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Though I basically agree with Jeff's point, I'm going to put in a good word for regulated monopolies. At the time AT&T was granted its monopoly it was widely believed that this was the best way to establish universal phone service. Given the technology of the time, nobody wanted to be the sucker that would string phone line to isolated farms in the middle of Kansas. Yeah, it would have increased the value of the network as a whole, but no company wanted to be the one trying to pay for those wires by billing 1 or two farmers per square mile. AT&T said they'd do it, >if< they could have a national monopoly on phone service. This may be anathema to the free market, but by God, we did get universal phone service which has been a huge boon to the health and productivity of the US. Secondarily, Bell Labs was managed as part of the public service required of the company under the terms of the monopoly. When the monopoly ended, the corporate rationale for the pure research at the lab went away, and shortly after the break-up the lab went away (or at least the pure research stuff). It may be a shame that we didn't get Tuttle's hush-a-phone, but we did get the transistor, which is perhaps some compensation.
Toggle Commented Feb 19, 2011 on The Importance of Net Neutrality at Coding Horror
"Networks start out open and then rapidly swing closed as they are increasingly regulated" Argh! You see that cable switch box out in your front yard? The one that's connected to the underground cables that go under your street and that cross your property? Did Comcast pay you for the easement that let's their wiring cross your property. No? That's because Comcast or the local company that they bought out, worked out a monopoly deal with your local government. They promised to provide a public service as a part of their business, and in return the government used its power of eminent domain to get them their easements at minimal cost. If the cable companies and the phone want to get out from the thumb of government regulation they can bloody well give up their common carrier status, give back all their easements, and buy their rights of way like any other business would have to.
Toggle Commented Feb 19, 2011 on The Importance of Net Neutrality at Coding Horror
I'm curious how all the free market fans feel about the fact that the cable companies and phone companies built their networks through extensive use of regional monopolies, easements over public land, and government power of eminent domain? That was then, this is now? As far as the impingement on net neutrality being a "what if" fantasy, have we already forgotten the spat between Netflix and Comcast two months ago? I don't want free bandwidth. If I use 10OMb/sec for an hour I'm happy to pay for it. I just don't want to pay one rate for the Disney Chanel and another rate for WikkiLeaks. If the ISPs want to charge differential rates by content source, at the very least they need to give up their common carrier status, and give back all those lovely easements.
Toggle Commented Feb 16, 2011 on The Importance of Net Neutrality at Coding Horror
If one person knows .NET very well but has to write four lines of code for an algorithm, but the next guy knows C++ very well and uses a modulus operator for the same algorithm shortened to one line, but doesn't know .NET well, I'll take the first guy in a heartbeat. But it's not an either/or choice. There are candidates out there who know algorithms (or at least the modulus operator!) and .NET and and can implement pragmatic business solutions. It's a competitive market. Why would I settle for someone who only has one or two of the skills I'm looking for? Sure there are lot more candidates who are only competent in one or two areas, but that why I want to screen them out as quickly as possible. As an aside, I'm baffled by folks claiming the modulus operator is some obscure 'mathy' thing. It's the natural operation to use whenever you to execute some statement in a loop only every nth time through. For example printing a progress message only every 100th time through a loop. For pity's sake, VB has 8 arithmetic operators and C# only has 5. You can't be bothered to remember the meaning of 5 operators? Yes, I'm sure you do everything you need to without it, but you could also write all your code using only IF and GOTO. Why would you want to?
Toggle Commented Mar 14, 2010 on The Non-Programming Programmer at Coding Horror
From the previous deluge of post it seems that a computer science degree is the least desirable option to learn real world problem solving No, a computer science degree is fine; you just have to do it right. That means you can't just sleepwalk through the courses, pass the exams, and get the diploma. You have to seek out practicums, research projects, and internships, or start your own programming projects trying to apply the theory you've learned in the classes.
Toggle Commented Mar 8, 2010 on The Non-Programming Programmer at Coding Horror
OK, from the comments I think we've established that we shouldn't give take home problems because people will cheat, and we shouldn't ask people to write code at the interview because they might be nervous. We shouldn't ask for code samples because code from their current job is proprietary, and not everyone has time to write code at home, because some people have real lives and shouldn't be penalized for it. We shouldn't ask mathy or algorithmic questions because those are irrelevant to 'real world' programming jobs. We shouldn't ask API or syntax questions because, hey that's just trivia and if I got the job I'd just look those up on google. We shouldn't ask puzzle questions because that's just the interviewer showing off. And of course we already knew that most resumes are tissues of lies, and nobody can give honest references anymore for fear of lawsuits. This should make for very short interviews since all we apparently all we can do is ask their name and what their favorite color is. Is it so hard to grasp that there is no silver bullet in interviewing any more then there is in programing? Everything you try is going to make some good programmers look bad (false negatives) and some bad programmers look good (false positives). Job seekers would prefer tests that have few false negatives, but that doesn't matter. They aren't the ones giving the interviews. The employers are, and they, quite naturally, are going to favor tests that they hope have fewer false positives.
Toggle Commented Feb 23, 2010 on The Non-Programming Programmer at Coding Horror
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Feb 23, 2010