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Comment: Re:Way too many humanities majors (Score 1) 319

by tnk1 (#49382075) Attached to: Why America's Obsession With STEM Education Is Dangerous

And yet, it contributed to what is considered to be a very successful product. It's not that learning how to do calligraphy made the product work, its knowing about calligraphy and being exposed to it.

How do you differentiate a product? Some engineers would point to making it perform faster with some sort of better underlying technology. But what happens when everything pretty much works the same way? What if good looking fonts are actually more important than raw speed or even more functionality?

And what use does your app have unless you can communicate its value yourself? There are those who denigrate marketing people, but those very same people need the marketing folks to sell their product because the engineer lacks the capability to communicate the value of the product to others, and may not even want to be involved. Yet, you need those sorts to allow you to be successful because they have a skill set that engineers don't uniformly have.

Comment: Re:Way too many humanities majors (Score 1) 319

by tnk1 (#49382005) Attached to: Why America's Obsession With STEM Education Is Dangerous

I did mean in the higher sense of when you can do something and when you should do something. Engineering allows you to do things, but it doesn't tell you why you would do it. That's the perspective part.

Should we build an AI is a different question than can we build one. If we have built one, what do we do with it? Again, a different question than if it is possible to do something.

There is the assumption that you can sort of "pick up" the answers to those questions as you go along. I don't actually think that works any better than assuming you can just take a job at a lab and pick up chemistry on the side.

Comment: Re:Only need one Steve Jobs (Score 1) 319

by tnk1 (#49380583) Attached to: Why America's Obsession With STEM Education Is Dangerous

Oddly enough, a good engineer would try to minimize the number of different interfaces into a system. Although admittedly, the design types seem to take that one step too far by providing only one port, when you really should have two. But either way, it sure beats the six slots/ports that my Windows laptop has which I never use.

Comment: Re:Only need one Steve Jobs (Score 1) 319

by tnk1 (#49380563) Attached to: Why America's Obsession With STEM Education Is Dangerous

You are right about Apple vs. Windows. But Windows isn't the triumph of good engineering over good design. Windows is the triumph of mediocre design and mediocre engineering where Microsoft actually targets a business environment while Apple ignores it.

Apple makes a crapton of money, which is an actual and measurable value of success. And while they do have their own shady business practices, Apple has managed to make that money without monopoly power, but instead by being able to charge a premium price that people are willing to pay, even though they know it is more expensive.

I actually prefer a Windows workstation over a Mac. I have fewer issues with it, and I know computers well enough that I don't have to worry about having good design. All I need is raw power and an OS that is good enough, which more importantly, interacts well with my business environment. But make no mistake, I have nothing but admiration for the fact that Apple has staked its place in the market based on something other than a functional and technological race to the bottom.

Comment: Re:Way too many humanities majors (Score 4, Interesting) 319

by tnk1 (#49380433) Attached to: Why America's Obsession With STEM Education Is Dangerous

You *can* teach someone to use a computer without having to teach them calculus. Or even pre-calculus for that matter. I know this because I see teenagers using computers every day. They didn't need STEM to teach them how to do it.

Hell, *I* learned to use a computer without any class and what STEM classes we had back then barely used computers as more than glorified graphing calculators. When I did take classes in college, it was because I was already coding, not because I needed the classes to show me how to use a computer.

Even programming is less science and math than simple logic. If you're going to be a coder, do you even need college calc? Sometimes you do, but nowhere I have worked has that been required for anyone except those who work on specific types of software.

I don't value humanities over learning math or science, but math and science isn't where the world is going all by itself. There is a word for people who ignore things like soft subjects, and those are called technocrats. Technocrats are often valuable additions to a society, but they cause unrest because they believe that there is nothing to the human condition other than the application of technology. This is often hilariously, and occasionally horrifically, wrong.

Comment: Re:Way too many humanities majors (Score 4, Interesting) 319

by tnk1 (#49380351) Attached to: Why America's Obsession With STEM Education Is Dangerous

Solving equations and applying them to a requirement isn't "critical thinking". Critical thinking is knowing when and when not to apply those equations where there are no scientific theories to fall back on. The study of humanities can provide something called "perspective", which I find lacking in a lot of otherwise intelligent people who happen to be engineers.

You can be excellent at engineering and make a product that no one wants to use and have your job shipped off to someone who is equally good at logic and solving equations, but whose education is limited to rote learning of STEM with hilarious results when they are faced with a requirement that necessitates the least bit of critical thinking. Around the world, there is no lack of engineers, but you only need to look at the news to see that there is often a catastrophic lack of critical thinking.

Steve Jobs famously dropped out of college, but dropped in to take things like calligraphy courses. You needed good engineers at Apple to make a product, but you needed good designers and people willing to think... uh... differently about problems to make their product valuable to humans above and beyond their immediate technical capabilities. There are people who will buy an iPhone over a more modern and capable Android device because Apple is actually looking at more than pure engineering in making a device. This has generated actual monetary results for them.

I like solving problems that have clear answers and applying those answers. However, I derive a whole lot more satisfaction in what I do by being able to put it into the perspective of history and the human condition. It also helps me understand the people who I am trying to sell a solution to and what makes them tick. We need both people who take STEM seriously, and people who take humanities seriously. What we don't need are people who don't take either of them seriously enough to understand their individual value.

Comment: Re:Way too many humanities majors (Score 3, Interesting) 319

by tnk1 (#49380233) Attached to: Why America's Obsession With STEM Education Is Dangerous

Having known people who have gone to art school, art isn't any easier than engineering. It just requires a lot less math, but a lot more skill in actual art.

Art professors are some of the more mercurial individuals you will have the misfortune of meeting in a university setting. Some are great teachers, and then some like to take your project and light it on fire on your easel to make their point. While petting their small dog who is brought to class every day and likes to nip at the students. I wish that was just an exaggeration.

This, so that he or she can go out into the world and go work for Hallmark or some corporation like and make no money while having to mass produce "art".

Personally, if he doesn't want to study something requiring a degree, and he isn't actually any good at art, send him to trade school so he can learn something that isn't "hard", but will allow him to actually make enough money to take art classes on his free time if he likes it.

Art is *not* a waste of a $100k college tuition, but it IS a waste of money if you just think it is an easy out to a college degree and you have no talent. You might as well get your 2.0 GPA in Engineering and have a piece of paper worth the ink used to print it.

Comment: Re:Dev ops seems to be missing (Score 1) 139

by tnk1 (#49380073) Attached to: IT Jobs With the Best (and Worst) ROI

I suppose it depends on your structure. In reality, the managers have to deal more with the business aspects of what their team is doing, in addition to coordination and planning. You could have the managers also do the technical coordination, but I find it better to just let the sys admins and developers talk to each other directly.

I manage the conflicts with their manager if they happen. That discussion is usually based on business criteria, not technical criteria. Which is not to say that it is not technical, but honestly, I couldn't give a fig for what technology you want to use, but it has to allow us to meet our business goals. If you have a "better" technology that will require a lot of time and effort to implement at a difficult time? Guess what? You're using the old stuff until I can make the time and resources available to pay down on technical debt without blowing our commitments out of the water.

Once the business decisions are made, however, the tech leads should coordinate without me having to become involved. DevOps is about making tools and decisions that allow Dev and Ops to make the transition to production ready features as seamless as possible by using collaborative methods and technology to unite these teams as two points in a process, not two bastions defending against each other.

Comment: Re:No one ever got fired for buying IBM (Score 4, Insightful) 212

by tnk1 (#49377227) Attached to: Why You Should Choose Boring Technology

There has to be a balance. You need to move forward, but don't just change to change. The article suggested one method of moving forward while remaining stable.

I understand as well as anyone that the world moves and sometimes even perfectly functional applications need to move with it, despite the fact that nothing is wrong with them. There are end-of-life issues with hardware. The code has gone missing. Customer support shuttered ten years ago. You have one greybeard who knows how to operate or make any changes to the app, etc.

That said, there's a lot of stuff out there that is seen as "old" which is still fully supported and stable. It is getting security updates. It can handle large scale deployments. It is free and open source, &etc. You don't have to move away from that. You probably *shouldn't* move away from that.

Fashions in development don't always require you to have followed the path all the way to the endpoint. You holding back now might mean that you can jump ahead two steps when the turn for the next component comes up. You don't need to track the curve constantly to be able to join everyone at the innovative end after a hop.

Most of this stuff is a fad that will add more flash than actual feature set. Wait for two fads to pass and you might now have a real set of features to sink your teeth into. And in the meantime, you have had a stable and well supported application to build on.

Comment: Re:Absolutely (Score 3, Insightful) 212

by tnk1 (#49377179) Attached to: Why You Should Choose Boring Technology

Maybe it *is* too innovative.

Its not a matter of Lotus being good. Its a matter of what you can do with limited resources.

If Lotus Notes (shudder) is working for you at the moment, and you really, truly needed to move to node.js, nginx and S3 for some reason, then you need to weigh all the effort that goes into making all of those as stable as you need them to be in order for them to be an actual improvement.

New things need not only code, but tests. If they go into production, they need the operations team to know how to tell if something is wrong with them, and how to fix it. Preferably without waking you up at 4am each time. More preferably with them able to proactively watch for signs of imminent failure and deal with it well before it becomes an issue.

All of that sort of understanding is more than just what it takes to check in some code and some unit tests.

The realistic situation in your scenario is a little backwards because I don't know of any reason to switch to the other three techs without putting Lotus Notes out of its misery first. There does need to be a realistic understanding of priority. What is not-so-good and what is a complete clusterfuck, like Notes.

You can't do everything you want. If you try, you're going to create problems unless you can increase resources. If you can't increase resources, you need to wait.

Comment: Re: A Corollary for Code (Score 3, Insightful) 212

by tnk1 (#49377125) Attached to: Why You Should Choose Boring Technology

There is a lot of flash these days in coding. Someone is always trying to sell their wares to a venture capitalist. To do this, you have two options.

First, you can write a stable application in something boring and then develop a track record of excellent service underlying an elegant and interesting design that serves a purpose that can make a profit. This actually does get attention, but not as commonly as....

Secondly, you come up with some glitzy idea, and attract elite developers who really want to do whatever the hell strikes their fancy. This works... mostly because they really are elite developers, and their team is young and motivated. They can use some random bleeding edge idea because they are good enough to make it work, and they may have even had a hand in developing the new ideas personally. When that fails, they are willing to work like coke addicts to get it done to a point where it can be sold.

There is nothing inherently wrong with either option that rehab won't solve.

The real problem is when everyone else tries to be like the people in the second example, when what they really need is to be the people in the first example.

Look into a mirror and stare at yourself for a minute. You're competent, maybe even excellent at your job as a developer. Your team is solid. You're just not that kind of elite, however. You dearly love the flashy stuff, but you don't quite understand it as well as you'd like. Instead, you've been working in X technology for a number of years. You know how it works and so does your team. You have a track record of success. Boring, but successful.

You need to be a professional and understand your limitations. If you do, you will be part of a team that makes things happen. If you don't, you're going to make a mess. Don't pick sexy unless you really have what it takes to back it up. That is all.

Comment: Re:Dev ops seems to be missing (Score 2) 139

by tnk1 (#49376929) Attached to: IT Jobs With the Best (and Worst) ROI

That is why sys admins look a little low on the scale. The ones making the money have re-branded themselves as "DevOps Engineers".

Which is sort of funny, because DevOps isn't supposed to be a title, it is literally supposed to be collaboration between Operations and Development, where the jobs are still distinct but inter-operate better by using certain tools and methods.

Most security standards tend to still insist on some sort of separation of duties, so you basically end up with DevOps being Ops with more street cred and more $$$. Not that I am complaining.

Comment: Re:So What (Score 1) 316

by tnk1 (#49376457) Attached to: Poverty May Affect the Growth of Children's Brains

I don't think people are holding back immortality due to being resigned to death, we just don't think it is yet possible. I'd tend to agree. There's a lot of varied shit that can kill you, and if you live long enough, it's eventually going to be *someone* who does the killing by sheer probabilities coming to roost. So, there's no reason to not be prepared for the most overwhelmingly likely scenario.

But yeah, if someone figures out a way to immortality without having to become some sort of undead or something, sign me up.

Comment: Re:So much for privacy.... (Score 1) 139

It does now. I will get a warning about the list having x amount of users on it and do I want to send it to that many people. Not sure what the minimum number is.

When I was an email administrator, we didn't have Outlook, we were using plain old POP mail with Eudora as our mail client (for the non UNIX machines). I went in as root on the mail server, made everyone's inbox a folder in pine, and proceeded to go through everyone's inbox and delete it. I doubt very much that I was able to get everyone. After that, I wrote a script to deal with the possibility, but that first instance, there was simply no time.

Incidentally, also why I'm pretty blase about the NSA. I know that my email has already been read by a phalanx of tech janitors who are just doing their job, so any sense of privacy that I might have had about the Internet in general was burned out of me at an early age. My Internet connectivity is more likely to be used against me by our IT staff than by the government. (Not that they would do anything like that. Right guys?)

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354