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Comment Superglue and key mappings (Score 1) 165

Here's how I solved my pinky problem:

  1. Learn to type without your pinky fingers. Your left pinkies normally cover Q, A, Z. You can use your left 4th (ring) finger on those if you train your wrist a little. Similarly, you can also use your right 4th finger on 0, P, ; (semicolon), and . (period). For -, =, [, ], \, ', and, /, you'll need to move your elbow, which is less coordinated (unless you're also a violinist, I guess). To make it easier, I put a dot of superglue on the 0 and P keys so I could position my 2nd (pointer) finger on them and then find the keys next to them without looking down every time. Ctrl is easy to find since it's at the corner of the keyboard. Alt is next to the spacebar which is long and smooth, so I learned it find it, too, without looking.
  2. Remap the apps you use most to use stronger fingers. I primarily use Vim for coding and Opera as a web browser. Both are extremely customizable. In Vim, I set <F5> to _ (underscore), <F6> to [] (pair of square brackets), <F7> to () parentheses, and so on. I made the spacebar a substitute for the : (colon), which is ubiquitous in Vim. I set up Opera so I can browse most sites mouse-free using the fingers other than the pinkies. For example, < goes back, > goes forward, and j/k/h/l move through the links in the page.
  3. Beware of your wrists. As I was learning to do this, I developed a very sore wrist from the new rotation that I wasn't used to. Chair arm rests were helpful to move at least a little of the burden to my elbows. Also, a custom made (by me) keyboard wrist pad helped give my wrists some rest. Most importantly, I set timers to force myself to take breaks.

My problem was not dystonia, but a combination of tendinitis and carpel tunnel syndrome (diagnosed by a neurologist, but mild as far as CTS goes). However, I think the solutions I found might be useful for any programmer trying to cut down on pinky strain.


Google Reader's Social Features Merging With Google+ 100

MrSeb writes "Moments ago, Google announced that Reader, as soon as next week, will be moving closer to Google+. Many of its social features (friending, following, sharing) are being buried in favor of Google+ equivalents. Fortunately, Reader has always had the ability to export your RSS subscriptions and feed groups in the widely-accepted OPML format, and over the next few days this will be expanded to include your shared items, friends, likes, and starred items as well." Update: 10/21 01:15 GMT by S : Updated headline and summary to reflect that Reader will be sticking around as a standalone product. According to Google, only its social features are being merged.

Comment Was buggy before (Score 1) 2

I use Opera primarily. About a month ago, I sent G+ a bug report because the notification indicator wasn't working properly in Opera. It was very broken (opening a blank window, etc.). It worked fine in other browsers. I think they just gave up on fixing it. I don't care. The indicator is distracting. I get more work done without it.


Submission + - TSA Pat Downs, Searches After Passengers Get Off T ( 4

intellitech writes: According to a first-hand video account from a train station in Savannah, Georgia, the Transportation Security Administration is now performing security pat downs and bag searches AFTER passengers disembark from their trips. This could be expected from a country like China or the former Soviet Union, but there is simply no legitimate justification for such actions in the United States of America, unless our government is now attempting to mimic authoritarian regimes, which seems very much to be the case.

Comment DO IT... absolutely! (Score 1) 1

I published a paper at a small conference when I was an undergrad. After working for a few years, I started to apply to graduate schools. My grades were good, but not great. Same goes for GRE scores. I also had a few especially awkward blemishes. Nevertheless, I got into the place I wanted. I strongly believe it is because I had published a paper about my own work. That's what grad students do, so having done it as an undergrad proves to them that you can be successful as a grad student.

Even if I hadn't gone to grad school, the conference was amazing in that it showed me how much was going on in one little area. It helped me learn to think a little bit by seeing a lot of people trying many different directions within that area. That was useful when I was working in industry. There were always better programmers than me, but I had a special knack for exploring a solution space to solve whatever was problem of the day.

This stuff may or may not apply to you and you don't know the future now. However, for the $1500 (or whatever) that it will cost to attend (including airfare, hotel, registration fee, etc.) your best bet is to go.

Submission + - Is attending a CS conference worth the time? 1

Anonymous Coward writes: "Hello Slashdot readers, I am a CS student nearing graduation and i had a couple of questions. One of my professors is recommending submitting a paper to the CCSC (consortium of computing sciences in colleges) in Utah this year for a chance to have my work published in a journal. I realize the value in having thesis work published but i dont really have the money to travel to Utah and stay for two nights. So i guess i am wondering, has anyone ever attended a conference of this nature and if so was it worth the time and money? Just looking for some advice, thanks!"

Comment Re:How much stolen technology is inside? (Score 0, Offtopic) 222

Washington Times (reprint): U.S. secrets aboard latest Chinese sub

Popular Mechanics: How China Steals U.S. Military Secrets

San Francisco Chronicle: China's war on the U.S. economy

Wired: Good Old Fashioned Espionage

Comment How much stolen technology is inside? (Score 0, Flamebait) 222

It's hard to get too excited about technological advances in a country that aggressively steals from the US, Japan, Europe and anybody else that has technology that they think would be nice to have.

It reminds me of the announcement of a new Chinese submarine a while back, where the critical technology had been stolen from the US through espionage.

If it turns out they made this system honestly, then I'll gladly congratulate them. However, their record on intellectual integrity so far is pretty dismal.

Comment The anti-ADHD sentiment on Slashdot is frustrating (Score 1) 711

I have ADHD. I've had it since I was a young child. It has been diagnosed independently at various points in my life by several psychiatrists and psychologists, most of whom are ADHD specialists. I have no doubt that ADHD continues to be overdiagnosed, especially by family physicians who don't have enough knowledge and experience on the subject. However, there are also a lot of people on Slashdot who know even less about it but still go on and on about how ADHD doesn't exist and parents just need to be more tolerant. It's not all about the parents.

Right now, I'm in the home stretch of a PhD in computer science. Getting to this point would have been nearly impossible if it weren't for getting treatment for the ADHD. At first, I tried to do without the medicine. I don't like it and I worry about the long-term effects. However, I wasn't getting things done and I was sinking into a hole to a point where I knew I couldn't possibly finish the PhD if I didn't get treatment. As it stands, medication is one component of the overall plan for coping with my inability to concentrate on my work and get things done normally. I've learned a lot of strategies from reading bits here and there, and just studying the problem as I worked my way through undergrad and now grad school. There are dozens of tactics that I use regularly that have worked well. As one example, I carry a supply of earplugs everywhere I go and use them whenever I need to study or work. There's no silver bullet, but together, they have helped a lot.

That said, without the medicine, I don't think I could accomplish what I'm trying to do. That's not a lack of confidence. It's just a realization that if you have to read 5+ research papers a week on top of a bunch of other stuff, it's not going to work if it takes you an hour to read two pages - 4-5 hours for a 10-page conference paper of any substance. Before I got on the medicine, people around me thought I might end up dropping out.

While I totally agree that overdiagnosis of ADHD is a problem, it would be kinder if folks here would recognize that for some people, ADHD it really is an important component of the problem and getting treatment can help them get on their way.

There are a variety of perspectives out there, but one that is gathering steam (and makes a lot of sense to me personally) is Thomas Brown's work on executive functioning. A couple of references:

Comment It's all about uncertainty (Score 1) 483

Agreed. The main complicating factor is the level of uncertainty:

  • Ambiguity in the specification
  • Unfamiliar technology
  • Code design with non-obvious solutions
  • Interface constraints that must be reconciled

I list the uncertainties, make a wild guess on each one, and finally triple the result. Historically I only successfully predict about 1/3 of the problems that are going to come up.

The hard part is justifying the inflated estimate when asked, since it's based on difficulties that I haven't actually identified yet.

Comment Re:My grandmother knows python (Score 3, Informative) 154

If a friend wanted to learn just enough programming to do a few light chores, what would you recommend? Python is arguably one of the easiest languages to learn. Randy Pausch used it for Alice, which has been successful for teaching middle school girls how to program. So if "computer users with rudimentary skills" means rudimentary programming, then that works for me.

Comment Re:FrontPage? (Score 3, Insightful) 154

Yeah, that's real easy for a programmer to say. Ever used a brownie mix? I'll bet a pastry chef would say, "I'd like to see people who wish to bake brownies actually learn how to bake brownies properly." Tools like Sikuli are the programming equivalent to brownie mix. It's easy gratification. (... or at least easier than learning to capture part of the screen and then do fuzzy image pattern matching on it.) If I were a very casual, light duty programmer, this would be pretty helpful sometimes.

Comment What's so wrong with TurboTax? (Score 2, Interesting) 154

Some accountants seem to think everyone needs to learn accounting in order to function in society. But people have other jobs. Some of us like our dumbed down tools because they fill a need. My tax software lets me do my taxes without learning "proper" accounting. Similarly, I know some people who benefit greatly from a little passing knowledge of high-level scripting languages like VB, JavaScript, or even Python.

For those kinds of people, Sikuli looks pretty cool because they can do things that would be pretty difficult otherwise. Hey, even for a lot of experienced programmers, capturing a region of the screen and doing fuzzy pattern matching might be a significant task. I haven't tried Sikuli yet, but it looks like it would be very helpful for some things, and a lot easier to deal with than AutoIt or AutoHotkey.

(BTW, TurboTax was just an example. I actually use something I like better, but you get the idea.)

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