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Comment: Re:Cry Me A River (Score 2) 586

by DickBreath (#47418945) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
I learned BASIC in 1977, about the same way, and about as quickly.

And I was writing a few BASIC programs shortly thereafter. But they are today what I would call TRIVIAL. Things that I would do in a single method of a modern language. With much better style, correctness, comprehensibility and maintainability.

Having just learned programming myself doesn't mean I was by any means an expert ready to work on big commercial problems worth lots of money. It took years more to learn a lot of important things. Structured Programming (aka giving up GOTO). Encapsulation. Information hiding. Data structures and dynamic memory. Algorithms. Understanding performance classification of algorithms. Understanding how the machine works at the low level. Writing toy or elementary compilers. Learning a LISP language (pick any one, they will teach you the same important and valuable lessons). Learning databases. How they work as well as how to use them. Read a few good books on human interface design before building a complex GUI program. I could go on and on.


> You can't learn how to build a highly optimised, always available, secure e-commerce trading platform in 8 hours.

Correct. The point here I think is that to have all of the valuable skills that makes you good at something, and fast at it, and apparently able to recognize the solutions to problems very quickly is -- lots and lots of study and practice. Years of learning. Failures (hopefully on some of your own toy problems first rather than commercial ones). Figuring out how to debug complex systems -- without or prior to the existence of source level debuggers.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for those who cry because employers want skilled programmers. Well, professional sports teams want skilled players. And modelling agencies want beautiful people. These things come with some combination of luck of the draw and effort to take advantage of it. (Those models don't eat donuts, for example.) I also think computer geeks should be able to cry and whine that humanities studies are unfair.

Comment: In the old days . . . (Score 1) 586

by DickBreath (#47414683) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
From TFA (the friendly article, or whatever other F-word you prefer) . . .
> In the old days there was a respected profession of application programming.
> There was a minority of elite system programmers who built infrastructure and tools
> that empowered the majority of application programmers.


I think it is still that way. But now there is a third class who think that breaking into the application programming is some kind of godlike elite skill because it requires you to actually know more than the mere syntax of a language. Programming is racist and sexist because it requires you to even learn the syntax of a programming language. Why can't the computer just do what they say? Why do they need a special language? Why should it be necessary to learn to design complex databases, and understand in memory data structures and algorithms? Why focus on gaining lots of insight in order to come up with vastly superior algorithms?

In short, from what I see on some programming boards, what some people seem to want is a high paying position where an untrained monkey could get a computer to do what the boss wants, and then collect a paycheck -- um, no. Direct deposit.

Comment: Re:Cry Me A River (Score 5, Insightful) 586

by DickBreath (#47414587) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
That may be true, but you miss the deeper underlying issue that TFA (the friendly article) is whining about.

They want to be able to be a programming superstar by reading a book such as:
* Learn Programming in 24 Hours!
* Learn Brain Surgery in 24 Hours!
* Learn Rocket Science in 24 Hours!
* Learn To Be A Concert Pianist in 10 EASY Lessons!

Various programming boards are flooded with people who want to know how to break into programming for big bucks, quick, overnight, but don't want to actually do the hard learning.

Comment: Re:Python for learning? Good choice. (Score 1) 412

by Kjella (#47413153) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

I'll disagree on that. We use white space to communicate our programs' block structure to other humans. Why should we use a different syntax to tell the compiler the same information?

IMHO it's far easier to logically get it right with braces and pretty-print it for proper indentation than fiddling around with whitespace.

Comment: Re:more leisure time for humans! (Score 1) 526

by Kjella (#47409439) Attached to: Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots

That's revisionist history, ludicrously so. Marx never foresaw anything of the sort. He believed firmly in the labor theory of value, and as such all economic power derived from human labor, not from mechanical power. Communism was about combating the concentration of economic power in the hands of a few people who owned the means of production, at the expense of the masses who provided the labor (and hence the real value).

It is not very hard to re-frame Marx in terms of the knowledge worker, where the owner of the means of production like the [e-tail site/online bank/search engine/social networking site] exploits the individual developers who produce the system but alone are insignificant and replaceable leading to a race to the bottom where providing the labor is greatly underpaid while stock owners and other capital holders make off with the profits. That does of course not exclude the possibility that capital owners will pay off unique individuals and start-ups that threaten to shift the competitive landscape or compete with the existing companies, but more of a global mutual interest among all companies to depress wages.

Even in the absence of formal collusion it's not hard to reach a form of unwritten understanding in direct and transparent competition of substitute goods. For example on the way to work there are two gas stations quite literally across the road from each other, if one drops the price of course the other will follow. So what makes them profit most, both high or both low prices? Now apply the same to store clerk wages, of course neither has an interest in raising the general wages. It is really the same when you see Google/Apple/Microsoft/whatever involved in anti-poaching agreements, surely they could just poach back but it'd raise the wage costs for everyone so better if they don't.

I do agree though that he thought the actual value lay with the labor, not the machinery but I guess you can equally apply this to software, doesn't really all value of the code stem from the one who developed it? Granted, he got paid for it but whether that pay is fair is another matter. Remember, Marx never claimed the workers were forced to work anywhere at gun point. What he said was that all the choices were bad ones and workers were exploited no matter who they worked for. It's not like market economists dispute that companies would lower labor costs if they could either, they just refuse to do something about it. If the supply and demand don't add up to a wage you're comfortable with do something else.

Of course we won't run out of jobs as such, but when there's more people wanting jobs than there are jobs, real wages start trending downwards as workers undercut each other. The relative wealth between those with capital and those who work for a living diverges and it becomes harder and harder to join them as their holdings increase faster than any savings you can make. As long as human labor remains essential to the function of society, we can still unite and strike for higher wages though. If we're no longer essential and the system runs on robotics, software and a few scabs until we go back to work, well then we're in deep shit.

Comment: Re:C++ wins the day again. (Score 2) 87

by Kjella (#47406191) Attached to: KDE Releases Frameworks 5

KDE and Qt are synonymous with C++. They prove that C++ is the best language around

LOL, the only reason C++ is tolerable is Qt and only if you avoid screwing with resources yourself and let QObjects handle the mess, it's still full of leftover ugly from the 70s that neither Java, C# nor Swift choose to handle the same way. The problem is that creating a good language, a good compiler and a comprehensive system library (practically a must today IMO) is a huge job and without a big company like Sun/Oracle (Java), Microsoft (C#) or Apple (Swift) backing it you'll never get off the ground.

Comment: Oil companies will be thrilled to hear this (Score 1) 32

by DickBreath (#47369363) Attached to: Hierarchical Membrane For Cleaning Up Oil Spills
They will no longer need to worry about oil spills. Many of those silly, and very expensive 'safety' precautions can now be avoided. Saving costs increases shareholder value.

The only real drawback to this solution seems to be that the membrane's ingredients do not include ground up kittens and babies.

Comment: Re:Socialism is not working (Score 5, Interesting) 710

by Kjella (#47311503) Attached to: Workaholism In America Is Hurting the Economy

This country is losing it. Don't know if you realize it my fellow citizens, but you are getting your ass kicked in the world. Socialism is not working.

That's because whenever you try something socialist-ish it's implemented as corporate welfare. Instead of taxing the corporations and helping the people you're bailing out the corporations and handing the bill to the people. Your version of Robin Hood would involve trying to get a trickle-down effect by handing the sheriff of Nottingham more money so he could hire more tax collectors and guards. Or to use a car analogy it's like stabbing the tires and pouring sugar in the gas tank, then comparing it to a horse.

Comment: Re:work life balance is a myth (Score 5, Insightful) 710

by Kjella (#47311305) Attached to: Workaholism In America Is Hurting the Economy

The intersection between stuff I'd love to do and the stuff people would pay me to do = Ø, particularly if I got paid to do it. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with my job (37.5 hour work week, decent pay with overtime, 5 weeks vacation, interesting and meaningful work) but I don't love it and it's not something I'd do without the paycheck. If you can't really think of anything else to do than work, you must have a very gimped imagination. I'm sorry.

Comment: Re:Is there a 'less nerdy version'? (Score 1) 347

by Kjella (#47311205) Attached to: Evidence of a Correction To the Speed of Light

The first part you got right, the second I don't think so. From what I gather the photon is really like an "on and off again" couple, every so often they split apart to an electron and positron but almost instantly realize being on their own doesn't work so they get back together again. But in those brief moments they're single they're pulled much stronger towards parties, curving the path they take between our house and their house - not zigzagging.

Apparently over a 168000 light year stretch this adds up to a 0.0005 light year detour, they've not traveled as straight a line as the neutrinos have. Of course we already knew gravity bends light, but these quantum effects means it bends a little more than expected from the photon's mass. It's no wonder quantum mechanics can drive you crazy, God isn't just playing dice on top of that the dice morphs between 1d6 and 1d20 during the throw.

Comment: Re:oh boy (Score 2) 274

by Kjella (#47310087) Attached to: China Starts Outsourcing From<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... the US

In any case, you're wrong. The world is running out of hellholes that tolerate slave labour, so those companies that can't turn profit without it have nowhere to go

Oh there's plenty of hellholes left, but the remaining ones are mostly plagued by civil war, crazy dictators, massive corruption, lack of basic education and infrastructure or some other form of ethnic, religious, economical, social or political instability that make them unsuitable for running a business no matter how low the wages get. The extremely poor but stable countries are quickly running out, India is still lagging quite a bit behind China but after that if gets tougher and tougher.

Comment: Re:More expensive for whom? (Score 1) 183

by Kjella (#47305321) Attached to: How Vacuum Tubes, New Technology Might Save Moore's Law

Man, I wish I could sell at a loss with a 60% gross margin. Like all companies they make margins slim where competition is strong and large where it's weak or non-existant, but if you've ever had the impression Intel was dumping prices to squish AMD out of the market you must have lived in a different world than me. Dirty OEM tricks? Sure. Bleeding consumers dry by charging tons for extreme performance, long battery life or server features? Sure. Having superior process technology and pocketing the profit from lower costs? Sure. Force feeding the mainstream market IGPs to eat AMD/nVidia's low end? Sure. But I've never looked at an Intel CPU - and particularly a CPU+mobo combo since they have a monopoly on chipsets too and effectively set prices for both - and thought "wow, that's cheap"

Comment: Re:When you can't measure (Score 1) 370

by Kjella (#47293603) Attached to: Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry

whatever it is that your developers are producing (other than warm chair seats) then you start talking like management: "Put X engineers on Project Y to get us to the Z man-months required within schedule." (...) No joke. I've talked to the CEO of a $2B/year semiconductor company and that is precisely as deep as his plaanning goes.

To be fair, at the CEO level of a major company it's impossible to deal with individuals. I've worked for many years with project portfolio management tools and on that level it looks more like a knapsack problem where you have say 100 developers and doing project A consumes 30, project B consumes 40 and project C consumes 50. Except it turns out B and C is both eating the same pool of 20 that know one particular technology or they touch the same systems or users and you don't want two major overhauls colliding. And one project has a much better ROI short term, but the other is strategically important or one is high risk and the other low risk and so on. When you're at this level you're looking at whether you have the capacity and right mix of staff, not how well each individual is suited to their position.

You must understand that as a CEO you're dealing with layers of indirection, perhaps you can make some changes to HR policy that may over time help improve the composition of your workforce, but on the normal management timescale you're stuck with what you've got. And every company tends to have the employees that are favored by that system, rock the boat too much and you get issues with employee dissatisfaction, turnover and a management chain that resist you so mostly they focus on getting the business side right, what products and services should we be delivering. It's up to middle management to pick the aces and go to bat for why these people deserve such a big paycheck compared to others who also call themselves developers. But I will tell you one thing, the CEO might not know what's going on but he does care when the 100 man hours he was going to spend turned into 200, even if the rate was lower.

Comment: Re:At least the elected still have to listen (Score 3, Interesting) 164

by DickBreath (#47281091) Attached to: US House of Representatives Votes To Cut Funding To NSA
Yes. This can be circumvented. If these people can get around the clear wording of the constitution, then they can do anything.

Black is white. Up is down. Secret courts can issue secret overly broad warrants to secretly spy on everyone all the time. People can be secretly compelled to secretly hand over their secret keys and keep this a secret. People can be compelled to help spy on you and keep this a secret. People can be secretly arrested, and taken to secret prisons. We have secret trials with secret evidence. Defendants are now not even allowed access to the secret evidence against them. I thought I had heard everything when a government official said that their interpretation of the law was secret. (I'm sure they were thinking this keeps the enemy from knowing.)

So yes, these people can go on with business as usual. All they need is a hand waving rationalization to make it all okay.

"Marriage is like a cage; one sees the birds outside desperate to get in, and those inside desperate to get out." -- Montaigne

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