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Comment: It's the non-engineers. (Score 4, Insightful) 64 64

by tlambert (#50016905) Attached to: The Programmer's Path To Management

The stories about jobs and careers are getting so tiresome. I realize Dice bought Slashdot to datamine the comments (free focus group!), but it seems like half the stories are a variation on the same these days.

It's the non-engineers.

They have this misconception that people used to dealing with the intricate semantics of programming languages are going to be unaware of the intricate semantics of English. Therefore, if they ask a question once, and do not get an answer they like, they will repeatedly ask the same question in different guises, hoping to obtain the answer they wanted to hear.

This really comes down to who is more patient than whom.

I usually attempt to buffer my answers in order to soften the blow, but you can ask the same question as many ways as you want, and the answer will likely not change, so long as it is fundamentally the same question. And I usually have the patience of Job. However, there was one incident where I was up against a deadline, and was being asked to "just cobble together something that works, and we'll (read: you'll) fix it (read: in a binary compatible way) later. Which was an impossibility (I was working on some very complex database code written in C++ which did subschema definitional enforcement on an upper level database schema, and the semantics had to be correct for the data stored in the binary backing store to be usable going forward, when we did the next update). The code had to be *right*, as opposed to *right now*, and the time difference was important.

We had a UI person who was in a management position, and they brought her over to argue their case that immediate was better than correct (correct would fit under the deadline, but only if everyone left me alone to finish the code). The UI person was constantly revising the UI in each release, and each release was practically a full rewrite. And she did not understand why I could not write my code the same way she wrote hers. Finally having had enough, I explained "It's OK if your code is crap; you are going to rewrite it in the next release anyway. My code has to work now, and it has to continue to work going forward, and therefore it needs to be correct. I understand that you are feeling the approaching deadline. So am I. However, while your code can be crap, mine can't be because I have to maintain it going forward. Now if you will get the hell out of my office, I will be able to finish the code by the deadline."

Needless to say, there were some ruffled feathers. The director of engineering sided with me. I completed the (correct, rather than expedient) code by the deadline, and the product didn't turn into unmaintainable crap vis-a-vis the update process going forward.

What's the moral to this story?

Well, with specific regard to DICE:

(1) Repeatedly asking the same question in different ways is not going to get them a different answer, if the first answer was correct. Any other answer than that answer would be incorrect, for the question asked.

With specific regard to the current topic:

(2) Engineers who actually reliably, repeatedly, and consistently deliver what they are asked to deliver, within the timeframe that was agreed upon, can, and often do, wield more authority than the managers nominally set above them in the food chain, so it's not like going into management is going to give you any more real authority than you already have by way of your relationship with the team, and their trust of your judgement.

A management path can be a good idea if:

(A) You want more perks (stock options, etc.), although in a good company, if you are a great engineer, you will get those anyway

(B) You are tired of doing engineering for a living (which probably means you didn't qualify as "great engineer" under option 'A' anyway)

(C) You feel you would be more useful and/or happier in such a position (but if your happiness is based on power, don't expect it will necessarily follow)

(D) You are an OK (but not great) engineer at a company which engages in age discrimination, and you are happy to continue working for such a company going forward, and it's your only way to do so (at which point, I pretty much need to question your personal ethics)

Other than that... DICE: Asked and Answered. Please go on to the next survey question.

Comment: Re:It has this. (Score 1) 188 188

by tlambert (#50013637) Attached to: iPhone 6S New Feature: Force Touch

Do you defend every company which charges premium prices for a product where they limit your ability to do something every computer has been able to do for the last 50 years

Of course.

I will happily defend IKEA for selling me a chair that is limited from being able to do *anything* "every computer has been able to do for the last 50 years".

Except, you know, being sat on. If I can't sit on the chair, I'd be pretty unhappy. On the other hand, not every computer in the last 50 years has been large enough or flat enough to sit on. You gotta draw that line somewhere!

Comment: A near miss is defined as 500 feet (Score 1) 265 265

by tlambert (#50012483) Attached to: Drone Diverts Firefighting Planes, Incurring $10,000 Cost

A near miss is defined as 500 feet:


According to the American Helicopter Services & Aerial Firefighting Association, airtankers fly between 150 and 200 feet:


The article reports a drone altitude of 800-900 feet. Let's take the most pessimal separation from these numbers: 800 - 200 = 600. That gives them a buffer of 100 feet in which this was *NOT* even classifiable as a near miss; there was no danger of a drone to aircraft collision, unless you are claiming that the drone pilot intended to fly the drone into the DC-10 airtanker.

You will find elsewhere on the AHSAFA site that the aircraft do not "dive-bomb" the fires; a fully loaded airtanker had a heck of a lot of inertia, and it's not really an option; they are long, low runs. I refer you to the site however, because I doubt you'd trust my (anecdotal) personal experience with U.S. Forest Service airtankers.

Comment: Re:It has this. (Score 2) 188 188

by tlambert (#50006787) Attached to: iPhone 6S New Feature: Force Touch

How about we turn this around: Other than pirating commercial software or installing spyware, what do you lose by an inability to side-load without a jailbreak?

Really? That is a question? Is that how far we've fallen down the dumb consumer hole?
How about being able to create and share programs on phones without the blessing of some magical corporate entity, or without someone having to fork over money for a developers license?

Perfectly doable, if you have source code to what's being shared, or if what's being shared is being distributed as linkable object files. Have you really not looked into current iPhone software development tools? It doesn't require paying the $99 fee to install whatever crap you want on your own device. The fee is for the ability to list on the App Store.

Comment: Re:What were they thinking? (Score 2) 176 176

by JaredOfEuropa (#50006551) Attached to: Disney Bans Selfie Sticks
Half the world is intent on making rules for everything, just because "there ought to be a law" against anything remotely risky or unpleasant. And the other half lashes out by ignoring those rules an doing what the hell they want.

1) If you treat people like children, they will start behaving like them.
2) If you make tons of unreasonable rules, people will start breaking them in protest, and start breaking the reasonable ones as well, especially if it's hard to tell the two apart ("You can't bring your gun on the plane because of terrists, but you also can't bring your bottle of water for the same reason"). Unjust, unreasonable or petty laws endanger all of the law.

Now, having a rule against using selfie sticks in a roller coaster is reasonable, but people choose to ignore that law, or tell others to, because of a whole range of other laws that are silly. And because of the way those laws are enforced (instead of treating them as a means to an end, they are treated as a goal in themselves).

Comment: Re:Convince to switch? (Score 1) 188 188

by JaredOfEuropa (#50005627) Attached to: iPhone 6S New Feature: Force Touch
There are some features that could tempt someone to switch. Apple's fingerprint scanner wasn't the first, but it was the first one that was (almost) seamlessly integrated into the phone's usage pattern. Plenty of Android users told me they'd love to have that on their phones. But the thing is: they didn't have to switch, they only had to wait a while; today there are a few Android phones with non-sucky fingerprint scanners, and as far as I know the OS now supports it as well. If Apple turns force touch from a gimmick into something actually useful, then it won't be long before other manufacturers follow suit.

If anything, us Apple users are at a disadvantage here, Apple focus only on certain things and are slow to develop others. One thing I'd love is a water resistant iPhone, but as yet there are only some rumours that Apple is actuall working on this.

Comment: Re:Insufficient control authority (Score 4, Insightful) 49 49

by JaredOfEuropa (#50005565) Attached to: Weather Promising for Sunday Morning SpaceX Launch
They came very close, twice. And both attempts failed because of mechanical problems, not because it can't be done. Watching the video of the 2nd attempt, I'd say that they have control authority to spare. I think the lesson from both failures is that landing their first stage is in fact very doable.

Comment: Re:It has this. (Score 1) 188 188

by tlambert (#50005403) Attached to: iPhone 6S New Feature: Force Touch

As opposed to downloading a remote access program from the store?

These programs have to be explicitly launched by the user themselves after each boot. In other words, they are about as dangerous as a tethered jailbreak, shich is to say: Not very.

This is about as FUD as it gets. The ability to side load is not a physical security exposure. If you have a lock screen then access is blocked in any case. If you don't have a lock screen, then the mythical walled garden won't protect you. Blocking side load only makes sense when it comes to protection from user error, and even then on Android you can side load single apps without enabling universal installation of apks so the only thing you're left with is user stupidity.

How about we turn this around: Other than pirating commercial software or installing spyware, what do you lose by an inability to side-load without a jailbreak?

The rate at which a disease spreads through a corn field is a precise measurement of the speed of blight.