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Comment: UIMA is the Key (Score 1) 28

by TechNeilogy (#47783989) Attached to: IBM Opens Up Its Watson Supercomputer To Researchers
The most important thing about Watson is what is least understood by the non-technical press: standards like the UIMA that allow disparate analysis applications to be developed independently and run in parallel. Picture a city full of nice shops and houses connected by muddy, weed-choked trails; that's what Watson would be without framework standards.

Comment: Re:Not all states failed (Score 2) 212

by TechNeilogy (#47737729) Attached to: Oregon Sues Oracle For "Abysmal" Healthcare Website
I can second this. I have some experience with the Kynect product. There were (and still are), a few glitches, but these seem to be relatively minor. One key factor in the success was training and supporting "Kynect-ors" in helping people use the site. These "Kynect-ors" had also had priority access to varying levels of technical support to help iron out glitches when they did occur. Nothing's ever perfect in politics, healthcare, or programming, and I'm sure there are a few "horror stories," but overall, the Kynect roll-out was very impressive.

Comment: Re:It Shows Up in the Weirdest Ways (Score 1) 371

by TechNeilogy (#47694481) Attached to: Companies That Don't Understand Engineers Don't Respect Engineers
Oddly enough, I can agree with ALL the comments above. I did eventually take a management role, to fill a void after a manager quit. As a manager, I did try to make my role that of smoothing things out and enabling the remaining engineers to work more effectively. And yes, I disliked it and got back into engineering as quickly as possible. Seeing all those engineers working day after day made me jealous, and I just had to get back to hands-on work. We ended up hiring a top-notch ex-engineer from another company who had moved into management and liked it. He was probably the best, but toughest, manager I ever worked with.

Comment: It Shows Up in the Weirdest Ways (Score 1) 371

by TechNeilogy (#47688715) Attached to: Companies That Don't Understand Engineers Don't Respect Engineers
I once worked for a boss who repeatedly said: "We need to get you into management so I can pay you more." The odd thing was, he said this because he liked me, and really did want to pay me more. Yet since he owned the company, he could have paid me any salary he wanted, regardless of my job title. He just had this fixed idea that no engineer should be paid more than any manager who supervised multiple engineers.

Comment: 90% of My Bugs... (Score 1) 116

by TechNeilogy (#47649521) Attached to: Wiring Programmers To Prevent Buggy Code
...could eliminated by removing copy and paste. Most of my bugs seem to happen when a block of code is not quite DRY-able, I copy-paste-modify the block, and then miss some small detail. (Of course, eliminating copy and paste would also reduce my coding speed by about 90%, so I guess it all evens out.)

Comment: Re:Code the way you want... (Score 1) 372

by TechNeilogy (#47523337) Attached to: 'Just Let Me Code!'
I tend to work on two sets of code. The first set is the code currently under formal development. The second set is the code that will actually be needed at the end of the project when every figures out what we were really trying to build in the first place. I can stay ahead of the game on this second set because I skip all the usual formal cruft. Then, four-fifths of the way through the project, when the formal development goes pear-shaped, I pull out the second set of code and say “let's use this.” Sure it drives my hourly rate down and means some weekend work for free, but I have more fun, learn more, and have a better portfolio to point to. (FWIW, I didn't originate this technique, one of my very early coding mentors apprenticed me in using it. We used to say: “there are four plans: plan A is the spec, plan B is what management thinks we're doing, plan C is what we're actually doing, but plan Z is what we know really needs to get done and what we'll do on the side for when it all hits the fan.”)

Comment: Wisdom of the Patriarch (Score 1) 608

by TechNeilogy (#47421545) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
"A computer is like a violin. You can imagine a novice trying first a phonograph and then a violin. The latter, he says, sounds terrible. That is the argument we have heard from our humanists and most of our computer scientists. Computer programs are good, they say, for particular purposes, but they aren't flexible. Neither is a violin, or a typewriter, until you learn how to use it." Marvin Minsky, ``Why Programming Is a Good Medium for Expressing Poorly-Understood and Sloppily-Formulated Ideas''

Comment: The Wall (Score 1) 333

When confronted with a complex problem -- often one involving data structures -- I'll often sit down and think it through. There does come a "wall" at about the five to fifteen minute mark where it becomes increasingly difficult to keep focus and keep thoughts ordered. But it's only by going through that wall that you get to the point where you can really clear your mind and focus on the problem. I suspect in the modern world of distractions, people haven't had enough experience of this or practice at it.

Comment: Episode One (Score 1) 288

by TechNeilogy (#46804791) Attached to: $42,000 Prosthetic Hand Outperformed By $50 3D Printed Hand
The most important subtext here is that this is just the beginning. The printed hand doesn't have to win against the manufactured hand on all counts just now. If it even comes close, think what that means for 3D printing a couple of decades from now, not just for prosthetics, but for many other things. We tend to think of 3D printing in terms of it's ability to displace commodities, which it will never do. What it will do is to provide less-expensive, highly customized solutions from a vast number of sources rather than expensive shelf models from a few vendors. When manufacturers realize that, cue the lobbyists and lawsuits.

A holding company is a thing where you hand an accomplice the goods while the policeman searches you.