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Comment Wat? (Score 3, Interesting) 144


Ok, so technically learning to program doesn't have the same set of requirements as production programming. Back in the day you were likely to get BASIC and then moved on to Pascal, C, Fortran or (god help you) COBOL. Once you realize that all languages have essentially the same structures, you start to say things like "languages are just syntax. Learn to program in one language and you can pick up any other language very easily." This is not actually completely true, but I'll get to that in a moment. They also didn't tell you much about the environment beyond giving you the "vi cheat sheet" and instructions on how to invoke the compiler. Near as I can tell they don't do a much better job of it today.

Rolling objects into the mix really doesn't change that much. You still need to know structural programming because you're going to need to write your methods and you don't want to write them as spaghetti. You have a whole other set of concepts to master for OOP. You can show people objects, but until they're ready for them, they're not going to understand them. I don't know how many people remember learning to program, but when you're looking at it for the first time, even basic language structure like function parameters (and functions) and variable initialization are confusing.

So yeah, Ruby and Javascript might make OK learning languages, inconsistencies and all. Of all the ones I looked at when I was a wee programmer (And I looked at them ALL,) Logo and Pascal seemed like the most sensible. We did Pascal in my high school (in the '80's) in a programming environment on Apple II machines. They environment was mildly quirky, but didn't take long to pick up. That let us concentrate on the language. Logo offered the most immediate feedback about how your changes affected the behavior of the program. At least for me, immediate feedback was very helpful to the learning process. You can definitely get that with the interpreted languages. The same things that make them reasonable languages to learn programming also make them not-so-great for production projects, at least not without a lot of unit testing that no one ever bothers to write.

Of course, the more you work with different computer languages, the more you start to realize that the statement that "all languages are the same" is not really true. You discover things like the ones mentioned in the presentation I linked to at the beginning of this post, and find yourself having to work around deficiencies in the language. At a basic level all languages are the same and once you learn the control structures you can write simple code in any language very quickly. To actually learn the quirks of a specific language and truly master it, that could take years. I'd go so far as to say that most programmers will go their entire career never having truly mastered a single language. What they give you in school are the tools to achieve that mastery, and I don't feel that anyone even does a good job of doing that.

Comment Re:It's the current job market (Score 1) 465

They've been doing this for years, even before it was tight. At the same time they complain that they can't find qualified people and need more H1B visas. They burn their core devs out with regular 60-80 hour weeks while laying off people who've been around for years and know the company's systems inside and out. Then they bring in unqualified contractors who they expect people to train while continuing to do their own jobs at 100% productivity. The contractors then leave just about the time they're starting to understand how everything works.

But we don't want to unionize because we think we're good at negotiating.

Comment What, What? (Score 1) 255

They had an installer on the play store? Well I'd say that would have made things easier last time I installed, but it wasn't really all that difficult last time I installed it. On a Galaxy S3 it was just a matter of grabbing the CM image for the phone, grabbing a recovery image I could flash with odin, flashing the recovery image to the phone, booting to it and installing the CM image from the external SD card. The only tricky part was if the phone was allowed to reboot to the stock image, it'd rewrite the stock recovery without so much as an irritable warning message.

Comment Well Duh! (Score 1) 415

That's just the kind of dick move I'd make, if I had porn browsing habits of the entire USA (Including Congressmen, billionaires and foreign executives.) I'm sure it'd keep the reps in line if it were implied that voting to defund the agency might result in accidental leaking of that diaper/spanking fetish they're so fond of indulging from their smart phone while the house is in session (You know who you are!)

It's not like you even have to be the NSA to gather this information. Just getting a glance over someone's shoulder on C-Span at the right time should be sufficient. We might even find out, if anyone ever watched C-Span.

Comment Re:Sometimes the issue is capability and not ageis (Score 2) 629

Really? Because I see a bunch of young-to-middle age guys throwing framework after framework at a problem hoping it will solve it, without ever taking a moment to actually understand the problem they're trying to solve. They end up with a unmaintainable, cumbersome slow mess that requires java VMs in the tens of gigabytes where a little custom code and optimized SQL would run orders of magnitude faster on much smaller hardware. The custom code also wouldn't require server restarts every couple of days due to memory leaks.

Comment Re:Or properly learn C++, move to DC (Score 3, Interesting) 152

I've run across a few useless people over the years who've managed to bring down ridiculous rates despite complete technical incompetence. Near as I can tell they mostly did it by lying on their resumes, bullshitting their way through interviews and leaving the company for a new contract after a few months, before anyone catches on that they really don't know anything about programming. If the company is lucky, these people simply don't contribute anything while they're there. If they DO actually do anything, cleaning up the mess they leave is a monumental task. I once hired on after a programmer who left abruptly about a week before a project was due to be delivered. It was a C project for an inventory extension for a very large client. This programmer had strung the company along for the better part of a year. When I got in there, first thing I noticed was they didn't realize that C strings were null terminated. That's the level of programmer I was picking up after. Despite this, the company was unwilling to scrap the last year's worth of work and wanted me to salvage it. Trying to do that actually took more time than it would have to just throw everything away and design and implement the project from scratch.

Most of those useless people got weeded out when the tech stock bubble collapsed, but I've noticed a new generation of them making their way back, now. Companies are lowering their standards and letting HR do the screening, interviewing and the hiring. HR departments seem to be mostly unable to distinguish between good programmers and bad ones and tend to take the view that one programmer is as good as another and they can be replaced with no impact to the company. My personal observations are that (in general) it takes a year for a new person to become familiar enough with a company's code base and processes to be able to be able to contribute at 100% productivity. One guy who knows your business at 120K is easily worth 3 or 4 contractors at 60K who need to be trained. On average one or two of those contractors will be completely useless and contribute at best nothing of value to your company, 3 or 4 of them will be gone in 6 months just as they're starting to get familiar with how your business works and all of them are going to impact the productivity of your other employees with their training needs.

Comment Asterisk, SIP Gateway, Whitelist (Score 4, Informative) 497

I run an android call blocker with a whitelist to screen out telemarketers (who are apparently quite happy to ignore the do-not-call registry,) job recruiters and the occasional ransom demand from those guys in Mexico. Since you're on a landline, it's a bit harder. You could plug your phone into a SIP gateway and set up asterisk on some machine that you have on all the time. Then you could set the system up to only ring your SIP phone for numbers on the whitelist.

Normally I dump everyone else to voicemail, but they could still tie up your landline and fill up your voicemail box. If they're robodialing you, you could drop anyone not on a whitelist into a voice menu system that requires a couple of button presses that requires a couple of button presses to get to voice mail, and disconnect them after 10 or 15 seconds if they don't press a button.

Comment Re:Sexy Dance Authentication (Score 1) 149

It's funny, I just ordered something off Thinkgeek for the first time in years. I wasn't even sure I still had a user ID there, so I entered the password hint request with my E-Mail. The hint, which apparently I'd chosen for myself was "What is your password?" This actually reminded me what my password was at that time. I have no idea how that worked.

Comment Re:Sadly... (Score 1) 555

Tera's gameplay wasn't too bad but the writing was atrocious and the voice acting was almost as bad. I think I went in a dungeon once in that game. It was an interesting time in the dungeon and the healer kept going on about how he loved healing in the game, but it took us about half an hour to get the party to the door of the dungeon. It made me appreciate how much WoW's friend-and-party system had been refined to get random groups of people into a dungeon with a minimum of fuss. Sure WoW's system still had problems, but if you want people who have a limited time to play to actually see your content, you'd best have mechanisms like that in place.

Other than that, Tera didn't click with me either. Game mechanics that actually required skill to use were very interesting, but the crafting system was pretty boring and I never met anyone I really wanted to quest with. I had pretty much the same problem with SWTOR, except that even the gameplay wasn't that interesting in that game.

Comment Re:Non-comprehensive list (Score 2) 555

True. If you're pissed off that your game is getting dumbed down, Eve might be what you're looking for. One thing you can say for CCP, they've never shown an interest in dumbing the game down. Or adjusting the learning curve. They also actively encourage scamming and will more-or-less laugh at you if you shot someone who was flagged and he proceeded to eviscerate you.

Comment Re:EVE Online (Score 1) 555

If you stay in the noob corp and hang out in hisec space, you'll basically never get ganked by another player. Unless you do something stupid like mine into a jetcan and then shoot the guy who steals your ore. Noobcorp players can't kill each other in hisec space (Other corps can.) Other corps can't declare war on noobcorp either.

Occasionally one of the noobcorp guys in my noobcorp would get all the people in their game-issued first noobships and make a big incursion into low-sec space. 50 newbies in noobships are not to be taken lightly in that game. They took out a billion isk battleship one night. The guy's corp mate invited the leader to their vent server, where the guy they'd just blown up was actually crying over the ship he'd just lost. That's what you get for thinking you can take on a fleet of newbies solo...

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