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Comment: Got a mac (Score 1, Interesting) 1009

by cowdung (#45945805) Attached to: Windows 9 Already? Apparently, Yes.

I needed a new laptop.. but nobody would sell me one without Windows 8.

So I bought a MacBook Pro (fully loaded).

I'm very satisfied with it (now that the new version supports 16 gb though it still seems a bit low).

MS has done its utmost to drive me away.. I was tough to convince.. but eventually they succeeded.

First they tried with the Ribbon: I stuck to Office 2000 (still use it by the way)

Then they did the XP mess: I waited till Vista/Win7

But Win 8 was an impossible puzzle to solve.. so I got a Macbook and installed Win7 with Parallels. Phew..

I wonder if I'll be able to dodge their next salvo!

Comment: Re:The best language is your best language (Score 1) 232

by cowdung (#45884877) Attached to: "Clinical Trials" For Programming Languages?

I disagree. There are other factors. (Unless you are programming alone)

To choose a language I take into account:

1. Popularity and future: if nobody is using it, it is going to be costly to find people that have expertise. Sadly you cannot ignore trends.. Also your platform may be discontinued and people using other platforms may have more tooling at their disposal.

2. Technical merit: this is the point where people usually argue. However, if you've taken a computer languages course in College you probably know a bit about what a good language looks like and what a bad (messy) language is like. For example, people used to hail Pascal and dis BASIC while pragmatists went for C. Today you can find parallels (.. further comments censored to avoid flame wars...). But technical merit isn't everything or we'd all be using Smalltalk!

3. Familiarity / abilities of your team: it is important to know where your team is and what their limitations are in terms of technology because making a switch to something trendy may turn out to be costly as well.

4. Culture and process: will your team write unit tests for all classes or is that just a pipe dream that will never happen? Do you want the compiler to find trivial problems for you? How important is static error checking (Findbugs, PMD, etc..)? Are all your servers Windows servers (consider .Net)? Are all your servers Linux (don't consider .Net)? What is the valuation (from an investor's point of view) of an app written in FoxPro (considered obsolete) vs one written in Java (considered "Enterprise safe") vs one written in Go (considered "unproven")? Can your "source code" be visible to the end user?

5. The project you're working on: love Java? well good luck with that if your project is a iPhone app. Writing device drivers in Python? huh? Different projects require different tools.

Not all languages are the same. The results will not be the same.. And yes.. your project may succeed or fail based on your choices.

Comment: Peopleware (Score 1) 232

by cowdung (#45884807) Attached to: "Clinical Trials" For Programming Languages?

Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister's Peopleware book covers issues about productivity and is often quoted when people say that some developers are up to 10x more productive that others.
(see http://www.amazon.com/Peopleware-Productive-Projects-Teams-3rd-ebook/dp/B00DY5A8X2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389069388&sr=8-1&keywords=peopleware)

In summary the book looks into issues of programmer productivity. It explores the role of computer languages and concludes that for the most part which programming language is being used will not have a huge effect on productivity with the exception of Assembler. The jump to 3rd generation computer languages makes programmers MUCH more productive than Assembler, but between those languages and even the so-called 4gls there is not a great difference. (However, it would be interesting to see this study repeated with modern applications + languages, because writing web apps involves so many tools and third party tools that I would guess that there IS a difference between writing a web app in C vs Ruby on Rails)

The book then goes on to note that a far greater impact on productivity is the programmer's environment and the book fixates on the issue of a noise free environment and a door that closes. Interestingly a large part of the industry has forgotten the Peopleware lesson and has moved back to "open floor plans" or "cubicles" while the book cites studies showing that these increase the distraction rate and productivity of programmers.

A great book and and entertaining read.

Comment: Now your job is a reality show (Score 1) 397

by cowdung (#45786055) Attached to: Netflix: Non-'A' Players Unworthy of Jobs

Would you like to work at "Survivor" all the time?

So every week we "vote" someone out of the company?

What Netflix is missing is that employee loyalty comes with an implicit "employer" loyalty as well. People should feel that they have a future where they work and that they can invest in the place.

A nice severance is fine if you're 20 years old.. but if you're 50 and you get fired it may be your last job (don't think age isn't a factor).

As others have pointed out Microsoft tried out a similar strategy.. that didn't pan out so well for them.

A company needs to have a certain level of humanity and morality. Not everything is about money and performance metrics. There are people and families involved as well. As a company owner myself I firmly believe that I need to care about "my people" or otherwise why should they care about me?

Another factor here is that hiring is VERY EXPENSIVE.. and training as well. Also corporate know-how is in its people.

Netfilix may be ok.. but their UI is certainly not an A-game.. (I have quite a bit of trouble finding and browsing with it)
So their magic results are not a given in my opinion.

People are not pieces of machinery to play with and then discard. These people have forgotten their moral/human obligations toward their people. They think only stock holders matter. That is what is wrong with a lot of corporations these days.

Comment: Re: Yes. (Score 1) 1216

by cowdung (#45505765) Attached to: Should the US Copy Switzerland and Consider a 'Maximum Wage' Ratio?

people seem to equate "free market" with capitalism and regulation w socialism. No need to be so black and white. Before the free market dogma caught on there were plenty of regulated capitalistic economies. Putting the free market dogma to rest would help improve economies so that all people are benefitting from economic growth and not just a small group of nobles. This was largely the case in the US in the 1950s but today selfish policies are systematically eroding the middle class and the US will soon be like Latin America in the 50s where a small oligarchy takes over, dominates all while the land "of the free" languishes in poverty and oppression due to a shortsighted adherence to a free market policy that sacrifices the good of all for the ridiculous notion that "the market will correct itself." The way the economic values are setup these days there is no regard for the environment or justice. People need to wake up and realize that human regulation by elective representatives is necessary to protect the interests of society. That isn't socialism.. its life, liberty and the free pursuit of happiness!

Comment: Re:Education will save the world (Score 2) 247

by cowdung (#45305623) Attached to: Bill Gates: Internet Will Not Save the World

The efforts in these 3rd world countries are more than providing supplies. They actually show people how to dig wells and find drinkable water. There are communities that have been built on this concept and that have become self sufficient.

Internet requires computers and computer require electricity. To get to the point where computers can help these people, they need to develop infrastructure and that requires people going there and teach them how to build communities. That is where the funding needs to go at this point in time.

No. Progress in "3rd world countries" comes about when people are empowered to look at their own problems and find their own solutions to them rather than have "experts" from the "developed world" come and tell them what to do.

Comment: Re:Education will save the world (Score 1) 247

by cowdung (#45305569) Attached to: Bill Gates: Internet Will Not Save the World

People in "under-developed" countries are not the only ones in trouble in this world. Those in Europe and the US shouldn't think that they're future is necessarily better than those in the "third world".

What will save the world is a profound recognition of the oneness of humankind, that we all have rights and responsibilities, that we all should be respected and that the only way to solve our problems is learning how to collaborate. Also, the vast majority of humanity must learn to solve its own problems rather than wait for politicians or opportunists to come solve it for them.

The profound understanding of who we are and what we are capable of achieving when we work hard, honestly and with regard for the rights of all at the local, national and international sphere will allow us to over come problems.

Tecnology, economic development, material education will all flourish if progress is made at the human level.

Comment: My Criteria (Score 4, Insightful) 227

by cowdung (#45215143) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Do You Choose Frameworks That Will Survive?

What I've found works well (90% of the time) is:

1. Look to see if people are hiring for that technology. If you check dice.com or something similar you'll see if companies are invested in it.
2. Are 3rd parties building "plugins" or "extensions" for it?
3. Does it make sense to you? Does it adapt well to your needs? Is it well designed?

While many frameworks may be cool or superior technologically, the sad thing about software is that popularity DOES matter.

Comment: Re:Sigh (Score 1) 288

by cowdung (#45077493) Attached to: Red Cross Wants Consequences For Video-Game Mayhem

To some degree you are correct that initially such world wide agreements have little meaning while people chose not to enforce it. However, once an international agreement is taught in schools and people become more familiar with its principles, the effect is much greater and much more universal. Take for example the "Universal Declaration on Human Rights," this tool initially a piece of fiction from and for diplomats became a strong cultural force that is used today accross the world as a basis for the defense of human rights for minorities, native groups, women, gay people, political groups, etc. It is with this basis that people have an expectation today that they have some rights.

Note also, that while in the US a lot of credit for these principles is given to the Constitution, it wasn't till the late 60s until basic human rights for African Americans were upheld. International pressure was as significant factor in the US as it was in South Africa.

Comment: Re:logic (Score 1) 299

by cowdung (#44975141) Attached to: How Early Should Kids Learn To Code?

That is one way to look at it.

Another is that what we teach is communication. As students learn the ways of expressing themselves on paper when learning their ABCs and later by writing what happened over the weekend. They can also learn how to communicate more precisely using mathematics. For example by drawing a table, by setting its measurements, by calculating how much wood they'll need.

Another thing a child could describe is a process to solve something. Like how a robot would need to walk by going from one place to another. To do so they would need to use "words" in certain ways to "communicate" with the robot.

All of this is communication. I believe both Math and Programming should be taught as was to communicate and model processes and ideas. Then the creative side of children can be explored.

No hardware designer should be allowed to produce any piece of hardware until three software guys have signed off for it. -- Andy Tanenbaum

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