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Comment Re:Damage from BASIC (Score 1) 609


I used BASIC as it was what was available on the machine I was paid to write.

My BASIC, though, looked more like good FORTRAN than most basic, with thought out calls, etc.

If the language you need to use doesn't have the control structure you need, just write it.

Although I don't miss worrying about what line number to put routines at for efficiency (MBASIC until 5 or so would search through memory on a GOTO or GOSUB, making low-numbered calls faster than high-numbered).

And it's amazing that noone has pointed out the adage that a sufficiently skilled programmer can write bad FORTRAN in any language . . .


Comment Re: My experience... (Score 1) 437

I had a programming job before college (hey, it was silicon valley in the early 80s) and got called back a few months later.

They had hired an Indian with an MS, and weren't getting anywhere.

I sat down with him to work with code he didn't understand, and he was baffled by the whole "sort" concept.

I tried again at lower and lower levels, finally having to pull out some cards to physically demonstrate a bubble sort . . .

(yes, I know there are many more efficient sorts when more than a few objects are involved; that's not the point here).


Comment Re:Remember kids... (Score 1) 22

BlackBerry said Wednesday it has been awarded a preliminary $814.9 million in royalty overpayments made to Qualcomm.

If so it's a novel approach to being a patent troll, pay a company too much for their patents and then get some of it back... I wish more trolls would be so foolish.

Methinks the troll descriptor doesn't apply in this case. If there's any patent trolling involved it was Qualcomm overcharging for theirs. But overall it just sounds like the sort of thing that happens between two companies legitimately licensing each other IP rights.


Comment Re:So you exclude half the taxes and what you get? (Score 1) 903

top marginal rate (at ~$70k) is over 8%, which puts the total over 32%

I think you're conflating marginal and effective tax rates here.

Marginal tax only gets charged on the earnings that exceeds the tier. So say for example the tax regime is 0% on the first 20K, 4% up to 70K and 8% over 70K.

If I make 71K I'll pay ((1K*.08)+(50K*.04)+(20K*.0)=2,080

So (assuming 20% is the effective federal tax rate for the same example) the effective state tax rate would be:
71,000/2,080=2.9% at the state level, for a total of 22.9% all told.

Sorry, it's something a lot of people miss, and it impacts policy discussions because politicians often take advantage of the confusion. And we need less confusion in world politics, not more :).


Comment Re:Why is longevity in the workforce never discuss (Score 1) 312

or chooses a different full-time job specifically for the added flexibility

Just to point out that it's not only women who make this decision. I view raising my daughter as my most important job. Nothing I do at my 'real' job will matter in 50 years. Raising my daughter will impact the world statistically speaking for years after I shrug off the mortal coil.

So I don't work the jobs where they expect 80 hrs out of me. I moved career paths to positions and companies which have more respect for work/life balance. I actually make a point of mentioning my kid during interviews, because I figure if they decide that's a strike against me, I don't want that job anyways.

Just sayin'


Comment Re:Missing the point (Score 1) 366


I'll speak to this, as I feel it gets to the core of an idea.

I got lucky as a 5 year old. I happened to be in a situation where I got access to something most 5 year olds born in the 70s never got a chance to experience. How many more people would be out there with that wonderful moment if we'd ensured every 5 year old got the opportunity to try it?

Raising my own child, we encouraged her to try many different activities (or 'forced her' if you'd prefer I use your point of view). Some of them she liked, some of them she opted not to repeat. She didn't get a choice in the matter, as she did not have the experiential base yet to make an informed decision. She decided she loves STEM activities. If we hadn't introduced them to her at an early age, and social norms ('boy' activities vs 'girl' activities) had set in, who can say how it'd have turned out. I'd like to think that she'd have developed the same way, but I'm honest enough to say I don't know.

A big part of parenting IMO is providing the opportunities to children to find the things that excite them, that give them that passion in their lives to avoid the traps that will be placed in front of them as they get older.

For me it was technology, for another it might be hockey. Whatever it is, every parents job should be to help their child find theirs.

So as a parent, anything that helps take the luck out of finding that passion makes the world a better place for my kid and all of us.


Comment Re:Missing the point (Score 1) 366

I have nothing to add. I just want to say thank you for a well-written spot-on post. Your analogy was good, and your inspiring "feeling the world change" description gave me goosebumps to read.

Thank you. And you know the odd thing? Telling that story still gives me goosebumps too, because it makes me recall the feeling. I tell the story because it reminds me what I wanna do when I grow up. :)


Comment Missing the point (Score 5, Interesting) 366

Put aside your cynicism for a moment. It's hard, I get that, but just for a moment....

OK, ready?

None of these coding initiatives are about teaching someone to code. It's about exposure. Think of football (or hockey, or ...) camp for 8 year olds. Very few of those kids are going on to a brilliant professional sporting career. So we should shut them down, treat any parent who enrolls their child in such a camp with derision, etc. Right? No? Why not?

Because sometimes the experience is more important then the result.

When I was 5, I got a chance to play with a Vic 20. My landlords' daughter showed me how to do the classic:

10 PRINT "Hello World"
20 GOTO 10

I remember feeling the world change. It was a different place then before I wrote and ran that program. I *GOT* it. I knew this beige box was going to change everything.

Years later, when I was about 8, the local Commodore club got a modem. I saw what it did and felt that feeling again. I pestered my mom to let me check it out from the hardware library for months before she agreed and I dialed into a local Radio Shack BBS. The sysop started a chat and we talked in chat. This was the future.

In the years since, I ran a Fidonet network hub, ran two freenets in two cities, was the sole technical employee for a regional ISP in northern Canada, and have endeavored to make the world a slightly better place. To build the future I glimpsed when I was 5.

You know what? Never became a programmer. I can barely program my way out of a wet paper bag to this day. I know the concepts and understand how to use those concepts in my professional life, but programming itself has never set my soul alight. Does that make the experience of the journey any less important? Does it mean that the 5 year old wasted his time?

I'd argue no. I have no idea how my life might have changed if not for that chance encounter when I was 5. Maybe I'd still have followed the same life path. But for some of those kids getting exposed with the learn to code movement, statistically speaking, it will change their lives.

For me, that's enough. My daughter went to Defcon (the hacker conference) when she was 3, so hopefully she got 2 years on me in feeling that wonder.


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