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How the FCC CIO Plans To Modernize 207 Legacy IT Systems

clodney Re:Longtime employees? (74 comments)

No government agency should have longtime employees. It's supposed to be a service, not a career.. It's these oldtimers that are making all the problems we endure. The bureaucrats are the "secret government".. We must purge them completely every few years.

So right about the time people start getting good at their jobs we should fire them all? If your goal is to ensure that the old stereotype of government being incompetent at everything gets reinforced, then that is a great idea. If you value things like, you know, competence, this sounds like a horrible waste of my tax dollars. And in many cases I trust the bureaucrat to do a better job than the politician who has honed everything to a 10 second sound bite without any real substance behind their ideas. At least the bureaucrats have skin in the game, in that they have to implement the policies.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: System Administrator Vs Change Advisory Board

clodney Re:Nonsense (294 comments)

like this will just make you look stupid and change averse to your employer.

No... it's obviously just aversity to excessive, unnecessary and crippling micromanagement. It's obviously some idiots in suits who are change averse and feel they need to justify their existence by "approving" or "disapproving" of each and every required security update or patch or system admin action.

In my experience, managers are lazy. If patches are going smoothly, with no unanticipated downtime and no obvious problems, it is unlikely that somebody will be pushing to implement a CAB, knowing it means more paperwork and more meetings. I suspect that there was some high profile downtime, or an unannounced outage that led to this.

about 8 months ago

Navy Debuts New Railgun That Launches Shells at Mach 7

clodney Re:IANA Physicist, So... (630 comments)

The projectiles are also much less affected by gravitational drop and windage - I would think proportional to the velocity - so accuracy will be better.

Um, no. Gravity cares not how fast it is going. It will still start falling towards the earth the moment it is launched. Now it is true that while traveling at mach 5 the horizontal distance it drops will be much less over a unit of distance traveled than a slower shell, but it is still falling. I would be shocked if the targeting computers did not take gravity into account - unless they are skipping the computers and just using the force.

about 8 months ago

Ugly Trends Threaten Aviation Industry

clodney Re:Not Cost! (473 comments)

All that said, I don't think the complexity or cost is the issue. I think the primary change is social. People returned from military training wanting to do some of the things they did in the service. So amateur radio grew, aviation grew, recreational shooting sports grew, sport diving grew... but if you look at the statistics today, there aren't as many who make the transition from military to civilian life. It ended when the draft ended --and those baby boomers are retiring and dying off.

Great post, and I agree that for aviation the reduction in number of military pilots is certainly a factor. But I am going to quibble about SCUBA diving - equipment has gotten vastly better and relatively cheaper over the last 30 years I have been certified, and I don't think people who were trained by the military has ever been more than a tiny fraction of the diving population. My impression is that diving is getting more popular, not less, but I admit that I don't have any statistics to back that up.

about 10 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Are AdBlock's Days Numbered?

clodney Re:NoScript (731 comments)

If you take the view that the purpose of the website is to promote the company, and the purpose of the Ad is to, err, advertise (either the company, one of their services, or an affiliate), then the Adblock arms race will probably be ultimately won by that company's competitors:

That is fine for a site that exists to sell products or a service, and indeed in many of those cases you will find no or very limited ad presence.

The problem comes about when the site exists to sell advertising, with the content on the site being the hook to get people to the site to see the ads. This is the model for most every news site, even news for nerds. Paywalls have not gone over well in the market, and everybody wants content to be free, but the reality is that these sites have to pay the bills somehow.

about a year ago

Revolutionary Scuba Mask Creates Breathable Oxygen Underwater On Its Own

clodney Re:So what happens to the hydrogen? That's usable. (375 comments)

"Anyway, the tank could have some N2 in it to start with so the problem could be mitigated."

You don't want to be breathing any N2 at depth. Ever heard of the bends.

They used to use a Helium mixture for deep dives, I am not sure what they do these days

Outside of specialized mixtures for deep dives (well beyond the usual recreational dive limit of 130 feet), divers breathe either ordinary compressed surface air (80% nitrogen), or nitrox/EAN, which is a mix with increased oxygen content. Interestingly, the increased oxygen in nitrox is not there for its own sake (i.e. with healthy lungs there is no physiological benefit to breathing an increased fraction of oxygen), but rather as a cheap way to displace some of the nitrogen, allowing longer bottom times before having to worry about decompression stops or getting the bends.

Dive organizations love to push nitrox since it is another certification and an upcharge on fills from a dive shop, but in my experience it is used by less than 10% of the divers I have seen.

about a year ago

CES: Laser Headlights Edge Closer To Real-World Highways


Springsteen is Mr. Mumbles. It's difficult to understand anything he sings.

While that particular lyric is indeed hard to understand (and for the record: "revved up like a deuce another runner in the night"), in general I don't think Springsteen is hard to understand.

But I will also note that the most popular recording of that song (at least in the states) is not Springsteen, but Manfred Mann's Earth Band

about a year ago

Unencrypted Windows Crash Reports a Blueprint For Attackers

clodney Re:Next! (103 comments)

Several times I have gotten the little popup in the tray of Win7 telling me that there is a fix for an issue that I have had. Usually it takes the form of a driver update or a hotfix.

At one point I worked for a company that used Windows Error Reporting in our app, and MS did indeed route the crash reports to us, which we did debug and generally fix.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: What Are the Books Everyone Should Read?

clodney Re:Well... (796 comments)

I read Anthem in high school, and it remains the only Ayn Rand book I have read. Even as an idealistic 15 year old my conception of Ayn Rand was of someone who would object to laws regulating what side of the street to drive on as an intolerable infringement on her liberty.

about a year ago

Tesco: 3D Printing Will Come To Supermarkets 'Within a Few Years'

clodney Re:"in a few years" (81 comments)

No one makes their own clothes, very few people have a computerized sewing machine and buy clothes plans, what makes you think that something more complex and more esoteric is going to catch on like this? Too much sci-fi?

This is an excellent point. 3D printing is a potentially transformative technology that is very much in its infancy. How many things are there that are made out of a single material, or even a small number of materials suitable for 3D printing?

Can you print chips? Capacitors? Can you make a metal latch on a plastic body? Right now I think the answer to all those things is no. 3D printing is great for modelmakers, and some specialty niches, but it is a very long way from replacing any significant manufacturing. And even when it evolves to that point I would be surprised if a capable printer would be something that it would be worthwhile to buy for your home.

about a year ago

New York's Financial Regulator Subpoenas Bitcoin Companies

clodney Re:Can Someone Explain To Me The Difference... (259 comments)

And that is the real problem goverments are having with bitcoin.

The FED doesn't have their say about it or get their cut. The IMF. Whatever the central agency of EU is..

Every country has that one group who is above the law because they control the money.

Bitcoin doesn't have that. Has no place for that. Thats why it'll end up being banned outright eventually. Unless they can figure out how to implant themselves into the bitchains and get their cut. keep control. monitor everything they want. and have their say about it's 'value'.

I really don't think it is that simple.

Admittedly the government can't control the money supply of bitcoins; it is not even clear that that is a good thing. The argument against the gold standard is that it takes monetary policy off the table. But aside from not permitting unlimited issue of bitcoins, what else would be different?

Suppose my employer paid me in bitcoins, and I was able to conduct all of my transactions in bitcoins. OK, my company contracts with ADP to do their payroll, who in turn do direct deposit to my bank. The bank holds my store of bitcoins. When my credit card statement comes, I tell the bank to transfer n.m bitcoins to the credit card company.

The point is, without a significant reworking of the entire financial industry, it doesn't matter what currency is used. ADP still knows how much I get paid (and have you noticed how ADP is cited as a source for unemployement data now, because they process so much of the payroll in the USA?). My bank knows which transactions have been made on my account, and report to the financial regulators in the same way. The credit card company knows what I am buying, just like they already do.

The only way that I see bitcoin making a difference is if the entire things is completely decentralized, taking banks, payroll companies and credit cards out of the picture. And you know what? I think of myself as a privacy geek, and all of that is too much hassle for me. What is going to be the motivation for the average person to completely dismember the financial services industry?

about a year ago

Losing the War Data For Iraq and Afghanistan

clodney Re:On the shoulders of giants (62 comments)

The problem is that much of the existing data were collected in an ad hoc manner that reflects the lack of planning for stability operations following both invasions.

With each generation the prior generation of technology often looks ad hoc or patched together. Given that these operations happened over a decade ago it's no surprise that the data was handled poorly by today's standards.

I find it hard to believe that anybody is the least surprised by this. Look around your organization. Surely there is some guy down the hall who has taken it upon himself to keep track of something that is not required but that makes his job easier or piques his interest. After awhile people start to realize that he has a list of which customer has been sent which update, something which for some reason is not tracked in the CRM, but is sometimes very useful to have. He faithfully maintains the list for several years, until he moves to a different job. Turns out his successor does not find the information as useful, so stops collecting it. 2 years later it is hopelessly out of date and it gets deleted.

There were *millions* of people involved in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. That kind of semi-official record keeping had to have happened thousands of times. Suppose I work for a battalion of engineers doing electrical grid repairs. The CO has to make a report to Brigade every month on various metrics. Some staffer compiles the info every month for a Powerpoint. After the tour ends and the CO is no longer reporting to Brigade every month, why would I continue to maintain the data? Who is going to come asking for it? So I delete it. Now repeat that for thousands of records.

about a year ago

Steve Ballmer Reorganizing Microsoft

clodney Re:DOJ, pay attention (387 comments)

Windows isn't done until Lotus won't run.

Expect to see more undocumented syscalls for Office Apps, IE, SQL Server, SMB, etc, etc.

-citation needed-
I have never yet seen any evidence that MS had more than trivial calls to undocumented APIs. Given the siloed nature of the company that is nominally being addressed by this reorganization, you would expect that the Windows group wouldn't cooperate with the Office group, and would not do anything to make life more difficult for ISVs, who after all are what drive much of the adoption of Windows.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Prove an IT Manager Is Incompetent?

clodney Re:if.. (331 comments)

you have the ability to assess and IT Manager, it means you must be able to be one yourself...

Not at all. Otherwise no professional sports team would be coached by former minor league players. Management is a distinct skill from any of the technologies used by an organization. That is not to say that someone who has no background in IT is going to be a successful IT manager, but as you go up the ladder the need to be conversant with technologies currently in use becomes less and less important. If that were not true, the implication would be that the CEO would be required to be competent to perform literally any job in the company, since all functions report to the CEO.

One of the hard parts about management is dealing with limited information and knowing how to assess the information you are given. You don't have the time to be an expert, you don't have time to understand the details, so you concentrate on putting together a staff that you do trust.

about a year and a half ago

Do Developers Need Free Perks To Thrive?

clodney Re:rather have money (524 comments)

Honestly I would be fine with a simple we pay nothing until $X, then we pay everything. Somehow that does not seem to be available at all.

That seems completely backwards - you are pushing all of the routine care onto the insurer, and have no coverage at all for the catastrophic events. I would much rather have a typical HDHP - pays basically nothing until $X out of pocket, with that cost blunted by an HSA, and then it pays for everything.

about a year and a half ago

Goodbye, Lotus 1-2-3

clodney Re:How about cutting Notes? (276 comments)

What was the rational for this? Why would they continue on with such crap?

They've fallen for the sunk costs fallacy. If they were to change to something else, they'd be admitting that they made a poor decision in choosing Lotus Notes in the first place.

In my experience it is more that the soul sucking nature of Notes administers a thousand tiny disappointments every day, but it still gets the job done. And if the company is using Notes for applications beyond email/calendar, the implementation costs of a migration can run into the millions of dollars, even leaving out the software costs.

about a year ago

450 Million Lines of Code Can't Be Wrong: How Open Source Stacks Up

clodney Re:and all the children are above average (209 comments)

"Code quality for open source software continues to mirror that of proprietary software — and both continue to surpass the industry standard for software quality."

What is this third kind of software that is neither open source nor proprietary which is bringing down the average industry standard for software quality? Because if there is only open source and proprietary then they can't both be better than average. Or perhaps the programmers are from Lake Wobegon?

I had the same reaction, right down to the Lake Wobegon reference. Perhaps they are differentiating between software offered for sale versus tools internal to a business? To some extent that would also explain the difference in quality - cost to fix is much higher if you have shipped thousands of copies, versus telling the one consumer of a report in finance to ignore the one number that is wrong.

about a year and a half ago

Bitcoin Exchange Mt.Gox Suffers Serious Attack, Instawallet Offline

clodney Re:A reminder of how insecure ALL money is? (388 comments)

Anything over 100,000 euros was uninsured, just as anything over $250,000 is uninsured in the US. Those depositors were generally not "people in Cyprus" but rather "people in Russia with money in Cyprus".

And this makes the people who were subjected to government-authorized robberies sleep better at night...how exactly? When the government can arbitrarily decide to take your funds, does it really matter where thy put the dollar/euro limit at? This should terrify everyone.

Would you prefer that the bank went insolvent and people lost everything? Like it or not, when you deposit money in a bank you become a creditor of the bank, and when something goes bankrupt creditors lose money.

Bank insurance exists to increase confidence of the bank's creditors. Instead of a mad rush to be first in line and get your money out at the first sign of trouble, thereby precipitating a bank collapse, it says that you have no risk up to a certain limit. That makes a bank run much less likely in the first case.

about a year and a half ago

HR Departments Tell Equifax Your Entire Salary History

clodney Re:Great! (472 comments)

If it is a publicly traded company, you can see the salary of the CEO and other highly compensated individual in the annual reports.

Salary of Congressmen is public knowledge (though not necessarily their outside income).

Chairman of the FED is a quasi public position, and I bet the salary is publicly disclosed.

Scientologists and lobbyists I can't help you with.

about 2 years ago

Is It Time For the US To Ditch the Dollar Bill?

clodney Re:Not yet... (943 comments)

We've tried to replace the dollar with coins three times so far, and it's failed.

The problem is the size and shape of the old dollar coins. They're very close to quarters in size and weight. In our first attempt, the dollar coins were also silver like the quarters. So it was hard to quickly identify which coins are dollars and which are quarters.

In my mind, the big failure was that we didn't replace the dollar with coins, we added new dollar coins and kept the dollar bill in circulation. Inertia was enough to doom the changeover.

The benefits of the change mostly accrue to the government - coins last an order of magnitude longer, but aren't that much more expensive to produce. From the consumer perspective it is not obvious that one is preferable to the other, so why bother to switch?

about 2 years ago


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