Sunday, March 31, 2019

Yuppie career guy in NYC explains how he gave it all up and joined the proletariat

“Exploring Alternatives” presents the story of a man of about 40 who gave up a lucrative job and lifestyle in New York City to become a prole.

He became a grocery store (and natural foods store) clerk in a smaller city in upstate New York and downsized to a smaller apartment with no clutter.
I didn’t make the transition in the 2000s after the big layoff at the end of 2001 as well as he did.

I note his minimalist lifestyle in the apartment.  By having fewer possessions, it takes him very little labor and time to keep it clean (unlike my situation after downsizing not so completely from an inherited house).

He could have considered an intentional community, like Twin Oaks in VA if he wanted to make hammocks or tofu. (See Issues blog, April 7, 2012). 

Friday, March 29, 2019

Should getting a job be about "who you know"? It nearly always is

Should individual contributors in technical fields be “groomed for management” or direct sales?
We’re back to the question, “Can techies sell?” that was circulated around 2002.
People Development weighs in on this on Twitter here. 

The “Job Sauce” has a good article on whether knowing someone in a company or org is important to getting a job.  The answer is, often.  After my one early layoff in 1971, I quickly got a job in the government because I knew a chess player there (someone whom I usually beat).

There has been a debate on this question on Twitter, should you help someone you “know” get a job in your company? 

This might really work right now in the small indie journalism YouTube channel market, where there are vloggers who contract out work.  

Friday, March 22, 2019

"False positives" in Internet security scans reminds me of an old "professionalism" issue in mainframe COBOL programming

I gave this link on my “Internet Safety” blog on June 25, 2018 but I thought I would mention again here with respect to a problem that SiteLock sometimes finds in monthly “application scans” of wordpress sites. That is the “1=1” tautology problem.

The English composition (or technical writing – that’s a job description itself) in the piece is a little hard to follow (with typos) but it seems to imply that the application element is there for self-debugging, rather like a DISPLAY statement in a batch COBOL program in the old mainframe world.

The practice of allowing DISPLAY statements was viewed as unprofessional and reviewing that the programmer doesn’t have 100% confidence in what she is moving to production. With in-house written applications, which many shops had developed and maintained well into the 90s (and had to put through Y2K) you could get away with it.  And “in-house” often meant a consulting company that was running a data center for an entire government agency (like New York State MMIS in my own background -- the lower Manhattan HQ for Bradford's processing center in the late 1970s is shown above).

Starting in the late 80s, it became more common for large shops to use purchased application systems.  Vantage for the life insurance and annuity industry is one of the largest and best known. (I barely missed out on getting Vantage experience, and that is a narrative of its own – if I had, the last twenty years might have been very different than they were  -- “Vantage rules the world”).

When you work as an application programmer for a system that will in turn be sold or licensed to other companies to use for their own large-scale application (banking, insurance, securities, etc) you have to follow very strict coding standards, for consistency and professionalism.  You can’t allow “false positives”.

In the culture of Internet security, though, “false positives” are taken as inevitable and necessary.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Ted talk explains quantum computing and maybe even Superman's teleportation

Shoni Ghose gives a Ted Talk on Feb. 1, 2019 explaining Quantum Computing in 10 minutes.

Then she explains how superposition enables the quantum computer to win a coin-toss game at Las Vegas 97% of the time.  Explain it as card-counting on steroids.

The three biggest uses are quantum encryption (“unbreakable”), health care (Alzheimers treatments) and teleportation. At 8:40 in the ten minute video she literally explains the young Clark Kent’s speed on “Smallville”.

This seems to contradict another video from Harvard about faster than light information flow, see my TV blog today.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The WWW has turned 30, and I hadn't realized its existence until 1993

The World Wide Web turns 30 on March 12, and Timothy Berners-Lee reflects on how to fix it in an article in Fortune by Kevin Kelleher.

The misuse by governments and by shallow individuals looking for clickbait has become regrettable.

I first heard of the World Wide Web in early 1993, on an evening news show, sitting in an apartment, with an IBM PS-3 on my desk. I didn’t get email until Aug. 1994, when content came from AOL and Prodigy.

It wasn’t practical for most users to have their own web sites until 1996, after Section 230 passed.

But a few techies had started using it for chat as early as 1989.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

A day in the life of a software engineer in Sweden

Kalle Halden, in Stockholm Sweden, shows a day in the life of a software engineer.

From 5-8 AM (11 PM on the US East Coast) he works on web development.  He makes his breakfast with a neat heater. From 9-12 he does team training.  All the work is at home.  He works out in the gym in the afternoon.

One scene showed the cars driving the wrong way, as if it were shot in the UK.

I wondered, when he did web development, if he was thinking about Article 11 and Article 13, which could severely affect how European content is put on the web.

Wikipedia picture of mountain observatory and bizarre discovery, ESO, CCSA 4.0