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Comment: Re:god dammit. (Score 5, Interesting) 521

by gymell (#47713025) Attached to: Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead
I agree with your sentiment, but as someone who volunteers with raptor rehabilitation, I can speak from some experience. Actually more raptors than you might think are killed by cats. There are many raptor species which are quite small and easily taken by a cat. And of course all are vulnerable when in the nest or just after fledging, unable to fly or defend themselves. People always ask me if a raptor would take their pet cat, and I always tell them that the raptor is much more in danger from the cat than the other way around. Also there are many endangered songbirds (grassland species, neotropical migrants, etc), and many cats in both low and high population areas.

That all being said, the environmental impact of these supposed "green" energy sources is significant. The production of biofuels like ethanol has decimated habitat, the dangers of wind power to raptors are well known, and now this. There needs to be more study beforehand rather than after the fact. And green energy apologists need to concede that their industry is just as hypocritical about the environment as any other energy producer.

Comment: I wrote about this in 1996 in BYTE (Score 2) 608

by gymell (#47416375) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
I was a music major, worked my way through from undergrad to the PhD level in music theory (my favorite topic.) Fortunately those same logical and analytical skills, appreciation of patterns and attention to detail, transfers quite well into becoming a programmer. After my first year in the PhD program, I suddenly came to the realization that being a professional music theorist wasn't going to pay a lot, and made the switch to software engineering, which I have been doing for the last 15 years. Best decision I ever made.

But I disagree with several points in the article (which I did read.) First I don't think that programming is particularly grueling or requires some elite level of dedication. That's not my experience, and my success as a consultant programmer (clients hire me purely for my skillset) is evidence of that. I think the most important thing is to have a predilection for logical thinking and problem solving. Other fields require different skillsets which might attract people with other strengths and personality types. I see nothing wrong with this. I don't understand why the author thinks that someone spending years to master a skill is a bad thing, or that doing so consumes a person's entire life. When I go leave the office, I pursue other interests that have nothing to do with programming. I don't think one must have a brain disorder to be a programmer.

The author shouldn't assume his personality and experience mirrors as a programmer everyone else's. He says "The real injustice of developer inequality is that it doesn't have to be this way." I say, it ISN'T this way.

Comment: Native bees (Score 1) 143

by gymell (#47298571) Attached to: US Government Introduces Pollinator Action Plan To Save Honey Bees
Native bees are actually better pollinators than non-native, imported honey bees. You don't have to wait for the government to do something in order to help them, you can do something right now in your own back yard. Simply add plants native to your area and the pollinators will come! These aren't usually available at mainstream nurseries, so seek out nurseries specializing in native species. Native insects rely on native plants. The typical suburban yard is basically a dead zone when it comes to inviting any pollinators, with all the chemicals, invasive and exotic non-native plants that people use in their landscaping. I've been on a 7 year journey in my own back yard to eliminate invasive species and replace with natives. It's been a huge learning experience as I am not a knowledgeable gardener. One of the first things I noticed right away was that suddenly there were so many bees!

Comment: Re: You don't need a college degree (Score 1) 287

by gymell (#46751005) Attached to: Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job
Hey guess what, there are a lot of smart, hard working and self-motivated people who ALSO attend college. We study AND we do. It's possible to have BOTH academic AND real world experience. Imagine that!!

I love how people who haven't been to college put it down as just a "piece of paper" and assume that college graduates don't know anything about the real world, or are in massive debt. Speaking as someone who worked all through high school, and college, and graduate school... and got a job right away in my field right after college. And I've been working in my field (Java programming) for the last 15 years, mostly as a self-employed consultant. So I've got tons of experience on many projects, probably more than most due to being a consultant. And I make very good money at it.

If college isn't for you, I've got no problem with that. I don't assume that people who don't have a college degree are stupid or have an inferiority complex, etc. Although I do have to wonder about people who have such strong opinions about something they've never experienced themselves, and are so willing to spout stereotypical nonsense about it. Don't presume to know what other people "need."

Comment: Re:Answer: No. (Score 1) 404

by gymell (#45301051) Attached to: Tech Titans Oracle, Red Hat and Google To Help Fix Healthcare.gov

Almost universally in software development, starting from scratch is a stupid fucking idea repeated by inexperienced developers.

Now a bunch of slashdot will tell me I'm wrong, but that doesn't change the previous statement, just reenforces it.

Obviously you've never worked on a project that involved offshore development.

Comment: Re:Personally (Score 1) 655

Speaking as someone with 15 years of software development experience, and who has 2 music degrees + 1 degree in IS, I can say that musicians learn a lot about compositional techniques and quite of bit of a formal musical education is spent writing pieces in various styles, from 16th century counterpoint to 12-tone serialism. The reason is that if you are going to be a musician, not a "singer" or an "artist", then you need to understand what you are doing by studying these styles and then attempting to imitate them as part of the learning process. That's why Bach spent so much time copying scores by composers like Vivaldi, and Mendelssohn later studied scores of Bach, etc. I certainly wouldn't equate touch typing with playing a musical instrument, so I don't agree with the original analogy. But in general, the more you understand the theory and basis of what you are doing, the better you are going to be at it, vs. someone who doesn't study that stuff. And an important part of that is analyzing what others do, which is one reason I enjoy doing code reviews - it's a great way to learn.

Comment: Re:Postapocoliptic Nightmare (Score 1) 679

We have two species of eagle here in North America. Bald eagles are primarily fish eaters and so DDT most definitely found its way into their food chain by runoff into waterways. Of course shooting is still an issue, but lead poisoning is probably the main reason for human-caused mortality they face today.

And by the way, "bird of prey" does not automatically mean "mammal eater." Many birds of prey eat fish, amphibians, birds and yes, even insects. Look up osprey, barred owl, peregrine falcon and American kestrel ... learn your raptor facts before dismissing other people's comments as nonsensical.

Comment: Look in the mirror (Score 1) 524

by gymell (#43803775) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Moving From Contract Developers To Hiring One In-House?
This question clearly demonstrates that the OP has no understanding of the software development process. I've been doing software development for the last 15 years, mostly as a consultant, and have been on A LOT of projects at many different clients. I have yet to see one with "excellent product specs" completed up front. Why? Because customers never know what they want until they see it. And even when they think they have defined something well, they don't understand what they will actually get back.

Software is very abstract and unless you are a developer or a technical person (which most customers/users aren't), then it's very difficult to conceptualize how it will work once implemented. Then there's the reality of changing customer requirements and priorities. I'd like to know how the OP is writing perfect specs when such a thing doesn't exist in the real world. And there are many other aspects to development which the OP doesn't seem to understand either. Who is doing the business and technical analysis of these requirements? What's the process when requirements change? Where is QA and user acceptance testing in all of this?

I suspect nobody is doing these things. What's really happening is that he writes something up based on vague requirements (which are likely to change), throws it over the wall to a developer, and expects a polished product to be thrown back over. Meanwhile the customer didn't understand what they were asking for in the first place, changed their requirements, increased scope, got something back that was maybe close to the written spec but actually wasn't what they wanted in their mind, with no analysis or design having been done, that wasn't ever tested by anyone other the developer who wrote it. And all of those scenarios are called "bugs" by the OP. This is a dysfunctional process that is unfortunately all too common. No wonder your developers balk at fixing this stuff for free.

I don't doubt that there are bugs in the code, especially if the OP is trying to do this on the cheap. There is no substitute for experienced programmers, and there's a reason that people who are experienced cost more. So the first problem is that the OP thinks he can get something for nothing or next to it. But the main problem here is the OP's lack of understanding about the software development process.

If you want to improve things and not have your customers complaining all the time, then start with yourself - read up on software development methodology, ditch the waterfall/throw over the wall approach, and pay up for developers who know what they are doing. I'd suggest a more agile method where customers are very involved in the process, are able to get their hands on the product as it's being developed and provide continuous feedback. Otherwise, look in the mirror and expect more of the same. Developers don't need your empathy, they need a competent project manager.

Comment: Another gimmick (Score 2) 318

by gymell (#41152711) Attached to: The Programmers Go Coding Two-by-Two — Hurrah?
I see paired programming as just another gimmick to get around the fact that there is no substitute for having experienced programmers and effective code reviews. As a consultant, I've worked on many agile projects, including some involving strict XP paired programming, and didn't see any better quality with that than with anything else. It's all about who you have working on the project, having decent management and a true agile philosophy ... not "agile theater."

Comment: Re:As a Professional Developer... (Score 1) 202

by gymell (#40921129) Attached to: The World's Greatest Competitive Programmer
I'm an experienced developer and I've interviewed a lot of people myself. As a consultant, I've also frequently been the interviewee. It's easy to weed out the BS types by engaging them in discussions not just about what they've done, but get into the why and how, the pros and cons of various technologies, methodologies, etc. Give them hypothetical scenarios to find out what approach they would take. If they throw out buzzwords and can't explain how/when/why they used something, alternatives they have considered, etc, then things become obvious. That also goes a long way toward showing the candidate's potential, how much of a proactive learner they are, and so on, unlike interview gimmicks. I think coding tests are poor substitute for an effective interview.

Be aware that for an experienced developer, the interview goes both ways. I may want to see some examples of your code to see if your team is up to my standards, and I will certainly be asking many questions myself. If I'm expected to jump through lame interview hoops as part of the process, then it's likely not something I will be interested in - I tend to turn down those interviews.

Comment: Re:fat cells and muscle cells, too? (Score 1) 117

by gymell (#29444719) Attached to: Birdsong Studies Lead To a Revolution In Biology
So it's better to lift a lighter weight more often, than a heavier one just a couple of times.

No, the only thing that lifting lighter weights more often will give you is the ability to lift light things many times. That's called endurance. Lifting heavy things less often will give you the ability to lift heavy things. That's called strength. Which one is "better" for you depends on your fitness goals.

Comment: Re:Fix one thing, break another... (Score 1) 200

by gymell (#29054747) Attached to: Gardeners Told to Give Exhausted Bees an Energy Drink

Certainly hummingbirds will like the sugar water as much as bees do.

Hummingbirds only exist in the Western hemisphere. But certainly hummingbird feeders could be used for this. The feeders are usually small enough that most larger birds aren't going to be able to use them, though I do find the occasional oriole or even woodpecker on mine. An ant guard will keep other types of insects away.

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