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Comment Re:The jerk probably wants to eat and raise a fami (Score 1) 596

I don't think I know anyone who programs for fun, and I've worked in the software industry for over a decade

Sorry, but you probably should not be employed in the software industry. Sadly, it also seems you've spent your entire career working with mediocre programmers.

I've worked as a software developer for 15+ years, and over that time I've been project leader for a number of large software projects - and responsible for hiring new programmers.

From my experience in hiring developers over that time, I've found the single most effective question for weeding out the poor programmers from the good ones is:

What do you code for fun?

This is generally followed up by "Ok, show me some of your code (that you code for fun), and explain what it does."

Early in my career, I thought of this interview question as more of a fluff, "get to know you" question, but it invariably turned out that every crappy programmer we hired didn't code anything for fun, while, without fail, all the really amazing "super-star" programmers we hired *DID* program for fun. So now it's my goto question - I simply will not hire anyone if they can't show me *something* they've programmed for fun. I don't care what it is - a flash game or a database for identifying fungi - as long as they did it for enjoyment.

I think this question works because programming is a creative endeavour, and if you've never had the burning desire to "make a computer do X" or never had the thought "I wonder if I could make a computer do Y?" persist until you tried it - then you will never be a great programmer.

I wouldn't hire someone to produce a work of art if all the art they ever created was commissioned and they'd never created art out of inspiration, burning desire or sheer enjoyment. That would be silly. In my experience, the same holds for software developers.

All this is not to say those who don't code for fun are incompetent, I've met plenty of competent, capable programmers who don't code for fun. However, I've never met a stellar, high-achieving programmer that didn't, and none of the incompetent programmers I've met did.

Comment Answer is relative (Score 1) 342

I've been doing web development for over 15 years, and from my experience, the answer depends on what it is you are building.

WYSIWYG editors (dreamweaver etc...) are good for churning out simple, targeted, cookie cutter sites (e.g. online catalogs, blogs, forums etc...). You can do them fast and quickly. They are good at building straight forward templated designs. WYSIWYG editors are great at abstraction and getting things up quickly, so if you don't care about how it works "underneath" and just need to bootstrap something in a hurry, they'll do just fine. Where these tools fail is in flexibility and maintenance. If you want to target more than one or two browser variants and meet CSS, usability or accessibility standards - it's going to be a hindrance rather than a help to use a WYSIWYG editor. Code produced by these tools is always a nightmare to maintain, it's usually a garbled mess and littered with unnecessary junk. WYSIWYG editors are great if you "go with the grain" and do everything the way the tool is designed to do it, but the minute you need step "outside the box" and do something even just a little different than the way the tool expects it to be - you are in for a world of headaches and unnecessary work.

If what you are building is anything like a large complex site or a real web application, or if you are breaking ground on something new that hasn't been done before, then handcoding is definitely the way to go. Notepad++ is a fine workhorse for such a situation, with all the available plugins it can rival some of the best IDEs out there. If you want to learn more about the underlying bits and pieces, then handcoding is the way to go, there's no better way to learn. If you are working on new and innovative ideas, you really do not want to be hamstrung by using someone else's idea of how things are supposed to work.

In short:


  • -small, simple sites
  • -templating
  • -"cookie cutter" sites: catalogs, forums, blogs
  • -fast bootstrapping
  • -abstraction
  • -prototyping

Use handcoding for

  • -standards compliance
  • -multiple browser support
  • -large or complex sites
  • -web applications
  • -anything that hasn't been done before
  • -flexibility
  • -maintenance
  • -learning

Comment Re:Something doesn't seem right... (Score 1) 1198

Transiently implies that the image data would fade/dissapear passively over time. No, the images are written into a (circular) buffer for processing. The images he takes would not dissapear unless they were over-written by subsequent images.

No, you're being too narrow. Transient only means that in the context of physics or math. In English it simply means temporary, and a circular buffer is exactly what I meant when I used the term. No semantic games please.

Also, you have no insight on how his device actually works. Your statement also shows a complete lack of understanding of how digital image/signal processing work.

Wrong again. I'm a senior software developer for a company that builds medical image processing software. I am intimately familiar with both digital imaging and signal processing. You need to be careful about your assumptions.

How can you assert that the device was clearly running fine after the initial impact. It could have loosened some pins or wires to the power supply, causing juice to drain out slowly, but still allowing the data acquisition part of the device to collect more data.

Perhaps "fine" was a too ambiguous, but this is exactly my point, the device was still running and did not come to a "hard stop". In his post he makes it sound like the latter situation occurred, which it clearly did not. I could understand how recording could be called accidental if the device suffered a complete failure, and later he went in and retrieved the photos from the circular buffer. However, this is obviously NOT the case because many of the photos are from *after* when the impact to the device occurred, if the above "circular buffer" scenario were the correct one, it would only have images from *before* the impact.

The scenario you suggest is, I believe, precisely what actually happened. If so, then the recording cannot be construed as "accidental". If the damage was minor (e.g. loose cable disconnecting data acquisition from data processing as you suggest), and the system records images in this condition for later retrieval - THEN IT HAD TO HAVE BEEN DESIGNED THAT WAY. Since he designed the system, he would have known that it would be recording after the impact. As such, he cannot claim that the images were captured accidentally. It was entirely deliberate and intentional on his part because he DESIGNED THE SYSTEM TO DO SO. In this circumstance, most systems I have ever seen with a similar feature will record the images to a more permanent backup location until connection to the data processor is restored. They certainly *don't* record them to the transient circular buffer used for processing during normal functioning.

Comment Re:An Ridiculous Policy (Score 1) 627

This is a prosthetic sight and memory augmentation device he wears due to a medical condition ! Throwing that out is no better than throwing out a paraplegic because you worry his prosthetic leg may scratch the floor tiles.

No, this is a false analogy. The only "medical condition" Mann has is NOT wearing the device - the alleged disorientation he experiences when the device is removed. This is allegedly caused by his using the device nearly constantly for 13 years. However, as has been pointed out elsewhere in this discussion, and in other articles about Mann, many of his students have routinely seen him get along just fine without wearing it during this period.

A better analogy would be tossing out someone who wears powerbock shoes constantly, and claims that because he has worn them for many years, not wearing them is a medical condition which reduces his mobility and speed.

Comment Something doesn't seem right... (Score 0) 1198

While I respect Steve's research, there are a number of things about this alleged "assault" that don't seem right.

1) First off, it's debatable whether someone trying to snatch your glasses is really a physical attack. Attempted theft sure, but they weren't trying to physically injure him or knock his teeth out. Crying wolf, exaggerating, and misconstruing attempted petty theft as physical assault are not good ways to promote your cause. When the headline reads something like "Researcher physically assaulted at McDonald's" what comes to mind for most people is him being punched in the face, or knocked down and kicked etc... When you then read the article and find that the only "physical assault" was just someone trying to take his glasses off without permission - it's pretty clear where the sensationalism lies.

2) I'd like to hear the story from the other side. I don't doubt Steve's sincerity, but I do doubt his objectivity. He has a known public history of deliberately provoking this kind of confrontation. I find it highly unlikely that anyone - especially a restaurant employee - would just walk over and grab his glasses without first at least asking him to remove them. This gap in the narrative is ruining my suspension of disbelief.

3) Who makes wearable computers that are not easily removable?!? The moniker "wearable" implies the devices can be easily "unworn". The guy is a brilliant engineer - making this sort of system modular and removable would be trivial. If his system is not easily removable, it's not because of any technical barrier, it's because he *deliberately chose* to make it so. The problem is, there's no real reason to have such a device permanently attached unless you are trying to make a political statement. By permanently attaching recording devices to your body, you are deliberately provoking conflict in areas of society where such recording is disallowed. I've read a lot of Steve's writing on "Sousveillance", and it's quite clear that he *is* deliberately trying to make a political statement and provoke a wider conversation on privacy issues, human rights etc... While I agree with a lot of his positions on the matter (everyone should be allowed to record all aspects of their personal experiences, and pervasive recording equipment should be equally available and accessible to individuals as well as groups), I just can't sympathize with someone who intentionally and deliberately puts himself into conflict with "the powers that be" and then complains about the results publicly.

4) I don't buy the story of the images being accidentally captured because of the jolt to the system when the restaurant employee tried to remove it. Sure - if the system was constantly buffering as it was running and was hit so hard it shutdown - then I might believe the "these are just images I luckily managed to retrieve from the buffer" story. But the shoe doesn't fit. The system was clearly running fine *after* whatever impact it took - many of the images he displays on his blog correspond to the parts of the narrative *after* the alleged blow - so the images he displays would not have been in the buffer when that occurred. If the system only stores images transiently during normal operation, why were images retained after the system obviously regained full functionality?

We should all reserve judgement until we can hear the other side of the story - innocent until proven guilty applies to everyone. I addition, Steve needs to:

  • - can the exaggeration, hyperbole and sensationalism: it makes him sound like a dick
  • - make the damn thing wearable already: I'm certainly not going to buy one if I have to shave my head and glue it to my skull - and I doubt anyone else is either
  • - own his own behaviour: if he's provoking conflict to start a public conversation, he should just admit. I'd have more respect for him
  • - quit playing the victim: there are far too many *actual* victims out there in this world, and he's trivializing their experiences by equating attempted petty theft to physical assault

Comment Because KDE 4 was terrible (Score 1) 818

I used to be a huge fan of KDE, and used it religiously on every computer.

It used to be that if you wanted configurability and customizability, you went with KDE. If you wanted a slick looking, unified, intuitive UI, you went with Gnome.

When they rolled out KDE 4, I found that a lot of the custom config changes that I always applied to KDE to get it just the way I wanted were suddenly no longer available or just didn't work. Additionally, KDE 4 made my system basically slow to a crawl and none of the hardware accelerated eye candy worked properly anymore (I simply could not get both stable video playback and desktop effects to work together).

So I switched to Gnome. I have since learned how to use gconf-editor to implement most of the custom UI config I like. It's a bit harder to do than it was in KDE 3.X, but what choice do I have?

Are the current versions of KDE any good? I haven't even test driven it since KDE 4 because that experience was so bad...

The Military

Submission + - Iran War Clock Set at Ten Minutes to Midnight

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "The Atlantic has assembled a high-profile panel of experts including a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran, a Senior Vice President at the Council on Foreign Relations; a Deputy Head of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, and a military correspondent at Haaretz to periodically estimate the chances of conflict with Iran. The Iran War Clock is not designed to be pro-war or anti-war. Instead, the purpose is to estimate the chances of conflict in the hope of producing a more informed debate. Each panelist makes an individual estimate about the percentage chance of war and we report the average score and based on this number, the Iran War Clock is adjusted so that the hand moves closer to, or further away from, midnight. "On the one hand, the panelists are highly knowledgeable. On the other hand, there are sufficient members of the panel that any individual error should not have an overly negative effect on the aggregate prediction." If there is a zero percent chance of war, the clock hand is at 20 minutes to midnight. Each extra 5 percent chance of war moves the hand one minute closer to midnight. "We're humble about the accuracy of this prediction, which is really a collective "gut-check" feeling. But it may be closer to the truth than the alternative forecasts available." The panel's first estimate puts the odds of war in the next twelve months at 48 percent, consistent with the predictions market Intrade.com, which estimates a 40 percent chance of a U.S./Israeli strike by December 2012."

Submission + - Last Chance to Stop SOPA From Coming to Canada (michaelgeist.ca)

An anonymous reader writes: This weekend may be the last chance for Canadians to fight back against SOPA-style laws being added to Canadian copyright law with the final hearing scheduled for Monday. In recent days, the copyright lobby has demanded website blocking, warrantless access to subscriber information, and unlimited damage awards. Michael Geist has the details on who to contact and Open Media has launched a campaign to encourage Canadians to speak out before Monday's Bill C-11 meeting. The group makes it easy to speak out against SOPA style reforms, harms to fair dealing, and unduly restrictive digital lock rules.

Submission + - Google goes full court evil. (huffingtonpost.com) 1

goombah99 writes: According to developers, executives and investors in mobile gaming and payment sectors , Google warned several developers in recent months that if they did not switch to Google Wallet or continued to use other payment methods — such as PayPal, Zong and Boku — their apps would be removed from Android Market, now known as Google Play. In one email sent to a developer in late August, Google said the developer had 30 days to comply, otherwise the developer's apps would be "suspended" from Android Market. Reuters obtained a copy of the email this week. "They told people that if they used other payment services they would be breaking the terms of use," said Si Shen, founder and chief executive of Papaya, a social gaming network on Android. "Whether it's right or wrong, we have to follow the rules."

Submission + - Google to devs: use our payment system or be dropped (smh.com.au)

Meshach writes: Google has been pressuring applications and mobile game developers to use its costlier in-house payment service, Google Wallet for quite some time. Now Google warned several developers in recent months that if they continued to use other payment methods — such as PayPal, Zong and Boku — their apps would be removed from Google Play, The move is seen as a way to cut costs for Google by using their own system.

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