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Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Data Warehouse Server System?

ZahrGnosis A complete response would take too much space... (147 comments)

This is a wildly nontrivial question. Volumes are written about building data warehouses, and there's a lot to consider. In a large complicated environment, you could spend weeks doing comparisons (some people spend years, but that seems extreme); and some of the decisions are worth weighing.

The first question is what capability are you looking for -- why are you sure one of these vendors is correct, and have you truly explored your options? If you want a place to capture and gather lots of near-real-time sensor data, then Hadoop might be good, if you want a more traditional Kimball or Inmon style warehouse for a small or mid size amount of data, then Microsoft, Oracle, Teradata, IBM, MySQL, and others have decades of experience that is, in fact, useful. But that's just a single-source vendor, and your question is focused on database vendors. Asking what "capability" you need includes ETL, Reporting, Meta Data, Master Data, Data Quality, User Interaction, Training, Methodology... if you're going to in-house all of that, or spread those things to multiple vendors then your answers will be different.

All of those lead to follow-on questions. Where does cost play a role? Watch your up front costs vs long-term TCO. Do you have a development team with any expertise that may make it easier to in-house decisions and developments for one platform over another? Is your corporate buy-in strong so you can weather people second-guessing your decision? There are technical issues, personnel issues, cost issues...

The first ANSWER is really that any vendor will work, and every vendor will have different headaches. Older vendors have very specific ways of doing things, but that can make developers less expensive and more uniformly capable (although you'll always find extremes). Asking several Oracle DBAs to question each other and report back on each other's competencies is rather easy. With newer capabilities like Amazon, Google, and other cloud-big-data vendors, the landscape is newer, people are using different approaches (each of which may be valid), and it's not clear which are going to survive long enough to have the richest eco systems. But again, these systems came into being for a reason -- Hadoop and NoSQL databases can perform better and more cheaply than older databases in raw throughput, or unstructured data, or other areas but they sacrifice different things -- ACID compliance, strong typing or data models, or what have you.

Some of it just depends on taste. Some people avoid a single provider "lock-in" and pick and choose different ETL tools (see Informatica), Reporting Tools (Cognos, Microstrategy, Tableau, Jasper, Pentaho), and other tools (Talend DQ/MDM comes to mind... there are many), while some people prefer single vendors due to massive integration (particularly Microsoft if you're a Windows farm). If you're Gmail based, then Google's apps have good integration; if you have an Oracle ERP then several tools speak nice to it.

I'm generalizing a lot of examples that don't always apply, to keep things shortish, but the bottom line is that every option has strengths and weaknesses. I wish it were easier.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Handling Patented IP In a Job Interview?

ZahrGnosis Re:Inventor here... (224 comments)

Nice to have a first-hand opinion. Thanks Yaz. Someone else mentioned the corporate holding aspect, but then pointed out that they'd see it as deceitful if they found out a job applicant was sole owner of a company that held their IP, although the licensing benefits of that approach seem to make it worthwhile.

Would I be right in assuming that the patents on your resume make you feel MORE marketable, rather than less? Some people have mentioned that it could lead employers to fear conflicts of interest and that is an aspect I hadn't considered.

Thanks, Yaz.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Handling Patented IP In a Job Interview?

ZahrGnosis Re:Solving Tough Problems ... (224 comments)

Awesome. I have to enumerate my choices now... I think a d-4 or d-6 can handle it... great advice! :-)

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Handling Patented IP In a Job Interview?

ZahrGnosis Re:Not on my watch (224 comments)

Hell, if I found out you owned the holding company with the patent, I'd probably not hire you for the same reason.

Precisely one of my concerns and similar to the sentiment others have issued merely for having an industry patent, much less a holding company. I'm not trying to be dishonest, and frankly I wouldn't have minded if more people recommended granting a limited non-exclusive license to an employer; really I was hoping that a few inventions would look good on a resume. I'm rather taken aback by the number of people that actually perceive it as a negative. Thanks for the feedback; I don't want a holding company be a negative any more than some IP. More to consider, thank you.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Handling Patented IP In a Job Interview?

ZahrGnosis Re:Be careful of the Employment Agreement... (224 comments)

"in recognition of the compensation being offered and accepted by Employee, Employee hereby assigns to Employer any and all intellectual property rights which Employee currently possesses, or may come into Employee's possession during the term of employment by Employer."

That's brutal. I will absolutely look for that; thank you for that perspective and your input.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Handling Patented IP In a Job Interview?

ZahrGnosis Re:Are you patenting software? (224 comments)

Yes, IP is meant to be wider... In point of fact, I used IP, even knowing that people like Stallman disagree with the term, because I didn't want the question to be bogged down by patent rhetoric. Obviously I failed. While my primary situation is patent related, I hoped the question would apply to any pre-existing IP that is somehow encumbered... one example -- I have a large photo portfolio; if I go to work for someone, and they're aware of my existing body of work, and they want to use a piece I have for a project, is this something I should have already addressed at the job interview?

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Handling Patented IP In a Job Interview?

ZahrGnosis Re:Are you patenting software? (224 comments)

I think we're in agreement on how the world _should_ be, but maybe we don't agree on how to operate in the world the way it is. I definitely considered the patents software oriented, so if I came across as playing coy there, that was shadowing a much deeper discussion that I didn't want to get into. I think there are shades of grey even there... I'm very happy with the recent court opinions striking down software implementations of things that were derived from non-software ideas. Doing something on a computer that used to be done without one should not be patent-able at ALL. For other, truly "novel" inventions (and I realize there's always contention there), I tend to follow the EFF's guidance. Their current recommendations -- their 7 steps -- don't get rid of software patents entirely. They limit their duration, which I'd surely agree with, and require more specificity, which again i agree with.

But you're accusing me of being "antisocial" (I'd think bringing this up on Slashdot is the opposite of anti-social; that's certainly my intent), and "wrong", while I honestly do struggle with the issue, as I think many people do. The EFF and FSF don't seem to fully agree on how a software inventor should handle this. I hold both groups in high regard, but there is certainly not unanimous consent in the slashdot crowd). I'm familiar with the register allocation history (maybe not as much as some). I had closer contact with the photo-mosaic patents that were at issue some years ago, and I always find the codec IP issues (MP3, H.264, GIF, etc.) fascinating and troublesome. In fact, I worried over the use of "IP" in the original post, due to Stallman's position on the phrase (and in retrospect probably used the term too much).

I intend to focus on these issues, and I certainly don't want to be accused down the road of being similar to any of the debacles you cited. I'll let my actions speak for themselves as time unfolds. I'm optimistic that there's a "right" way to behave, within the current system, that is ethical while still affording the protections that patents are idealistically designed for (even if reality is not ideal). Maybe we disagree on those details. In any case my reason for posting this question to slashdot was different and, importantly, time sensitive, so I'm going to stop veering off topic (I felt your post was nice enough to deserve a response).

I do appreciate the even-handed and non-trolling response, and the advice on estate planning; I have a nice flowchart in my will; I'll make sure to add the legal assets to it, and yes, donating them to someone like the EFF is the path I'd like to take -- hopefully it won't matter by then. Thanks!

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Handling Patented IP In a Job Interview?

ZahrGnosis Re:lawyer up (224 comments)

Dizzying, but thanks (and thanks to parent post). Undoubtedly the lawyers are helpful and yes, I'm talking to legal counsel. I do still see some useful non-legal advice here, however. I'm interested in how many people say they would not hire someone with patents because they worried they had a hidden agenda or were more motivated to leave the company, and it's also relieving to see the number of people who recommend complete up-front disclosure.

Thanks!

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Handling Patented IP In a Job Interview?

ZahrGnosis Re:Are you patenting software? (224 comments)

No, I didn't patent those ideas, the links were examples; but I completely agree that the patent system is failing, and I pointed that out. The question is how to deal with it. I think it's a valid approach to continue to patent ideas until the issue is fixed because the mixed-bag approach is very difficult.

The EFF agrees at least that the situation is not black and white... from their site: "While [abandoning patents is] compelling, there are risks to this strong approach. Every piece of software released to the world without legal protections may leave open a door for someone else to attempt to patent the same technology (and may leave its creators more open to legal threats without a patent to wield defensively)." (https://www.eff.org/patent).

I am genuinely not trying to get rich (well, not through patent evil or trolling), or to be exploitative, and while I don't want to contribute to the problem, I don't want to be a victim of it. Anyway, I appreciate the comments, but again I was trying to shy the focus away from software patents... much ink has already been spilled on that topic. Assuming the patents were one that met your complete approval, would you feel differently?

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Handling Patented IP In a Job Interview?

ZahrGnosis Re:What "de-facto license"? (224 comments)

The situation that worries me is that, while working for them, they'll ask me to solve the problem that the patent solves, which seems likely since I keep working in the same industry. I mean, say you invent something that makes cars a tiny fraction more fuel efficient; enough that it's useful but not so much that you can quit your job to market it. Then, you start working for a company who asks you to make their cars more fuel efficient. The patented ideas are relevant to my job; it's a small but useful aspect of what I do, and it would be reasonable to encounter the same problem that I've already solved.

Most of the time that's what an employer looks for -- someone with experience solving the sorts of problems you'll encounter working for them. Right? So when they ask you to make their cars more fuel efficient, what do you say then? That conversation changes a lot based on whether you talked about the patent when you were hired. But that's how I expect the two will intersect... the IP is related to my industry and it will likely be related to the job. Employers have an assumption (thus the de-facto) that something you know how to do is something you can do for your job. Violating copyright or someone ELSE's patent is clearly not covered... but using your own IP seems more grey to me.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Handling Patented IP In a Job Interview?

ZahrGnosis Re:Are you patenting software? (224 comments)

I almost put a note in the original question about that, but I decided not to, in an effort to keep the talk on topic. So let me point out my stance. First, I'm against software patents and frankly I think the whole patent situation needs reform far beyond software patents. At the same time, if something is patentable, I'm not sure anyone should avoid patenting the idea simply because you disagree with the system. I'd rather patent them and donate the patents to the EFF and GPL an implementation. On the other hand, I want to avoid a situation where for-profit companies co-opt the idea and charge people for it. Maybe I'm not altruistic enough; I'm conflicted on it, honestly. I haven't quite gotten there yet, though, so in order to not turn this into a flame war I skipped the topic. Anyway, here we are, and I'm trying to respond thoughtfully rather than just, as you say, fuck off.

To answer you point, though, some of my ideas are similar to these patents... decide for yourself if these are deeply "software patents": https://www.google.com/patents/US6263334, https://www.google.com/patents/US20030187867, and https://www.google.com/patents/US7185023, and I'd love to get feedback on how to deal with that aspect of the issue.

about 2 months ago
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Pentagon Reportedly Hushed Up Chemical Weapons Finds In Iraq

ZahrGnosis No, Bush was still wrong (376 comments)

This comes up about once a year. Iraq had chemical weapons and everyone knew about it BUT this was during the Iran/Iraq war. They were largely destroyed before the second gulf war. What we're cleaning up NOW is still remnants from way back then. What Bush said was that we had to go to war due to imminent threat of actual weapons being used. That was not the case at the time -- when Bush was justifying invasion -- nor is it the case now. We're finding debris and remnants that are hazardous, sure, but no longer weaponized. And they have not been weaponized since well before Bush referenced them as "weapons".

Here's a recent reference:
http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/conservatives-continue-get-iraqi-wmd-story-wrong

And here's one from a nearly identical situation in 2011:
http://www.wired.com/2011/11/iraq-wmd-seal-target-geronimo/

And here's a fantastic timeline that CNN put together back in 2010:
http://cns.miis.edu/stories/100304_iraq_cw_legacy.htm

about 2 months ago
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Snowden's Leaks Didn't Help Terrorists

ZahrGnosis Re:The real study (183 comments)

Thank you! Snowden's information release impacted far more than the use of a few specific cryptography tools. It pointed out a vast information gathering system that people can now take pains to avoid. I sincerely doubt we can measure that avoidance, but even this attempt is a ridiculously small proxy to the overall question of whether the leak "helped" terrorists.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: "Real" Computer Scientists vs. Modern Curriculum?

ZahrGnosis But let me elaborate (637 comments)

I agree with the parent (@HornWumpus -- good name), but I'd like to elaborate.

First, I agree that "There have always been a subset of CS students that didn't get anywhere close to the metal. They suck.", and I agree that "C isn't good enough." No language is good enough by itself. If you haven't played with Functional, Procedural, Object-Oriented, and hardware-level (Assembler) languages by the time you've graduated, you've missed something.

You can figure it out no matter what they teach you, you just have to be inquisitive and ask good questions. You should take compiler, operating systems, and a numeric computing class which will each teach you about overflow and precision and memory allocation, in different ways, regardless of programming language used. You should have a basic understanding of how to do everything from scratch, with bare hardware, short of soldering the chip to a board (unless that's your thing, then go learn that too).

But then you should also learn that many "higher" languages make this easier... they have garbage collection built-in and you should learn why and when that's a good thing and why and when it's a bad thing. Java is good for some things, bad for others. If you go through a CS degree and all that you come out with is knowing one language, get your money back. Ask "why" early and often.

You should learn concepts and hands-on. You should learn the ideas so that, when a new language comes up next year, you can understand the literature about the pros and cons. But you should also be able to sit down with a couple of languages and pound out some simple algorithms and I/O with no references.

I liked my CS degree, but there were things missing. I had to learn network programming (TCP/IP, etc.) on my own. We didn't do embedded systems, so I didn't have much experience with small hardware and the nuances that come with them. But the advice I'd give is to avoid too many classes that are "just" programming, and focus on the fundamentals. Use as many languages as possible. Take Artificial Intelligence, Compiler design, Operating systems, data structures, numerical computing. Take a comparative languages class if one is offered. Take a database class. And take these all realizing that they're teaching you exactly the same thing -- how to solve problems using computers.

It's all ones and zeroes in the end. Once you've mastered pushing them around for one thing, you should be able to push them around for another, it just takes practice. Practice as many things as possible.

about 4 months ago
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Is Time Moving Forward Or Backward? Computers Learn To Spot the Difference

ZahrGnosis Re:Easy (78 comments)

Actually, if you guessed that a randomly selected set of youtube videos were being played, you know... FORWARD, you'd probably be correct more than 80% of the time without having to actually think at all. I assume their 80% result was based on something more difficult, but it's still kind of a silly sounding number without context.

about 6 months ago
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The Simultaneous Rise and Decline of Battlefield

ZahrGnosis Re:Haha, nobody will do this. (208 comments)

I did it. I loved BF3, but I didn't pick up 4 and I won't be picking up Hardline because of EA. In addition to everything the original article mentions, most of which I agree with, one thing not mentioned in the original article is the pay-to-have-everything (which is not "Pay-to-win" only in a very strict sense, but that doesn't make it right).

I don't mind these companies making money, but they do it at the expense of loyal customers, rather than in support of them... I don't think it's a good long-term practice, but that's just me. But it's definitely not nobody.

about 6 months ago
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Robert McMillen: What Everyone Gets Wrong In the Debate Over Net Neutrality

ZahrGnosis Re:Everybody is wrong... (270 comments)

If I'm paying my ISP for a specific amount of bandwidth, then that's the bandwidth I should get -- if I get less bandwidth than I paid for going to any site, due to my ISP, then I'm not getting what I paid for from them, period. There is price difference -- cheap low bandwidth, expensive high bandwidth, and some variety in between (and probably price/speed inversion in some markets where low bandwidth is expensive, but whatever). The problem is when I pay top dollar for Filet Mignon, but I get flank steak. If the restaurant doesn't give me what I paid for then I have been defrauded. I don't care WHY they were out of filet... if they were trying to negotiate price with the cattle company, or get a kick back from them, that's not my problem... they advertised the Filet and they charged me for the Filet.

The price I pay to my ISP should support the delivery mechanism to give me the bandwidth I paid for, however I want to use it; that's why it's advertised and priced in terms of bandwidth. If they charged me per website it may be different (although I'd object for other reasons), but they don't. If they can't handle the bandwidth then they're not giving me what I paid for. Free markets don't let people charge for one thing and deliver another.

about 6 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Bequeath Sensitive Information?

ZahrGnosis Re:Paper, lock, and key (208 comments)

That's the deposit box. The lock-box under your bed is going to be tough even for the feds.

about 6 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Bequeath Sensitive Information?

ZahrGnosis Paper, lock, and key (208 comments)

Write down everything in paper, then lock it away in a fireproof box or a safety deposit box (or both).

I'm a fan of the phrase "we know how to secure a piece of paper". Not the sticky note taped to your desk that anyone can read and put back without your knowledge, but something really secure. You will know if your lock box has been stolen or broken in to; I would have no idea if someone broke into my e-mail or stole a file off of my computer or backup due to some weird exploit. If you want off-site safety, a deposit box is about as good as it gets with some assurance that no-one will go peeking. Let your close relatives and friends know where everything is so that when it is needed they can get to it, but they don't need access in the mean time if you have things you don't want them to know (or, you can give a copy of the key to someone if you want to... you have options, but you're still relatively safe in who accesses what).

about 6 months ago
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4K Displays Ready For Prime Time

ZahrGnosis Re:Please quit conflating TV's and monitors. (207 comments)

I don't see how 3D gets permanent "gimmick" status while 4k doesn't... there are times when seeing things in 3D give you a completely different perspective, feel, immersion, and experience than something not in 3D. There are times when higher resolution does the same. And there are times when both actually seem to make things worse. Curved TVs as well... I run three monitors on my desktop and I'd be ecstatic if I could get the same resolution in a single curved display. If it weren't curved, though, then I'd have to sit farther away to see the edges properly and that distance is beyond the "retina" distance for my monitor's resolution, so I'm kind of wasting pixels.

Much of the math is different between TVs and monitors and, yes, much of what is gimmicky in one situation is definitely not in another.

about 7 months ago

Submissions

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Ask Slashdot: Handling Patented IP in a Job Interview?

ZahrGnosis ZahrGnosis writes  |  about 2 months ago

ZahrGnosis (66741) writes "I'm in the midst of a rather lengthy job interview; something I haven't done for some time as I've worked as a contract employee with a much lower barrier to entry for years. Recently, I've started patenting some inventions that are applicable to my industry. One hope is that the patents look good to the prospective employer on a resume, but I don't want them to take the existing IP for granted as part of the deal. I'm worried I have the wrong attitude, however. My question is, how should I treat licensing of the patent as a topic with respect to the topic of my employment? Should I build the use of my patented ideas into my salary? Should I explicitly refuse to implement my patented IP for the company without a separate licensing fee? If I emphasize the patent during the interviews without the intent to give them the IP for free,is that an ethical lapse — a personal false advertising? At the same time, when I work for a company I feel they should get the benefit of my full expertise... am I holding back something I shouldn't by not granting a de-facto license while I work for them? I perceive a fine balance between being confrontational and helpful, while not wanting to jeopardize the job prospect nor restrict my ability to capitalize on my invention. Thoughts?"
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Conflicting Views on the Science of Pain

ZahrGnosis ZahrGnosis writes  |  about a year ago

ZahrGnosis (66741) writes "Popular Science, a stalwart of the scientific literature community, posted a couple of articles about pain research recently that are causing a bit of controversy. First, they posted an article titled Fetal Pain Is A Lie: How Phony Science Took Over The Abortion Debate that argues fetuses don't feel pain at 20 weeks due to a scientific consensus that the nervous system is underdeveloped at that point. Ironically, this argument has been used for years in a different setting: to claim that crustaceans don't feel pain (justifying among other things the live boiling of lobster). But PopSci also posted an article titled Crabs And Lobsters Probably Do Feel Pain, According To New Experiments. And now there's mild internet flaming going on. I know Slashdot doesn't venture into the abortion arena much, and I'm not trying to wade into political territory so much as understand the competing scientific commentaries (in so much as fetuses and lobster can be compared). But mostly I'm just curious what the Slashdot crowd thought."
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Giving away personal info byte by byte for "security"?

ZahrGnosis ZahrGnosis writes  |  about 2 years ago

ZahrGnosis writes "Through work, and bad planning, I've been subscribed to a lot of trade magazines. I don't generally hate them, most come electronically now, and some are actually useful. What I despise is the annual calls to renew my "free" subscription and update my info. Ok, giving away my work e-mail, title, and line of business info isn't that bad, it's practically good marketing. But at the end of each call the phone people say "in order to verify that we talked to you, can you tell us" followed by something tiny and seemingly innocuous. The last digit of the month you were born in, or the first letter of the city you were born in. Today it was the country you were born in. I've started lying, of course, because noone needs to aggregate that sort of personal information byte-by-byte, but now I'm convinced that's what they're doing. Does anyone have any details on this? Can someone confirm or deny that these seemingly innocuous "security" questions are being aggregated. Yes, I tried some google searches, but my fu seems weak in this area... or noone is talking about it yet. Bueller?"
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The Downfall of Book Burning

ZahrGnosis ZahrGnosis writes  |  about 3 years ago

ZahrGnosis writes "In 1953, Ray Bradbury's book "Fahrenheit 451" described "a dystopian future in which the US has outlawed reading and firemen burn books". Book burning has long been a symbol of censorship or protest, and Bradbury's book was a great Science Fiction introduction to the topic for many readers alive today.

How should we feel, then that Fahrenheit 451 is becoming an e-book despite its author's feelings? Am I the only one that finds it ironic that a seminal book about book burning soon can't be burnt? In many ways, electronic media has put a serious dent in censorship so perhaps this is a fitting conclusion — even the author may not have the ability to ebb the flow of information in the digital age: the opposite problem of censorship. As a book lover and a technophile (who has yet to make the e-book transition), I find this story oddly interesting and wondered what the Slashdot crowd would think."

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