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Comments

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Social Security Administration Joins Other Agencies With $300M "IT Boondoggle"

kaiser423 Re:Cue blaming the contractor ... (142 comments)

In fairness, I've seen a lot of legacy migrations fail, because it's often damned near impossible to understand the existing system well enough to write a replacement for it, and then you end up breaking everything which has been integrated with it for years.

Exactly. Nobody understands it all, nobody's around/in power long enough to see it through and often times there just isn't the political juice to make all of the silos cooperate effectively.

Last time I had to replace a whale of a system like this, we were able to target one silo and implement it there. You target one small silo, one manager of an area that you can hone in on and just focus your energies on getting through that. You rationalize the layout, put everything in databases, etc, etc such that it functionally can interoperate while being modern enough to adapt/change as you replace other silos. Then you move on to the next logical piece and build up from there while constantly refactoring.

This way you minimize your exposure, you minimize your need for political capital, you minimize the feature creep/scope change because there's just the one manager whom you stay aligned with daily, you gain understanding, etc. There's really no downside. The upside being that if you're thinking that "there's no way to section a part out" you immediately identify the problem of not knowing what the hell you're supposed to do and that you're without a modular architecture and solve that first!

Seriously, the DOD Test & Evaluation branch for all weapons, comms, and every other test lives, breathes and follows a "crawl, walk, run" principal where you try to bite off a little piece and then mature from there. The rest of the DOD still likes to just buy massive projects like this (JTTRS, JSF, etc anyone?!?), but the T&E community keeps maturing tech at a predictable, likely rate with minimal schedule/cost risk. You identify problems/show stoppers early and either cut off the bleeding or work around them.

If only IT and the government in general would accept this embedded idea of incremental growth it would be great. But alas, the government contracting offices really don't like that because it's hard to fit into the right CLINs, do EVMS on, etc, etc. So it's really rare to get the chance to properly approach these problems. So we satisfied the contracting office's need for one big large project on paper and in our organizational structure, but then had expeditionary teams doing "testing, prototyping and use case studies" that were actually doing the real work.

about a week ago
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Mozilla Introduces Browser-Based WebIDE

kaiser423 Re:Mozilla II (132 comments)

It's because now, they have money. When firefox was first broken out, Mozilla was a slow, lumbering, and most importantly very lean company. They didn't have a lot of money or credibility. Firefox came out, became the darling and revenue started to flow in from the search bar, ads, donations, etc. Then they had money, and when you have money that needs spending you look for things to do. Then you end up creating FirefoxOS, webIDE, etc, etc because in big strategy meetings about what to do with this money, that's the best sounding idea. But in reality, it sucks. I'd love to come back to Firefox over Chrome, but every time I use it it really seems like the browser isn't their core product, and it shows....

about a month ago
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Android Needs a Simulator, Not an Emulator

kaiser423 Re:I just use a real Android device (167 comments)

I find the Nexus 10 to be great for this. The resolution on it is so high, that I can quickly change it's configuration to match the screen dimensions of any other Android phone or tablet, and the tablet is a couple of years old so it's a processing power is a good stand-in for devices that you might typically deploy to. Just have that connected, and I can quickly test my app out in tablet mode, various phone configurations and display sizes, check fluidity and call it good for the vast majority of systems out there.

I really don't know why Google doesn't just make something like the Nexus 10, but with a ridiculously fast interface so that you can push >GB apps to it in seconds for development purposes. eSATA or something would be great, you could even just make a partition on your computer look like a mount to the device and run it without having to push apps out to the device. Then in developer options allow to to turn on/off cores, set max processor and GPU speeds (like most people already do with custom ROMs), and provide a bit better of a way to make the screen look different sizes, and you could set up automated tests that cover the vast majority of all devices out there....

about a month and a half ago
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SpaceX Landing Video Cleanup Making Progress

kaiser423 Re:cheap webcam (54 comments)

I typically supply the NASA chase plane for downrange TM :) We could have supported, just weren't asked to (likely a cost thing and potential safety thing).

about a month and a half ago
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Kingston and PNY Caught Bait-and-Switching Cheaper Components After Good Reviews

kaiser423 Time to disqualify them (289 comments)

Well, time to disqualify them as SSD providers in our corporate system. Offhand it looks like it'll trickle down to a pretty significant loss of orders for them. For commodity SSDs our system just looks up all qualified vendors and goes by cheapest price. These guys were there previously, and now not....

about a month and a half ago
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Microsoft Releases Early IE12 Preview As Part of Its New Developer Channel

kaiser423 Re:Obliviousness (105 comments)

The odd thing is that I have a number of items that have webpages that talk to my XBox controller currently. A staggeringly large number of pan/tilt/zoom security sensors respond to XBox controls if you have their webpage up. Sure, it requires an applet versus this just working natively, but it's not like that was a big hurdle......Just an odd thing to trumpet.

about a month and a half ago
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Average HS Student Given Little Chance of AP CS Success

kaiser423 Re:Really? (293 comments)

That's basically replacing parental involvement with involvement of another authority figure. Having a strong off-hours encouragement and support for education is about the most strongly correlated variable with educational success. In this case, they know that the parents likely can't provide it, so they are providing it. But not every school can do that; hence the need for parental involvement in the process.

about a month and a half ago
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SpaceX Landing Video Cleanup Making Progress

kaiser423 Re:cheap webcam (54 comments)

Video feeds are typically their own streams. They're typically in the couple of Mbit range, but really can be anything. We've had 10+Mbps video links, but they're typically high frame rate versus high resolution. The thing to remember here is that you can't do any real fancy compression or modulations schemes typically, so every a couple of Mb/s really isn't that high of resolution. This is because you know that you're dropping bits, you're signal is fading unpredictably, the signal propagation path is changing wildly, etc so things like QAM don't work, and compression actually hurts because you're often getting errors in the blocks, etc really throws a wrench in the whole thing. So you almost have to ship the video raw over some fairly inefficient modulation scheme like FM or SOQPSK (more efficient, but more likely to burst-lose lots of data).

I took a quick look at the embedded video stream, and it looks like there would have been a better way to pack it (looks like some asynchronous frames inside, with multiple sync words inside needing to be correct to get a good frame, made it harder than it had to be. But still, this isn't easy stuff. I expect them to come out shooting next time though. They really didn't have much in the area to grab the video with good fidelity because they had other things to focus on, but this time I expect a bit more.

I do telemetry chase form aircraft, boats, etc for exactly this type of thing for a living. Fun job :)

about 2 months ago
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With the Surface Pro, Microsoft Is Trying To Recreate the PC Market

kaiser423 Re:Good luck with that. (379 comments)

Yup. I really think that this iteration has some legs. I couldn't have cared less for the first two, but....as an engineer I hate having my notebook and scanning it or taking pictures of my drawings, schematics, math or notes. I also hate that I don't have my files with me on the phone, but a laptop in a meeting is just obtrusive. Previous iterations weren't powerful enough with enough battery life and Windows 8 was a total mess (still is a mess, but reaching usability). I would really like to try one as a daily driver for a bit, because I think it could improve productivity quite a bit, but alas I don't think that's in the cards.

about 2 months ago
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Netflix Confirms Deal For Access To Verizon's Network

kaiser423 Re:Not news. Netflix bought net connection like us (135 comments)

Pretty succinct summary, but it ignores some of the subtleties. Netflix was paying Cogent, and then Verizon and Comcast basically clogged that interconnect either by neglecting it, not upgrading it, or what have you, making the Cogent connection useless and used it as a bargaining chip in negotiations. Being able to degrade your competitors is typically a regulatory issue, hence the call for net neutrality. It obviously wasn't a technical issue given that the ISPs were able to triple their speeds overnight. I don't think that there's a problem if Netflix wants to buy bandwidth directly from the ISP if it's cheaper/better. But, given that the ISP can essentially force Netflix's hand by making all other competitors service substantially worse, it seems more like rent seeking than a competitive marketplace.

about 3 months ago
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Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner To Code

kaiser423 Re:no one would HIRE them, either (581 comments)

if you are transitioning from one skill/job to, say, software, you'll probably be over 30, and maybe over 40.

I think that this is really it. Lots of these guys are going to be in their 50's. Those in their 60's can likely do early retirement, ride unemployment until SS kicks in or something. Some of those in their mid 50's and need jobs for 5-10 years. I'm sure that quite a few of them can learn to code, but it's going to suck up quite a bit of their remaining time in the workforce before retirement and then they typically still won't be as good as a college graduate or similar. I've trained quite a few people in their 50's to code, but here's the thing: Lots of them type ~10-20WPM, don't know how to use a mouse or Google, etc. To bring them up to even junior-level proficiency is a 3-4 year task, minimum, if they're smart. When asked to cross-train those, which I am sure that a lot of coal miners aren't great with computers, we don't try to teach them to code. We have them do more babysitting, assemblying, checking computers, etc.

about 4 months ago
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Navy Debuts New Railgun That Launches Shells at Mach 7

kaiser423 Re:Difficult to defend against (630 comments)

At that speed you don't need to disrupt the flight path much to cause instant unstable flight/burning up. I would think that a Phalanx could still do the trick. The issue being that it's moving fast enough that unless your defensive systems are locked, loaded and engaged you likely don't have time to react. Typically unless you're under active attack you disable them just so you don't end up with the system accidentally blowing something out of the sky and making front page news in a bad way. Though if you have a couple of these coming at you in a salvo, I imagine that you're all but screwed with current defensive systems. But that's the case with lots of "sprinting" missiles anyways that hit the deck and speed up quick just before they hit defensive range. A couple of them can make a day go bad pretty quick too.

about 4 months ago
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Microsoft: Start Menu Returns, Windows Free For Small Device OEMs, Cortana Beta

kaiser423 Re:Big deal. (387 comments)

Why haven't you used the start menu? I used it dozens of times a day. Press the window button, type "mspaint" or "notepad" and hit enter. Or type the first word or two in the document you want and hit enter blind. I never *looked* at the Start Menu, but used it extensively. Now on 8 when I try to do the same thing the whole screen changes, crap pops up everywhere and it appears less accurate and more likely to just search the internet or something. It's really jarring from basically being able to Win key + type what I want and hit enter and have it show up somewhere. Now it's a couple of full screen UI redraws and changes and much much slower.

about 4 months ago
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AT&T Exec Calls Netflix "Arrogant" For Expecting Net Neutrality

kaiser423 Re:Double-dipping (466 comments)

Sign me up to act as a mini-CDN inside of the ISPs. Of course, barred by TOS but the ISP is complaining about the traffic being too asymmetric, so let's just even it out a bit....

about 4 months ago
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What Fire and Leakage At WIPP Means For Nuclear Waste Disposal

kaiser423 Re:New Mexico (154 comments)

Yea, the Southern portion of the state (particularly the area you cite) is baked pretty thoroughly, but so is Southern Arizona. Just North of White Sands there's still huge rivers of dried lava flows that geologists just love and some areas that people come from around the world to bird-watch. Southern NM has it's own charm that a lot of people like, but it is largely desert. Ruidoso isn't bad at all. High plains in the center of the state that house the VLA, etc are beautiful. Sunrises like you wouldn't believe and some great big country and forests. Up North with Taos, Chama, Santa Fe, Red River, etc there are some great areas that compete for scenery with the best of them. I go elk hunting in a nice watersheld/caldera in the Northern portion and down in the central watersheds and when I post pictures online of my hunts, most people mistake it for Colorado, Wyoming, etc. El Paso to Cruces can be pretty bad (as can Albuquerque to Farmington), but every state has uninteresting stretches.

about 4 months ago
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How Satellite Company Inmarsat Tracked Down MH370

kaiser423 Re:Why? (491 comments)

They have these installed on most, but not all aircraft. Malaysians obviously had some but not all installed. That said, nearly everything is controllable by the pilot. If a fire starts you don't want to continue providing electricity to the area burning. Sometimes the actual safety systems can smoke/light on fire (very, very rare but less rare than hijackings). So the pilot needs to be able to turn these systems off for safety's sake. Some breakers are in locations that you have to climb to to turn off, making it very unlikely that that would happen except by skilled operators in very rare circumstances.

about 4 months ago
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How Satellite Company Inmarsat Tracked Down MH370

kaiser423 Re:How can they be certain no one survived? (491 comments)

The point is that life rafts have emergency satellite beacons on them that active once deployed. These have been thoroughly tested and work. The plane has many liferafts that would potentially be deployed. It is very, very unlikely that if liferafts were deployed that any or all of them also had faulty beacons. It is even more unlikely that the beacons would fail but that the water and other supplies would be intact. If liferaft had been deployed we would have known the location of the crash within minutes.

about 4 months ago
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Apple Reportedly In Talks With Comcast For Separate Apple Streaming Path

kaiser423 Re:S C U M B A G S (150 comments)

I currently access the Play Store on a forked Android derivative. There's nothing to keep me from doing so and Google makes no effort to keep me from doing so. But if you're a company and you want to ship the Google Play Store on your devices by default, Google does require some dollars and deals to ensure that your device is supported and to handle the development and bug squashing associated with supporting that device, etc. Basically, a company can't just install all of Google's apps and act like it's a supported configuration without it actually being supported....Seems reasonable to me.

about 4 months ago
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Apple Reportedly In Talks With Comcast For Separate Apple Streaming Path

kaiser423 Re:Trojan Horse (150 comments)

From the rumor's going around, Comcast isn't laying down any extra wires that Apple owns or controls. It would literally be like a separate VPN on the wires already coming to your house that has enough bandwidth guaranteed to it to give you an "Apple" experience; aka quick start, no buffer, high quality, etc. So I doubt that this is the plan, and I sincerely doubt that Comcast would lay down extra wires at their expense and then just give them to Apple. I just don't see how your scenario is really plausible.

about 4 months ago
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Facebook Introduces Hack: Statically Typed PHP

kaiser423 Re:So many bugs (230 comments)

I've written hundreds of thousands of lines of statically typed code and I'd say that at no point in my career, from programming noob in college to anywhere else did I ever spend more than 1-2% of my effort "dicking around with static types, casts, etc and spinning my wheels chasing down type errors when I could be progressing rapidly towards a solution", much less anywhere near half my time. That includes projects where I've done 1k+ SLOC in a morning to get proof of concepts out. I just don't see how static typing really slows anyone down unless your approach is to run a function, see what you get out and then hope that you can do something else with the returned object which is just ugly and slow in its own right. I guess that I just think differently than some; maintaining in my brain's working set what the objects I actually have in front of me are, and what they do and support is not that much overhead and doesn't detract from anything else.

Also, when I work with dynamically typed languages I tend to spend similar amounts of times if not more figuring out what really is and is not supported with this dynamic object in front me. I personally just don't see the speed up.

about 4 months ago

Submissions

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Truly Remote Management

kaiser423 kaiser423 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

kaiser423 (828989) writes "I'm looking to integrate some highly critical solutions into what would essentially be a remote, moving datacenter. No operators will be allowed at the site, and we may be able to have a high-speed INMARSAT data link. As a backup, we're planning to have multiple redundant low-speed Iridium data links.

We've been looking at remote in and out-of-band management solutions, and really have found a ton of products. However, the "low-bandwidth" solutions still exceed our potential Iridum bandwidth (~10kbps). Even if we have the INMARSAT link (192kbps sustained, higher burst), a number of these solutions would hit that limit. We're starting to look at going old-school with some terminal-style applications, but haven't found much of a market for it. PC Weasel looks kind of like it might work, but the demo doesn't work for Windows.

Essentially, we're looking to be able to power up/down and reboot some computers, and be able to start/stop some programs. We're willing to write the terminal interfaces necessary for our programs, and possibly do the remote desktop thing with some of our 3rd party programs. But what is out there that would give us this type of access, work robustly over a high-latency, low-bandwidth stream, and would be tolerant to intermittent network outages? Please hold the pick 2 of the 3 jokes, I know they're contradictory goals; I'm looking for a compromise here! These boxes would regrettably be nearly universally Windows boxes (with some VxWorks). It seems to be a market that died with 56k modems. Does anyone out there remember those days, and have any solutions that they preferred?"
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Is there OSS Voip Comm-Net Software?

kaiser423 kaiser423 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

kaiser423 (828989) writes "I had been looking at replacing our mission communication infrastructure at my employer. Currently, we have a small panel that allows the operator to switch between talking on 6 pre-defined nets and listening to any combination. It's currently analog, noisy, and not reconfigurable. We've been bumping our heads against its limitations for some time now, and have been looking for a more dynamic, scalable system. I had suggested upgrading to a Voip system, like the Quintron Dices or the Orion Voip system. However, all of these systems are locked-down with no API! We would at least like to be able to programmatically interface with whatever solution we buy, and to roll our own hardware to run the systems where needed. Also, considering that this is mission-critical equipment, we would like to not be totally beholden to a vendor that could lock us in. I have been browsing the Asterisk and other forums, but no one in the OSS community seems to have the same need as me. I am open to rolling my own, but am totally new to the Voip world and am not sure where to start. Do any slashdotters have any suggestions?"

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