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Comment Smalltalk today is a dinosaur (Score 2) 343

Sure, Smalltalk is a great language to know.. if only to understand some of CS history. But it is a horrendous technology to use today, or for the past 10 years. I speak from experience. I've worked with Java and Smalltalk as a professional, and the Smalltalk experience pales into insignificance. The tools just haven't kept up with the crazy pace of technological evolution. The Smalltalk "IDE" I had to use professionally was Cincom's. I couldn't believe how primitive, clunky and programmer-hostile that system was (if you've ever spent a few years with any Java IDE). Since working professionally with Smalltalk, I've also kept an eye on the marketplace for the skill.. in Belgium (which is a small sample, I agree), the demand is very, very close to non-existent. I only know of two companies that still cling on to it, against all rational arguments.

Comment Re:Doesn't this describe almost every job? (Score 2) 280

The big difference between the everyday examples you quote, and contributing to software systems, is what I call the invisibility of the software. No bystanders can instantly judge you to be criminally incompetent when you write code that is so buggy, so fragile and so unsuited to control any aspect of society. Whereas any bystanders witnessing your example actors (shelf stocker, bicycle shop seller, etc..) can instantly judge your example actions as being immoral. That is why we constantly get away with murder: our core artifact is totally incomprehensible to virtually everyone around us. This incomprehensibility even starts within our software teams: we write stuff that even our team members can't understand, let alone our managers, our project leaders, our bosses, our clients. I'm afraid your comparison therefore ignores this fundamental difference. Software realities mean 99.99% of developers act as lone cowboys.. without any pressure to act in any way in a professional manner (professional as defined by the dictionary, not as defined by our industry).

Comment Re:Maybe we should mimic civil engineering (Score 1) 280

We just need laws that make it a criminal offence to write code, design systems, analyse requirements, write documentation, like nothing matters. Screw readability, screw the bugs (and the risks of bugs), screw maintainability, screw completeness, screw robustness.. just screw it. We "just" need laws that make that attitude a criminal offence. We currently build software the way third world building contractors throw together building materials and call it a building.. only for the building to collapse and kill and cripple people some years later. I've been in IT for 30 years, and am deeply ashamed of how "things are done" .. in the name of the "state of the art".

Comment Robert Martin's talk (Score 2) 280

I also saw Robert Martin's talk, and generally agreed with it. I am generally surprised (and disappointed) at how insensitive and irresponsible colleagues are. At the end of the day, most just want their salaries in their bank accounts, and keep their jobs. Software engineers appear to be just like everyone else. So I agree with Martin that laws are badly needed.. to root out the cowboy/hacker attitude for this coming century. On the subject of Martin's talk, I actually bought his book "Clean Code" as a result of seeing his talk. Robert should be ashamed of his book though.. if it's to be an example of the self-regulating quality consciousness he's talking about, the book is the opposite (it lacks writing discipline, among many other qualities).
Wireless Networking

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: How to wirelessly monitor my old analogue utility meters? 3

SoftwarePearls writes: Ever since our water company hit us with a shock water bill that was about five times the average, and completely inexplicable (by all adults in the household, hint) I've wanted to install a wireless monitoring system that would monitor our last century analogue water, gas and electricity meters so that I could run some software on my PC that would swiftly alert me when there's any sign of abnormal consumption. The monitoring would have to sample at least a few times per day, ideally every 5-10 minutes. Our utility meters are in a dark, humid, spiderweb-infested basement. Has any Slashdotter come up with a cheap, reliable mechanism? Do I need to become an Arduino wizard to achieve my simple goal?

Submission + - How to cheaply spy on your own utility meters? 1

SoftwarePearls writes: With all the talk and article inches focusing on why smart utility meters may be a privacy hazard, I would actually love to be able to monitor my ageing analog utility meters and turn them into "private smart" meters. Has anyone created a workable solution which produces at least daily measurements which can be monitored on your PC.. without having to dive into a dark, damp, scary cellar? ;-) I'm thinking of a really cheap webcam + light + controller + wireless solution, but am very open to alternatives.

Submission + - Millions of SSNs lifted from South Carolina database (

another random user writes: If you live in South Carolina, there's a very good chance that slipshod state government security has allowed an overseas computer criminal to acquire your Social Security number.

The South Carolina Department of Revenue acknowledged the massive electronic security breach today, saying an electronic intrusion led to 3.6 million Social Security numbers being stolen. The state's population is approximately 4.7 million.

"We are taking immediate steps to protect the taxpayers of South Carolina, including providing one year of credit monitoring and identity protection to those affected," Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement.

Anyone who has filed a South Carolina tax return since 1998 — including former residents who have since moved out of the state — is being urged to call (866) 578-5422 to enroll in a consumer protection service and visit

Submission + - Terrestial hermit crabs learning social tricks, thanks to natural selection ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: When it comes to abandoned snail shells that hermit crabs expropriate as mobile homes, size matters, for room to grow, room for eggs, and protection from predators. UC Berkeley evolutionary biologist Mark Laidre found that terrestrial hermit crabs on the Pacific shore of Costa Rica congregate in aggressive swap meets where one crab is forced from a relatively large shell, whereupon the rest trade up (one loser and multiple winners, pretty good odds). The loser gets the smallest shell, which means likely doom. Laidre and his colleagues note that most hermit crabs live in the ocean, where there are usually enough abandoned shells to go around so most can live, well, hermit-like lives without much interaction with fellow crabs. Not so on land, at least in Costa Rica.

Submission + - Does Coding Style Matter?

theodp writes: Over at Smashing Magazine, Nicholas C. Zakas makes the case for Why Coding Style Matters. 'Coding style guides are an important part of writing code as a professional,' Zakas concludes. 'Whether you're writing JavaScript or CSS or any other language, deciding how your code should look is an important part of overall code quality. If you don't already have a style guide for your team or project, it's worth the time to start one.' So, how are coding style guidelines working (or not) in your world?

Comment Powerless, my backside (Score 2) 328

"Largely powerless to resist"... what a load of trash. Just let them try, and see what kind of "powerless resistance" comes back at them. These are fascist laws.. and here in Europe, we've learned a lesson or two on that subject which makes us less inclined to raise our right arm to the furher again.

Submission + - tool: CollectionSpy (

SoftwarePearls writes: It's not everyday Java sees a new profiler launched for it. CollectionSpy is a profiler that limits its focus to Java's Collections Framework containers. We've all run into problems with HashMaps, LinkedLists, HashSets and so on, so hopefully this tool helps us move beyond the painful primitiveness of having to use a plain debugger or profiler to tackle such bug scenarios. CollectionSpy features pretty impressive detection of hashing container corruption due to mutating keys, and the real-time animation of API accesses looks like nothing you've ever seen before in another profiler.

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