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Comment: Oh, we, absolutely (Score 1) 174

by fyngyrz (#49627601) Attached to: Police Can Obtain Cellphone Location Records Without a Warrant

And by "we", of course you mean the tiny, tiny minority that isn't... sitting in front of their television, a string of drool trailing from their partially open mouths, while the latest reports of Kim Kardassian's antics reflects from the their glazed eyes and the Doritos grease spots around their mouth. Or the deluded information-poor who consume Faux News broadcasts as if they were (cough) actual journalism.

Metaphorically speaking, little tiny soapboxes located at huge distances from one another, that no useful number of people pay any significant attention to... yep, that's pretty much right where we are.

It's not a slippery slope. It's a deep pit, and we're at the bottom already. They've just painted the sides with jingoistic and fear-inspiring slogans, that's all. The only way out is to stand on each other's shoulders, but that would require the use of backbone, which our society currently lacks in any significant sense.

Comment: Just stupid (Score 1) 174

by fyngyrz (#49627569) Attached to: Police Can Obtain Cellphone Location Records Without a Warrant

From TFS:

"We find no reason to conclude that cellphone users lack facts about the functions of cell towers or about telephone providers' recording cell tower usage."

In other words, we assert you probably know your privacy is being violated by existing technical means, so we'll just ignore the obvious constitutional instructions about warrants when dealing with personal information -- whereabouts, in this instance. Because the constitution is abused and/or ignored by most judges now, so that's ok, right? RIGHT?

Let's say some people commit murder in parks. Because they do. So, using the "reasoning" of the utter morons in this court:

We find no reason to conclude that park users lack facts about the prevalence of murder in parks.

And therefore, it's perfectly ok. Mr. Murderer, go forth and murder some more. Next Case!

Comment: Disagree. (Score 1) 395

by fyngyrz (#49625229) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

Just give each person a few programming tasks that should take ten minutes or so.

Yeah, but actually no. Each skill set is different. I could write you a PCB router in under an hour, or whip up an image processing mechanism, layered image editing, signal processing, write an FFT from scratch. I can do assembly coding as fast as I can type while higher up, I favor c and Python for their various and highly disjoint abilities. I'm good at documentation, and I can manage effectively -- without getting the team to hate me. But fizzbuzz? Sort of boggles me. I solve it very slowly. Perhaps because there's no point to it and I don't really give a flying crap. :) But perhaps also because it's just not my thing. I despise puzzles-for-the-sake-of-puzzles, and avoid them like the plague.

Bottom line, any type of interview question or test will sit poorly with some high quality programmer. Some don't know a language, some have an unusual process, some aren't great communicators, some don't function well with someone staring at them or under immediate pressure... there is no perfect interview method, and surely no way to determine programmer competence outside of their actual accomplishments -- which, even when you can pull it off, is not the same thing as measuring their skills against others, placing them in an objective relationship to the skills of others, either.

Personally -- and this is strictly anecdotal, but reflects many decades of experience -- I've had a lot better luck asking many-possible-answer questions about techniques and areas of knowledge in a friendly, low-pressure atmosphere where the interviewee is made to feel they are welcome and respected the moment they walk in the door.

Comment: Re:Everyone's a programmer. Even dead people! (Score 1) 395

by fyngyrz (#49625069) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

Hell, you wouldn't ask a psychiatrist to give you an appendectomy, would you?

The only thing I'd ask a psychiatrist is "please leave."

Wow wow wow.

You probably want to get that turntable checked. One day it's only wowing, then suddenly tomorrow there's flutter, rumble, tracking error, and cookie crumbs blocking the strobe light.

I'm just needling you, of course.

Issues much?

Nah. Just perpetually amused. :)

Comment: Re:little-known programming language (Score 1) 243

by HiThere (#49624261) Attached to: Is It Worth Learning a Little-Known Programming Language?

If you're going to consider obsolete languages (the keyboards are no longer made) I'd nominate Prograf. It was a dataflow language that would have been great for multiprocessor systems except for two problems:
1) It was released for the Mac System 3 and never successfully transitioned to later systems, and
2) There was no text representation of the programs, it was all graphic, which was quickly too verbose to handle as the programs increased in size.

Comment: Re:Doing it now... (Score 1) 243

by HiThere (#49624227) Attached to: Is It Worth Learning a Little-Known Programming Language?

Not clear on what you consider "good". The ones that occur to me are WxWidgets, Qt, and Tcl...which can be good depending on your purpose. All of those can be used on Linux, Apple, and MSWind, and probably on BSD. All of them can be used from C, C++, Python, and Ruby. And, I assume, other languages.

If you want a good graphic builder IDE, then Qt has some quite decent tools. I'm not sure about WxWidgets. Tcl used to, but they seem to have died of neglect.

Then there's Java which goes its own way, and has it's own GUI, and IDE with a gui-builder...but while adequate for many purposes, I find the Java gui to be limited even when compared to Tcl. Still, it *is* cross-platform.

So I guess it comes down to "what do you mean by 'good'?".

Comment: Re:Doing it now... (Score 2) 243

by HiThere (#49624181) Attached to: Is It Worth Learning a Little-Known Programming Language?

If I read the article announcing the release correctly, then while the basic C# language is (probably) open source, it's definitely not free. You can't make a version of it without the agreement of MS, and the released version by MS is ... incomplete. Parts of it are portable, others aren't. So you can only use it as MS desires.

IIRC the release agreement said something like "permission is given to any full and complete implementation that fully implements the specifications" I forget whether the specifications were subject to unilateral change by MS, but even if they weren't it means that the language cannot be implemented by anyone except as desired by MS. Also, of course, the libraries were not made available, which reders it essentially useless except on MSWind machines.

Now just because their public promise didn't allow something doesn't mean that they won't ignore any "infringing" code as long as they feel like it. But it does mean that only a trusting (characterization deleted) would put their own time and effort behind it...without some form of idemnification.

So I'm going to pass on C#. It'd rather trust Oracle's Java (which I also avoid, though not all the time).

Comment: Re:No. (Score 2) 243

by HiThere (#49624059) Attached to: Is It Worth Learning a Little-Known Programming Language?

Different langaguages are different.

OTOH, I disagree with the basic premise of the article. It is my belief that one shouldn't learn a new language to improve ones job prospects, but rather to improve ones skills as a programmer. So if you know C++, then you don't learn C# or Java, but rather Eiffel, Lisp, or Haskell, or possibly OCaML.

OTOH, If you already know C++ or Java, it's certainly easier to learn Python or Ruby. So easy that a basic knowledge can be learned in a day. So if you're tight on time, that will allow you to expand your capabilities in small increments. (But a basic knowledge won't teach you the libraries, which is where the important differences lie.)

FWIW, I first learned Fortan, actually FORTRAN, since it was before Fortran 77 was standardized. But then I went on to Snobol, PL/1, etc. I never did really master LISP1.5, but I didn't have access to a running implementation. With Lisps a decent IDE is nearly a necessity to start with. (Currently, if you want to pick up a lisp, I'd recomment Racket Scheme from PLT. It's got a decent development environment.)

OTOH, I dropped C++ about 20 years ago, and am no longer fluent in the modern dialect (something I keep meaning to correct). My current favorite language is D (Digital Mars D, or dmd), before that I cycled between Ruby and Python. Before I retired I normally wrote in whatever my employer chose, which, towards the end, was MSAccess Basic...a really foul language. So foul I wrote routines in Eiffel that did the work and just used the MSAccess Basic as a driver. Not only was it faster to write, it was also faster to execute, and unlike MSAccessBasic, the programs wouldn't arbitrarily start failing after a few months of use. (In the AccessBasis I used to need to save the programs as text files so that I could re-import them after the system corrupted them. Figuring out that there wasn't actually anything wrong with the programs took a lot of quite furstrating debugging, since a newly entered program would work properly. It's my guess that the system was storing some invisible binary code in with the source, so the source became unusable when the code got corrupted...why the code ever got corrupted I never found out, but it happened repeatedly to many different programs.) I presume that MS has by now fixed the problem, but it persisted over at least 5 years and multiple different versions of MSAccess.

Only through hard work and perseverance can one truly suffer.