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Industry-Wide Smartphone "Kill Switch" Closer To Reality

PPH Sorry. I misunderstood. (120 comments)

I thought this was something we could use to exterminate all those smug bastards yakking on phones while driving or in line at Starbucks.

12 hours ago
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GoPro Project Claims Technology Is Making People Lose Empathy For Homeless

PPH GoPro? (252 comments)

The least they could have done was to pony up for some Google Glass.

At least the homeless could have pawned them for some spending money.

13 hours ago
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Vintage 1960s Era Film Shows IRS Defending Its Use of Computers

PPH Re:"Feel Like a Number" (94 comments)

Thank goodness that never came to be, #37809.

13 hours ago
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How 'DevOps' Is Killing the Developer

PPH Re:Cross training (210 comments)

Why in the hell would anyone be working on production code on their local machine?

As a developer, what do you think your job is?

We may be suffering from a terminology problem here. I think developers produce code as their work product. Which is turned over to a build environment for subsequent testing and finally installation.

If you have a different job description for a developer, I'd like to hear it. I wouldn't hire it, but I always get a chuckle out of projects that are so deeply layered that there are people which we don't really know what they do.

But somehow you've extrapolated that into Devs not having admin privileges on their local workstations which is absurd.

If you produce anything that affects the configuration of the final product, it had damned well better be under configuration control. And that means your administrative 'privilege' is restricted by some processes and procedures. If you have them at all. That's the way its done in avionics, medical, financial and a lot of other software houses. If you are just hacking out games, then who cares? Fiddle with your development environment all you want.

13 hours ago
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How 'DevOps' Is Killing the Developer

PPH Re:Cross training (210 comments)

Devs should have admin access *on their local machines* so they can evaluate libraries and platforms.

No. Not if they are working on production code.

There is a project phase for testing tools and libraries. But even then, the installation for this evaluation should be done under configuration control. Or each dev could end up with a custom environment that doesn't properly reproduce code across different machines. The installation/configuration of these tools needs to be done by people with admin skills that lead to reproducible results across the entire dev team should that product be selected.

Too many developers here are crying about not wanting to have administrative responsibility. But try taking the admin privilege away and listen to the screams.

yesterday
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Survey: 56 Percent of US Developers Expect To Become Millionaires

PPH Expect? (416 comments)

I hate to break the bad news to them. The only people that will be making a million developing s/w will be making a million rupees.

yesterday
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First Glow-In-the-Dark Road Debuts In Netherlands

PPH Re:Useless (182 comments)

Road side illumination should be generally restricted to built up areas and be more about restricting nefarious activities rather than traffic safety.

Agree. But now you will run afoul of the AARP. Old people don't see well in the dark. And in the USA, until they actually need the white cane and dog, you can't take their license away. The megawatts of wasted lighting we install in this country is to keep the geezers in their Cadilacs.

As to the 'nefarious activity', that PR was created by the power companies trying to sell street lighting. Most criminals prefer to hit during the day, when they can see.

yesterday
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Kids Can Swipe a Screen But Can't Use LEGOs

PPH Re:How to describe a manager (335 comments)

FTFY.

Think of it this way: Your kids are geting a head start at Harvard Business School.

yesterday
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How 'DevOps' Is Killing the Developer

PPH Re:Cross training (210 comments)

But that's why you have an admin group responsible for your workstation (instead of you having admin rights). Maybe there are "an insane number" of goodies you'd like to play with. But if you cause problems for people downstream, the answer should be, "No."

does not mean Ruby needs to be installed on the production environment. That's what build servers and deployment scripts are for.

So you should cause the admins responsible for the build environment to chase after your particular suite of toys? I don't think so.

So few developers have a good view of the s/w lifecycle that they either need their admin rights taken away or they need to spend some time in DevOps (administration, whatever) so they can see the PITA that their work habits cause.

I've worked in companies (aviation related, where you'd think config control would be taken seriously) that were continuously 'infected' by tool vendors slipping some developer a 'free' s/w CD at a conference. Knowing full well that once their work product made it into the production environment, thousands of licenses would have to be bought or their crap would have to be backed out. And I've seen developers throw screaming (literally) tantrums about taking their toys away to the point that management backed down.

One s/w vendor's game was actually written about in the Wall Street Journal some years ago. About how they slipped a few copies of their product into my employer and caused them to have to buy millions of dollars worth of licenses for the installed product.,

yesterday
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How 'DevOps' Is Killing the Developer

PPH Cross training (210 comments)

The best developer is one who puts stuff together that 'ops' people (users, admins, etc.) can work with. And the best way to get such developers trained is to give them some experience on the other side of the fence. Yes, in a large organization there is going to be less crossover. But its still a good idea. Some people won't like being admins. Some will really take to it. Its up to management to properly allocate resources and keep their people trained and familiar with adjoining organizations needs.

If you absolutely don't want to do any administration tasks, that's fine. But its a rare developer who doesn't throw a fit when management takes their admin/root privileges away on their own workstation.

yesterday
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Lack of US Cybersecurity Across the Electric Grid

PPH Re:Core competency (93 comments)

I work for a water utility

Public or private? That makes a lot of difference. Public utilities tend to take more responsibility for the collateral aspects of their mission than private organizations.

My local power company was a publicly traded corporation. That was bad for anything they didn't consider to be a 'profit center'. But then they fell on hard times and were taken private by a consortium of utility service providers (contractors, outside IT and engineering outfits). The core utility profit margins are kept tight by the state regulators. But the pass through charges from the contractors (unregulated) is still highly profitable. The utility is being kept on life support for the benefit of the contractors.

The remaining shell company may in fact take their security responsibilities seriously. But they are being squeezed between regulators trying to keep prices down and their vendors who sell them old technology, insecure systems. Because the new ones are expensive when provided by the vendors and there isn't enough utility staff left to do the job in house.

2 days ago
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How Apple's CarPlay Could Shore Up the Car Stereo Industry

PPH Siri in my car? (182 comments)

After listening to the kids for a while, all she says is, "Don't make me pull over and come back there!"

2 days ago
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Lack of US Cybersecurity Across the Electric Grid

PPH Re:I remember Y2K, do you? (93 comments)

Something that brings a grid down and keeps it down for more than a few hours will end up turning into riots and looting.

Try days or a week out where I live*. Nobody riots. Everyone has a camp stove and supplies. Many of us have gensets and don't even notice the flicker when the power goes down.

The local power company no longer has the staff to maintain their own system. Its all done by contractors or surrounding utilities sending in help. And I don't live in some backwater hick town. I can spit on Bill Gates' house** from my place.

*No cyber attack required. Rotten poles fall over. In fact, we could never tell the difference between a major terrorist attack and normal utility operations.

**Having worked for electric utilities in the past, I am shocked and surprised at the poor shape their systems are in. Even right out in front of Mr. Gates modest hovel.

2 days ago
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Lack of US Cybersecurity Across the Electric Grid

PPH Re:Energy Control Systems Online? (93 comments)

I wonder what ever happened to the concept of the data diode.

Many SCADA systems are inherently bi-directional. Some controller monitors system parameters. It then returns feedback to control the processes. Or it forwards them upstream for human attention and intervention.

You could try to 'air gap' such a system from the Internet. But the guy carrying a laptop around to update PLC firmware is going to use it to check his company e-mail. And eventually, the CEO is going to send out one of his/her missives company-wide over the cocktail lounge WiFi at the golf course. Now you're screwed.

Air gaps didn't do Iran much good against StuxNet.

2 days ago
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Lack of US Cybersecurity Across the Electric Grid

PPH Core competency (93 comments)

Companies want to concentrate on their core competencies. To an electric utility, IT isn't a core competency.

My power company can't be bothered to trim trees and replace rotten poles. That's all contracted out. Their core competency is collecting bills. Heck, they don't even read their own meters. That's contracted out.

So good luck with the whole 'secure the system' idea. Outages are all classified as 'Acts of God'. Maybe. I guess God has it in for corporate morons.

2 days ago
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Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

PPH Re:It's better in the UK (380 comments)

Personally I wish they would move tax day to October 31st.

Let's see: Full moon, lunar eclipse, tax day. I'm thinking of dropping my return off wearing a werewolf mask.

This also puts tax day right before election day so maybe something could be done about it.

I think some thought went into keeping the two dates far apart. They say you have to discipline a dog as soon as you catch them doing something or they won't learn. Smacking Congress with a rolled up ballot comes to mind.

2 days ago
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How Amazon Keeps Cutting AWS Prices: Cheapskate Culture

PPH Re:Business class is a misnomer (143 comments)

It's not being cheap, it's being smart.

I used to fly a lot when I worked for Boeing (commercial, not gov't contract). We had an entire travel department that arranged trips and accomodtions. And they prided themselves on finding the cheapest (crappiest, that is) deals that they could. One time, when I had to fly from Seatle to New York, I just called travel and said, "You find me the flight that meets your cost requirements. I'll upgrade to first class out of my own pocket." They practicaly shit themselves. It wasn't about the cost, it was about the perception of being tight with a dollar. While actualy wasting buckets of money*.

One time when a group of us had to spend a week in Cincinnati, Boeing travel booked rooms at a flea-bag airport motel which was about 30 miles from the vendor we were working with. I fought that one and found a cheaper (and much nicer) extended stay motel a few miles from the vendor. From that point on, I was on the travel department's shit list.

*I suspect that certain members of the travel department get some frequent flyer miles in their own accounts for steering business toward certain airlines and hotel chains. And for missing the actual lowest cost deals when planning company trips.

2 days ago
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How Amazon Keeps Cutting AWS Prices: Cheapskate Culture

PPH Re:Business/First class is absurd (143 comments)

Wider seats in first class. Sometimes business class is a rip-off (same seats, better snacks). But on long trips, first class seating is much more comfortable.

I could care less about leg room (I'm only 4' 18" tall). But I'm built like a tank and my arms hang into the aisle or across the shared armrest in economy class seating.

2 days ago
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Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

PPH Re:It's better in the UK (380 comments)

Better that taxes cause a little pain. It reminds me once a year how screwed up our tax system is. If they make it too eay, people wil forget about how much is beng skimmed off their paychecks.

We have automatic witholding as well. And the system could be made simpler. But I like the fact that once a year, I'm getting pissed off at a seriously broken system.

IRS Motto: We've got what it takes to take what you've got.

2 days ago

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