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Comment: What's the Diff? (Score 1) 162

by mckellar75238 (#49132583) Attached to: Should a Service Robot Bring an Alcoholic a Drink?

I don't understand the issue. If I ask a robot to get me a drink, how is that any different from me going and getting it for myself? Either way, it's my decision (bad as it might be), and I need to take responsibility for it. How does being disabled -- to whatever degree -- change that? If this were a mental or emotional issue, that might be different. But it isn't. Physical impairment doesn't change one's responsibility for one's own decisions.

Comment: Verizon on Net Neutrality (Score 3, Interesting) 214

by mckellar75238 (#49003541) Attached to: Verizon Sells Off Wireline Operations, Blames Net Neutrality Plans

'Washington should be very thoughtful how they go forward here,' he said. 'This uncertainty is not good for investment, and it's not good for jobs here in America.'" It's SO nice to realize that they have their customers' best interests in mind...

I know, I know -- they have to make a profit. But it would be nice if someone would realize that net neutrality is about fairness to the consumer, not about maximizing corporate profits.

Comment: Single Focus Works Best (Score 1) 464

by mckellar75238 (#48723031) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are Progressive Glasses a Mistake For Computer Users?

Bifocal and trifocal lenses were (and are )intended for situations where the eye is frequently shifting from near to far focal distances; the near focal range is at the bottom because, usually, the closer things are, the lower in your field of view they are likely to be. (Yeah, I know; "Tell me something obvious now.") Progressive lenses take this one better, in that they have a smooth change of focus as your eyes rotate up or down, rather than a step shift.

But in looking at a computer monitor, the whole view field is at a single distance, or at least nearly so; also, at least half of what you see is at or above the middle of your field of view, right where bifocals and trifocals go to "long distance" focus, so you find yourself tipping your head back to get the near focus, and your neck gets real tired, real fast. Best bet? Measure how far your monitor is from your eyes, in normal position, and tell your optometrist you want single-focus reading glasses adjusted for that distance, and don't let him (or her, as the case might be) talk you out of it. They'll cost less and work much better for you than progressive lenses -- but only in this limited case. So, once you have them, use them ONLY when working at your computer.

Comment: Overtime and Productivity (Score 1) 545

by mckellar75238 (#48536093) Attached to: Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?

Most of the comments I see (level 4 or higher) talk about compensation. I come at this from another direction: Productivity.

I generally work hard enough (assuming there is work to do) that if I go over 45 hours a week, I start getting tired, leading to both slowing down and making more mistakes. In general, if I work 50 hours, I produce about the same net worth as if I had worked 40; if I work even more, it just gets worse. Fortunately, I've almost always had bosses who understood this, so it hasn't been an issue. I really feel sorry for those of you who can't say that.

Comment: Experience Only counts If You Learn From It (Score 1) 637

by mckellar75238 (#47617001) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: "Real" Computer Scientists vs. Modern Curriculum?

After 10 years in IT, you should already have a good answer to your own question. If you don't, you may already be too far behind the curve. Look at your peers; in particular, look at what the successful ones know that the others don't.

You should understand how computers work. You should understand how systems talk to each other. You should understand how to communicate what you want to the computer. The more of this you do, in fact, know, the better off you'll be in the future. Try to learn it ALL; you won't, but the closer you get the better off you'll be.

Of course, when you start getting close enough to stand out, either you'll be running your own company successfully, or you'll be wondering why those whippersnappers around you are waiting for you to fall over dead. Whatever you do, don't spend your money just because you have it. Either gamble big and win (i.e., get the Big Bucks for designing and building the Next Big Thing) or save carefully so that you won't be depending on Social Security (or the current equivalent when you get that far) to pay for your food, clothing, and shelter.

Comment: Re:Yes! (Score 1) 430

This has been my experience as well -- although, to be fair, it's been a while since I actually got "RTFM" as an answer. (It's just as well; my response would probably have been, "That's fine, but which FM should I be R'ing?")

To answer the OP's question about what I do: I generally use Google, with as many key words as I need to use to refine the links returned. As an example, when I ran into a problem with not being able to enable my speakers, I Googled "[sound subsystem] speakers not found" and rummaged through the links returned until I found a workaround. That was a year or two ago, BTW, and the problem still hasn't been fixed properly, but at least the workaround is still good. And, yes, I did notify the package owner about what I found. Not only didn't he fix it, he never replied. But at least I had the satisfaction of knowing I'd done what I could.

Comment: It's All About Productivity (Score 3, Insightful) 710

by mckellar75238 (#47311757) Attached to: Workaholism In America Is Hurting the Economy
I've read comments above about loving your job, about pressure from management, about socialism, about Obamacare, and none of them seemed really to address the issue -- at least, as far as I could see. I worked in IT for 25 years, plus another 15 or so in other fields. I absolutely loved programming, the others just paid the bills, but there was one constant: my productivity maxed out at about 45 hours a week. If I worked 50, I didn't get any more done (net, i.e., after fixing errors) than if I had only worked 40; if I worked more than 50, things just got worse. I'm sure I lost some job offers along the way, because I was always careful to ask about overtime and then describe my experience if I was told it would be significant. Yes, I would work overtime if it was necessary; if it needs to be done, then "suck it up" is the rule of the day. But long term, heavy overtime costs more than it gains -- even if it's unpaid.

Comment: Who Would (or Wouldn't) Want to Know? (Score 1) 157

by mckellar75238 (#46636665) Attached to: Should Patients Have the Option To Not Know Their DNA?
As asked, the question seems ludicrous; "If you don't want to know, don't ask." But I am sure there are some things (venereal diseases, for example) that doctors are required to inform their patients about. The more important question is, "What will the doctor tell anyone else?" Even if I wouldn't choose to tell others, I would certainly want to know what my insurance company (again, for example) was being told about me.

Comment: Easy Fix, but it's hard to sell (Score 1) 221

As has already been mentioned, this is an age-old problem. One of my co-workers many years ago addressed it thusly (after long and bitter discussion): "Okay, you demand that I finish it quickly? All right, I give up; it's finished. Now, when do you want to discuss fixing the bugs?" Never, ever, EVER let anyone talk you into a time commitment you don't think you can meet. If you do, you'll get fired just as surely -- and with much better cause -- as because you won't knuckle under to unreasonable demands.

Comment: Academia Isn't the Real World? Who knew??! (Score 1) 292

by mckellar75238 (#42366105) Attached to: Real World Code Sucks
So, "real world" code isn't clean and elegant. So what? Get over it. In case you haven't noticed it, most of us out here don't look like high school or college athletes, either. Life is a compromise between avoiding problems and getting things done. Look at the problem you've been dealt, do the best you can with it, and go on to the nest one.
Programming

+ - How to Get Started in Linux Graphics Programming 2

Submitted by mckellar75238
mckellar75238 (1218210) writes "Can anyone suggest a good way to get into writing X Windows code for Linux? I'm no longer working for a living, but I'm not ready to quit coding yet; my problem is that, although I flatter myself that I'm a good coder, I don't know the tools I need to pop up a window and make it do what I want. I run Fedora Linux 99% of the time, and this is for my own pleasure only, so I need Linux tools that are either free or only a small cost.

To give you an idea of what I' want to do, I used to do graphical UI work for a small VAR company selling PC systems in the pre-Windows world;I really loved that, until they were bought out by a competitor and I had to switch fields (to telecomm, not that it matters). Now that I'm no longer doing telecomm, I'd like to go back to graphics, but everything I knew then is decades out of date.

What I'm really looking for is the Linux equivalent of the Microsoft Visual C IDE. I liked the way I could use it to create a window object, add the bells and whistles I wanted, and then pull up the code in the editor and start adding the "under the hood" code to do what I really wanted. I've tried a couple of Linux IDEs, but the ones I've used so far either are buggy, have little or no documentation, or otherwise leave me floundering helplessly. What I really need is a mentor of some kind, but not having any human ones around, I have to rely on software. Can anyone help me get started?"

Comment: 66 and retired -- but not by choice (Score 1) 317

by mckellar75238 (#41872545) Attached to: Why Coding At Fifty May Be Nifty
I wrote code for a little over 20 years, starting when I was 30-something. Then I got caught in a layoff in the double-whammie of the dotcom bubble bursting and 9/11; by the time people were hiring again, my resume had gone completely stale and I was in my mid-50s. Even taking some retooling classes, i couldn't find anyone who would hire me. I ended up retiring out of a retail job that barely paid the bills. Now I'm living on savings and Social Security; fortunately, the savings survived all of the turmoil, so it's enough.

I know I did some things wrong (didn't take XXX classes, spent too much time on YYY job boards, didn't get to the ZZZ networking sessions, ...) while looking for another job; that's not the point. If someone offered me a job coding, I'd probably take it, enjoy it, and do it well, but I've given up hope finding it for myself; the repeated "Sorry, we're not interested -- Next!" just got too painful to endure, so I quit trying.

So, why am I grumping about and not adding anything to the conversation? Partly to get it off my chest, and partly to make this one point: The older you get, the harder it is to find someone who will hire you. I don't know why that is, or even if it's true for everyone, but it certainly was for me. If you're over 30, keep an eye on what's happening around you. If it looks like things are going south, jump ship while you still can. It's a lot easier to get a new job if you look while you're still in the old one.

The Tao is like a glob pattern: used but never used up. It is like the extern void: filled with infinite possibilities.

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