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Comment: Re:Simple methodology (Score 1) 330

by Maxo-Texas (#49152231) Attached to: The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates

I looked at rolling wave and it looks good as long as the programmers are not allowed to do the easy predictable stuff first. That path leads to huge spending on failed projects.

My experience was that unless a legal or customer deadline wasn't behind it, executives preferred predictable delivery over efficient delivery.

I think another thing behind the executives odd behavior was they had a priority to get a "big win" fairly early in their time on the job. And they were often calculating in the fact they would be gone in 3 years or less to some other position.

So different priorities than a long term programmer who might want to tune and refactor the code to a polished easily maintainable gem.

Comment: Re:Offtopic but...wth happened to /. layout? (Score 2) 81

by gman003 (#49151927) Attached to: Google Reverses Stance, Allows Porn On Blogger After Backlash

It's not Beta. It still works, more-or-less. Beta had a comment section that was completely impossible to browse or work with - considering the comments are the only real draw, it's no surprise it was dead on arrival.

This looks like just some styling to make Slashdot look less 2002. Still odd that they don't talk about it, but that's Dice for you. We're no longer the "community", we're the "audience"; we're supposed to just sit there and take it.

Comment: Re:nice, now for the real fight (Score 1) 611

by Obfuscant (#49150747) Attached to: FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules

This isn't accurate. Many municipalities do indeed have ISP monopolies which are mandated by the local government.

It isn't ISP monopolies. It's cable monopolies. And a franchise agreement isn't a grant of a monopoly.

Typically they require specific regulations (such as price controls) in exchange for the local government enforcing the monopoly.

Franchise agreements can say a lot of things without granting a monopoly. They're a contract. But any city that handed out an exclusive franchise was stupid. If they did, it's the fault of the city, not the cable company.

but neither are they terribly uncommon in the US.

I've never seen one. Every time this discussion comes up I ask for a link, but I've never seen a response. I can only attribute this repeated claim of their commonality to a misunderstanding of what a franchise actually means.

Comment: Genius. (Score 3, Funny) 190

by hey! (#49149869) Attached to: Lenovo Saying Goodbye To Bloatware

CEO: This Superfish incident has put our credibility in the toilet. Even corporate customers are looking askance at us now, and we didn't put it on their computers. Suggestions?

Executive 1: Lay low until it blows over.

Executive 2: Hire a new PR firm.

Executive 3: Start a social media campaign.

Genius executive: Maybe we should promise not to do stuff like that anymore.

Comment: Re:not fit for human consumption (Score 2) 75

by Obfuscant (#49149777) Attached to: Banned Weight-loss Drug Could Combat Liver Disease, Diabetes

Corn syrup is pretty much equivalent to sugar for our bodies.

For some value of "pretty much". HFCS both changes the mix of the simple sugars by tilting it towards fructose, but it provides them in partially-digested form. That bypasses the normal first step of splitting glucose, and creates an immediate overload of the rest of the process.

Our bodies were designed to store extra energy for use later. If the carbs digest slowly then they don't swamp the system and the storage systems aren't triggered. A slower release of glucose means there isn't a heavy demand for insulin to deal with it and less stress on the pancreas, and then lower stress on the cellular insulin receptors.

It's kinda like the difference between taking a two hour walk around the park and trying to run the distance in ten minutes. If you keep making your body run the race you will wear it out faster than if you let it stroll the same distance.

Comment: I heard the news in the car today. (Score 5, Interesting) 379

by hey! (#49148919) Attached to: Leonard Nimoy Dies At 83

It'll be one of those moments I'll remember, like coming into work and being told about the Challenger disaster, or turning on the car radio and hearing the hushed voices of the announcers on 9/11. Like so many people I feel a connection to this wonderful man.

Of course he did more than play Spock; and in the early post-TOS years he was famously ambivalent about his association with the role. But he did something special with that role. It's easy in the fog of nostalgia to forget that man TOS scripts weren't all that great (although some of them were). The character of Spock might have become just an obscure bit of pop culture trivia; instead Nimoy turned Spock into a character that I feel sure actors in our grandchildren's generation will want to play and make their mark upon.

What Nimoy brought to that role is a dignity and authenticity, possibly rooted in his "alien" experience as the child of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants. In less sensitive hands the part might have been a joke, but I think what many of us took away from Nimoy's performance was something that became deeply influential in our world views. Nimoy's Spock taught us that there was something admirable in being different even when that is hard for others to understand; that winning the respect of others is just as rewarding as popularity. The world needs its oddballs and misfits, not to conform, but to be the very best version of themselves they can be. Authenticity is integrity.

It's customary to say things in remembrances like "you will be missed", but that falls short. Leonard Nimoy, you will live on in the lives of all us you have touched.

Comment: Re:Simple methodology (Score 1) 330

by Maxo-Texas (#49147767) Attached to: The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates

In my experience, unless you really really fight it, all programming collapses to waterfall.

In my opinion, it is MUCH better to deliver a testable object every time-boxed period. Any changes (even just move one field) require a realistic re-estimate which must be signed off. But the actual creation of a testable object with feature sets that the testing department can test and confirm is key.

First- testing big O time is exponential. So solving smaller sets of bugs takes much less time.
Second- foundational bugs are found much earlier and can be fixed easier- or called out as significant problems.
Third- you get an actual percentage of completion this way. We've delivered 27% of the promised features and we are 30% along our schedule. We are a little behind schedule so let's work a little overtime next period and get caught up.

Never ever delay a build to get a feature in. Well, maybe a few hours- but not by a day.

Comment: Re:... Driverless cars? (Score 2) 258

I wonder how much direct or even second-hand knowledge of unions you have.

In my family we've been on both sides of this issue. My sister, who is an RN, just recently led a successful but bitterly contested unionization drive of her hospital. The impetus for bringing in the union was that after privatization the hospital cut staff so much the nurses feared for patient safety. Nurses don't just administer medicine and make beds; one of the most important things they do is catch mistakes. When a surgeon starts prepping the wrong limb for amputation or an internist accidentally prescribes a medication that will kill the patient. It's nurse's job to catch that. It was unequivocally fear of making mistakes that drove the nurses at that hospital to unionize.

Did she piss off the hospital's new owners? You bet she did. But would you rather go to a hospital where the nurses *lost* that fight? How would you feel about the nurse checking your medications had worked back-to-back weeks of double shifts caring for more patients than she (or he) can keep track of?

On the other hand my brother is a senior executive at a large food service company. He told me about a meeting he had with a local African-American union representative where she played the race card with the first words out of her mouth. This was pointlessly antagonistic, in part because while my brother is a conservative he's open-minded and has a good track record of working with the unions. But mostly pointless because we're not white. We can pass, but as the genealogist in the family recently figured out we have only about 1/3 European ancestry. Fortunately he could laugh that off but if he'd been white and thinner-skinned that might have driven the negotiations into a ditch.

Comment: Re:Sick (Score 5, Insightful) 258

Well, this "richest country in the world" business is somewhat misleading. It means the country with the greatest aggregate economic power, not the country where people tend to be the best off. You need to look at several measures before you can begin to understand the thing that's mystifying you.

By total GDP the US is by far the wealthiest nation in the world. It has almost twice the total GDP of the second country on the list, China. By *per capita* GDP, the US is about 10th on the list, just below Switzerland; so by global standards the typical American is wealthy, but not the wealthiest. On the other hand the US ranks about 20th in cost of living, so the typical American has it pretty good.

Where things get interesting is if you look at GINI -- a measure of economic disparity. The most equal countries are of course the Scandinavians, with Denmark, Sweden and Norway topping the list. The US is far from the *least* equal (Seychelles, South Africa, and Comoros), but it is kind of surprising when you look at countries near the US on the list. Normally in most economic measures you see the US ranked near advanced industrialized countries in Europe, but it's neighbors on the GINI list are places like Turkmenistan, Qatar, and El Salvador.

What this means is that we have significant classes on either end of the scale: the *very* wealthy and an economic underclass. Now because of the total wealth sloshing around in the US, the US underclass has it pretty well compared to the underclass in, say, India. But what this doesn't buy is clout or respect. "Poor" households in the US usually have TVs and refrigerators -- a fact that seems to anger some people, who see the poor in the US as ungrateful people who are too lazy to improve themselves. But a study by the OECD suggests that they don't have the *time* to improve themselves. In a ranking of countries by time spend on leisure and self-care the US ranks 33rd, at 14.3 hours lagging almost two hours per day behind world leader Denmark (big surprise). But remember this is an average; it doesn't represent the time available for the poor.

Most Americans seem to think that poor people spend all their time sitting around waiting for handouts. This willfully ignores the phenomenon of the working poor. After selling my company, I volunteered on a lark at a charity which refurbishes old furniture and household stuff and furnishes the homes of poor people, and I found poor people to be neither lazy nor ungrateful. Let me tell you I have never met so many people who work two or sometimes more jobs. Particularly shocking were the number of women who took their children out of abusive relationships, and then have to work a full time job, raise three or four kids, without a car and in a neighborhood that doesn't have a grocery store. You don't know what gratitude is until you've given a poor, overtaxed mother beds when her children have been sleeping on the floor for months.

When some smug, ignorant and conspicuously well-fed media head starts whining about the poor having refrigerators, it makes me want to punch them in the mouth.

Comment: Re:Gonna see a Net Neutrality Fee (Score 1) 611

by Obfuscant (#49144085) Attached to: FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules

Your ISP is not a free market with competition.

Nor are Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, or most of the other ISPs that this net neutrality bill is aimed at. In fact, the last ISP I mentioned, and which you recognized as not being in a "free market", is the one with the MOST competition and least regulation. It's a grown-up mom and pop dialup operation so there's no franchise fee or last-mile wired/wireless infrastructure to support. It resells DSL and supports Windows, mostly. Even so, they've found a convenient way to tack on the costs of regulatory compliance, which will almost certainly go up.

Claiming that the costs that will be created by compliance with the new neutrality regulations won't be passed on to the consumer because the free market won't allow it is kinda disingenuous when you realize that none of the players that will be subject to this cost are in a truly free, competitive market. They will all find a way to pass it on, either in higher rates or an added line-item fee.

Comment: Re:Gonna see a Net Neutrality Fee (Score 1) 611

by Obfuscant (#49143257) Attached to: FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules

Only if the market will bear it.

I'm looking at my Comcast bill. Not only have the rates gone steadily up, but there are all kinds of add-ons: Franchise fee, PEG access fee, FCC regulatory fee. They don't have to hide the costs of reglatory compliance in the rates, they simply add a fee to recover the cost. That way the customer knows why they're paying more.

And what is the customer going to do, call Time Warner to get service?

Churn is already a market fact of life. Passing the costs of compliance with new laws onto the customer will have little effect on that. Given that anyone else that the customer can call will ALSO have those fees, there is little incentive to change. (My other ISP I use regularly has its own "Regulatory Cost Recovery Fee", too.)

Comment: Re:Simple methodology (Score 5, Informative) 330

by Maxo-Texas (#49143027) Attached to: The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates

I had no particular problem with estimates.

At a minimum, you could break out easy "construction/recognized pattern" work from risky new stuff.

As far as managing programmers... it was humorous.

Few liked giving estimates. So they would say it couldn't be estimated.

So I would ask, will this project take 2 years... and they would say, "oh no- of course not" and after a bit, we'd get down to 6 months or 6 weeks or 6 hours...

So then we'd time box it to what could be done in a month and move any risky items up to the front so we could establish if a new technology wasn't going to work before we put a lot of work into the project.

Then, I recorded over/under for every project and found (over about 24 programmer data set) that programmers consistently overshot or undershot their estimates. So after a few projects, I had a pretty good idea of their deliverables.

Finally status reports and status meetings with function points and overall percentage delivered kept things on schedule or let us know well ahead of time there was a problem with the estimate/schedule.

Programmers were not my problem- executives were.

a) pushed us to violate standards.
b) ordered overtime without ordering it. As in assign 80 hours work and then insist it be completed when everyone knew it couldn't be completed. Made worse by the fact the indian contractors said "I'll do my best" for "no- you are batshit crazy" and then things fell apart when the indians were unable to deliver. Of course, the indians were very good at delivering to the (crazy/incomplete) specifications on time. At least enough to be testable. I'm not sure if it is because they were contractor types or that they were indian- perhaps a bit of both. I learned in a contracting shop, you always say you can meet the estimate (to get assigned the work) instead of giving a realistic estimate. Then renegotiated it later when it wasn't going to make the schedule. If you didn't, then the three other people bidding on the work would get the work. Executives seemed to have zero memory for the fact that you delivered on time on estimate while the other people were usually late.
c) made everything priority 1a. they had no ability to prioritize as far as I could see. Which really just pushed prioritization down to me or the programmers.
d) cancelled projects without warning.

Vax Vobiscum