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Re: [hackers-il] Slightly OT: A story I started to write

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  • Nadav Har'El
    ... Of course, PDF is ok too! Both PDF and Postscript are hardcopy formats, meaning that they will (or at least, should) look the same anywhere, regardless
    Message 1 of 23 , Dec 8, 2000
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      On Fri, Dec 08, 2000, Shlomi Fish wrote about "Re: [hackers-il] Slightly OT: A story I started to write":
      > As for EEers using Postscript. I think in the Technion, EEers prefer PDF,
      > and we rarely see Postscript around here because the other EEers rarely
      > use UNIX as most of the programs we need on a day to day basis are on
      > Windows. Some heavy digital circuit simulation programs exist for UNIXes
      > only, but most of the other programs are present only on Windows or on
      > Windows too.

      Of course, PDF is ok too! Both PDF and Postscript are "hardcopy" formats,
      meaning that they will (or at least, should) look the same anywhere, regardless
      of whether the user installed fonts, bidi software, equation editors, or
      whatever, on his or her system.

      BTW, for your information, (or rather, for your system administrators'
      information), ghostscript is available on Windows too :) AND, postscript
      printers (I'm having a real hard time to believe you don't have one of
      those in EE!) require postscript output from Windows - not PDF... But never
      mind ;)

      --
      Nadav Har'El | Friday, Dec 8 2000, 12 Kislev 5761
      nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
      Phone: +972-53-245868, ICQ 13349191 |What's the difference between roast beef
      http://nadav.harel.org.il |and pea soup? Anyone can roast beef.
    • Nadav Har'El
      ... There s a problem in answering your question... If I answer it, it would imply that I consider myself a star programmer , and doing that is a faux-pas
      Message 2 of 23 , Dec 8, 2000
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        On Fri, Dec 08, 2000, Omer Zak wrote about "[hackers-il] The dream retinue for star programmers":
        > Here is a question to the real star programmers among us:

        There's a problem in answering your question... If I answer it, it would imply
        that I consider myself a "star programmer", and doing that is a faux-pas (ein
        hanachtom meid al isato, you know). So let's start off by saying that I'm
        answering as a "Nadav" that igored the first line of your posting :)

        > Partial list of suggestions:
        > 1. Software tester to test for you the brilliant code which you wrote.
        > 2. Technical writer to spare you from the pain of documenting your code
        > yourself.

        Personally, I would consider either of these a PITA (pain-in-the-a**), because
        it would mean that I have to explain everything I do to two people, and I
        would have to strongly rely on two other people (because botching up either
        the testing or the documentation would make users think that what I did sucks).

        Yes, I would like for my employer to limit the amount of red-tape (beaurocracy)
        I'm required to do, but not by having me explain to someone how he should do
        this red-tape for me.

        Of course, I'm talking about documentation and testing that occurs during
        devlopment. Final user-level documentation and QA can be done by special
        people, for all I care, if the people doing that are capable enough that they
        can do these things without me having to spend weeks with them explaining
        them what they should document or test.

        > 3. Big desk.
        > 4. Big, flat panel display (or, better, two displays).

        Yes, a comfortable desk (big enough and in the correct height), shelves,
        and stuff like that, are extremely important. And so is a big display (I
        have to admit that I am disappointed by the 17" display my current employer
        gave me - my previous employer gave me a 21" display).

        A flat-panel display isn't important, unless the desk is NOT big enough.

        Two displays is an utter waste, of money and of desk-space, and you shouldn't
        even consider it, not even if you're working on two different computers (e.g.,
        Windows and Unix) - you should use a display/keyboard/mouse switch or
        X-Windows or VNC or something, and manage with one display, one keyboard,
        and one mouse. I know what I'm talking about - at my previous employer, I
        had 6 computers (!) by my desk, but only one display :)

        I would also add a soundcard: it can cost as little as 66 shekels (that's
        the price of the one I got), and listening to music on the job can be a lot
        of fun :)


        > 5. Fast Internet connection.

        Of course, although probably everyone needs this nowadays, not only "star"
        programmers.

        > 6. Junior programmer who will perform the boring tasks which you specify.

        I can just see the job ad you post for these junior programmers: "come work
        for us, and you'll do all the boring task that our stuck-up snob
        star-programmers refuse to do" :)

        > 7. Information specialist, to search literature and the Internet for any
        > facts that the programmer needs.

        This is sometimes called a "librarian"... I don't think you really need one
        in your company, it's even better if you have access to some big library
        (e.g., the Technion's) where you can get books you need at a moment's notice.

        Of course, you should also order any book the programmer requests with no
        questions asked (and these books should belong to the programmer, not the
        company [1]).

        [1] My current employer, and my previous employer, are both stuck with the
        notion that books you order belong to your employer, and you need to return
        them if you quit. This makes certain sense, but it also generates many
        problems (do they really need that "TeXbook" I ordered when I was the only
        one who used TeX?), and after leaving my previous job book-less I decided
        that I cannot stand it any more, and I started buying all the books I want
        with my own money. This is costing me a lot of money, but I consider it
        worthwhile, and now I have my own copy of many of the books I consider
        "great". However, I still expect a more generous employer to buy those books
        for me, to use them to help him and what I do with them after I quit is my
        own business. Just like I don't return to him the knowledge I gather while
        working for him, I should be returning the books I've read.

        > Any other wild ideas?

        A laptop?
        A fast internet connection at home and/or a cellular Internet connection for
        the cellphone?
        A masseuse? :)

        --
        Nadav Har'El | Friday, Dec 8 2000, 12 Kislev 5761
        nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
        Phone: +972-53-245868, ICQ 13349191 |If God is watching us, the least we can
        http://nadav.harel.org.il |do is be entertaining.
      • Shlomi Fish
        ... What I would like is the dream software-development tool. Something that if you declare a new variable it will ask you what you are going to do with it,
        Message 3 of 23 , Dec 8, 2000
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          On Fri, 8 Dec 2000, Omer Zak wrote:

          > Here is a question to the real star programmers among us:
          >
          > Suppose you are working for a company, which understands the value of star
          > programmers, and is prepared to hire as many support personnel and buy as
          > much furniture and equipment as needed, so that you the star programmer
          > will be able to work in the most efficient way possible.
          >
          > What would you recommend the company to equip you with?
          > The idea is that it is very difficult to find, hire and retain star
          > programmers, so they will be the bottleneck to the organization's
          > performance. But there are several other intelligent persons, who just
          > cannot excel in programming to to various reasons. But their other skills
          > could help star programmers save their time.
          >
          > Partial list of suggestions:
          > 1. Software tester to test for you the brilliant code which you wrote.
          > 2. Technical writer to spare you from the pain of documenting your code
          > yourself.
          > 3. Big desk.
          > 4. Big, flat panel display (or, better, two displays).
          > 5. Fast Internet connection.
          > 6. Junior programmer who will perform the boring tasks which you specify.
          > 7. Information specialist, to search literature and the Internet for any
          > facts that the programmer needs.
          >
          > Any other wild ideas?
          >

          What I would like is the dream software-development tool. Something that
          if you declare a new variable it will ask you what you are going to do
          with it, and detect if you do something else. Something that will enable
          one to write documentation that corresponds to any line in the code and
          ask the user what it doesn't understand.

          Also, something like that that can decipher other people's code, but
          that's usually impossible. Also, a very smart and intelligent lint. Even
          tough, I don't usually use lint even for UNIX.

          Regards,

          Shlomi Fish

          P.S: only others can judge whether I am a star programmer or not, (you can
          find software I wrote on my homepage and I can send you some more), but
          basically this is something I'd like as a programmer, whether star or not.


          --- Omer
          > WARNING TO SPAMMERS: at http://www.zak.co.il/spamwarning.html
          >
          >
          >
          > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
          > hackers-il-unsubscribe@egroups.com
          >
          >
          >
          >



          ----------------------------------------------------------------------
          Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
          Home Page: http://t2.technion.ac.il/~shlomif/
          Home E-mail: shlomif@...

          The prefix "God Said" has the extraordinary logical property of
          converting any statement that follows it into a true one.
        • Omer Zak
          ... Perhaps I started the message way it was started because I do consider myself to be a star programmer. :-) ... How about someone who knows to perform code
          Message 4 of 23 , Dec 8, 2000
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            On Fri, 8 Dec 2000, Nadav Har'El wrote:

            > On Fri, Dec 08, 2000, Omer Zak wrote about "[hackers-il] The dream retinue for star programmers":
            > > Here is a question to the real star programmers among us:
            >
            > There's a problem in answering your question... If I answer it, it would imply
            > that I consider myself a "star programmer", and doing that is a faux-pas (ein
            > hanachtom meid al isato, you know). So let's start off by saying that I'm
            > answering as a "Nadav" that igored the first line of your posting :)

            Perhaps I started the message way it was started because I do consider
            myself to be a star programmer. :-)

            > > Partial list of suggestions:
            > > 1. Software tester to test for you the brilliant code which you wrote.
            > > 2. Technical writer to spare you from the pain of documenting your code
            > > yourself.
            >
            > Personally, I would consider either of these a PITA (pain-in-the-a**), because
            > it would mean that I have to explain everything I do to two people, and I
            > would have to strongly rely on two other people (because botching up either
            > the testing or the documentation would make users think that what I did sucks).

            How about someone who knows to perform code inspections, only can't
            originally create the masterpiece? He would inspect your code, find and
            note any problems with it, and also document it. He would also run the
            code and test it.

            The drawback is that such people would probably deserve their own star
            status (i.e. hard to find and worth a lot as well). So continue to think.

            > I would also add a soundcard: it can cost as little as 66 shekels (that's
            > the price of the one I got), and listening to music on the job can be a lot
            > of fun :)

            According to DeMarco and Lister's "Peopleware", 2nd edition, chapter 12
            ("Bring back the door"), research made in Cornell University demonstrated
            that people use the same brain center for listening to music and for
            creativity (needed to create the really novel solutions to problems).
            Thus, hearing music on programming job is bad for your creativity.

            Due to obvious reasons (no offense meant or taken, ShlomiF :-) ) I can't
            personally vouch for the correctness of the above claim.

            > > 6. Junior programmer who will perform the boring tasks which you specify.
            >
            > I can just see the job ad you post for these junior programmers: "come work
            > for us, and you'll do all the boring task that our stuck-up snob
            > star-programmers refuse to do" :)

            A better way to phrase the same way is "come and work as apprentice to
            today's brightest programming stars, learn their secrets and ways of
            thinking, and 7 years from now you will too be a star programmer".

            > > 7. Information specialist, to search literature and the Internet for any
            > > facts that the programmer needs.
            >
            > This is sometimes called a "librarian"... I don't think you really need one
            > in your company, it's even better if you have access to some big library
            > (e.g., the Technion's) where you can get books you need at a moment's notice.

            This is not the same. Librarians deal mostly with finding, loaning,
            returning and repairing books. Information specialists gather information
            from all sources, and know where to find the answer to any question.

            > > Any other wild ideas?
            >
            > A laptop?
            > A fast internet connection at home and/or a cellular Internet connection for
            > the cellphone?
            > A masseuse? :)

            Continue suggesting more wild ideas.
            --- Omer
            WARNING TO SPAMMERS: see at http://www.zak.co.il/spamwarning.html
          • mulix
            ... If i were a star programmer, i wouldn t be reading my mail on friday night, i d be coding the next linux, from scratch, and be done debugging it by the
            Message 5 of 23 , Dec 8, 2000
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              On Fri, 8 Dec 2000, Omer Zak wrote:

              > Here is a question to the real star programmers among us:

              If i were a star programmer, i wouldn't be reading my mail on friday
              night, i'd be coding the next linux, from scratch, and be done debugging
              it by the time the takeout arrives.

              > What would you recommend the company to equip you with?

              here's my wish list:

              flexible working hours. i work when i want to.

              flexible working location. onsite or offsite, at my discretion. have
              laptop and internet connection, will travel.

              flexible projects and choice of technology. c++, c, java, perl, commodore
              asm if that's what i want to do the prohject in (and i can give sufficient
              technical arguments to support my whim)

              > Partial list of suggestions:
              > 1. Software tester to test for you the brilliant code which you wrote.
              > 2. Technical writer to spare you from the pain of documenting your code
              > yourself.

              i would like to have ultimate control over my staff memebrs. to be able to
              decide who to work with and who not to.

              > 4. Big, flat panel display (or, better, two displays).

              in general, a computer which makes my task, programming, as easy as
              possible. and i decide what defines such a computer, naturally.

              > 5. Fast Internet connection.

              wholeheartedly agree.

              > 7. Information specialist, to search literature and the Internet for any
              > facts that the programmer needs.

              access to any knowledge source i need, be it in electronic form or
              dead-tree form. no questions asked as to why i need it or how much it
              costs.

              > --- Omer
              > WARNING TO SPAMMERS:at http://www.zak.co.il/spamwarning.html
              --
              mulix

              linux/reboot.h: #define LINUX_REBOOT_MAGIC1 0xfee1dead
            • Chen Shapira
              ... I m interested.
              Message 6 of 23 , Dec 10, 2000
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                >
                > Well, I decided to maintain a list of addresses of people who are
                > interested in daily or even more frequent updates to when the story is
                > updated. E-mail me if you wish to be added.

                I'm interested.
              • Chen Shapira
                ... I would get a tool maker. Whenever I need CVs to do just something else, and Yet another emacs feature, or a small script to do specific tasks, I find
                Message 7 of 23 , Dec 10, 2000
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                  > Any other wild ideas?

                  I would get a tool maker.

                  Whenever I need CVs to do just something else, and Yet another emacs
                  feature, or a small script to do specific tasks, I find myself wishing for
                  someone else who would know perl/emacs-lisp better than I do and do it for
                  me.
                  Same for writing setups and doing builds.
                  (where I work they have a special team handling CVS/Build/Setup for
                  everyone, its fantastic!)
                • Chen Shapira
                  ... I think everyone gets a decent amount of those. Ofcourse the more valuable you are the higher the value of good and decent become. So those are
                  Message 8 of 23 , Dec 10, 2000
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                    > Besides, I woild like to have a decent salary, good stock
                    > options share
                    > and a car.

                    I think everyone gets a decent amount of those.
                    Ofcourse the more valuable you are the higher the value of "good" and
                    "decent" become.
                    So those are automatic :-)
                  • Omer Musaev
                    ... ... Contrary to Nadav s experience, I find 3 monitors on a desk a good thing:) Hovewer, as mulix stated, a perfect computer is a question of
                    Message 9 of 23 , Dec 10, 2000
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                      mulix wrote:

                      > On Fri, 8 Dec 2000, Omer Zak wrote:
                      >
                      >
                      >> Here is a question to the real star programmers among us:
                      >
                      > If i were a star programmer, i wouldn't be reading my mail on friday
                      > night, i'd be coding the next linux, from scratch, and be done debugging
                      > it by the time the takeout arrives.
                      >
                      >
                      >> What would you recommend the company to equip you with?
                      >
                      <snip>

                      >> 4. Big, flat panel display (or, better, two displays).
                      >
                      > in general, a computer which makes my task, programming, as easy as
                      > possible. and i decide what defines such a computer, naturally.

                      Contrary to Nadav's experience, I find 3 monitors on a desk a good
                      thing:) Hovewer, as mulix stated,
                      a perfect computer is a question of personal decision.

                      >> 5. Fast Internet connection.
                      >
                      > wholeheartedly agree.
                      >
                      >
                      >> 7. Information specialist, to search literature and the Internet for any
                      >> facts that the programmer needs.
                      >
                      > access to any knowledge source i need, be it in electronic form or
                      > dead-tree form. no questions asked as to why i need it or how much it
                      > costs.


                      While I am not considering myself a star programmer, I think that LOTS
                      of disk space on netapp
                      and personal budget, i.e. readiness of employer to purchase whatever I
                      think could help me is
                      a good thing TM.

                      Besides, I woild like to have a decent salary, good stock options share
                      and a car.


                      omerm
                    • Gilad Ben-Yossef
                      ... To comment on some previous comments regarding how does one knows whether she is a star programer? then I guess my answer would be: If you happen to work
                      Message 10 of 23 , Dec 10, 2000
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                        Omer Zak wrote:

                        > Here is a question to the real star programmers among us:

                        To comment on some previous comments regarding "how does one knows
                        whether she is a star programer?" then I guess my answer would be:

                        If you happen to work for a multinational corporation and you happen to
                        drive back to your (company supplied) home in a Southern California
                        "gated community" (3 pools, tennis courts, electric gates) by the
                        wonderful (Really!) road going between Malibu and Thousand Oaks, and
                        while driving the (company supplied) car you happen to hit a car going
                        the other way and totally trash your and the other drivers car (but no
                        one gets hurt) and the company simply sends you a new car and have their
                        lawyers take care of everything for you, without you having to to pay a
                        penny, display insurance papers etc. then you must be a star programer :-)

                        <sigh> Yes, I was once that good... ;-))

                        Now seriously, you seem to describe something very similar to the
                        "Surgical Team" that Fred Brooks describes in chapter 3 of the now
                        famous "The Mythical Man-Month". Since I can't quote the entire chapter
                        I'd advice you to go read the book. It's boring as hell, but still very
                        important.

                        Besides it (the book) makes a hell of a crushing answer when some dumb
                        ass pointy haired manager tries to convince you to take in new team
                        members to try and make a late project deliver on time and you go:
                        "That will only make the project *MORE* late, not less!" and he goes:
                        "Says who?". At this point I simply send them the title and the ISBN of
                        the book and a link to it on Amazon.. ;-)

                        I always thought the Surgical Team idea is very good except of the
                        social implications but never heard of any place this actually got tried
                        out in.

                        Interestingly, once can think of the Open Source development model
                        presented by Linux and ilk as a sort of Surgical Team development:
                        The developers write code, someone else tests, yet someone else
                        documents (well, maybe... ;-) This in addition to many of the
                        "communication and administration" functions becoming unnecessary
                        because of the extremely low cost of communication.
                        Well, maybe I'm stretching it too far...

                        Gilad.

                        --
                        Gilad Ben-Yossef <gilad@...>
                        http://benyossef.com :: +972(54)756701
                        "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, while interrupts are disabled. "
                        -- Murphey's law of kernel programing.
                      • Shlomi Fish
                        ... Then subscribe to shlomif-tpdos-subscribe@vipe.technion.ac.il and I ll send notices there whenever I update it. God bless ezmlm. Regards, Shlomi Fish ...
                        Message 11 of 23 , Dec 11, 2000
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                          On Sun, 10 Dec 2000, Chen Shapira wrote:

                          >
                          > >
                          > > Well, I decided to maintain a list of addresses of people who are
                          > > interested in daily or even more frequent updates to when the story is
                          > > updated. E-mail me if you wish to be added.
                          >
                          > I'm interested.
                          >

                          Then subscribe to shlomif-tpdos-subscribe@... and I'll
                          send notices there whenever I update it. God bless ezmlm.

                          Regards,

                          Shlomi Fish

                          >
                          > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                          > hackers-il-unsubscribe@egroups.com
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >



                          ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
                          Home Page: http://t2.technion.ac.il/~shlomif/
                          Home E-mail: shlomif@...

                          The prefix "God Said" has the extraordinary logical property of
                          converting any statement that follows it into a true one.
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