* Posts by Tom Hobbs

11 publicly visible posts • joined 31 Jan 2007

Attack of the quarter-ton, 'fridge-sized' killer jellyfish

Tom Hobbs
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More detail please

"some the size of fridges"

What kind of fridge?

UK.gov to spend hundreds of millions on snooping silo

Tom Hobbs
Black Helicopters

Bring back Spam

That will nicely clog up the database with lots of noise for them to sift though.

I can see a kind of reverse SETI on the horizon where people surrender spare CPU cycles and bandwidth to fill the database up with inane rubbish.

Gov pulls plug on prison PlayStations

Tom Hobbs

Am I the only confused one?

"banning 18 certificate videogames"

"young offender institutions"

Is it not illegal for young offenders (those under 18) to be supplied with and allowed to play these games? Is not the current plan to now put their parents in jail also?

God makes you stupid, researchers claim

Tom Hobbs
IT Angle

Does it work the other way?

Not very interesting research.

Being a believer (and leaving the question of my intelligence as an exercise for the reader) I can't say I buy into it much. Not really a suprise, I suppose.

If the research says that the more intelligent you are the less likely you are to believe in God, it surely follow that the less intelligent you are the more likely it is that you believe in God.

Now, go into your local town center and find a decent sample of the most stupid people you can find (measured in a way separate from their religious beliefs) and count how many are devout followers of one religion or another. I don't know, but I'm fairly confident in my guess, that there won't be a high percentage of believers.

Maybe belief isn't linked to IQ after all.

No IT angle, no science-y angle and no Paris angle. Is my disappointment in relation to my intelligence also?

Bloody code!

Tom Hobbs
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Flawed approach

I can't agree with this article either. The easiest methods to read are the ones that are shortest and clearest. So the example;


if (account != null)

{ // 20 lines of code

// (that are totally irrelevant if account is null)

// later...


// and out we pop


is actually a bad one. My rule of thumb is that a method shouldn't be longer than the height of the window it's displayed in, but I would say that even a 20-something line method is probably too long.

Also if you have a method with "excessive nesting of "if..else" " then I'd also say that such a method would be (more) difficult to read than a series of methods each of which dealt with only one condition no matter the number of exit points.

It should be refactored to remove the excessive branching regardless of how many return points there are.

In my experience, once your methods are of a suitable length and simple (which is a personal quantification) you're likely to find you have single return points anyway.

You're right about exceptions though. They're dangerous and overused. They should only be used for, er, exceptional cases and are vastly overused by all and sundry.

Finger-chopping jihadis derail MPs scanner system, claims MoS

Tom Hobbs

One Stone, Multiple MPs

Why not have all MPs "work from home", where home is actually some kind of super-secure facility (no windows or doors).

This has the following benefits;

- Reduces the strain on the police - no more having to follow daft MPs around

- Reduces need for uber-security in a high-traffic building

- Keeps the MPs safe, I recommend burying their compound somewhere

- Introduces another IT angle for the Reg to report on

- It keeps the MPs out of trouble since their new home-from-home only has media-safe entertainment facilities

- The public knows where all the MPs are incase we need to do a quick bit of revolution-ing

Obviously, we would need some kind of Web 2.0 mobile flying MP-Bot for when they need to visit other places. I figure this MP-Bot would be customisable depending on current project; there's the baby-kissing interface, the finger wagger, the hand shaking attachment, machine gun etc.

3,000 chickens paralyse central Scotland

Tom Hobbs

What was the cause of the accident?

Do the police suspect fowl play?

Walruses shake off Danish migrant-watchers

Tom Hobbs

Visions of John Reid...

Please don't tell the government.

I have a vision in my head of John Reid driving around London in an open-top jeep shooting trackers into people with a cross bow.

UK gov to control the causes of crime

Tom Hobbs

Export the criminals

Thinking about this, can't we use our extradition treaty with the US to our advantage? Maybe set up some kind of office over there to have our British criminals sent over there?

It worked however many years ago with Australia... I suppose the most important risk with this strategy is; do we want American's beating us at cricket?

Tom Hobbs

I'd vote for Judge Dredd

We need more police on the streets with the ability to deal with crime as they come across it.

Let's see how much crime* we see when we have squadrons of death-dealing Judge Dredd types patrolling the streets.

Who do I speak to in order to apply for that kind of job?

* According to current legislation rather than any new ones la-buh can come up with

The perils of pair programming

Tom Hobbs

Depends on your day job

Most* programmers don't work on really interesting, exciting and clever things. Most* spend their time in banks and large enterprisey corporations "doing IT". In these situations pair programming works because the emphasis is (or should be) on quality, reliability and maintainability. Even if it takes a pair longer to implement some method than a lone hotshot Rockstar programmer, these benefits remains.

There appears to be some kind of snobbery among programmers** who consider themselves to be faster/better/more efficient/more clever then other developers. Their attitude (at least as I have experienced) is "Why should I share with you?" They miss the point that they're employed to write code that is quality and can be maintained by a _team_.

In some cases, e.g. contractors, the focus may instead just be "implement this as fast as you possibly can" in which case pair programming isn't the way to go.

Obviously intelligent decisions need to be made between "need it now" and "need it good". But to throw out pair programming just because "I can do it faster on my own" is just plain daft.

As an aside; Brennan's cybernetic principle is actually an argument FOR pair programming. Yes, if you have a plastic gear and a metal gear after time the plastic will start to degrade and get stuck to the teeth of the metal gear. But if the Senior Developer is modelled in plastic and the Junior is modelled in metal then you're effectivily saying that knowledge and (hopefully good) habits have been passed down the chain of experience. The analogy now fails because the Senior Developer still has those good habits and knowledge, whereas the plastic gear now has no teeth.

* I don't actually have any figures to back this number up, but it feels right.

** Note the difference between "programmer" and "developer"