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Comment: Re:Wow. Just wow. (Score 2) 319

by dcollins (#49490939) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

That does sound bad and you have my sympathies.

But on the other hand I do teach a remedial basic arithmetic class here in New York City and today I had a roomful of college students, none of whom could even give an estimate for the value of 6 3/4 x 2 1/3. The U.S. culture is very jungle-y, poor folks are kind of thrown to the wolves, and we're perennially at the bottom of international rankings in math and science (and also low pay and preparation and support for teachers).

Comment: Re:Contracts (Score 3, Insightful) 131

by dcollins (#49476217) Attached to: How Mission Creep Killed a Gaming Studio

Well, as an ex-game-developer (and my s/o worked for game company funded by MS), I'm going to take a stab at reading between the lines and guess that they had a series of tiered project milestones that MS got to approve/disapprove for pretty much any reason they liked. So the developer is under the gun to make them happy however they can, or else the money tap gets shut off at the next milestone. A lot of companies are sufficiently near the edge (it's a very boom-or-bust industry) that they take a "hail mary" shot, betting everything on the score with the big company. It's basically the dark side of Pascal's Wager.

But the subtext does read to me like some pretty poor management on the part of the developer company. I've seen that a lot at game companies (weak or really inexperienced "management"). The good managers I've seen that made some money immediately parachuted out of the industry to something more predictable.

Comment: Re:ignorant hypocrites (Score 1) 347

by dcollins (#49144477) Attached to: The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates

...if they were familiar with that medium, then they could give you a very good estimate.

That's a keenly important conditional. My partner is a fine artist in fabric and mixed materials. She commonly has to spend weeks experimenting with new joint compounds, procedures, etc. (which can take days for one to dry to see if it works, etc.) For her next project she wants tapestry-sized plastic weaving to be glued stiff so it can be hung in space without a curtain rod. How long will it take to determine the right process? Is it even feasible? We don't know yet.

Arguably software development is more like that; you're always writing new material procedures on most new projects.

If management is asking the devs for their estimate, then how in the hell is it management fault for any of those timelines?

The last time I worked software, management took all my estimates and arbitrarily cut them in half, saying, "We're smarter than most other companies, so we can do it in half the time." Used that to close the contract with the outside client, etc.

Comment: Re:Not Censorship (Score 2) 285

by dcollins (#49119871) Attached to: Google Knocks Explicit Adult Content On Blogger From Public View

Here's your problem (and it's a common one): You are primed to jump down someone's throat if they say "1st Amendment rights!" and correct them, saying "1st Amendment rights are only about government actions", which is true. But when someone says "This is censorship!" and you go "censorship is only about government actions", that is false.

The 1st Amendment is the specific restriction on government censorship. But many other bodies can and do practice censorship -- like TV networks and now Google.

Comment: Re:Goodbye college football (Score 2) 94

by dcollins (#48961841) Attached to: What Happens When the "Sharing Economy" Meets Higher Education

This has been the dream for, like, a century now... but schools are simply not structured to permit that. Actually about 20 years ago in the USA we/they doubled-down on the issue; the phrase "tracking students" into different classes or programs by ability was effectively prohibited everywhere, and is considered inequitable, immoral, and kind of offensive to even mention in many educational circles. The standard response in recent decades is that the bright kids should spend their time group-tutoring the slower kids.

Comment: Re:Goodbye college football (Score 1) 94

by dcollins (#48961793) Attached to: What Happens When the "Sharing Economy" Meets Higher Education

The evidence is phenomenally consistent that the online self-paced stuff works great for professional people who've mastered college-level skills in reading, writing, and math... but falls on its face for people who don't have that. For example, every attempt at getting the horde of people who need algebra remediation through online course has been a disaster. UDacity tried it at San Jose state and was suspended after one semester. Community colleges in Philadelphia tried it and concluded "The failure rates were so high that it seemed almost unethical to offer the option". So I highly doubt you can replace elementary/secondary schools with this method; at that level, most student need a personal face and hand-holding through the material, especially with technical stuff like using, interpreting, and debugging online resources in the first place.

Always try to do things in chronological order; it's less confusing that way.