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The Great IT Hiring He-Said / She-Said

RubberDogBone Impossible mission (574 comments)

The company where I work created a new position to gather and present internal statistics for use in forecasting and project management and other things. This newly created job required a degree in something, several years of experience in statistics, and several years of experience in the custom-built statistics engine and toolset we had just created within our company. The product literally didn't exist a month prior to this job being created and it wasn't based on any off the shelf solution.

Also, it was going to pay a pretty low starting salary (we never pay new hires anything worth mentioning; if you can't actually speak any language and may or may not be legal, we love you but we won't pay you jack) and require relocating (not paid relocation mind you), in my case.

My bosses boss put very strong pressure on me to apply for this job. They wanted to hire internally, you know. Not bring in a newbie. I refused on the grounds that the job requirements meant I didn't qualify -and in fact it was not possible for any living being short of a time lord to have had ANY experience with this toolset much less the years experience stipulated. The sort of network access needed to gather the raw numbers needed was also clearly impossible to get and nobody would lift a finger to help with something like this. I could see the fail written all over it, so I refused.

The eventually hired an intern or something. They quit after a week.

about three weeks ago
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"Police Detector" Monitors Emergency Radio Transmissions

RubberDogBone TETRA is now being used in the US, too (215 comments)

TETRA systems are now active in the USA: the FCC approved them under Part 90 two years ago, following trials in NJ and NY, among other places. http://urgentcomm.com/tetra/fc...

It is just going to be another digital option besides MOTOTRBO, P25, DMR, NEXEDGE etc. TETRA gear is cheap and proven so it should sell well, eventually. Pity a lot of it looks like old Nokia 5900 phones though.

Anyway, I question the value of such a detector device. Digital and analog two-way radio is used for so many things that have nothing to do with law enforcement, and/or law enforcement is using them for things other than coming after you, all in relatively close range. The thing is going to be going off constantly for no real reason.

For example, about 10 different law agencies cover my particular area and there's three different police stations within a few miles of me, not to mention fire, transit, and half a dozen other very active users. And that doesn't even include the private radio leasing companies which have their own trunk systems running EDACS. And then there are the stores using handhelds, hams, and who knows what else. Everybody is using two-way.

Basically merely knowing somebody is around using a two-way radio means nothing.

about a month ago
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Rite Aid and CVS Block Apple Pay and Google Wallet

RubberDogBone No incentive = why would they want it anyway? (558 comments)

Why would CVS or RiteAid want Apple Pay anyway? If a shopper has bothered to come to the store, select items to buy and then go checkout, chances are they want the items relatively more than someone who hasn't gone to that effort. The stores of course support several different existing methods of payment which work just fine from their perspective. The customer is likely to pay anyway.

Perfect? No. There are middlemen involved in the transaction but it's a system everyone more or less tolerates. Extremely complicated financial deals are behind every card terminal you see in a store. None of that stuff just happens. It's all very carefully planned.

Along comes Apple which puts themselves into play as yet another layer of middlemen, one which the stores have zero control over and one which is outside their established payment process. It also runs counter to their own payment initiative which they have agreed to support exclusively. So what Apple tried to do was an end-run around the established players AND they did it using the existing installed card terminals. NOBODY piggybacks like Apple tried to do without having some major skin in the game. You try stunts like that, you are going to get your hand burned.

So, Apple is at once both another layer of middlemen interference and also potentially a contract issue for the other payment product. Apple was too late to the game. And from the store's perspective again, you have a cart full of stuff, you aren't going to just walk away, you'll probably pay with another method so they have nothing to lose really buy rejecting Apple Pay. Same for GooglePay which I never saw in the wild. Whatever.

Apple has a habit of intruding on entrenched turf and taking on the existing players. They did it with phones. But payment systems are a much more spread out target where everyone has their own idea of what they want and most of them think it works just fine as is, including the customers. Nobody who mattered much was asking for NFC payments. Apple has been pushing this, suddenly, so it's up to Apple to tell everyone why they should want it. It's totally on them. Until they do that, until they make some inroads at the card terminal issuers, Apple Pay is going to be limited.

about a month ago
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FTDI Reportedly Bricking Devices Using Competitors' Chips.

RubberDogBone How can an end-user even tell? (700 comments)

My only exposure to FTDI comes from using USB or serial cables to program various kinds of two-way radios. In many cases, an FTDI chip is involved somewhere in the cable that we use to do this programming.

But even in cables sourced directly from the radio manufacturer, there is no way for us to tell whether the chip is legit or not. And if we have to obtain a cable from eBay or some other supplier, all bets are off. But it's not like we can go to a certified place to get a cable. There aren't any such places. But again, even cables direct from the factory may or may not be legit. We don't control that.

All we do know is that we're supposed to use FTDI drivers to run it.

The real answer here is to come up with an open-source or free driver that can support these chips and remove the support needs from FTDI.

about a month ago
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Deutsche Telecom Upgrades T-Mobile 2G Encryption In US

RubberDogBone Re:Good luck, as carriers stop using 2G (27 comments)

My Garmin also uses FM for real time traffic, however FM traffic is being phased out in favor of data over the "HD" radio signal, which is a different kind of thing. You'll need a new GPS to take advantage of it, and at some point the older FM signal you get now will cease to exist.

Honestly though, I use my phone GPS (Waze) exclusively now. It has all the real time traffic and updated maps and other benefits. My Garmin sits in a drawer and never gets used.

about a month ago
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Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres

RubberDogBone Re:Telomeres, tiny 'hairs' that split DNA for dupi (422 comments)

As someone who has invested a fair amount of effort and money into making a machine to make his own carbonated water, because I LOVE it and drink a lot of it, I can firmly tell you any excess CO2 you might consume in beverages leaves the body one of two ways: you burp it or fart it.

The kidneys are not involved in handling food CO2 because the process of digestion will free the gas and it will then vent directly in which ever way is easiest. Even if the gas stays in solution deep into the gun, it will not be absorbed by the body in gas form so it won't enter the blood.

Further evidence of this is from normal food digestion. The microbes in the intestines are always making CO2 and other gasses as they do their thing and likewise those gas products are vented directly as gas rather than being absorbed into the intestine membranes and then into the blood. Otherwise you would not fart. And everybody does.

Now, any CO2 that IS in the blood from normal biological processes (exercise, burning calories, etc) is cleaned out by the lungs, not the kidneys. Whatever you don't burp or fart is just whisked away when you breathe. You won't notice it.

So the bottom line is that consuming CO2 in food is fine. Harmless.

about a month ago
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Statisticians Uncover What Makes For a Stable Marriage

RubberDogBone Re:outsource your wedding (447 comments)

I dated a Filipina for a while and was eventually blessed with a lot of lumpia.

Regret very much that relationship didn't work out. She was cool, her parents and siblings were cool. It was nice being a part of their family. Or would have been anyway. I can eat a lot of lumpia.

about a month and a half ago
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Kmart Says Its Payment System Was Hacked

RubberDogBone How do you hack a crank calculator (101 comments)

KMart is well known for having barely any IT infrastructure, and what they DO have doesn't work well. They are literally one step removed from only hand-crack adding machines.

How DO you hack that?

Yes this is a serious question. One of the key differences between Walmart and KMart was how each company approached IT back in the 80s when this stuff became affordable and powerful. Walmart embraced data and wrapped their whole process around it and still uses it quasi-magical ways to glean trends, predict sales, do reorders, and find efficiencies. They extract value from data just like they squeeze their suppliers.

KMart, on the other hand, looked at computers and laughed and went on laughing for years, not noticing as Walmart out flanked them and eventually drove them into the ground head first. KMart is barely alive now, because they spent decades not having any idea what was even in the stores or what was selling. They didn't know, didn't care, had no way to handle the data even if they had it, and generally treated IT like nothing more than office internet connections to surf Yahoo.

Baseline Magazine, I believe it was, did a stellar piece on Walmart vs. Kmart and how each handled IT as of about 10 years ago. KMart is not painted on a good light. It's actually amazing an organization as incompetent as KMart is even still in business. .They have never gotten it and still don't.

Walmart had them beat years before it happened, because Walmart knew all the data. They won the war in the server room. KMart never had a chance and didn't even fight back.

about a month and a half ago
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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

RubberDogBone Keytronic clone (304 comments)

My office spent a fair amount on a Keytronic clone of the Model M. It looked more or less identical and fell like you could kill someone will it, but the durability was actually a disaster. None of them lasted more than a few years.

We got new PCs with the cheap-in-the-box HP keyboards and those have held up for 8 years so far, hardly any problems. New Dell PCs replaced those but we kept the HP keyboards. Kinda weird but it worked. All the Keytronics went in the trash.

The moral here is that it may LOOK like a Model M, it may even sort of feel like you can kill someone with it. But it's got to be the real thing or nothing,

about a month and a half ago
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The Era of Saturday Morning Cartoons Is Dead

RubberDogBone The causes of death were several (320 comments)

The causes behind all these are several. In the 80s, there was a big push for so-called program length commercials, glorified toy ads. A lot of US fondly remember these shows decades later so it can be argued about the value if the shows being far beyond ads for toys.

The pressure to crack down on these programs -and corresponding flops in the fickle toy markets- caused fewer cartoons to be made, fewer for networks to air and also fewer for independent stations to run in the mornings and afternoon. This used to be a mainstay with multiple channels in some cities throwing out the best shows they could get to compete with each other. My town had three stations which fought for every show and bought anything they could find.

At the same time, the Fox network began picking up these independent stations to form their network, meaning the syndicated cartoons that did exist now had many fewer outlets to air, which caused even less of them to get made in the first place. My town had a series of musical chairs that resulted in the two biggest cartoon-airing stations dropping all their programs, cold. The third stations couldn't afford to buy them so basically they went away entirely locally.

And also around the same time, Cartoon Network launched and began picking up viewers that way. Nickelodeon responded and Disney with DXD, but no matter where they watched, in large part once kids went over to watching cartoons on cable, they never went back to broadcast stations looking for cartoons. And then after a few years, they forget they ever existed anyway.

about a month and a half ago
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Could Maroney Be Prosecuted For Her Own Hacked Pictures?

RubberDogBone Re:Rick Falkvinge on the subject... (274 comments)

THIS. The idea that a girl making peace signs in her bra then has to write an ESSAY basically about what's wrong with being a girl. WTF is that supposed to tell her about being female, which is already not an easy thing for a lot of girls and women?

You, because you are female and wear a bra, are teh suck for your entire life and are unfit to even take selfies. WOW. Way to clobber self esteem.

I always wanted to have a daughter but I wouldn't want one to have to deal with society like this.

about 2 months ago
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Senators Threaten To Rescind NFL Antitrust Exemption

RubberDogBone Easy fix: lots of football tickets (242 comments)

All this huffing and puffing from Congress Critters can be solved by dumping some football tickets into constituent service offices, you know, to invite the staff to come see all the value a football team contributes to the community and see what NFL is all about.

Free of course, no strings attached. Just have some tickets.

And forget you were upset about blackouts and antitrust, okay? Okay!

about 2 months ago
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Will Apple Lose Siri's Core Tech To Samsung?

RubberDogBone Samsung has worked with Nuance forever (161 comments)

An ancient Samsung flip-phone I had, gosh, 10 years ago maybe, had a sort of rudimentary voice command operation powered by Nuance. Between that and other similar things Samsung has done, they were working with Nuance long before SRI and Siri came along.

Rather than being something to damage Apple, I would say the current idea of buying them probably has more to do with "OK Google" now being mandated on devices, which in turn cuts Samsung and Nuance out of the game. I am not sure what buying Nuance is supposed to do but it has to be a defense of some sort.

about 2 months ago
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eBay To Spin Off PayPal

RubberDogBone Re:Since when do eBay and Paypal compete? (76 comments)

They compete in the sense that eBay + PayPal is a competitor to something like Amazon which means Amazon won't let people pay via PayPal.

Split off, with PayPal on its own again, then only eBay will compete with Amazon directly, although PayPal will still compete with Amazon payments, there is a better chance Amazon will accept it, since they want to let people spend money.

And on the other side, there is no real advantage to eBay in keeping PayPal linked. It will still be a payment option just as it is now.

about 2 months ago
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eBay To Spin Off PayPal

RubberDogBone Fantastic! Bring on Paypal payments on Amazon (76 comments)

The holy grail for me would be the ability to make payments on Amazon using PayPal, something not currently possible since they are rival companies with eBay in the mix.

But once it gets spun out or sold, perhaps, maybe, Amazon will begin accepting it. And I would love that.

about 2 months ago
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The Physics of Space Battles

RubberDogBone Space Wars will be one-hit conflicts (470 comments)

Unlike most fictional versions of space war, the real thing will likely be a one-hit, one-fight battle, simply because spaceships are typically sensitive machines that don't tolerate damage too well. Even an armored space battleship would still have weaknesses, namely in whatever it uses for sensing and aiming.

In a battle scenario where missiles or even lasers were used, these sensors and other equipment would likely take on significant damage and immediately be rendered inert. The attacked ships might be so deaf or blind they might be unable to fight back even if they wanted to. Repair facilities would be weeks or months or years away, and spare parts probably not an option given how long it takes the ISS crew to plan, train, practice, and actually execute even simple repairs.

It would not take a formal battle to accomplish this either, merely a first salvo surprise attack of some time, perhaps a surprise only in that the target didn't see it coming until it was too late rather then a significant sneaking operation. The attacker would be able to do this at a huge distance and maintain their own safe condition at the same time, so it would present little risk to them to try it. Which means they would be that much more likely to give it a go.

So in summary, it will be easy to damage enemy ships at the start of a fight, there will be little consequence to doing so, and there will be no way for the losing side to repair and resume the fight. Thinking as a military commander, it would be much better to keep forces on the planet where trading bullets or bombs results in significant tactical opportunity to change the battle. No commander would like a battle where one salvo ends it. There is no fun in that. There is no tactics in that.

Who wins comes down not to planning or anything valued by traditional military colleges but instead because a factor only of who fires first and perhaps has the best results hitting a target.

about 2 months ago
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Indian Mars Mission Beams Back First Photographs

RubberDogBone Re:This is good: we didn't send a camera on ours (113 comments)

You are correct, we know what it looks like, and I said as much too, but new photos of Mars look good on the news and remind us things like this are worth funding.

To be sure, NASA did some nice animations to fill the gap.

about 2 months ago
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Solar System's Water Is Older Than the Sun

RubberDogBone Re:Bet most water is older than the sun (173 comments)

Well of course. It takes Supernovae to make things like Oxygen and gold and to disperse Iron and other elements, so ALL this stuff had to exist or be made long before it coalesced into the Solar nebula and eventually formed planets and a star.

The iron in your blood was made inside an exploding star a very long time ago. Look at your hand and think about that: what you take for granted has already been through some of the most violent explosions in the known universe. But today, you mostly use it for .... well... we know.

about 2 months ago
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Indian Mars Mission Beams Back First Photographs

RubberDogBone This is good: we didn't send a camera on ours (113 comments)

This is good stuff, as the NASA mission that just arrived at Mars lacked any sort of camera instruments. Nothing but a UV detector. Wow. So we won't get any Mars photos back from this one. I suppose we sort of know what Mars looks like but still... India sent back pictures. Not bad, India. Congrats! Welcome to Mars!

about 2 months ago
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FAA Clears Movie and TV Drones For Takeoff

RubberDogBone Re:Application (50 comments)

There will be no other drone permits in the area so no interaction with other company's drones.

I am not sure I read anything that prevents a leasure user from flying his or her drones into the airspace being used by a movie or TV production. In fact, somebody playing around with a drone they got off eBay or Amazon has less regulation to worry about and/or probably doesn't know what the rules are anyway. And what better place to play with it than the set of Batman 8 or Transformers 891?

Productions are going to probably notice rogue private drones but even if they don't LIKE it, I am not sure they have any standing to do anything about it any more than if somebody was in an office or apartment overlooking a movie set below.

about 2 months ago

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