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Ask Slashdot: Options For Cheap Home Automation?

QuasiEvil Re:Insteon (189 comments)

My lighting system is all Insteon based. Even if it is proprietary (ugh), it does actually work as advertised. Everything except the Keypadlincs has been bulletproof, but some of the earlier KPLs have been less than reliable. Due to recent power spikes, I've lost the last of them, and the new 7.x models seem to be lasting without issue. Do not try to manage any Insteon network of decent size without an ISY994, however. You'll go mad. Plus, the ISY provides an easy way to script behaviours.

The rest of the house is controlled and monitored through small embedded computers tied to cameras, temp/humidity sensors, or other hardware via USB/Arduino/etc. I say "small embedded computers" because the old ones are hacked Dockstars, but as those die (and they do), they've been replaced with Raspberry Pis. The children all call back to a main control computer every 10-15 seconds, uploading an image and telemetry data via scp/ssh. That main computer then makes it accessible to the world via a mass of PHP.

about three weeks ago

Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

QuasiEvil Employees who can "just figure it out" (553 comments)

I'm not a manager-manager, but I am a technical manager and - at the end of the day - basically the guy who gets the hiring decision whenever I need more people.

I don't care about what you know beyond the basics, and I also don't care where (or if) you went to college or that your degree is even slightly related to what we're doing. The things I look for are that you have some talent with system design, architecture and programming, a passion for technology (aka, it's not just a 9-5 job thing, but you eat, live, and breathe it), and the capability to go learn and figure things out on your own. Along with the third thing, a general, broad set of knowledge is good, but as long as you can use Google or books or experiments to figure things out, I'm okay. I'd much rather you be able to learn and adapt.

You'd be amazed how many people fail at least #3. I don't want to hand-hold you or have to spoon feed you answers. Don't know? Go look it up. Go try something. Just don't come over and ask for help right away. If you've gotten stuck somewhere, I'll help, but you damn well better have beaten your head against the wall for a few hours/days/weeks (depending on problem complexity) before asking.

about 3 months ago

Slashdot Asks: What's In Your Home Datacenter?

QuasiEvil Re:Small setup (287 comments)

For me, I just like wired ethernet better. Overall, simpler to configure, use, secure, and manage, and you can't beat gigabit links for bandwidth/$. I have 802.11n, but pretty much all it does is allow the laptops, tablets, and phones onto the network. The MythTV frontends, desktop machines, and home automation/telemetry bits are all hard-wired. I also keep all my data on a central fileserver in the basement, so having gigabit links from the desktop machines (and laptops when I plug them in) really makes working with large datasets significantly faster.

As for my setup, it's really rather unimpressive from any datacenter standpoint.

Upstairs closet:
  - Wireless AP (802.11n) and NAT box (TP Link WDR4300 running OpenWRT)
  - Cable modem
  - Managed 24-port gigabit switch (serves 3rd and 2nd floor ports, dual fiber links to downstairs switch)
  - UPS

Basement closet:
  - Managed 24-port gigabit switch (serves basement, and 1st floor ports, dual fiber links to upstairs switch, dual fiber to backup fileserver in detached garage)
  - House fileserver
  - MythTV/home automation/voip/webserver box
  - Tuners (HDHomeRun and DirecTV gear + HD-PVRs),
  - ISY-99 Insteon gateway
  - UPS

about 4 months ago

Ask Slashdot: How Often Should You Change Jobs?

QuasiEvil Re:We can thank corporate America (282 comments)

15 years and counting for me - not just same company, but same position. The title changes and I get promoted every couple years, but it's the same PCN doing basically the same thing.

I'm basically the technical management of a development group at a large transportation company. The technical part of my department isn't really all that bad. The challenge is knowing the business and all the weird, intricate little nuances of both our clients and how the actual business operates. I figure it takes 18 months to make a newbie a net positive in the group. I rarely hire because typically we focus on getting people who are going to stick around. It's just too costly to productivity to have short timers around. It's also how I've successfully fended off "well, can't you just outsource some of this extra work?" If I'm looking through resumes and see you only stay at similar jobs for 2-3 years, I'm not even going to read the rest of it. I assume that candidate is going to suck up all the resources to get him/her trained and then move along before they've contributed as much back. I'd much rather have someone that shows they're on the track to becoming a greybeard. You know - the guy who has been there forever to become an uberguru, and sits in the corner and says little, but when he does you should probably take it as if it were handed down on stone tablets.

about 7 months ago

Microsoft: Start Menu Returns, Windows Free For Small Device OEMs, Cortana Beta

QuasiEvil Die, die, die, flat UI elements (387 comments)

Now, could they get rid of the flat, huge, ugly UI elements (window borders, buttons, etc.) and go back to the reasonable look of Vista or 7? Sheesh, honestly the hideous ugliness of it was the most irritating thing about 8 for me, as the tile interface and start menu problems could be fixed with a few add-ons.

about 10 months ago

Damming News From Washington State

QuasiEvil Re:Moisture inside the dam wall (168 comments)

It doesn't damage the concrete, but it sure as hell damages the reinforcing steel.

about a year ago

Damming News From Washington State

QuasiEvil Re:Lower the river, obviously (168 comments)

Hanford, for the most part, sits high above the Columbia. A few feet of rise in the Columbia would almost certainly change nothing in relation to stored radioactive sludge tanks. Any ground seepage that was going on yesterday will still go on tomorrow, but as a bonus, the additional flow will provide greater dilution... It's a total red herring in this discussion.

about a year ago

Apocalypse NAO: College Studies the Theological Ramifications of Robotics

QuasiEvil Not the right question (176 comments)

Let's face it, wrong question. While one religious guy is wondering about humanoid robots and our link with god, at least half the species is going to be pondering, "Yeah, but can I f!@# it?"

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Anti-Camera Device For Use In a Small Bus?

QuasiEvil Re:Guildo (478 comments)

If Guido does his job right, there won't be any lawsuits.

"Nah, honest, the other four fell out the window when we went over that river back there. Really unfortunate."

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Anti-Camera Device For Use In a Small Bus?

QuasiEvil Re:Mechanical solution (478 comments)

Or an alternate suggestion - some guys with vaguely Italian-sounding names with shady backgrounds and baseball bats to ride along. Tell them they get $100 for every camera they whack, and $1000 for every camera user they whack, no questions asked. Since there won't be any functional cameras, the usual excuse of "I didn't see nothin', boss" actually holds up quite well. The problem will solve itself very quickly.

about a year ago

Getting Young Women Interested In Open Source

QuasiEvil Re:They aren't being excluded (545 comments)

I tend to agree. I don't see the exclusion here. There are lots of programs trying to encourage women to go into science & engineering type fields, and the track record over the last decade isn't good. Honestly I think engineering and software development are probably two of the most meritocratic fields out there. Likewise, don't expect me to instantly respect you no matter who you are. In my world, new people start at "you suck" until they prove otherwise. Professional respect is earned based on achievement. It's not an entitlement based on your education or upbringing or genetic features.

I say - for all people - encourage the ones that show interest and let the rest go off and find their place in life. We can't all be software architects, or there's going to be hell trying to keep the lights and water on (or for that matter, hard to actually get any code written... ;) The world needs farmers, plumbers, marketers, artists, electricians, truckers, soldiers, machinists, etc. as much as needs engineers and programmers.

As for the parent, I have to agree. I've been to some sales conferences and thought repeatedly, "Holy shit, you people get away with this?"

about a year ago

Getting Young Women Interested In Open Source

QuasiEvil Re:Girls misuse tech talks to get into relationshi (545 comments)

If only young women would use my technical presentations for such purposes. Unfortunately the few I've met are generally interested in the subject matter and not the old guy talking about it.

I was married to a fellow engineer for ten years. Hands down best relationship of my life, even if we had divergent goals at the end. I've spent the last eight looking for someone understands what I'm thinking about most of the time and haven't even come close, but no engineers in the last eight years either. Unfortunately, embedded software and electrical engineering have a very low percentage of women overall, and a minute (almost undetectable) number of single ones.

about a year ago

The "Triple Package" Explains Why Some Cultural Groups Are More Successful

QuasiEvil Re:Success = happiness? (397 comments)

Actually, successful and miserable.

I had an interesting conversation with my ex-wife last night. We both do (and always have) suffered from some crippling bouts with depression for months on end, up to a year or two. She's finally getting back out of the latest round, whereas I'm deep at the bottom. But the thing I've noticed is that I'm many times more productive and creative when I'm depressed and fucked up than when I'm happy. My output when I'm at the bottom is amazing both to me and those around me, because I literally work myself into the ground in an effort to avoid

When I'm happy I don't get shit done. It backs up, it gets put off, it gets ignored, because I'm off relaxing or doing things that keep me happy. I'm out with friends or relaxing, not sitting in my house working on project X, Y, or Z for the whole weekend.

When I'm worm-food, I want to have made a difference. That's the one and only thing I want out of life. I want to have contributed to the things I care about in a meaningful way that will make the future better. It's that one overriding goal in my life that makes me accept miserable as the price to be paid.

1 year,3 days

You Might Rent Features & Options On Cars In the Future

QuasiEvil Re:Only for original purchaser? (437 comments)

I still drive my 1932 Chevrolet, and it's still perfectly road legal. So, 82 years and counting. I just rebuilt the engine again, and she's probably good for another 15-20k before more major work. The car has far outlived its original owner (my great grandfather, who passed away before I was born), and very well may outlive me provided I find someone to care for her like my grandfather, father, and I have. Sure, I don't drive it more than once a month or so, but my daily car will be 20 this year and has 250k miles on it. Body's good, drivetrain is fine, engine isn't showing any problems, and I have a mountain of spare parts in the shed. It's not going anywhere anytime soon unless I grow tired of it.

The biggest threat is a significant shift in fuel sources, such as we suddenly embrace E85 as a primary fuel, or something like CNG or electric.

1 year,9 days

You Might Rent Features & Options On Cars In the Future

QuasiEvil Re:All I Have To Say Is (437 comments)

And even warranty - under Magnuson–Moss, you can typically mess with anything you want and they can't void your warranty unless what you did caused the problem. So shunting the seat heater wire straight into the +12V rail won't cause you a problem unless you blow up the seats (or burn the car down from failing to use a fuse, etc.)

Then again, I haven't had a car with a warranty in years, and even when I did, usually the first mods went in within days of buying it.

1 year,9 days

An Iowa ISP's Metered Pricing: What Will the Market Bear?

QuasiEvil Re: Subscribers up 900%, costs up 900% (479 comments)

Honestly these little telco coops just don't have the clout and size to do this sort of thing efficiently, and they typically have a lot of very rural customers on very long loops (read: no DSL no matter how you slice it). My hometown is 1000 people in eastern Iowa, but it's served by Qwest/Centurylink. As much as I love to hate on 'em, they drug fiber to town and rebuilt the CO in the 1990s. My dad pays much less for internet access than I do living in Colorado Springs, and until a few years ago got better bandwidth.

I'd suspect that they have - at most - a few thousand DSL subscribers scattered across the county. Doesn't make for any great efficiencies there. Honestly I'd be surprised if somebody isn't putting radios on top a couple elevators in the county within a year to compete. Grain elevators make awesome towers, and we Iowans have lots of them.

1 year,11 days

Controversial Execution In Ohio Uses New Lethal Drug Combination

QuasiEvil Re:If that wasn't crueal and unreasonable... (1038 comments)

Personally I don't know why we mess around with all these expensive drugs and such. Shooting condemned prisoners has worked quite well for centuries. Sure, ammo is more expensive than it used to be, but it's not *that* expensive. And if you mount said criminal to a fixed mount, and have a fixed weapon trained on his head, that's pretty damned fast and reliable. I used to hunt quite a bit in my youth, and from a good clean shot to the head, there's not a lot going on a few seconds later.

Then again, if we did it my way, we'd bring back the public hanging. The other side of the "purpose of criminal justice" is to act as a deterrant to others. Modern execution is too clean and too far removed from the average human being to act as a deterrant. But if you string 'em up in the town square, that makes an impression.

1 year,13 days


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