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Comment: Read the blog. He still has something to give. (Score 1) 119

by unimacs (#47764737) Attached to: The Grumpy Programmer has Advice for Young Computer Workers (Video)
I was kind of confused about the message and intent of the videos. If the goal is to give advice to those who want to continue programming as a career beyond their 40's and into their 60's, it might make more sense to interview somebody who has managed to do that. I guess the idea was to avoid doing what he did.

The advice seemed to come down to this: Take care of yourself and work for the government or just skip a career in programming altogether. The rest was made up of miscellaneous recollections.

I was curious enough to look at his blog. Though he's only posted sporadically, he does come across as a very intelligent guy with a graduate degree that still has something to give the industry, though I'm not sure in what capacity. He was a teacher for awhile and that seems to have been a good fit but it sounds like health issues ended that part of his career.

Outside of management, keeping ones career going all the way through to retirement can be a challenge in technical fields. Part of that is pure discrimination but I would also guess that in many cases companies get are getting more per dollar spent out of younger employees. How does one combat that as they age? Some do it successfully. Is becoming a consultant or moving into management the only way to go?

Comment: Re:Living in the country is an anachronism (Score 1) 276

by unimacs (#47717049) Attached to: Helsinki Aims To Obviate Private Cars
So what constitutes a small town vs a city? You talk about Ancient Athens and Sante Fe as if they aren't cities.

I live in a city of 400,000. I grew up in small town. It's population was about 2,000 when I was young. It's evolved/devolved into an outer ring suburb of about 30,000.

I went to college in a town of about 50,000. My wife grew up in what I consider to be a small city, - 80,000

For awhile we lived a suburb of about 30,000 in a metropolitan area of about 4.5 million.

So those are my reference points. My parents knew most of the people in our small town, but most of the socializing was done with extended family. I knew hardly any of my neighbors when I lived in the suburbs. You just never saw them. People drove from the street into their attached garages and went into the house without ever setting foot outside. By contrast I know my neighbors in the city very well.

Anyway, you have some long posts and I could pick at them point by point but I don't have time for that. For decades cities were losing population to the suburbs and that trend has reversed. Assume for the moment that many places in many cities are desirable places to live for a certain segment of the population. Given that, here is my challenge to you: Go to a city or especially a suburb and take a long look at how much infrastructure and space is devoted to the automobile. We don't notice because we are so used it. Look at how much space is devoted to roads and parking. Look at some modern suburban homes where the garage takes up 1/3 of footprint the whole structure. Is that really a good use of limited resources?

Then ask yourself if maybe Helsinki isn't on the right track, especially in a city where there are a number of good and healthier alternatives to climbing into a car.

Comment: Re:which turns transport into a monopoly... (Score 5, Interesting) 276

by unimacs (#47714443) Attached to: Helsinki Aims To Obviate Private Cars
Have you ever lived in a city?

I do. I have a yard and two dogs. Once in awhile we plant a garden. I can even play music. Plus I can walk to local bakeries, breweries, restaurants, hardware stores, beaches, parks, etc.

A lot of the time, between biking and walking your legs are the only transit you need. If not, there are buses, trains, taxis, and services like Car2go and ZipCar.

I understand that kind of lifestyle is not for everybody, but the worst thing we can do is spread out more. That has lead to all kinds of problems.

Comment: Re:Looks like some editorializing by the submitter (Score 1) 89

by unimacs (#47702951) Attached to: Blackberry Moves Non-Handset Divisions Into New Business Unit
In my opinion, in order for Blackberry to succeed in the phone market as a unique platform (not another android device), they have to have hardware and software that is head and shoulders above Android and iOS. Their phones would have to have features that neither of the others have, nor are they likely to get in the near future, - something big enough to excite customers that would take competitors a couple of years to catch up to.

It would have to be long enough for developers to decide they can't wait for Apple and Google to catch up and would have to write apps for Blackberry.

I just don't see that happening. They may come up with a nice feature or two that the competition doesn't have yet, but it's unlikely to be enticing enough to lure many people away from all the apps available on iPhones and Androids. How long can Blackberry continue to sink large sums of money into R & D that doesn't result in enough sales to sustain it?

Comment: Re:Looks like some editorializing by the submitter (Score 1) 89

by unimacs (#47700531) Attached to: Blackberry Moves Non-Handset Divisions Into New Business Unit
I think the market has pretty much abandoned them. They started the year with a market share of a few percentage points in the US, now it's less than .5 percent.

It's hard to survive as a platform if the market isn't big enough to justify 3rd party development. Yes I know it can run Android apps, - sort of. The reality simply may be that they can not get enough traction and sell enough units to justify the R&D it takes to turn out decent hardware and software. Lots of good PC operating systems died when Microsoft was dominating the PC market, - not because they weren't good but because developers didn't want to waste their time on a minuscule market.

Call it shifting focus if you want, but the writing is on the wall and has been for awhile. Now we are beginning to see the signs that BlackBerry knows it too.

Comment: Re:Two things.... (Score 1) 249

by unimacs (#47674913) Attached to: Apple's App Store Needs a Radical Revamp; How Would You Go About It?
You are right about the 30% cut. It seems like a lot. I wonder how much is left over after all the fees and the cost of running the App Store is factored in. I'm sure they're still making money, I just wonder how much.
However, there are ways to run OS X on non Apple hardware if that's what's stopping you.

Comment: Re:Two things.... (Score 4, Insightful) 249

by unimacs (#47673835) Attached to: Apple's App Store Needs a Radical Revamp; How Would You Go About It?
The reason the App store and perhaps even the iPhone itself was such a success is because there is only one place you need to go to find Apps. And although many on Slashdot complain about the "Walled Garden", having an App store run by Apple itself provides some assurance to the customer that the App is legit and not some form of malware.

Is it perfect in that regard? No.

I'm not sure. What revenue stream does the App store have? I mean other than the $99 annual developer fee. Is that what you meant? The developer tools themselves are free. I used to spend hundreds on development tools and upgrades so I guess I'm not bothered much by the $99. I can play around with the tools and creating apps as much as I want without spending a dime. It's only when I want to put an app on actual device that I need to spend the money.

Comment: Gassée's suggestions aren't bad, but... (Score 2) 249

by unimacs (#47673733) Attached to: Apple's App Store Needs a Radical Revamp; How Would You Go About It?
It would inevitably lead to some developers of accusing Apple of playing favorites.

What they could do instead (or in addition) is allow 3rd parties to easily obtain information on the most recent submissions, upgrades, etc and let them supply users with information on what is new and noteworthy.

It's good for Apple to surface really valuable apps, but it's not their job to do the marketing for every developer nor to make sure that everyone turns a profit. They've made a huge change in the industry by making virtually all the apps available for a popular platform available from a single place. This has had both positive and negative effects on developers. It was great for awhile when there weren't that many developers and all it took to get your app in front of millions was to submit it. Now your app is competing with hundreds of thousands of others.

It could simply be that the market is saturated and no amount of App store revamping is really going to fix that.

Comment: Constantly surprised at the reactions (Score 3, Interesting) 561

by unimacs (#47660525) Attached to: Apple's Diversity Numbers: 70% Male, 55% White
How often does a company REALLY hire the best possible person for the position? I'd say the chances are pretty slim. They may very well hire somebody who ends up being successful, but that's not the same as the best.

Usually the way it works is that the person that gets hired is the one that the hiring manager likes the most out of the people they've interviewed. The people that get interviewed are the ones that HR/hiring manager liked out of the pool of people that applied.

There may have been highly qualified people that were eliminated at any step. I've seen managers throw out resumes because the name wasn't "American sounding". That's a more blatant case. Some of the more subtle cases occur because there is a tendency to hire people like yourself.

For example, I was nearly turned down for a position because they wanted someone with a masters degree. Why? Because the people running the business unit and doing the hiring had MBAs, not because anything about the job required a masters.

I would venture that in many cases where a white male is hired into a technical position, there are equally or better qualified non-whites out there some place. To find them, you may have to look in different places, - cast a wider net. My point is that making an effort to have a more diverse workforce DOES NOT mean you have to settle for less qualified people.

On the other hand, there is a definite shortage of women CS and engineering grads. There are lots of complex reasons for this. But it's worse than it used to be, - which means it can be better than it is now. Companies like Apple are big enough to help make that happen, but not overnight.

Comment: Re:So? (Score 4, Interesting) 184

by unimacs (#47619527) Attached to: Man-Made "Dead Zone" In Gulf of Mexico the Size of Connecticut
The problem isn't just fertilizers, it's also that runoff is fast-tracked into lakes, streams, and rivers that lead to the Gulf. If instead we restored some wetlands and allowed the rivers to move beyond their banks now and then rather than just making the banks taller, you wouldn't have so much water flowing into the Gulf at such a furious pace dragging a ton of silt with it. It would have time to be filtered naturally, replenish aquifers, and grow plants instead of it all ending up in the ocean.

Comment: Learn how to learn. (Score 1) 637

by unimacs (#47616245) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: "Real" Computer Scientists vs. Modern Curriculum?
As someone who has been in the field a long time now, I've learned not to judge programmer's talent so much on what they were taught or even what they're currently doing. It's how quickly they can pick up something new. And it's not alway about technology. It's also about being able to effectively grasp the subject matter that's the basis of the software you're developing.

My recommendation is to constantly challenge yourself to learn something new. If all your current CS work has been java based, then definitely it's time to expand beyond that, and not because there is anything wrong with java. I'd say the same thing if you had been using C++ instead.

To me you can make the same sort of argument about CS Grads never being exposed LISP/Scheme/Clojure. The problem is that a 4 year degree must include other things besides CS courses (which is good), but there is only so much time. You can't learn everything in 4 years which is why you must continue learning your entire career.

I'm willing to bet that the dude complaining about modern CS grads is woefully deficient themselves in some areas of CS that could they could really benefit from.

The number of computer scientists in a room is inversely proportional to the number of bugs in their code.