Archive for September, 2012

Red’s True Barbecue

Sunday, September 30th, 2012 | Photos

Last weekend, me and Elina went to Red’s True Barbecue for dinner. As you can see from my restaurant review, I wasn’t overly impressed. But, to their credit, they did literally provide a bucket of ribs.

Add a new path to your $PATH variable on OS X Lion

Saturday, September 29th, 2012 | Life, Tech

Sometimes you need to add a new path to your $PATH variable. This is easy to do by adding a new line to your paths file.

cd /etc/
vim paths

Once you have added the path, you can execute any executables in Terminal, without having to specify the full path.

What variables do in private is their own business

Saturday, September 29th, 2012 | Limited, Programming

This is another post about object oriented programming.

Ok, cool, you’re one of the 3% still reading. I just wanted to do a quick post about access modifiers on objects. It applies pretty much regardless of programming language, presuming you’re working with one that supports OO and has the standard public, private and protected for access by sub-classes only.

I think, what we need here is an attitude shift away from using private variables. Often, I see code that uses private variables and I have no idea why.

What I mean by this, is that almost every time I see a private variable, what it actually should be is a protected variable. Indeed, I think the default assumption when creating a variable, should be that you define it as protected.

Lets ignore public variables for the moment. I’ve previously argued you could simply do away with them altogether (that is what getters and setters are for), but in any case, I’m not concerned with them for this post. Lets just focus on private or protected.

The traditional teaching has always been that you should define a variable as private if you don’t want it to be publicly accessible, and giving child classes access to it later on is often an afterthought.

I don’t think this should be the case.

If we’re to adopt a true OO mindset (and it’s been around for sixty years, so given it was invented before most of us were born, you would hope we would have adopted it by now), surely you would work from a perspective that your class will be extended.

Protecting variables from external bodies makes sense, hence not making them public, but to by default place restrictions on what you can do with child classes in an OO world, doesn’t make sense to me. Why have the functionality at all? Why not make everything final if you need such protection?

That isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of instances where there is a reason to do this – but these aren’t the 90% most common use cases, so I think there is a good argument for making protected the default at least.

Gaming the system

Friday, September 28th, 2012 | Success & Productivity

As I discussed recently, we’re all basically rats trapped in a system where we have to sell our time, and our bodies, for the resources we need to keep us alive. So it makes sense we try and play the system as best as we can.

I won’t claim to be a researcher in the psychology of employment, but here are some suggestions from my anecdotal experience (you know, anecdote, the singular of data 😉 ).

Move to a different company

As I wrote about recently, in the years where I moved jobs, I managed to obtain pay increases of at least double what I managed to obtain when I didn’t. While this is more pronounced in the IT industry, it seems to apply across the whole job market.

Work in IT

Even through the global recession, I never struggled to get a job, or achieve large pay rises year in, year out. The financial crisis simply never touched the IT industry, and as a recruiting manager at the time, I can tell you that neither love nor money could bring in enough software developers. It certainly isn’t going away anytime soon, so why not switch careers?

Work in IT, especially if you’re a woman

The sad reality of society today is that it still does not provide equal opportunities. This is especially true in IT where being a woman is an absolutely enormous advantage. Employers will discriminate against men – I’ve sat in meetings where better candidates have been passed up in favour of female candidates. Why not use this to your advantage?

Be very arrogant

I once went for a £70,000 a year job with a well known mobile phone operator based in the UK. A lot of people suggest you shouldn’t be arrogant, so I toned my arrogance down for the interview. I didn’t get the job.

Two months later, I went for an even higher paid job and this time I toned my arrogance up (as unbelievable as that might be). I got it.

The lesson is that employers want to have confidence that you can do the job and they will select a candidate who shows that, over a candidate who doesn’t, even if they get caught bullshitting once or twice. Don’t lie, it’s OK to say “I don’t know”, but don’t be afraid to really push how great you are and how much you know – even if they catch you out, you’ve still put across the right attitude, and once in the job, you’ll be able to show them you’re worth the money anyway.

Tackle an interviewer’s concerns head on

When it comes to your turn to ask questions in the interview, just ask the interviewer “do you have any reservations about employing me?” I end every interview with that question now. If they do, you can try and answer their concerns there and then. If not, you’ve put it into their mind that they literally have no reason not to offer you the job.

Hold out for more money

I’ve never been offered a job, only for it to fall through on pay negotiations. Once and employer has decided they want you, they won’t quibble over an extra thousand or two a year to get your signature on the dotted line. Try to have a couple of things lined up at the same time so you can legitimately say “I’m considering some other offers.” That will scare them into thinking they will lose you, and they’ll cough up the extra cash.

Tell your employer you’re going to leave

A good friend of mine who worked for a certain other mobile phone operator based in the UK, decided that he was fed up with his job and announced to the world that he was looking for a new challenge. His employer soon found out and decided that he was worth keeping, so offered to train him up in a whole different part of the company, and bump him up a few pay grades too! If your company likes you, they’ll do what they can to make you stay – if not, then they were probably going to get rid of you at some point anyway, so you have nothing to lose.

New recruitment campaign

Thursday, September 27th, 2012 | Photos, Religion & Politics

iOS 6

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012 | Reviews, Tech

I’ve now installed iOS 6 on both my phone and my tablet. But, as of yet, I haven’t really noticed any difference.

I now have a clock on my iPad. Fine. Not used it. The maps look OK, but I was happy enough with Google Maps, so that isn’t really an upgrade because they have just replaced one thing with another, less accurate one.

The Siri improvements are very exciting, but then I haven’t used it yet. I use Siri for things like sending text messages and setting my alarms, which I can already do, and the Siri servers seem to be overloaded at the moment, as it’s practically too slow to use at the moment 🙁 .

Passbook, shared photo streams and Facebook integration I’m not really interested in, and I don’t like the cloud tabs or whatever they’re called. So, all in all, not really that impressed.

On Jason Wong of LSE

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012 | Religion & Politics

Jason Wong is a student at LSE and also the perpetrator behind this advert, that would perhaps even feel out of place in an edition of Nuts magazine. Recently, he wrote an article in their student newspaper, arguing against gender neutral toilets. You can read it here.

He doesn’t seem an experienced writer though – for example, he says that the money spent on gender neutral toilets would be better spent on free printing for students. Does he not realise that the standard unit of measurement for wasted money is nurse’s salaries?

He sums up his message briefly in a series of tweets.

This is an incredibly sexist, and anti-progressive attitude.

The overwhelming majority of my gender are not sex offenders. Believe it or not, we are capable of sharing an environment, like we do in the majority of life, without sexually assaulting a woman.

There are of course a minority that do commit sexual assaults, but this is by no means confined to one gender perpetrating such crimes, and even if it was, that would not be any excuse to lambast 48% of the population.

I know it’s a cliche to compare such attitudes to racism, but I think this is a good example to compare. Statistically, a higher percentage of black people go to prison than white people (see this report). This is nothing to do with the colour of their skin, it’s to do with the social problems of black people tending to live in higher poverty areas, in which white people from the same area are just as likely to go to prison.

But, if you were to take Jason Wong’s argument to treat entire social groups without regard for individual equality, you could easily make an argument for having segregated toilets for white and black people. After all, why should a white person have to live in fear every time we uses a bathroom, because we’re openly inviting criminals in?

Of course, such an attitude would not only be ridiculous, but absolutely abhorrent. Yet such arguments along gender lines, vilifying men, are often openly accepted by society.

Hipster paradise

Monday, September 24th, 2012 | Humanism

Last week, Viv had organised an evening at Nation of Shopkeepers, which, while far too hipster for my personal taste, does do some nice southern fried chicken. It was mouthwateringly good, but that isn’t what this post is about.

At one point in the evening, one of those attending began talking about how oppressed women are, describing going rape as an “occupational hazard” if they want to leave their house.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Two rhetorical questions that were asked were not met with the expected response. Firstly, who was most afraid of going out in Leeds on a Friday night (turns out the women weren’t, but I said I would be a bit nervous, because fights do happen, and normally to my gender) and secondly, what the distribution of personal attack alarms was (turns out there was both one male and one female present who had a personal attack alarm).

What was more interesting though, was how much offense the women present took to the suggestion that they were a beaten down minority that needed both liberating and protecting.

They certainly didn’t feel that way, and were extensively vocal about it.

It is interesting, because the same people who make such comments, and end up getting shouted down by women who object to them speaking in their behalf, are the same people who would object to me speaking on equality, because as a white male, I’m not considered entitled to have an opinion.

Netgear N150 WNA1100 on Windows Server 2003

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012 | Life, Tech

If you’ve bought the Netgear N150 WNA1100 wireless dongle on the false promise that it is compatible with Windows Server 2003 and then tried to run it, you will probably get an error like the one below.

Not compatible with your OS

Luckily, there is a way around this. Once you’ve downloaded the driver, right click on it, go to the compatibility tab and select the run in compatibility mode check box and select “Windows XP” from the drop down.

Once done, re-run the setup and it should install.

Leeds Skeptics September 2012

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012 | Foundation, Humanism

This month, Alex Gabriel travelled all the way up from Devon to discuss his experiences at Soul Survivor, the biggest Christian evangelical festival for young people, in the UK.