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Comment: Re:Cry Me A River (Score 1) 494

by josquin9 (#47418071) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

There are a lot of comments here that are not very charitable, but, then, it IS Slashdot (Where the elite come to snark.)

Many people know that they would like to be able to use a computer to do something for which there are currently no apps available. They also know that the subject matter knowledge that they have would take years for a programmer to learn, and more investment of effort than most people would be willing to make. Their knowledge is every bit as critical as that of the programmer, and every bit as difficult to fully understand. They may not need a marketable app with all manner of multimedia extensions, don't foresee a sufficient market to cover the cost of a professional programmer, or else they do not believe that a programmer can get up to speed on the particulars of their problem to see all of the potential pitfalls any faster than they can get up to speed on the programming side of the problem. Coding expertise is valuable, but it is not the only valuable aspect of a program.

The great mass of non-programmers only hear the marketing news that makes it to the mainstream media, which usually consists of statements about how much easier programming is with product X. They, not unjustifiably, assume that after 25 years of such announcements, programming languages must be much easier and more powerful than they were when they took Basic in high school, 20 years ago.

Combine that with the archetypal image many people have in the back of their minds about computing, the Enterprise computer from Star Trek, and futurists promising computers with natural language interfaces (bolstered by commercials featuring Siri) and it's not unreasonable for them to believe that it may be possible for them to attempt a more complex problem than they are able to with current tools. They aren't meaning to be insulting when they think it should be easier. They are just going on the information they have and trying to figure out what their most efficient option is, between the frustration of learning to code, and the frustration of working with a coder on a project where they will have to teach a coder about all of the ins and outs of their discipline. All of the time that you spent learning to code, of which you are justifiably proud, an architect or engineer spent learning about structure, a doctor spent learning about medicine, a linguist spent learning about language.

To a coder, the app is the solution to a problem. To the user, the app is just a tool that may help them find a solution. To them, the coder only sees a small part of the big picture, and may have no commitment to what they understand as the real issue.

The suggestion that you as a professional coder could master their expertise sufficiently to solve their problem over the course of a project may be every bit as insulting to them as their belief that programming may be something they could learn over the course of a project is to you.

Comment: FORTRAN (Score 1) 532

. . . at least according to my Dad, who started programming in the late sixties.

"NASA used it to put a man on the moon, dammit. I doubt your projects are more complicated than that, so it should be all you ever need. (Unless you're writing a business application, of course. Then you should use COBOL.)"

Comment: Re:Distinct DNA (Score 1) 1304

by josquin9 (#47362083) Attached to: U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception

It already does. If a patient is brain dead, we usually take it off life support. The mother of a fetus is effectively a life support system, from the fetus' perspective. Being human is not simply a matter of DNA. Ask a twin if they're an individual, separate from their sibling. It's a matter of cognition, and there are grey areas. The closer to human levels of cognition we perceive, the more the death of an organism troubles us. Seeing a dog die is more traumatic than seeing a mouse die, because dogs' behavior leads us to believe that they understand and value the world in ways that are similar to ourselves. Conversely, most cultures execute certain criminals, depriving them of their lives because the values they place on community norms shows that their ethical understanding is outside of the bounds of what is accepted as human norms.

Up to a certain point, a fetus does not have a sufficiently complex brain to be able to encode a sufficiently human model of the world for many people to consider it human. It does not have language. It has not encoded experiences. It is not aware of others. Meanwhile, it's life is parasitic to the mother, who, in almost all cases, fully meets the qualifications for being human. Since we are anthropocentric, outside of specific indoctrination, people tend to value the continued life of the mother more than that of the child. If the mother accepts the fetus as a part of herself, it should be protected, as we would the mother. But, if the mother chooses otherwise, her claim to her body and health are superior to other people's claim that she should risk both for an ideal that she doesn't share.

If it were possible to transplant a fetus, perhaps the arguments would be different. Perhaps the anti-choice contingent should spend their money on that, rather than campaigns to traumatize young women who are in a situation that is untenable, often through no fault of their own, where their lives must end, regardless of their dreams, aspirations, and preparations otherwise. The family and children they may have planned might not be born because the pregnancy they did not want cut them off from the community they would have otherwise joined. Maybe they are cut off from their family. Maybe they wind up never going to college, or even finishing high school. Maybe rather than being a self-sufficient engineer raising two honor roll children with a husband, she winds up as a single mother in a series of dead-end jobs, with no family leave, so that her child has to raise himself in the kind of environment a minimum wage job affords. It's true that a child like that can turn out okay, with a mother so dedicated to the child's welfare that she denies herself the opportunities to fulfill any of her own dreams, but a woman with that attitude is unlikely to have gone to the abortion clinic in the first place. Whether a woman decides the wrong time to have a child, the wrong father, or a she feels that the risk to her physical or emotional life is too great, society should respect her decision.

Comment: I must respectufully disagree, (Score 1) 173

by josquin9 (#47236551) Attached to: Dell Exec Calls HP's New 'Machine' Architecture 'Laughable'

. . . or at least suggest that you qualify your statement.

At it's inception, Dell was quite innovative. But that innovation was limited to business practices, not engineering or technology. Compaq got the ball rolling, but Dell developed the production and marketing models that brought the price of usable desktop computers down to the sub-$1000 level. This was probably as instrumental in putting a computer on every desktop as anything Bill Gates did. Other manufacturers copied and improved upon the model later, but Dell's decisions not only made computers more affordable, but also introduced to a generation concepts that are now considered mainstream (CPU, RAM, etc.), but which had been considered indecipherable techy arcana. I believe this significantly increased computer adoption, simply by demystifying the strange beige boxes.

These may not have been technological innovations, but they were definitely innovations, and led to the kind of "creative destruction" so often given lip service by conservatives (whose actual practices are mostly about maintaining market stability and the fortunes of those who have already won them, rather than innovation.)

Comment: Re:Infectious diseases ... (Score 5, Insightful) 493

by josquin9 (#47119111) Attached to: Mutant Registration vs. Vaccine Registration

No, you're mistaken. An active outbreak of a disease increases the likelihood of mutation, which may create a strain that cannot be contained by the current vaccine. Even if the vaccinated will not catch the current iteration of the disease, they may be susceptible to whatever new horror results from giving this iteration free reign to evolve into something more deadly.

Comment: Re:NextStep (Score 1) 611

by josquin9 (#47104187) Attached to: Which desktop environment do you like the best?

NextStep felt intentional and complete in a way that I haven't seen since. It wasn't aping anything else on the market, it wasn't trying to be different just for the sake of product differentiation, and it didn't have extraneous bells and whistles for the sake of giving the marketing department something to talk about. It was just a well-thought-out environment for getting real work done.

Comment: Re:Infrastructure (Score 1) 659

by josquin9 (#47002019) Attached to: Future of Cars: Hydrogen Fuel Cells, Or Electric?

Because creating demand is the easiest way l justify the investment in improving the existing technologies. Not knowing which will be adopted in the marketplace is why neither has improved to the point of market acceptance.

In twenty years, though, "fuel cell or battery" may be the equivalent question to today's "gas or diesel?" They may develop at different rates, or it may be that one or the other is preferable in different situations even after a few more iterations of development.

Comment: Re:What this means (Score 1) 197

by josquin9 (#46992209) Attached to: 7.1 Billion People, 7.1 Billion Mobile Phone Accounts Activated

As a current PhD candidate in the field, I can actually speak with some measure of authority for a change.

Marketing is the umbrella concept. It includes everything having to do with generating a transaction in the marketplace, and includes such areas as: needs analysis and product development (because it's easiest to sell a product that people actually need), logistics (getting all of the raw materials and finished products to where they need to be), pricing models, brand management (how do we differ from our competition in the eyes of customers and potential customers), strategy (what markets should we be in, and how should we position ourselves relative to the competition), advertising and promotion. Most of what you refer to as Marketing would fall into the advertising and promotion categories.

"Public Relations" is one component of marketing because "good will" generally is needed to create the environment in which customers will engage in transactions with the company. Public Relations is related to the areas of advertising, promotion and brand management, and is usually distinguished by the fact that the message is not entirely within the control of the firm. Unlike advertising, the firm doesn't initiate and frame what people are talking about. Usually the firm is reacting to someone else's message, or engaging in an activity that they hope will be noteworthy in a positive way, so that others will spread the word that, as you said, they are not evil. Often PR costs a firm very little relative to an ad campaign, and, since it is moderated by a variety of third parties, information generated by PR activities may be more believable to many members of the public. This is why you see local business' names on the backs of little league jerseys and international corporations sponsoring charities, rather than paying those funds out as dividends and letting investors decide how much to give to which charities.

For the record, my background is in design, and my interest in Marketing falls into the product development function. I am one of the first to admit that there is a dark underbelly to the field that tends toward evil. My hope is to give ammunition and tools to the people who are trying to figure out what products would be useful and how they can be made economically, rather than the ones trying to sell whatever a firm can produce with a high profit margin with no regard to utility or hidden costs.

Comment: Re:Lock-in? (Score 1) 589

by josquin9 (#46944345) Attached to: Microsoft Cheaper To Use Than Open Source Software, UK CIO Says

Imagine if one year, all new cars were designed so that you control the accelerator with your forehead and you steer by twisting your chest. This wouldn't be because people were clamouring for a better way to steer, but just because a few people in the industry decided it would be good for the rest of us, and it would give them some convenient new marketing slogans, and force people to go to dealers for servicing for a while, since they would be the only ones trained in the new systems. You could argue that this was a superior way of maneuvering because it makes driving more like walking, where you lean into the direction of your intended motion, but the early adopters' spouses and children might not take kindly to the convenience you've imposed upon them that left the breadwinner in a wheelchair or worse. It would be like making every driver on the road a sixteen year old newbie again.

Comment: Re:Lock-in? (Score 1) 589

by josquin9 (#46944209) Attached to: Microsoft Cheaper To Use Than Open Source Software, UK CIO Says

I disagree. I believe that Microsoft's size insulates it from a lot of criticism, and that their products will never be great unless they are pushed by competition. I am willing to endure the inconvenience of FOSS software in order to change the environment in which Microsoft functions in the long run. I don't find the headaches of LibreOffice significantly worse than the ones of working with Microsoft. I believe that the productive hours I lost to relearning how to use their Office products, in which I already had close to a decade of training and practice, at least equal the productive losses due to bugs in FOSS alternatives.

What's more, Microsoft's ribbon move was primarily about marketing, not usability. Usability may have been enhanced slightly for new users, but the vast majority of people aren't new users anymore. Microsoft could have let users toggle between the interfaces if they actually cared about the user experience. They were going for lock-in by differentiating their program in a way that was detrimental to established users, but that they knew they could sell to the people who authorize the software upgrades, because those people don't have to be productive with "productivity" software. This also allowed them to hit those companies up for new training materials, videos, etc. for existing office staff, by invalidating I would imagine hundreds of millions worth of existing training tools sitting in the corporate libraries of companies around the world. People may not be complaining now. People will become comfortable with a program they use every day within a few months and eventually the anger over the inconvenience, expense, and lost time subsides. However, if you were to aggregate all of the productive hours lost to unnecessary re-training that Microsoft imposed upon corporate America in order to further their own marketing agenda, I suspect it would cause a lot of people to rethink the purported savings of going with the industry standard.

Comment: Re:Lock-in? (Score 1) 589

by josquin9 (#46944009) Attached to: Microsoft Cheaper To Use Than Open Source Software, UK CIO Says

People don't HAVE to report bugs. Many of them do, using the automated system in Microsoft's products without even asking themselves about the potential security risk of the feature. Company bosses rarely think about the fact that their workers are being trained to to hit "SEND" whenever a pop-up window tells them it's a way to be "helpful".

"But this one goes to eleven." -- Nigel Tufnel