Toward Better Programming
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '14 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's forest-for-the-binary-trees department
An anonymous reader writes "Chris Granger, creator of the flexible, open source LightTable IDE, has written a thoughtful article about the nature of programming. For years, he's been trying to answer the question: What's wrong with programming? After working on his own IDE and discussing it with hundreds of other developers, here are his thoughts: 'If you look at much of the advances that have made it to the mainstream over the past 50 years, it turns out they largely increased our efficiency without really changing the act of programming. I think the reason why is something I hinted at in the very beginning of this post: it's all been reactionary and as a result we tend to only apply tactical fixes. As a matter of fact, almost every step we've taken fits cleanly into one of these buckets. We've made things better but we keep reaching local maxima because we assume that these things can somehow be addressed independently. ... The other day, I came to the conclusion that the act of writing software is actually antagonistic all on its own. Arcane languages, cryptic errors, mostly missing (or at best, scattered) documentation — it's like someone is deliberately trying to screw with you, sitting in some Truman Show-like control room pointing and laughing behind the scenes. At some level, it's masochistic, but we do it because it gives us an incredible opportunity to shape our world.'"Read Replies (0)
By Roblimo from Slashdot's how-much-is-that-mainframe-in-the-window? department
This is a conversation with Frank Muscarello, CEO and co-founder of MarkiTx
, a company that brokers used and rehabbed IT equipment. We're not talking about an iPhone 3 you might sell on craigslist, but enterprise-level items. Cisco. Oracle. IBM mainframes. Racks full of HP or Dell servers. That kind of thing. In 2013 IDC pegged the value of the used IT equipment market at $70 billion, so this is a substantial business. MarkiTx has three main bullet points: *Know what your gear is worth; *Sell with ease at a fair price; and *Buy reliable, refurbished gear.
Pricing is the big deal, Frank says. With cars you have Cars.com
and Kelley Blue Book
. There are similar pricing services for commercial trucks, construction equipment, and nearly anything else a business or government agency might buy or sell used. For computers? Not so much. Worth Monkey
calls itself "The blue book for used electronics and more," but it only seems to list popular consumer equipment. I tried looking up several popular Dell PowerEdge servers. No joy. An HTC Sensation phone or an Acer Aspire notebook? Sure. With price ranges based on condition, same as Kelley Blue Book does with cars. Now back to the big iron. A New York bank wants to buy new servers. Their old ones are fully depreciated in the tax sense, and their CTO can show stats saying they are going to suffer from decreasing reliability. So they send out for bids on new hardware. Meanwhile, there's a bank in Goa, India, that is building a server farm on a tight budget. If they can buy used servers from the New York bank, rehabbed and with a warranty, for one-third what they'd cost new, they are going to jump on this deal the same way a small earthmoving operation buys used dump trucks a multinational construction company no longer wants.
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By Soulskill from Slashdot's one-down,-countless-thousands-to-go department
An anonymous reader writes "In February, Judge William Alsup ruled in favor of Rahinah Ibrahim, who sued the U.S. government in 2006 after she was mistakenly added to the no-fly list and subsequently denied entry to the country. Now, the Department of Justice has finally decided it won't appeal the ruling, making Ibrahim the first person to challenge the list at trial and get herself removed. 'But Ibrahim's case, as just one of hundreds of thousands of individuals who have been placed on such lists, shows the system's opacity. First, the only surefire way to even determine if one is on such a list in the U.S. is to attempt to board a flight and be denied. Even after that happens, when a denied person inquires about his or her status, the likely response will be that the government "can neither confirm nor deny" the placement on such lists. The government's surrender in Ibrahim comes on the heels of a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union that shows just how insanely difficult it is to contest one's status on the government blacklists (PDF).'"Read Replies (0)