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Comment Re:Not that crap again (Score 3, Informative) 256

HTML forms are a bad idea for proposal submission.

I've written quite a few grant submission systems (I have a grant cycle running right now, with a deadline of this Friday...yay...). It's a pretty standard deal- web based system that allows for a fair amount of meta data (PIs, co-operators, institutions, name of grant, funding request, etc.). These of course are all part of the HTML forms.

BUT- the proposals themselves- the 2-20 page document where they explain the project- is always a complete mish-mash of stuff that could never go into an HTML form. Formulas, images, etc. Tons of formatting. And typically it is a document that has been shared/edited with other researchers. I ran one system about 15 years ago that was HTML only, and the number of projects that had 8 different PIs, who all wanted edit rights at the same time was way too high. This was pre-Google Wave, and the idea of 8 people simultaneously editing the same text on the web was insane it is now.

Plus, the way that researchers/PIs handle these submissions is to turn everything in at the last possible minute. Any complication on the receiving system will just cause you to get your ass chewed out in the hallway at the next big conference.

I absolutely, 100% never ever want to hear someone say, "I tried to submit my proposal, I typed everything in, then there was an error." Because really, these people will open the page, then sit on it for 3 days as they dink around. When they finally hit 'submit' they're surprised that there was an error. Yes, there are technical ways to mitigate this problem...and the very best way is to have the applicants submit documents.

But, in the case of this article...I usually provide support for these systems. I've been doing this for about 20 years, so I'm fairly good at it. And the absolute quickest way to provide support to someone having problems is to say, "Just email me the document, and I'll submit it for you." 90% of the time I get an email that says, "I figured it out...thanks for your help." 8% of the time people say, "I tried to email the document, but it file was corrupt, so I re-saved it and then submitted...thanks for your help." The last 2% send me the file, I convert it if necessary, and we move on. (that's 2% of the problems, not 2% of the submissions)

There is no reason for me to make a 100% bullet-proof, all-inclusive system that will handle every single different scenario perfectly. It would take too much time. For the very small number of people with a problem, I just do it the old fashioned way. So if somebody told me, "I'm on Linux, and I can't convert my file to PDF, and I don't want to use one of the billion on-line PDF conversion tools, why is the government supporting Adobe and Microsoft!!!, blah blah blah" I just tell them to send me the file. In about 3 minutes I'm done and they are happy. Once upon a time I even hired temps to do this work- but these cases are really about .5% of submissions, and it just isn't worth it.

The article wasn't about the practical aspects of using PDF, it was about the (crap, can't think of the word...) aspect, where someone got their panties in a bunch because the government doesn't facilitate their worst-case-scenario approach to proposal submission.

Source: Been doing this for 20 years for the gub'ment. Yes, there is a guy like me behind most of those systems. See the part of the submission site that says, "For technical assistance...". Yeah, call me or send me an email and I'll take care of it for you. That's why they pay me, and good service is how I make the system look good.

***On the other hand, when you send an email to me, my boss, the funding organization and the overarching agency describing how the system does not function properly, and you were not able to submit your proposal...yes, I will send back a very detailed screenshot laden email pointing out step by step how you failed, and probably send the logs showing that you logged on one time 3 hours before the submission deadline. Goddam I hate it when people blame their failings on the system.

Comment Re:Is there such a thing? (Score 1) 189

Windows Phone not having Tinder is an awesome feature.

I'm a loud and proud Windows Phone fan. And I *like* the lack of apps!

Think about the 'must have' apps from 3 years ago. Or 2 years ago, or 1 year ago. Chances are, you aren't using them now.

Apps are generally just a way to waste time. 99.99% of them are not really valuable.

I'd rather have my phone in my pocket and live life, than sit there on my phone working the coolest new app.

Seriously- I've been on this train of thought since I got rid of my iPhone 4. When I realized I was sitting at the park playing some stupid game instead of watching my kids, I realized that I do NOT want a plethora of apps in my pocket. I want a real life...and a browser/email/SMS in my pocket.

Comment Re:Apps, it had to be apps (Score 2) 241

Dammit...I've been defending ColdFusion on Slashdot for about 12 years (see username). The last 5 years or so have been very quiet as people just assumed CF was gone. Or more to the point, the 'my language is better than your language' people had moved on.

I've been writing in CF for about 17 years. Yes, even today I use it...and I use it all day long. This is not just "quickly kludging new functionality into fairly simple web pages", it's a matter of creating entire line of business apps.

Guess what? People love the apps. They also love the fact that I can create them so quickly. And they love the fact that whenever they ask for something new I say, "Sure, I can do whatever you need." That's what 17 years of experience gives you- I can churn out high quality code very quickly. I still need to defend CF every time I say, "I'm a programmer" because they always want to know what language I use. Because their nephew is learning Swift and that's cool...etc. etc.

What's my point? I think that too many people in tech are enamored with the new/shiny and jump from technology to technology without spending enough time on the QUALITY of what they are creating. I have CF code that I wrote 16 years ago that is still running, and still serving up millions of pages per month. My new code is pretty damn rock-solid, and I know how to write things in a way that is very easily maintained and updated. Because I've been doing it for a long time...

PHP is now in the same spot as ColdFusion, in the sense that it's no longer the cool thing to do, but there is a crapload of experience out there. In my opinion a good experienced programmer is worth 8 'language of the day' programmers no matter what language they are using.

I've been on my latest project for about 18 months. It will take another 6 months before I'm 'done' to the point where I've completed all of the initial goals - this was the assumed timeline at the beginning...again, I've done this for a while, I can estimate a timeline pretty well. The project is being used every day and has already replaced the older system but there are few more milestones to hit.

But the most important part of the project is that everything is clean. The database has been re-worked extensively as I've had more and more experience with how the data is used. When this project is re-written in the future, it will be much easier because the data will make sense. The last programmers just threw more technologies at the project to solve problems, rather than fixing what was broken. (A nice Javascript data interface can't really replace clean matter how much pagination and filtering your fancy table has) I see that a lot with younger programmers. By far this is the most important part of the project and is not language specific. "Does this entire thing make sense? Have you done the tough work instead of a million work arounds?" That to me is far more important than working on a language that has yet to see version 3. (No magic to version 3, just looking at the maturity of the language)

I wish more people in the industry were concerned about quality, rather than the new and shiny. Not a single user has said, "Oh this sucks because it is written in ColdFusion". Instead they say, "Oh my god, this is exactly what we wanted...and you are so fast!"

I am so tired of people doing one or two projects in a language, then moving on to the next new and shiny- while bashing on CF because it's old. Goddamit, I'll be cleaning your messes up in the future and there is a good chance the pages will have a .cfm extension even if it's not cool.

It's like thinking you are a good photographer because you've got the latest camera. Superficially it's nice, but you still have no idea what you're doing.

Comment Re:So.. (Score 1) 129

I've been typing '' into my address bar for years. Many years ago, when my servers and my internet connection were less reliable, I always used Yahoo as a test to see if my connection was live. Yahoo servers rarely went down.

I still go to Yahoo about once a week, just as a reflex when my browser has an issue.

Have you seen their homepage lately? Evidently the Kardashians are REALLY popular with the Yahoo! demographic. The Yahoo! homepage is a mess of celebrity crap.

I've been wondering if this is what will happen when women control the Internet. More Kardashians...

Comment Re:No, the code-of-conduct will not harm go (Score 1) 358

If you don't know what constitutes respectful behavior, then maybe you weren't brought up right. I don't mean you specifically, of course.

(I know not how to quote here...)

The problem with that, is that 'respectful behavior' is a constantly moving target. What is respectful in one culture, may not be in another. Or to another person.

Do we target the most restrictive interpretation? One of my neighbors is a devout Muslim. I do things all the time that he considers disrespectful.

Or what if we're talking about people with disabilities...and what if I say something like, "I don't really care about accessibility on this..." is that disrespectful to the disabled? Probably. Even if I meant, "I need to get this done, and we can clean up accessibility later" my comment would be disrespectful, and possibly get me booted.

Respectful is wayyy too subjective.

Comment Re:No, the code-of-conduct will not harm go (Score 1) 358

There are a lot of people (like me) who will pretty much see these rules as a challenge. Eventually I will do something stupid...just because. And if that gets me banned for life, then I am screwed.

I would avoid it completely.

On the other hand, if I can lend a hand to someone, I absolutely will. If I can do something to make things better for other people...I will. But if you put down rules that essentially pre-judge me, I will purposely do something to piss you off.

It's the same as giving a middle finger to the man. Sometimes you just gotta do it. And if that gets you banned for life...then fuck them.

Sure, they do NOT need me. I realize that. And, I will make sure that I do NOT need them. I would never put myself in the position where people will judge my actions (more than my intentions) and decide I can't be part of their group. At least I will make sure I never need to rely on that group.

Comment Re:Your attitude is why... (Score 1) 241

This attitude has permeated programmer (not brogrammer) culture long before brogrammers, or before anyone talked about sexism in IT.

Programmers have their own attitude, their own swagger (as geeky as it may be). Exactness is part of the culture because the job is very exacting. Being correct is important.

On the other hand 'We talk about trying to attract women and children to the field' is making a lot of assumptions. I personally would rather work with people who WANT to do the job- not people who are there 'because its a good job'. If a man or woman wants to be a programmer, awesome- let them in. But I think the idea of cheerleading programming as a career is a bad idea. And I'd hate to be the person who goes home on Friday night, hating their programming job- but people told them how cool it would be and so they pursued a field where they didn't really have an interest.

I usually go home Friday night pretty happy- because Friday afternoon is spent figuring out some stupid problem I've been putting off. I had great fun this past week working on some problems I was having with a search engine. I can't imagine slogging through this stuff without the innate drive and desire to figure out minutiae of freetext. It would be a horrible life indeed. Why push people into it?

Comment Re:The problem is that landfills are too cheap (Score 1) 371

Ha ha ha...this is actually closer to reality than you might think.

In California, we charge a fee/tax everytime you buy electronic stuff. Screens, computers, etc.

Then, when it is time to dispose of this material, recyclers get paid by the state. "Here are 200 screens, now please give me my recycling deposit back." This is mainly done by recyclers- I don't think individuals can get their money back.

The problem comes when recyclers from Nevada/Arizona (neighboring states) bring in truckloads of e-waste, just to get the deposit fees.

It happens. So California is paying these people to drop off junk that the state doesn't even want.

Comment Re:The good news is... (Score 5, Insightful) 211

Ha! It WAS me!

I was a really good developer. Then a great developer (in my mind, and others) so I moved up the ranks.

I was pretty good, and made it to the top of the tech heap at a fairly large organization, with 3 levels of employees under me.

It was horrible. I did a really crappy job.

Instead of being a great developer or architect, I become a HORRIBLE business contract negotiator and director. I got involved in 2 HR actions at the same time. I completely failed. In fact I think I 'Petered Out'.

I bailed on that life, and found an organization willing to match my salary- back down at a developer position. I'm a nominal supervisor to 2 people.

I really think I am doing great work again- even better than before, because my viewpoint is even better. I love being a developer, and they love what I'm doing.

The Peter Principal is real. I was promoted beyond my abilities, and I'm not afraid to admit it. Being really good at something doesn't necessarily mean that I'm able to manage a bunch of other people.

Comment Re:who cares about plagiarism (Score 2) 53

Oh yeah baby- money makes the (academic) world go round.

I work in academia. You've never seen a researcher drop a project that "is his/her life's passion" as fast as when the money dries up.

I do IT for these people. As soon as that grant is done, you might as well pull the plug. Otherwise it becomes MY project- because they have moved on.

I've shit-canned websites with tons of good info that receive millions of page views per year, because the researcher doesn't care about it anymore. And since it is not my name on the paper, I can't take any responsibility for it.

I can say with about 99% certainty, that the only reason those projects were started was recognition or money. And even the recognition part means nothing once the academic has a few years of work under their belt. Because at that point the only recognition they care about would be academic journals.

Comment Caching (Score 1) 238

I work at a place with many distributed offices. A lot of these offices are large enough to have their own IT staff who make decisions locally.

Some of those bozos felt the need to have very aggressive caching servers. Aggressive enough that on any non-https website, it was impossible to differentiate between users or deliver new content. So any web apps we rolled out had huge problems if multiple users were logged in- or even better, a page would never update because it already existed in the cache. Essentially dynamic sites were completely unusable. Imagine going to a news site, and reading yesterday's news...because it had been cached less than 24 hours ago.

This problem started about 13 years ago- when HTTPS was far less common. So even on ecommerce sites users were having huge problems. Yes, a lot of ecommerce ran unencrypted 13 years ago.

So- every single site I ran (hundreds of sites....) had to run completely HTTPS- to avoid caching. Even the really simple line of business apps that were ridiculously basic and had no reason to be secure, had to run under HTTPS. Even public facing websites had to run under HTTPS, otherwise the local users would not see updates. (No, they did not see updates on sites I did not control...)

Sometimes IT people can be idiotic...but in their mind it cut down on bandwidth usage, which was a greater goal than having the web actually work.

Most of the people responsible for these caching servers have since retired or moved on...but still on a server delivering over 200 million public page views each year, it all runs encrypted because of their legacy.

But seriously...sometimes people have their nose stuck so far up IT minutia, that they can't see the forest through the trees.

Comment Re:Your baseline is wrong... (Score 4, Interesting) 277

I hate this comment.

I probably hate it because I make about $90k (plus one of the best benefits/retirement packages in the United can suck your 401k, I gots me a pension!)

But really, I hear this all the time. "Oh, you only make $90k? You must suck. Any mid-level programmer can make more than that."

First, it really isn't just about the take-home. The benefits are really important.

Second, there are sooo many other factors, it is incredible. I live about 70 miles from Silicon Valley. My salary *is* something to scoff at by the denizens of the Valley, but for quality of life? I have most of them beat.

I live in a beautiful house that I can easily afford. I average 40 hours per week- with the variance being about 3 hours each way. A 'crazy' time means that I come in at 7:30, and maybe stay as late as 5:30 if I have some process running.

I get to lift my head out of the screen and go do REAL things during my work. I am consulted on many different business processes- my opinion is valued well beyond the technical side of my job.

Someone else mentioned 7 brogrammers huddled together in some Santa Clara shit-shack, all making $150,000. That's a miserable existence that I want no part of- no matter how great they are at programming, or how many Google logoed items they own.

It isn't all about the dollars- don't let some HR firm tell you it is! Don't base your career/life trajectory on your paystubs.

**As an aside, I have visited the Google campus a few time for different projects- meeting with 'fairly high level' employees. We typically compare quality of life notes...I haven't talked to any Google employees over the age of 35 who thought they had made a good life decision to be there. Except for the former CEO's of companies Google has purchased...those guys are happy as shit.

Comment Re:BetaMax vs VHS . . . (Score 3, Insightful) 193

I think of it more as a Viewmaster.

Okay, maybe LaserDisc. Either way, it's a really bad tool.

Source: IT Director who was there during the launch frenzy of iPads. Employees demanded them...I even had people in my office CRYING because they 'needed' one. Once everyone had their iPad (and it was no longer a status symbol) their actual usage was limited to email and web browsing. Both of which can also be performed on a phone.

iPads were one of the biggest wastes of money during my time of IT purchasing. They were also the most heavily demanded.


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