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Comment Re:Practice Practice Practice (Score 1) 347

Agree.

Also kinda said it above somewhere, but I think it's really important to set a standard early on. If you accept shitty work from them, they'll keep submitting shitty work (either because it's the path of least effort, or they just don't know it's shitty).

Do code reviews, enforce them, require their work to meet a certain level of quality (and kick it back when it doesn't), and most people people will rise to that standard. If you enforce that all public methods must have good comments, and consistently kick back code with no comments or shitty/ineffective comments, people will start habitually doing it right because they know they can't get away with doing it wrong.

Comment Re:Poor (Score 1) 347

I think this partly falls on the people leading a technical project. Yes, programmers should take initiative to produce the best code they can, and many do, but people have a tendency to the path of least resistance, and even when they are legitimately trying, they may lack the experience to intuitively know that what they are producing is sub-par.

Good technical leadership sets _and enforces_ standards. This should happen at every level, with the quality of the standards increasing as the experience of the people driving them increases. If someone produces sub part work, it should get kicked back to them to fix and re-submit. This is a hard sell for management because they see money and time being spent re-doing stuff that "works fine" during the initial learning period, but if you set the bar early and make it clear what will and won't be accepted, people will rise to it (or demonstrate that they are unsuitable for the role they are in).

Comment Poor (Score 5, Insightful) 347

Ideally, I want to give them some sort of practicals to do to articulate and demonstrate this, rather than just "present" stuff on best practices...

This raises the question of not only what you'd teach -- whether it's variable naming, modular programming, test-driven development, or the importance of commenting -- but also how you'd teach it.

I think this is already going down the wrong path. Those are just technical skills and practices that will be picked up over time, and some kind of workshop isn't really the place to learn them imo.

The important differences between a new guy and someone with a decent bit of professional experience under their belt isn't so much in technical skills or adherence to best practices, but it's more of a mindset and general direction thing. Once you've seen a few projects from start to completion, you start to recognize certain patterns and points where things can go really well or really bad. Once you've worked on a bunch of different teams, you start to recognize how different people contribute to a team dynamic and the various ways in which a team functions. You start to understand how your job integrates with the rest of our department and the rest of the business, how the whole management structure works, and what really drives most technical decisions (hint: technical merit is often the last thing driving a decision).

The problem is, you can't really teach that. So I guess my answer would really be very generic "how to be a good employee" type stuff: Take ownership of your problems, check your ego, play well with others, etc. Being a more professional programmer has little imo to do with being a better programmer and more to do with being a better professional. You become a more professional programmer by learning how to have a productive meeting with management about your project, not by learning the magic of continuous integration.

Comment Re:"Police found Purinton 80 miles away at Applebe (Score 1) 1149

1) The Founding Fathers, almost all of whom were British subjects, saw firsthand what happens when only the government has firearms. They can use those weapons to quell public outcry over anything, claiming the people were "rioting" or were "a threat to peace and order" because the people can't effectively fight back. If you read The Federalist Papers, Hamilton, Madison and Jay all say the same basic thing: citizens who have weapons are more fully able to defend themselves from the government.

That may sound odd to Europeans

It also sounds odd to the current U.S. Supreme Court, which affirmed in D.C. vs Heller the right to bear arms for self-defense. A later court finding (People v. Aguilar) summarized the majority opinion:

In District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the Supreme Court undertook its first-ever "in-depth examination" of the second amendment's meaning Id. at 635. After a lengthy historical discussion, the Court ultimately concluded that the second amendment "guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation" (id. at 592); that "central to" this right is "the inherent right of self-defense" (id. at 628); that "the home" is "where the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute" (id. at 628); and that, "above all other interests," the second amendment elevates "the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home" (id. at 635). Based on this understanding, the Court held that a District of Columbia law banning handgun possession in the home violated the second amendment. Id. at 635.

So at this point they've basically decided it's a self-defense thing. The idea that the Second Amendment is to facilitate armed insurrection to overthrow a tyrannical government (a.k.a. the so-called "Second Amendment solution") has no current legal basis. The dissenting opinion went with the "well-regulated militia" idea:

The Second Amendment was adopted to protect the right of the people of each of the several States to maintain a well-regulated militia. It was a response to concerns raised during the ratification of the Constitution that the power of Congress to disarm the state militias and create a national standing army posed an intolerable threat to the sovereignty of the several States. Neither the text of the Amendment nor the arguments advanced by its proponents evidenced the slightest interest in limiting any legislature's authority to regulate private civilian uses of firearms. Specifically, there is no indication that the Framers of the Amendment intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the Constitution.

Here are the first six drafts of the Second Amendment and the final version:

  • The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.
  • A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms.
  • A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.
  • A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed, but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.
  • A well regulated militia, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
  • A well regulated militia being the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
  • A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

If they had C-SPAN back then, we would have more insight into what motivated these careful rephrasings, comma deletions, etc. At least some are known to have been introduced by Senate scribes inadvertently modifying punctuation, and introducing subtle changes in meaning. (Thank God somebody removed that "religiously scrupulous" crap.) But the Second Amendment is just badly written. we're forced to read through the Federalist Papers and other contemporary writings to figure out what these guys were thinking when they wrote it.

Two things you need to keep in mind when you read all this stuff. First of all, these were being defined as restrictions on the federal government, and only the federal government. The courts affirmed this model during the first half of the 19th century. Northern and Southern states had very different appetites for democracy in general, for obvious reasons, so the Constitution followed an "If you like your authoritarianism, you can keep it" model. The federal government was not allowed to restrict speech in any way, but if your state wanted to violate those same individual liberties, go right ahead. In most Southern states, speaking ill of slavery was a hanging offense.

Second, we have to seriously reexamine this attitude we have toward the Constitution. The older it gets, the more revered it becomes, and at this point, most Americans think of it as an appendix to the Bible. People are seriously arguing that the Bill of Rights are ordained by God. Back when it was written, things were more casual. Everyone agreed their founding document sucked, then simply crumpled it up and wrote another one. No one was in a mood to do this a third time, so the Constitution has a nice section describing how to modify it. (And nowhere does it say "and if things don't work out, start shootin'.") There seems no reason to think that they intended the document to be unalterable by future generations centuries afterward- that would be absurd. But modifying the Constitution at this point is politically impossible and will remain so. We have worshipped the document so much that we no longer control it- which is exactly what its authors tried to prevent.

Comment Re:Sterile and shattered. (Score 5, Interesting) 273

One thing you're forgetting is that these stars have very low gravity, so when they throw flares they get a lot further out into space than they do on the sun. Typically the incident radiation will be low for the reasons you described, but when a planet orbits through a flare it gets zapped really hard. Meanwhile, orbiting the sun, we are so unaffected by flares that when we saw one, we thought it was the Russians jamming our radar.

People who get excited about aliens living on planets orbiting dwarf stars are kidding themselves. These stars are a dime a dozen and make up more than 90% of all stars, their light is more strongly affected by planetary transits, and they tend not to gobble up their innermost planets when forming. It's no wonder we find exoplanets around them all the time. But there is nobody interesting living on any of them. You can really only trust type F and G stars with life. Larger stars explode so fast their planets haven't even had time to solidify, and smaller stars have to be hugged so closely that the planet is affected by the star's fickle weather patterns.

Comment Re:Only a penny a page, duplex? (Score 1) 5

I'll be better able to figure it when the cartridge is empty. The savings come from not having to pay eight or ten bucks for copies that I'm proofreading.

They're already online as free e-books, HTML, and PDF, with printed copies available at a price.

Comment Cataracts and Suse (Score 1) 6

IIRC you're Canadian (if in the US you'll need insurance) and should be able to get CrystaLens implants for an extra $2,000. They cure nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and cataracts.

I ran Suse back in 2003 and liked it, but moved to Mandrake because my TV didn;t like it; I was using the TV as a monitor with an S-video cable. Still trying to find a distro that will run on an old Gateway laptop.

Comment Re:Only a penny a page, duplex? (Score 1) 5

I based the estimate on $5o for a cartridge that prints an average of 3,000 pages. A color laser would be nice, but as you say, far more expensive both in up-front costs and toner. And changing toner in a color printer is a PITA, at least the ones at work were.

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