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Comment Re: Microsoft's Customers are Screwed.. Again (Score 2) 140

I think you are giving Apple way too much credit.

Both companies do a good job of taking other ideas, refining them, then using their size and resources to bring products to market.

Regarding Bing- yes, there is a need for it. If you only look at consumer search functionality Google serves that purpose, and is generally better than Bing. (I am a lonely Bing user...) But- do you recommend that nobody else compete in this space? More importantly, Microsoft owns the index/search technology they use for other products- such as Cortana. Indexing huge amounts of information is a very important function moving forward. Microsoft reps have stated many times that the primary importance of Bing is not the direct consumer space.

Apple has had its share of 'me too' products. I bought more than my share of 'Performa' macs, which were just absolute crap. Their Apple Watch is crap. They have had many others. Hell, I owned an Apple III, when everyone with any sense was buying IBM.

Apple has had a few blockbuster successes, which have led to them being a hugely successful company. But that does not elevate them to some incredible status where they do no wrong or are just better than other companies.

Comment It's a matter of congestion (Score 1) 381

*If* self-driving cars can reduce congestion significantly, the changeover will be a tidal wave.

I live near enough to San Francisco, that I could make the trip easily enough for a relaxing day in a great city. Unfortunately, traffic is a nightmare. So I avoid it. Driving on the freeway to Sacramento is ridiculous. I avoid that too. Once there is a reasonable percentage of autonomous cars, that traffic should be greatly reduced by being more efficient. (Not the number of cars going down, but the overall efficiency going up).

Also, a lot of deliveries could easily be handled via autonomous vehicles. Again, the efficiency would be killer. Set up all deliveries to be at night! Mail, packages, etc. Just drop them in a specified area in front of my house, and I'll pick it up in the morning.

Comment Re:Not that crap again (Score 3, Informative) 256

HTML forms are a bad idea for proposal submission.

I've written quite a few grant submission systems (I have a grant cycle running right now, with a deadline of this Friday...yay...). It's a pretty standard deal- web based system that allows for a fair amount of meta data (PIs, co-operators, institutions, name of grant, funding request, etc.). These of course are all part of the HTML forms.

BUT- the proposals themselves- the 2-20 page document where they explain the project- is always a complete mish-mash of stuff that could never go into an HTML form. Formulas, images, etc. Tons of formatting. And typically it is a document that has been shared/edited with other researchers. I ran one system about 15 years ago that was HTML only, and the number of projects that had 8 different PIs, who all wanted edit rights at the same time was way too high. This was pre-Google Wave, and the idea of 8 people simultaneously editing the same text on the web was insane then...as it is now.

Plus, the way that researchers/PIs handle these submissions is to turn everything in at the last possible minute. Any complication on the receiving system will just cause you to get your ass chewed out in the hallway at the next big conference.

I absolutely, 100% never ever want to hear someone say, "I tried to submit my proposal, I typed everything in, then there was an error." Because really, these people will open the page, then sit on it for 3 days as they dink around. When they finally hit 'submit' they're surprised that there was an error. Yes, there are technical ways to mitigate this problem...and the very best way is to have the applicants submit documents.

But, in the case of this article...I usually provide support for these systems. I've been doing this for about 20 years, so I'm fairly good at it. And the absolute quickest way to provide support to someone having problems is to say, "Just email me the document, and I'll submit it for you." 90% of the time I get an email that says, "I figured it out...thanks for your help." 8% of the time people say, "I tried to email the document, but it failed...my file was corrupt, so I re-saved it and then submitted...thanks for your help." The last 2% send me the file, I convert it if necessary, and we move on. (that's 2% of the problems, not 2% of the submissions)

There is no reason for me to make a 100% bullet-proof, all-inclusive system that will handle every single different scenario perfectly. It would take too much time. For the very small number of people with a problem, I just do it the old fashioned way. So if somebody told me, "I'm on Linux, and I can't convert my file to PDF, and I don't want to use one of the billion on-line PDF conversion tools, why is the government supporting Adobe and Microsoft!!!, blah blah blah" I just tell them to send me the file. In about 3 minutes I'm done and they are happy. Once upon a time I even hired temps to do this work- but these cases are really about .5% of submissions, and it just isn't worth it.

The article wasn't about the practical aspects of using PDF, it was about the (crap, can't think of the word...) aspect, where someone got their panties in a bunch because the government doesn't facilitate their worst-case-scenario approach to proposal submission.

Source: Been doing this for 20 years for the gub'ment. Yes, there is a guy like me behind most of those systems. See the part of the submission site that says, "For technical assistance...". Yeah, call me or send me an email and I'll take care of it for you. That's why they pay me, and good service is how I make the system look good.

***On the other hand, when you send an email to me, my boss, the funding organization and the overarching agency describing how the system does not function properly, and you were not able to submit your proposal...yes, I will send back a very detailed screenshot laden email pointing out step by step how you failed, and probably send the logs showing that you logged on one time 3 hours before the submission deadline. Goddam I hate it when people blame their failings on the system.

Comment Re:Is there such a thing? (Score 1) 189

Windows Phone not having Tinder is an awesome feature.

I'm a loud and proud Windows Phone fan. And I *like* the lack of apps!

Think about the 'must have' apps from 3 years ago. Or 2 years ago, or 1 year ago. Chances are, you aren't using them now.

Apps are generally just a way to waste time. 99.99% of them are not really valuable.

I'd rather have my phone in my pocket and live life, than sit there on my phone working the coolest new app.

Seriously- I've been on this train of thought since I got rid of my iPhone 4. When I realized I was sitting at the park playing some stupid game instead of watching my kids, I realized that I do NOT want a plethora of apps in my pocket. I want a real life...and a browser/email/SMS in my pocket.

Comment Re:Apps, it had to be apps (Score 2) 241

Dammit...I've been defending ColdFusion on Slashdot for about 12 years (see username). The last 5 years or so have been very quiet as people just assumed CF was gone. Or more to the point, the 'my language is better than your language' people had moved on.

I've been writing in CF for about 17 years. Yes, even today I use it...and I use it all day long. This is not just "quickly kludging new functionality into fairly simple web pages", it's a matter of creating entire line of business apps.

Guess what? People love the apps. They also love the fact that I can create them so quickly. And they love the fact that whenever they ask for something new I say, "Sure, I can do whatever you need." That's what 17 years of experience gives you- I can churn out high quality code very quickly. I still need to defend CF every time I say, "I'm a programmer" because they always want to know what language I use. Because their nephew is learning Swift and that's cool...etc. etc.

What's my point? I think that too many people in tech are enamored with the new/shiny and jump from technology to technology without spending enough time on the QUALITY of what they are creating. I have CF code that I wrote 16 years ago that is still running, and still serving up millions of pages per month. My new code is pretty damn rock-solid, and I know how to write things in a way that is very easily maintained and updated. Because I've been doing it for a long time...

PHP is now in the same spot as ColdFusion, in the sense that it's no longer the cool thing to do, but there is a crapload of experience out there. In my opinion a good experienced programmer is worth 8 'language of the day' programmers no matter what language they are using.

I've been on my latest project for about 18 months. It will take another 6 months before I'm 'done' to the point where I've completed all of the initial goals - this was the assumed timeline at the beginning...again, I've done this for a while, I can estimate a timeline pretty well. The project is being used every day and has already replaced the older system but there are few more milestones to hit.

But the most important part of the project is that everything is clean. The database has been re-worked extensively as I've had more and more experience with how the data is used. When this project is re-written in the future, it will be much easier because the data will make sense. The last programmers just threw more technologies at the project to solve problems, rather than fixing what was broken. (A nice Javascript data interface can't really replace clean data...no matter how much pagination and filtering your fancy table has) I see that a lot with younger programmers. By far this is the most important part of the project and is not language specific. "Does this entire thing make sense? Have you done the tough work instead of a million work arounds?" That to me is far more important than working on a language that has yet to see version 3. (No magic to version 3, just looking at the maturity of the language)

I wish more people in the industry were concerned about quality, rather than the new and shiny. Not a single user has said, "Oh this sucks because it is written in ColdFusion". Instead they say, "Oh my god, this is exactly what we wanted...and you are so fast!"

I am so tired of people doing one or two projects in a language, then moving on to the next new and shiny- while bashing on CF because it's old. Goddamit, I'll be cleaning your messes up in the future and there is a good chance the pages will have a .cfm extension even if it's not cool.

It's like thinking you are a good photographer because you've got the latest camera. Superficially it's nice, but you still have no idea what you're doing.

Comment Re:So.. (Score 1) 129

I've been typing 'yahoo.com' into my address bar for years. Many years ago, when my servers and my internet connection were less reliable, I always used Yahoo as a test to see if my connection was live. Yahoo servers rarely went down.

I still go to Yahoo about once a week, just as a reflex when my browser has an issue.

Have you seen their homepage lately? Evidently the Kardashians are REALLY popular with the Yahoo! demographic. The Yahoo! homepage is a mess of celebrity crap.

I've been wondering if this is what will happen when women control the Internet. More Kardashians...

Comment Re:No, the code-of-conduct will not harm go (Score 1) 358

If you don't know what constitutes respectful behavior, then maybe you weren't brought up right. I don't mean you specifically, of course.

(I know not how to quote here...)

The problem with that, is that 'respectful behavior' is a constantly moving target. What is respectful in one culture, may not be in another. Or to another person.

Do we target the most restrictive interpretation? One of my neighbors is a devout Muslim. I do things all the time that he considers disrespectful.

Or what if we're talking about people with disabilities...and what if I say something like, "I don't really care about accessibility on this..." is that disrespectful to the disabled? Probably. Even if I meant, "I need to get this done, and we can clean up accessibility later" my comment would be disrespectful, and possibly get me booted.

Respectful is wayyy too subjective.

Comment Re:No, the code-of-conduct will not harm go (Score 1) 358

There are a lot of people (like me) who will pretty much see these rules as a challenge. Eventually I will do something stupid...just because. And if that gets me banned for life, then I am screwed.

I would avoid it completely.

On the other hand, if I can lend a hand to someone, I absolutely will. If I can do something to make things better for other people...I will. But if you put down rules that essentially pre-judge me, I will purposely do something to piss you off.

It's the same as giving a middle finger to the man. Sometimes you just gotta do it. And if that gets you banned for life...then fuck them.

Sure, they do NOT need me. I realize that. And, I will make sure that I do NOT need them. I would never put myself in the position where people will judge my actions (more than my intentions) and decide I can't be part of their group. At least I will make sure I never need to rely on that group.

Comment Re:Your attitude is why... (Score 1) 241

This attitude has permeated programmer (not brogrammer) culture long before brogrammers, or before anyone talked about sexism in IT.

Programmers have their own attitude, their own swagger (as geeky as it may be). Exactness is part of the culture because the job is very exacting. Being correct is important.

On the other hand 'We talk about trying to attract women and children to the field' is making a lot of assumptions. I personally would rather work with people who WANT to do the job- not people who are there 'because its a good job'. If a man or woman wants to be a programmer, awesome- let them in. But I think the idea of cheerleading programming as a career is a bad idea. And I'd hate to be the person who goes home on Friday night, hating their programming job- but people told them how cool it would be and so they pursued a field where they didn't really have an interest.

I usually go home Friday night pretty happy- because Friday afternoon is spent figuring out some stupid problem I've been putting off. I had great fun this past week working on some problems I was having with a search engine. I can't imagine slogging through this stuff without the innate drive and desire to figure out minutiae of freetext. It would be a horrible life indeed. Why push people into it?

Comment Re:The problem is that landfills are too cheap (Score 1) 371

Ha ha ha...this is actually closer to reality than you might think.

In California, we charge a fee/tax everytime you buy electronic stuff. Screens, computers, etc.

Then, when it is time to dispose of this material, recyclers get paid by the state. "Here are 200 screens, now please give me my recycling deposit back." This is mainly done by recyclers- I don't think individuals can get their money back.

The problem comes when recyclers from Nevada/Arizona (neighboring states) bring in truckloads of e-waste, just to get the deposit fees.

It happens. So California is paying these people to drop off junk that the state doesn't even want.

Comment Re:The good news is... (Score 5, Insightful) 211

Ha! It WAS me!

I was a really good developer. Then a great developer (in my mind, and others) so I moved up the ranks.

I was pretty good, and made it to the top of the tech heap at a fairly large organization, with 3 levels of employees under me.

It was horrible. I did a really crappy job.

Instead of being a great developer or architect, I become a HORRIBLE business contract negotiator and director. I got involved in 2 HR actions at the same time. I completely failed. In fact I think I 'Petered Out'.

I bailed on that life, and found an organization willing to match my salary- back down at a developer position. I'm a nominal supervisor to 2 people.

I really think I am doing great work again- even better than before, because my viewpoint is even better. I love being a developer, and they love what I'm doing.

The Peter Principal is real. I was promoted beyond my abilities, and I'm not afraid to admit it. Being really good at something doesn't necessarily mean that I'm able to manage a bunch of other people.

Comment Re:who cares about plagiarism (Score 2) 53

Oh yeah baby- money makes the (academic) world go round.

I work in academia. You've never seen a researcher drop a project that "is his/her life's passion" as fast as when the money dries up.

I do IT for these people. As soon as that grant is done, you might as well pull the plug. Otherwise it becomes MY project- because they have moved on.

I've shit-canned websites with tons of good info that receive millions of page views per year, because the researcher doesn't care about it anymore. And since it is not my name on the paper, I can't take any responsibility for it.

I can say with about 99% certainty, that the only reason those projects were started was recognition or money. And even the recognition part means nothing once the academic has a few years of work under their belt. Because at that point the only recognition they care about would be academic journals.

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