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Red Team, Blue Team: the Only Woman On the Team

MNNorske Re:We aren't all born with it (247 comments)

You nailed it spot on. There were always a few students back in college who "got it." But, the vast majority of the students I helped in the lab struggled with the concepts. I even knew a fair number of students who had tinkered with computers for years before showing up in my labs and they were still clueless once we hit anything that took abstract thinking, which was pretty much the first class. I know I was one of those annoying people who seemed to get it right away, but part of that was simply because I was a TA and the constant reiteration of concepts as I was helping students constantly pounded home the concepts for me. However even that background didn't prepare me for working in the real world, I had to learn and even re-learn a lot of concepts once I started working professionally. Which might surprise some of my lab partners from college.

There's nothing in her experience that I would call as truly being unique to her. She's just voicing self doubt and complaining about how hard it was to find her way into a specific field. Everyone feels self doubt at some point. But, she attributes that self doubt and inability to find opportunities to her gender.

Very few people I know in IT started out saying I want to be X and then found a college program to study that, and then immediately found a job doing that. Most people's careers are simply defined by the opportunities they are lucky enough to find when they are looking for a position. If you graduated with a CS degree but could only find DBA positions, you probably became a DBA. If all you could find was support, you're probably still working in support. If you found a position that involved coding, there's a good possibility that you're still doing coding. The folks that I know who work in security usually stumbled into the field because they were working on something security related for a project and made the right contacts to follow through.

about 3 months ago
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Do Non-Technical Managers Add Value?

MNNorske Would you... (249 comments)

Would you put someone in charge of finance who didn't have a background in finance or accounting?
Would you put someone in charge of a legal department who was not a lawyer?

I'm guessing the answer in both cases would be no. These are specialist areas that require specialized knowledge to ensure that the organizations are working correctly and effectively. Information Technology is also a specialist area and should really be treated in the same mode as a finance or legal department. Leadership within a specialist department should be representative of the core competency of that department. We certainly need people to help manage the money and people, and there are many other roles within a large IT organization that don't need to be technical. But, when it comes to making good decisions about technology you really need people with a technical background.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Application Security Non-existent, Boss Doesn't Care. What To Do?

MNNorske Integrity Hotline (310 comments)

If you're working for a Fortune 500 company there likely will be some form of internal integrity hotline. I know my own corporation has one. Document your concerns and contact them. I recently had to report a concern raised about one of the major offshore contractors we use to our integrity hotline and it was actually a very good experience from my side. After submitting the issue it took a few days but an investigator from our legal department contacted me and we had a phone conversation, and then I forwarded him some additional details I had held back from the initial correspondence. I did that mostly to protect an individual from the contractor who brought the concerns to my attention.

I would make sure that the correspondence you send to your legal department includes copies of some of the email chains you have with your managers, peers, etc... raising the concerns. Be sure to specify any regulations you suspect are being violated. If the legal team determines there is concern you can bet that change will happen. If they determine otherwise, then you've done your due diligence and reported it within the means your company gives for you to report it.

about 4 months ago
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The Reporter's Fifth Amendment Paradox

MNNorske Re:Wait a minute (452 comments)

You don't face criminal charges for not testifying. You are held in contempt of court. Contempt of court does not require the state to press charges against you and an independent trial.

about 7 months ago
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Taking the Pain Out of Debugging With Live Programming

MNNorske VB6 (254 comments)

Pretty sure these were features of VB6. I remember hacking out code, using the immediate window to trace values, setting break points, stepping through the code, modifying in the middle of execution, and then resuming execution. The language itself may have had a lot of issues and performance issues, but the IDE and development environment had some very nice features.

1 year,1 day
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Getting a Literature Ph.D. Will Make You Into a Horrible Person

MNNorske Re:Some Rambling Commentary (489 comments)

We are definitely enriched by the arts. However there is a surplus of people going into these areas and a deficit of jobs. I see this quite frequently since one of my hobbies is working with community theatre groups. I see a lot of folks who got theatre, music, or other arts related majors in college (quite frequently at private colleges...) and then complain that they can't find a job. Note, I live in the Minneapolis area and we have a very large theatre community here, even with all the professional theatres we have here we cannot support the numbers of people who graduate every year looking to make theatre their career.

I would argue that most of these individuals would've been better off having obtained a major in some other field and done theatre as a minor or second major. Personally I majored in computer science. I have a stable profitable career, and I'm still able to partake in the arts and contribute to the arts.

The same can also be said for elementary education majors here in MN. We probably have per capita one of the highest rates of people with elementary education degrees. To the point where most of them are not working in education. Probably only half of the people I know who went to college for elementary education are actually working in that field. Did they learn something valuable? Sure. Could they have potentially learned something else and had an easier time getting a career in another field? Definitely.

I think the original commenter was simply trying to point out this fact. We do a very poor job of guiding teenagers moving from high school to either the real world or college. And, there are some fields which are simply over-saturated and it'll be hard to get a job in.

1 year,11 days
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Why Working Remotely Needs To Make a Comeback

MNNorske It's ok on occasion (455 comments)

I have to say I have severely mixed feelings on working from home. It's definitely nice on occasion, but as I see more and more of my coworkers working remotely and we're forced to use more workers in India it creates an environment where the entire feeling of teamwork is breaking down. Plus as an engineer I feel my single best tool for communicating many technical issues and designs is a marker board. Which cannot be used remotely. Even the engineers I have "locally" tend to be very green and need a lot of guidance, trying to lead them remotely just gives me a headache and things take far longer than they should.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Is the Bar Being Lowered At Universities?

MNNorske Re:Wrong site (605 comments)

Some of it might be attributable to the "participation award" mentality that has become quite pervasive over the past few decades. I can't recall where I read it, but sometime in the past few months there was an article which was pointing out that the kids currently in college were more likely to believe themselves to be exceptional at whatever they were doing. If they all believe themselves to be exceptional they have very little reason to try and do better. A lifetime of reinforcing that everyone is a winner, and everyone is exceptional can only result in bar being lowered.

There's definitely value in teaching kids that it's good to try, and it's ok to not succeed at some things. But, it may have been taken a bit too far. People need to fall down if only to learn how to stand. And, that's not really happening right now in our schools.

about a year ago
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New Documents Detail FBI, Bank Crack Down On Occupy Wall Street

MNNorske Re:Paranoid Much? (584 comments)

Oh, the banks definitely have skin in this game. And, many of the big banks have quite likely many reasons to dislike OWS. I personally was not trying to attribute any nobleness to the organizations as a whole. Legal compliance is rarely a noble quality in large organizations. It's usually enforced by internal legal departments who are paranoid about the potential of lawsuits or fines. I deal with such internal legal paranoia quite often in my role, it can be quite stifling and lead to actions that can seem quite irrational. It usually boils down to a company trying to do what they think their job is.

As for cracking down on the protests can you really blame anyone working in management at these banks for wanting to? You have an angry group of people who will not so much as give a cohesive list of demands that could sensibly bring an end to the protest. All you have is a large group of people with no defined leadership, which makes them impossible to even negotiate with, and a list of ideas/concepts/whatever that they are protesting for or against that's so general and broad that there is literally no way possible that any of the targets of their protest could reasonably assuage them.

Peaceful protests? Sure, parts of the protests have been peaceful. Parts have been less so. Blocking traffic, causing such a disruption that small employers like the local restaurants and coffee shops were unable to do business, beating drums at all hours of the night so the local residents cannot sleep in their own homes. (Yes, there are people living in those neighborhoods too.) These don't strike me as particularly peaceful. The folks living there can in no way effect the operations of the businesses so beating drums in the middle of the night when there aren't any office workers there is pretty much just a nuisance activity. Destroying the business of the folks who may very well have their entire livelihoods tied up in those local businesses that were unable to operate because of the disruption is also not in line with peaceful protests. Based on the tenor of your comment I'm going to guess that you'll probably justify all those actions in some manner though.

As for your question I'm not going to answer it. You define only two possible answers and assume that my reasoning must fall into one those and therefore try to constrain me to fit within the categories which you define. If I answer in any way other than you would accept you're just going to assume that I ultimately fall back into one of those two categories. By defining naivete and dishonesty as the only two possible answers you show that your mind is already closed.

about a year ago
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New Documents Detail FBI, Bank Crack Down On Occupy Wall Street

MNNorske Re:Paranoid Much? (584 comments)

In my opinion that's too many things to try and effect change on at one time. People who are not directly invested into those causes are for the most part very easily distracted and if you bombard them with too many inputs at once they naturally start to drown out some or all of those inputs. Have you ever been in a meeting where you had a dozen things on the agenda and everyone wanted to talk about their own particular agenda item and were unwilling to yield to other other agenda items? I have. Nothing got done. In those circumstances someone has to clearly steer the conversation to give time to each point and address them. By directing the conversation the meeting suddenly becomes more effective, and while they end result is that some things get deferred you will stand a much better chance of accomplishing something.

I've also been in situations where people simply complained about something and said "fix it." My question to them always is "how do you want it fixed?" If there is no direct answer then I can't fix it. OWS suffers from this same exact problem. Simply complaining about something is not enough. Giving a stated list of suggestions on how to fix something is effective. You may not get your ideal solution, but you may get something instead of just getting ignored.

Because OWS eschews formal organizational structures and leadership and tries to lead everything by committee their message is lost, diffuse, and ultimately ignored.

Some corporations definitely do hold too much sway in politics. As I would argue many special interest groups and even unions do. I would love to see all these groups have their influence dialed back. But, I would argue without term limits and campaign finance reform you won't see any of them lose their sway. Politicians who "serve" indefinitely are in my opinion the real problem. It invites a class of individuals whose only true goal is to continue to be re-elected. They then cater to some mix of these groups and accept their money happily to fund their campaigns. If politicians were limited in the length of time they could serve in federal elected offices and prohibited from then moving into appointed positions you would likely see a return of the citizen legislator that once (very early in our republic) dominated. And, perhaps a bit of a return to sanity and common sense. Or at least so I hope.

about a year ago
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New Documents Detail FBI, Bank Crack Down On Occupy Wall Street

MNNorske Re:Paranoid Much? (584 comments)

Thank you for your comments. You hit the point exactly.

about a year ago
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New Documents Detail FBI, Bank Crack Down On Occupy Wall Street

MNNorske Re:Paranoid Much? (584 comments)

Most "loose protest" groups have not tried to utilize banking the way that I have heard OWS did. I recall a number of stories talking about how committees had been formed to handle their cash flow. Some of the groups had a bit more formalized arrangement than others. But, with the amount of money they had coming and going to pay for food, kitchens, fuel for generators, generators, etc... there was probably a higher amount of cash moving through OWS than most "loose protest" groups. And, the fact that the news had also reported on several occasions that OWS had set up bank accounts that also puts them into a different category.

I know the majority of the articles I read about Tea Party groups and how they were organized they had done so as non-profits. In fact there was some hullabaloo this past year where some federal agency was going back and requesting more documentation from various Tea Party groups and questioning their incorporation. So, yes, the government has been giving them grief too. The main difference from what I can see though is that they followed the process of incorporating themselves and appointing leaders who were specifically responsible for accounting and tax filings whereas OWS never has.

Those are really the only two protest groups that I know enough about how they are structured to comment on. There may very well be others that you could cite that either have gone through the process of incorporating themselves and others that haven't. But, I would guess that most other groups if they have tried to set up a bank account have filed some modicum of paperwork.

about a year ago
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New Documents Detail FBI, Bank Crack Down On Occupy Wall Street

MNNorske Re:Paranoid Much? (584 comments)

When those organizations officially form themselves I believe it is still called incorporation. There's just different levels of paperwork and tax reporting that have to occur. The verb to incorporate actually covers a great many types of entities.

about a year ago
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New Documents Detail FBI, Bank Crack Down On Occupy Wall Street

MNNorske Re:Paranoid Much? (584 comments)

Oh the FBI has definitely been misused in the past. Under J. Edgar Hoover he used the organization as his own personal tool to attack anyone or anything he didn't like. Like any organization it has people who are truly dedicated to doing a good and honest job, and it will also have people who actively try and use it for their own self centered goals. While I know the latter exist I choose to believe the vast majority of the people working at the FBI are there to try and do good.

To the best of my limited knowledge on the subject there are only two federal law enforcement agencies that are charged with enforcement of banking regulations. The Secret Service gets involved if there is suspected counterfeiting involved. And, I believe the majority of the other types of incidents fall under the purview of the FBI. Anything that crosses state lines falls under federal law whereas things that remain within a single state typically fall under state law enforcement's purview.

So by that reasoning the FBI would definitely become involved in any action that looks to be enforcing federal banking or money laundering laws.

Now, as to building dossiers on people within the organization and the organization as a whole. Well some of that is understandable and some is not. I'm not going to sit here and try and justify those actions because frankly I don't know enough to argue one way or another on the subject.

I would like to point out that the FBI does do a lot of good. Good that you may not typically think of. The FBI is primarily responsible for bringing down most of the major mafia families and their criminal enterprises. They are the ones who handle all child kidnappings in the US. They provide assistance to local law enforcement whenever there is a suspected serial murderer and take over the case when the crimes extend across state borders. You might want to consider that when you make your blanket assertion that you'll never cooperate with them.

about a year ago
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New Documents Detail FBI, Bank Crack Down On Occupy Wall Street

MNNorske Re:Paranoid Much? (584 comments)

Thank you for that laugh. No, I do not work for any government agency or shadowy secret organization. I'm simply a rational thinking cubicle dwelling software engineer. I just don't happen to see conspiracies everywhere I look, rather I look for the logical explanation behind things. More often than not I usually find a reasonable explanation.

about a year ago
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New Documents Detail FBI, Bank Crack Down On Occupy Wall Street

MNNorske Re:Paranoid Much? (584 comments)

Oh, I readily admit that I personally dislike OWS. However I am in no way bending reality to fit my dislike. Rather I'm trying to point out the reality of the situation and how OWS is simply running afoul of that reality. I think some of the folks who are in it have some very valid points that they are protesting. The overall problem with this group is that it is too loosely organized and completely lacking in any direction. When you look historically at groups that have successfully protested for change there is a pattern to their success. Women's suffrage had a very clear goal, gain the right to vote for women. The Civil Rights Movement wanted the abolition of various segregationist policies and discriminatory hiring practices. Their goals were clear, there was a defined end state to which they were working and therefore their success could be measured. OWS on the other hand has not stated end state to which they would like things moved. They simply protest everything, and therefore will never obtain concrete action on anything.

As for following banking regulations. Yes, I do truthfully believe it has everything to do with that. I have multiple friends who work in varying levels of several fairly large regional banks. Every single one of them has told me about the training they've had to go to regardless of how high or low their position is to learn about fraud, how to detect it, and what they have to report. It was pretty interesting to hear from them some of the things that they were instructed to be aware of. The laws are there to stop money laundering, trafficking money to terrorist or criminal organizations, tax evasion, ponzi schemes, etc... There are more ways than you can possibly imagine that people have used and abused financial systems. While we may not always appreciate why many of them exist, usually they were crafted to stop or control a certain practice. Some of them may definitely seem stupid to us as individuals. But, they do exist.

about a year ago
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The Power of a Hot Body

MNNorske Mall of America has been using body heat for years (161 comments)

The Mall of America was designed with the foreknowledge that people moving through it would generate heat. When I was working a volunteer event there a number of years ago the community relations contact we had was cheerfully explaining that they typically don't heat the mall. She cited a figure of 100 people generates about the same thermal output as an average household furnace. Which puts into context why a party in a house gets so warm... Most office towers in northern latitudes tend to heat primarily around the edges of the building where heat bleeds out of the tower through the windows. Otherwise you may find that the interior of the build could actually be receiving cool air to dissipate the body heat of the office workers.

So, while I applaud the re-use of body heat for something useful, it's definitely not a new concept. Architects and engineers have been accounting for it and sometimes harnessing it for years.

about a year ago
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New Documents Detail FBI, Bank Crack Down On Occupy Wall Street

MNNorske Paranoid Much? (584 comments)

I mean seriously this reeks of paranoia. There's a very valid reason for banks cracking down on OWS. In the USA there are really only two ways to legally create a bank account. One is as an individual the other is through an incorporation. Individuals can obviously have multiple co-signers such as in a family. And, incorporated entities can be businesses, non-profits, cities, etc... OWS organized itself as the antithesis of any incorporated entity. There were no official leaders, no board or leadership who was legally responsible for filing taxes, nothing. Their use of banks to collect donations, organize and pool funds, and then disperse them therefore broke pretty much all the laws that were put in place to stop groups like organized crime and terrorists from utilizing banks in the same way. The folks who work at banks can lose their jobs and face criminal prosecution if they don't report activity that looks exactly like what OWS was doing with the bank accounts they were opening. So please, use your brain and think things through before you post an article like this that simply reeks of paranoia. You may not like the system or the laws, but they exist, and the banks and FBI are simply following them.

about a year ago
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Stay Home When You're Sick!

MNNorske Reasonable Time Off (670 comments)

My employer has a sick leave policy called Reasonable Time Off. None of us has sick days. There's no pool of time that you have to worry about. If you're sick, you can (supposedly) simply take the day off and stay home. People do actually use it. A lot of us will continue to do work from home, but log off for stretches of time to nap/rest/whatever. But, it does help having this policy. We can even use it for simple things such as medical checkups and dental procedures/cleanings.

Since almost all of our meetings now have conference bridges attached to them it's quite easy for folks to check in from home and still attend meetings they feel they absolutely need to attend. Couple that with our secure remote access tools and people can still be productive when they stay home if they choose. This is especially helpful when a parent stays home with a sick child.

Personally I know that I typically tend to get miserably sick for a day or two and need to rest. Then I'm usually feeling a little better, but not great, for a day or two. So being able to stay home as needed and work from home when I feel up to it helps me not feel pressured into coming into the office and getting others sick too. Plus the couple times I've had to have surgery I did not feel bad in the slightest that I actually took the time off of work to recuperate that I needed.

Managers around here seem to trust employees for the most part. But, if it looks like someone is abusing the policy they may raise questions. Most people I work with are pretty responsible about it though because they know how good of a benefit this really is. And, none of us wants to be forced into a PTO type system.

To give you an idea of the scale of this benefit, we employ nearly twenty thousand people in our HQ facilities around the metro area. With a single floor of one of our office towers easily holding in the neighborhood of a hundred people. Our downtown towers are all interconnected by a skyway system that includes many other buildings as well. So one person coming into the office sick has the potential to affect hundreds or thousands of other people. If we can reduce that even a bit it helps everyone out.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Old Technology Coexisting With New?

MNNorske Funny you should mention it... (338 comments)

But, I just pulled out my original Koss satellite speakers from my first 286 and hooked them up to my computer at work. Forgot I had them, but they still work after all these years.

about a year ago

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