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How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

cptdondo Re:Science creates understanding of a real world. (761 comments)

I have to disagree, even with your "kids in chemistry" example. There are many, many aspects of chemistry that fly in the face of common sense.

You're basically saying that our "common sense" is the equal to hard science, and that by simply applying it to the visible world we can understand the universe and our environment as well as a person who has studied the topic for years.

Bottom line, we can't. There are parts of what I do that would be completely obtuse to a layperson, but are clearly obvious to me, with 30+ years of experience, and no amount of "common sense" explanations can reduce that knowledge to a "geez, that's obvious".

about a week ago

'Just Let Me Code!'

cptdondo vi and arduino (372 comments)

That's why I work with vi and arduino, or openwrt.... Much more fun, simple, and I can do almost anything I need done.

But yes, it's a fixie, not a jumbo jet. It's what I like doing, and I happen to make a living at stuff like that. If you are hired to build a jumbo jet, then you need jumbo tools and jumbo overhead. If you don't like it, scale down, hang up a shingle, and get a client. You might be surprised.

about 2 months ago

"Intelligent" Avatars Poised To Manage Airline Check-In

cptdondo Re:There's something touching about that comment (102 comments)

In other words, except for the douche, good customer service.

I fly a regular route with American from a small airport; if I get the usual counter staff I don't get charged luggage fee. Giving up $25 to make a guy who drops $2k - $10K on airfare every month moderately happy is probably not a bad idea. (And no, I have not reached the exalted flyer status, as my flying is spread over many airlines.)

about 2 months ago

"Intelligent" Avatars Poised To Manage Airline Check-In

cptdondo Re:nice job (102 comments)

You clearly have not been through some of the airports that I have. It's not the wait; it's the incredibly rude and arrogant staff. I've been yelled at by someone with a bullhorn, had my passport thrown at me, been told to "step aside" when my flight was cancelled and I need to reroute.... I could go on and on.

A nice avatar isn't going to help any of that, unless it means getting rid of the worst offenders that I've run into.

Some airlines (not all, but certainly some) could take that money and use it to train their ground staff in basic customer service; that would provide much better return than a bobbing head on a screen.

That being said, some airlines, and some specific people at these airlines, are shining examples of customer service and dedication, and by and large have saved my trips time and time again.

about 2 months ago

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

cptdondo Re:You already know the answer (331 comments)

Read up on Project Management. You're looking for Scope, Schedule, and Budget, in particular the S curve. You should be able to plot % complete against % spent for a sampling of projects, and demonstrate where the projects went off the rails. Then you can figure out why.

Usually it's because the scope was not well defined. and thus budget and schedule were not based on a realistic assessment of what it takes to achieve said scope.

And yes, I provide training for exactly this. A neat little tidbit:

Q: Of 700+ projects in a study, how many recovered once they were over budget at 15% completion? That is, if a job was over budget at the very beginning, what are the chances of completing it on time and within budget, based on 700+ projects?

A: None. Not a single job.

about a year ago

"Terrorist" Lyrics Land High Schooler In Jail

cptdondo Re:Twenty years in prison seems excessive (573 comments)

Ummm.... Have we already reduced the bill of rights to "I have the right to shoot you"? I swear there was something in there about speach. Can't quite remember; it's been a while.

about a year ago

The 'Linux Inside' Stigma

cptdondo Re:nope. it starts with accuracy (366 comments)

Well, I can only go by my family. We use computers, mostly for email and web browsing. My kids use googledocs in school. When their desktop died, I got a cheap laptop with Windows 8 for them. After a couple of weeks, I see my daughter using my wife's computer. So I asked "Why?" Turns out she can't use windows 8, hates the interface, and wants something that works.

One Xubuntu CD later, she has a working laptop that now gets used all the time, and it "just works".

Most people *don't care* what's inside. They just want it to be a part of the background so they can browse, do their stuff, and surf the web.

about a year and a half ago

Elon Musk Lays Out His Evidence That NYT Tesla Test Drive Was Staged

cptdondo Re:The logs don't lie (841 comments)

Try it some day. My car logs GPS coordinates, speed, direction of travel, outside temp, nearest landmark, and elevation every minute. Now you could falsify this with enough effort, but seeing as my car also takes a picture of the road at the time it records the other information, it would be nearly impossible, since you'd have to get the same picture in the correct weather conditions at the same (or different) time of day.

I'm sure the Tesla records things like SOC, engine output, current drain, braking effort, battery and outside temps, speed, throttle position, and pretty much everything else, a lot more often than than once a minute. To falsify this effectively would take a huge effort, as all of the data would have to be consistent, and that's incredibly difficult to do.

about a year and a half ago

Microsoft Surface Pro Reviews Arrive

cptdondo Re:Too expensive.... (320 comments)

OK, but what do you use a tablet for? "Serious" work, or facebook, youtube, maybe some light email or a movie. So I think I'm OK in comparing a cheap laptop that's mostly used for that v. a tablet that's mostly used for that.

about a year and a half ago

Microsoft Surface Pro Reviews Arrive

cptdondo Too expensive.... (320 comments)

$1,100???? My daughter just got a Lenovo, about 3 lbs, 15" screen, delivered for $350. Why would I want to spend 3x the money for a smaller screen and a worse keyboard?

I can equip most of my family with nice laptops for the price of one Surface. :headscratch:

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Open-Source Forensic Surveillance Analysis Software?

cptdondo Re:motion (131 comments)

Yes! Motion can do this and much more.

about a year and a half ago

HR Departments Tell Equifax Your Entire Salary History

cptdondo Re:Great! (472 comments)

Not. The schools hide the actual cost by shifting costs around.

For example, our "free paid for by by athletic money" athlete study facility is actually costing the university $2M / year - and this is "hidden" in the maintenance and janitorial budgets. Sure, the tutors are paid for and the facility was donated, but the maintenance, upkeep, and cleaning still falls to the university. And apparently our sports prima-donnas don't feel any need to keep their facility clean, as the janitorial budget for that building is substantially higher per square foot than other buildings.

about a year and a half ago

Congressional Committee Casts a Harsh Eye On Vaccination Science

cptdondo Re:Congress Sucks (858 comments)

And that's not rationing? If you have money, you can get it. If you don't, die. That's pretty severe rationing in my book.

about 2 years ago

Congressional Committee Casts a Harsh Eye On Vaccination Science

cptdondo Re:Congress Sucks (858 comments)

That must be why the CIA ranks the US 51st in life expectancy, well behind almost every European nation.....

There is rationing here in the US along economic lines. Try getting medications or medical care with no insurance and see how well that works for you.

about 2 years ago

They Work Long Hours, But What About Results?

cptdondo Re:One mark of a bad company... (285 comments)

It was actually pretty funny. Our team had cultivated our clients and we were quite profitable. We got bought by this other company with the bonus plan. Pretty much all of us quit within a year.

At bonus time, one of our more outspoken engineers opened his bonus envelope, marched into the manager's office, slapped it on his desk, and yelled: "What am I supposed to do with this? Take my wife to McDonalds?" I hadn't laughed that hard since.

about 2 years ago

They Work Long Hours, But What About Results?

cptdondo One mark of a bad company... (285 comments)

I worked for a company that based your annual bonus on the amount of overtime you put in. Not productive, mind you, just hours. At the end of the year, they would tally up the hours you worked, and those with the most hours at their desk got the biggest bonuses.

Being new to this, I asked my boss: "If I do everything right, and my project never needs rework, and my clients are happy, and all my projects are profitable, and I go home on time every day, will I get a bonus?" "No."

"If I screw up, my projects are late and over budget, and I'm working a lot of hours because my clients are pissed at the low quality of work I do, and my projects constantly lose money because I'm an idiot, will I get a bonus?" "Yes."

True to form, my bonus for the year was $50, in spite of being one of the most profitable employees in the organization. I left shortly thereafter.

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: What Tech For a Sailing Ship?

cptdondo Re:Seriously? (340 comments)

Yeah, that. Really, if you have to ask a bunch of strangers on the internet for advice I'd wonder about your skills. Unless you want to see if there's some cool tech that maybe you missed.

My sister and her husband are full-time sailors, right now somewhere in the south pacific. They went through a lot of gear testing and research before building their boat. They have picked out pretty much everything themselves; I would not trust gear on a voyage like that that i have not personally test.

Me, I backpack, and do the same thing. Everything in my pack has been tested under controlled conditions, I carry backups (map + compass to back up the GPS), backup stove if the primary fails, etc.

Not only do you have to have the right gear, you also have to know how to use it when tired, stressed, in the dark and in adverse weather.

Now if you're asking about unnecessary gear (entertainment, etc) then I can understand. But basic survival gear?

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: How Much Is a Fun Job Worth?

cptdondo The worst mistake of my life... (397 comments)

was in leaving a job I loved to take a job that sucked but paid a lot more. 2 years of that job almost killed me.

Now on the other hand, if you're really serious, take a handful of people in the new company out to lunch. Buy them pizza, and talk to them. About life, interests, girlfriends, families, and see if they're a good fit. Don't talk to your bosses, talk to your peers in the new company, and the people who would work for you. That's the people who can help you make the decision.

about 2 years ago



Subscription billing for a small business

cptdondo cptdondo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

cptdondo (59460) writes "I'm working on a small startup that will need to bill for a subscription service. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out what is needed to get a small subscription service going. The startup has simple needs — people sign up, commit to pay a monthly fee, and they get a service. If they quit paying, their account is suspended. And if they try to use the service, they're told why.

Seems that most services out there are designed for large, complex businesses and few have a simple interface for connecting the billing system to service. I have not found any that will put account status into an ldap database, which could be used for user authentication. Where is the equivalent of the Amazon or E-Bay storefront for a small subscription service?"

How to track a complex project?

cptdondo cptdondo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

cptdondo (59460) writes "I'm working on a complex project that has many different facets. I've flowcharted the process but my management is asking for a Gantt chart to show the time element. Traditional Gantt charts lose the if-then-else constructs that are essential for tracking this project. I have multiple ways of achieving a specific milestone, depending on availability of external resources, grant funding, bond issues subject to political votes, and so on. I can't represent this complexity in a Gantt chart; at the same time a flow chart loses the time elemnt that's so central to Gantt charts (and to my management).

So, fellow slashdotters, how do you manage a complex project with many mutually exlusive paths? How do you present this structure to non-techinical management? And how do you track it when it changes almost daily and certainly weekly?"

Installing linux on old hardware

cptdondo cptdondo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

cptdondo (59460) writes "I've got an old laptop that I've been trying to resurrect. It has a 486 CPU, 28 MB RAM, 720 MB HD, a 1.44MB floppy drive, and 640x480 VESA video. It does not have a CD, USB, or a network port. It has PCMCIA and i have a network card for that.

My goal is to get a minimal GUI that lets me run a basic browser like Dillo and open a couple of xterms.

I've spent the last few days trying to find a linux distro that will work on that machine. I've done a lot of work on OpenWRT, so naturally I though that would work, but X appears to be broken in the recent builds — I can't get the keyboard to work. (OK, not surprising; OpenWRT is made to run on wifi Access Point hardware which doesn't have a keyboard...)

All of the "mini" distros come as a live CD; useless on a machine without a CD-ROM. Ditto for the USB images.

I'm also finding that the definition of a "mini" distro has gotten to the point of "It fits on a 3GB partition and needs 128 MB RAM to run."

Has linux really become that bloated? Do we really need 2.2 GB of cruft to bring up a simple X session? Is there a distro that provides direct ext2 images instead of live CDs?"

From Cathedral to a Bazaar in government?

cptdondo cptdondo writes  |  more than 5 years ago

cptdondo writes "I work for a mid-size municipal government. While we are fairly progressive for a government, many of our managers are Cathedral builders. They've been there for a long time, they hold sacred the belief that if they stop cranking the world will come to a screeching halt, and they believe that the unwashed masses must not know too much of the inner sacred workings of City Hall.

Some of us are bazaar goers. We believe that there is a great opportunity to apply the lessons of open source to local government. We think we can co-opt our citizens' group to be members of the process rather than adversaries. We believe that the tools developed by the open source community can be applied, to some measure, to the workings of government.

It's been suggested by some of the more subversive members of our management staff that we put together a presentation on how this could be done. So of course we begin with prior art:

Has this ever been done? Has anyone co-opted citizens' groups to solve the problems of local government using the tools and concepts of open source? Does anyone know of a local government where the internal workings were freely available to the public? What tools were used? What was the reaction? Was it accepted or rejected?"

Solar clls for daily use

cptdondo cptdondo writes  |  more than 6 years ago

cptdondo writes "My brother-in-law asked me about the latest in solar cells. He's got a good-size sailboat and wants to put in a solar charger. As the resident family geek I should have the answers, but I had to admin total ignorance. So what's the latest consumer technology in solar cells? Any cool mobile solar installations out there? Any power management schemes people are using to power stuff on boats and in RVs?"

The hunt for Jim Gray

cptdondo cptdondo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

cptdondo writes "It looked like a fine day for a sail. On Sunday, January 28, 2007, Microsoft researcher Jim Gray woke up on his boat, a red 40-foot fiberglass cruiser called Tenacious. The water in Gashouse Cove, a cozy marina in San Francisco Bay, was nearly flat. The 63-year-old programmer phoned his wife, Donna Carnes, who was on an annual vacation with friends in Wisconsin. He said he was heading out to the Farallon Islands, a wildlife refuge 27 miles offshore, to scatter the ashes of his mother, Ann, who died in October. more...."



Programming for kids

cptdondo cptdondo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

I know this has come up before. My 10 year old has been playing some basic flash games, and wants to learn how to "make a game". I have kturtle installed, and I expect that might keep him interested for about a week. Then what?

What good tools are there to allow a normal, curious 10 year old to write something with a fairly quick return on the time invested? I know someone is going to say that I should launch him straight in to perl, or C++, or something. Not happening. Those days are long gone. I need something that can create visual bang quickly and easily, and scale up to allow him to build a simple flight simulator (stick drawing of a plane, a horizon, and keyboard for pitch/yaw/roll).

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