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Comment: Wrong things (Score 3, Informative) 425 425

1. Programming skill is more likely to have a power law distribution rather than a normal distribution. That is, lots of very unskilled people, a chunk of decently-skilled people, and a handful of "rock stars." This would more closely match the distributions (and success rates) of other skills. This also matches my experience working with programmers of varying skill levels for more than twenty years.

2. You can teach a lot of the concepts but there is an inherent knack for logical thinking that is very hard to teach. If one has this knack, new concepts are easily grasped, solutions to problems using currently-known tools are more easily found, and troubleshooting is simpler. If one DOESN'T have the knack, they can still be successful, but it is harder, requires substantially more effort, and more of their time will be taken at each step.

It's not always pobox where someone sits on the talent distribution. This is also not a perfect predictor of their ability to produce; some people are very bright but unmotivated and unmotivatable. I would rather have someone with Leeds talent who was willing to work and produce. It's also important for a team to code to roughly the same competence level; if you have one rock star who writes code that no one else understand, you create a bottleneck for yourself on that one person being able to work with that code.

Comment: Re:.NET applications on Linux? (Score 4, Insightful) 253 253

This is why I don't like developing for Microsoft's stack. They seem to want to throw everything out every few years and start over.

Then again, it seems like the web business is like that, too. Damn. Doesn't anyone write non-disposable code any more?

Comment: Need? No. Useful? Yes. (Score 4, Interesting) 307 307

I have an Android tablet (which I'm using right now to enter this post) and an iPad. I've had both for years and I've done some development for them.

People DO use these things to be productive, but they are the exception rather than the norm. Part of the challenge is that even five years in our whole thinking about what an application should be has been shaped by thirty years of desktop and laptop devices. Anything that truly needs a keyboard (like writing this post) becomes cumbersome, even with something like Swype or SwiftKey. Pens suck, unless you're using a tablet with proper pen support (Note devices are great for this) but even then, most people don't currently need a pen.

It's not just the touch thing, though. It's really, really hard to build a good UI for a powerful app, even on a LARGE screen. To do so on a small screen without eliminating "power" features is almost impossible. And those power features are what people really need for productive work. They might only need 10% of them, but if the one they need is missing, that work has to wait until they can get to a larger device.

I don't think this is incurable, but it's hard to argue that writing a long essay on a 10" touch screen with no hardware keyboard is fun. I know people who use an 11" MacBook Air as their primary coding platform, but I know that I'm far more productive sitting at a desk with a properly-sized monitor and keyboard. (My MacBook Pro plugs in to those things if I have to use it for any extended period.)

Productivity is all about removing obstacles to task completion. From that perspective, tablets satisfy a very narrow slice of uses and fail miserably at the rest.

For non-productive tasks, though... I can sit on the couch and look up stuff while watching TV (for those few things I still watch on TV) and the tablet is far more portable for movie-watching, news reading, and light emailing than a laptop, without being as constricting as even the biggest phones are. I don't carry one everywhere but it's definitely one of the things I think of as I'm walking out the door. My kids love tablets (so I regulate their time on them) and being able to video chat with family is a slam dunk.

You don't NEED a tablet but they are useful. They make excellent primary computing devices for people who ONLY have light computing needs. My late 87-year-old grandmother-in-law couldn't use a computer all that well but she rocked on her iPad.

Comment: Re:Sundog did something roughly similar back in 19 (Score 1) 509 509

I believe on the Atari ST version it didn't tell you explicitly like this, it just periodically "crashed" to a solid red screen and you had to reload from your last save, losing your progress and being docked ten points, just as if you had "died".

Comment: Re:Oblig: TED Talk (Score 2) 372 372

Surely there are more targeted ways to advertise to doctors than on national TV during prime time. Those ads aren't for doctors, they're to increase demand among the general population, who can pressure their doctors into prescribing things whether it's in the patient's best medical interest or not.

Comment: Re:The world you want is here today, in UK at leas (Score 1) 355 355

I just did this math with T-Mobile, I figured I'd break even a little bit before the end of the first year. But it's really going to depend on which phone you try to use. T-Mobile's selection of phones for their monthly plans sucks. A Galaxy Nexus directly from Google looks a lot better, but it's hard to compare apples to apples.

In any case, I won't be staying on a contract plan once my current contract is up. If I elect not to buy new phones at all I'll start saving nearly $70/mo. by switching (two phones).

Comment: Re:Where are all those Flash is the Future ppl now (Score 2, Interesting) 332 332

How many Android owners like it when NO other options exist?

Yes, Flash on phones is horrible. It's only slightly less horrible on tablets. And many SWFs designed for keyboard-and-mice-toting desktop PCs are useless.

All these problems, plus the poor battery life and general sluggishness of Flash, were certainly convenient scapegoats. They're even true. But Jobs wasn't an idiot. He knew that if Flash had been available in iOS, legions of developers would have used it to do an end-run around the app store's restrictions. That's not about money (what Apple makes from the app store is trivial compared to what it makes on hardware) but about protecting the brand. Jobs foresaw a future where Flash became the default development platform for the iPhone, with all the crappy performance it exhibits on Android, and he didn't want that reputation for his product. The iPhone was already taking enough heat from at first requiring devs to make HTML apps; remember that Jobs didn't want native apps available at all.

And for the record, I own no iOS devices, am not an Apple fan, and can completely see where Jobs was coming from.

Comment: Re:$100 is an impulse buy, $500 is not (Score 3, Insightful) 312 312

I've has my Galaxy Tab 10.1 for a couple of months. Before that I had a Nook Color that I rooted. I started with the NC because I wasn't sure if I would have a use for a tablet, and the NC was half the price of the Tab.

There's no doubt these are primarily consumption devices; although they can be used for creation, that's not their strength and the more creative work you do on them the less fun it gets. What surprised me was just how much of my ordinary computer use was consumptive, and that now it's easier to squeeze in a bit of consumption here and there without resorting to a full computer. Instant on, super-long battery life, and an OS that's simplified make a huge difference.

As much as I was surprised how much I now do on my Tab (so much so that my regular computer gets dusty), imagine what it's like for people that really do want a computer "appliance". Apple created an entire market of consumers out of people who previously weren't consumers: people who didn't want the hassle of [another] computer. This is part of the magic of the iPad, and why nearly 30 million have been sold. The TouchPad's demise doesn't tell us much about the tablet market overall except that the TouchPad wasn't what people wanted compared to an iPad. Android has similar market-share (and mind-share) problems, only differing in degree.

Google should be throwing money at devs to write Android tablet apps if they want to catch up to Apple, our even just stay in the game. Otherwise they risk being marginalized, and if that happens on the tablet side it may leak over to the phone side.

Comment: Re:Why is this surprising? (Score 1) 129 129

The silly thing is, if you do it with a shader in WebGL you can do 3D raytraced fractals in real time in a browser. Doing this kind of thing in JavaScript really just shows how incredibly inefficient at number crunching JavaScript is. I mean, yes, you CAN do it... but really why should you? For the detail levels they're showing, a native application is 1000x* faster.

*Not directly measured. But I have some experience in this area.

Comment: Re:can you say (Score 1) 139 139

Actually that's fine, too. If they start blocking people who don't spend enough money pre-emptively then suddenly they've sent potential future customers directly to their competitors. If you stop someone from even being able to be your customer, you can be certain they will never change their mind.

It's the same thing that happens to sites that have a following, then erect a paywall and discover nobody reads the site any more. They take the paywall down, but the users never come back. Any site that tries to block people based on their non-consuming will find themselves abandoned.

Comment: Re:If Samsung can't price for volume, who can? (Score 1) 156 156

Oddly enough, people were suggesting that the price for the iPad would be $800 or $900 or so, and yet it came out at $500 or $600. Samsung hasn't officially announced their price yet. Speculation is that it will be high, but it might not be.

Comment: Re:Are you serious? (Score 1) 342 342

Shareholders don't invest money into MS to get no return on their investment; they want to see growth in the stock price and/or dividends, because that's what matters to them. If the stock price stays flat even while profits soar, investors are right to ask where the hell the return on their investment is.

The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side. -- James Baldwin

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