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Comment: Biggest Headache vs Most Occurrences (Score 1) 307

I voted other because I couldn't decide which type of problem to speak to.

Most occurrences is storage, however god damn ATI cards having such narrow support... Piss me off to no end. First was a dual GPU rage 128. Worked fine in Win98. Odd frames rendered on GPU0 and even on GPU1. When Win2K came out, default VGA crap only, no 3D. Linux was worse. A few years later, got me a shiny TV-Wonder, didn't work after my next OS upgrade and again shitty Linux support. Those are just the main examples.

I've stuck to Nvidia for the last 6 PCs and I'm not switching no matter what specs or benchmarks AMD has.

Comment: Re:Face to Face, written may often offend (Score 1) 115

by mlheur (#49213211) Attached to: Preferred way to communicate with co-workers?

There are ways to express tone in written communications that are as effective as audible or postural tone, but they take practice. When I was a junior specialist, during a performance review, my manager said that I can come off as gruff or standoffish in my emails. I took the criticism to heart, the issue was resolved within a year. Now (10 years and 4 managers later) my annual performance review regularly includes a comment that my written communication skills are one of the biggest assets to the team.

- stick to facts,
- provide references and explanations,
- clearly identify what is a personal opinion;
      - limit these to technical recommendations,
      - provide justification,
      - acknowledge other possibilities and opinions, with benefits and consequences of each,
- make a draft, leave it for at least an hour, read it aloud before sending,
- review and revise the recipients, To and CC
- include anyone mentioned in the message
- use "and" and "&" to avoid ambiguity in lists [e.g. "two pairs: red & blue, and green & yellow"],
- limit numbers as identifiers or quantities, spell out the number otherwise [e.g. "The five of us found three values: 10, 4 and 7"],
- avoid "not" as it is often missed, speak in the positive [e.g. "Please use the green button" rather than "Please don't use the red button"],
- when it is impractical to speak in the positive, clearly identify the negative word [e.g. "Use any button EXCEPT the red one"],
- avoid "you", "I", "he", "she", etc. This is a rule in documentation, with flexibility in correspondence [rather than "I always do this in documentation, and less in correspondence"].

I like to use numbered lists; it helps further down the line when referencing what was said earlier. I rarely use bullets, usually when there are few, equally weighted points. I normally put each point on its own line but sometimes will offer two or three options in a single sentence [e.g. You can either a) do this; or b) do that].

I once read an article that explained how to reduce or eliminate superfluous words. If done right it can make the message easier to follow, less personal, and avoids different interpretations "I really think you should, at most, do X because Y" -> "Do X because Y". To take one of your sentences as an example: "The other alternative is to hold the short meeting, agree on what you can and summarize it in a short email after the fact" -> "The alternative: 1) hold a short meeting, 2) reach an agreement, and 3) send a summary in email". Appendix 1 of provides some great examples:

Military writing guides and styles are a great resource for improving written communications. They must be clear, concise and accurate for orders to be followed correctly.

Other References:

Comment: Right tool for the job (Score 1) 115

by mlheur (#49213061) Attached to: Preferred way to communicate with co-workers?

Others have made similar comments such as "Depends"... I think "right tool for the job" says it best, and normally a complex job requires multiple tools.

My MO is usually:
1. Email to get the subject started, identify objectives.
2. Verbal/in person to give everyone a chance to ask questions and weigh in, followed up with meeting notes/minutes to summarize decision made.
3. Chat/IM for quick questions or coordinating a few people with order dependent tasks.
4. Direct phone call to handle complex questions.
5. Email summary after milestones.
6. And of course, document everything along the way.

In person conversations are rare because my team is spread out nationally. I normally work from home but once every few weeks I go into the local office with a few people from different teams that have the same set of responsibilities but for different business units and customers.

Comment: Re:Does it pass the test? (Score 1) 430

by mlheur (#48934313) Attached to: FCC Officially Approves Change In the Definition of Broadband

Damn, I wish I saw this before I started working on my post:
A really good solution would be to forgo the use of broadband in the gov't and instead use "high speed internet". Then they can re-quantify "how high is high", and keep re-quantifying it as much as they want. Everyone wins.

Comment: This just in, Gov't redifines "moon" (Score 1) 430

by mlheur (#48934293) Attached to: FCC Officially Approves Change In the Definition of Broadband

"Moon now means any body of matter with more than 10^24 KG of mass that orbits any other body of matter"
So apparently the earth no longer has a moon, but is one... That's not a far-fetched idea considering we have recently redefined the word Planet to be more descriptive.

The other thing is that defining "broadband" is the same fallacy as "the Inuit have 100+ words for snow". FYI - those words are wetsnow drysnow heavysnow ligthsnow bluesnow whitesnow yellowsnow ....

Broad is already defined; band is already defined; and width is already defined.

In relevant context: band is a contiguous set of wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum; width is the size of the band from wave lengths X through Y; broad is a qualitative description of the width of the band - the difference between X and Y. Thusly, broadband and bandwidth have intrinsic definitions that any reasonably intelligent entity familiar with basic English can deduce.

It's nice that a broad band width can carry more streams of information than a narrow one. It's perfectly acceptable for a government to want its citizens to have faster access to information.

IMO, to redefine a word, and not give a definition to subjects newly excluded from the definition is detrimental to society. In the 90's you basically had dial-up internet or broadband internet. These were not great labels, but they did the trick - broadband provided more bandwidth than the POTS networks could provide. These almost made sense. Would we ever see "dial-up" internet to mean only 33.6kbps or more? What happens to the people still using 28.8

What do we have with this new definition? Anyone who is somehow newly exposed to the word cannot use previous knowledge to understand its meaning. There are still users on dial-up, there are users with broadband capable of > 25Mbps down & 3Mbps up, but what about those users that are not on dial-up and have less 25Mbps down? What kind of internet connection do they have? It's not narrowband.

I think a better solution is leave the word broadband alone, and use more words to provide more description: e.g. "broadband" = "( ! dial-up ) && ( over phone || cable networks )", "basic braodband" = less than 1Mbps; "broadband-1" = >= 1Mbps && up to "broadband-3" = >= 3Mbps && ... && up to "broadband-100" = >= 100Mbps. In the future we can redefine broadband-100 to include an "up to broadband-X" clause and create a new broadband-X.

At least we had the decency to give Pluto the word dwarfplanet.

P.S. - I really hate that /. comments prevent me from using a single character to say "less than", and two characters to say "less than or equal to".

Comment: Re:No logical benefit from this (Score 1) 55

by mlheur (#48588165) Attached to: Doctors Replace Patient's Thoracic Vertebrae With 3D-Printed Replica

Thank you very much for the reference and insight.

I was quite curious how they could gotten the spinal cord into an artificial vertebra. I guess they could make it in two pieces and then combine the two pieces in place (screws?). I'm guessing that severing and reattaching the spinal cord itself isn't very feasible.

Comment: Re:Here comes a Karma hit.... (Score 1) 107

by mlheur (#48415533) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Professionally Packaged Tools For Teaching Kids To Program?

My dad had a couple of books: "More Basic Computer Games" which is now 1 cent on amazon; and I cant find the name of the other one but I'm pretty sure it was just "Programming Basic". Around the age of 7 I started by transcribing some games, play them, mod them, learn fundamentals of variables and flow control. With nibbles and gorrilas on QBasic I started learning about subroutines. By the time I was 15 I had VB under control so I moved to Delphi which meant learning Pascal, learning about data types and pointers. It wasn't until I was 18 that I learned C, C++ and Java, and started with OOP but by then I had such a solid foundation that the language was mostly irrelvant. Now I spend most of my time in ksh, awk, & perl but that's because I'm Backup & Recovery Admin for a large telco.

My suggestion: your daughter will have a hunger that will drive her to accomplish certain programming goals - try to feed that hunger and let her guide you. My parents never laid anything out in front of me, they just helped me find the resources I needed to cross whatever hurdle I found myself in front of.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser