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Comment: Re:Exactly why we test all candidates. (Score 1) 276

We do allow our candidates to use the web. We also write the tests specifically for the job at hand. We do NOT penalise for mashing, copying, or even asking for help. What we do penalise is for when someone grabs something and doesn't understand what it is, how it works, and cannot make it 'theirs'.

We also penalise people who copy code from the net and then attempt to pass it off as their own.
We don't monitor the test - we allow the candidate to work against their own clock.

We aren't fearful of hiring wrong people - but we don't have time for them either. We also find it's an extremely good means of filtering out what can be up to 1,000 applications. Those who apply for the job are those who really want to work for us, and are willing to show us their skills.

Our questions tend to be qualitative, which means that it's very hard to 'find the answer on the net'. They will include questions such as (eg for a web designer) - "In what ways could you significantly improve the BBC news website, and why do you think the BBC have not made those improvements already?"

For a (S)CSS engineer, we will be asking questions to demonstrate approaches to carving and presenting a responsive page, based upon a simple flat visual.

For all of these things, there are no right answers, but there are good answers.

The funniest response we once got from a programmer, to about 9 out of 10 of the questions we had on the test for the position he was applying for, was "It's not my department." - needless to say he wasn't shortlisted.

Comment: Re:Exactly why we test all candidates. (Score 3, Interesting) 276

Well, it depends upon the job. As OneSmartFellow correctly divines, a recent post was for a sysadmin / sysops post. We don't require other devs to know what ARP is, but it's always good if they have some idea about the network stack.

We have been repeatedly amazed by the levels of ignorance that IT-qualified candidates have had. One of the most disappointing finds is that very few who have come from university have any substantial programming experience. Likewise, 'hack-a-day' php coders and sql-ers about, but most of them do not know when to apply a left join, some of them don't even know what a key is used for (just think of all that wasted cpu time due to ridiculously poor sql implementations. It makes me shudder).

Regarding the idea of methods for developing a re-usable, maintainable codebase for our work (primarily webwork) - seems to be beyond everyone that we recruit. The team that we have right now is second to none - but we have found that a well-written test reduces the initial number of applicants from about 700 to 800 down to about 10, most of whom we will interview.

Comment: Exactly why we test all candidates. (Score 1, Insightful) 276

The only way that we have found for being able to assess a candidate's suitability for work at our company is to write tests that suit the job, and then ask the candidates to demonstrate their skills. We've had people with all sorts of qualifications relevant to the LAMP architecture not know the basics of regex, sql, bash, etc. Let alone what ARP is.

IMO qualifications in IT aren't really very relevant, other than showing the intent/interests of the individual. Also, as IT is changing so rapidly, by the time a (non-theoretical) qualification has been published, it is pretty much out of date.

My response, as an employer, to this news could be summarised as: 'We never had much credence to the MS qualification in the first place - and now we have none.

Comment: It's an efficient photonic switch. (Score 2) 91

by mrthoughtful (#48308137) Attached to: Photon Pair Coupled in Glass Fiber

What it 'means' is that we are a step closer to optical switching - i.e., optical computers.

The important aspect of the work, as I see it, is that the switch is activated optically also, and the complexity of the switch is low (allowing it to be manufactured easily).

However, I'm no expert in the field. I just read the article, and am geek enough to read /.

Comment: Re:SI Units for nerds, please (Score 1) 258

by mrthoughtful (#48268513) Attached to: Preferred smartphone screen size?

Everyone knows how big screen sizes are when given in inches...

Along with the AC, I couldn't agree less. SI Units are used for measuring distance by every country in the world except for Liberia, Myanmar and the USA.
I can, sort of, imagine using an arbitrary unit such as palm-widths, however that is a completely personal (and therefore a dynamic) system of measurement. While we still deal with static datasets, SI units provide a far more appropriate base conversion.

Comment: Re:I say BS (Score 1) 224

by mrthoughtful (#46879693) Attached to: 50 Years of BASIC, the Language That Made Computers Personal

Why is BASIC bad?
(1) It encourages poor programming practices by
  a) not including good code block semantics.
  b) not supporting classes
  c) not separating library (or OS) calls from language primitives
  d) having no proper concept of scope
  e) not having a standard

(2) Being a suboptimal interpreted language - I remember that CLS was around 100 times slower than a Z80 routine.

Of course, you may be thinking of modern BASIC implementations - well, that's a different thing altogether.
The BASICs (eg on the Spectrum, C64, etc) I knew were just rubbish.
I guess you could argue that it's an implementation thing - but actually, it's hard to go wrong with something like Java, or C. I remember some LISP interpreters were pretty slow also..

Comment: I use it, love it. (Score 2) 435

by mrthoughtful (#46879553) Attached to: C++ and the STL 12 Years Later: What Do You Think Now?

We just migrated our codebase from C++ STL to C++11 and in general, it was worth the pain.
The main benefits for us were better awareness of modern character encoding - but stuff like lamda functions are pretty cool too, and we could probably tidy up a lot of our earlier code to use more C++11 features.

I was brought up on Assembler (Z80, 680x0) and moved to 'C', and then migrated to 'C++', so my early C++ was very C-like (not unusual). However, I've not looked back. I know that you are asking about C++11, but C++ itself is probably worth highlighting.

I also know Java, Obj-C, (and a bunch of other languages that I have used in less commercially sensitive contexts) and there's a lot to be said for them too. But when I feel like getting close to the metal, it's C++ for me. I guess it's b/c one can still (just about) follow the assembler generated by it.

But then I'm old in my approach. Modern optimising compilers, with coding strategies, static analysis (as well as excellent IDEs) probably have more effect on my productivity than any language sub-variant.

Comment: I say BS (Score 0) 224

by mrthoughtful (#46868941) Attached to: 50 Years of BASIC, the Language That Made Computers Personal

(1) It wasn't a language that made computers personal, it was the advent of the microchip, and, as a consequence, the microcomputer.
(2) The first language I learned was BASIC. It was so bad that I then learned assembler.
(3) My experience of BASIC was so bad that I didn't want anything to do with it, even though using it to compose LUTs would have been very useful
(4) Then 'C' became cheap, and then free. I haven't written anything in BASIC for over 30 years.

Comment: Marketing Hype... (Score 3, Informative) 149

by mrthoughtful (#46279705) Attached to: Can Reactive Programming Handle Complexity?

This is just marketing hype dressed up as a question. Having said that, anything that gets anyone enthused about programming is good, I guess.

What I really don't like is when Val Huber refers to a previous article he submitted as if it were written by a third party.
Now, I love SQL (and triggers are ok) - and so does Val Huber - I'm sure we would get along fine.
Val, you've been doing SQL for 20 years! woot. So that means you started back 'round '94.
(Aw. I started back in '85. I was doing websites in '94 - remember Lycos?)

But it's just using SQL Triggers, Val - why give it some sort of fancy name? Ohh everyone else does that, like "Web2"? or "The Cloud", etc?
Still stinks - but hopefully someone may actually pick up how to use some of the cool features of SQL.

+ - /. Beta comments don't work, users upset.-> 4

Submitted by magic maverick
magic maverick (2615475) writes "Since the new /. Beta came to light, many /. users and commentators have tried it out. However, they are almost universally condemning the new commenting system. It simply isn't as good as the so called Classic system. Some users, however, haven't a bad thing to say. Mainly because they haven't had a chance to even use the new system. It simply doesn't load. One user, Magic Maverick , who lives in a third-world country with crappy Internet, had this to say:

I come to /. for the comments, but with the new Beta, I can't even see anything! It just says:

''Shazbot! We ran into some trouble getting the comments. Try again... na-nu, na-nu!

It seems like the "developers" need to take some advice from people who actually know what they are doing. I'm happy to help explain what graceful degradation means if they like...

"

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