Pencils Down

This weblog is about my experiences in software development

Browsing Posts tagged Brilliant Idiot

Wow! This statement is in the introductory section of an online python training manual.

1 – don’t use a debugger, huh?
2 – use print statements, kind of ok
3 – write in small increments, yes

Nothing about using some kind of testing for your development. Why not push new users into some kind of test driven development and/or agile path?

I know many of these are pretty good. I have taken several.

I have also seen, on average once a week, a craigslist ad like “Solve this Java problem for me $30″. Following the link provided the person usually doesn’t even bother taking down the heading for the course in the problem statement nor the code start.

So, this takes a little work to put the ad up and describe it in a reasonable way so someone would look at the ad.

Why not do the actual work on solve the problem?

Most of these I have seen are fairly small tasks that could be solved by RTFM or the teacher’s notes or paying attention or …

What possible advantage does someone get by paying to have a minor programming task done by someone else? Seems like just burying yourself deeper in a hole.

Most annoyed in that I take some pride in the classes I have taken online and that value is besmirched by some confused individuals.

For some reason they thought this was a good idea – It isn’t.

Follow this post to turn it back on

I live on the south shore of Massachusetts.  We recently had a pretty good winter storm hit that knocked down quite a few trees and power lines.  I am sure the local power company could not even approach to fixing all those issues on their own.  They correctly hired what appeared to be several hundred outside contractors to come into state and help.

The storm hit Friday night.

Saturday, whilst the outside contractors were arriving, someone took a wind measurement and proclaimed “high winds”.  This meant all of these contractors sitting in their trucks in a local mall had little to do.  Interesting seeing these guys walking around a mall – you can tell very few ever go inside a mall in their normal life.  You really have to envision most of a local mall packed with these bucket trucks and the contractors doing absolutely nothing for hours.  Oh, by mid-morning the weather was “pleasant” – no wind, no snow, partly-cloudy – perfect.

Sunday rolls around and the contractors are still sitting there.  Someone that talked to one of the contractors said “no one has told them what to do”.  Isn’t that amazing!  We hired all these people from out of state and no plan for what they would do when they got here.

By Monday someone woke up and started organizing their efforts.  We had power back soon.

I know I usually talk about software things, but I have been team leader, manager types many times.  I have had a budget and went to hire contractors.  There was never a day where we could afford to bring in a contractor without knowing exactly what they were going to do and how long it would take.

I don’t know about you but I get phishing attempts on a daily (seems like hourly at times) basis.  The phishing is in a couple of categories:

– Slick – these really look like the supposed company.  But then they fall on their face with a yahoo email address or oddball url for ‘click here’ to enter your info.

– Wordy – these are jam-packed emails from innocuous sounding senders with reasonable titles as well.  Maybe I do know a John Galway?  And he’s writing about the Patriots game (something I care about).  It’s only when you scroll down to the ‘stop email’ link that you can clearly see it’s phishing.

– Pathetic – English is definitely not the first language of the sender.  Typically not one complete, correctly spelled and grammatically correct sentence.  Worse is the Asian character set email – complete jibberish.

– Million dollars – any number of swindles – African, Libyan, Middle East, orphan, cripple – you name it

So, given the bunch of junk that streams in continuously – does it work?

I have to believe everyone knows better about the Million Dollars; will ignore the Pathetic; realize the Wordy is junk.  Even the Slick should sound alarms once you realize the kind of information being provided (of course, it’s too late – just clicking put you on a spam list)

Now, then, who is accepting the phishing attempt?  I am guessing close to zero.

Then why keep sending them out?

It takes time to build a phishing list (or money to buy one).  Takes money and time to develop an email program that won’t get you cut off from your ISP.  If someone actually responds you have to do something smart (money and time) with the information to take advantage of it.

I wonder if the key is ‘close to zero’ acceptance and the laws of large numbers.  Assuming you got 0.0001% response of any kind it would be just a matter of time before you had a quantity of information to work with.

Still feels like a complete waste of time (and money).  Why not spend that much (time and money) on developing a neato iPhone or Droid app?

Reading the paper lately has been really depressing:

  • Lance Armstrong accused of doping over a long period of time by teammate
  • Mark Hurd not only plays with a c0ntractor, but attempts to hide the facts by adjusting documents

Both of these men have been heroes in my book.  Armstrong overcoming cancer to win the Tour de France several times.  Hurd taking the mess of HP/Compaq and turning it into a strong contender in the hardware space.  Neither easy or short-term feats.

I guess the realization that these guys (and others) are really just human and not supermen afterall is a sad day.  Who’s left?  My interest is in software or business in general.  Does Gates or Buffet really fit the bill of hero?  I always liked the idea of having heroes.  They give you something to aspire to.  Believing in yourself is nice.  Believing you could grow to become someone as great as one of your heroes is a whole new level.

By Monica Hernandez

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) – A laptop scam has been running at the fairgrounds for the last week. And authorities say they’ve captured the men behind it.

Eddie Handford, 45, and Frank Hamilton,54, are each charged with two counts of trademark infringement and two counts of illegal sale of goods bearing counterfeit labels. Each count carries up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Hinds County officials said the men were trying to sell blocks of wood, covered in duct tape and bubble wrap, as laptops. They placed a Toshiba label on the duct tape, and another fake label had a price tag.

The men were also trying to pass off binders filled with paper as laptops.

“By the time you take it and get it home, you find you’ve purchased a block of wood, you may as well throw it in the fireplace. It’s no good,” said Lt. Jeffery Scott, public information officer with the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department.

The men were captured Thursday, after they tried to sell the counterfeit goods to an off-duty state trooper, who took down their license plate number.

“This type of thing wouldn’t happen if people weren’t trying to get something for nothing. But it’s very dangerous because it takes a lot of money out of the pocket of the consumer,” said Lt. Scott.

Officials say no one actually bought the knock-off laptops.

The men were also trying to sell fake gold chains, a camcorder, an iPod, and porn.

The wheels have come off at Satyam Computer Services (SAY). The company, which just a few weeks ago tried to pull off a giant acquisition of two companies tied to founder B. Ramalinga Raju, shocked the Indian stock market on Wednesday with news that Raju has resigned after admitting he overstated the strength of the company’s balance sheet and misreported the company’s profits. The company’s shares were trading down as much as 70% in India this morning.

Reuters has published a copy of his resignation letter, in which Raju confesses to trying to use the the failed acquisitions to “fill the fictitious assets with real ones.”

A stunning tale, which is going to cost holders a lot of money.

  Barron’s Tech Trader Daily

What a mess.  Satyam was the 4th largest IT company in India.  This puts a shadow of doubt on all companies controlled by Indians.  Possible side affects against outsourcing companies as well.

It will take a while for this to subside.  If there is another blowout from some other company (likely given the financial meltdown worldwide) this could destroy the Indian IT market.

I didn’t notice this flying by in November – probably too concerned with my 401K getting demolished:

You cofounded with venture-capital money back in 2006, and it still isn’t turning a profit. In November, the company declined Facebook’s offer to buy it for $500 million. Say what? We admire and respect Facebook. We are big fans, actually. They approached us, and we took it seriously. But we feel like we want to continue this path we’re on — sustaining this innovation — and the time is not right.

  Boston Globe interview with Biz Stone, founder of twitter.

I am voting for this as the #1 bonehead move by a tech company for 2008.

When exactly would be the right time to take $500 million for your company?  How many companies out there dream of this phone call from Facebook?

Note the article says the company has never been profitable and probably will not be for some period of time.

Further, most of the development has been funded by VC’s.  I’d like to know which VC’s.  They must have the worst lawyers/negotiating skills in the business.  How could they let this guy turn down that kind of payback?