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Comment: It's the non-engineers. (Score 4, Insightful) 51 51

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) 264 264

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

A near miss is defined as 500 feet:

http://flighttraining.aopa.org...

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

http://www.ahsafa.org/?page_id...

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:Unclear (Score 1) 16 16

by smitty_one_each (#50008649) Attached to: Thanks, Obama!
Let me be perfectly clear. Christianity may be my personal life's meaning. It informs my church activities explicitly, my online interactions less so, and is mostly implicit in business activities. That is, I don't run around evangelizing on the job, for all my work activities are not in opposition to my faith.
Government is a wholly secular affair. Despite the occasional "In God We Trust" flourish, I'm quick to point out that "Christian nation" is an oxymoron. Christianity is not carried out at the national level, and the Carpenter didn't lay it down for the United States as such.
All of which leads up to my bewilderment at

You sound more Randian than Christian.

Why wouldn't I? Christianity is like chess. It's all there, in plain view, the whole time. Countries are more like poker, bluffing and cheating like. . .governments.

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.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (4) How many times do we have to tell you, "No prior art!"

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