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Tech Companies Worried Over China's New Rules For Selling To Banks

ErichTheRed I wonder what the motive is (123 comments)

OSS stuff like Linux and xBSD is already out there, and they can build their own back doors. Microsoft already gives companies and governments access to the source code for its products. I guess the mainframe providers (IBM, Fujitsu, etc.) are the only ones left that this would affect. That, and the network device manufacturers...I could definitely see Huawei getting a boost by being the only network device manufacturer allowed to sell to Chinese banks.

I guess the question is why -- every country on earth spies on every other country and its own citizens. So, it's probably being done to boost domestic companies. One of the things that's really going to make China come out on top this century is their ability to do stuff like this...it's one of their greatest strengths. If they decide they want to do something, it's done with zero debate. Their big overarching project right now is a massive urbanization project -- just picking up millions of rural peasants and physically moving them to cities. Can you imagine the US or a European country trying something like that? It would never work, look how much people complain when a local government uses eminent domain to build a road or public works project.

The summary is right though - companies can't ignore China. There are billions of people and a huge growing middle class, all with the full will of their government pushing through whatever is needed. There are always possible bumps in the road, but I'm assuming China will be the dominant superpower in a couple of decades just because they can make stuff happen that we can't/won't.

yesterday
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Surface RT Devices Won't Get Windows 10

ErichTheRed Re:This is one of the reasons.... (158 comments)

I have heard rumors from folks that work at MS that he was basically blinded by his vision, and didn't want to listen to anybody. The result as we all know, is Windows 8.

I heard the same rumors. What's interesting is that some people (Steve Jobs, etc.) can get away with that, and others (Ballmer/Sinofsky) can't. Jobs had to literally die before Apple made a large-screen iPhone, and I don't think we'll ever see new physical buttons on an Apple product again thanks to his minimalist design manifesto.

If they actually do teach MBAs something useful, the Windows 8 case would be a perfect example. I see mini examples of this in the large companies I've worked in as well -- one person gets a hold of the decision makers, doesn't let go, and blows things up because they stop listening to criticism.

about a week ago
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Surface RT Devices Won't Get Windows 10

ErichTheRed Bye Windows RT (158 comments)

I guess that's the end of RT and ARM-powered Windows devices.

In my opinion this is a good thing. Despite all the bashing, Microsoft has done a decent job with server operating systems lately, and Windows 7 was pretty good. It's interesting that they have enough money, power and leverage to recover from a move that would probably have sunk a smaller company -- it was also able to absorb 3 iterations of Surface Pro before they got it right, and the killing of Surface RT. Windows 8 was basically a panic reaction to the iPad/mobile/social/Bubble 2.0. I'm sure Windows 10 isn't going to give that all up, but it'll be cool to see them not totally write off desktop/laptop computing yet. Let's hope they don't mess up Windows 10 and Office 2016 too badly before launch. One thing about killing RT is that they're basically saying they can't make money off the Windows Store apps the same way Apple does. This could be a good thing -- let them focus on being a good OS developer instead of trying to be another Apple.

about a week ago
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The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees

ErichTheRed Tough problem (263 comments)

This is a very current problem. The tech press is talking about IBM's announcements/rumors about yet another huge restructuring. Not so long ago, IBM was one of the most stable places in the world to be employed at outside of government and academia. There was an implicit contract that employees who contributed and worked within the framework of the company would be taken care of for an entire career. I think that needs to come back for those who desire it, not necessarily for socioeconomic reasons, but for workforce improvement reasons. This move to contractors and outsourcing for everything is just idiotic MBA management consultants looking at a spreadsheet and seeing a way to shift costs. The long term problem is that loyalty works both ways, and employees who are treated as disposable will treat their employers the same way.

I know that large organizations generate forests of dead wood as well, and that there comes a time when some of it needs to be cleaned. However, an enlightened company in my mind would be better served retraining that dead wood worker for something else. You get someone who knows the organization's culture and politics, and the institutional knowledge of how their previous job was done doesn't walk out the door.

I know I'm not in the majority on /., but I would love the ability to stay with the same employer for an extended time, without the worry of suddenly losing my job and immediately being branded with The Scarlet Letter U (unemployed) that prevents me from being hired ever again. I actively seek out employers who treat their employees well in exchange for long service -- and they're harder and harder to find. The reality is that the industry is rough - the 25 year old single coder/systems guy is preferred over the experienced person who's done the latest rehashed tech fad over and over again. Anyone with a family would be pretty foolish to go the contractor route - it's hard to explain to the family that you can't pay the bills this month because a customer didn't pay you or there's no work to be had. There's a difference between someone like me, who would put in extra effort in exchange for more security, and someone who just wants job security because they're lazy. I've worked with plenty of those types over my career as well -- they set themselves up as the single point of failure in a system or hold all the knowledge on a particular process just because they're scared someone will come and lay them off. You would get less of this if large companies didn't routinely say "we're cutting 30,000 workers" the way HP just did.

The problem for me with contracting isn't the constant learning - I like that. It's the bouncing around, never knowing where you'll be in 6 months, and never getting to finish anything you start.

In a perfect world, my solution would be twofold:
- Admit that there is going to be huge structural unemployment in the future, and enact European style unemployment insurance and worker protections.
- Take the design/engineering aspects of IT or SW development, draw a clear line between the engineering and the tech tasks, and merge it into the licensed professional engineer track. A professional organization would get a lot more support than the unions that techies irrationally fear. In addition, having a clear career ladder starting out as an entry level tech, spending the time necessary to make mistakes, then graduating to a status that requires you to be responsible for what you build/design is a good thing.

about two weeks ago
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Google Glass Is Dead, Long Live Google Glass

ErichTheRed Good idea...outside of the public eye (141 comments)

One of the things that I always thought about Google Glass was this -- it has a billion good uses for work, but is stupid and creepy when you start walking around in public with it. It's creepy in more than one way - there's the "everyone thinks you're a stalker" thing, the weird head gestures you need to make to control it, the talking to yourself, and also the "Google now knows exactly what my eyes are tracking in any given image" kind of creepy. I'm not a millenial, so I probably sound like an old coot, but Google already knows enough about us - phones, search, Gmail, etc.

Now, that all goes out the window when you're talking about work use. With all these cloud data centers hosting thousands of racks of servers, maintenance techs would be able to get real time info. Warehouses would be able to show human forklift drivers where stuff is. Aircraft and car mechanics would be able to get manuals without having to print/read paper job cards. Stuff like that is very useful - walking around with them in public is a different story.

Maybe Google is realizing this and tailoring future devices for certain applications.

about two weeks ago
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US Central Command's Twitter Account Hacked, Filled With Pro-ISIS Messages

ErichTheRed Hacked? Uh huh, sure... (128 comments)

The PFC appointed as Social Media Officer probably chose a weak password. Seriously, whenever I see a news article about a social media account being "hacked," I really wish journalists would understand these are just password-protected web services!

Celebrities' naked pictures and Twitter feeds get hacked because they have simple passwords, not because some genius hacker spends months looking for an exploit on their personal phone and the opportunity to introduce it. And even "security question" based password resets don't work when a celebrity will choose answers that anyone can find in 100 gossip rags.

about three weeks ago
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Forget Stuxnet: Banking Trojans Attacking Power Plants

ErichTheRed Why aren't these networks air gapped? (34 comments)

SCADA and the like are the worst things to have available on an accessible network. Vendors never update their software, everything's insecure by default, etc.

I've worked in environments like this, and some of the equipment is just not possible to secure without leaving it on its own network. It makes maintenance a nightmare -- sneakernetting patches, software updates, AV signatures, etc. I know an air gap isn't a guarantee of security, but it at least prevents dumb things like drive by downloads on someone's computer affecting production equipment.

Working with vendors of some of this stuff is equally bad...most of them deny a problem exists. And even if they acknowledge a problem, they won't lift a finger to fix it because they just have to say it's secure if installed as per our instructions. I've seen lots of software for control systems, etc. with 15 or 20 year old software libraries gluing everything together. (Using the 15 year old version now, I mean.) The vendor knows they're one of a handful of firms providing stuff like this, and they know that companies don't care about information security anyway. (One example of this from outside of the manufacturing industry -- I was integrating a very specific peripheral for a customer, and the vendor absolutely refused to digitally sign the Windows drivers, rendering it nearly impossible to install on 64-bit Windows. A lot of people might say "that's what you get with closed source," but open source libraries and other code have their problems as well.

about three weeks ago
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UK Government Department Still Runs VME Operating System Installed In 1974

ErichTheRed Extreme example here, but... (189 comments)

Not all legacy stuff is bad. Not all legacy stuff should be kept around to the point where you can't find people to run it, however,

I've had experience working in die-hard IBM mainframe shops as well as places that used the HP MPE operating system on the HP 3000 minicomputer system. In the 3000 case, the customer was relying on a service provider that was providing an application that was way way way out of date but still worked. All the IBM places I've ever worked have been slowly "modernizing" their application stack, but in most cases, the core transaction processing has remained on the mainframe because that was the best solution. It's extremely rare these days to see an end user facing green screen application, but they do exist as well. (Yes, I work in "boring" old school industry sectors, very few web-framework-du-jour hipsters here, but we're also not old farts.)

The problem I've seen is that vendors love the fact that customers are locked in and will do nothing to encourage them to get off. Most ancient mainframe code can run virtually unmodified on newer hardware, and that backwards compatibility is a big selling point. It allows IBM to go in, swap out your entire hardware platform at $x million, and keep billing you by the MIPS without changing any code.

But...the reverse problem is that "mainframe migration" projects often end up becoming case studies of how Big Consulting Company X was paid hundreds of millions to not deliver a working system. I believe I read about DWP's "Universal Credit" project that has Accenture, IBM or Oracle written all over it. These kinds of projects usually try to port all the business logic and transaction processing to some horrible-to-maintain J2EE monstrosity backed by an Oracle database. They usually fail because (a) no one correctly estimates the work required to pull all that business logic out of 30+ years of cruft, and (b) the consulting companies replace their star team (that travels with the sales force) with new grads in India (who do the actual work.) I've seen this cycle over and over again, and am still amazed that CIOs aren't wary of consultants.

about three weeks ago
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Little-Known Programming Languages That Actually Pay

ErichTheRed Interesting parallels in IT as well (242 comments)

Coming from the IT/systems side of the fence, this isn't just limited to programming languages. There are tons of little niches in industries and technologies. The key to not letting a niche define you is to stay flexible. For example, I do systems work for airline industry customers. Think of every niche, legacy, arcane, backward standard, and it's there. Any one of these niches can be followed down so far into the expert level that you can build a career out of them. But, these things can change, and if you get too mired in the details and never pick your head up above the water, you can get lost. You wouldn't believe how complex something like tracking lost luggage or managing passenger data is once you peel off the covers...and a lot of that complexity is because of the massive layers of legacy stuff that have been built up over the years.

My approach to my career has worked well so far: (1) be willing to learn a lot about a particular subject so you can do good work on it, (2) keep sharp by slightly changing the things you work on every once in a while, and (3) keep your eyes/ears open so you can figure out which trends to hop on just in case the current job dries up. It's difficult to do this, but not so bad if you really like learning all the time. If I ever get sick of working in my little corner of the world, I'm pretty confident that I would be able to pick up a job in another little corner pretty easily.

Niches are everywhere, and often that translates into knowing about how an industry works at the insider level. Treating exposure like this as a learning opportunity is a good way to keep yourself marketable, and not just in your specialty field. Not being able to do this is a good way to brand yourself as a permanent generalist who doesn't have the desire/ability to dig in and find answers. Not trying to sound like a jerk, but there is a big difference between someone who can really dig into a problem and someone who just does what's in the manual.

about three weeks ago
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2014: The Year We Learned How Vulnerable Third-Party Code Libraries Are

ErichTheRed Open or closed, same problems (255 comments)

From the perspective of most IT customers, bugs are bugs regardless of closed or open source. They still rely on other people to find them, patch them and release changes.

Companies who rely on open source libraries may or may not have the ability or spare resources to go digging through the code of a library, finding a security issue, writing a patch for it, recompiling the library, then using that patched copy in production. Companies in the 'service provider' realm may be able to do this, simply because they are staffed appropriately and have a greater IT focus. I do IT work for airline customers. Airlines want as little to do with IT as possible, even though it's a key part of their business...it's not directly related to the surprisingly low-margin business of moving people and planes. I would never advise a customer to roll their own Linux distribution, for example, even if it was based on a commercial one. There's just no appetite for keeping things maintained in a business who doesn't live and breathe technology.

The problem is that, increasingly, even closed source vendors are relying on open source libraries to provide large blocks of their application's functionality. A company who doesn't write operating systems generally shouldn't try rewriting these very important pieces, of course, but the closed source companies providing applications that use open source libraries need to be on top of these issues and ideally contribute back their patches.

Whether closed or open source, companies need to be able to respond quickly to security problems, and those problems may end up getting traced back to something like OpenSSL, the Apache stack, etc. Open source has the advantage of "more eyes" looking at the code for vulnerabilities, and less commercial pressure. Closed source companies have the opportunity to provide (usually at a cost) the expertise and support necessary to find and fix a customer problem. I've had both awful and good experiences with both trying to get bugs resolved. If you pay for it, and the closed source vendor has good support, they will move heaven and earth to fix your problem. For non-technology companies, closed source or support-funded open source companies like Red Hat give internal IT teams a good boundary between them and "the vendor" as well as someone to call when they have done their homework and find they can't fix something. For the Googles, Facebooks and maybe some academic institutions, the internal IT department can be staffed with kernel hackers and the like to maintain their own highly-optimized implementations. Techies tend to forget that users and companies have very little desire to mess around with technology, and use it to get their work done.

about a month ago
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Putting Time Out In Time Out: The Science of Discipline

ErichTheRed Doesn't take into account real world parenting (323 comments)

I would say I'm pretty much a technocrat, in that I would take hard data over what feels correct or what has always been done any day. If the data show beyond any doubt that working with children in the manner that the article suggests produces better results than thousands of years of corporal punishment evidence, then I would follow the study regardless of what anyone else did.

The problem is that when you're working with people, especially _all_ the people, studies only get you so far. Average IQ is 100 -- so lots of parents are below that. Some parents are poor, or work 3 jobs, or don't give a crap about their children. Whenever I see bad behavior, I have to remember to reserve judgement because of these facts. Some parents lack the ability to reason with their children -- and no parent can reason with a preschooler sometimes! I have 2 little kids and really don't want to screw them up too badly. I'd like to think that treating them like human beings who need training works better than "My dad beat me up all the time, and look how well I turned out!" It must be a pretty lousy job being a social worker for a state child welfare agency and seeing children from the entire cross section of the public as opposed to what you are exposed to regularly.

It seems to me that the study boils down to a consequence of the old adage "Children learn what they live." If your household is a nice tranquil place with two academic parents who take the time to raise their kids, the kids will turn out better than those from a household ripped from an episode of Cops. Now, there's some scientific data behind this, showing that children can model the behavior they're exposed to.

about a month ago
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New AP Course, "Computer Science Principles," Aims To Make CS More Accessible

ErichTheRed Re:How is this an AP? (208 comments)

One of the state universities by me is offering a "pre-intro" CS course that focuses more on the absolute basics before stuffing them in a programming course: CSE 110 It seems to me that this is a good way to scare away people who don't actually want to do CS, and to fill in gaps in knowledge that today's students would have. It's interesting that this is different from the high level survey course for non majors, and it's only a "suggested prerequisite" for the more programming and logic-heavy traditional Computer Science I, II and III.

To me, that seems like a good idea. Typical students who think CS is a good fit because they've messed around with computers are different from those of previous times. Most will not have the low-level programming, algorithms and other experience that people had to have at least a familiarity with back before the app revolution. See my other post in this article -- writing a Minecraft mod or cooking up a web application in ReallyCoolFrameworkOnRails doesn't give you the same low level understanding of how a computer actually does all the magic it does.

about a month and a half ago
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New AP Course, "Computer Science Principles," Aims To Make CS More Accessible

ErichTheRed It's not really a gender thing, it's perception (208 comments)

Everyone seems to be pointing to this as a gender issue, but the way I see it, it's a way to get more students interested in the stuff that _most_ of them will be doing with a computer science education.

The world has changed significantly since I graduated college almost 20 years ago (with a STEM degree that wasn't CS.) In 1997, the year I got out, the dotcom bubble was just inflating and all the protocols and "glue" that make Web applications work were just starting to be enhanced and built out. Fast forward to now, and there's so much abstraction in typical computer systems that many "coders" writing web applications don't even deal with system-level code. There are a billion web frameworks that keep getting cycled through every 6 months as the new hotness, and tons of new languages to run on them. This group of people will be better suited to learning enough logic to keep them from doing stupid stuff in their framework of choice, and this seems to be what the course focuses on. It acknowledges the reality that many CS grads aren't going to be sitting down in front of the terminal and writing hardware drivers, or doing embedded systems work.

Think about it -- to build a web application in the 1990s, you had to first design the entire database schema and set that up on a system somewhere. Then, you had to write code to have your web application talk to the database to get information in and out. Then you had the whole presentation layer with a combination of static and dynamic HTML plus all sorts of crazy CGI, Flash, ColdFusion or whatever glue code to get everything working. To build an iPhone app now, download XCode, pick a sample project and just glue together all the huge chunks of pre-built functionality. The focus on the app becomes the presentation layer because everything below that is solved for you. This is how a bunch of ex-fraternity "brogrammers" can build Tinder or Uber and make $40 billion in Monopoly money...there is obviously some technical talent behind it, but the app itself is relying on huge amounts of pre-integrated, well-documented libraries.

A student coming into CS now sees apps, social media and mobile devices. How do you keep them down on the C++ and data processing farm when this is the current face of computing? The reality of it is that some parts of software development are no longer only for the nerdy crowd. Apple put computers into hundreds of millions of ordinary peoples' pockets. They are now a consumer electronics company more than a computer company (and their current crop of Macs seems to reflect this.)

about a month and a half ago
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Uber Limits 'God View' To Improve Rider Privacy

ErichTheRed You still can't change user behavior (76 comments)

One of the things that is fueling the insane hype behind the Web 2.0/mobile/social/app/whatever bubble is the fact that any group of startup kids can use tools to build an app. Just like any group of startup kids could build a website capable of processing payments in 1997, add in a shaky business model and all of a sudden, "this time it's different." Apple, Google and other smartphone OS vendors have rolled out some really cool stuff and basically given everyone a tracking device with all sorts of sensors attached to a full-powered computer the size of a phone. The problem is this -- the nature of the user interface hides the fact from ordinary users that all of their location and other data is being shared with the app developers. Android does a little better with privacy controls, but basically all this stuff is hidden from the user.

Ordinary users, i.e. non-techies, see the shiny app interface and (understandably so) don't see that the "free" services the app provides are paid for either through marketing/advertising (eyeballs in dotcom bubble 1.0 speak) or selling your data to a third party. And even if they knew about it, most people would want the benefit of hailing a cab on demand more than their privacy. It would take some serious user education, and a few very high-profile leaks of customer data to change behavior, and I don't think it would even be possible if that happened. People like their free apps. I would pay Google for a subscription to their search engine if I could be assured my information wasn't being harvested, but I know no one else would want this.

On the positive side, sitting on the sidelines and watching from my comfy seat, it looks like Bubble 2.0 is starting to reach the top. We're already seeing the insane valuations and VC investments, have had a couple high-profile revenue-free IPOs like Twitter, and the next phase is coming. Soon as interest rates start going up and the stock and VC bubble money stops flowing, things will calm down again. When you start hearing startup-speak more and more in the financial press, it's time to sell and wait for things to collapse again. It really is the dotcom bubble all over again, but this time people are carrying their web browsers in their pockets and companies have direct access to their location and habits.

about a month and a half ago
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Waze Causing Anger Among LA Residents

ErichTheRed Re:Sympton of a bigger problem (611 comments)

I'm looking at you Phoenix.

I've noticed that a lot in the West (I'm an east coaster -- the cities here just don't have the land available to do this anymore.) Western cities with miles and miles of flat territory around them tend to have these "planned community" developments where an entire city will be built on thousands of acres in one shot. Even if it's a planned city, people still need to go in and out of it, especially if your planned city has destinations like office parks or stadiums. (Didn't Phoenix do one of these to try to build up the area around their football stadium? And I'm sure I've read about huge abandoned planned cities in Vegas after the housing collapse.)

Where I live (metro New York,) you don't see these big bang developments -- you see random little developments sprinkled around the edges of the "insane commute zone." Northern New Jersey and Long Island have this - the first-line suburbs (example: Nassau County NY) are completely built out and full with zero land to spare. The problem is that much of the housing stock is from the 40s through the 60s on tiny lots. People still want the 2 acre lots and the 6000 sq. ft. monster houses, so they start creeping further and further out. When enough people do this, the infrastructure that was designed for a much less dense population gets overwhelmed. After about 20 years of this, more lanes get put in, encouraging more development, and making the problem worse.

about a month and a half ago
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Waze Causing Anger Among LA Residents

ErichTheRed Re:Perhaps the need a bigger highway? (611 comments)

Eminent domain those house and get some more lanes in.

Last time I was in LA, I noticed that lanes are not the problem. Some of the freeways are five to eight lanes in each direction. It's a crowding problem, not a civil engineering problem. Everyone is trying to get to destinations inside that corridor, _and_ through that corridor to get to other destinations. Since metro LA is hundreds of square miles of mostly low density development, travel distances to get anywhere are longer than they would be in a more compact city. Now, this Waze app is using drivers' smartphone realtime data to steer people off this road and onto surface streets, which makes the overall problem worse.

Part of it is the human factor -- yes, I know Google will perfect the self driving car in 2015, yada yada yada, but for now, you have people driving cars. People get into accidents. People have reaction times that mean they can't take their foot off the brake the instant any stopped traffic clears. (Try this sometime at the end of a long line of stopped traffic when the light turns green -- watch how long it takes for the light to turn, then Car 1 to go, then 2, then n, then you. Each driver has built in reaction delays that make this process longer than it would be in an ideal environment.)

That particular stretch of road (405) is pretty much the _only_ north south passage through that part of LA because of geography (and crappy urban planning.) It could be 30 lanes in each direction and still be slow.

about a month and a half ago
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Waze Causing Anger Among LA Residents

ErichTheRed Sympton of a bigger problem (611 comments)

App or no app, traffic in cities and suburbs is something that is going to need to be dealt with somehow. Cities like Boston or New York at least have a workable public transit system to keep some cars off the roads. LA is totally different -- it was built around cars and is only now getting a very small set of public transit choices. Buses do nothing when they're stuck in the same traffic everyone else is. Whenever I go to California for work (either northern or southern,) it amazes me how much people put up with to live there. I would go nuts spending 2 hours doing a 10 mile trip each direction every day.

Some trends are encouraging from a traffic perspective, but maybe not from a demographic one. Younger people aren't buying suburban houses and having big families the way they used to, so it's possible cities will become denser like they are in Europe. The big thing that has to stop, especially in mid-size cities, is the suburban sprawl. The ability to expand for miles in every direction directly contributes to messy traffic problems. Urban planners need to look into reclaiming hollowed-out cities and first ring suburbs, and getting people to move back into them.

about a month and a half ago
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Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Considering US Presidential Run

ErichTheRed Not my first choice (433 comments)

I know a few people who worked at HP in the 2000s, and even with the sour grapes filters on, every one of them describes how she let HP rot away, killing divisions and outsourcing any function she could for quick balance sheet cash hits. There's still some soul left there though -- the non consumer PC and laptop division is doing OK, as is their server line with the exception of the Itanium mess. Their software and the former EDS is a disaster, and let's not even mention the Autonomy acquisition. (OK, Autonomy was done after she was kicked out.) Still, HP is a long way from its engineering-driven roots and I don't know if it can ever get back there.

Politics aside, I can't see what she could offer as President.

about 2 months ago
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LinkedIn Study: US Attracting Fewer Educated, Highly Skilled Migrants

ErichTheRed Re:linked in? (338 comments)

"The only people I know that still use LinkedIn are desperate and unemployable."

I think it's kind of like Facebook. Some people use it 24 hours a day and are addicted, and others use it as a convenient way to share pictures and keep up with extended relations. The recruiter spam is awful, but it's kind of like the ads you're forced to watch to use Facebook. I've found it useful solely to keep track of people I've worked with in the past. Since people increasingly hop from place to place, it's a convenient way to keep up. I found my last job by calling someone I knew and saying, "Hey, my company just made a stupid decision and I want out before things get bad, are you guys hiring?"

Any shred of information you share on LinkedIn will be picked up by recruiter-bots and you will incessantly be contacted. As long as you don't read any of the "sponsored content" or offer up too much information, it has its purpose. That said, I get at least one or two desperate recruiters a week trying to fill some insanely obscure requirement that just happens to be in the middle of nowhere as well. I wonder if the "new" recruiters are given these leads to try to prove their worth. I seriously saw someone posting something for a FoxPro programmer somewhere in Nebraska...and this was in 2012.

about 2 months ago
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LinkedIn Study: US Attracting Fewer Educated, Highly Skilled Migrants

ErichTheRed Lack of opportunity in general? (338 comments)

In the IT sector, I can see a few things driving this:
- Infrastructure and dev jobs are increasingly being farmed out to cloud providers and outsourcers, meaning fewer on site jobs are needed, at least at the low end. (Which is a pity, because you don't get good high-end people if they can't start out at the low end like they used to.)
- In general, economic growth is still slow in most sectors, so a lot of the traditional demand for IT isn't there.
- Tech Bubble 2.0 is increasingly eating up resources building web-based services and phone apps. Startups want young hungry coders who are exactly like the founders, which may lead to fewer foreigners being employed.
- The US isn't exactly welcoming to foreigners these days, given the debate on immigration. Even if someone is the best and brightest, it's possible they would feel lumped in with everyone else.

In STEM, it's bigger trends that are probably driving it:
- Other countries are more science friendly -- they fund it well and there's less of a cultural bias against "smart people".
- Science in general is a bad career prospect given the imbalance of graduates and permanent research positions. Most big corporate labs are shells of what they once were, and academic institutions seem to want to keep everyone on permanent postdoc status. I would have to have a total passion for my work to accept tenuous circumstances like that, and would probably be nearly broke for most of my life.

This, plus the abuse of the H1-B program by IT companies, is probably a good starter list of reasons. For every great H1-B hire, there are many stories of junior guys with questionable skills and credentials being run through a large technology company's meat grinder churning out code or performing low end tasks. It's definitely a misuse of the program in this case, since it was designed to correct a critical skills imbalance.

One thing that might reverse the trend is the fact that fewer domestic people are going into STEM fields, given the cost and the fact that it's no longer a guarantee of gainful employment. It's counter intuitive given how well _successful_ STEM graduates do compared to the general population, but once a precedent is set, it's hard to change people's minds. Think about how many IT people you know who actively say they're telling their children to avoid following in their footsteps.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Coding Bootcamps Now Mainstream, Presented as "College Alternative"

ErichTheRed ErichTheRed writes  |  about 2 months ago

ErichTheRed (39327) writes "Perhaps this is the sign that the Web 2.0 bubble is finally at its peak. CNN produced a piece on DevBootcamp, a 19-week intensive coding academy designed to turn out Web developers at a rapid pace. I remember Microsoft and Cisco certification bootcamps from the peak of the last tech bubble, and the flood of under-qualified "IT professionals" they produced. Now that developer bootcamps are in the mainsteam media, can the end of the bubble be far away?"
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Apple buys iFixit, declares repairable devices "antiquated".

ErichTheRed ErichTheRed writes  |  about 10 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 10 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 and a half 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 3 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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