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Posts Tagged ‘Opinion’

IT Graduates Not Happy With Courses

January 11th, 2006 1 comment

Apparently 46% (in this survey, at least) of UK IT Graduates are not happy with their courses saying that they failed to prepare them for working in “the real world”.

I would sit myself firmly in the 54% of the other Graduates that are happy with what I did at University. I think that may be the 46% were not aware of what they have been taught:Graduates were disappointed they were not taught Java and .NET – despite demand for them in the commercial sector.This makes me think that they have made an oversight. I was taught several languages at University, but only briefly touched on Java, and had no (at University, at least) experience of working with Microsoft .Net. The fact that both of these products (along with other, important, commercial products such as Oracle) are now available as a free download which these graduates could go to learn on their own, is not stated.

Even though I wasn’t taught them fully, I feel that I would not have a problem with switching to these languages. Why? Because I was taught how to program, not how to program in X, Y, or Z languages. The skills are very transferable, if you put your mind to it (incidentally, I am not stating that all programming languages are the same – they are not, but many ideas and concepts do, readily, transfer).

Let me put this into the context of an analogy:

Imagine that, at University, you were taught to drive a car. You were taught what all the pedals were for, how to steer, when to change gear, how to drive in traffic, the whole lot; except the only car the University had available for you to drive and to practice in was, for example, a Honda, and sometimes there was a Vauxhall on offer if you took the right course in your third year.

You then graduate from University, and start looking for a job, advertising yourself as a “driver”, as there is little need for a specific “Honda Only driver (with some experience of Vauxhalls)”.

When you get to your job, you are asked to drive a Ford.

When you immediately get into the car, most things are the same, and you can more-or-less start driving straight away. OK, every now and again, you forget where the windscreen washer is, or it takes you a bit of time to get used to the gear box, but after a while you are driving well. Could you then say that you felt disappointed because your University did not teach you to drive a Ford? Most things are the same, except for a few little levers and things, but the principles are all exactly the same.

University is not about learning specifics – it is about learning principles. The problem with principles though, is that you can’t use “principles”, you have to use an implementation of those principles, which may have included, changed or excluded those principles at will.

Ignoring those principles, and only absorbing implementation specifics is a unwise thing to do.

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How the hell did I miss this?

January 9th, 2006 No comments

Just stumbled across this story on “The Register“: French woman tried to pop out for mid-flight ciggie

Jesus.

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Article: Either Support Safari, Or Lose Customers

December 13th, 2005 No comments

This article, entitled “Either Support Safari, Or Lose Customers” makes a lot of sense, but I don’t think it gets to the point well enough. In summary, the article says that unless website designers do not support Safari, then they will alienate Apple users.

My point is this: I don’t understand how a website can do this. To “not support” Safari, requires specific logic to detect the browser specifically, and refuse entry. Why have they not designed the site against a recognised W3C standard? In short, Mozilla Firefox (and other “Sea Monkey” derivatives), Konqueror and KHTML (which Safari is based on), and now several other browser engines all conform to W3C standards for the most part of XHTML, and CSS. In fact, it is Internet Explorer that does not parse web sites correctly. However, given a standards compatible site, Internet Explorer will do a pretty damn good job of rendering it.

So then, the logic follows, instead of making a website that looks good in one browser only, why not make a website that will appear good in the new wave of browsers (which will include Internet Explorer 7 when it is released) but won’t look terrible in the one browser that doesn’t go by the book? That way, there would be no need to alienate users of operating systems, or alternative browsers, that you haven’t thought to cater for.

I used to code the other way round – make sites that look good in IE, and just check that they work OKish in Netscape. Now, I flipped that around. I develop my sites for (and using) Firefox, and get them to validate. During the process, I then check the site design in IE, KHTML, and now that I have my Mac, Safari and Camino too.

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A Lot Of Hate

December 13th, 2005 No comments

There seems to be a lot of hate today, from people in the Linux community.

It’s strange that, in my experience, the developers of Open Source Software (in this case, and from my experience, I’m talking mostly Linux here), don’t really care too much if people use their “product” or not – they just want to make it the best that they can.

If someone in the tech community makes a statement criticising OSS, it is the users that jump up and down, and start to get angy. It also appears that it is those people who make the least valid point (as is so wonderously demonstrated here).

From my experience of developers’ reactions, their come back is some what more subdued – it tends to be more along the lines of “OK, fine. You don’t like us. I can still sleep at night” – as is so brilliantly described here.

What I don’t get though, is why the users are so determined to defend OSS. My opinion is “Sure, it’s great. I use it a lot and I certainly appreciate all the work that people have gone through to get this to me – Well Done. But it does have it’s faults….” – it just seems that some people cannot see that OSS does have faults, bugs, etc, just like any other piece of software, so why do they get so uptight when someone points it out?

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Praise Be To The BBC

December 7th, 2005 No comments

Something has just made me think how much I appreciate the BBC, and the way that is funded (for those not in the know, it’s funded by an annual License Fee, paid by all residencies with a television set).

The BBC has an amazing news site at http://news.bbc.co.uk where anyone in the world can access it for free. The BBC are currently in a technology/Internet push, and so they continue to embrace news ideas and new technologies. Because of this, I am able to sign up for as many RSS feeds from their site as I like, which are updated “every minute of every day” and include about 30 top stories per feed – all for free. I don’t need to register, I don’t need to tell them who or where I am, it’s all anonymous.

Compare this to the Spanish newspaper “El Mundo”.

I learnt Spanish to A-Level standard, and the other day I decided that I would like to get back more practice with the language. To do this, I decided the best way would be to read Spanish newspapers. So this morning, I went to the “El Mundo” site (http://www.elmundo.es), and tried to find an RSS feed. After waiting through an advert, that I could see no way to cancel (N.B. None of this on the BBC site – they don’t need to, thank god), I was confronted with the front page.

I tried to use automatic feed discovery in my RSS reader (the Sage plugin for Firefox), but it could not find any. I hunted high and low for an orange “RSS” button, and checked to see if one had been identified by Firefox (they are usually shown in the address bar, or in the status bar) – none was present. I even viewed the source code to see if they had messed up the “embedding” in the page. Nope, not there.

Eventually, I noticed that there was a link (not the standard orange button) at the bottom of the page (rather amusingly, it advertised that it uses IPv4 – wow! – and is a member of the W3C – why?). Anyway, turns out that to view RSS feeds, you need to register (admittedly for free), telling them who and where I am. I needed to provide an email address, so that they could send me a PIN number to access the feeds. So I registered, received my PIN and logged in. It appears that I can subscribe to 2 out of there 6, or so, feeds at any one time. Not only that, but each feed is updated only once every 2 hours for each user, and I only get 6 stories per feed.

That’s absolutely terrible. The idea of RSS, is that it can be syndicated easily – I shouldn’t have to wait 2 hours to get the latest information about 6 stories.

I don’t bloody believe it! It looks like they have already reduced it so I can only five stories at a time!
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Spooks

November 11th, 2005 No comments

Damn it! They bloody well did it again! Another amazing cliff-hanger at the end of the season – these things get my so irrate because I need to know what happens next (and have to wait a year to find out!), but paradoxically, I love them and their ingenuity.

Last night was the last in the current season of Spooks, on BBC One. My god, it’s been back on form this season. Season 3 was a bit of a disappointment for me, seeing as they spoilt the cliff hanger at the end of season 2 in the advert for the upcoming season, and also because all 3 main cast members left.

Season 4 has been absolutely brilliant again, and I had a double surprise because I thought that last night’s episode was number 9 out of 10, and not the final one! It was another outstanding cliff hanger (which I won’t go and spoil for people who haven’t seen it yet) and leaves a great number of questions unanswered for next season. Spooks obviously have a very talented set of script writers, one of which (at least) has written the brilliant novel “Good News, Bad News” (I would certainly recommend it!), and I’m hoping that season 5 will continue with their excellent tradition.

Well done BBC, another brilliant series in the bag!

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Lance Ulanoff Is An Arse

November 10th, 2005 No comments

Actually, he might not be, but he has written a stupid article for PCMag.com (Link) about his top 10 computer peeves for 2005.

I though that it would be quite a good article describing some of the worst interface designs, etc, but it appears to be a pointless whinge. I’ll address each of his points:

  1. Telling Time – What do you want? Microsoft to invent the crystal ball? The speed is calculated from the rate that data is being received by your computer. This can change due to many things, and affects all computers, not just ones running Windows.

    Firstly, the Internet is not a fixed beast of wiring. There is not a single wire connecting every single computer to one another, and so data gets routed around between different computers in order to find the best route. That route can be affected by computers crashing, links getting blocked by too much traffic using it, and everything can be affected by the number of people using the Internet. The Internet needs to do this in order for it stay working.

    Secondly, it depends on how you are transferring the file (as in, which protocol). I know for a fact that many FTP servers do load balancing, so that the connections that are transferring larger files get less bandwidth than smaller files (the idea being that it will get rid of as many connections as possible in the fastest time).

    Finally, it depends on what you are doing. Each connection to the Internet that you have (e.g. email, web browser, IM, FTP connections, etc) all use a portion of the bandwidth allocated to you. The more connections, the smaller the portion.

  2. Can You Hear Me Now? – Simple, stop fucking with your Audio settings! Something is changing them, and it’s either a piece of software (which you have changed the sound settings in), or it’s you changing them. And as for the icon disappearing? See that little blue arrow to the left of the system tray? That’s there to hide icons that you don’t necessarily need to see. It’s called a feature.
  3. Fast Dial-Up – A fair point, but it’s not really a computer peeve, is it? They may have some point in what they say, though. They could have upgraded their bandwidth, installed caches, implemented v92 standards, which could let them justify their case; but again, it does sound dubious.
  4. It’s Video – You seem to have the impression that Microsoft run all the Internet software on your computer. If AIM is playing sound back at the wrong point, it’s a fault of AOL, not Microsoft. That said, you do have a fair point – it is annoying.

    I do love this quote though:In general, the Web is now video-happy.It’s always been “Video-Happy”, due to the very nature of HTTP, it’s just that Browsers have started supporting more.

  5. Bad Buddies – Why on earth would you sign up for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”? Never mind, I think I understand.

    The point is, if this is happening, then tell someone about it. If AOL don’t know this is happening, then they won’t know that they need to do something about it – people can’t mind read, they need to be told.

  6. Microsoft Word – OK, everyone agrees that Smart Tags suck. If they are getting turned back on again, something is doing that. Work out what it is.

    I’m not entirely sure what you mean when you say I am tired of having to put “English” on the mouse when I select text. I’m not playing Ping-Pong.Are you writing the word “English” on your mouse? – that could be your problem – did you buy it abroad?

    Your next point is totally unacceptable though. You seem to be blaming Microsoft for your hand spasms. It is true that Undo was invented to reverse a mistake, but I don’t really think that it is Microsoft that is being stupid in this case.

  7. Driver, Please! – Drivers are a hot bed of problems. When you think about it, they are actually doing a hell of a lot of work. Not only do they need to be able to hook into the Windows API correctly, they also have to be able to accurately communicate with physical hardware correctly, in all combinations of hardware. It is inevitable that they do not work with all hardware combinations. In this instance, it is the driver manufacturer’s fault, and not Microsoft’s. Vista may fix things, but only if the driver manufacturers do their thing properly
  8. Too Many Buttons – Don’t buy a mouse with so many buttons, fuck wit. Plus they have the benefit of being cheaper.
  9. Pop-Up Spyware Arms Race – Like you say, it is an arms race. Things change. To put this in another context: Someone invented the sword. So someone invented chain mail. So someone invented the arrow. So someone invented thicker shields. After a while, someone invented the gun, so someone invented a bullet proof vest. Someone invented armour piercing bullets, so someone invented Kevlar, and so on. When someone invents a form of attack to get around someone’s defence, those defences need improving, and so the cycle continues. Outlawing Pop-Ups – good luck enforcing that one!
  10. Unreliable Wireless – Jesus, would you look at what you are complaining about.

    Just sit and think about this for a moment. You are sat, using a device the size of an A4 pad. That device has more processing power than it took to put a man on the moon. It has no wires, no power leads, and yet still keeps going. And you complain that natural background radio waves interfere with your precious AIM sessions?

    The amount of hours of pure invention and dedication by thousands of highly skilled technicians throughout the world and throughout the years, appears to mean nothing to you because of the physics of radio waves.

    Give a little praise once in a while for those people who do this, but get little praise and who no-one knows their names, and realise the miracles of processing power that people use everyday, but give little thought to.

  11. Lousy Tech Repair People – As far as I can tell, you problem here is that Radio Shack have a slow Internet connection on their till systems? If you think that you could do a better job, then give it a try. At least it would stop you whinging.
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My Life In Numbers

October 30th, 2005 1 comment

It struck me the other day, that time has flown by. I realised that I started University over 5 years ago – that is just ridiculous. I remember it as if it was yesterday.

Here’s a list of other stuff that just shocks me:

  • 5 Years ago, I passed my A-Levels
  • 7 Years ago, I passed my GCSEs
  • 6 Years ago, I was diagnosed with Glandular Fever
  • 6 Years ago (almost to the day – Oct. 26th) I passed my driving test (second time lucky!)
  • 4.75 years ago, I had my first car stolen.

Jesus. I’m getting old.

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Damn American….

October 5th, 2005 No comments

authors that don’t know symbols when they see them!

I’m currently reading Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (it’s the book in the series before “The Da Vinci Code”), and I’ve just hit the beginning of chapter 56. It starts with the following line:The four unmarked Alpha Romeo 155 T-Sparks roared down Via dei Coronari like fighter jets off a runway.This annoys me. The main character, Robert Langdon, is a symbologist, and therefore there are many references to symbols and symbology from ancient history.

What Brown has failed to do though, is notice that the car is actually called the τ-Spark – the first letter is the greek symbol “Tau” (lower case). Next time you see one, have a look, it’s not a “t” but a Tau.

Incidentally, for this post, I found this site, which appears to republish the entire “Angels and Demons” book verbatim – something that I am sure is not legal!

He’s also spelt the name of the car wrong! It’s called an “Alfa Romeo” not “Alpha Romeo”!
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“The Protest Rocket”

September 3rd, 2005 No comments

Erm, there’s something problematic with the principal of this”Protest Rocket“. The idea is to cycle around somewhere, e.g. the houses of parliament, or your local GM crop, pop something into the rocket (e.g. propaganda leaflets, or GM Weeds to take on the crops), and then fire the rocket.

My only issue with this is the sheer stupidity of doing this in London right now. You know what I mean, the capital city where it’s dangerous to run for the tube with a rucsac on! (Via)

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