Game of Thrones Author George R R Martin Writes with WordStar on DOS
When asked for advice on "how to become a writer" - most professional writers will come back with some form of "write something, then write something else, then write some more." A big part of the writing process is figuring out when, where, and how you are able to write. i.e. The tools you use to write shouldn't get in the way of your writing (the second most popular tip is "when you aren't writing - read")
if Mark Zuckerberg were to come out and say that he is using a Commodore 64 or TRS-80 to work on Facebook - that would be unusual...
Mr. Martin's writing process has the benefit of being almost 100% secure (
maybe Quentin Tarantino needs a downgrade)
top SEC Chair On HFT: 'The Markets Are Not Rigged'
I'm half way through "Flash Boys" (well written, entertaining). It is interesting the impact that technology has had on the stock market, but this isn't anything new (which is one of the points of "Flash Boys").
one for putting things in perspective: "Where are the Customers’ Yachts?" by Fred Schwed, Jr. (first edition 1940).
and under "they are trying to change the world":
top Ask Slashdot: Do Any Development Shops Build-Test-Deploy On A Cloud Service?
didn't I just
read somewhere about Google doing something with this enterprise cloud thing?
the answer to the question is "it depends" - my gut says "no" but as others have pointed out, if you want to know if something will be a cost effective solution, you need to test
the game changing benefit of the "cloud" is the ability to scale up/down as needed
... SO from a financial viewpoint the question is similar to "Should we buy a building or rent office space?"
BTW my headline is from a Dilbert gobbledygook generator - which I'm 90% sure that 100% of CTO's use an undefined % of the time
top Are DVDs Inconvenient On Purpose?
As a long time Netflix subscriber (maybe 10 years - going back to when it was 3 DVDs at a time for $14.99 and no streaming option) - I'd say the answer to the headline is "no."
Reed Hastings claims that high-speed internet streaming was always his plan for Netflix - they just had to wait for the technology to catch up. While they were waiting, Netflix had to fight off competition from Wal-Mart (Netflix bought them out) and Blockbuster (who probably wish Netflix had bought them out) in the "DVD by mail" space. When they first rolled out the "streaming" option, the movies available for streaming were not good (but streaming was a free add on - so it didn't really matter).
When streaming became a viable option, the big problem Netflix ran into was Netflix ("We have met the enemy and they are us"). They tried to raise the monthly fee and people bolted for the door (800,000 members quickly gone). Netflix said "oops!" and decided to split into two services (Anybody remember "Quickster?"), which people also hated - so we got something like the current price structure.
So, no DVDs are not inconvenient on purpose, and won't go away anytime soon. Netflix arrived at its pricing structure by responding to market forces. Streaming content is the future (and the future is now!) - which means licensing agreements with content creators/providers will surpass "hard copy" sales (if they haven't already).
...and if you are colecting marketing data for Netflix: I'm a streaming only customer. I "rent"/stream a lot of just released movies from Amazon.com (had a problem with the 30 day wait time for DVD new releases from Netflix - but if I could get new movies the week they are released on DVD I'd go back)
top Ask Slashdot: Fastest, Cheapest Path To a Bachelor's Degree?
ditto on WGU (got my MBA in IT management from there) - another low cost, accredited option is
Excelsior (one of the older "distance education" institutions)
top Ask Slashdot: As a Programmer/Geek, Should I Learn Business?
if you are asking if you should on
/. = my guess is that you probably aren't that interested
this always make me laugh (because it is true)
top Digital Revolution Will Kill Jobs, Inflame Social Unrest, Says Gartner
an anecdote from the WSJ
'At one of our dinners, Milton recalled traveling to an Asian country in the 1960s and visiting a worksite where a new canal was being built. He was shocked to see that, instead of modern tractors and earth movers, the workers had shovels. He asked why there were so few machines. The government bureaucrat explained: “You don’t understand. This is a jobs program.” To which Milton replied: “Oh, I thought you were trying to build a canal. If it’s jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels.”
yes - "innovation" will destroy jobs (file that observation under
creative destruction) but that will also result in new (as yet unknown) opportunities...
top How Amateurs Destroyed the Professional Music Business
There has always been "fan fiction" - most of it just never saw the light of day. The huge impact that the web has had is on publishing not production. The cost of publishing/distribution has become trivial. Now it is possible to publish/distribute "fan fiction" for next to nothing - rather than having a 500 page typewritten document in a box that they try to get their friends to read.
Distribution was a big benefit that a musician or author received from signing a contract with a "big" company. Again, if we went back to the first half of the 20th century you would find "big music companies" buying the rights to "regional hits" from independent/smaller campanies. The "big company" had the resources to publish on a large scale that the smaller companies lacked. Now individuals have the ability to get there work in front of a large audience without a "big company" (this applies to music, fiction, non-fiction, software, anything creative)
BTW I can appreciate the amount of effort that goes into producing any creative work. Just because it isn't any good doesn't mean it didn't take a lot of work to produce it. With that said -
watch JJ Abrams' TED talk if you want motivation to "create"
top How Amateurs Destroyed the Professional Music Business
Yes, this is a bad time for the (what we think of as "traditional") music business, but just because the tools are "available" doesn't mean that there will be a huge increase in output. e.g. people have had the tools to write for years (pencils, paper, typewriters, word processors) - but professional authors and publishers aren't going away
even if you are a
hack writer- it still takes "work"to produce a non-trivial product. That "work" part is my argument for why the scenario described won't happen ...
I'll even argue that the biggest change to happen to the music industry was the microphone and/or radio back in the first half of the 20th century not inexpensive computers and the internet. Back then "music companies" made money selling
sheet music - which people would purchase to play at home. (I recommend this fantastic Coursera class to anyone interested in the history of modern music business) ...
I agree that the music industry is changing - but "convenience wins every time" is a spurious argument. Most of the "professional" musicians I've heard talk about "how they got into the music business" describe it as something they just had to do. They didn't just wake up one morning and say "I think I'll be a musician" - they followed their passion, put in the work, and eventually made it. That isn't going to change - "passion will beat convenience" no matter what technology comes along
top Aussie Public Servant Criticises Gov't On Twitter, Gets Sacked
... is that people might actually use it
just for the "by the way file" there are slander and libel laws in most "free" countries - so no, you aren't free to say whatever pops into your head, but you are supposed to be "free within the law" to express yourself
top We're Number 9! US Broadband Speeds Rise, But Slower Than Many Other Countries'
"boring and annoying" sums up Atlas Shrugged very well
I like to point out that it was published in 1957 - so some stuff we take for granted in 2013 was cutting edge at the time. Parts of it aren't bad (Ayn Rand did live through the Bolshevik/Russian revolution - and saw first hand the economic results of central planning and collectivism), parts are terrible (basically the other half of the book not dealing with economics).
I don't think Rand would accept the "libertarian" designation - she was selling
"objectivism" which comes across as something Karl Marx intended (a perfect society based on reason).
Meanwhile "libertarian" thought is nicely summed up by
The Cato institute's web site: "Promoting an American public policy based on individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peaceful international relations"
top We're Number 9! US Broadband Speeds Rise, But Slower Than Many Other Countries'
I agree with most of what you are saying - with a few comments:
The actual libertarian reply would revolve around "free markets" and "limited government" not the either/or fallacy of "government" or "no government." Libertarians are in favor of individual choice and not an artificial choice between "government"/"anarchy"
government has a place, but "more government" isn't always the answer (e.g. Detroit, Michigan)
We agree that if your service provider is doing a terrible job - you should have the ability to choose another provider. I'm even willing to consider "utility" status for internet access but don't pretend like it will magically materialize out of the ether with no cost and unlimited speed/usage.
to paraphrase Homer Simpson, "Government the cause of and solution to all of our problems."
top Ask Slashdot: Exploiting 'Engineering And
...' On a Resume?
As a rule the only "career advice" I ever give is
with that said - I've heard a lot of business owners say they like to "hire for attitude and train for skills." Military service is going to be a plus for most companies BUT What employers really care about is that you will help their company succeed - the parts to emphasize from your military service are that you will show up, work hard, and have a good attitude (but I wouldn't say "I've learned to embrace the suck." if they ask you what you learned from serving in the military
from the purely practical side: you will get extra "points" if you want to work for the federal government; having an active security clearance is required for a lot (most) defense contractor type jobs.
You have an opportunity to chase your "dream job" - so figure out your ideal job (be specific). In the next year you should get good contact information for people who will say nice things about you and make sure they know you are going to use them as a reference. Let EVERYBODY know what type of job you are looking for and where you want to live - you might be surprised by someone who has a relative/friend looking to hire someone in your field, you might want to have someone help you with a résumé (at the least get a book)
"follow your bliss" (but first Gnothi seauton)
top Are Booth Babes Going Away? (Video)
my first thought was of
Jen in the I.T. crowd getting the task of "entertaining" the visiting executives ...
Second thought is that "good marketing" is also a great way to quickly kill a bad product - if your product doesn't "perform" (choose a metric any metric) then "good marketing" will have the unintended consequence of letting a lot of people find out that your product is worthless. These people will "get the word out" and ipso facto - yadda yadda yadda - good bye product/company
example: the whole
dot com boom and bust
of course large amounts of money have been made by "good marketing" and mediocre/"good enough" products - (depending on your preference) Microsoft and/or Apple are great examples
as far as "booth babes" go - my guess is that this is a cyclical phenomenon (they aren't going to go away - because they generate "booth visits" - which is the point of going to an expo). It is possible that the whole convention/expo thing is becoming obsolete but that is another subject...
Man Of Steel Leaps Over Record With $125.1 Million To Mixed Reviews
... My 14 year old nephew loved it. I was looking at my watch a lot - the best thing I can say is that it is definitely a "reboot" of the franchise - Superman as Greek hero
top Professors Say Massive Open Online Courses Threaten Academic Freedom
If a school is offering online classes as part of their "normal" curriculum, and if you use the university's resources to produce something while being paid by the university - does this become a
work for hire situation?
in the economics of running a college (in the United States at least) "academics" isn't at the top of the "income generating list" - my "traditional big college university" income list = 1. housing, 2. alumni donations, and sometimes 3. athletics/research. Which means actually "educating" students isn't the primary mission for a lot of schools - so it follows that the professors/instructors become a necessary evil - i.e. a "cost" to be constrained or a "resource" to be utilized.
(of course at smaller schools student tuition - and government grants/loans - are the main source of income but that is a different subject)
online classes are great for actually educating people, and can enhance a school's "brand" (which is the approach I'm seeing with a lot of coursera classes) - so I don't see free mooc's as a huge threat to the acdemic status quo - but "ownership" probably leans towards the university.
of course nothing is stopping an enterprising instructor from creating mooc's on their time, with their resources, and with their name attached...
in the "I don't work at the MIT admissions office" category - I don't think 12 years of
OpenCourseware has had a negative impact on M.I.T.'s admissions numbers ...
top Ask Slashdot: How Do You Prove an IT Manager Is Incompetent?
I agree with everyone who has said some version of "hire a consultant" to evaluate the situation.
Since you were "asked by a medium-sized business to help them come to grips with why their IT group is ineffective" - I'm assuming that you are the consultant they hired
Think of your job as proving "I.T. malpractice" - with the specific role of proving "I.T. negligence." The manager was negligent if they weren't "reasonably skillful and careful" - which you can prove by taking those "countless projects that are overly complex, don't function as needed, and are incredibly expensive" and explaining what a "skilled and careful" professional would have attempted (i.e. the simple, cost effective, solution)
calling the manager "incompetent" isn't much better than saying that they are "stupid" (both of which may be true - but are hard to objectively prove).
the company might want to keep the manager around for some reason (*cough* nepotism *cough*) so the preferred solution might mean getting the manager "trained up" (.. and I'm guessing that they don't want to fire the manager - or they would have done that by now...)
of course ymmv, ianal, and all those other acronyms -
here is a place to start for the theory
top Do Developers Need Free Perks To Thrive?
the head of NCR (way back in the first half of the 20th century) was asked about the generous "fringe benefits" the company provided (including a golf course). He pointed out that employees were move productive when provided with the benefits. In his opinion NCR wasn't "giving away" anything, just doing what was best for the company.
any "perks" (like free soda) only increase productivity if the employee is happy with their base compensation. If someone thinks they are drastically underpaid/unvalued then no amount of freebies will matter
if someone feels like they are valued and doing important work - then they will be more productive/loyal
my guess is that the return on investment for free soda/coffee (in increased productivity) is extremely high - but it isn't about the soda
There is actually quite a bit of research on this type of thing - I'd recommend "Drive" by Daniel Pink and "Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely (he just did a coursera class as well) for anyone interested
top Do Big-Money Acquisitions Mean We're In a Tech Bubble?
I'm not saying we aren't in another tech bubble -but I don't think Yahoo!'s buying Summly says anything about the industry in general.
probably has it right - that this was more about hiring talent/changing company culture than about the actual business value of the app. about a year and a half ago
top Most Doctors Don't Think Patients Need Full Access To Med Records
Brokers don't think you should have full access to your investment account (after all THEY are professionals and you are too stupid to understand what they are doing).
Mechanics don't think you should have full access to your car's maintenance record (see above).
file this under
ruductio ad absurdum - I can understand the physicians point of view. I simply disagree...
"sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes"
about a year and a half ago