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Comment: Email IDs? (Score 1, Interesting) 16

Back when I was a lad, we knew that an "email address" was like a physical address - useless unless people know it. People even made them publicly available on the web!

Yes, spammers abused this. But hiding addresses hardly helped. So many addresses have been dumped or dictionary brute forced by now it's hardly a big deal if your email address appears in one more place.

So colour me unexcited by this terrible misstep.

Comment: They didn't grab the opportunity (Score 5, Insightful) 296

by Jim Hall (#49557895) Attached to: Google Insiders Talk About Why Google+ Failed

I remember when Google+ first appeared as an "invite only" service. That was just before Facebook made the huge blunder of putting members' faces in ads for any pages they "Liked," suggesting an endorsement. I remember a lot of people everywhere got really angry at Facebook about "faces on ads," and even threatened to leave because of it.

And Google+ remained invite-only. Pretty much no one I knew had an account.

Over the next week, pretty much all you saw in the news was how people wanted to leave Facebook because of the "faces on ads" thing. What an abuse of privacy! You're stealing my image to sell products! There were a bunch of petitions for Facebook to undo the new "faces on ads," or else they would delete their Facebook accounts. The only problem was that there wasn't a viable alternate social network out there. Twitter wasn't really a replacement for how most people used Facebook.

And Google+ still remained invite-only. By then, a few people I knew had accounts, but had run out of invites to share. So few others could get in.

After a few weeks, Facebook decided to calm the storm, and undid "faces on ads." And as expected, people stopped freaking out about Facebook. After another week, even the tech websites stopped writing about "faces on ads."

And finally, Google+ went "live." Anyone could join. I had an account, but few of my other friends bothered to sign up. Why? Because they were still using Facebook, they got over the "faces on ads" fiasco. Without other people to share with, Google+ failed to gain critical mass.

Google+ failed because they didn't know how to respond to the opportunity that Facebook gave them.

Comment: Re:Damn... (Score 4, Informative) 447

That's like the opposite of what happened.

Pakistan does not exist because of the machinations of the British. Rather, Pakistan came into existence due to the withdrawal and general shutdown of the British Empire, which like many occupations was suppressing tribal and ethnic dissent in order to keep their territories together. The moment the Empire (which was weak and failing at this point in time anyway) released its hold on the country there was a huge bloody massacre and a civil war ("The Partition") which resulted in the creation of Pakistan.

So it's not like the British stood around and encouraged Muslims and Hindus to fight each other. They did that all on their own.

Comment: Re:Google: Select jurors who understand stats. (Score 1) 340

by IamTheRealMike (#49544707) Attached to: Median Age At Google Is 29, Says Age Discrimination Lawsuit

The context is US employees. The majority of employees are in the US

No it's not and no they aren't. Most Google employees and most Google revenues are outside the USA.

Name your country with a significant number of Google employees in which Google routinely hires people who do not speak an official language of that country, please.

Switzerland, as just one example.

Young people are working long hours, as you said yourself. Those young people are not staying, as the data confirms

Jesus christ, you're bad at this. The data doesn't say that. Google has very low attrition rates and always has. If all the young people were burning out and leaving the average age would be higher than it is, wouldn't it?

Google are low on gender, age, and race diversity compared to nearly every other tech company

You haven't shown that, or even begun to lay the groundwork for that. The demographics of Google engineering are pretty similar to the demographics of people taking CS courses at universities, which should not be surprising to anyone.

Like a few of my friends who walked away from the Google interview process, the moment I started hearing discussions of fitting into the "culture", I saw that it was a business comprised of smart but narrowminded techs who did not really know any better

All organisations have cultures, it's inherent to any group of people that's allowed to be selective. If you don't believe this then all that suggests to me is you work at a place where you fit in well enough that you don't recognise that there is a culture at all.

Comment: Re:Google: Select jurors who understand stats. (Score 1) 340

by IamTheRealMike (#49544163) Attached to: Median Age At Google Is 29, Says Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Who said anything about the USA? You realise Google has offices all over the world, right?

And who said anything about burning out? You're the one who decided that must happen. I've not seen any burned out young people at Google. The only burnout I knew there was a guy in his 50s.

And the only "evidence" of discrimination in hiring comes from this article, which is deeply questionable. Amongst other things it assumes every employee at Google does software development, which is very far from true (there is a massive sales division that skews young for the same reason bar staff do - it's not a very appealing long term job).

Comment: Re:Personally, I don't think he was talking to Goo (Score 1) 340

by IamTheRealMike (#49543943) Attached to: Median Age At Google Is 29, Says Age Discrimination Lawsuit

It's sounds bizarre but could have happened. Some people do crazy stuff to get a job there. When I was an interviewer there, part of interview training was learning tricks to detect candidates who were looking up answers on the internet. Sometimes you could ask a question and hear them typing in the background.

The article says the interviewer requested him to read the code out over the phone and that the interviewer was barely fluent in English. Those are two massive red flags that something odd was happening.

Google has a large pool of interviewers and some of them are better than others. There's no doubt about that. But in many years of working there I never encountered anyone with less than excellent English skills, and I cannot imagine anyone asking a candidate to read code out over the phone. That's just an obviously stupid thing to try and do, especially when the candidate offered to share it via Google Docs. SOP there is to send the candidate a Docs link for shared coding together, but even if something went wrong with that process, when the candidate offers to fix it that sounds and the interviewer refuses that sounds very much like he wasn't really talking to a Google employee. Think about it - if the person on the other end of the phone was a MITM then he'd need to have given his own very obviously non email address to receive the document. Busted.

Comment: Re:That shouldn't surprise anyone (Score 1) 340

by IamTheRealMike (#49543921) Attached to: Median Age At Google Is 29, Says Age Discrimination Lawsuit

I always joked that if you ask me to write a sort routine in the interview, I'm going to lecture you about why you need to go off the shelf, and doesn't Google have anyone who can make a shareable library? Do we really need to know how to code a lightning sort ad hoc? To sell more ads? heh

Then you wouldn't get hired. Former Google interviewer, 220+ interviews. I used to pretty frequently ask candidates to solve the following problem: write a program that loads lines of text from a file, shuffles them, and writes them back out again.

The reason companies like Google ask ridiculously academic questions in interviews (and that question is academic) is not because they're all ignoramuses who can't imagine anything outside their PhD box. It's because judging someone's technical and programming ability in under an hour any other way is really freaking hard. If you haven't done a lot of interviewing then it's easy to imagine, "If I were hiring, I'd only ask questions that REAL programmers would solve". But then you try lots of different kinds of questions and discover that for most of them, by the end of the interview you often have no real clue about whether the candidate can actually write a functioning program. CVs and qualifications are no help - they routinely seem to have no correlation with actual demonstrated skill.

Speed-coding whilst someone is watching you in a high pressure environment is difficult at the best of times. Doing it from scratch for any kind program of you're likely to actually write in the real job is impossible - nobody codes up a fully blown web app with the latest stack de jure (which Google doesn't use anyway) in 45 minutes. You don't even know what languages the candidate knows, in some cases, as not everyone thinks to put them on the CV. So you end up asking for a small, simple program that shows basic knowledge of basic language constructs like looping and different kinds of lists. Then there's time to write some code and ask questions about it. Additionally, there are multiple "off ramps" so even slow candidates don't feel like they are running out of time and panic, but faster candidates can keep being challenged with minor modifications to the task.

For what it's worth, if someone answered this question by writing a program that ran Collections.shuffle() or their chosen languages equivalent, that resulted in them being marked up not down, because you're right - knowledge of standard libraries is important and a good sign of experience. Then I'd ask them to do it again without using the standard library because I also want to see if they can write the code themselves. Using the most correct or optimal algorithm is not the goal, even if the question sounds algorithmic. It's just a scenario to get them doing things with data structures and basic control logic.

For what it's worth I am skeptical about the ages in the summary. If the average age at Google is 29 then that pretty much matches the average age across 25,000 developers on StackOverflow, which gave an answer of 30. However I suspect that the median age in engineering is higher if you take into account tech leads and technical management, and the age for the entire company is biased lower by the enormous ad sales organisation. That always seemed to me to be populated entirely by recent university grads. Selling ads is hardly exciting work with great potential for career advancement and doesn't require any specialist skills, so the people who do that tend to be young, and there have historically been massive numbers of them (like half the company).

Comment: Re:Google: Select jurors who understand stats. (Score 4, Insightful) 340

by IamTheRealMike (#49543885) Attached to: Median Age At Google Is 29, Says Age Discrimination Lawsuit

So, you're confirming that young employees are overworking, which is the first part of the hypothesis, although then you go into a marketing style tangent with, "It's just that they are so excited that they don't want to go home!!!" That sounds pretty unhealthy to me, especially given the present evidence of attrition suggesting that it is not a sustainable way of working.

It's not marketing, it's the truth. I worked there for nearly 8 years. By the way, I'm 31.

Google is (a) a very desirable employer and (b) hires people from all over the world. The combination of these things mean that many, many developers, especially younger ones that move from poorer countries, get relocated across borders. They arrive in a new country where they don't speak the language, quite often with a girlfriend or wife in tow, and frankly many of them don't quite dive into making friends and socialising as much as perhaps would be a good idea. Combination of new city, no social life + interesting work == lots of people working odd hours. Eventually they do settle down and the hours get more normal.

But programming has always been this way, hasn't it? I never heard a lawyer say, "I've been doing lawyering since I was 8 years old" but it happens in software all the time. It's a sort of work that many people just enjoy doing, and do it as a hobby as well as a job.

Comment: Re:Doublethink (Score 3, Insightful) 679

by IamTheRealMike (#49537875) Attached to: Except For Millennials, Most Americans Dislike Snowden

It's always been this way - younger people tend to care less about voting

I could equally say it's always been this way because politicians and The Establishment have always been old.

My theory is at that age you're still so engrossed with exploring your environment, that you put little thought into shaping your environment.

My theory is that political parties run by older people tend to focus on the wishes of people just like them i.e. older people. Due to the party political whipping system, young people who investigate politics quickly realise they will be forced to vote in support of social policies they disagree with, making the career unattractive. This results in a downward spiral in which politicians ignore people unlike them, those people get turned off from politics, and thus the demographic makeup of the political elite can never self correct.


POS Vendor Uses Same Short, Numeric Password Non-Stop Since 1990 128

Posted by timothy
from the you-only-said-not-to-use-123456 dept.
mask.of.sanity writes: Fraud fighters David Byrne and Charles Henderson say one of the world's largest Point of Sale systems vendors has been slapping the same default passwords – 166816 – on its kit since 1990. Worse still: about 90 per cent of customers are still using the password. Fraudsters would need physical access to the PoS in question to exploit it by opening a panel using a paperclip. But such physical PoS attacks are not uncommon and are child's play for malicious staff. Criminals won't pause before popping and unlocking. The enraged pair badged the unnamed PoS vendor by its other acronym labelling it 'Piece of S***t.

Comment: Re:Doublethink (Score 4, Insightful) 679

by IamTheRealMike (#49535567) Attached to: Except For Millennials, Most Americans Dislike Snowden

I think it's more likely to be because people under 35 are the first generation that have no memory of the cold war. People born before about 1980 lived in a world where there was a very strong, clear delineation between us vs them and that divide was seen as an existential struggle between good and evil. Merely by being born into a certain country, you too could take part in an epic ideological struggle between right and wrong. It is perhaps not surprising that people who lived most of their life in such a world instinctively support a strong, authoritarian state and react badly to a "traitor who gave our national security secrets to the Russians" or whatever garbled version of the story they received via Fox News. There's definitely a clear and strong tendency in older populations to support our side regardless of what that side actually does, and things that seem to bring back old certainties strongly appeal to them. Hence the desperate need of the establishment to make "the terrorists" to new Big Evil.

Contrast to people under the age of 35 who don't remember the cold war and have never lived in a world where there were clearly defined conflicts between us/them or good/evil. Instead there has been a series of endless wars started by us against dramatically weaker foes, based on vague and uncompelling justifications, the results of which have mostly been bedlam. Older people love this because it's an attempt to bring back the old certainties they remember. It leaves young people cold because they don't care about the old certainties, as they never had them to begin with.

Combine all this with the fact that the average software developer is 30 years old and the average age of Congress is 57 ... nearly double their age .... you have set the stage for an epic showdown between the technology industry and the political establishment. Which is exactly what's happening.

Comment: Re:Seems to be OK all around then (Score 1) 607

by IamTheRealMike (#49535105) Attached to: Bill To Require Vaccination of Children Advances In California

Okay. Can I have a refund on my taxes which paid for the public school that I can no longer use? See how that works?

That sounds fair as long as you also pay a large excess tax that covers the host of setting up quarantine zones, emergency medical care and lifelong disability benefits when "Private School for anti-vaxxers" is inevitably swallowed by a full blown measles outbreak. The costs of this are likely to far, far outstrip the value of the school vouchers.

In practice though the amount of accounting that it'd take to make this kind of opt out system perfectly fair is so large that it'd be better to just force people to take the vaccines. I guess like many on this site I'm not a huge fan of governments forcing people to do things against their will, but there are cases where it's clearly the best path forward, like obeying speed limits, paying taxes .... and being vaccinated.

If it happens once, it's a bug. If it happens twice, it's a feature. If it happens more than twice, it's a design philosophy.