Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Comments

top

Does Being First Still Matter In America?

ErichTheRed It's not possible now (233 comments)

One of the things that drove the race for the moon was us losing the space race with the Soviet Union. Having that big a Cold War enemy was a huge boost in one respect (mandates to educate the population and advance science) and a huge detractor in another (who-knows-how-many trillions of dollars wasted on a nuclear arms race that neither side actually needed to participate in.)

I think the times are different now:
- Education isn't seen as a guarantee of a decent job anymore, so fewer people are spending the money and effort on it.
- Decent jobs are no longer guaranteed either, so people are more concerned with day to day survival than long-term planning.
- We don't have a huge boogeyman like the USSR ready to wipe us out the second we let up the pressure...the closest thing now is China, and they're our biggest trade partners.
- Media is more fragmented. You can argue either side of this point, but the world was a lot simpler when there were only 3 TV networks, a much longer news cycle and newspapers of record that did real journalism. Now no one can make any sort of controversial move without 200 news analysts jumping all over it and putting forth their opinion as fact.
- People don't trust large institutions or governments, who are often the only entities big or powerful enough to mandate huge changes or push science forward. (Example: AT&T funding Bell Labs with phone company revenues leading to breakthrough inventions, or the US funding Apollo and other NASA programs.)

I think that some of these factors make it impossible to be "first" in key areas, simply because no one is willing to stick their neck out and invest the time, effort or resources.

3 days ago
top

"Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer" Pulled From Amazon

ErichTheRed Wow, it's 1953 again! (543 comments)

I've seen a lot of posts already claiming that this is what happens in real life. Has anyone stopped to think that the reason for this is because girls are encouraged from day one to behave that way? It is true that women gravitate towards the project manager, training and business analyst jobs. But I have worked with many people of both genders, and the ability levels are pretty evenly split. There are plenty of helpless, clueless guys too, and they tend to bolt up the ladder quickly into management where they don't have to do the technical work anymore. I think women generally like PM or BA jobs for the simple reason that they get to interact with humans who actually care about something other than computers, video games and software development. (You couldn't pay me enough to be a project manager, going around begging people for work while not being able to control them and still being responsible for the project.) But, I also think that with the right encouragement early on, and without the hostile work environment that some IT outfits provide, there's nothing stopping women from doing great software work. The requirements are the same -- critical thinking, logic and an ability to deal with occasional intense levels of frustration. If girls aren't poisoned with things like this early on in their schooling, they have the same opportunity to develop these skills as boys do.

I'm just really surprised that this book made it through focus groups, internal meetings at Mattel, etc. and people still thought it was a good idea. That leads me to believe people are even more clueless than I thought.

I've got both a young son and a young daughter, and the age at which they start pushing the pink crap on the girls is astoundingly low. My daughter doesn't really play with dolls too much, and certainly doesn't own a Barbie. My wife grew up in a household where both parents were academics, and it shows. They didn't let her get sucked into this trap, and we're going to do our best to do the same. The thing I'm worried about is the peer pressure from dumbass female classmates once she gets to school. I'm amazed that in 2014 women are still being encouraged to take on traditional roles, and that sexism is somehow still OK. We've got a couple more years, so I think all we can do is just encourage them to like learning. It appears to be working for our son -- we limit TV and computer time, and actually take the time to explain things he has questions about in terms he can understand. I'll find out in 15 years or so if I did a good job or not....

3 days ago
top

Microsoft Azure Outage Across the Globe

ErichTheRed Re:Wow, I'd be pretty angry (165 comments)

"Most people who run large companies aren't stupid, and I'm sure that many of them do take into consideration the costs of outages."

Not stupid, but MBAs in my experience never actually dig into the spreadsheets and figure out the meaning behind the number. They just see what the vendors promise them over multiple free lunches, golf trips, etc. It doesn't help that most CIOs aren't really technology people, or are so divorced from the day to day operations that they don't know what impact a decision like that has.

It's the short sighted MBA disease -- if cost of onsite service is greater than shiny rosy cloud picture the vendor is painting, get rid of the onsite service regardless of operations impact. The other problem is that most of the decision makers will just bail when the first failure happens, after having collected the bonus for getting rid of the IT team.

4 days ago
top

Microsoft Azure Outage Across the Globe

ErichTheRed Wow, I'd be pretty angry (165 comments)

Everyone forgets that Azure is a way-beyond-massive Hyper-V implementation, and that AWS is a way-beyond-massive Xen-like-thing implementation. Even though both cloud providers let you be smart in designing your infrastructure (multi-site, redundancy, etc,...the tools are there) nothing will save you from an outage of the core guts of the system. Wasn't Azure's last failure due to a certificate expiration? There's no way an end customer can plan around that.

I'm a big fan of the private or hybrid cloud version of this fad. You get all the good stuff that Azure and AWS customers get like dynamic provisioning and software defined networking, without having to rely on a third party. Unfortunately, CIOs and other execs just see the numbers on a spreadsheet and don't take the costs of outages that you can't control into account. Power fails, networks drop, and people do stupid things in on-site implementations also. But you can at least have your staff working on it with the incentive being "you get to keep your job." With a public cloud provider or even a hoster, the responsibility ends with "oops, here's 7 hours of free service" and you have to wait in line with everyone else.

4 days ago
top

Coding Bootcamps Presented As "College Alternative"

ErichTheRed Parallels to the MCSE Bootcamp (226 comments)

When I first saw this article this morning, my immediate reaction was, "Oh no, here we go again." I'm not a developer -- I do systems integration work, and a lot of my job is getting software written by "developers" working on a real system within reasonable parameters.

The parallel I drew from this was the MCSE and CCNA bootcamps that popped up towards the end of the last bubble and continued for quite a while after. Training companies still offer them, but they're no longer touted as the "change your life in 2 weeks!" miracle workers they once were. I entered IT with a science education, but not CS, so I have used certifications throughout my career to check the HR box, and I actually did take an MCSE bootcamp back in the day when I was upgrading my self-taught Windows NT 4.0 certification to Windows 2000. Done right, they are a very good way to review concepts you already know and gain insight from instructors who teach the official classes and know what Microsoft is looking for on the exams. It saves you tons of time not having to review every single thing again looking for changes that are testable. However, in my experience, the greedy training companies also tried to cash in on desperate unemployed people, much the same way for-profit colleges and trade schools are doing now. Remember the old advertisements claiming they could turn a plumber or truck driver into a highly-paid IT administrator in 2 weeks for $10K or whatever? I had a couple of those students in that bootcamp class I took. In 1999, I'm sure they got jobs instantly. But all through the end of the dotcom boom, we were working through this huge glut of underqualified people who went this route.

The DevBootcamp thing actually sounds good on the surface, but the fact of the matter is that unless you have some grasp of machine fundamentals (how TCP works, how HTTP requests work, how to code a database call efficiently, etc.) you will only get someone who knows Ruby on Rails, a couple database tricks, and JavaScript. This is fine if you just want someone who is cranking out maintenance tasks for some small company web application, but it's disingenuous to present it as a true college alternative. There are plenty of college grads who don't have practical experience either, but at least a proper CS curriculum will expose them to the fundamentals that make all this upper-layer stuff work. Plus, maybe, you will have been exposed to something other than web development. I would much rather work with someone who is a little more well rounded than an absolute genius who can't talk about anything outside of their small area of focus. It just seems to me that these companies see a market -- bubbly, frothy VC-funded startups looking for an army of cheap young Ruby coders -- and are taking advantage of it while they can. I just wouldn't want to be one of these people who only know a Web framework or two when the bubble pops and businesses once again demand people with the capability to solve a wider set of problems.

about a week ago
top

Coding Bootcamps Presented As "College Alternative"

ErichTheRed Re:Web 2.0 (226 comments)

Of course it's a meaningless phrase, but how else do you sum up the last few years? The smartphone bubble? Not really, that leaves out cloud computing, big data and IoT. The social bubble? Also leaves out too much.

Even before the financial meltdown and the low interest rates that drove another stock bubble, there were parallels to the dotcom boom:
- Trendy startups in San Francisco, SV and New York, just like last time
- Media falling all over themselves to report on this, fueling more interest.
- Plenty of wacky revenue-free, shaky business model companies generating huge VC investments and crazy valuations
- I'm even starting to hear people say "this time it's different" again, which kind of seals it for me....

The first boom was all about getting everyone online and using your service. This one appears to be fueled by advertising and demographics. I think the people who will make out best this time will be Amazon (AWS) and Microsoft (Azure) as well as all the other hosting providers...because startups don't host their own systems and have to pay the bills every month.

about a week ago
top

The New-ish Technologies That Will Alter Your Career

ErichTheRed Buzzwords != Career-long Skills (66 comments)

Once in a great while, something comes along that fundamentally alters the way the overall practice of computing operates. Everything else is a rehash of the old stuff, with improvements that have been made since its introduction. Cloud computing is just hosted data centers with more flexibility and APIs to control the difficult tasks of resource and application provisioning. When you've been in IT long enough, you see patterns repeat. It's cool when something that barely worked before comes back around with new improvements. But, the buzzword itself is not what you build a career on -- it's the fundamentals that are only learned by dealing with lots of different problems over time. This is why older workers in IT get discriminated against -- younger people seize on the buzzword and deride the older folks for patiently explaining that it's all been done before.

The one thing on that list that did irk me a little is "Web APIs" being listed as a fundamental change to the way we work. It's a change, but not a good one. Admittedly we shouldn't be hand-coding assembler for most tasks, but the introduction of monster "service" APIs and web frameworks gets developers so divorced from the underlying complexity that the "how it works" part is lost. I would say that's the big change...developers can code up something horribly inefficient that works, but they'll never know how to track down the "why" behind the bad performance. And since hardware is virtually free, developers who don't pay the AWS bill directly will just keep consuming the free resource.

about a week ago
top

State Department Joins NOAA, USPS In Club of Hacked Federal Agencies

ErichTheRed Security in any organization is an afterthought (54 comments)

I can see 2 things as the main root cause of this:
- Layers and layers of outsourced IT. Especially when dealing with a federal agency, almost every IT service in any agency has been outsourced. Those outsourcers hire other outsourcers and it becomes a big mess when you try to do anything that affects multiple parts of a system. I see this in the private sector as well working for an outsourcer...our team does their best to help but it's really maddening to see how much things slow down when the control gets dispersed. The network team has to talk to the storage team, who has to talk to the server team, who needs to open a ticket with the field services team to implement change #C9348673634. I do systems architecture work, so it's really painful to have to design around a garbage system like this rather than having a few smart people who know the system end-to-end.
- Security is tough and no one wants to be bothered. It wouldn't be impossible to enable 802.1x on a network, implement proper PKI to enable its effective use, and encrypt hard drives. But often, it either becomes too difficult to support or no one has the will to say things must be done in a certain way. Plus, user education is impossible. No matter how stringent the password policy is, they just write them down. People leave unencrypted laptops on trains with company data on them. It's just not possible to get them to care, full stop. They could be working with top secret nuclear weapons designs and it would mean nothing to them.

Of these two, I think the first is the hardest to overcome. Once a company or government agency has given up control of its IT environment to a company that needs to squeeze every nickel out of a contract, nothing difficult will get done. If an organization retains some sort of control and mandates change, it can be done at least to some degree. Look at how the attack on Target was carried out -- the group responsible figured out that the outsourced HVAC repair company had a connection to the store network, which (idiotically,) the POS systems were also directly attached to. So by the time the outsourced IT services team figured out they had a problem, it was too late. This is what leads companies to delay things like patching and updates to equipment, because the process is too painful when dealing with the 25 third parties you have to line up for such a change.

about a week ago
top

Microsoft To Open Source .NET and Take It Cross-Platform

ErichTheRed Sounds like what Sun did (525 comments)

This is actually a pretty smart idea, but it sounds like what Sun did with Java and parts of Solaris. .NET was designed to be a Windows-only application platform, requiring Windows clients for fat applications and at least Windows servers for web applications. Now Microsoft is seeing Windows become less relevant, but they do want people to be using their software stack regardless of platform.

Same thing with Visual Studio being made free...kind of like XCode being free for MacOS, and the open source IDEs being free. It's a bold move because now the .NET ecosystem needs to stand on its own, and I guarantee they're going to try to tie this in with Azure somehow (like making you run the free VS in Azure VMs you pay for or something...)

One scary thing from my side of the house (systems engineering/integration) is the number of new security flaws and the sheer volume of patches that are going to be released once .NET gets more scrutiny. A good thing, yes, but patching .NET is already a pain in the butt.

about two weeks ago
top

Duke: No Mercy For CS 201 Cheaters Who Don't Turn Selves In By Wednesday

ErichTheRed Re:Ok, I am naive, but... (320 comments)

The other problem is that cheaters usually just get an F for the course if they get caught and can continue after retaking it.

Institutions only have so much power. When I was in school, my grades were all over the map, some As, lots of Bs, some Cs. One of the things I realized pretty early on was that as long as I can keep my GPA high enough, there wasn't really much worry about what actual grade I got in the course...so I focused on learning the material thoroughly rather than trying to ace the exams. Most entry level jobs don't care or ask about your college grades. The only times they matter are:
- If you want to go to professional school (law, medical, dental, MBA)
- If you want to go into academia
- If you want to be an investment banker or management consultant

Other than that, students would get a lot more out of school if they focused on learning rather than tests.

about two weeks ago
top

Duke: No Mercy For CS 201 Cheaters Who Don't Turn Selves In By Wednesday

ErichTheRed Is it cheating? In CS classes, yes it is (320 comments)

The problem isn't necessarily that code was copied directly from the Internet, it was that it was passed off as the students' own work. Coding assignments can only be done so many ways in lower-level CS classes, where the problems have to be small enough to be easily testable. The problem I see is that allowing it encourages the practice among CS grads in later life.

I work in systems integration, and I can't tell you the number of times I've seen crap software, even software from vendors, that is horribly inefficient. I think a lot of that software has a fair amount of copy-paste code in it simply because the goal was to get something that compiled and sort of worked.

That brings up another very important point -- the level of abstraction has gotten so high in software development that it's very hard to see what's actually going on behind the scenes. If you're calling some massive database access library to do your data entry from a web form, you really can't tell how bad the SQL that your particular function uses is for the database. (I've seen packaged applications that will tie up the CPU of a server for 30 or more seconds just to make a database change.) If students don't learn at least some of the fundamentals in CS classes, who will design the next generation of lower-level stuff? Code reuse and libraries are good, but you need to know what's appropriate to use. So if you don't have a good grasp of algorithms, data structures, etc., how will you even know whether you're solving a problem correctly?

Same thing goes for my field -- systems admin/integration. If you don't know at least the basics of how TCP works, a few of the application protocols and something about how your OS manages resources, it becomes very hard to troubleshoot anything to any degree.

about two weeks ago
top

President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

ErichTheRed Re:Go back to the pre 1984 AT&T model (704 comments)

I was, briefly - I was 9 or 10 when the breakup happened. But I also do know that phone service was extremely reliable, and the only reason it was that way was because the system had it built in. Today's market for broadband encourages providers to oversubscribe or cut out key reliability features in the name of costs/profit in an environment where shareholders are out for blood every quarter. To truly provide an open-for-all utility that works, you need to remove at least some of the competition pressure from the equation.

Are you referring to the requirement that you rent your phone under the old system? People rent cable boxes and DSL modems now... It just seems to me that the only measures of service in broadband are speed and latency -- the carriers are just delivering your IP packets from router to router. I am aware that AT&T charged very high prices for phone service, which is what most people complained about. But like I said, the reason we're in the spot we're in now is because the carriers don't have customers paying enough into the system, and shareholders are demanding that what they are getting be passed onto them instead of invested.

about two weeks ago
top

President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

ErichTheRed Go back to the pre 1984 AT&T model (704 comments)

Everyone thinks that the idea of a monopoly is bad, but I think it would work fine in this case. Raw broadband bandwidth is a utility. AT&T bandwidth isn't (or shouldn't be) any different than Verizon, Comcast or CenturyLink. As it is now, there are tons of companies spending huge amounts of money to keep their networks barely at capacity simply because there's so much traffic to pass around. One company could do this much more efficiently than everyone trying to build their own distribution network, the same way public utilities don't run 4 competing electric lines or water pipes over the same route. In addition, there would be no net neutrality debate, since every user has to plug into the same common carrier.

People love to complain about old-school pre-breakup AT&T, but the high prices they were able to charge allowed them to over-engineer the phone system for reliability. Cable companies routinely oversubscribe links by a significant amount, and DSL providers don't provision enough bandwidth to the CO to deal with the number of connected customers. Internet bandwidth has become a utility in the US - there aren't very many people who are not users of it in some form or another. The problem is that people have no concept of paying for a service and want the cheapest possible price they can get, so the providers don't invest.

Even classifying bandwidth as being subject to common carrier rules would allow rural areas to be served more effectively. There is currently no incentive for broadband providers to provide good rural service. The universal service fees that had to be paid for wireline phone service were an attempt to subsidize this cost and make sure rural areas at least had connectivity. It's a similar problem to the federal highway funding formula -- more fuel efficient cars mean less gas tax revenue, which has the unintended effect of delaying infrastructure improvements. And fewer people paying universal service fees (or higher prices in general) mean that the broadband network is neglected.

Pros I see --
- Ends the net neutrality debate once and for all
- Allows AT&T or whoever gets the monopoly power to invest in the network without worrying about shareholders penalizing them
- Unintended pro might be greater levels of employment at a more stable employer.

Cons --
- You know, monopolies are universally evil and the free market should dictate everything
- Everyone will pay more (but for better service)

It seems to me that re-forming AT&T or similar is the best way to deal with this ongoing problem. It's not perfect but it does have advantages.

about two weeks ago
top

Espionage Campaign Targets Corporate Executives Traveling Abroad

ErichTheRed Not surprising in the least (101 comments)

I'm a client systems person (yes, yes, I know, the desktop is dead and everyone is going to be writing Excel macros on their iPhones...I'm aware of it.) But, having worked for a couple of companies' IT departments doing this, and for a service provider doing this for other customers, I am absolutely not shocked that corporate execs are being targeted for this. Almost everywhere I've worked, executives have overriden the rules and required that they have full admin access to their laptops. Combining this with BYOD and users travelling onto untrusted networks is a nightmare. All it takes is one time not carefully thinking about a prompt to update something from a non-legitimate source. Once that's done, all the full-disk encryption and other good stuff goes out the window.

The higher the rank, the less they know or care about information security. It's a losing battle too, because (a) they don't want some lowly IT guy telling them what's best for them, and (b) the heavy-handed approach doesn't work because they don't believe there's a threat.

Hotel networks are especially interesting because the system is most likely some turnkey thing like a Cisco or Juniper appliance that gets wired up, thrown in a closet and forgotten about. That's the perfect target for compromise because it never gets updated, bugs never get fixed, and all you have to do to get physical access to the device is get a job as a cleaner or maintenance person.

about two weeks ago
top

Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

ErichTheRed No knowledge work w/o critical thinking (553 comments)

More than "critical thinking", I think the emphasis is most likely on people who can actually solve a problem or contribute good ideas to a bigger solution. Poorly run companies may just want rule-followers, but in my experience, all of the non-dysfunctional places I've worked have had a good focus on coming up with the _right_ answer instead of _any_ answer.

I'm in systems engineering, so I do have some experience with this. A good hire in systems is someone who may not know everything about every corner of every subcomponent of what they're trying to fix, but they'll know enough about interconnections and the integration behind everything to at least know where to begin troubleshooting. An awful hire is someone who memorized answers for a certification exam, or only knows one way to accomplish a task. I can imagine someone graduating out of the current system like this, and it must be just as frustrating in other fields.

My unofficial list of systems integration/engineering tenets:
1. Diagnostic tests only find _known_ problems.
2. Just like in kinematics, for every action on a computer system, there's a reaction (level of badness can vary greatly though.)
3. For any fully-redundant bulletproof system (short of purpose built stuff,) you can define a system boundary where there is a single point of failure, and it may not be the one that immediately comes to mind.
4. Every hour spent on "boring" tasks like planning and documenting saves 10 or more hours of late night conference calls with screaming business owners.
5. You need to know when to stop tinkering and call for help, especially if tinkering can blow up someone's data.
6. Always have backups. This applies equally for data, redundant sites, and underwear. :-)

I guess an extreme example of non-critical thinking would be someone who was educated in a system that enforces strict rote memorization of facts but doesn't develop problem solving skills. You end up with someone whose head is stuffed with information, but can't piece things together logically.

about a month ago
top

Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

ErichTheRed Re: This is silly (720 comments)

"That's an open invitation for an audit by the IRS."

But not if it's the corporation itself doing the transactions. A business owner can set up a corporation, which is a completely separate legal entity that executes its own transactions independent of its owners. The owner can just declare himself chairman/CEO, and pay himself a small salary. At the same time, the corporation can buy his cars, his houses, etc., and take on debt in its own name, and the costs of these will offset the revenue. Same goes for employees -- employing more people means you pay more taxes, but the salary and benefits you pay come right off the top, resulting in a lower tax bill. It's the perfect setup. And if the corporation is audited, oh well, it's a separate entity and can just declare bankruptcy.

about a month ago
top

Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

ErichTheRed Re: This is silly (720 comments)

"So we should retain inefficient practices and increase costs to the consumer because otherwise we'll have a glut of unemployed low-skill workers that may commit crimes?"

Yes. The thing that's different about the business climate now is that business owners are just pocketing the extra profits that removing employees from the workforce gives them. Back in the 50s, 60s, 70s -- before large scale automation and computerization -- businesses had big labor expenses but somehow managed to stay in business. Now instead of just dealing with a lower profit, they pass every single cost increase on to the consumer and cry about how they're hurting because of it. Part of that is because, at least with public companies, there's a constant thirst for ever-increasing profit at the expense of everything else.

This is why I'm not a big fan of the job-creating small business entrepreneur that gets held up as a paragon of virtue and all things right. Small business owners complain way too much about things like taxes, when in reality, they have the best deal in the world going. Any small business owner can funnel nearly 100% of his personal expenses through his business and pay lower tax rates as a result. Wage-earners can't do that -- wages are taxed at regular income rates and there are a limited number of deductions available. Business owners can just say they bought their personal car for their business, their computer, their "business meals", etc. and it reduces the amount of income the business needs to pay taxes on. So I'm not exactly sympathetic when a small business owner complains about how much it costs to employ someone who is helping him make money.

about a month ago
top

Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

ErichTheRed Sounds like a discussion from yesterday (720 comments)

There was a spirited discussion yesterday about what's happened to the economy since domestic manufacturing got wiped out. Now that the only things we make in the US at any scale are aircraft, military equipment and cars, all the people who used to have nice stable manufacturing jobs were moved to corporate and service jobs. Then routine corporate work was automated, offshored and outsourced. No problem, you say, they can always work service jobs. Well, now service jobs are being automated.

No one is addressing this problem -- there are millions of people smack in the mean of the IQ scale with no hope of becoming decent knowledge workers. The political climate paints everyone who can't find work as a lazy "welfare queen." How does the calculus change when you have a huge portion, and eventually a majority, of people with no way to support themselves and no hope of getting one of the "new economy" jobs? People like to say that people will just adapt, or the market will take care of it, but I think this is one case where the market would really fail. People in the techie set like to learn new things, and assume everyone else does. People in the factory worker or service set go to their job, do exactly what is required of them, and go home. I realize I sound mean, but it's the truth. There is no feasible way to retrain a factory worker who has been doing the same job the same way for 20 years and put him in a job that will produce the same income.

Automation is great, and it's cool what we can do now...I just think it will eventually trigger a lot of very bad unintended consequences.

about a month ago
top

Sale of IBM's Chip-Making Business To GlobalFoundries To Get US Security Review

ErichTheRed Re:Wake up America ... (95 comments)

"make-work manufacturing jobs"

Here's the problem with that statement -- most jobs are make-work jobs. I've been employed in IT for almost 20 years now, and have seen lots of shifts in corporate employment as well as manufacturing. I worked in a bank way back in the day where they had a dozen people employed scanning paper checks as they came in from branches. I worked in a life insurance company whose old-timers told me that they literally had a whole floor of people opening mail, processing premium payments and mailing out bills. Each one of those people had a job to go to, a steady income and at least something to do to fill their day.

Should we go back to paper-routing employment? Probably not. But I doubt any one of those routine office workers was equipped to manage a project, design a computer system, or create great works of art. People who are unemployed with nothing to do aren't just going to sit around idle -- when things get bad enough they are going to turn to crime or revolt. There is absolutely no appetite in the current political climate to subsidize the unemployed -- look at how much hand-wringing there is about extending unemployment for the long-term unemployed. These are people who have been unemployed for *years* and most likely have no hope of finding meaningful work again. So, it's a great idea, but no one is going to go for it. Even the working poor have been conditioned that the unemployed are lazy.

about 1 month ago
top

Sale of IBM's Chip-Making Business To GlobalFoundries To Get US Security Review

ErichTheRed Re:Wake up America ... (95 comments)

" What has declined, is not manufacturing, but manufacturing employment, due to automation, and offshoring of the most labor intensive sectors."

And that's good?

I know that the bright rosy future prediction is that everyone is going to jump on board the knowledge worker train and deliver high quality services and creative goods. I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but have you taken a look around at the _average_ person lately? That average person used to be employed in a factory making a living wage doing a repetitive task suitable for their ability level. The reality is that you can't just plug someone like that into, say, an IT or project management job. There is a continuum of IQ and skills, and a healthy economy needs to account for the low end and the high end. You can't just shunt off the low end to fast food, Walmart and unemployment without fixing some of the imbalance, or you will have French Revolution 2.0 on your hands.

I think the future is a lot more bleak -- you're going to have over half the population running around with no income and no way to make a decent living, and the rich who don't want to do anything about it because they've earned their money in their mind.

about 1 month ago

Submissions

top

Coding Bootcamps Now Mainstream, Presented as "College Alternative"

ErichTheRed ErichTheRed writes  |  about a week 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?"
Link to Original Source
top

Apple buys iFixit, declares repairable devices "antiquated".

ErichTheRed ErichTheRed writes  |  about 8 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?"

Link to Original Source
top

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

ErichTheRed ErichTheRed writes  |  about 8 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...."
Link to Original Source
top

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...""
Link to Original Source
top

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."
Link to Original Source
top

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. :-)"
Link to Original Source
top

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!"
Link to Original Source
top

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?"
Link to Original Source
top

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."
Link to Original Source

Journals

ErichTheRed has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?