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Comments

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Google's Megan Smith Would Be First US CTO Worthy of the Title

Cytotoxic Degree is not all that relevant (117 comments)

There is no doubt that she has the chops and anyone would be lucky to snare an executive with her background and talents. But the article's focus on what degree she has is just silly. The brightest developer I ever knew had a degree in chemistry. The best Director of development I ever hired was an Air Force tech. The best COO I ever worked for was a lawyer / polysci major with no business classes under his belt. The best Director of IT I ever had earned an associates degree and got her A+ certification to get her first job.

Meanwhile, the worst Director of Development I ever had was an MS of CompSci with an MBA. Guy was a tool and an idiot. The worst COO I ever had was an MBA with top grades from a top school. The worst CFO I ever worked with was a chemistry major. OK, that one kinda goes against my point. Forget about him.

  Still, my point stands:

If you are still worrying about your degree 20 years out of college, you haven't done anything.

yesterday
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NASA Telescopes Uncover Early Construction of Giant Galaxy

Cytotoxic Where's the pics? (25 comments)

You gotta love science infotainment.

The discovery was made possible through combining observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, ESA's Herschel Space Observatory, and the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

All of those great imaging systems, but we don't get to see any of the images used? Instead we are given an artist's rendition of a galaxy core forming as the lead image. But where's this extreme redshift galaxy?

For those who care to see something real, NASA did include an image of GOODS-N-744 with labels so you could see the fuzzy spot for yourself. I guess you have to wait for the article to be published to see the data from Spitzer and Herschel.

4 days ago
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Oregon Sues Oracle For "Abysmal" Healthcare Website

Cytotoxic Re:Reputation (210 comments)

I don't know about that. The Super-Conducting Super Collider was abandoned after sinking a ton of cash. So was the FBI's Virtual Case File project, which sounds like a dead ringer for the Oregon website project.

about a week ago
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It's Dumb To Tell Kids They're Smart

Cytotoxic Re:They always told me I was so smart... (243 comments)

Or even different skills. Not every great system administrator is a great manager. I gave my best SysAdmin a shot at being the Director of IT infrastructure. He not only failed, he was miserable. So we put him back in his old job and moved up a young lady who had less training and experience, but more ambition. She worked out wonderfully.

Not every great player can be a coach (look at how it worked out for Magic Johnson). And not every great coach was a great player (Dean Smith, Mike Kryzewski)

about a week ago
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BBC and FACT Shut Down Doctor Who Fansite

Cytotoxic Re:They messed with me once too... apk (186 comments)

in the run-up to the new season they ran a show that specifically touted the input from fans, including fan-produced content like episodes and trailers. The new season's opening sequence was created by a fan that they discovered from a demo opening sequence he posted on the internet. Seems they are at least a bit schizophrenic about such things.

about a week ago
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"MythBusters" Drops Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci

Cytotoxic Re:Ob XKCD... (362 comments)

Interesting that he chose dentistry. Over at Science Based Medicine I learned about the new Science Based Dentistry group. They are a few years behind the medical field, but this group is trying to push for more scientific rigor in the field of dentistry. In the podcast that introduced me to the Science Based Dentistry folks they actually mentioned the fact that most of the "best practices" of dentistry have not been rigorously studied. They pointed out a recent study that demonstrated that flossing doesn't actually help prevent gum disease and didn't really provide any benefit to dental health. Completely against the "conventional wisdom" - and to be honest pretty much completely against common sense. Apparently this was the largest and most rigorous study on the topic ever performed. Since it isn't my field of interest, I didn't follow up, but I still found it very instructive that something as "scientific" as dentistry is so weak on clinical studies.

Medicine has its own problems in that regard. Most primary care level doctoring seems to be experience based and informed by science, more than purely scientific. Sadly, I ran into the result of this just this week. My pediatrician recommended what she termed an "herbal remedy" that they had samples of in the office. She wasn't sure if it worked, but she offered a free sample. I told her I suspected woo, but took it anyway. Once I got the box in hand I could see that not only was it based on completely made-up herbal history - it was a 5C homeopathic preparation of the herbs in question. Pure, unadulterated snake oil. Really a sad state of affairs.

about a week ago
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Entire South Korean Space Programme Shuts Down As Sole Astronaut Quits

Cytotoxic Re:begs FFS (186 comments)

The only inevitability is that the term "begs the question" is now and will remain ambiguous.

The phrase should be abandoned, IMO. Use "raises the question" for the one, and "assumes the conclusion" for the other, or "beggars the question" if your audience has half a clue.

Or "buggars the question" if it is a politician.

about three weeks ago
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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Cytotoxic Re:What? (393 comments)

That is all just ballocks. The number people care about when they buy a blanket is "how much money do I hand to the shopkeep." Yes, sales tax are "collected on behalf of the government". This is a distinction without a difference. If I collect 10 bucks for a blanket and send 80 cents to the local government it doesn't matter what you label it. If my cost of goods sold is $8 and 0.80 goes to local taxes that leaves a buck twenty for me. Of which the state and federal government take another bite - 13% for FICA, 8% for medicare, 30% for income tax - call it 0.60 just for the sake of argument. That leaves me with 60 cents in my pocket.

So you can whack it up anyway you like, put any labels on it you like, but the final result is that the government takes away twice as much from that sale as I do.

Most small businesses don't have special set-asides in the tax code that allow them to offset income with special incentives stuck in the code by their favorite congressmen. They don't pay taxes on gross revenue any more than you do. You have a line called "adjusted gross income" on your tax return. You get special interest set-asides for things like owning a home, having kids or being a refugee immigrant farmer who is an elementary school teacher. Big corporations get similar set-asides designed just for them, particularly if they are in insurance, banking, energy, farming or the automotive sector. Exxon pays the full tax rate based on their adjusted income, just like you do. The "unfair" part isn't what the final number is, it is in all of the special tax incentives that are put in place just for Exxon and their cohort.

about three weeks ago
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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Cytotoxic Re:What? (393 comments)

They money is redistributed, not eliminated. The people as a whole have the same amount of money regardless of whether taxes go up or down.

This is why the wealthiest counties in America are all clustered around Washington DC.

Here's the top of the list:

Falls Church City, Va.
Loudoun County, Va.
Los Alamos County, N.M.
Howard County, Md.
Fairfax County, Va.
Hunterdon County, N.J.
Arlington County, Va.

None of these DC counties were on the list in the 90's when government spending was out of control at nearly a trillion dollars. At 3 trillion, look at where all of the wealth is concentrated.

about three weeks ago
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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Cytotoxic Re:What? (393 comments)

All of that also assumes that there is no corruption, no good ol' boy's network, no cronyism. The bigger the pile of money there is to redistribute, the greater the incentives to corruption - which of course leads to more inefficient use of resources.

This is why the nutty people on the extreme left (those anti-corporation, anti-corporate-control nutballs) and the crazy extremists on the right (those anti-government, cold-dead-hand-gun-totin' crazies) have common cause in creating the smallest government possible. A government with little power and little wealth to spread around is not attractive to corporate lobbyists.

Of course, without all that lobbyist support they have a snowball's chance in hell of electing any of their candidates.

about three weeks ago
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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Cytotoxic Re:What? (393 comments)

I don't think libertarian means what you think it means. You seem to have replaced the "neocon" boogeyman word from the 90's with "libertarian". They are not the same thing. In fact, they are in many ways diametrically opposed.

Libertarians are those wackos who are so far to the left that they fall of the map. Or so far to the right. It's hard to tell. They have this nutty notion that if they want to smoke dope in their gay polyamorous collective while shooting guns and drinking unpasturized milk during their worship of the sun-god - well, they should be left alone to their own devices. Kind of a "if you aren't free to make stupid choices, then you have no freedom" sort of ideal.

about three weeks ago
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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Cytotoxic Re:What? (393 comments)

When I had a small business a while back the numbers were pretty sobering. Between sales tax collected, property taxes, income taxes, FICA, etc. the government took over twice as much away from my business as I received. In a highly competitive, low margin business the government often takes a larger percentage than the principals.

Factor in the accounting and other recordkeeping required for compliance with tax and other regulatory laws taking over a third of my time and it just wasn't worth it. Absent all of the layers of government I had a nice little business. But after a couple of years it became apparent that you have to be above a certain size to make a go of it. Anything less and the resources devoted to compliance and taxes are just too great to make it worth the effort.

So I gave up and joined someone else's startup that had more growth potential. We managed to break through the small business trap and grow to a midsized company. Even so, we were often right at the cusp of going under. Several times we were forced to make bad deals just to get the cash flow to make payroll. And you don't think that an extra few million bucks a year would have made a difference on how many people we could hire?

Any added expense makes it more difficult to hire more people. Very few businesses are flush with cash like Microsoft and Apple.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: When Is It Better To Modify the ERP vs. Interfacing It?

Cytotoxic Re:Major application vendor headaches... (209 comments)

That was always my opinion. Unless you happen to run a business that has been completely solved in the enterprise software world - something like a mortgage broker or a restaurant - I would rather roll my own. I met a group who started a mortgage company and their entire business plan centered around using things off the shelf as they were intended to be used - designing their business processes around the available tools rather than trying to customize them to an existing business plan. Their IT shop was amazingly cheap - because they didn't customize anything. They even used off-the-shelf reports.

My business was such a niche market that nothing off-the-shelf would work for us without major customization. So we designed our own systems from the ground up around the business processes we needed automating. We ended up building a dozen CRM applications from scratch and definitely saved millions for the company on each one.

The nice thing is that everyone recognized how great it was that we saved them millions each year on software licenses while pumping up productivity across the enterprise. And we were all handsomely rewarded. And we all got rainbow ponies.....

about 1 month ago
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Ask Slashdot: When Is It Better To Modify the ERP vs. Interfacing It?

Cytotoxic Re:No matter how common you think it is... (209 comments)

Excellent point.

People are smart. Even the low-level clerical worker who dropped out of high school - smart enough to work around any obstacle their systems present. They are also likely to be ignorant of the consequences of their work-around. I have had such people do things like put DECEASED 1/2/2007 into the "last name" field so that the date of death would show up on the sticker that got printed out to put on a folder. That way they could file it appropriately. Never mind that things like privacy mailers were going out to families of the deceased with "Joe Smith DECEASED 1/2/2007" on the address. Nice.

This is the conundrum of moving to a professional IT shop with full software development life cycle controls. Things that a small shop could get done the same afternoon take months to accomplish in a big operation, and may never make it onto the priority list. So people quit asking and just start making their own solution. The fact that it causes other problems all over the enterprise might not be discovered for years - because the people affected might not even know that it exists.

The only answer to this problem is even more resources for IT - particularly to ferret out the small problems that people are having and provide immediate solutions. Something that is not likely to happen.

about 1 month ago
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Ask Slashdot: When Is It Better To Modify the ERP vs. Interfacing It?

Cytotoxic Re:Hire More Devs (209 comments)

This is good advice. In-house expertise is always preferable when possible.

I would not call the ERP a single point of failure though. It means having one version of the truth. If you have one place where the data is kept (and only one place), then the data will be correct - or as correct as the people using it need it to be. If you have it in multiple places, then none of them will be correct. Especially if spreadsheets are among the places where the data is kept and manipulated.

I would recommend using the ERP database as the master repository for every business application, even if you are using other custom apps to curate the data. That way you can maintain the business rules at the Oracle DB level and ensure data integrity.

The macro-laden Access databases and spreadsheets are fine for laymen to prototype their business models - but you have to hand it over to real developers to build enterprise class applications using the Oracle DB when it is time to go to production.

You can sell all of that to the accountants by including a push toward automation of the GL by using the ERP as a subledger. You can save tons of money on accountants and auditors by having every action in the company reliably captured in a database and automatically rolled into the accounting systems. Also, the board reports suddenly become reliable and easy to produce if you have a single version of reality. Bringing all of these little apps up to spec is a no-brainer. Sure, some of the managers who like having local control over their macros will complain about being hamstrung by IT, but it has to be done.

about 1 month ago
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SpaceX Delays Falcon 9 Launch To Tuesday

Cytotoxic Re:Another another delay? (43 comments)

Shuttle launch delays were the worst.... because shuttle launches are the only one's I have travelled to the cape to see. On at least half of our trips we went home disappointed.

SpaceX will get the chance to disappoint us when they launch the Falcon 9 Heavy. Or when they start landing the first stage back at Canaveral. Either of those will be worth the trip to see. Of course, worst case is that you spend the day splashing around in the bay along the causeway and meeting other dorks who think it is normal to sit around on a causeway all day waiting to watch a launch. A pretty good day even without the launch.

about 2 months ago
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IRS Lost Emails of 6 More Employees Under Investigation

Cytotoxic Re:Email recipients (465 comments)

The IRS has already used this tactic to obtain internal emails. This is why the controversy is over the loss of external emails, which cannot be recovered by IRS IT personnel. Of course, it is the external emails that are the most damaging to political interests.

And you also need to know who they sent email to in order to check their local machine for copies of the email. And if 6 of those recipients just happened to also accidentally have hard drive crashes in the same time period, well, you wouldn't be able to find out what those 7 were talking to each other about. But that's a little far-fetched. I doubt that would ever come up.

about 2 months ago
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Congressman Asks NSA To Provide Metadata For "Lost" IRS Emails

Cytotoxic Re:Does it have to come from NSA ? (347 comments)

They seem to be claiming that they do not have archival copies of her emails - that the only such copies were in the local mail archive on her personal computer, which crashed, taking out the archive. No, really. Stop laughing - that's what they are saying.

about 2 months ago
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Congressman Asks NSA To Provide Metadata For "Lost" IRS Emails

Cytotoxic Re:SubjectsForCommentsAreStupid (347 comments)

This was my observation as well. Even absent direct government regulation, the simple fact of complying with discovery requests would lead anyone running an organization of even modest size to implement an archiving/search solution like Vault. With the immense volume of discovery requests that an organization like the IRS must have with its nearly 90k employees I just don't see how you could possibly run the organization without a professional archiving solution.

Really, if they don't have an archiving solution in place they must have an entire building full of email administrators whose only job is complying with discovery requests.

about 2 months ago
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EU's Online Shoppers Get an Extended "Cooling Off Period"

Cytotoxic Re:14 days for a comic book? (140 comments)

In addition to book exchanges like you describe, here in southern Florida in the US we have a "Santa's helper" table every December, right alongside the road. It has a cool tent and everything. The idea is for people to anonymously leave presents for the needy. People can take what they like if they feel the need. It always seems well stocked.

I'm not sure your image of America is exactly complete. Having done a lot of business with EU companies, I'm not sure your image of Europe is entirely complete either.

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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Measuring the Speed of Light with a Valentine

Cytotoxic Cytotoxic writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Cytotoxic (245301) writes "What to do with all of those leftover Valentine's Day chocolates? — a common problem for the Slashdot crowd. The folks over at Wired magazine have an answer for you in a nice article showing how to measure the speed of light with a microwave and some chocolate. A simple yet surprisingly accurate method that can be used to introduce the scientific method to children and others in need of a scientific education."
Link to Original Source

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