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Comments

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The Data That Drove Yahoo's Telecommuting Ban

Mean Variance Re:Well... (529 comments)

I assume the agreement explicitly gives the employer free will to undo the arrangement. That's how mine reads. My employer can make me switch back to in office work whenever they want to.

about a year ago
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North Korea's Prison Camps Are Now On Google Maps

Mean Variance Re:Kimjongilia (159 comments)

I second that. Also on Netflix streaming: Walking the Line about 4 American defectors into NK (with primary focus on one).

Then go to the North Korea travel series, done in 3 parts posted on YouTube by Vice.com (search Vice Guide to North Korea).

about a year and a half ago
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Boston Declares Health Emergency Due To Massive Flu Outbreak

Mean Variance Re:Good Advice (316 comments)

My employer, a Silicon Valley financial technology company, has had a simple PTO policy that treats a missed day as a missed day from the day it started in the 90's. You get 20 days a year. After 5 years, 25; after 9 years capped at 30, where I am.

Over the years various benefits have come, gone, come back (e.g., 401k match). But that one policy has never changed because everyone likes it. You can bank up to 240 hours but that caps so everyone is supposed to take time off. (Of course, there are always the workaholics who max out and just keep working. But most make reasonable use, especially given than half of the engineers are H1B or green card. They like to take 3-5 weeks at a time.)

about a year and a half ago
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Mark Zuckerberg's Big Facebook Mistake

Mean Variance Zuckerberg has full control of Facebook (418 comments)

Zuck cannot lose control of the company unless he chooses to. His interest is majority and fully controlling. The board is advisory at best, impotent otherwise.

The following are crucial snips from the S-1 filing:

Our CEO has control over key decision making as a result of his control of a majority of our voting stock.

As a result of voting agreements with certain stockholders, together with the shares he holds, Mark Zuckerberg, our founder, Chairman, and CEO, will be able to exercise voting rights with respect to an aggregate of xxx shares of common stock, representing a majority of the voting power of our outstanding capital stock following our initial public offering. As a result, Mr.ÂZuckerberg has the ability to control the outcome of matters submitted to our stockholders for approval, including the election of directors and any merger, consolidation, or sale of all or substantially all of our assets. In addition, Mr.ÂZuckerberg has the ability to control the management and affairs of our company as a result of his position as our CEO and his ability to control the election of our directors. Additionally, in the event that Mr. Zuckerberg controls our company at the time of his death, control may be transferred to a person or entity that he designates as his successor. As a board member and officer, Mr.ÂZuckerberg owes a fiduciary duty to our stockholders and must act in good faith in a manner he reasonably believes to be in the best interests of our stockholders. As a stockholder, even a controlling stockholder, Mr.ÂZuckerberg is entitled to vote his shares, and shares over which he has voting control as a result of voting agreements, in his own interests, which may not always be in the interests of our stockholders generally. For a description of these voting agreements, see "Description of Capital Stock-Voting Agreements."

Controlled Company

Because Mr.ÂZuckerberg controls a majority of our outstanding voting power, we are a "controlled company" under the corporate governance rules for publicly-listed companies. Therefore, we are not required to have a majority of our board of directors be independent, nor are we required to have a compensation committee or an independent nominating function. In light of our status as a controlled company, our board of directors has determined not to have an independent nominating function and to have the full board of directors be directly responsible for nominating members of our board. Additionally, as described in the section entitled "Description of Capital Stock-Anti-Takeover Provisions-Restated Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaw Provisions," so long as the outstanding shares of our Class B common stock represent a majority of the combined voting power of our common stock, Mr.ÂZuckerberg will be able to effectively control all matters submitted to our stockholders for a vote, as well as the overall management and direction of our company.

about 2 years ago
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Microsoft Posts First Quarterly Loss Ever

Mean Variance Positive cash flows (327 comments)

They wrote down a turd whose asset value wasn't worth what they paid. Look at the cash flows. They continue to generate billions of cash.

SEC filing

about 2 years ago
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Search Tracking Purports To Show Effect of Racism On '08 Election

Mean Variance Counterbalance of vote for race (511 comments)

tl;dr, but it wouldn't be surprising that someone would vote against a candidate because of his/her race, gender, religion, etc.

On the flipside, how many votes are FOR the candidate because of his race. Does one cancel out the other?

And in the greater picture, how many votes for one candidate are purely superficial lacking perspective or insight into his or her take on policies, issues, and other big picture items.

I feel this kind of study, whether intended or not, has the effect of being purely inflammatory.

more than 2 years ago
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The Ugly Underbelly of Coder Culture

Mean Variance Not what I've seen (715 comments)

I've been a Silicon Valley software engineer for 15 years. I see no disparity of gender that's a concern.

I work in a team of 6. We just hired a senior engineer, a woman. Of the 9 people I interviewed, I only recall 2 men in the interview. In our team, there are 2 men, me and another guy in another so called discriminated class - age. He's 53. Our entire dev team is about 50/50 and might even be tipped to the female side.

When we went to universities to screen for interns, no identifiable difference at one I went to at San Jose State.

Now, there is a disparity in American v. Indian (and some Chinese and Russian), but I don't think it's anyone's fault. Those are the people looking for the jobs.

Granted I have seen some companies that put their white male faces from a Portland company right up front, but my personal observations in Silicon Valley are quite different.

more than 2 years ago
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Santorum Suspends Presidential Campaign

Mean Variance Re:News for Nerds? (577 comments)

F. I liked that last alternative and Slashdot got mad at me for giving a single character answer.

So again I say ....

Eff (for the most part, PJ has his annoyances, but high-level, I'm on his side).

more than 2 years ago
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Yahoo Layoffs Begin, CEO Sends Employees Apologetic Letter

Mean Variance Re:Typical large corporations (138 comments)

  ARTHUR:  Well, we all are. we're all Britons and I am your king.
  WOMAN:  I didn't know we had a king.  I thought we were an autonomous
      collective.
  DENNIS:  You're fooling yourself.  We're living in a dictatorship.
      A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes--
  WOMAN:  Oh there you go, bringing class into it again.
  DENNIS:  That's what it's all about if only people would--
  ARTHUR:  Please, please good people.  I am in haste.  Who lives
      in that castle?
  WOMAN:  No one live there.
  ARTHUR:  Then who is your lord?
  WOMAN:  We don't have a lord.
  ARTHUR:  What?
  DENNIS:  I told you.  We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune.  We take
      it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week.
  ARTHUR:  Yes.
  DENNIS:  But all the decision of that officer have to be ratified
      at a special biweekly meeting.
  ARTHUR:  Yes, I see.
  DENNIS:  By a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs,--
  ARTHUR:  Be quiet!
  DENNIS:  --but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more--
  ARTHUR:  Be quiet!  I order you to be quiet!
  WOMAN:  Order, eh -- who does he think he is?
  ARTHUR:  I am your king!
  WOMAN:  Well, I didn't vote for you.
  ARTHUR:  You don't vote for kings.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Inexpensive VPS Provider?

Mean Variance eApps.com (375 comments)

I have had a VPS with eApps for a few years. I pay $11/mo. They are a legit hosting service with customer service and tech support by phone.

I have 3 domains hosted and have had a few brief outages, but nothing major.

more than 2 years ago
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Do You Really Need a Smart Phone?

Mean Variance Many smartphone alternatives (851 comments)

There are many alternatives besides the premium plans and phones (iPhone, high end Android).

T-Mobile via WalMart: Android phone for less than $200. 100 mins talk, unlimited data and text for $30/mo.

Pageplus: Bring your own CDMA phone. My kid has a Palm Pixi. If you don't abuse data or use wifi for data, it's cheap.

iPod Touch: That's the way I went. I have a cheap prepaid phone that costs less than $10/mo for my light usage of calls and texts. My iPod is in a wifi zone much of the time where I can leverage apps including free texting.

I'm on the waiting list for Republic Wireless who is trying an iteresting business model for $20/mo. The phone has to have a home zone of wifi. When wifi is available, it uses it. Otherwise data will be used. The phone is a basic Android.

It just takes a little effort and research.

I'm amazed at what people will pay for iPhone plans. Some use the value, but I know plenty who still just use it to call and text mostly paying almost $100/mo.

more than 2 years ago
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Half Life of a Tech Worker: 15 Years

Mean Variance I've crossed that threshold, but it concerns me (473 comments)

At 43, I live with the senior software engineer title. I've been at the same company 12 years. While I consider myself well established, nothing is guaranteed - company could be bought, sales could suffer (I've survived 4 layoffs), I might piss off a boss.

Many of us have grown up inside the company (we are a Silicon Valley tech company) so there are a number of 40-something engineers and a couple have crossed 50.

But when I'm in a worrying mood, I do think about what would happen if I had to go into the interviewing machine. There is probably some truth to the tenet that it's harder to stay in development in later years, but I know peers who have done it, and we just hired someone in his mid-40's.

If the employer can get over age and hire the best person for the job and if the 40-something can swallow and maybe be willing to take a pay cut, things can stay in balance. At least I hope so if I'm in that situation.

more than 2 years ago
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Does Telecommuting Make You Invisible?

Mean Variance Make an effort to be visible (275 comments)

I am a telecommuter. I negotiated 80%/20%, i.e. I come into the office 150 miles away once a week. The purpose is to schedule meetings on projects, attend a weekly team meeting, and it gives the opportunity to mingle and see my coworkers.

That arrangement really helps. In addition, I use software that routes my phone extension to my home office (so people don't have to keep my phone# on a post it), I use Yahoo IM for chats, and of course email.

The point is, if you are a telecommuter, make yourself accessible at any time that you would be if you were in the office. If things are quiet for an extended period, make an effort to touch base with your immediate team (speaking from the perspective of a software developer here). Does anyone need me to pitch in on anything? Send a link to a funny or interesting article.

Generally my work is so busy and requires so much collaboration that it creates the necessary visibility, but just be sure you aren't making it difficult to be contacted and embrace the discussions, even mundane ones unless it gets out of hand.

In software dev, also have your screen ready to share for discussion (myriad of choices). I find that helps to collaborate and be more visible to my colleagues.

more than 2 years ago
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Fee Increase Attempt Inspires 'Dump Your Bank Day'

Mean Variance Re:Some clarifications about credit unions (667 comments)

It is really difficult to start one, thus you don't see too many start these days. Realtors FCU is one that comes to mind that is newish. It does need a capital infusion from the chartering group, e.g. a company, a trade group that will form the membership. Then you need deposits. Profits then begin to build and maintain the capital base.

more than 2 years ago
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Fee Increase Attempt Inspires 'Dump Your Bank Day'

Mean Variance Some clarifications about credit unions (667 comments)

I am on the board of a credit union. Credit unions must make a profit or they will die. They must have some fee structure to offset costs of members who are expensive to service. The idea is that fees should be minimized to the extent that the CU can run a healthy business in accordance with its mission.

Since it is a non-profit, the board is unpaid. We are members who volunteer our time. We must make decisions in the interest of the membership as a whole and that means working with the executive staff on decisions related to which services we can provide to the members and how those services will be paid for.

The distinguishing difference between a credit union and a bank is that banks can raise capital in the open markets by issuing shares, issuing debt, or taking on risky bets in the form of loans and investments.

Credit unions, on the other hand, can maintain capital only through profits from loans, investments, and certain income like fees and interchange fees. The investment side is tightly controlled. Investments are boring - bonds, CDs, money markets. The best income is from loans.

There are good credit unions and bad ones. When the bad ones go under, the credit unions are collectively assessed via the NCUSIF (in most cases) to make the the depositors whole. Or the NCUA works with the failing credit union to merge them into a healthier one. But we are all collectively responsible for each other in a small way -- yet we compete against each other and banks too.

Even though I've been with the same credit union for 22 years (and now on the BOD for 3 so far), I don't label "credit unions = good, banks = bad." I also have an account with ING Direct and had excellent customer service - all by phone, mail and email - for a mortgage a few years ago.

Do your homework and figure out what you need and talk to people you trust. Don't think that you are necessarily constrained by a credit union. You might not be. It depends.

more than 2 years ago
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Fee Increase Attempt Inspires 'Dump Your Bank Day'

Mean Variance Re:I did (667 comments)

Oh, same deal if you want to deposit your check. If you can't find your own bank branch, you're going to be learning their bank-by-mail process.

You need to do some research. First, how many people have checks to cash while on travel? I would take care of that while home. But even if I did, I can go to any 7-Eleven in the U.S. and most credit unions in the co-op network and deposit a check. Getting access to money is easy.

My local credit union in Fresno has served me well even when I lived in the Bay Area for 12 years. It's amazing what can be accomplished with great customer service, even before ubiquitous online banking.

more than 2 years ago
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Career Advice: Don't Call Yourself a Programmer

Mean Variance Depends on why I'm referring to my profession (422 comments)

In casual conversation among people who wouldn't know the nuances of the various "programmer"-like terms, I do say, "I'm a programmer." It gets the point across simply that most people understand.

If I'm in a semi-professional setting of white collar adults, I usually say "software developer."

On a resume or among those who know the industry standard, I say "I'm a software engineer" because that's my title.

If it's tied to a conversation that might have career potential, I give the true classification at work: senior software engineer.

more than 2 years ago

Submissions

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Are Chinese Mothers Superior?

Mean Variance Mean Variance writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Mean Variance writes "The Wall Street Journal has a story about growing up from and being a "Chinese Mother." Also, there are many comments from The Atlantic. It describes the rigid upbringing of the writer and how she chooses to raise her kids the same way. She efforts to point out that her term "Chinese Mother" is not meant to broadly define all Chinese, likewise, she posits some non-Chinese raise their kids this way. Being a software engineer, I work with many Chinese (including Hong Kong and Taiwan born) colleagues (along with Russian, Indian, and American). I see the trait in some colleagues and former neighbors in the Chinese dense town of Cupertino, CA, but don't think it warrants such a broad sterotype."
Link to Original Source
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Pope Criticizes Atheists

Mean Variance Mean Variance writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Mean Variance writes "Pope Benedict blames the greatest forms of cruelty on Atheism. The solution is in prayer: "While seeking to provide answers, he also says there are ways for the faithful to learn and practice true Christian hope: in prayer, in suffering, in taking action and in looking at the Last Judgment as a symbol of hope." and not in science: "Rev. Robert Gahl, professor of ethics at Rome's Santa Croce University, said the pope's message was 'tremendously relevant' for today's materialistic societies 'where people put hope in science and medical cures.'"."

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