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Ask Slashdot: When Is a Better Career Opportunity Worth a Pay Cut?

happyslayer Re:What do you want from life? (263 comments)

Agree with both CheezburgerBrown and MoonlessNights.

I was at a good paying job (for the area), but the work was ossifying into maintenance mode for internal-only apps; in 3-5 years, they wouldn't need anyone who could do put together new or better systems. Being a government contract project (federal level), I figured that 3-5 was about how long before I was on the chopping block or eyeing water towers as a sniper.

(Add to this the fact that the old IT team from 30 years ago was still around working on another part of the facility--it was like getting drug along by the Ghost of IT Departments Future, and I didn't want to become a caricature of myself or them...)

So I started looking around, willing to take a small short-term cut for long term growth and happiness. What I ended up with was more pay, working from home, and an entire industry that was ripe for upgrade and improvement.

You've got a job, so take your time. If the one you're thinking about will make you happy, and has the upward mobility you want, then you'll just have to make the call. If it doesn't pan out (like about 1/2 dozen of my potential jobs did), just keep looking.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Am I Too Old To Retrain?

happyslayer Re:You Tell Me If You're Too Old; What Is Your Goa (418 comments)

You know, 40 wasn't where it it me. It was about 46 or so. And then it HIT me. I love learning, so don't get me wrong, but a couple years ago, I really noticed that stuff was just not sticking like it used to. Abstraction helps, but specifics come and go. I no longer try to remember them, Google search everything.

I'm 42 now, and have had a full-time .NET dev job for the last year. Before that, I was going back to grad school for a degree in Computer Science. I loved the education environment, but left because a) I needed the money (loans were stacking up), and b) this was just about the ideal position.

On top of that, I have never worked with .NET before, but the business was willing to take a risk because they needed the experience and were setting up a shop to take over a lot of legacy tech.

Turns out it was the best move I could make. There's only one other developer in the group my age; the rest are in their late 20s to early 30s--several with .NET only experience. But the other "old" guy and myself are pretty much running the place from an expertise point of view*, because depth of experience can matter more than single-language expertise. An array is an array, string functions work pretty much the same across the board, and it's more a matter of Googling "How do I do X in .NET?" than trying to figure out what the hell you need to do in the first place.

If you love learning, you never get stale; if you're tired of or worried about learning, find something that will excite you enough to want to learn how to make it happen.

* This is not to say that I am all that and a bag of chips--I struggle with the way .NET handles certain things, but I enjoy learning how to do it. And, if something isn't working, I can usually figure out what is going wrong on a fundamental level instead of just throwing in a cookbook answer and saying, "Magic happens..."

Also, I am sure that in a heavy .NET shop that's been around for a while, the story would have ended with me as "that old guy who didn't know what LINQ was," but my point is that it's not all doom and gloom.

more than 2 years ago

75% Use Same Password For Social Media & Email

happyslayer Re:Yup, Probably true (278 comments)

Same basic process, though different criteria for me:

  • Junk sites (one-time login for news, quick downloads, register-to-see, tech mailing lists) get the same low-end password. If I can't foresee any information that I care about going to that site, then it gets a basic throwaway. (I also misspell registration details so i have an idea if advertisers are getting that info).
  • Slashdot, forums, etc: Also low-grade. Sorry, but if someone gets their rocks off posting crap as me, I can live with it. I've got enough First Life points to keep me busy.
  • Personal email: Since I don't trust the email systems that are in the hands of others, I don't put anything on there I care about. (If someone wants to know that I'm asking my prof how to fix some code, more power to them--it'll bore them to tears.) Hence, it gets a medium-grade password.
  • Online stores: Medium grade for one-time purchases, high-grade for repeat business.
  • Own email system, bank, etc: High grade password, randomized (at least to the rest of the world) that it passes the basic dictionary-attack. For example, I somehow remember old phone numbers and bank accounts from 20 years ago (none of which are in use); add a couple of 1337-speak letters and you're in business.

Like the parent, it's really a matter of compartmentalization and damage control. If you don't own the system, it's not completely trustworthy. If it's your system, it's only modestly trustworthy. If you're doing something criminal/embarassing/stupid, it's better to leave all notes at the bottom of the Marianas trench.

more than 4 years ago

Jobcentre Apologizes For Anti-Jedi Discrimination

happyslayer Sith Religion (615 comments)

Oh - that gives me an Idea. Can I create a Sith Religion and start a legal Crusade against the Jedi?

Membership would be a problem, since there are supposedly only "two at any time."

OTOH, those guys would probably be a lot more fun to party with.

more than 4 years ago

Operation Titstorm Hits the Streets

happyslayer Re:The problem with headless organizations (458 comments)

On the other hand, as BadAnalogyGuy proposed, if Anonymous really are "college-age basement dwellers who type out their screeds in between trips to the minifridge to get more Cheetos", then this would be exactly the kind of ideal they could get behind! :-P

more than 4 years ago

FBI Pushing For 2-Year Retention of Web Traffic Logs

happyslayer Re:Won't someone please think of the children (256 comments)

Good "think of the children" dilemma for Haiti:

Human trafficking, sex slavery, and other forms of abuse happen. When you start transporting large numbers of people over borders, it's pretty much inevitable that some are going to end up in a living hell.

OTOH, kids in Haiti have lost parents, government has pretty much collapsed, and there will probably be plenty of horror stories of infection, disease, and abuse for the kids stuck in Haiti...in other words, children denied the opportunity to get out of the country will end up in a living hell.

So here's the question for all those 'think of the children' moralizers out there:

  • How many children are you going to condemn to die in Haiti to protect those who would end up abused by human traffickers and their customers?
  • How many children are you going to condemn to suffering and abuse at the hands of the worst of humanity in order to save those who would die or suffer horribly otherwise?

There is no good answer--"think of the children" is usually an excuse to get what you want anyways--without considering the consequences.

more than 4 years ago

Gun With Wireless Arming Signal Goes On Sale Soon

happyslayer Re:Wait hold on mugger... (457 comments)

As an aside, this would make locating weapons extremely easy--all you have to do is walk around with an RF scanner, searching for watch and/or weapons signals.

It's early, maybe I'm just slow, but what would be the advantage of that for the person who would be doing the scanning?

For an individual...not much at all.

For a group, though, it would make life much easier.

  • Building security (court houses, concerts, football games....)
  • Bodyguards (Secret Service, rich folk, etc)
  • Law enforcement serving warrants
  • Lynch mobs serving complaints
  • Jack-booted storm troopers "protecting" the citizenry
  • Anyone who wants to make sure anyone else doesn't have a weapon

Because of this, I believe there will be a brief, frenzied effort to make these things mandatory...and it will fail miserably in the long run.

about 5 years ago

Gun With Wireless Arming Signal Goes On Sale Soon

happyslayer Re:Wait hold on mugger... (457 comments)

And on the opposite side--send out a signal that authorizes any weapon!

If the authentication takes place only within the watch, then the weapon's mechanism is just looking for an arming signal--probably something simple--and you could mass jam or arm weapons with a strong enough transmitter (I'm thinking of those shopping-cart brake systems that people have been pranking...). Heck, you can even get your own watch, put in your own pin, and steal any weapon and it will work!

OTOH, if the weapons' system is tied to a specific watch, then the failure rate will be through the roof! And, of course, you can disarm everyone easily because the systems are so strict.

As an aside, this would make locating weapons extremely easy--all you have to do is walk around with an RF scanner, searching for watch and/or weapons signals.

I see a big market for jammers, spoofers, RF scanners, and a multitude of other mini-electronic RF products. I better go take some spectrum-analysis classes soon.

about 5 years ago

Bomb-Proof Wallpaper Developed

happyslayer Ask Larry Niven... (388 comments)

Maybe in the next movie, Superman (or "LL") could put in an order for condoms made out of this material. After all, it would certainly solve a lot of problems.

more than 5 years ago

On-Demand Video + CMS + Interactive Input For Museum?

happyslayer LinuxMCE (131 comments)

I've been looking at LinuxMCE for my own home system. It looks like a really good fit for what you want: Media, touchscreen controls, multiple outputs. Plus, it's a thin-client system, so once you decide on a terminal setup, you can repeat ad nauseum.

I would also point out that this may be a good setup for the expansion you're alluding to. For example, you could set up different accounts for either different works or different artists. Log all the terminals in one room to the account under that artist, and you could have the media for all the different pieces queued up on the menu.

Hmmm..if you ever had a Salvador Dali exhibit, you could have some Dark Side of the Moon playing on the sound system...

more than 5 years ago

Fixing Bugs, But Bypassing the Source Code

happyslayer Re:DMCA? (234 comments)

Ouch! The dreaded "Offtopic" moderation...perhaps I should elaborate:

Others have already pointed out the "blackhats just got a new weapon" scenario, so I thought another possible (mis)use would be to patch software to which we do not have the source code.

  • Commonly used software w/o source code? Windows and DRM systems. Check.
  • Commonly used systems that inhibit user's systems? WGA and DRM. Check.
  • Software that rewrites/patches binaries without source? Clearwater. Check.
  • Obvious non-software response by corporations whose systems are getting hacked? DMCA letters...either to the Clearwater developers or anyone who distributes such a patch.

Just my inflation-adjusted 2 cents...

more than 5 years ago

Fixing Bugs, But Bypassing the Source Code

happyslayer DMCA? (234 comments)

So how long before someone uses this to "patch" DRM and/or Windows Genuine Advantage? They interfere with my computer's functions, cause software/systems to fail out of nowhere, and are an unwanted inclusion in many programs. Yep--sounds like bugs to me!

Which means it won't be long before patches are available. Cue the angry horde of DMCA attorneys....

more than 5 years ago

How To Stretch Your Security Dollar

happyslayer Re:Lies and damn lies. (51 comments)

And they didn't even bring in "statistics"....guess that would have been too much of a giveaway...

more than 5 years ago

How To Stretch Your Security Dollar

happyslayer Re:Making disaster recovery part of your capacity? (51 comments)

I agree that an ideal backup solution would be something along the lines of Cheyenne Mountain's basement--with armies of mole-men transcribing the data onto titanium slabs. (Mole men are secure, because all you need to keep them in check is a couple of big sun lamps!)

But, I would say that the old Meatloaf song would make a good compromise to your 3 criteria: "Two out of Three Ain't Bad." In my particular case, I had a medical customer who needed reasonably up-to-date backups of everything...worst case scenario being the building burned down. So, with that in mind, I ended up using rdiff-backup over ssh to our own servers. Reasoning as follows:

  • Periodic checks were done by me and my staff at varying hours...check.
  • Off-site backup...check. Customer could reasonably get up and running with a big check, a trip to Walmart, and about 12-24 hours of coffee for me and my folks.
  • Users were complete "Users", as in, did not know, care, or desire to learn how things worked--they just "should."

Because of that last item, relying on them to perform an off-line backup, take the data to an off-site facility, and remember to bring them back in in the morning for another cycle was out of the question. Also, I was being paid well, but not well enough to make the trip every single day to personally conduct the work myself...or pay a minion to do it.

(Funny how a doctor will by a brand new Escalade for show, then scrimp on paying for extra work and extra security...probably not the only industry that way...)

Overall, it worked great. Problems were identified quickly, never lost any data over 3-1/2 years of servicing the contract, and went through 3 various upgrades and major replacements without any data lost.

This isn't to promote online-offsite backups, just to say that there are times where we all compromise....and as for my backups, they were periodic, off-site, and offline...and included the customer's data...just less frequent snapshots.

more than 5 years ago

Open Source Could Have Saved Ontario Hundreds of Millions

happyslayer Re:Could open source really do the job? (294 comments)

The same logic applies to things like OpenOffice.org; if it doesn't exactly do what you need it to do, will it if you invest what you currently spend in a year on MS Office licenses?

Exactly what I did with an EMR that I built for a client: I used OpenOffice and another OSS API to produce custom documents on the fly: Medical records, records requests, discharge letters, etc.

Even better, they could be updated just like any other OO document. "Hey, we need the discharge letter to include this information." "No problem". Open-->Type changes-->Save. Done.

The actual cost was about 10 hours of my time finding the other OSS system and integrating it with our health records system. Even at $100/hour (way above what I charge), it would've been worth 2 full copies of MS Office...and it does exactly what I want it to do.

more than 5 years ago

What Would You Want In a Large-Scale Monitoring System?

happyslayer Re:Real world alarm capability (342 comments)

Real-world alarm/notification capability (pager, buzzer, a machine that goes bing, something like that)

...sorry, I mentioned "pager" as a real world alarm, then panned the idea--I meant "pager" as in "Mr. Jones, please check the server logs..."

more than 5 years ago

What Would You Want In a Large-Scale Monitoring System?

happyslayer Real world alarm capability (342 comments)

I know I'm late to the party, but I haven't seen anyone bring this one up yet: Real-world alarm/notification capability (pager, buzzer, a machine that goes bing, something like that)

My reasoning: I run a small IT business with various support contracts. I, and probably quite a few others, can't afford to pay someone to sit at a monitor and watch a screen (or a bunch of screens) whilst tied to a desk.

Most of the monitoring solutions (Nagios, others) are capable of off-site notification, but it's the "last yard" that's the problem--how to tell someone, even a non-techy, there's a problem so he can call in the cavalry. Despite Verizon's "largest 3G network" claim, a lot of my clients and workers in Silicon Holler don't have cell coverage...so SMS, pagers, etc. aren't all that reliable. But we do have office staff who could be around to listen for an alarm, and we have a solid internet connection...so calling for help via the network is viable, but not paying someone to be otherwise unproductive because they can't go anywhere else.

I even started developing my own ATMEGA based solution...still working on it, and I think it's completely doable. If I ever get it up and running, I'll publish the plans, code, and scripts/software under GPL and let someone else worry about the marketing.

more than 5 years ago

Court Rejects RIAA's Proposed Protective Order

happyslayer Re:OK, now what... (197 comments)

Here, here. As someone else who works with digital forensics, I agree--it's a "touchy mistress" that has been abused all to hell in the RIAA cases. As a casual observer to the whole *IAA thing, it looks as if they were pushing sloppy, shoddy work on the court as an airtight case...and it's catching up with them.

Since the standard practices of digital forensics are fairly common, accepted, and (to techies) obvious, you would think that they would take the time to do the job right, push through those cases that cemented their reputation as solid litigators; their reputations would have preceded them, and they could have had a few big-time early successes to browbeat future defendants.

Instead, my horseback opinion is that they decided to go for quantity over quality. Judges and defendants rolled over under a wave of "techie-stuff", because it sounded good. But Media Sentry (or whatever they are calling themselves now, or whomever the RIAA is using), kept getting caught doing short-cut work, and the plaintiffs kept running with it (probably knowing it was crap.

Now, everyone is getting comfortable with terms like "forensic copying," "hashes", "ip addresses", and "p2p software." And those previous cases are looking weaker and weaker.

Sorry for the rant; as someone who works in the evidence field (and takes pride in doing it right--not fast or biased), I applaud NewYorkCountryLawyer's work on this, and I'm glad a lot of bad courtroom maneuvering is getting exposed.

more than 5 years ago

Australia's Vast, Scattershot Censorship Blacklist Revealed

happyslayer That was easy... (401 comments)

[Bookmarks] -> [Bookmark This Page] -> [Done]

Australia's Secret Internet Filter: Your one-stop shopping for porn!

more than 5 years ago



Real-World Alarm system

happyslayer happyslayer writes  |  more than 6 years ago

happyslayer writes "I have a small IT and security business. Both fortunately and unfortunately, our business and responsibilities are growing. We are getting more and more involved in monitoring the status of several remote locations and businesses. Therein lies our problem. I need a system that would set off a real-world visual and audio alarm on a panel located in one or more of our offices.

Because we are small, I can't afford to pay people to sit around and stare at a computer screen to see if a system goes down. Because SMS, texting, and cell phone coverage in our area is spotty, the "usual" methods of informing sysadmins is too unreliable. And, because we are largely Linux-based, I can't just go out (and can't afford to buy) a customized Windows-based solution. The entire purpose is to come up with a low-cost system so that I can provide this service to my customers as cheaply (or free!) as possible. (I usually have small general service contracts--for a fee, we're available to fix whatever comes up with their systems.)

Ideally, these are the kind of features I'd like:
  • Flashing light and buzzer/audible alarm, depending on type of event coming in.
  • Display events from a Nagios or OpenNMS box that does the monitoring.
  • Small footprint (Wall mount, if possible. Yes, I've considering just bolting up a laptop to the wall, but that seems to be a waste of money and computing power.)
  • Run off CAT-5 (either network or feed I/O between panel and monitoring station.)
  • Scalable. Able to add more panels later for additional offices.
  • Bonus item: Take input from some other system (for instance, the alarm output on a security system) and feed it into the Nagios or OpenNMS monitoring system.

Basically, I need something to tell me or my people, "Hey! There's a problem; take your coffee and go look at the system status."

I'm sure I'm not the only one to want something like this. I've searched How-tos, searched linuxdevices.com, googled, yahooed, and did everything but start learning robotics basics to figure this out. My people are handy with scripting and soldering electronics, so if it takes a little DIY to make it happen, we can do it.

PS: There was a story about some guys who used music to indicate system problems, but none of the articles I could find gave details on how it was all put together."


Put your money where your mouth is...

happyslayer happyslayer writes  |  more than 7 years ago

happyslayer writes "The Street.com has a user-submitted article describing one investor's view on what comprises a "geek portfolio": Stocks that a geek would buy, based on beliefs, image, reputation, etc.

After giving some views on the term "geek," the article states

With that in mind, I've created a "geek portfolio," with the stocks of companies that cater to and assist all sorts of geeks in their pursuits.

Since "vote with your $$$" is a common refrain in Slashdot comments, let's see what everyone thinks..."

Link to Original Source

happyslayer happyslayer writes  |  more than 7 years ago

happyslayer writes "One topic that's sure to get heavy and fierce discussion on Slashdot is the US PATRIOT ACT and the use of security letters, particularly if you run a network, ISP, or hosting service with registered users from outside your organization.

According to this story, the US Government Accounting Office, the FBI has not always been "forthcoming" about the numbers, reasons, and results of the security letters.

From the article:

Over the entire three-year period, the audit found the FBI issued 143,074 national security letters requesting customer data from businesses.

The FBI vastly underreported the numbers. In 2005, the FBI told Congress that its agents in 2003 and 2004 had delivered only 9,254 national security letters seeking e-mail, telephone or financial information on 3,501 U.S. citizens and legal residents over the previous two years.

Additionally, the audit found, the FBI identified 26 possible violations in its use of the national security letters, including failing to get proper authorization, making improper requests under the law and unauthorized collection of telephone or Internet e-mail records.

happyslayer happyslayer writes  |  more than 8 years ago

happyslayer writes "According to an AP article, there is renewed interested in H.R. 550 (text of which is here), a proposed law that would, amongst other things, require a paper-trail or equivalent and stop the use of proprietary (closed and hidden) software.

Citing the disputed vote in a Florida congressional district, a Democratic lawmaker on Wednesday urged Congress to approve his measure requiring a paper trail for electronic voting.

Rep. Rush Holt[,]sponsor of the bill, said the inaccuracy of electronic touch-screen voting machines "poses a direct threat to the integrity of our electoral system." The New Jersey congressman argued the Florida district, in which more than 18,000 votes have gone uncounted, has exposed the system's flaws.

This is an old bill (from 2005), but recent events may finally get it moving. Looks like some Representatives have a deeper understanding of the IntarWeb and it's Pipes(tm)."


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