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NPR: '80s Ads Are Responsible For the Lack of Women Coders

ErichTheRed Re:Systematic bias, but also something else (726 comments)

Maybe working against it isn't the right phrase -- it's just that outside influences, left on their own and without context, don't even hold out the possibility of women doing something outside of a traditional role. It's more about tempering the media influences, teachers' influences, peers' influences and so on and injecting a little bit of reality. Otherwise, they get steered down a traditional-role track. If you don't tell a young girl she can be just as good at math if she wants to be and works at it, society isn't going to do that for you.

It's an extension of the problem of parents who are too self-involved or not informed enough to want to help steer their kids' behavior. I'm rapidly finding out, even at this early stage, that raising a kid, boy or girl, that doesn't turn out to be a total jerk is very hard work. I don't have all the answers, but I can only comment on what I see. Stuff a kid in front of (insert media outlet here) and they will instantly absorb whatever message is coming out of it. If you do that without putting your own two cents in, then the kid becomes whatever he/she is exposed to; they're total sponges and act out whatever behavior they see.

2 days ago
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NPR: '80s Ads Are Responsible For the Lack of Women Coders

ErichTheRed Re:What? (726 comments)

"Neckbeard/RTFM culture passively discourage everyone, regardless of gender, from pursuing that career."

^^^This this this!!! If I hadn't commented elsewhere I would mod you up for this. I've worked with plenty of smart people across different industries, and by far, the best people I've worked with have been a combination of scary smart and approachable. Not to self-promote, but I feel I fall into at least the smart category, and have been told by colleagues that they enjoy working with me precisely because I'm not the neckbeard type.

These days, it's getting more difficult to find the basement dweller stereotypical nerd, and they tend to cluster in organizations where they don't have to talk to customers on a regular basis. This is simply because unless you have a particular skill set that employers can't find elsewhere, no one wants to deal with someone with serious personality disorder issues.

Now, back in the 80s, neckbeard culture dominated in programming and IT circles, simply because few people understood the new technologies and things weren't as accessible. I think that, more than TV ads, was a main driver-away of just about anyone, _including_ women.

2 days ago
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NPR: '80s Ads Are Responsible For the Lack of Women Coders

ErichTheRed Systematic bias, but also something else (726 comments)

I'm now the parent of both a young boy and a young girl, and already I'm starting to see the social cues kick in. My wife, who's incredibly smart and finance-minded rather than IT minded also confirms that the separation of roles starts very early and parents really have to work against it if they want to avoid pigeonholing. Even now, in the 2010s, the idea of girls being swept away by handsome princes is still drilled into girls' heads right from the start. Same thing goes for girls being conditioned to think of nothing but their wedding day for the next 20+ years. Boys don't have this same relentless pressure for whatever reason...they're still steered towards harder subjects in school, and conditioned that they will be the breadwinner someday. It's been a while since women would go to college solely to find a husband, but the messaging is still there.

But...one of the things that isn't mentioned is the fact that I think women self-select out of the profession as well. Regardless of gender, you have to put up with a lot of crap in an IT or development job. Being a woman makes it worse because of the potential for sexual harassment, the perception of women not being able to contribute as much due to their childbearing responsibilities, etc. If I were a woman, I sure wouldn't want to work around some of my colleagues, whose behavior and attitudes toward women sometimes make me uncomfortable. (And I can deal with a lot -- I'm far from some PC feminist.) I work for some pretty conservative companies too, I can't imagine the environment at a Web 2.0 startup where most of the management are the founders' hand-picked fraternity brothers.

2 days ago
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More Eye Candy Coming To Windows 10

ErichTheRed The flat thing needs to go away (204 comments)

I know, I know, Apple did it so it must be cool right? I really want the ability for people to change themes as they see fit come back. If you are on a low spec phone, tablet or PC, or just don't like effects, you should be able to turn them off. But if you want more effects, you should have the option. You could easily turn off the Aero Glass effect in Windows 7 and either stay with the less-transparent Windows 7 GUI or even go all the way back to Windows Classic. Why can't we have that option again?

2 days ago
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Developers, IT Still Racking Up (Mostly) High Salaries

ErichTheRed Re:Where should I apply? (191 comments)

" If you were ever thinking of going into local government just to "get your foot in the door", DON'T. You might not have a leg to stand on."

I agree that state/local/federal government salaries are lower compared to the private sector. But one thing I've been thinking about after almost 20 years in private employment is the enviable job security. I now have 2 little kids, and it's a very different calculus when you're talking about a young single guy vs. someone who has all these responsibilities now. In the public sector, there's very little uncompensated overtime, you have a union that fights for yearly nearly guaranteed salary increases, and you most likely don't have to worry about your job being offshored. I live literally right next to a state university, and am always debating on whether to take the 20-30% pay-cut, basically cashing in my chips and taking a job that I can most likely keep until I retire. (Funny thing is this -- suitable positions only open up once in a great while, chiefly because people are choosing the stable route, so I only get to debate this topic once every 7-10 years or so!)

Things are different for everyone. Some people choose travelling 300+ days out of the year as IT consultants making triple my salary. Some people work for non-profits for a pittance because they care about the cause. And some people choose stability. I think that's another thing driving a lot of the variation in salaries.

2 days ago
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Developers, IT Still Racking Up (Mostly) High Salaries

ErichTheRed Uneven distribution of talent? (191 comments)

I'm in systems, not in dev, but the two groups have similar payscales. Dev tends to get paid a little more, especially in positions that require a high level of skill. However, I've seen huge variations in salaries, quality of work environment and skill level of employee that contribute to some of the trends in the data. Offshoring and visa programs also do really cut into the low end of IT and development...we're having trouble finding good junior sysadmins simply because ITIL and stuff has killed any real learning that can be done on a helpdesk job in a large company.

I would think that the fact that devs are better represented in the higher bracket is due to a couple factors:
- If you're some "rockstar developer" working in a niche specialty doing stuff that only a few people know, you're going to be paid well. We're talking stuff like embedded systems, fields with crazy business requirements that only a few people understand, etc., not necessarily the latest buzzwords and fads.
- If you work in investment banking as a quant, you're going to be paid very well. Your life will most likely suck because you'll be working all the time.
- Companies who have outsourced a lot of their basic devs are going to keep their most valuable ones in house, so average pay will go up for them.
- Also, it's not popular to mention, but there is a HUGE market for consultants to parachute in and fix the messes that outsourcers and offshore dev teams have made. Those guys get paid very well indeed.

My advice to anyone who wants to work in IT is this -- there will ALWAYS be downward pressure on salaries. People who live within their means and save aren't going to be as badly affected by the shifts we're seeing. In systems, we're seeing this in the form of cloud computing taking away routine admin jobs or making them less lucrative. The solution for those who can make the shift is to move into a systems engineering and architecture job where you can tell the developers what's not going to work with their cloud implementation. I don't know what the answer is for development, but in both "career tracks" the bottom rungs are getting hollowed out and it's not good for long term succession planning!

Also, don't forget that those high salaries are offset by California and New York cost of living. I live outside of NYC, and my salary would be considered amazing in, say, upstate NY or the Midwest, but it's just comfortable here.

2 days ago
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Trans-Pacific Partnership May Endanger World Health, Newly Leaked Chapter Shows

ErichTheRed OK, if not patents and IP protection, then what? (130 comments)

I am well aware that patents are abused, both in pharmaceuticals and other technology industries. But if they're evil and something else needs to be put in place, then what would it be? If there was no way for a company to recover its investment in R&D, how would you propose getting a company to invest in the first place?

Pharmaceuticals are especially bad -- millions of dollars in research, millions in testing and regulatory clearances, plus a new product can take years to get onto the market. If there's no patent protection period on the new drug, then there's no profit in making one. So, I know companies use this example to defend restrictive patents and everyone hates them for it. But, since you're basically patenting a chemical that has a known synthesis process and can easily be made generically, it seems to me there should at least be something in place to let the discoverer make their money back.

This is going to be increasingly more important to fix somehow as we keep shifting further and further to an economy that produces mostly knowledge goods. Unless the trend reverses itself, we're going to have to come up with a system to ensure employment for millions more "knowledge workers" who would have previously been in other forms of labor or manufacturing of physical goods.

about a week ago
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Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

ErichTheRed Re:The problem with this is where to stop (366 comments)

"Also, how is wholesale genetic engineering for positive traits like this really different from eugenics? I don't get it."

It's not, really. And I'm not so sure eugenics is as bad an idea as some people think it is. The main difference is that now we are almost at the point where we have hard data that directly points to what genetic trait changes result in desirable and undesirable outcomes. Old-school eugenics was just about putting someone's subjective thoughts on what would be the ideal offspring into practice. It's a little different when you have data as opposed to someone's opinion. That's IMO why eugenics got such a bad name -- people were just saying that poor people, or people who looked a certain way, wouldn't make ideal breeding partners. They weren't looking at the actual genome and seeing what characteristics a potential offspring would have. The problem is that any scientific modification of the population is against most religious peoples' beliefs no matter how much benefit it could have.

about a week ago
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Adobe: Click-to-Play Would Have Avoided Flood of Java Zero-days

ErichTheRed Re:What about in house applets? (111 comments)

The thing about J2EE was to illustrate that Java is everywhere. Most of those J2EE systems have a Java applet-based front end provided by the same consulting company that wrote the back end. Hence, million-dollar change orders to get it to support something other than JRE 1.6.51 running on IE 6 (as an example.)

about a week ago
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Adobe: Click-to-Play Would Have Avoided Flood of Java Zero-days

ErichTheRed What about in house applets? (111 comments)

The reality of the Java situation is that it's not just consumers hosing their machine by visiting a website hosting an exploit. There are tons and tons of crappy internal Java applications running in businesses everywhere. A lot of them are poorly documented, or the developer isn't there anymore, or the consulting company who wrote it wants a million bucks every time you want a change. Like it or not, Java is the language of large business...I'm sure we're going to be talking about J2EE in 40 years the same way we talk about COBOL. Most of the "mainframe modernization projects" large businesses go through consist of hiring the lowest-bidder consulting body shop to rewrite all the business logic in J2EE running on WebSphere or WebLogic. The consulting shop chooses Java because they can get a bunch of fresh CS grads who have exposure to the language, and it's reasonably portable.

I deal with this all the time. Java introduced the "expiration date" in version 1.7, and it took them months to add in a very poorly documented way to disable the dire warnings that our users get when running internal code. Microsoft made it worse by expiring the Java ActiveX controls that weren't on the absolute latest versions as of August. At least they provided a policy to shut it off right from the start.

about a week ago
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Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

ErichTheRed The problem with this is where to stop (366 comments)

Stuff like this is a pretty stark reminder that we're just a bag of chemicals, even though we've evolved the capability to do things like...post on Slashdot.

This kind of thing is done in a somewhat limited fashion with high-risk pregnancies/IVF to select for embryos that don't have Down syndrome or other profound mental handicaps. And if an ultrasound indicates something wrong further along, amniocentesis is performed. Those tests are easier because it's the absence or malformation of a chromosome, and they're less controversial because the difference between a kid with 10 fewer IQ points in the normal range and a Down syndrome or Fragile X kid is huge. Someone who is otherwise normal might not be as smart, but someone with a mental handicap is never going to have a full life and be a hardship on their family.

Given what we know about genetics now, I actually don't think selecting out traits that are clearly undesirable is a bad thing as long as there's some randomization and some things left to chance. 100 years ago, we only understood that "something" was responsible for traits, not that a particular sequence of nucleotides in your DNA causes the cells they create to behave differently. The problem is that there are still lots of religious people who reject all of this and blame diseases and defects on God's will. Not that Gattaca's a good example, but the main character's defects were a direct result of his parents rejecting genetic engineering and having kids the "old fashioned way," similar to religious people having a huge family, getting a couple of kids with issues, and just shrugging it off as unavoidable because, well, you know, God.

about a week ago
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Facebook and Apple Now Pay For Female Employees To Freeze Their Eggs

ErichTheRed Re:Good in that it provides another option, but... (247 comments)

You bring up a good point, one that causes a lot of friction between the generations. Since Millennials are delaying or skipping the whole parenthood thing, there is often a comparison in workplaces between the 20something who just got done pulling 2 all nighters to get the (whatever) working vs. the 30 or 40something who had to take another sick day because they had to take care of their sick kid. In bad workplaces it amounts to a subtle form of age discrimination. In more enlightened workplaces (like mine, thank God...) there's a better balance where everyone pitches in where they can.

Choosing to be a parent really does mean giving up a lot of freedom. I could make 2 or 3 times my salary if I were willing to travel around the country/world 300 days out of the year and parachute into and out of various consulting gigs. And not that I would want to, but I could work for a crazy SV startup and play the stock option lottery. The problem is that parents who have jobs like this don't keep their families for very long unless their spouses are really understanding or perfectly happy to just keep spending the money you make and say nothing. But, once you do have a kid or two, your priorities shift. I actually want to be home at a reasonable hour and have a stable enough job to make sure we can pay for things and keep the lights on. A 20something "rockstar" IT consultant doesn't have any worries beyond rent and buying grown up toys. (My grown up toy budget is almost zero now, but the other toy budget is quite a bit more!)

about a week ago
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Facebook and Apple Now Pay For Female Employees To Freeze Their Eggs

ErichTheRed EA is going to do this next, I can feel it. (247 comments)

This is a pretty good example of a policy that, even if it's well-intentioned, kind of sends up a red flag about the company. This would tell me that employees who do not give over their souls to the company and complain about 90-hour death march weeks on projects will be replaced by the 100 other women lining up for their jobs.

The other thing all these hard-working 20something women need to look into is the actual amount of effort required to turn those frozen eggs back into kids. My wife went through 2 successful and a few unsuccessful rounds of IVF in our mid to late 30s simply because we didn't think we would have problems having kids after our lives stabilized a little. It is *not* a straightforward process. Fertility treatment, even if partially covered by insurance is insanely expensive. It's also invasive, painful and not guaranteed to work. Fertility clinics make huge coin on 40something executives who all of a sudden decide they want kids. Because of this, doctors charge rates on a similar scale to plastic surgery -- huge inelastic demand, high cost, and a self-selecting affluent clientele.

The fact that Facebook and Apple will pay for services like this isn't the problem -- the problem is the message it sends. I do agree, especially after being a dad of 2 kids, that people need to wait until their lives stabilize to some degree. People we know who had their kids earlier are perpetually in debt and miserable. (We're perpetually not in debt, but still dealing with huge fixed expenses, so I think we're at least a little better off. Plus, when you come home and both of them run up to you and yell "Daddy!!!!" you kind of forget that you don't have a ton of money saved outside of retirement.) But the corollary of this is that parents who wait until they're 40-plus will probably miss out on a lot of the "being a parent" experiences just because they're too old or still being workaholics.

That work-life balance that everyone seems so quick to want to get rid of needs to come swinging back towards the middle a little bit, in my opinion. I am not opposed to working hard, even for someone else. I regularly put in more than the required effort at my job, and have been rewarded for it by my employer. I am opposed to companies expecting (and getting) 80+ hour work weeks rather than staffing projects properly. Having those same companies tell their female employees to put off that messy child rearing thing until they have extracted their best work sets a very bad precedent.

about a week ago
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Flight Attendants Want Stricter Gadget Rules Reinstated

ErichTheRed Flight attendants != waitresses (405 comments)

I noticed that a lot of people are posting the fact that the FAs just want to keep their jobs or that they should stick to their primary job of serving drinks. I worked for an airline (in IT, not flight crew) and flew a lot, so I've talked to a bunch of FAs. Yes, they do appear to be serving drinks, but FAs are indeed there to keep order and for passenger safety. That role is just hidden until an emergency occurs. Sure, some of this might be a union thing, but the reality is that airlines are way beyond stingy and would have dropped FAs by now if they didn't provide the additional service of flight safety officers.

An example of this can be seen in a crash that happened in Toronto a few years back. After a normal landing. the plane ran off the runway and crashed into a ditch, starting a fire. Every passenger escaped within 2 minutes...before the plane was completely engulfed. The reports from the passengers credited the FAs for basically shoveling everyone out of the plane as quickly as possible.

So yes, they may appear to have an easy job and the profession seems to attract the young, unattached drifter type, but they're probably going to be the ones helping people in a crash or emergency while half the passengers are running around in circles screaming how they're going to die or livetweeting the accident.

about a week ago
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Why Military Personnel Make the Best IT Pros

ErichTheRed Some would be well suited. (299 comments)

In my field (systems engineering,) discipline, troubleshooting skills and attention to detail are pretty critical. I would think an ex-military person would be the ideal antidote to the cowboy sysadmins you see at a lot of places. Those guys get a lot done, but can cause a lot of damage by not thinking through things to their full conclusion. Good military people (and I'm not one) aren't just rule-followers -- they're good at seeing where they fit in a bigger picture, something that really is lacking in a lot of folks' skill sets.

about two weeks ago
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Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

ErichTheRed Re:Replace it with what though? (389 comments)

Sorry to reply to my own post, but...

One of the arguments for not using metrics was found during my school career at Big State U. Being a chemistry student, I crossed paths with lots of pharmacy students. It's often (incorrectly) joked about as being a professional pill-counter, but it's a licensed profession that pays well and has rock-solid guaranteed job security for life. Therefore, it's a hugely competitive major to get into. Big State U had a pharmacy program with a few (less than 100) spots available each year, and way way more applicants. The only thing they could do is rank the applicants by grades in their introductory science courses and their PCAT score, since students started their professional education in their junior year. I recall _intense_ pressure to get perfect grades and scores.

The same intense focus on a metric happens with civil service exams for police, firefighters, etc. When you have thousands of test takers, and the academy lists are ordered solely by exam score, I can't imagine there isn't pressure to perform. Being a cop isn't my cup of tea, but if I could tough it out for 20 years and retire with a full salary pension, I'd at least give it a try.

about two weeks ago
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Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

ErichTheRed Re:Med school has done this, too. (389 comments)

That's interesting -- I figured medical school and law school would be even more selective on academic achievement. Aren't you signing up to perfect-recall memorize a huge chunk of medical knowledge in 3 years?

On the other hand, it's (IMO) a good thing to try to introduce a little humility into the medical profession. Dr. House may be a TC character, but I've met a lot of doctors who act like that simply because no one has ever told them they're fallible and they never made a mistake....yet.

about two weeks ago
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Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

ErichTheRed Replace it with what though? (389 comments)

The problem is, if you're a Harvard. Stanford or MIT, you already have thousands of students applying for a few hundred spots. And in the case of these schools, almost every one of these students is a carbon copy of the other - class valedictorian, perfect score on the SATs, perfect levels of extracurricular activities, etc. Beyond the essays and interviews that highly selective schools do, how else do you measure for people who aren't just "good at school" and churn out perfect scores on tests due to photographic memories or intense pressure?

My story is interesting - I've always been a mediocre (B or B+) student and a lot of it comes down to my lack of talent at memorizing stuff for tests. Even now that I'm out of school, I play the vendor certification game and often get mediocre (but passing) scores on those tests. I think I'd do a lot better if I had a photographic memory. Same goes for math -- I find the concepts very interesting but have some sort of calculating disability that I still haven't been able to figure out. Put stuff like that together, plus my insistence on pursuing a difficult degree (chemistry,) and my grades were no great shakes. I really don't know which is better -- the rote memorization method that China and India use, or our method which, if you ask a random sample of people, apparently doesn't work well enough.

One of the problems with lowering standards in the highly selective private schools is that you'd be opening the doors of a closed club to more people, and I'm not sure these institutions want to do that. I went to Big No Name State U, and the experience in these places is very much what you make of it. Especially if the place is big, you need to seek out every advantage and opportunity rather than have it handed to you. I read something a few months ago that compared the experience at a state university to that of the Ivy League, but of course my memory sucks so I'll have to look it up later. :-) Anyway, this author seemed to indicate that the primary difference is that once you're in the private university system, they don't let you fail. Opportunities to make up work, etc. that don't exist in a lecture class of 400 students are given to people who have trouble. The alumni network ensures that anyone who makes it through will get a good job, and the brand name on the degree will follow you forever. It's like you're in a club, and it's your reward for working like a dog (and paying a lot of money) to get into the top tier.

about two weeks ago
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Obama Administration Argues For Backdoors In Personal Electronics

ErichTheRed Arguing the opposite position (575 comments)

I do see why, in theory, people are concerned about their inability to prevent everyone from accessing the content on their devices. I don't necessarily agree with them, but they're entitled to their opinion. I think the issue here is that, in the case of the iPhone at least, there was a process that existed to send the device to Apple, with a warrant, to get some of the data out. Now, barring some miracle decryption technique, the data is pretty much inaccessible until the owner gives up their passcode. It's similar to companies that weasel around the email discovery process by simply saying they don't retain emails beyond 30 days or whatever. (I worked for a company whose in-house counsel interpreted the rules that way -- if we don't retain it, no one can discover it)

What I don't agree with is the characterization of the US as a totalitarian police state trampling on everyone's liberty/privacy. In a country of 300+ million people, with a mishmash of 50 state governments and a federal government, there's just no way anymore for any one group to gain any sort of foothold. Look at how dysfunctional the legislative process is now...regardless of argument, or the level of money given to Congresspeople, there's no chance of anything remotely controversial passing. I think anyone who has lived in a real police state (East Germany, the USSR, etc.) would agree that the US is still pretty open. I think the chances of someone knocking on your door and making you disappear are vanishingly low.

I think that if privacy advocates want to educate people who (admittedly, like myself) don't really see this as a problem, they need to take a different approach. The vast majority of anti-privacy arguments sound like the ramblings of a "privacy nut" who quotes the Constitution as holy scripture and hides out in his fortified mountaintop complex ready for the apocalypse. There needs to be more reasoned discussion and fewer scare tactics. Similar controversy is stirred up about gun control whenever some crazy guy kills a bunch of people...the gun nuts all come out of the woodwork and push the idea that the Stasi or KGB is lurking right around the corner as soon as any restrictions of any kind are placed on gun possession.

about three weeks ago
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Microsoft Announces Windows 10

ErichTheRed Windows 10, huh? (644 comments)

I guess they want version parity with MacOS? Or they want to put it in people's minds that this version of Windows is so much better than 8, they had to skip a version number.

I just hope they listen to user feedback this time about the UI. If the Start menu is back, that's a good sign. I know a lot of people say it's a throwback, but the Metrofication of the familiar desktop was what caused our group to skip Windows 8 for inclusion in our product. (We provide a managed IT service to a very staid, boring industry that actively resists change.) I really really REALLY want Aero Glass or something like it back in the OS, or at least theming support that would allow a third party hack. Windows 8.1 Update 1 was pretty decent in terms of UI cleanup, and I hope they continue. Maybe they'll answer my other wish and fix the Office UI...having a background choice of white, bright white and insanely bright white is a killer on any screen larger than a tablet.

We'll see if they learned their lesson with Windows 8. Hopefully by the time the release rolls around, the tablet/social/mobile bubble will have at least deflated a little, and people might be back down on Earth wanting to do actual work on a laptop or desktop. Windows 8 and Server 2012 R2 are actually really nice under the hood, and excellent upgrades to Windows 7 -- but they're hobbled by a clunky UI that I've only recently come to terms with.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Apple buys iFixit, declares repairable devices "antiquated".

ErichTheRed ErichTheRed writes  |  about 7 months ago

ErichTheRed (39327) writes "Apparently, Apple is buying iFixit. iFixit is (was?) a website that posted teardown photos of gadgets and offered repair advice. According to the website: "Apple is working hard to make devices last long enough to be upgraded or irrelevant, making repairability an antiquated notion." It's all clear now — I can't replace the batteries, hard drives or RAM in new Macs because I'm expected to throw them in the landfill every 2 years!

It made it to CNN, so it has to be true, right?"

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"Clean up Github" -- A backlash against stereotypical nerd culture?

ErichTheRed ErichTheRed writes  |  about 7 months ago

ErichTheRed (39327) writes "The story on Monday about Julie Ann Horvath quitting GitHub because of harassment ties in nicely with this. A group called Ethical Code is starting a "Clean Up GitHub" campaign to request people to pull offensive comments out of their code. This brings up a very interesting question...is it still considered too PC to expect people to be somewhat professional in their public code submissions, or is this a sign that the industry might be "growing up" a little? I'd like to hope it's the latter...."
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Microsoft Retiring the TechNet Subscription

ErichTheRed ErichTheRed writes  |  about a year ago

ErichTheRed (39327) writes "One of the nicest perks that Microsoft offered is being retired. Microsoft has reasonably-priced "TechNet Subscriptions" which give you low-cost full access to download fully functional evaluation software. The idea is that IT people could use a product in their lab for learning or simulation purposes without having to shell out thousands for an MSDN subscription. These are being retired as of August 31st. Apparently they're trying to shift "casual" evaluation of software onto their Virtual Labs and other online offerings. If you want full evals of software, you're going to need to buy an MSDN Subscription. I know lots of people abuse their TechNet privileges, but it's a real shame that I won't just be able to pull down the latest software to replicate a customer problem, which is part of what I do on a daily basis. I guess you can mark this one as "From the one-bad-pirate-ruins-the-whole-bunch department...""
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Ex-Employee Busted for Tampering with ERP System

ErichTheRed ErichTheRed writes  |  about a year and a half ago

ErichTheRed (39327) writes "Here's yet another example of why it's very important to make sure IT employees' access is terminated when they are. According to the NYTimes article, a former employee of this company allegedly accessed the ERP system after he was terminated and had a little "fun". As an IT professional myself, I can't ever see a situation that would warrant something like this. Unfortunately for all of us, some people do and continue to give us a really bad reputation in the executive suite."
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Change the ThinkPad and it will Die

ErichTheRed ErichTheRed writes  |  about 2 years ago

ErichTheRed (39327) writes "Here's an interesting editorial piece about the ThinkPad over at CNN. The basic gist of it is what many ThinkPad devotees have been saying since Lenovo started tweaking the classic IBM design to make the ThinkPad more like a MacBook, Sony or other high-end consumer device. I'm a big fan of these bulletproof, decidedly unsexy business notebooks, and would be unhappy if Lenovo decided to sacrifice build quality for coolness. tl;dr: You can have my 1992 clicky IBM ThinkPad keyboard when you pull it from my cold dead hands. :-)"
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IBM Sells POS Busiiness to Toshiba

ErichTheRed ErichTheRed writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ErichTheRed (39327) writes "Yet another move by IBM out of end-user hardware — Toshiba will be buying IBM's retail point-of-sale systems business for $850M. I'm not an MBA, but is it REALLY a good idea for a company defined by good (and in this case high-margin) hardware to sell it off in favor of nebulous consulting stuff?? Is there really no money in hardware anymore? I doubt they'll ever sell their Power systems or mainframes off, but you never know!"
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Learning Programming in a Post-BASIC World

ErichTheRed ErichTheRed writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ErichTheRed (39327) writes "This Computerworld piece actually got me thinking — it basically says that there are few good "starter languages" to get students interested in programming. I remember hacking away at BASIC incessantly when I was a kid, and it taught me a lot about logic and computers in general. Has the level of abstraction in computer systems reached a point where beginners can't just code something quick without a huge amount of back-story? I find this to be the case now; scripting languages are good, but limited in what you can do...and GUI creation requires students to be familiar with a lot of concepts (event handling, etc.) that aren't intuitive for beginners. What would you show a beginner first — JavaScript? Python? How do you get the instant gratification we oldies got when sitting down in front of the early-80s home computers?"
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America's tech decline: A reading guide

ErichTheRed ErichTheRed writes  |  more than 3 years ago

ErichTheRed (39327) writes "Computerworld has put together an interesting collection of links to various sources detailing the decline of US R&D/innovation in technology. The cross section of sources is interesting — everything from government to private industry. It's interesting to see that some people are actually concerned about this...even though all the US does is argue internally while rewarding the behaviour that hastens the decline."
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