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Interviews Come Back -- With Cringely's Answers 133

Yes, it's been a long, hot (and rainy) summer, but it's over now. Things are finally getting back to normal, including Slashdot Interviews, which return with answers to 10 chosen readers' questions from often-slashodotted PBS Pundit Robert X. Cringely.

How will software be sold?
(Score:5, Interesting)
by bfree


In your discussions with the various entities of the computing industry, how do you expect to see software distributed in 5-10 years time? Should we expect to see a greater take-up of free speach || open source || free beer || restrictive licensing on the low and high level (drivers and word processors), low and high end (MS Paint and Adobe Photoshop) software? Do the current players believe that they should all be looking log-term into securing their positions through licensing agreements or that they should be selling a service? In particular have you heard any noises of hardware companies who are looking into OpenSourcing all their drivers (i.e. Windows) so as to achieve the maximum penetration of their products?


This question has changed so much over the years. At one time it was retail versus shareware. Then added to this argument was floppy versus CD and later downloading versus shrinkwrap. I think downloading is the long-term winner because everyone will soon be networked and the cost structure works well for buyer and seller alike.

Something else that has changed a lot is how software is written. OOP has paid off more than we even know, so there are a lot of chances to make businesses out of selling cogs that fit into other people's machines. Your driver question, for example, wouldn't have even made sense a decade ago.

But the real answer to your question is "yes." I'm not trying to be a smart-ass here, but there simply won't be a single winning method of selling (or being compensated for) software. Open source is nice, but it isn't a way to make a living unless you are getting a reward in some indirect path. That's why college professors write books (to get tenure) and open source programmers write code (to get laid). Just kidding. But look at the reward structure, because there has to be a reward or it won't work.

My gut tells me that system software will be mainly OEM'd and that applications will go the service route. But what's still missing is a payment structure for these services. That's the challenge still not being either faced or overcome. So I'd appreciate it if you would do something about it.

gender and technology
(Score:5, Interesting)
by techmuse

Robert, In a study that was announced a day or two ago, it was shown that the number of women who are pursuing degrees in computer science related fields is dropping substantially. I'm wondering what you think can be done to improve the appeal of careers in computer science to women, and how the domination of the field by males affects the cultures and product directions of the companies in the field.


What bothers me about this is that there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that men are inherently any better at this computer stuff than are women. But on the flipside, is there any compelling argument why there ought to be more women in the industry? Is it discrimination that is denying these women the chance to work 100 hour weeks?

There is some free will here, you know. Yes, I agree that we probably don't do enough to encourage women students, but I will bet that if we could somehow control for all those other outside variables that more men than women would still choose to walk the digital trail. This is, I believe, is because it is such a crappy lifestyle. Sure there is money (eventually) and success (sometimes) but at what cost? I don't blame the girls for choosing another path. But if we want to help encourage women to enter this field, I think we have to do it through the simple acceptance that coeducation is at fault. I remember years ago writing a story about Mills College in Oakland, an all-women institution. The thing that blew me away at the time was that the Mills computer installation was entirely home built. The women built their own PCs, they built and wired the network, they even built their own routers, mainly to save money. There is no doubt they can do it.

Men are pigs (I know I am) so the expedient answer is single-sex education for any women who want it.

(Score:4, Interesting)
by Anonymous Coward

According to this article:

The host of the three-hour documentary, "Triumph of the Nerds," is really Mark C. Stephens, one of several authors of a popular gossip column in InfoWorld magazine written under the Cringely pseudonym. Mr. Stephens, 43 years old, penned the column between 1987 and last December, when InfoWorld cut him loose. But in a case with enough twists to give anybody an identity crisis, the magazine and its parent, International Data Group Inc., sued Mr. Stephens in March for trademark infringement to block his continued use of the Cringely name.

So, Robert, are you still Mr. Stephens, or are you someone else now?


"Cut him loose?" That's an interesting way to put it. InfoWorld fired me. I was by far their top-rated columnist and had been for eight years. Why would a publication fire their top draw? It certainly makes no business sense. The best I can figure AND THIS IS ONLY MY OPINION is that I was fired to please the ego of Stewart Alsop. My column was always more popular than his -- a LOT more popular. Of course it had to be because of my placement on the back page, so Stewart (then editor-in-chief) had his column moved to the back page, too. But his survey numbers didn't change. At this time the price of newsprint was skyrocketing so InfoWorld several times changed its trim size -- the actual size of the page. As the page got smaller and smaller, Stewart's column remained the same size and mine dropped from over 1000 words to around 600 words over two years. Still, Stewart's survey numbers didn't change. Several times as many people were reading my column than his even though both were on the same page. Having to face the prospect that maybe mine was a better column than his, it was easier on Stewart's ego IN MY OPINION to fire me than to accept reality. So they fired me, sued me, lost, paid me off, and here we are today. What happened to Stewart? They cut him loose.

I think we are both better off this way, Stewart and I. I know my life is better post-InfoWorld and he is now a successful VC. I wish Stewart well.

Software and Computers
(Score:5, Interesting)
by Darkstorm

I'm a developer and I am curious as to how you think the software will change in the future.

I know from looking at many contracted software packages that quality is something usually forgotten in the windows world. Badly written hard to use and usually very buggy. Do you feel at some point that companies will finally stand up for themselves and demand good software?

As for hardware, with the standards being modified so quickly will we end up back at a proprietary level again? I ask because of the splitting between AMD and Intel on the type of interface on the motherboard for the processor (not to mention the memory style variations happening) Will programmers end up writing towards a proprietary box/cpu do you think?


I used to test software and the first thing I would do is bang on the keyboard with my fists. "Don't do that!" the developer would yell as the system crashed. "Why did you do that? No user would ever do that."

Ever had a three year-old user? They do that.

Windows software quality sucks for a lot of reasons, but then so does the quality of most software, including packages you think are great. That's because you are so good at working around the bugs you've forgotten they are there.

Part of this is because it is not in the interest of many companies to demand better software. That's because the very person who would be demanding can trace his/her power in the organization directly back to the bugginess of the software. IT managers want bigger budgets and more people and that comes from either using crappy software or pushing their company into using immature software.

This is not going to change.

Now to hardware. Remember how Gary Kildall came up with the ROM-BIOS? He got tired of porting CP/M to every new hardware platform so he wrote a middleware layer so the OS could be standardized. Then the hardware manufacturer could be made responsible for writing the drivers to that middleware -- the ROM BIOS. This was back when 10,000 computers was a big production run. So AMD and Intel are diverging a bit. Well now we are talking about production runs in the millions. Who cares if you have to write two versions? Picky, picky, picky.

Given prior history, who do you think will win
(Score:4, Interesting)
by WillAffleck

Given that we've had umpteen OS wars, like unto the crusades in both their bloodiness and the invective used, can you discern any patterns in what determines the survivors of such conflicts?

For example, is it really the games that determines the winner, the "killer app", the ease of use, the cost, the marketing, or is it the media attention. If it is one of these, what are the most important elements, IYO, in determining the winner.

And, given the /. bias, what would you change in how Linux and BSD is progressing to maximize its survivability. Or is this all 20th Century thinking, and is the OS truly becoming irrelevant?


To my Mom, the OS is already irrelevant, which says a lot about how we look at the market. To most of us, the OS is probably more relevant than it deserves to be. FreeBSD-versus-Linux feels exactly like Ford-versus-Chevy when I was in high school.

Who will win? That depends on your definition of "win." Microsoft defines winning as getting all the money, so over time they will bend their product offerings toward wherever the money seems to be. Linux doesn't work that way, since it doesn't really cost money. Apple is a software company that sells its products inside $1800 boxes, so its motivation is different again. I see market segmentation going like this: Enterprise backend -- small to medium servers -- business desktops -- professional desktops -- gamers -- home computers -- thin clients. Microsoft wants to dominate each of these and will fail in most. Linux targets only 2-3 of these niches and so can't hope to win overall. Same for Apple. But there is room for many winners here. Microsoft makes an average of $200 PROFIT from every Macintosh sold, so Apple's success is also Microsoft's. Linux may hurt Microsoft a bit, but not as much as it inspires Microsoft to be better. So Linix is good for Microsoft. Eventually, though, the market will zig when Microsoft zags and a new leader will emerge. Here's what I can tell you about that new leader: it hasn't yet been founded.

(Score:5, Interesting)
by wrenling

Being in and around Silicon Valley, and also having seen so much change over the face of the computing industry in the last 20 years, what mistakes do you see that are causing so many dotcoms to fail? What steps could they take/could have taken to prevent this from happening? Conversely, what do you think separates the ones that have made it from the ones that are floating belly up?


In the early 1980s, following the amazing success of Seagate, more than a hundred hard disk companies were found AND FUNDED, each one saying in their business plan that two years out they would have 15 percent market share. Why didn't the VCs see that? Well VCs aren't very original and they also aren't very smart.

Now the same thing has happened with dot-coms and the VCs aren't any smarter than they used to be. But what you have to remember is that they EXPECT a 95% mortality rate and still make a 40% compounded return at that. And failed companies are the ore from which new companies are refined.

Now to the rules for success. I started out to do five of these and ended up with eight. They apply not just to Internet companies but to any high tech startup. They are simple: 1) Fill a need that actually exists, not one you wish existed; 2) Don't count on customers to tell you what that need is (they don't know what they need until you invent it and they see it); 3) Don't push the technological edge because you'll nearly always starve to death; 4) Be very quick to recognize the greatness of others and copy it (in other words, let someone else be responsible for rule 2, above) because the second entrant wins more often that does the originator; 5) Success comes from selling things, so hire a better head of sales and marketing than you think you can afford and hire him/her earlier than you think you should; 6) Every startup has a change of course, a moment when it becomes clear that the original idea just won't work, so be willing to change course when you have to; 7) Know when to call it a day -- most startups fail and nearly every successful startup is run and staffed by people who have already failed, and; 8) Hire a mix of old and young including some people near the top who have already tasted startup success.

Competitive Practices
(Score:5, Interesting)
by rockwall

Do you feel that the computer industry is less innovative today than when you started out? More specifically, do you feel anticompetitive practices by certain companies actively restrict new technologies, or are these current titans just one great idea away from becoming also-rans?


There is always a tendency to glamorize the Good Old Days. I have been in this computer industry for 23 years and four months and as far as I can tell THESE are the Good Old Days. When I started we were inventing an industry and serving a customer base of a few thousand hobbyists. Every application was a horizontal application because the market had no vertical component. Well today the market is enormous and is so vertical you can get a nose bleed, which means that if I have an idea for solid state accelerometers, there is a customer waiting for my product. That is good.

Microsoft is a bully, sure, but understand this: the step after ubiquity is invisibility. Microsoft is too big to economically enter any but the largest new markets, which means there is that much more opportunity for the rest of us. In fact, Microsoft NEEDS the rest of us to show it where to steal. I think we should stop complaining, enjoy the cheap hardware, and get rich.

Commercialization of the net
(Score:4, Interesting)
by Dan Hayes

What do you think that the increasing commercialisation of the net is going to lead to? In particular do you think that the work the various standards bodies do is becoming increasingly ignored when it comes to what actually gets used on the net?


Increasingly ignored? I think it has always been ignored, with the only exception being the IETF. Back in the 80's everyone anticipated the rise of the International Standards Organization. Everything then was TCP/IP and SNMP and SMTP and we knew it couldn't last. The Europeans and their committees were going to come through and kick our asses with X.25 and CMIP and CMOT (remember those acronyms?). But it didn't happen. So too with Token Ring and even Asynchronous Transfer Mode. What a load of crap is ATM! It guarantees Quality of Service by crushing packets that under gigabit Ethernet would have gone right through. Does that make sense? No, it doesn't, and that's the point.

The beauty of the Internet and the IETF lies in a simple idea -- that the only standards under consideration are those already in use on the Net. Ready, fire, aim! It looks sloppy and it is, but with this system change is accelerated, crap is revealed as crap that much quicker, and we end up with systems that actually have a hope of both operating and interoperating. Now I know your question had to do with commercialization, but commercialization is good and committees are bad. Windows, for all I complain about it, has put a computer on 200 million desks. There is no Windows committee. for that matter there really isn't a Linux committee, either. Thank God.

Missed Opportunities
(Score:5, Interesting)
by maggard

From your privilaged position what technologies do you think should-have-made-it but didn't? What technologies do you think were ahead-of-their time but might resurface? Finally, what companies that suprised you by not making a go of it when they seemed like sure-things?


This is a great question hampered by my aging brain. I have written about so many companies and technologies over so many years that I'm sure I'll miss the really important points, but here goes.

It's not so much about technologies and companies as it is about timing and markets. Why did bubble memory fail and flash memory succeed? It's the price, stupid. Same for the Lisa, a great computer five years (and $5000) ahead of its time.

What if Amiga had been bought by another company than Commodore? Now THERE was an opportunity lost.

Had Apple been better managed by Sculley would it today have market dominance?

Pen computing was an obvious non-starter, but everyone had watched the success of Windows and wanted, through hope alone, to make the next wave come that much quicker.

And here's the lesson we learn over and over again: we overestimate change in the short term and underestimate it in the long term. That's why the first entrant into a new category almost always loses. Bought any Altairs lately? Even Apple was probably the 30th little PC company to be started in Silicon Valley, giving it a shot at success.

The technology that keeps being reborn is Unix. The first PC Unix I used was Cromix -- Unix for Cromemco computers running 4 MHz Z-80A processors. Now we're all hot for Linux, but what is it but Cromix reborn and supported by a bunch of enthusiasts? And the secret to a particular platform's success always comes down to the killer application. For Linux I see as yet only Apache and Sendmail as killer apps, which means it won't penetrate the desktop much further no matter how much we want it to.

Want to help Linux? Write apps!

Tell us about the early days
(Score:5, Interesting)
by anticypher

The early days are shrouded in confusion, myth, lies, half-truths, and blazing egos. For years nothing was very clear about the origins of RXC.

We'd like to know about the early days when R.X. Cringeley was used as a pseudonym for a gaggle of writers. Were you involved with the 'nym from the beginning, or did you join later? Who else wrote parts of those articles? Where did the source material come from? Any fun anecdotes?

Could you tell us about the early days without putting the 'nym spin on the facts? I would love to hear a single side to this story once and for all, and I consider you to be the only one who can give us the truth.


Cringely came to be as a guy on the masthead who could be blamed for fuck-ups. The idea was he'd be fired from time to time then reinstated when the advertiser (it was always an advertiser) had cooled down. He could never come to the phone because he was the Field Editor -- always out in the field.

The Cringely column Notes From the Field came into existence when John Dvorak quit. Dvorak was the gossip columnist and then suddenly he wasn't. Editorial management suddenly realized that all the effort they thought they had put into promoting the column had gone out the door with Dvorak. So they decided to replace him with a generic gossip columnist under the Cringely name. That way the value would remain even if the writer left. At least that was the idea.

The biggest myth is that there was a "gaggle of writers." The first Cringely was Rory O'Connor, who wrote the column for about nine months starting in 1986. The second Cringely was Laurie Flynn, who wrote the column for about another nine months ending in August, 1987. I started writing the column in the first week of September, 1987, and wrote every column until the second week of December, 1995 when they fired me.

That was eight years and about 420 columns, which hardly makes it a gaggle of writers. To be clear, items for the column were submitted by reporters. Or, more correctly, items were dragged from the clutches of reporters. But no reporters "wrote" for the column and typically 75% of the material had to be generated by Cringely him (or her) self. Often weeks would go by without any outside material.

I can't say what's happened since. Maybe they do use a gaggle of writers. I don't read that column.

As for anecdotes, two come to mind. I once received a spreadsheet containing Apple's detailed product plans for the coming two years! I got a lot of mileage out of that. And I found out about the Apple/IBM partnerships (Taligent and Kaleida) within hours of their happening, but had to wait months before writing about it to protect a source. What was wonderfully satisfying about that is when I finally did write about it IBM went ballistic, beating up Apple for leaking the story. My source was from IBM.

Has not having a PhD affected your work?
(Score:5, Interesting)
by Anonymous Coward

Back in 1998 you falsely claimed that you had a PhD and was a professor of journalism at Stanford. Of course the truth came out. How has the truth affected you and your work. Have you suffered any consequences by your lie? And why did you lie in the first place?


Of course this is a long story, but the compressed version is that I did every bit of my PhD including the paper and the defense. Coming out of the defense, my committee, chaired by Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow, asked for some changes to the paper. All I had to do was make those changes and I'd be finished! Well it was a busy time in my life. I was writing my first book, soon to be followed by a job or two and, before I knew it, I had missed the five-year deadline. I was stupid, of course, not only for wasting all that time but especially for not asking for an official leave-of-absence, which would have frozen the clock. How the lie got started was that first book called me a PhD on the jacket. Of course we all expected the jacket to be correct given how little extra work was required. And that jacket copy followed me everywhere. So frankly it was a lot easier to just accept what Random House had decreed than to go to the trouble of explaining all this. Sure, I blew it, but let me make this point: I have all the qualifications to get a university teaching job TODAY. I turn down at least one offer per year. Like Popeye said, "I yam what I yam."

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Interviews Come Back -- With Cringely's Answers

Comments Filter:
  • Calm down on the zealotry, big guy. He's talking about Killer Apps, of which only Apache and Sendmail would make someone install a Unix to run the app.

    I doubt there's a particularly large number of people who have formatted their drives and installed *nix JUST so they can run that great app everyone has been talking about -- StarOffice...

    I'm an investigator. I followed a trail there.
    Q.Tell me what the trail was.
  • ...and open source programmers write code (to get laid).

    If that were true, I think we'd see a hell of a lot more open source software. Mozilla would have been finished long ago and the job market would be overflowing with computer programmers.

  • The first Cringely was Rory O'Connor
    The second Cringely was Laurie Flynn
    I started writing the column in the first week of September, 1987

    Aha! Now we know who the Dread Priate Roberts (X. Cringely) were

    Maybe not... I had an email exchange about Stephens a while back with Jerry Pournelle, in which Pournelle commented that both he and Laurie Flynn had written the column before Stephens.

    I have no reason to suspect this statement, as opposed to the statement of a man who admittedly lied about his PhD...


  • By way of introduction, let me say that I'm the Chief Engineer at a major regional ISP on the US East Coast and Myers-Briggs personality typing has been very useful in my job.

    I've found that the Thinker/Feeler distinction has little utility as a predictor for an employee's success in a computing job. Quite the contrary: far and away the best Webmaster we ever had was an INFP, and we lost him to a customer who nearly doubled his not inconsiderable salary. F's excel in jobs with a significant customer-contact component, which is to say most of the highly paid ones. They excel at most of the lower paid ones too, for that matter; there aren't many pure back-room jobs.

    So, the notion that women do poorly in computer jobs because two thirds are F's while two thirds of men are T's is pure drivel.

    In fact, the only MBTI category that seems to have any impact on an employee's success in a computer job is the iNtutive vs. Sensor category. Strong sensors rarely make it past the heavily proceduralized first-tier support positions and the ones that do are usually on a management path. But there is no men-versus-women imbalance in the N/S category.

    As to your archetypal hacker, the INTP type, such folks often have a hard time here. INFP's get their dynamicity fix from the customers; INTP's get it from emergencies. Outside of the second-tier support and fieldwork jobs, a well-run organization rarely has enough emergencies to keep an INTP interested... And that's deadly because an unchallenged INTP creates his own emergencies. A hacker's reputation is well earned.
  • I will hold squarely to points which I made in my post above, No Evidence? I position it here under my post as a collective rebuttal to many post in opposition.

    No one has proven the demographics which apply to Myers-Briggs types to be in error. It is important to note that the 16 Myers-Briggs types cover all of the human condition. However psychosis may mask personality so that the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) produces no information of value. The individual under test must validate the test. Therefore, the MBTI is neither anti-individual, nor purposefully to categorize, but for understanding.

    Let me profusely thank those who attempted to counter my points, and in so doing, presented more evidence in support than I believed possible. Although I may leave out someones "faux pas", here are a few (dis)honorable mentions:
    "misuse of science", "700 club members", "smoke and mirrors", "Houdini", "Scientology", "Myers-Briggs nonsense", and "psych major".

    While it is axiomatic, it bears repeating here that emotions and political fashion can change, but reality and scientific fact remain unchanging. And so it will remain as long as people use the tear-soaked handkerchief of emotion to attack a granite fortress of truth.

  • I think you can have opposite sex identical twins. I don't think the word identical applies to sex.

    No. Identical twins are genetically the same, including the X/Y chromosome involved in the M/F differnce. If they're different sexes, they're fraternal twins.
  • One last quibble with your reasoning--when you're already stuck in the real world at a low-paying 40-hour-a-week job, it's hard to save up the money and find the time to become a developer. Then she also would have to overcome the stereotype that women don't make good programmers, which isn't as easy as you think.

    As a programmer, I make enough money to support a second person. If my gf asked me to help her get (an equivalent to) my job, I'd pay her living expenses and provide training. I realize that you may not be able to make that kind of offer, but my point is that if she has enough drive then (either or her own or with assistance from others) she should be able to learn.

    As for the women-don't-make-good-programmers stereotype, any company that would turn someone down on that isn't a good place to work for anyhow. My company has several female programmers, and a highly clued (and largely female) management; I can't think of it being an issue there.

  • Yeah. The university I attend took on ex-US senator Paul Simon as a prof. He spent years as an editor, and spent years as a politician.

    Only problem? No degree.

    There were a lot of ruffled feathers (although I wasn't a student yet, I followed it.) However, the point remains:

    The man has valuable experience in the field, experience even those with a terminal degree (which is what a Ph. D. is) might learn from.

    Don't belittle life experience.
  • Businesses, for example, won't appreciate it if their "service" disappears because some asshole in Ohio just cut into an OC-3 line with a backhoe (oops, bad example.)
  • My understanding is that Cringely himself decided.

    So no, not censorship. (You evil Sig11 clone, you!)
  • I don't know; I'm a man, and I picked the low road. :^)

    Why? I'd rather live a longer, healthier life than work 15 hours a day and have to go on meds by 30. I've heard (and been told) too many horror stories.
  • I'd rather see the answers to those 10 questions from every Slashdotter than Mr. Cringley's. Talking heads will always find an interesting way to say something, it is shere coincidence when they say something that is also actually interesting.

  • Hey, on the TV show Junkyard Wars they had to do it in 10 hours using nothing but the leavings in a scrapyard... Didn't require an engine, but tack on another 10 hours for that and you're done!

    Realistically, he didn't have a chance,and I have no idea why he thought he did. Even quickbuild aircraft kits take ~500-1000 hours of assembly time, and that's having all the parts and instructions. Kitbuilding from plans is a 2000 hour-heat death of universe type job.


  • What if the Amiga had been bought by someone other than Commodore? Now THERE'S an opportunity lost

    OOOhhh that hurts.. I'm sure every Amiga fanatic (and you still are even if you haven't used one in 5 years) got a little misty eyed reading that sentence.


  • This guy has an identity crisis so bad, he can't even agree on a name for himself. Why should we even listen to Mark/Bob if he can't even be identified reliably?

    "I'm not trying to be a smart-ass here..."
  • by Sienne ( 72836 ) on Friday September 15, 2000 @08:26AM (#776928)
    Hrm. I took the usage of "girls" to be referring to school-aged girls getting ready to choose a college/career path, and "women" to be referring to college-aged and up women.

    We all have the opportunity to train for whatever we want to train for. There are a lot of reasons to train for business administration, and a lot of reasons not to train for CS - but it doesn't vary from gender to gender, it varies from person to person. If faced with the options of business college vs. a four-year CS degree and I choose business college, its not because anyone made me do it, its because I thought that a) computers are uninteresting, b) computers are arcane, or c) a CS degree will take too much time to acheive and I need a job now.

    I was a bookkeeper for years before I got into computers. I came to computers late in life, not for lack of opporunity but rather for lack of interest. I was in my 20s before I had a pc at home - today I'm an engineer. However I had exactly the same educational opportunities as my male schoolmates. No school that I've ever heard of has any policy keeping girls (and here I'm talking about teenaged girls,) from enrolling in a computer class. Nor have I ever heard any teacher actively encouraging the boys to enroll in one. Nor have I ever felt any societal pressures to become one thing or another. I was a teenager in the 80s, which was only a marginally less enlightened time - but I was never given any reason to believe that I couldn't pursue whatever career I chose. I think we exited the dark ages of imposed gender career roles in the 70s. Roughly a third of the programmers in my workplace are female, and they weren't interviewed any differently than the men were.

    Cringely makes what I think is an excellent point - computing is not a job, its a life-style. Its not a life-style that I, as a girl, was interested in. Its reclusive and it requires a great deal of time, focus and commitment. Bookkeeping was much easier - add, subtract, carry the one... go out for happy hour at five with my coworkers. I've had to go back to college and pursue a new degree - so what? I've had to test, interview, study, go to conferences, read, participate in discussion boards - so what? The only limitation I have is my willingness to do what's required to succeed in my field of choice.

    I love the tech life-style today. I love living it, I love talking about it, I love the cons and boards and hell I even love reading RFCs. I do actively encourage my daughter to get familiar with the computer. She's in elementary school at this point, so she's got a while before she has to make any life-style or career decisions. She loves math, which I think is a good sign - who knows what she'll decide to do? She may end up being a secretary. If she does choose that path, I'll support her in it - there's absolutely nothing wrong with it! - but that will be her decision, not one imposed on her from any source aside from her own desires, ambitions, and willingness.
  • "you can be a programmer and still have a life."

    Bingo. Substitute your chosen profession for "programmer", to a be a bit more general.

    My wife is pregnant with our second child. Point being, that there's a lot more to life than work. A *lot* more.

    Having one child, daycare was within the realm of financial feasibility. Having two, well, it's simple arithmetic, really. So I'm going to bringing home the bacon for a few years. This has nothing to do with some antiquated 50's ideal we have about the role of men and women. It's just a simple fact that this is how things work out best for us.

    At some point, the kids will be in school; at which point my wife will have more time available to get back into the workforce. Meanwhile, I can assure you, she's not keeping up with the latest trends in technology.

    Of course not everyone wants to be a parent, but for those of us who are parents, I can say it sure keeps you occupied. And probably makes it tougher for more women than men to stay on the cutting edge.

  • I think you hint at why there are more men in computer science than women. Men like gadgets, for some reason its part of our nature. I can imagine it having something to do with a survival skill harking back to the caveman days. I'm not saying women don't like gadgets, I'm just saying that they have less interest in them than men do.

    I don't believe that men are any better than women in the field of computer science, I think it just interests us more. We get more satisfaction from it so we spend more time and effort on it. Though, the culture aspect may be a reinforcing factor in keeping more women from entering the field.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm just curious because nobody else seems to know either!
  • Actually, for me Linux itself is the killer app.

    I run it so I don't have to use Win NT.
    I do like StarOffice, tho (5.2 does MS Office imports quite well).

    I guess what this really means is that the re-configurable desktop is the killer app.

    Random mutating sig.
  • ... Shere coincidence? Is that like Shere Khan, the tiger in the Jungle Book? Ok, sorry. ;)

    Seriously, you have a good point, I'd say insightful even, had I any mod points. OTOH, I wouldn't lump all talking heads together. Cringe is better than most, compare to (shudder) Dvorak or that guy Berst. On the gripping hand, I'd say it would be proper to define pundit as someone who makes outrageous statements in print to get people to look at the advertising ...

    WWJD -- What Would Jimi Do?

  • Well, I've seen CS professors get pretty irate with female students. (I started out my college life as a CS student.)

    But, you know what? It's the same for both men and women. If you let the beligerence of an older professor bother you, then, hell, that's your fault. If you just brush it off and act professional about it, you'll be fine. I went from the CS world to the journalism world, and I'll tell ya, there's no room for anyone who feels like they have to be treated right to do their job. You have to do your job, and you have to do it *now.* There are deadlines. There are arrogant bastards (both sexes.) And you just have to take it and work with it.

    If you want to blame anyone, blame parents for not teaching their kids to have a spine.
  • Since this question was posed by an Anonymous Coward, it is very important that you understand that this signifies the end of boldness. Whenever a coward feels a fit of outrageous bravado rising, it is important to invoke the </b> to quell this before it get out of control.
  • /*
    I was very lucky to have been raised to have the self confidence and knowledge needed to fight for what I wanted (being born an incredibly stubborn person helped too). I was also fortunate to have supportive parents who are also clueful and stuborn enough to be an asset in those battles.

    Exactly. You were raised right. Your parents did a good job.

    I don't know about other countries, but in the U.S., the general public seems dispositioned to attribute blame to teachers, to society, to drugs, to peer pressure...almost never to parenting.

    Why not? I'd be willing to bet that most parents just don't want to have to raise kids. I don't have any kids yet, but if I have a daughter, I'm going to talk to her about persuing a tech career--and if she decides not to, so be it. I'm also going to try to teach her to assert herself. I grew up around too many females (avoiding the girl/woman issue, although they were girls at the time) who were absolutely too submissive. Yeah, you could blame teachers for just not allowing the girls to participate--but you'd be wrong (and I'd bet that you, the original poster, would be willing to agree with me. :^)

    If your karma suffers for your insight, I pity you. :^)
  • I'll tell ya. Free beer refers to the price you pay for the software. Free speech refers to the freedom of the code.

    Except that that analogy is total bullshit, if we're talking about the GPL. If, for example, I write a paper and quote copyrighted articles, as long as I'm not plagarizing and acknowledge my source, that's OK. Not so with GPL software. A good analogy is if I wrote a paper for my university, and there was a requirement that I do one of the following:
    1.) use work only from other students (and only with explicit permission from the sources)
    2.) get authors of other works to sign the papers over to my school under their copyright
    3.) go to another school (and trash whatever papers I wrote while attending the current school, since they're copyrighted by them.)

    The next time someone tries to tell you that GPL produces free speech software, tell them "bullshit." They won't appreciate it, but it'll at least be honest.
  • Apparently I ought grow breasts then? I can't visualize shit, but I've got all the appropriate anatomy and chemitry to be a man.

    I don't feel a need to comment on equality for the sake of being PC, just for the sake of being realistic. There may be some evidence to support your statement, but until I see every man woman and child on this planet tested under conditions which take into account the need for a test which has zero dependency on learned abilities. Find me this test, and the results, and let's break it down by gender then and see where we stand eh?

    You call it science, tell me to how many decimal places.

  • What killed me was his statement that
    What bothers me about this is that there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that men are inherently any better at this computer stuff than are women.
    In this corner: Alan Turing, Dennis Ritchie, Brian Kernighan, John von Neumann, Donald Knuth, Charles Babbage!, Gordon Moore, Linus Torvalds, etc., etc., etc.

    In this corner: Admiral Grace Hopper. Lady Ada Lovelace (kinda). That chick at that lame Java startup, Castanet.

    It's not even close. Put aside the BS -- men are better at this stuff, and it is intrinsic, for the same reason that little boy babies also suffer from higher birth defect rates. IQ is measurable, and for boys, it has a flatter Gaussian curve. If contemporary historians had somehow suppressed the true story of how a woman had invented the lightbulb, it would have been all over the newspapers by now. But the fact is that it didn't happen that way. What we get instead is a litany of "this second-rate thing is really first-rate, and IT WAS DONE BY A WOMAN!!!" Snore. I grant the occaisional exception -- Marie Curie seems to be one of them -- but, hey -- special and general theory of relativity? Germ theory of disease transmission? Quantum mechanics? The internal combustion engine? Sorry, ladies, you weren't there, either.

    Newsflash: it's men out there diddling with new gadgets, making Ogg Vorbis and Linux and emacs and gcc as a labor of love. And no amount of education or other brainwashing is gonna change that. Find me even ONE woman building the big pieces of Linux, Perl, or any major open-source project. It just isn't happening. Women aren't gonna get credit for what they don't accomplish, try as some revisionists might to reverse that.

  • While it is axiomatic, it bears repeating here that emotions and political fashion can change, but reality and scientific fact remain unchanging.

    Myers-Briggs is not based in science in any way, shape, or form. Science is merely a method of developing models (called "theories") based on evidence; one of the key attributes of all scientific theories is that they must be disprovable. If you have a model that cannot be disproven, you cannot apply the scientific method.

    Freud's theories are not disprovable, and so Freudian analysis is not scientific. Myers-Briggs is not disprovable, and so is not scientific. Please do not mis-use an already misunderstood word ("science") in support of Myers-Briggs.

    Now. With that said, psychoanalysis is useful. So is the MBTI. There are many models that are not scientifically provable that are still useful.
  • > Sure, I blew it

    Nice to see you face up to it...

    > I have all the qualifications to get a university teaching job TODAY.

    So do lots of graduate students. So do lots of people with masters' degrees (as lecturers; I notice you said "teaching job" rather than "professor").

    You're still in denial mode. Face up; earn respect. It's a game we all have to play sooner or later.

  • As a women, which do you prefer: Coke or Pepsi?

    The relevence of this...little. But it is one of them questions that keep springing up from time to time and there really isn't any answer that people will listen to anyway that will thwart their preconcieved notions of the universe.

    Dangnabit people! Women are hurt by enviroment, Mankind was created by Evolution, the Big Bang started the Universe, Coke will always be inferior as long as it is in a red can, and there is nothing you can say about it! that I think about it, that previous paragraph was rather silly. But I am tired of going in circles with this debate...I am growing dizzy. Why did I read this thread then? To thwart the natural order of continuity of this hyperspatial temporal direction, contrary to elements of temporal entropy.
  • We get extra summer this year because the company made some new Web sites (like NewsForge []), plus LWCE and other events roused us grudgingly from our well-deserved stupor.

    Think of how schools in snow country sometimes tack on extra class days at the end of the school year if they've had more winter snow days than expected. Same thing. :)

    Back to my stupor now...

    - Robin

  • Depends what kind of cheese.
  • "Want to help Linux? Write apps!"

    I can't think of a more simple or correct statement on this subject.
  • I think The Cringe used "girls" because they are not adults when they make the life-direction decisions he was discussing. They are women, however, when they face the consequences and/or the rewards of those decisions.


  • "Companies offer all the time Java-Applets for on-the-web calculations on the server side." Umm, guy, that's still distribution. It's just distribution to servers first, then by random access to the terminal.
  • by photozz ( 168291 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `zzotohp'> on Friday September 15, 2000 @08:45AM (#776948) Homepage
    "There's no way my girlfriend would choose her low paying secretarial job over a high-paying programming job if she'd felt she had the opportunity to train for the latter
    And just how has she been denied this? There are book stores everywhere with extensive libraries of training materials, Schools with classes. Our INTERNS get paid more than a lot of the "administrative assistants" around here and are learning the trade. People are triping over oportunities and picking stuff up through osmosis, Yet your girlfriend has been "denied" this? come on....

  • He seems to buy the Microsoft marketing line that gives them credit for the computer revolution. I strongly disagree.

    Computer hardware and software (including OS's) would be developing just as rapidly without MS. The opportunities are obvious and are there to be had, just like in a gold rush. Some would argue that development would have been faster without MS keeping a stranglehold as the incompetent gatekeeper. They certainly haven't prevailed on the quality of their OS products.

    To credit MS, Intel, and other heavyweights with the computer revolution is like crediting wealthy gold miners for the existence of gold-- the gold and opportunities are there, regardless of who takes the most advantage of it. If it wasn't them, it would be someone else. In the case of the OS market, I wish it had been someone who could play better with others.

  • > The man has valuable experience in the field, experience even those with a terminal degree (which is what a Ph. D. is) might learn from.

    >Don't belittle life experience.

    Actually, I have very high regard for those who are self-taught and do well all the same. (I can't afford not to feel that way, since that's how I got my start in my profession.)

    But the fact that life experience is so well regarded in so many circles makes RXC's original lies and current maintenance of the claim that he "almost" qualifies all the more puzzling. If I were in his shoes, I'd be saying "Fuck Stanford and all their paperwork. I'm a world-renowned expert!"

    Contrary to what most of the respondents in this thread seem to think, I'm not dissing him for not having a Ph.D., and not really even for lying in the first place (like I never have!), but for continuing his lame attempts to excuse it even after being called out on it. "It's the publisher's fault, and I almost qualify anyway."

    It all smacks too much of the Bill {Clinton, Gates} style of simultaneous (denial ^ lame_excuses). If he would fess up and take responsibility for his own behavior I would let it be a bygone and start respecting him for what he actually does. At least BC fessed up once he got caught; RXC won't even go that far. We're talking about really low standards here.

  • The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world...
  • I don't think he meant to say those weren't good apps, but I think he was looking for apps that are so much clearly better than what many people already use (and use them for) that they would switch. Apache fits that definition. It is dominant because it is clearly better than it's competition so that people moved to it, and new people started with it.

    As for the uptime that's just a red herring. Sure Windows doesn't stay up long but that's not the point. People complain about Windows stability but then again my Windows PC at work, at home, my mom's PC can afford to go down from time to time. Those PCs aren't used in the manner that uptime is that big of a deal. Heck my mom shuts hers off when she's done, she hardly ever uses it long enough to complain about it's poor resource management in the first place. I can have Linux PC stay up forever, it still doesn't have that apps that are astoundingly better than windows aps that makes most people move to Linux.

    As Cringely said "To my Mom, the OS is already irrelevant,". His mom doesn't use her computer to the point where she cares about uptime it's the apps she cares about and that's what makes the difference. For just all the apps you list Windows has the same basic functionality and nothing that makes large numbers of people go "Woah, I gotta have that!"

    This is not to say Linux is "bad". I have tons of fun with it (Deb) at home because somewhere in my PC enthusiast career I said:

    "Hey, I can't do that in Windows, I gotta have that! I gotta have me an OS where I have more control, and I can play with it, write (well my apps suck) some apps for it, and be a part of a community building something cool."
  • Sorry, I got a bit hot under the collar, so maybe I wasn't very clear. (Obviously I screwed up my italics tags, gosh darn it.)

    Previewing your post will give you a chance to cool off a bit AND let you catch stupid little HTML errors :->
    You think being a MIB is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork!
  • I'm still slightly puzzled by this whole encode/decode terminology.

    Lets say you encode drinking beer and decode drinking alcohol.

    Then would you go back and try to encode drinking alcohol? Would you decode drinking alcohol?

    For the venerable physics majors, when you get to grad school they decode [GRE + GPA + recommendations] and they tell you, based on that decoding EXACTLY what tier schools you should apply to and what scholarships and what your chances will be.

    Hmmm. There must be a flaw here. Maybe, the point is that the higher on the bell curve you are the more irrelevant tests are since you can mimic any part of the bell curve below you.
  • Why is it that there are no responders to my post who are willing to do even the smallest amount of homework in support of their views, and, therefore, fail like all the others who attempt to counter the points presented. The Strawman technique of developing an alternative false arguement and then attacking it has failed. No one has, or will address the accuracy of demographics which apply to Myers-Briggs personalities, and this is the point of my post, No Evidence?

    You see, MBTI is not based on the flawed idea that all of analytical psychology is sexual: Freud's error. MBTI is an improvement on Jung, who discovered the first three dimensions.

    Yes, analytical psychology is science. Observation of reality without bias is imperical and within the scientific method. Many theories have yet to be disproven. That does not mean that they cannot be disproven, only that they are very solid, and based upon fact, reality and truth. With such a foundation they are hardly theory anymore, since belief is not a component.

  • Granted, that I never heard of a stated policy denying girls access to physics, higher math and computer science; but I think that it still exists.
    I am merely a graduate teaching assistant, so I know not what goes on in the minds of Prof.s except by interpreting what comes out of their mouths. That said, it seems to me that Physics is willing, and even wanting more women to join the ranks. The trouble is finding applicants. Physics is even more male dominated than, say, Chemistry (where many of the women are actually pre-med). Its not because we want it this way. Its certainly not something I want.
  • Freud wanted to go into neurology. He couldn't. His theories were based on neurologic structures he assumed would be found. They weren't. Psychoanalysis continues today, but please don't confuse this with Freud. Freud had postulates, and theories that were testable. He expected us to rework his theories to fit brain structure as the mind/brain mapping progressed.
  • by Greg@RageNet ( 39860 ) on Friday September 15, 2000 @08:56AM (#776958) Homepage
    Yes it's the mythical 'them' keeping your girlfriend down. Standing in front of every community colledge CS program and computer book store with tazers to zap any female who dare attempt to enter.

    Perhaps Al Gore will create a government program with a billion dollar budget to get your girlfriend off her ass to get a computer education.

    People's problems do not come from society. There is no law preventing your girlfriend from becoming a programmer. It is only herself standing in the way of that goal (which I suspect she has no true interest in persuing). Every person out there on a minimum wage effort either has the ability to get more education (public libraries are still free) or have made their own choices in life that hold them back (i.e. having 4 kids before turning 20). One's station in life is much more due to the choices one made then to anything society has done.

    This covers the touted income/pay 'gender gap'. Individuals make choices as to what jobs they wish to persue; some people like crunching numbers and staring at facts and figures all day and some don't. Its possible for very real genetic and biological differences (a 3 year old can tell you there's differences between boys and girls!) that more members of one sex would like doing this than members of the other sex. This is probably the reason more males get into business/ investing/ technology; and that is where the big money is, hence the 'gender gap'. No quota or government program is going to make someone who wants to be a teacher enjoy being a portfolio manager.

    I _like_ what I do, computer networking. I certainly would not want someone to determine there are not enough male nurses and tell me that now I have to stop doing networking and go take care of sick folks.

    Creating programs/quotas to 'encourage' more of one subset of people to do something they may not have a desire to do just removes choices rather than fix problems.

    -- Greg
  • First of all, using the words "girls" and "women" interchangeably is a bad idea.

    I don't think he did. Re-read it, and note his careful use of "girls" for school-age children, and "women" for adults.

  • by underwhelm ( 53409 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <mlehwrednu>> on Friday September 15, 2000 @09:04AM (#776960) Homepage Journal
    the factor of being raised apart nulls out the nurturing aspect.

    Unless the two children's sex were disguised from the parents (I would suggest that's an impossible task), there is no way to remove the nurture variable from your "separated at birth" experiment.

    Imagine separating them at birth, and then treating one of them as the opposite gender until they are old enough to work it out on their own. I bet you'd have one distorted personality. You may not end up with a boy that doesn't know he's a boy, but he would probably exhibit feminine personality traits despite himself.

    I also find it hard to believe that anybody is born with a personality, much less a M-B result.

    Gender is mostly a societal construct, and with it comes elements of your personality. You aren't born with your gender, you discover it after everyone spends time treating you like a [boy/girl] and your hormones concur. If we were all born with our gender, we'd all act just as masculine/feminine as each other.

    His point is that nobody is inherently a hacker. That's a gift that's given to you by your environment, and the environment is not giving that gift to women (because, while society is great at screwing us all up, it's certainly unfair to women).

    You're misuse of science to attack "political correctness" comes off as misinformed propaganda.
  • I'll give you points for being patronizing, but none for accuracy. If Slashdot were a bus, then the trolls would be that guy who sodomizes your grandmother while pouring sugar in the gas tank.*

    * Yeah, it's a Clerks reference.

  • I think the most salient point made is that Linux needs killer apps. I'll go on record as saying that Kylix* will be the next killer app for Linux, thus paving the way for a multitude of killer apps.

    * Kylix is the upcoming RAD tool from Borland. [] []

  • I remind you that he said no *killer* apps. All of the apps you mentioned are examples of categories in which we have software of (at best) comperable quality to what is available for windows. A killer app would be one that is so dramatically more usefull than what is available for other OSs as to justify running unix just to be able to use that app.

    Changing operating systems takes work. No matter how well we clone windows and mac interfaces, unix will still be different. If it wasn't, there'd be no point to its existance. Some of us will choose unix for its inherent technical merit, but most people won't. A killer application would be something good enough that it would be obvious to a generic user that the effort of switching to unix is justified.
  • I'm pretty surprised to see this comment moderated down by two. It's becoming fairly obvious that so-called "geek culture" is doing more harm than good. Well, maybe I don't mean it like that. It's more that geek-culture has become a lifestyle that seems to prevent its followers from being productive outside of that lifestyle. For example, there are fearsome programmers out there: Zawinski, Pike, Norvig, Bentley, Abrash, Graham, etc. But they tend to be more the object of geek obsession rather than wrapped up in the culture themselves. The "culture" tends to be more of a "technology twiddling as an end unto itself" thing than just being someone with extreme knowledge about a particular area. So Pike does research into operating systems, and thousands of other people try to split license hairs, argue about Napster, upgrade their kernels, proclaim AMD and NVidia the saviors of computing, and so on. I tend to think that female programmers would operate outside this circle, which would give them a huge advantage over people on the inside.
  • For me, it's the shells, shell-scripting, and the architecture that's used.

    Command-line is probably the best (most flexible, and therefore most usable) interface. Now, that doesn't mean I want to spend all my time typing the command prompt. What I want is the ability to easily setup scripts that call these command-line apps to do things for me. Or maybe write a GUI interface for a command-line app.

    By separating out the functionallity into Daemons or command-line apps, you can easily re-write one, without worrying about the other. IMHO it's much better than DLLs... Although using symlinks for libs is better than MS's ugly approach of just writing over the old version with the new version. Why can't I have both???

    A generic operating system that allows me to configure it specifically for the purpose I need is the ultimate app.

  • Same guy. An amazing Cringely temper tantrum is well documented in that PBS show.

  • I knew I was in trouble with my oldest at somehting like 18 monthws (2 years? it was early for that much speech). She pronounced both beer and beard as beerd. After I took a drink of my oatmeal stout--one of the stiffer heads you'll ever meets; puts Guinness to shame--she pointed at the foam left behind and giggled, "beard on your beard."

    Just swell. not even two (three?) and already cracking puns . . .
  • Did I say MB was based on Freud's ideas? No. I compared the two only in that *neither one is disprovable.* I was simply drawing a parallel.

    Yes, analytical psychology is based on science. However, not all research done in the name of analytical psychology is science.

    I'm sorry if I led you to believe I think MB is disprovable because Freud is disprovable. MB is disprovable because *there's always an exception* to cover anything or anyone who doesn't fit they MB pattern. That's the same way Freud made psychoanalysis fit everyone-- he always had an obscure explaination for why that person really *did* fit his model.

    MB is not science-- it is pop psychology. It is useful in reducing the complexity of human variability to a few simple variables (that is, it makes it easy to categorize people).

    For MB to be science, it must be disprovable. Please, explain how MB can be disproved, and then explain why that cannot happen.
  • Damn it. I meant "*not* disprovable." Freudian slip?
  • I believe what you are saying is covered in the clause: the software wont be distributed, however the information will but thanks for help making /. one of the redundant resources it already is! I really appreciate it
  • A side effect of this episode was that I came to understand the concept of "That's unthinkable!" as having literal meaning (if you can say it in the moment, then it's probably not true).
    This is something that always disturbs me when we technical people have joint meetings with sales. I often think that:
    1. I could never go into sales because I just can't lie like they can, and
    2. if I were ever in a position to buy something, I'd rather talk with a developer (who may embellish a bit about how good it is, but be sincere) than a salesman (who has nothing but a sale in mind).
    I'm not saying that our sales people deceive people into buying something that they don't really need. The solutions do what is promised. But they will sell vapor ware then expect us techies to provide miracles to do all the things they promised - which usually get cut over.

    OK, so to the customer, it really isn't lying. But to those of us who have to develop the goods, there seems to be some deceit going on.

  • Add my name to the list -- I wrote Cringely a few times when Mark was on vacation. Which was just about never. The only one I clearly recall was a parody of Nick Danger, Third Eye, the Firesign Theater piece. Others filled in now and then, I seem to recall, but I was only at InfoWorld for a year.

    Nick Arnett
  • The assertion that "the 16 Myers-Briggs types cover all of the human condition" is erroneous. Psychology, as it is practiced within "Western" civilization, is invalid outside that cultural context. Since a portion of the "human condition" exists outside of Westernized society, it cannot be held under the consideration of the Myers-Briggs personality typing. Now, if a psychologist develops a psychology around the way a particular indigenous culture thinks and interprets the world, maybe then an analog of the MB will come about that holds for that separate culture.

    It all comes down to perspective. Psychology holds the MB as accurate since both operate within the meta-culture of capitalism. Take a person outside this meta-culture, raise them in a different paradigm, and then psychoanalyze them according to the dictums of capitalist/consumerist meta-culture, and you'll pull curve-breaking data.

    And as far as saying that "reality and scientific fact remain unchanging," you assume an Objective Truth. What version of history dictates Truth, yours or mine? It is scientific fact that nothing can move faster than the speed of light. However, scientists have recently reported findings in faster-than-light motion of particles.

    Define the abstract and you open yourself to debate...
  • Shortly after Steve Jobs re-emerged as the leader of Apple, after booting Gil Amelio, and at his first MacWorld after acension, Microsoft "invested" publicly $150 million in non-voting shares of Apple as a gesture by Bill "Borg" Gates to his friend Steve Jobs, in order to shore up what had been a serious decline of interest from some of the big name software developers. Microsoft also paid an undisclosed sum, which has been reported to be around $1 billion, to settle lots of long-term theft of intellectual property charges Apple had made and substantiated.
  • The trouble is finding applicants.

    This is exactly the point that I wanted to make. Even though it is true that Physics and Computer Science departemnts would really like to have more women (both as students and as faculty) they just can't find applicants. My hypothesis is that part of this problem is coming from the admissions office and high school counselors. When a young woman is applying to a university and is undecided about choosing a course of study they are very unlikely to be referred to the physics department as a good place to explore.

    This probably means that there are certian fields that really need to make a stronger effort to reach out towards young women and help them realize that studying Physics, Math, Comp. Sci. etc. are actually viable options for them. I'm curious as to how this would actually be done, I really don't know what the best way is.
    They're - They are
    Their - Belonging to them

  • by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Friday September 15, 2000 @09:17AM (#776976) Homepage
    as depicted here []. Maybe females DONT go into computers so that they WILL get laid!

    While people are flexible enough to learn about any type of personality (like drag queens and diesel dykes) - maybe males can better relate to a big competitive crowd all rushing toward a common goal where only one survives. :))

  • I don't think that logic works. It's like saying that cars that break down a lot sell better than cars that don't because there are more mechanics who know how to fix them. Without being rigorous about it, there are probably the "right" number of each kind.

    The Mac lost because it was introduced significantly after the PC and so had smaller market share, and couldn't gain share because it was expensive, proprietary (Compaq came not long after). Being small and not very exandable, it couldn't even attract the high end either. In the area that it was truly way ahead, graphic design and desktop publishing, it did quite well.

  • > First of all, using the words "girls" and "women" interchangeably is a bad idea.
    > There's no way my girlfriend would choose her low paying secretarial job over a high-paying programming job if she'd felt she had the opportunity to train for the latter.

    Are you sure you don't mean "womanfriend"?
  • I'm not sure where you're going with this. In Germany and Italy you can have a life but in the others, not? I heard that France had a mandatory 36 hour work week - MAX. I believe you have to have all kinds of justification to work overtime. That may have changed but I'm pretty sure I read about that in the past year or two.

    I don't know what it's like in the other countries you mentioned, but if Germany and Italy are better than France, I have to really question why the fu** I'm still living in the US. :)

    As a programmer, I know I could make more money if I decided to work long hours at some other company. I have a two year old son. Nothing in my life is more important than him (a concept no one convinced me of, until the moment he was born.) I work 9-5 (about) and I get to see my wife and son every night. I don't live in a mansion, just a comfortable house in a middle-class neighborhood. I fell in love with computers at age 16 when a buddy down the street got himself an Apple ][, so I'm not in it for the money. I love computing. I'd do it even if it paid minimum wage.

    So to all you aspiring women geeks: you can have a life and be a geek. You just have to decide what's important to you. People who choose money are generally uninteresting (IME). Choose life. I enjoy every day. Sappy, but true.

    '...let the rabbits wear glasses...'
    Y2038 consulting
  • "gals" has largely fallen out of use--I can't come up with a half-dozen people other than myself that use it as all. It has been replaced in common used by "girl," leaving "girl" used in the same sense as both "boy" and "guy"--but I've *never" heard it used where "man" would have been used for an adult female where the corresponding male reference would have been "man," only where "guy" would have beenused.
  • Men think logicaly, women think emotionaly. We are better suited to deal with the cold logical nature of a computer, which gives us a big advantage.
  • Merriam-Webster's online collegiate dictionary dates "societal" back to 1898. I'm not sure why you claim that is is "incredibly wrong" since the definition lists it as a synonym for "social".

    By the way, you might want to proofread your .sig before invoking the Grammar Nazi. I think you mean "you're".

    with humpy love,

  • Are you a parent? While I won't discount it, I highly doubt it. If you ever become one, and raise a few children, please come back and tell me again how "[nobody] is born with a personality". I have two, and from the first month, they have exhibited almost completely opposite behavior, from how long they are willing to wait to be fed when they get hungry, to how determined they are to get something they want (reaching for toys before they can crawl, bottles, food, whatever). My first told his first joke when he was 1 1/2 years old, my second rarely cracks a smile. *I* find it hard to believe that a different environment for the first month after birth can completely form a character that lasts most of your life. To end: your misuse of pseudo-science to attack common sense comes off as arrogant :-)
  • I have two-year old identical twins, and *they* showed different personalities even in the first couple of minutes of life.

    ANd it's certainly not difference in nurture that has sustained those, we need to look closely much of the time to figure out which is which (at times, I have to hold them at arm's length, as I can't tell in my arms.)
  • Aren't you the fucking psychologist. Tend to the plank in your own eye before you point out the splinter in your neighbor's.
  • You aren't born with your gender?? I think that current research indicates that there are sex-linked behavioral traits, such as the ability to visualize objects in three dimensions. To be sure, much of a person's decision-making about career choices is steered by sexual stereotypes that have nothing to do with innate abilities.
  • My daughter found a bug in my text editor when she was less than 1 year old. This was a stable program which people had been using for years. She went bang, bang, and bang, the program crashed. I knew roughly where she had been hitting, and saw what was on the screen. Sure enough, the search/replace algorithm didn't work if both search and replace strings were null. Oops. No adult had ever discovered that.
  • Evidence meaning this Myers-Brigg nonsense? What are you, a psych major?
  • Good for you. In my opinion, the very essence of the meaning of the term "professional" is one who completely puts the interests of his clients above his own.
  • I think it has more to do with M$ owning a piece of Apple. It was only a couple of years ago when M$ gave Apple about $15 million.
  • ok ... I understand the term "free" .. I know what free is - You don't pay for it. Simple enough eh?

    Why the f do people throw around the term "free beer" all the time though? Free is Free ... what does beer have anything to do with free software? "Free beer" as opposed to what? I see that little phrase thrown around so darn much lately and I'm just trying to figure out what the hell it pertains to.
  • I'll risk the karma, but I think the problem here is that she felt she didn't have the opportunity.

    You're right, she didn't feel like she had the opportunity because her parents and teachers encouraged her to study subjects other than math and science. That was my point.

    If there is any "social" problem here, its (sic) how women approach organizations.... women will approach them to some extent on an emotional level...

    Come on, man, it's a macho myth that women are more emotional than men. Are you actually blaming women because they can't get into the top corporate and governmental positions in the US?

  • Cars that break down a lot more just MIGHT sell more if they were sold by the Mechanics that got paid to fix them, were much cheaper up front, and people were used to donkey carts. (i.e. even the bad model was a vast improvement on what people were used to).
  • Who cares, man. You sound like you just took a bitter pill. If I had a dime for every jack that souped up his credentials, I'd be the Donald.
  • No, girls is equivalent to boys, guys is equivalent to gals.

    It does, however, sound somewhat archaic (or at least retro, very 'fifties') to talk about 'the boys' going out to do something and boy in the singular is almost never used except in a derogatory manner or by gays.

    An-yway, 'girls' is falling out of common usage the same as 'boys' already did and it wasn't what Cringely meant anyway.

  • The thing that scares me about this scenario is that if people choose to use such a client, their data is going to be on Someone Else's server. Personal letters, banking information, after work work that is going to be The Next Big Thing, pictures with the mistress taken during that 'business trip' last summer, the latest cuts from the Natalie Portman blowing Leonardo DiCaprio on his private yaght video... all of that kind of information would be on Someone Else's hardware. Of course, they would provide safeguards to ensure that no private information would be accessible by anyone but the owner... wouldn't they? McNealy was just kidding when he said we have no privacy, right?
  • I also find it hard to believe that anybody is born with a personality, much less a M-B result.

    Hmmmm, I dunno. My friend Andrea has 20-month old twins, I don't know if they're actually identical but they're close enough that I can't tell any difference, and the two of them have VERY distinctively different personalities. despite her treating them absolutely identically as far as I can tell...

  • Microsoft makes an average of $200 PROFIT from every Macintosh sold, so Apple's success is also Microsoft's

    could someone please inform me why this is true?

    i vaguely recall that Microsoft bailed out Apple with a load of money before iMac (???).
    (Suddenly not so enthusiastic :( about buying an iMac)

    Goddamit since when did the word "societal" become part of the English language. The word your looking for is "social". It is a really stupid term that simultaneously manages to be both pretentiousa and incredibly wrong.
    Where is the Grammar Nazi when you need him!
  • Since your girlfriend doesn't have a commitment to her current career that holds her back, why doesn't she get trained and become a developer RIGHT NOW?

    One last quibble with your reasoning--when you're already stuck in the real world at a low-paying 40-hour-a-week job, it's hard to save up the money and find the time to become a developer. Then she also would have to overcome the stereotype that women don't make good programmers, which isn't as easy as you think.

  • You can't do an identical twin brith-separation study to disprove a sex as an effect on anything.

    Identical twins have the same sex.

    The "nuturing" and "Myers-Briggs" nonsense that follows is also utterly without meaning.

    What you do is start out with the presumption that "the born hacker type is Myers-Briggs INTP". This turns out to be another word for "mostly male". The intervening word exercises are only that.

    This whole Myers-Briggs scam is very interesting to me. I love it. You make a bunch of questions to ask people; you encode the answers; then you re-describe the answers to the questions next to each code. People -- I mean smart people, not 700 club members -- fucking fall out of their chairs in amazement that it matches up. Of course it is usually a two hour seminar with an "expert" who does the smoke and mirrors and patter as well as Houdini making you look the other way.

    I gotta invent something like this.

    But I've been told that the real kings of this whole business are the Scientologists. One day I'm going to go to one of their "free personality test" sucker-traps and check it out. I don't care about the test at all, I just want to watch these guys in action, and carefully watch the faces of the suckers so I can see who is buying it.
  • after all, they have to make up the income lost by dumping the Windows version...
  • I don't blame the girls for choosing another path.

    First of all, using the words "girls" and "women" interchangeably is a bad idea. Second, why not blame society (I'm talking home and school) for pushing men into math and science and discouraged women from pursuing them. There's no way my girlfriend would choose her low paying secretarial job over a high-paying programming job if she'd felt she had the opportunity to train for the latter.

  • You're being reasonable while people are trying to get picky.

    At first I was going to moderate this, but am replyin instead--so someone 3else up it, please :)

    One of the reasons--a big one--that I cose this job as a professor is the large number of non-traditional students (defined here as anyone over 24). They're coming from all types of former jobs, ranging from obsolete industries getting federal TRA (trade readjustment acts) assostamce to "displaced housewifes." They're all giving up *something* to come back to school, and it's not easy at 30 or 40 (I've been there and done that myself). These students tend to do very well, as they have the motivation. They're going to leave with degrees, including engineering, regardless of what their former backgrounds are. They're also a very good influence on the rest of the class.

    hawk, who remembered to turn in his dissertation revisions
  • I also find it hard to believe that anybody is born with a personality, much less a M-B result.

    Gender is mostly a societal construct ... You aren't born with your gender, you discover it after everyone spends time treating you like a [boy/girl]

    Good grief!

    Here's a simple example to prove you dead wrong as to the affects of biological gender and it's affects on personality. Examine any member of the animal kingdom which are abandoned by their parents at or before birth (reptiles, fish, etc..). Do the males behave differently then the females? Of course they do. They behave differently regardless of nurture (as they had no nurturing!). Assuming you give some weight to the theory of evolution or can at least recognize the basic similarities of us to those animals (two genders, DNA) then you've gotta admit that gender does affect personality.

    while society is great at screwing us all up, it's certainly unfair to women

    Nothing in this society (the US) is preventing any woman from getting into computers. See my other post 'anti-girl riot police'.

    -- Greg
  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Friday September 15, 2000 @07:37AM (#777026)
    The reason more women aren't in computer science isn't because of the subject matter, but more because of the culture surrouning that field. My wife majored in computer science, as did I, and she's a bang-up programmer. But she's not interesting in dinking around for the heck of it, as many guys seemingly are. I'm referring to dinking around in a "okay, now let get the latest GeForce 2 drivers and grab some new Winamp skins and then recompile the kernel," and not " that's an interesting logic problem; I wonder how I could solve it?" The peculiar culture of constant upgrading, fixating on operating systems and languages and choice of text editor, and an obsession with the speed and make of hardware...those are things that can ruin a programmer. A programmer who could live outside that culture would be a force to be reckoned with.
  • by Chalst ( 57653 ) on Friday September 15, 2000 @07:43AM (#777027) Homepage Journal
    I don't blame co-ed for the dreadful underrepresentation of women in
    the computer industry: the USA, Britain and France have dreadful sex
    ratios, but Germany has much better, and Italy better still. I think
    it has a lot to do with the fact that in those last two countries, you
    can be a programmer and still have a life.
  • Well since you're getting reamed for straying from the Ayn Rand individualistic, self deterministic crap, I'll try and stick up for you - no point in hoarding kama, I'm topped out anyway.

    While it's true that determination and aggessive persuit of your goals is needed to make anything happen in life, I find the /. community in denial over the affect exiting social and econonimic structures have on individuals.

    When I was in jr. high and highschool I encountered many roadblocks when I'd try to get into the best math and science classes available. And as much as I'd like to believe otherwise, most of the hassle must be attributed to school authority figures having issues with my gender, race and social class. I was very lucky to have been raised to have the self confidence and knowledge needed to fight for what I wanted (being born an incredibly stubborn person helped too). I was also fortunate to have supportive parents who are also clueful and stuborn enough to be an asset in those battles.

    (and starting in college i got to deal with ignorant fucks who assume that i got where i am by virtue of being a black woman - joy!)

    There are many people who don't know what oppertunities are out there and/ or don't have the self confidence to persue it. And given our racist, sexist and classist society (both past and present) some folks are more suseptible (no, i don't know how to spell - deal!) to these problems than others. Up until the 60's it was common for women to be sent to college to "get engaged". Dorm mothers would get mad if you wanted to miss a dance with an ivy league school to stay home and work on a paper. So is it really so hard to believe that some women got a royal mind-fuck of an upbringing? Is it so hard to understand that people who lived under segregation might not know how to instill in thier children the agression and self confidence needed to compete? Is it hard to see how one's address could be a liability on certian job applications? Well for the very successful /. crowd, apparently that answer is yes.

    Yes, almost everyone (except danforth quale and dubyuh) had to work really fucking hard for whatever they achived, and yes, there is no shortage of lazy, clueless and stupid people in the world but that dosn't mean that some folks might not have the cards stacked against them.

  • Lets see...

    Obvously you have a computer that she can use; Or she can pick up an old first-generation pentium very cheaply or buy a new computer on credit..

    Linux is free and comes with support for almost every language possible..

    I think 40 hours is pretty standard for a work week (low even in the tech industry); why exactly is there no time? Chances are she has two full days a week to learn along with five evenings after work.

    What's holding her back?

    Most tech businesses are so starved for talent that they'll pay contractors outragous hourly fees or spend lots of time and money to import labor on H1B visas. They would welcome anyone in who were self-taught themselves would work at a discounted salary on the assumtion that she'd learn-while-she-worked. The concept that she would not be hired in the tech industry soley on the premis that she's a girl is a lie.

    Of course the heart of the problem is that you feel that someone should just train her to be a developer and at the same time pay her while she's training and not doing any work. Think of how much your girlfriend spends on eating out, or on clothes, or on a car payment. If she really gave a damn about her lowly station in life she'd be spending that money on books or education to improve it.

    This whole thing reminds me of the scene in fight club with the convenence store clerk. The sad truth is that most people need a kick in the ass or a gun down their throats to actually persue their goals rather than float through life wishing they had done better and cursing society for not providing them with a fat inheritance or lottery winnings and making up excuses like "society holds me back so I'm glad I never even tried".

    I think you should dump her, from what you've said she sounds like a real loser.

    -- Greg
  • No apps! What's all of this
    GNOME/Staroffice/Evolution/Mozilla/Nautilus vs. KDE/Koffice/Konqueror stuff all about, then?

    I haven't rebooted this machine to Windows in (uptime 12:04pm up) 185 days (, 21:08, 1 user, load average: 0.39, 0.25, 0.19),
    but somehow I manage to run simulations, read mail, surf the net, create documents,
    spreadsheets, and presentations, and write lots of code -

    all from Linux!
    (And I run neither Apache nor sendmail, so there)

    Last time I had a good sig, honest.
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Friday September 15, 2000 @08:04AM (#777041)
    Blaming society is a cop-out -- it's the ultimate way of denying repsonsibility for your own choices and actions.

    Since your girlfriend doesn't have a commitment to her current career that holds her back, why doesn't she get trained and become a developer RIGHT NOW? From the experiences I've seen first hand, its trivial to get a job as a low-end VB programmer. There are any number of intensive short courses available that turn you into a marketable VB programmer. From there skills can be further refined or higher level education obtained and she can get that high-paying, high-end programming job.

    Of course, there's a whole litany of excuses -- "Not enough time", "Not enough money", "Not enough interest" and so on that people will use to keep them from making changes in their path. Of course these actually amount to "I don't have enough drive to accomplish my goals", which is usually the correct way to understand those excuses. Unless she has children to support, a debilitating illness she really has no excuse.

    ...if she'd felt she had the opportunity to train for the latter.

    I'll risk the karma, but I think the problem here is that she felt she didn't have the opportunity. If there is any "social" problem here, its how both women approach organizations and how organizations approach women. Women need to spend less (but not no) time having "feelings" about things. Organizations that have women members need to spend more time understanding that women will approach them to some extent on an emotional level and that they need to tailor their offerings based on this.

    Your girlfriend probably had opportunity to train for programming -- like in a HS computer club -- but she got the wrong "feeling" from it because the organization didn't take her feminine perspective into consideration (bunch of dorky guys swearing, playing Castle Wolfenstein on the micros and combat on the mainframe? My club was like this!)

  • One of my explanations as to why DOS outsold Macintosh is consultants. If you went out and got a computer consultant, it was far more likely that they would be a DOS consultant than a Mac consultant. The reason why is that, once people bought a system they were far more likely to need an after-support consultant for DOS programs than for MAC programs. This meant that mac-leaning consultants were simply harder to find.

    Back around 1980, I was out pricing systems for a customer. When I asked about a more expensive system, the sales/consultant person chided me about choosing a system based on the size of my finders fee rather than how well the system would work for my customer. I was charging on a time and materials basis, so this wasn't true at all for me. The suggestion, however, disturbed me. It didn't insult me, it just disturbed me because I couldn't wrap my mind around the concept of essentially betraying my client.

    I couldn't understand her suggestion (the salesperson was a she) until, months later, I ran across a colleague who was actually doing precisely what that sales person had suggested I was doing. This real-life example kicked the concept across the 'unthinkable' boundary. Once I was able to wrap my mind around the concept, I was disgusted. My solution was resolving to design my future consulting contracts so that I didn't have a conflict of interest between myself and my client.

    A side effect of this episode was that I came to understand the concept of "That's unthinkable!" as having literal meaning (if you can say it in the moment, then it's probably not true).

    In any event, I think that - for many geeks - the idea of promoting something that isn't the best possible under the circumstances is unthinkable enough that we don't seriously consider the possibility that Cringely proposed -- that bad software survives through kingdom building. Worse yet is the idea the we might be doing it ourselves (albeit unconsciously).

  • by bluestar ( 17362 ) on Friday September 15, 2000 @08:08AM (#777044) Homepage
    The first Cringely was Rory O'Connor
    The second Cringely was Laurie Flynn
    I started writing the column in the first week of September, 1987

    Aha! Now we know who the Dread Priate Roberts (X. Cringely) were.

A bug in the hand is better than one as yet undetected.