731 posts • joined Monday 28th June 2010 14:47 GMT
Degrees and experience
This is nothing unique to IT, and nothing new, either. Half a century ago my father, who was chief engineer of a semiconductor company, told me that the PhD graduates he employed were initially quite incapable.
The problem with IT jobs is that they combine an academic element and a craft element. There are plenty of other careers where this is the case. Medicine is an obvious one. We all have some idea of what it takes to turn a graduate into a useful doctor. I'm sure there are parallels in disciplines like engineering and architecture.
Long experience is one way to build up craft skills, but the examples above show that the process can be formalised and accelerated.
Re: The cup that cheers, but does not inebriate
Actually, "the cups that cheer, but do not inebriate". Although attributed to William Cowper, this description was originated by Bishop George Berkeley, he of the silent tree falling in the forest. He was talking about tar water, to which he attributed medicinal properties.**
Tar water is available from the vending machines in all the offices where I've worked, but they usually call it coffee.
** Curiously, this information comes from Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy
Re: Sweet Poison
Sucralose (aka Splenda) is actually made from sugar. As one of the partners in its development was Tate and Lyle, it's probably cane sugar. I don't know if that makes it better-tasting, or better for you.
Re: "12oz cups"?
12oz - rather over half a pint (imperial, three-quarters of a pint US) - ugh!
In a country like Italy, where they understand coffee, a cup of coffee will be small and strong (even if it's cappuccino). One of the regrettable things we've acquired from the US is the practice of serving great buckets of coffee. Starbuck's is especially blameworthy, with its vile thick mugs of milky pap. (Of course that isn't the worst thing about Starbuck's.)
... usually comes in rings. In this case they're going to be the size and consistency of tractor tyres.
"However, she never managed The Silmarillion."
I'm not surprised your sister didn't manage to memorise The Silmarillion. Everyone bought it (Private Eye called it "The Sellamillion"), but I've yet to meet anyone who managed to read to the end.
Why did I have to log in again to post this?
Re: Let me get this straight...@Mark .
The case of (W|w)indows is indeed interesting. One could argue that Microsoft Windows is so widespread that they have no real need to trademark the name. Far from deceiving people, any other software whose name refers to windows probably has to explain that it isn't Microsoft.
Re: First mention of Mister Creosote...
Brilliant! They should have called it Mr Creosote.
They could set the robot in action by inserting a waffer-thin mint. See icon for result.
Re: Hmmm. Android!
Android can't come to cars soon enough. The present generation of in-car computers suffers from the fact that every motor company seems to have decided to write its own software, a task for which they have neither the talent nor the resources. It's like the early years of mobile phones, or personal computers.
Perhaps I've been unlucky, but all the in-car computers I've used have dreadful UX: deep menus, hidden options, stupid defaults that you can't change. In my current car, the media player uses such a big clunky font that the titles are usually truncated. even though the names displayed on the satnav map show that it's quite capable of higher definition.
Re: Satnavs - The curse of modern driving
Do you really need to use your Satnav for this sort of journey?
It doesn't excuse the airhead driving, but quite a lot of people use satnav for journeys they know well because it will alert them to traffic congestion and other hold-ups.
US military nails 'best ever'
Was I the only one to wonder if it was the nails they use to hold bits of wood together, or their fingernails?
The first sounds disappointingly primitive for the US military. The second sounds like they're getting ready to scratch your eyes out.
Re: Circular reasoning?
The problem with this hypothesis is that high heels only keep the heel out of the muck. AFAIK the usual footwear for staying above wet and muck was the patten - a kind of overshoe that raises the whole foot.
I'm sure rich women didn't wear special footwear to keep their skirts clean. Part of the point of extravagant dress such as long skirts is to show that you're rich enough to have somebody else to clean your clothes and rich enough not to be very bothered about replacing them. Lord Byron apparently wore white linen trousers that he threw away after one wearing. I bet his lady friends were even more extravagant.
Amazon themselves do not spam me
I wish I could say the same. Every day I seem to get an email from Amazon offering some kind of - usually inappropriate - cross-sell. Is there an account setting that turns these off?
Re: They don't even spam well
the sender can track when you have read the email
Only if you're dumb enough to let your email reader download images by default.
Re: @Graham Marsden
I'm glad you explained. For the past few weeks I've been perplexed by an ad that starts with some bloke* failing to switch on Christmas lights, then cuts to the opera singer being tortured. I couldn't work out how that was supposed to generate electricity.
* The context suggests that I should know who some bloke is, but I've no idea. This adds to my perplexity.
Re: mountain bike lamps
Not just mountain bikes.
A fairly early application of LEDs was rear lights for pedal cycles. Instead of a horrible dim, bulky thing that ate batteries, we got a brilliant light that flashed. So cheap and lightweight that you can have several on each bike. The batteries last so long that many cyclists now use lights in the daytime as well as night.
It took a frustratingly long time for a good, white headlamp to become available, and the early ones weren't very bright. But now you can get a lamp that gives a dazzlingly bright beam and good battery life. The only complaint I've heard is that the beam is less coherent than an incandescent lamp.
Re: Its is amazing
"how I seem to understand lyrics much more easily now than I used to"
I've often wondered why I understand many previously incomprehensible lyrics when I listen to them while driving. It can't be a result of better sound quality, as several of the cars in question have had iffy audio and high ambient noise levels.
My theory is that while driving requires heightened alertness, the auditory and semantic content of the activity is low, so there is spare capacity for parsing lyrics. This looks pretty mad now I see it written down - can anyone think of a better explanation?
Re: Re: Errm...
Climate controlled clothing, programmable clothing, clothing that calls the emergency services? I'm sorry, this really sounds like an application in desperate need of a requirement.
Paramedic We could have saved him if somebody has called the emergency services.
Left sock That's Jacket's job.
Jacket No it isn't. Shirt and pants are both in a better position to report what's wrong with him.
Pants Last time I called the emergency services they wanted to know where I was. I said "I'm inside a pair of trousers" and they cut me off.
Ayesha Vardag, dubbed Britain's top divorce lawyer by the Law Society
IANAL, but I'm surprised to learn that the Law Society has a competition for "Britain's top divorce lawyer". and that the winner is dubbed. It raises all sorts of questions.
Who dubs the winner and where? It must be a glittering occasion, the winner weeping in sash and crown, with the runners-up offering insincere congratulations.
Are the contestants scored by size of fee or number of successful cases? I expect they score more for contested divorces.
Is the competition specific to divorce lawyers, or are there lots of other classes - Britain's Top Conveyancer, Britain's Top Personal Injury Claim Lawyer, Britain's Top Commissioner for Oaths?
Is there a swimsuit round?
"Forget value-added broker jokes"
I would, but I've never heard any. Is this a rich seam of humour that I'm missing out on?
I thought the Triangle Trade was beads etc from Liverpool to Africa, slaves from Africa to the Caribbean, sugar from there back to Liverpool. I think you'll find it's illegal these days.
Recognise this picture?
The team contains ten developers. Skill and experience in the team follows a Pareto distribution: two have extensive experience and strong skills, two are very talented but have limited experience, two are people who went into software engineering because they thought it was a well-paid job. The remaining four are recent graduates, one of whom seems to have managed to complete a degree and get a programming internship without knowing what ctrl-C and ctrl-V do.
Any new piece of work is given to team members 3 to 10. Numbers 1 and 2 spend most of their time maintaining the production software. Because it was written by 3 to 10, there is a lot of maintenance to be done, and the code is hard to follow. The rest of the time is spent mentoring the graduates, but this doesn't really make much difference to the overall picture because they move on almost as soon as they know anything.
Re: No time to refactor
It's very tempting to do "while you're in there" refactoring, and it's very often a bad idea. Any change to working software introduces risk., and this risk is magnified by well-meaning attempts to clean up bad and incomprehensible code. This is also a good reason why quick-and-dirty patches aren't revisited.
Re: Flat Earth Experts
I can't help thinking it strange that all the postings that want to draw attention to the general inaccuracy of the Vatican's world view are homing in on dodgy astronomy and geography.
Would you be surprised to hear that the guys at the Vatican believe a load of stuff that makes geocentricism and a (mythical) belief in a flat earth look tame? How about a being who created the Universe, but who can spare the time to get annoyed about contraception?
I don't think the Catholic Church actually burned people at the stake for believing the Earth goes round the Sun. The Inquisition was quite nasty to Galileo, but by some accounts he was deliberately provocative. His ultimate punishment was house arrest, better, on the whole than being burned at the stake.
NB: I am not a Catholic, nor do I support geocentricism.
a toilet diary feature to ... keep track of water and electricity bills
Reduce your water and electricity* bills by cutting down on your craps. Now that's what I call anal-retentive.
*As my current toilet is powered entirely by gravity, I don't see how I can reduce its electricity consumption.
Given the probable gravity on this planet, its inhabitants are going to be pretty tough (or maybe just pretty squat). They've spent several decades putting up with the trash we broadcast into space during the 20th century. In a couple of weeks time they will discover that we have not, as expected, succumbed to the Y2K bug, so the noise won't stop.
Expect a visit from irate neighbours, probably with tattoos and sovereign rings.
They're stocking-fillers in the sense that, with maybe one or two exceptions, they're all pointless junk.
I was flabbergasted by the price of the colour calibrator and the pedal that adds distortion to your phone. (Maybe I've missed the point of the last one. Is is a pedal that allows your phone to distort the noises your guitar makes?). Then I saw that they were targeted at iOS. I suppose to an Apple customer, nothing is too expensive.
Re: groundhog day? 1970's all over again
I think if you look carefully at your keyboard you'll see that there are a couple of keys labelled "Shift".
Shome mishtake, surely?
Was this article written after a long Christmas lunch? It's peppered with mistakes:
"...if it’s mode of operation..." its
"...he doesn’t know who the teacher latched onto him..." how
"...thought of making this applications..." these applications/this application
"...he had access to mainframe..." a mainframe
"...I didn't want to own IBM PC..." an IBM PC
"...deemed worth of newspaper reports..." worthy
"...For the first ten years [Elk Cleaner] was a non event..." Elk Cloner
Re: Which ad analytics companies?
""block advertiser's domains at the DNS level "
Try Privoxy, a proxy server that you can use to filter out anything you don't want. IIRC, it returns a dummy document or a tiny image for requests that are filtered out, so you don't have to wait for a timeout. Because it's a proxy server, it removes the junk regardless of the browser you're using. You can filter at domain level or any other level. The only shortcoming is that you have to keep the block list up to date yourself, unlike the AdBlock list.
Well, it's called a cursor in CSS and in such GUI APIs as I'm familiar with.
The trouble with calling it a pointer is that "pointer" is normally used for a particular type of cursor, to distinguish it from text cursors, resize cursors, wait cursors and so forth. But you can call it whatever you like.
The real question is whether this thing knows about cycle routes - Google Maps doesn't seem to. Such satnavs as I've used tend to be out of date on routes for motor vehicles, allegedly because local authorities are slack about updating the information. I would imagine they'd be even slacker over cycle routes.
Then again, what constitutes a cycle route? I've had very poor experiences with the National Cycle Network. Many of the routes seem to be dirt tracks that are heavy going even on a mountain bike; the disciples of Wiggins aren't going to get far on their road bikes. One NCN I was following had a signpost pointing across the middle of a ploughed field. The only NCN routes that can be reliably followed on a normal bike seem to be the ones on public highways. That's not a cycle network, it's a road network.
Re: Fit for purpose?
What's the problem? Like most people, I don't buy light bulbs one at a time as their predecessors fail: I buy a batch of them so I have a replacement ready when I need it. Call me feckless, but I put the spare bulbs in a cupboard and don't bother to cross-reference them with the proof of purchase, since it's usually a supermarket receipt with fifty other items on it. When a CFC fails early, I'm usually aware that it's only recently been installed, but I lack the documentation, and, to be honest, the time and motivation, to return it to the shop.
I did once try invoking the manufacturer's guarantee printed on the box. Unsurprisingly, the process was so complicated and tedious that I gave up.
Re: I remember a time
Our first generation (Vax) network had names from the Greek pantheon: Ares and Hera were main servers, Eos and Io were VaxStations, and there were a bunch (presumably <= 9) of terminal servers called Calliope, Melpomene, Terpsichore etc.
When all this got upgraded, we had Odin and Thor, but terminal servers were a thing of the past, so fortunately we didn't have to find out the names of all the Valkyries.
Our Gandalf was some kind of comms device, but it was a proprietary name, not one we assigned.
Ability to learn new stuff
I'm at the opposite end of the career trajectory from these graduates, and I agree that ability to learn new stuff is the second most important** aptitude. You also have to be prepared to take the discomfort of starting something new. It's a bit like cycling up big hills: is never gets easy, and there's usually another hill somewhere over the top, but after a while you come to know that you can do it.
This is fine when you know the "textbook" solution and have sound reasons why it doesn't meet present requirements, less good when you can't be bothered to learn it and prefer to re-invent the wheel (yours is going to be different - it's hexagonal). Anyone who's maintained software will have had to fix errors in some inspired but faulty neophyte solution. This is the whole point of things like design patterns and coding standards.
** The most important aptitude is the ability and desire to make computers do stuff. Quite a few of the people who go into software development because they think it's a good career seem to lack this. They end up complaining that they hate the job. which is deeply shocking to those of us that love it.
Re: I always wondered...
@Roby: Why would you expect to be able to run faster than a dog?
If you've tried to write useful scripts in the DOS batch language, you may have used EDLIN as a scriptable editor.
You may also have decided that it would be less painful, and almost as productive, to beat out your brains on the keyboard.
"This was Microsoft’s second foray into hardware"
Apart from the Microsoft Mouse, Microsoft keyboards, some kind of crap media player (Zune?), etc, etc.
I wondered about the attribution of FON traffic a couple of years ago when I had a BT connection. IIRC, on investigation it appeared that the address of the router on the DSL network was different for FON, so presumably BT can distinguish traffic via the public hotspot from your private traffic. The answer to this, of course, is to connect to your own FON hotspot.
Re: I don't have a telly.
We have inexpensive large monitors - they're called TVs. The economies of scale mean that large TVs are cheaper.
There's limited demand for large computer monitors, especially now people have discovered that several small monitors are easier to use - sadly, this happened after I spent lots of money on a single large monitor.
So how does this work?
OK, so we accept that white males are the majority and everyone else is a minority**. How do we decide on the quota for each minority?
The logic of positive discrimination suggests that representation should be in proportion to the degree to which a minority is disadvantaged. But minorities are not discrete sets, and disadvantage is additive (one-legged Lesbians are worse off than bipedal Lesbians or one-legged heteros). So the conference presenters end up entirely drawn from whatever intersection of minorities maximizes disadvantage. Almost certainly this will be just one person, who won't be able to communicate because an ability to speak is an advantage that not everybody enjoys.
** But there are quite a lot of Chinese, aren't there? And women in the world might actually outnumber men.
A quick scan of Jobserve will reveal that about 90% of (contract) listings include TDD (test-driven development) as a requirement. My experience suggests that for anything but trivial components it takes about as long to write the unit tests as it does to code the units. When you're modifying existing units and their tests, the ratio gets worse: change three lines of code in a big class, then spend the rest of the day trying to understand the test suite and use it to prove that you haven't broken anything. I'm all in favour of TDD, but it does mean that traditional software development isn't getting any quicker.
The real bane of the spreadsheet world is the model that was built by a genius, who has moved on because he was a genius, then modified by a series of other bright people, who are no longer around for similar reasons. It's hugely complex, vitally important, and totally opaque.
@Buzzword: absolutely true!
The decline in education can be attributed to replacing hard knowledge (physics, synoptic history, geography etc) with fatuous soft "meta-knowledge" (imagine you're a photon, imagine you're a peasant in the middle ages, go down to the supermarket and find out where all the fruit comes from).
The author of this article thinks the same thing should happen to data. Replace your accounts with an analysis of Twitter posts - then see how the auditors and shareholders like it.
There's also a big difference between subscribing to social media, which has negligible business value of any kind, and analyzing it, which might have some business value, but only if you're a professional market researcher.
You can use the receiver in “normal” set-top box mode to view – but not record – free-to-air satellite channels that aren’t part of Freesat’s line-up.
Why not record?
It also looks like the remote control has, as usual, been designed by somebody who never watches TV and has no idea how people might use a remote. The EPG button, the one that gets most use, appears to be a titchy triangular thing.
Silly question: why do you have to buy an Apple keyboard? Are they special in some way, perhaps with their own alphabet?
On a related topic, I recently worked at a big investment bank, where they moved the team to a different building at approximately four-month intervals. One of the hazards of this was that although your computer was moved to the new location, keyboards stayed with desks. After my last move I was confronted with a thing that should have had Bio-Hazard stickers all over it. It looked like the previous incumbent had used it for years without ever washing his hands, and had also done a good deal of eating, sneezing, nose-picking etc. Fortunately it "broke" during the first hour of use and had to be replaced with a clean one. (The bank was one of the ones we all own, so thanks for the keyboard, guys.)
Isn't it paradoxical that most modern offices have dispensers for antiseptic hand gel all over the place, but you're expected to use somebody's crusty old keyboard, which is about a hygienic as sharing a Kleenex?
Same name and DOB
I spent a few years working at a pensions company. I doubt that our customer table was anything like as large as the Pru's. Even so, it was a general principle that you can't rely on name and DOB to identify a customer. The usual procedure is to use the National Insurance number.
Re: What? no minis?
No minis, because it's a history of personal computing. I don't know about the others you mention, but you'd have had to be a power-hungry millionaire with good air conditioning and plenty of space* to use an early VAX as a PC.
* now I think about it, is there any other kind of millionaire?
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