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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 http://vulpeculox.net/treems/i...

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.)

Comment: All subjects CAN be interesting (Score 2) 131

Name a subject that can't be made interesting.

There are plenty of captionless bits of ironmongery about I'll agree. So the intelligent visitor uses Wikepedia to start with then has some context, jargon and grounding...

Now find a curator and see if you can leverage your little fulcrum of knowledge against their lever of knowledge. When you've done this a couple of times (asked to see inside, asked how did the sizobells get the stuff to the twinkychute) you'll know exactly (a) how to get the most out of a museum and (b) give the curators the buzz of the one in thirty visitors who has a brain and asks such obvious questions they've never been asked like that before. A parking-lot of stuff isn't a museum but a basement of curious carvings can (in the right hands) be an electric delight.

Comment: Excellent comment. People relate to people (Score 1) 303

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#48728091) Attached to: Anthropomorphism and Object Oriented Programming
People relate to people. (That's not to say I like a UI which tries to have a 'human' conversation (Microsoft paperclip/doggy are you listening?) [You see what I did there?] But as a developer if you're 'asking' for data from the user then why not put yourself in the position of 'the clerk at the desk taking the details'. Once you've done that you may go the next level and put yourself in the position of the person answering the questions.

You've all seen good and bad 'personal details' websites so it's hardly necessary to continue.

We all know about stupid questions asked by an insensitive drone.

IMHO the difference is between 'demanding' and 'asking nicely for a reason'.

Comment: Baby thrown out with bathwater (Score 1) 78

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#48708995) Attached to: India Blocks Code Sharing Websites On Anti-Terror Advisory
Don't these people realise? People sit at home and dream of dropping nukes on their shitty politicians. We all do. (Personally a few plagues and extracted fingernails as revenge for their greedy self-interest as well.) So eliminate all homes. Better still eliminate all brains. Make thinking a crime.

If malicious code is being passed around well known public forums then deal with that code. Hey! Why not encourage the eyeballs and brain cells of visitors to report hacking code requests. It could be done because most people won't have the slightest thing to do with terrorists and hackers.

It's an attitude problem. Make it easy for me to report something suspicious and make it easy for me to believe I'm doing something valuable and sensible by talking to clued-up people then I will. OTOH Why bother with these twits.

Comment: Lead by example (Score 1) 584

If parents are *curious* and keep stumbling across interesting questions then there is some hope that the children might pick it up. Curiosity and being able to use the data as information in a complex intellectual model is what makes the difference between a technician (hairdresser, programmer, etc.) and a scientist exploring the world and interpreting data. Neither technicians or engineers are scientists. Everyone uses technology, engineers make technology given a scientific input.

To be able to express a complex intellectual model and describe things accurately requires *language*. (Also having a large vocabulary of interesting words is a real intellectual-class winner in the school playground.)

And finally from me, find compelling analogues or fun experiments. If the Earth was the size of a full stop, the Sun would be about the size of a ten pence piece 2 metres away. Now as our good friend Mister Oxbarrow says "On the scale of fishy that's a whole lot of pilchards." When you think about it the idea of a speck floating in some infinity around a blob all that distance away is bizarre. If you roll a marble past a football it keeps going straight and doesn't get bent towards the football by gravity. The whole thing is clearly bonkers.

Comment: Group psychology =/= individual competence (Score 1) 306

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#48258717) Attached to: We Are All Confident Idiots
A lot of knowledgeable, experienced and clever people have 'been there, done that' when it comes to committees etc. As their interest may not be in leadership but delivering tech or just getting things done without a lot of opinionated discussion from people who exhibit the D-K effect, they take a back seat and find excuses to avoid management meetings and responsibility. Many management methods are designed to leech the brains from the better qualified so why would I want to join in with what is essentially a bunch of amateurs diluting my competence, wasting my time, arguing and deciding to be idiots regardless of my clear advice.

Promising costs nothing, it's the delivering that kills you.