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Comment: I've lived around the Puget Sound all my life... (Score 1) 670

by jlowery (#49510789) Attached to: William Shatner Proposes $30 Billion Water Pipeline To California

A couple of points:
1) Seattle has less rainfall than NYC. Seattle "rain" is drizzle. Drizzles a lot. Not much water in it, though.
2) We have droughts. It's because the watersheds are in the mountains, and rely on snowpack. Some year there's lots of rain in the Cascades, but not enough snow.

Comment: Time for the mega screens (Score 1) 164

by jlowery (#49155715) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Whiteboard Substitutes For Distributed Teams?

I'm waiting for whiteboard sized touch screens to make their appearance. I know Microsoft was working on this a couple of years back.

This would not only be useful for long-distance collaboration, but for team collaboration as well. Image working on a conference table-sized monitor, with a common workspace among 7-8 people. I think a team like that could potentially be more productive than the same number working independently. May require a different sort of programmer.

Comment: Re:Simple methodology (Score 1) 347

by jlowery (#49142705) Attached to: The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates

Got asked about Agile planning estimates (you know: the Fibonacci scale) by our CEO, and why we didn't use time estimates. My answer was the developers a better at estimating complexity than time to completion. And complexity estimation accounts for the fuzzier initial understanding of harder problems. When you start measuring velocity, it stabilizes remarkably well and can be predictive.

But complexity estimation is not a time estimate. If, for my team, a 1 is about 2 hours work, varying between .5 and 4 hours, then a 5 (5x as hard) is going to take between 2.5 and 20 hours. That's a big variance! But it more accurately reflects the uncertainty of the estimate.

Comment: Re:Hitting 36 years old (Score 1) 552

by jlowery (#48680081) Attached to: Paul Graham: Let the Other 95% of Great Programmers In

I think what makes many older programmers obsolete is that they stick with the familiar. If the familiar is Java and some newish framework, then you're probably set for life (if you're any good at it). If you've spent decades programming in C or RPG or Cobol, your career options will be more limited unless you're one of the best.

Went from 4GL to C to C++ to Java to Javascript. Longest term of unemployment was 2 months during the dot com bust, not long enough to burn through severance pay. I'm 54.

I'm not as good a Javascript programmer as I was in C++ or Java (I'm not bad, just don't query me on Javascript's baroque scoping rules), but my experience has taught me that proper implementation is more about architecture-in-the-small than it is about mastering language arcanery.

Currently tearing down a monolithic PHP application into something with proper separation of areas of concern. It will keep me busy for quite some time yet.

Comment: You're still wet behind the ears, kid (Score 2) 376

by jlowery (#48492543) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: IT Career Path After 35?

Just hit 57 and working on node/express + html5 + jquery + couchdb on top of legacy PHP/MySQL backend. Planning to start rewriting the backend in grails, hopefully soon.

What I've learned: solve the immediate problems at hand, deliver early and often, and don't worry about potential issues that may not manifest themselves or might be lower priority by the time you confront them.

The biggest problem I've seen is that projects kill themselves through overengineering by ambitious young folks with big dreams. The fact is, boring old analysis and dreaded working with the customer are the keys to success. Solving the day-to-day problems of a business is essential, not transformative solutions that take years to develop and are a crapshoot at best.

Also, there are a lot of small, established companies that have interesting problems to solve, and if you're good, you can help choose the technologies that will be used to tackle them. There's a lot of satisfaction in that.

Comment: Test frameworks (Score 1) 217

by jlowery (#48319313) Attached to: The Effect of Programming Language On Software Quality

Strong typing was meant to curb errors, but the types of errors strong typing catches are a minority of bugs. Most bugs are logic bugs, followed by performance bugs. The rise in importance of a thorough test suite has made many software projects better.

I'm not talking test-driven development, but ANY test framework that can be easily written and maintained, either by developers themselves, or by a competent QA department.

Comment: Re:Another terrible article courtesy of samzenpus (Score 1) 385

by jlowery (#47988175) Attached to: Seattle Passes Laws To Keep Residents From Wasting Food

The summary is a complete fail. Here in Seattle we have recyclable waste containers specifically for compostables. The fine is for not sorting your compostables (which are 'recyclable') from the true garbage that goes in a landfill. You can waste all the food you want, up to what your sizable compost bin will hold.

Comment: Are you a "geek"? (Score 1) 106

by jlowery (#47932127) Attached to: Interviews: David Saltzberg Answers Your Questions About The Big Bang Theory

... meaning, do you also provide input on some of the pop-culture in the show (e.g., Star Trek, Star Wars, comic books, Dr Who, etc.)?

Saltzberg: Sad to say, I am not. I am so out of it that for a long time

This is telling. In the show, the scientist characters are always playing games, going to comic book stores, seeing movies, and appear to work 9 to 5. These are not how scientists live. You just don't have a lot of spare time after doing the day's research or grant proposals. BBT is just a show about societal misfits in settings most people can relate to in some way. But it's not reflective of scientists.

Science and religion are in full accord but science and faith are in complete discord.