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Comment: Re:"Experienced" (Score 4, Insightful) 285

by petes_PoV (#48626023) Attached to: At 40, a person is ...

the only word I feel appropriate is "experienced"

Well, some are - some aren't. The best professionals will have used their 40 years - maybe 20 of which have been in the pursuit of their career, to expand their knowledge, experience and value. However there are a significant number of people who have been working in IT (and many other fields) who gained one year of experience very early in their careers and have simply repeated that year ever since. And some will have regressed.

Comment: Re:Currently 3D printing my own 3D printer (Score 1) 175

by petes_PoV (#48588535) Attached to: 3D Printer?

It's a mobius printer that prints itself.

Really - it prints everything needed to make a printer that can print itself?

Or is it like these "robotic" vacuum cleaners, that can merely clean small parts of a household that are just floors, so long as they are all on the same level? - Conveniently forgetting about all the other surfaces (and curtains) such as shelf-tops, stairs, behind the TV cabinet or under the cooker that collect crud, too.

Once someone designs a 3D printer that actually can print all the parts needed, then it might (just) start to have enough applications that I might need one, maybe once a month.

Comment: Re:Why tax profits, why not income? (Score 2) 602

by petes_PoV (#48514287) Attached to: UK Announces 'Google Tax'

Individuals aren't taxes based on their profit but income

Not strictly true. Individuals pay some taxes (here, at least - other countries: different rules) on their taxable income. That allows for certain deductions such as some expenses paid by people for items necessary for their work. It also allows them quite generous allowances and reductions.

It would be simple to think of all the income that a person received from their job as "profit". But governments don't apply rules like that, to protect low-paid workers and be progressive (tax those who can afford to pay more, at higher rates). Taxing companies on their profit is the only way that a sensible and proportionate system could work - while still incentivising companies to invest in their (and, by association, our futures). It is a reasonable parallel to the way that income is taxed. Sadly, companies employ cleverer accountants than governments do.

Comment: Keep the money close (Score 1) 176

by petes_PoV (#48441691) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop?

I'd like to start my own software product line and I'd like to avoid outsourcing as much as I can. I'm seeking advice on what you think are the best practices

The two "best practice" points that I know of are linked.

The first is to have a great deal of money - far more than you could possibly think is necessary.

The second is to be very careful, to the point of stinginess, on what you spend it for,
I would work on the assumption that it will be a year before you see any invoices getting paid and during that time you will have to pay out for both the startup costs and the people you employ. Since people will be the single biggest cost item, employ as few as is possible to get away with and work them as hard as possible - but only on things that will contribute directly on creating income. And then, only on short-term income.

Once you do that all the high-level questions will either answer themselves (and usually the answer will be "no") or they will turn out to be irrelevant to the immediate survival of the enterprise.

Comment: Re:10x Productivity (Score 1) 215

by petes_PoV (#48408849) Attached to: Do Good Programmers Need Agents?

Plenty of studies have shown that it's [ 10x productivity ] true. If you can't see it, maybe you're one of the less productive ones?

Being able to bang out 10 times as much code in a day is not "productivity" - although, sadly, far too many people use this as a measure.

True productivity is to complete a project: from initial requirements specification through to testing, documentation, integration and acceptance in a shorter time. This is not the job of a single, lone, "superstar" programmer but of a fluent, experienced, team of professionals who know how to work together. Just parachuting in someone who can crap out code at ten times the rate of another programmer won't speed up a project (ref: The Mythical Man Month adding manpower slows a project down) and if they are an arsehole or prima-donna who won't work as part of a team, it will cause more long-term damage than it's worth.

The key to fast project delivery is good management and perceptive staff selection. Looking for a superstar programmer as some sort of silver-bullet is both naive and doomed to failure as it will make hardly any difference to the overall project timescales.

Comment: Agents work for the long term (Score 1) 215

by petes_PoV (#48408831) Attached to: Do Good Programmers Need Agents?

Most likely outcome: the agent, whose entire compensation is based on separating me from as much cash as possible, manages to take more than that difference and I get screwed while thinking I got a good deal

A good agent will be in it for the long term. Working in a mutually beneficial arrangement.

So there won't be any "screwing" as they will have a reputation to uphold amongst yourself and their other clients. If people feel they are worse off, they will fire their agent and word will spread.

As a freelancer, I've had an agent since the mid 90s. The real problem is that I am only one of many clients, so as long as things are going well, they tend to get complacent and lazy - just rolling over the contracts and taking their commission. What the software world needs are MORE agents and better contracts with their clients: which at present seem to be rather one-sided, since the agents are responsible for getting all the work, they are the ones with all the IT business contacts.

Comment: 500KPH - but what is the average *journey* speed? (Score 1) 419

by petes_PoV (#48392475) Attached to: Japanese Maglev Train Hits 500kph
When you factor in the amount of time it takes to get from where you are, or where you live, into the city centre to catch this centre-to-centre train - and then out at the other end to your actual destination, is this really any faster than driving if you have a decent road network?

Comment: Unlike "smart" TVs (Score 1) 209

by petes_PoV (#48314919) Attached to: What People Want From Smart Homes

What would you look for in a smart home?

First of all: reliability. The house must be able to retain all its functionality during a power outage.

After that I want security. It must be impervious to unwanted intrusion: either physical or hackers.
Next comes self-cleaning - probably the biggest chore after home maintenance. This would include cleaning the household appliances, too
Talking of maintenance, the house must never, ever require a software upgrade.
After that we can start talking about useful features such as tending the garden, washing the car, cooking meals, collecting, washing, ironing and re-storing clothes - picking up dishes, pans, cutlery, cups and glasses, cleaning them and replacing them in the correct cupboards.

At this point we have a house that just about qualifies as "smart". The key problem is not the simplistic features such as turning lights on or off, setting room temperatures and the like: these are the domain of little 8-pin microprocessors. Describing those functions as "smart" is as sensible as talking about a "smart" amoeba. The big problems are associated with moving household items in a safe and reliable way and it's only what a house can operate on that level that "smart" begins to cover it.

Comment: Fixing the wrong problems (Score 2) 272

by petes_PoV (#48249785) Attached to: A Library For Survival Knowledge

All the technical solutions will either remain known or are easily re-discovered. There are two big problems with rebooting society:

First, you need LOTS of people. Most of the stuff we have today relies on a certain minimum population density. That is especially true of transportation systems and without them, it would not be possible to move the raw materials around. So medical knowledge and knowing how to keep young children from dying will be paramount.

The second problem will be producing an effective counter-argument to all the superstitions, ignorance and religions that are bound to appear if "civilisation" dies off. That is what held back our scientific and technological development: From Aristotle to the Industrial Revolution there was 2,000 years of very little progress and what there was, was usually achieved DESPITE religion, not with its encouragement.

The technology will come of its own accord, but speeding it up will need manual for social survival, not designs for steam engines

Comment: Closed system - energy is just energy (Score 1) 399

by petes_PoV (#48193189) Attached to: NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew
The calories consumed "argument" seems like a red herring.

The spacecraft will be a closed environment: recycling waste from food and water (with some slight inefficiencies and consequent loss - but you'd expect that to be very small). So once the craft is loaded with enough raw materials to produce food fast enough (a function of energy availability) then it won't matter how many calories per day the crew consume, so long as the onboard systems can recycle the waste and replenish them fast enough. Same applies to water use: very little will be "consumed" (lost irrevocably) and if there's enough energy to recycle it the crew could use as much as they please. It's not as if there will be a stream of empty MRE package dumped out of the vessel every morning.

As far as calories goes: this is just heat generation. So however many calories the crew "consumes" will ultimately contribute towards the heating of the cabin. Obv. if the cabin needs cooling more than heating there will be a greater energy cost - but again it comes down to the ability of the craft to generate power to run itself, not very much in the way of "lost" consumables.

Comment: Fixing the wrong problem (Score 4, Insightful) 342

by petes_PoV (#48187737) Attached to: An Algorithm to End the Lines for Ice at Burning Man
The reason this situation exists is because the vendor has nothing to gain from changing.

If they have a fixed amount of ice, or can only make a fixed amount per hour then they have nothing to gain from selling that amount at a faster rate. Sure, the customers may not like it but since these guys are the only source of ice, what the customers want is of little consequence.

If you really want to speed up the line, introduce some competition. A 3 word answer instead of a 1,600 word one.

A method of solution is perfect if we can forsee from the start, and even prove, that following that method we shall attain our aim. -- Leibnitz