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Comment Omnirax + EndPCNoise (Score 1) 303

15+ years ago, I sprung for an Omnirax desk (this one). I can't rave enough about it. The height is perfect, the surface big & durable, and plenty of rackmount space. It still looks as good as new. The company is well-known in the music industry but not so much outside.

Set up a few big monitors (with Ergotron monitor arms) and a beefy, silent rackmount PC from EndPCNoise.com, and you'll have an enviable work environment (speaking from experience).

Comment The problem is people (Score 1) 624

The real problem is that nearly 50% of the public has below-average intelligence.

(Anyone who sees the above statement as elitist, rather than an obvious statement about mathematics, is part of the problem.)

Therefore, whoever makes the most noise gets the most attention from people, regardless of the truth of the message.

Comment Re:Unsurprising (Score 1) 69

Actually, people do math (and most everything else) with their entire brain. Visual cortex isn't just for vision either: it helps to process audio. Likewise auditory cortex helps to process vision. Both of them assist with other signals from body to brain (known as interoception). Just about every neuron in the brain participates in more than one function. (Note: This this is not the same thing as saying "all neurons are identical." That's false. But any given neuron participates in more than one kind of mental state.)

Comment Unsurprising (Score 2) 69

Neuroscientists have known for years that the brain has few "dedicated" areas for any particular function, such as math. Instead, many collections of neurons can accomplish the same function. This is called degeneracy. (Terrible name, I know... let the jokes about degenerate mathematicians begin....)

Also, the brain doesn't "light up" as if were sitting around idle and suddenly leaps into action. The whole brain is active all the time. This is called intrinsic brain activity.

Anyone who talks about brain areas "lighting up," or believes that each region of the brain has a dedicated function, is at least a decade behind modern neuroscience.

Comment Millions (Score 1) 377

About 15 years ago, a QA engineer in my office (a large Wall Street financial form) placed a fake trade for 1,000,000 shares of company stock in one of our test systems. The test order somehow got out to the New York Stock Exchange and actually moved the market. Backing out that trade was reportedly quite expensive.

The engineer didn't get fired, because he had done everything correctly. The system infrastructure had been set up wrong.. wasn't his fault.

Comment Ads don't "fuel the web" (Score 1) 618

Ads don't "fuel the web." They fuel particular businesses, and most of them I wouldn't be sad to see go. I remember the web before there were ads. It was fun and interesting and helpful anyway.

I've run a web site at my own expense (currently $250/year) for 20 years because it's fun to do so. I like sharing information, just like I enjoy writing open-source code. If the web were just enthusiast sites and shopping, that would be fine with me.

Submission + - Vistaprint runs $10,000 programmer challenge

maiden_taiwan writes: Tech company Vistaprint (my employer) is running a programming contest with a $10,000 (US) prize. The challenge? Creatively compute a shipping box that best holds a set of products. Deadline is end of October. The contest is meant as a fun puzzle (vs. an enterprise-level solution).

Comment Some companies DO walk the walk, but they're rare (Score 1) 533

I've been at a "passionate programmer" e-commerce company for over 10 years. Their definition of "passionate" (of which apparently there are many) is a developer who doesn't simply convert a request into code, but who will also think intelligently about the larger (difficult) business problem and focus on it. When your client says "Build me a proprietary streaming video server," the ordinary programmer starts taking specs for it, whereas the passionate one asks to learn about the business problem being solved. Then you learn that the video server is for playing instructional/motivational videos for the salespeople. So the real business problem is an unmotivated sales force, and a "video server" is not necessarily the only solution. Now you can have a discussion about other solutions.

I'm sure some readers will immediately jump up with counterexamples and pessimism... how the other person won't want to hear about your alternatives because they're threatened, etc. but I have been living this life now for 10+ years at the same mid-sized company and it's real. And yes, I am paid well for it, and so are my direct reports. And no, I rarely need to work evenings or weekends, and neither do my direct reports. And we all get free food. And the company is consistently profitable.

From all the vitriol I've been reading here today, I get the impression my company is extremely rare. Guess I'll stay for another 10!

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