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Comment: Be a Good Listener (Score 4, Insightful) 192

by Khomar (#48920015) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Makes a Great Software Developer?

I think one of the most valuable abilities for a good programmer is to be a good listener. A big part of that is also being able to ask good questions. You need to be able to fully understand the problem to be able to develop the right solution -- remember, the solution that customer actually needs is not always the one they think they want. Also, being able to listen also means you will be better able to learn new skills.

Comment: Re:life in the U.S. (Score 1) 254

by Reziac (#48916813) Attached to: Verizon, Cable Lobby Oppose Spec-Bump For Broadband Definition

If good upload speeds were widely available, I suspect online backup would quickly become a mainstream market, especially as more people become aware of the need to back up (witness the solid market for flash drives and external hard drives, mostly to ordinary folks and largely used for personal backups).

I know I'd use it, but my paltry 600k up will not cut it.

Comment: Re:Hints from an over-the-hill programmer (Score 1) 479

by Reziac (#48908415) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?

"To be a great programmer, you need to write code that reads like English."

That's an interesting observation, and see what I (not a coder but an interested bystander) say above about two programs I know equally well as a user -- one in Pascal (I can pretty much grok what all the code does despite zero comments), the other in C (lots of comments, but still makes my brain hurt even when I can figure it out).

Comment: Re:One important use left for Pascal (Score 1) 479

by Reziac (#48908347) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?

From the user standpoint (I'm not a programmer, but I take an interest, and have rooted around a bit in various source codes), these are my observations:

1) When a program written in C crashes, it may do damnear anything on its way out.

When a program written in Pascal/Delphi crashes, it simply closes down and returns you to the OS.

2) I have an ancient (1990) database program I can't live without. When it was retired from the market, its owner kindly shared source with me, which happened to be in Pascal. There's not a single comment in it, but as I know the program so well, I can tell what nearly all its code does.

I can't say that of the other antique program which I still use and know very well (and have perused much of the source), but is written in C.

I doubt it's entirely coincidence, or even relative marketshare, that's given us those marvelous Obfuscated and Underhanded Code contests for C, but no such for Pascal.

Comment: Re: Hey! I've been gypped! (Score 1) 145

by DanielRavenNest (#48900305) Attached to: NVIDIA Responds To GTX 970 Memory Bug

> Who knows about the bitcoin mining because that's all nonsense anyway.

Nobody in their right mind uses GPUs to mine bitcoin any more. They use custom mining chips (ASICs) which are about 100 times more efficient, because the calculations are done entirely in hardware, and being fairly simple, can be parallelized much more than graphics cores.

As far as bitcoin being nonsense, the New York Stock Exchange and a large bank just invested in a bitcoin company: http://blog.coinbase.com/post/..., and Microsoft accepts bitcoins: https://commerce.microsoft.com... . Evidently they don't think it is nonsense.

> But I'll bet their little programs that they run using $1 of electricity to get 50 cents in bitcoins

I did mine at a loss sometimes back in the day, but it was in the background, for a graphics card I was already using in this PC. So I only had to pay for the incremental electricity of the card running full bore instead lower levels. The $60 of extra electricity is worth $680 in bitcoins today. I stopped mining in mid-2013 when the custom chips started going into volume production. Not all of us are idiots.

Comment: Re:Business model? (Score 1) 104

Space solar arrays are also 2.5 times as efficient than in 1998. That's because they now use triple-layer cells, that convert more of the solar spectrum to electricity. The biggest shift will be if SpaceX can reuse their rocket stages. They are already the low-cost launch provider, and that would given them another factor of 3 or so in cost.

Reducing launch cost also will reduce satellite cost. The cost optimum is when the marginal cost of removing 1 kg from the satellite = the marginal cost of launching that kg. So cheaper launch means heavier but less expensive satellite parts.

Comment: Re:Business model? (Score 1) 104

> Private corporations may soon have more space technology than the US government.

That's already the case. NASA's share of total space industry is only 6% ($18 vs $300 billion/year). Commercial satellites have had ion thrusters for a number of years before the NASA Dawn spacecraft had them. For-profit corporations have more incentive to update their tech sooner, to get a competitive advantage.

All theoretical chemistry is really physics; and all theoretical chemists know it. -- Richard P. Feynman

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