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snydeq writes "Today's developers are overwhelmingly young and male, and they're barring the door from a more diverse workforce, writes Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister. 'Software development isn't just failing to attract women. It's actively pushing them away. ... Put all the pieces together, and you're left with an impression of developers that's markedly different from the geeks and nerds they're made out to be in popular culture. On the contrary, developers harbor the same attitudes and engage in the same behaviors you see whenever a subculture is overwhelmingly dominated by young males. They've even coined a clever name for programmers who think and behave like fraternity pledges: brogrammers,' McAllister writes. 'Developers like to think of their culture as a meritocracy, where the very best developers naturally rise to the top. But as long as the industry tends to exclude more than half of the potential workforce, that's nothing but pure arrogance.'"


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What was Microsoft's original mission?

In 1975, Gates and Allen form a partnership called Microsoft. Like most startups, Microsoft begins small, but has a huge vision – a computer on every desktop and in every home.

The existential crisis facing Microsoft is that they achieved their mission years ago, at least as far as the developed world is concerned. When was the last time you saw a desktop or a home without a computer? 2001? 2005? We're long since past the point where Microsoft's original BHAG was met, and even exceeded. PCs are absolutely ubiquitous. When you wake up one day to discover that you've completely conquered the world … what comes next?

Apparently, the Post PC era.

Microsoft never seemed to recover from the shock of achieving their original 1975 goal. Or perhaps they thought that they hadn't quite achieved it, that there would always be some new frontier for PCs to conquer. But Steve Jobs certainly saw the Post PC era looming as far back as 1996:

The desktop computer industry is dead. Innovation has virtually ceased. Microsoft dominates with very little innovation. That's over. Apple lost. The desktop market has entered the dark ages, and it's going to be in the dark ages for the next 10 years, or certainly for the rest of this decade.

If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it's worth – and get busy on the next great thing. The PC wars are over. Done. Microsoft won a long time ago.

What's more, Jobs did something about it. Apple is arguably the biggest (and in terms of financials, now literally the biggest) enemy of general purpose computing with the iPhone and iPad. These days, their own general purpose Mac operating system, OS X, largely plays second fiddle to the iOS juggernaut powering the iPhone and iPad.

Here's why:

Apple-cumulative-sales

The slope of this graph is the whole story. The complicated general purpose computers are at the bottom, and the simpler specialized computers are at the top.

I'm incredibly conflicted, because as much as I love the do-anything computer …

  • I'm not sure that many people in the world truly need a general purpose computer that can do anything and install any kind of software. Simply meeting the core needs of browsing the web and email and maybe a few other basic things covers a lot of people.
  • I believe the kitchen-sink-itis baked into the general purpose computing foundations of PCs, Macs, and Unix make them fundamentally incompatible with our brave new Post PC world. Updates. Toolbars. Service Packs. Settings. Anti-virus. Filesystems. Control panels. All the stuff you hate when your Mom calls you for tech support? It's deeply embedded into of the culture and design of every single general purpose computer. Doing potentially "anything" comes at a steep cost in complexity.
  • Very, very small PCs – the kind you could fit in your pocket – are starting to have the same amount of computing grunt as a high end desktop PC of, say, 5 years ago. And that was plenty, even back then, for a relatively inefficient general purpose operating system.

But the primary wake up call, at least for me, is that the new iPad finally delivered an innovation that general purpose computing has been waiting on for thirty years: a truly high resolution display at a reasonable size and price. In 2007 I asked where all the high resolution displays were. Turns out, they're only on phones and tablets.

iPad 2 display vs iPad 3 display

That's why I didn't just buy the iPad 3 (sorry, The New iPad). I bought two of them. And I reserve the right to buy more!

iPad 3 reviews that complain "all they did was improve the display" are clueless bordering on stupidity. Tablets are pretty much by definition all display; nothing is more fundamental to the tablet experience than the quality of the display. These are the first iPads I've ever owned (and I'd argue, the first worth owning), and the display is as sublime as I always hoped it would be. The resolution and clarity are astounding, a joy to read on, and give me hope that one day we could potentially achieve near print resolution in computing. The new iPad screen is everything I've always wanted on my desktops and laptops for the last 5 years, but I could never get.

Don't take my word for it. Consider what screen reading pioneer, and inventor of ClearType, Bill Hills has to say about it:

The 3rd Generation iPad has a display resolution of 264ppi. And still retains a ten-hour battery life (9 hours with wireless on). Make no mistake. That much resolution is stunning. To see it on a mainstream device like the iPad - rather than a $13,000 exotic monitor - is truly amazing, and something I've been waiting more than a decade to see.

It will set a bar for future resolution that every other manufacturer of devices and PCs will have to jump.

And the display calibration experts at DisplayMate have the measurements and metrics to back these claims up, too:

… the new iPad’s picture quality, color accuracy, and gray scale are not only much better than any other Tablet or Smartphone, it’s also much better than most HDTVs, laptops, and monitors. In fact with some minor calibration tweaks the new iPad would qualify as a studio reference monitor.

Granted, this is happening on tiny 4" and 10" screens first due to sheer economics. It will take time for it to trickle up. I shudder to think what a 24 or 27 inch display using the same technology as the current iPad would cost right now. But until the iPhone and iPad, near as I can tell, nobody else was even trying to improve resolution on computer displays – even though all the existing HCI research tells us that higher resolution displays are a deep fundamental improvement in computing.

At the point where these simple, fixed function Post-PC era computing devices are not just "enough" computer for most folks, but also fundamentally innovating in computing as a whole … well, all I can say is bring on the post-PC era.

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Addison-Wesley has published a new book in my Signature Series. It’s by Robert Daigneau and it’s called Service Design Patterns. It’s a topic that’s already had too many books on it, but I added this one to the series because I think Robert has done a particularly good job of collecting together the best advice on the topic and organizing it into a useful handbook. This is the book that I think ought to become the standard book on the topic.

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GTAC 2011: Closing Keynote - Secrets of World Class Software Organizations

6th Annual Google Test Automation Conference 2011 (GTAC 2011) "Cloudy With A Chance Of Tests" Computer History Museum Mountain View, CA USA October 26-27, 2011 Presented by Steve McConnell. ABSTRACT Construx consultants work with literally hundreds of software organizations each year. Among these organizations, a few stand out as being truly world class. They are exceptional in their ability to meet their software development goals and exceptional in the contribution they make to their companies' overall business success. Do world class software organizations operate differently than average organizations? In Construx's experience, the answer is a resounding "YES." In this talk, award-winning author Steve McConnell reveals the technical, management, business, and cultural secrets that make a software organization world class. Steve McConnell is CEO and Chief Software Engineer at Construx Software where he consults to a broad range of industries, teaches seminars, and oversees Construx's software engineering practices. Readers of Software Development magazine named him one of the three most influential people in the software industry along with Bill Gates and Linus Torvalds. Steve is the author of Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art (2006), Code Complete (1993, 2004), Rapid Development (1996), Software Project Survival Guide (1998), and Professional Software Development(2004), as well as numerous technical articles. His books have won numerous awards for "Best <b>...</b>
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I'm Not There (1956) writes "Last week the news came in that Google is supposed to unveil 'Dart,' a new programming language for browser-based apps. Now an internal email from late last year describes this project as the 'high risk/high reward' path [of Google's browser development strategy]. Apps in this new language will run in a VM on browsers that support it, and can be translated to JS for other browsers. 'Performance, developer usability, and ability to be tooled' are the main characteristics of the language."

The email notes that Google will be working on ECMAScript Harmony in the near term, but they describe the project as ultimately doomed by "fundamental problems" with ECMAScript. It's interesting that Google took part in abandoning ECMAScript 4, which would have been almost fully backward compatible with current implementations while solving most of the "fundamental problems" Google claims require a brand new language to fix.

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