discussion.)
  • Reference needs to be compact to search like a cheat-sheet but lead to the proper details like a proper reference tome. For example I knocked-up this for javascript.
  • Also
    • Include documentation in your production process.
    • Be consistent.
    • Be a human writer when you think the user will empathise. Anything to break up the boredom.

Comment: 10% extremes happen everywhere (Score 1) 425

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#49622103) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

Look around you. 10% are really bamboozled by [Insert skill here] and 10% are streets ahead of those that get by. Maths, Foreign language, social skills, drawing. (Skydiving may be an exception.)

Have you heard of BAD-GOOD-BEST clinical governance? 10% of clinicians lead and make big efforts to study and improve. 80% 'keep up more or less'. 10% are drunk and/or good at covering up their lack of competence. (See and follow the bad-good-best link)

Let me also draw your attention to the '10% rule' in gene-controlled attributes. Left-handedness, Harder tooth enamel and so on. IMHO this is an evolutionary insurance mechanism (nothing whatsoever to do with the subject) so that if there's a mass-wipeout type event then there may be odd-balls who are far enough different to survive.

Comment: Search 'intelligence' is great (Score 1) 276

Suppose I type in a phone number Google understands I live in the UK. The same goes for wanting to buy a mattress. So far so good. That's helpful intelligence.

But if I want to view the poems of Emily Bronte I don't want 100 gazillion results from Amazon.

Just like I use NoScript and AdBlock+ so I want to cut out the shop windows. If I want info from the web then I don't want canned waffle.

Comment: Spot on. Spot-Spot Spotty-Spot on! (Score 2) 315

Tech is an ANSWER not a QUESTION.

Tech is for older kids. Challenge and experiment at this age. Lego to make a bridge that the cat can cross . Draw a picture that Auntie thinks actually looks like a Badger not a [insert vague animal here] Create a birthday invitation card that has fizz. Ask 1,000,000,000 questions you don't know the answers to.

Comment: Because most people are good eggs (Score 1) 279

There's the weird perception that 99.9% of the world are creepy, scammy, bastards. No they aren't! Twice-nightly soap operas condition you to the idea that if someone steps on your toe then WW3 breaks-out. Of course not. Treat people with respect and get them on your side. (Of course if you're a vame[sic] 1P-shooter nerd then this won't make sense to you but everybody is born with social skills even if various media suck it out of them.)

Comment: Trackbakk first then look deeper. (Score 3, Informative) 100

(1) Trackball [For everyone - A mouse is crap tech.]

(2) Brush-up on keyboard navigation. Most desktop applications are good in this respect but many web pages are in the stone age.

(3) Tune the driver parameters.

(4) If the user has particular issues (which may not all be motor related) then focus on a 'way to do it'. For example a positive one-click even if the mouse button takes a hammering.

(5) There used to be special drivers but 5 years ago when I looked they seemed to be dying-out.

One of the issues is losing faith/confidence in one's own skills and getting more nervous/flustered. Try and find a fun and 100% no-problem' way of coaching them. Another issue with poke 'n hope is things go wrong and much more confusing. For example a double click or a right-click instead of a left click will start weird dialogs or actions. "Hey! I wandered over that email address and now it's asking me lots of questions!!" and so on. So it's up to your patience to reduce the stress. (And if you're trying to sort it out by phone then without something like Teamviewer you're going to get in a muddle and the user is going to feel a time-wasting idiot and failure.

Comment: One reason for playing along (Score 1) 229

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#49217629) Attached to: Listen To a Microsoft Support Scam As It Happened
Is to educate ourselves on the nature of the scam first hand. We can hang-up whenever we like so it's not like any commitment. First hand experience of this sort of thing is valuable and gives confidence when it's not so clear cut. Perhaps IT pros won't be clicking on attachments any time soon but the people we support do and we need to find out how far they've been scammed etc. which is a bit weird as WE are trying to do telephone support EXACTLY as the bogus supporters. To the end user what's the difference?

Comment: Crime? (Score 0) 467

[I don't Twit Face or Blog. Call me an old fogey.] What's the crime?
  • If whatever happened against the girl was a crime (Sounds horrible) then where are the cops?
  • If it wasn't a cop-electrifying crime then should it be?

Either the chief apologist for the local constabulary should

  • Have the balls to take official action, or
  • Admit he/she doesn't think they have the powers.

Guess what? Harassment is anti-social behaviour which should be criminal. (Pressurising a politician is different.)

Comment: It's about pegs and holes (Score 1) 101

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#48967109) Attached to: Building a Good Engineering Team In a Competitive Market
There are three types of people.
  • (R) Outward facing. Customers are important to them
  • (C) Need a comfortable berth but are really keen to help 'friends'
  • (L) Techies and creatives who have visions inside their heads that must get out

Structure your organisation with Right/Centre/Left branches for sales/admin/production and you can fit the right personality types in and then they all get their different achievements. Look at Left-Right-Center at

Comment: Create someting others are proud to improve (Score 1) 214

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#48919911) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Makes a Great Software Developer?

Suppose I make a 2x2 Rubik Cube. You and 100 others say we must extend this to 3x3... ...And somebody does. Hurrah!

Concepts that catch the imagination come first. Then comes the sense to build a foundation or the tools or the clear ethos or the luck to know a few bods who will play as a team following your clear lead. (They may be ancillary skills to big chief um he programmer, but everyone sees the purpose of the device.)

Comment: Trendy bandwagon for biz (Score 1) 212

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#48912289) Attached to: Why Coding Is Not the New Literacy
  • You don't need to know how to lay bricks to be an architect.
  • You don't need to be a plumber to use the lavatory.
  • Programming and software engineering are different.
  • As clocks go tick and cows go moo so programmers go 'what could possibly go wrong'...
  • ...coders on the other hand go 'gurble burgle'.

Comment: Financial penalties using toll system (Score 1) 217

Whatever the caller's number the phone companies don't let people call you for free. There's a well tried and tested system for this to ensure the caller pays. So that's sorted. Next the complaints which are ignored. In the UK we have a 1471 facility that tells you who just called but works on the number and won't tell if they've withheld the number. So they continue without any redress...

But suppose there was a number you could punch in just after a junk-call. This would then feed through to (a) the who paid for it data and (b) a central nuisance calls depot. Now as soon as say 5 nuisances are registered against some caller (indexed by who's paying not junk number) then the cost per call becomes say £3.00 If they get 20 reports then it becomes £30 per call. All collected through the existing phone toll collection system. All hassle free for the consumer.

Comment: PHP is the new COBOL (Score 1) 245

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#48801581) Attached to: PHP vs. Node.js: the Battle For Developer Mind Share
Node has its good points but seems to have (a) one way of coding plus a nanny-nag of you will be doing that RESTfully won't you. (b) tool-chain builders. If I want to make an application I don't need a whole factory of Gits and Grunts, templates and transient libraries. I most certainly don't want updates of libraries to destabilise my perfectly working application for no reason, no warning and no documentation.

PHP will be around for a long time because any idiot (and I mean that) can have a go. That doesn't mean all PHP code is crap but what makes code 'good' can be skipped. (YMMV for what the base for quality code is.)

"For the man who has everything... Penicillin." -- F. Borquin