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Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

perpenso 50s 60s 70s business deferred costs to "now" ... (626 comments)

... Back in the 50s, 60s, early 70s -- before large scale automation and computerization -- businesses had big labor expenses but somehow managed to stay in business ...

Your argument fails due to what is perhaps the most common caveat in statistics and economics, "all other things being equal". There are huge factors that make those decades different, post-WW2 factors, deferred labor costs, etc.

Yes, by deferring employee costs to future decades. For example a company like General Motors in the 50s 60s and early 70s negotiated lower labor hourly rates by offering increased retirement benefits. Basically the CEOs of the 50s 60s and early 70s effectively shifted costs from those decades to, well, "now". This shifted cost was one of the major factors in GM's "recent" near bankruptcy.

The other factor that you failed to consider is that the US emerged from WW2 with not only the only intact manufacturing base but an expanded and modernized manufacturing base. Plus a population that did not see their savings and often their homes and worldly possessions lost, rather a population that had been earning good wages during the war and had no real place to spend their money so they saved it.

So in the US we had a population flush with cash, a huge demand for consumer goods, and no competition. It was a business environment where a company could survive the dumbest practices.

Now add a huge government stimulus as the Marshal plan helped rebuild Europe and Japan. This created a huge demand for heavy industry goods and services.

This US industrial and manufacturing dominance had a long tail as it took decades for former industrial nations to recover from the war. In other words a lot of the profitability of the 50s 60s and early 70s was part of that long tail of the post war years.

yesterday
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Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

perpenso US had wage and price controls in the 1970s ... (626 comments)

Yes and we could also elect a dictator who would set price controls and order stores to sell certain items. It worked great in Venezuela.

No need to go that far. The US instituted wage and price controls in the 1970s in an attempt to fight inflation, it didn't work.

yesterday
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Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

perpenso Silicon Valley is a terrible example ... (626 comments)

When the minimum wage went up in San Jose, the downtown pizza parlor raised the per-slice price by $0.25 USD and per pie price by $1.00 USD. Business remained steady and the world didn't come to an end. Never mind that states with higher minimum wage have higher job growth

San Jose is the largest city in Silicon Valley, third largest city in California, and 10th largest city in the United States.

Silicon Valley is a terrible example to demonstrate the effects of a minimum wage increase and corresponding increases in local product/service costs. The area is too wealthy, this distorts the reaction to $1 more per pizza.

"The median household income is $90,000, according to the Census Bureau. The average single-family home sells for about $1 million. The airport is adding an $82 million private jet center."
http://www.usatoday.com/story/...

yesterday
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Mixing Agile With Waterfall For Code Quality

perpenso Re:Some flavors of agile fight human nature ... (133 comments)

But some flavors say that developers are supposed to work on all parts of the project.

I think that is a misreading. Development teams should be assigned to end to end features. Development teams can be specialized in particular features and the components associated with those features. Development teams should be allowed to work on whatever component is required to implement their features, including some that may only be peripheral to their core components in order to complete a feature.

I think we are describing two very different sized projects. I'm not referring to very large projects that are implemented by multiple development teams. I am referring to more modest sized projects where there is a single development team; several different small projects that are developed/maintained by a single development team; etc.

I'd have to go find the book that a previous manager read and fell in love with, but it was pretty clear. Don't let someone always work in the same area or always avoid a particular area, no team member "owns" or "controls" a particular area, etc. The book didn't make a lot of sense to me, the author was always seemed to be describing examples and success stories from a single internal corporate IT project. I'm sure it all worked wonderfully from him but his experience seemed to be in a very narrow niche and I didn't see the methodology he was promoting being a good fit in many other areas. Unfortunately management felt differently.

And again, I'm not referring to agile in general. Just some particular flavors, especially those with guru champions selling books championing their flavor. Many things in the core of agile make sense -- frequent deliveries of working software, frequent use by / feedback from customers/users, avoid crunch mode, keep code simple / just the essentials, etc -- however it is in the actual implementation of some particular agile process that things can get strange and/or counterproductive. Possibly because of the unsuitability of the chosen flavor of agile.

about a week ago
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Mixing Agile With Waterfall For Code Quality

perpenso Re:Some flavors of agile fight human nature ... (133 comments)

One of the key tenants for Agile though is that developers pick the tasks they're going to work on in a sprint.

But some flavors say that developers are supposed to work on all parts of the project. So yes they may be able to pick the individual task but they might not be able to pick a task from an area they prefer.

about a week ago
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Mixing Agile With Waterfall For Code Quality

perpenso Some flavors of agile fight human nature ... (133 comments)

The problem is that unless your business IS software

Exactly this.

And it gets worse for some flavors of agile, for example where any programmer can get assigned to any task any part of the code, etc.

Aside from the implicit assumption that all parts of the code are equivalent and all programmers are interchangeable, which may be true to some degree for the corporate IT projects that some agile books use as their wonderful success stories and basis, this fights human nature. Some people are productive and happy bouncing around different parts of a project, but others are more product and happier when then get to drill down and focus and become expert in one particular area. Its just the way people are wired, some one way, some the other.

A key to good management is to figure out what work styles and methodologies fit each individual programmer so that their productivity (and hopefully happiness) can be high. That's the problem with these "here is the one true universal answer" methodologies, they fight against human nature. Admittedly this may not be a problem with agile in general but it is a problem in some flavors of agile.

about a week ago
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Liking Analog Meters Doesn't Make You a Luddite (Video)

perpenso SCUBA still has analog ... (155 comments)

No one, outside of some small specialty manufacturers (including some old-time avionics makers), makes analog meters implemented mechanically any more, if you mean something where a cable turns some gears which turn a needle. They're all electrical and digitally-controlled now, and have been for some time, and for good reason: mechanical meters simply aren't as reliable or accurate.

Depends on the domain. Analog gauges are still popular in SCUBA diving. No batteries required. An analog pressure gauge telling you whats in the tank. Another analog pressure gauge telling you your depth.

OK, this was a while ago ... but while on a dive boat about half the divers had analog and half had dive computers. Guess which group the programmers and electrical engineers tended to be in and which group the lawyers and accountants tended to be in? :-)

about two weeks ago
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Antiperspirants Could Contribute to Particulate Pollution

perpenso Re:Heh (70 comments)

Great, our communes already smell like a landfill because the greenies make us recycle, and now we all get to smell like they do.

Having once moved from a suburban environment to a ranch environment (horses, cows, etc) I can tell you the odor only bothers you for about three days. After that you still recognized the odors they just no longer have an effect. It seems a persistent ability. Many years after moving back to suburbia I drove near some dairies. While other passengers were nearly gagging I experienced nothing more than the thought "huh, cows".

about two weeks ago
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Snapchat Says Users Were Victimized By Their Use of Third-Party Apps

perpenso Online at Amazon ... (90 comments)

Most of snapchat's 25 y.o. users don't even know where to buy a postage stamp.

Online at Amazon. Of course the seller, USPS, only gets a 4/5 star rating.

about two weeks ago
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Where Intel Processors Fail At Math (Again)

perpenso Re:FPUs are **inherently** approximations (239 comments)

The stack of errata on any current modern CPU is quite large. It is not just math functions...

I'm not talking about errata, about bugs, I'm talking about the inherent lack of precision when using a FPU. Its a design compromise inherent into all FPUs, inherent into IEEE single and double precision.

about two weeks ago
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What's Been the Best Linux Distro of 2014?

perpenso Re:Most Linux users just want Unix ... (303 comments)

Linux just works, that's why I use it.

That's my point. Its convenient, it works, its *nix. The fanboi'ism and politics, don't care, its as bad as and embarrassing as the Mac zealots. Most software engineers I've encountered just want a working *nix. Whoever delivers gets their usage. Again, notice the popularity of Mac OS X at *nix conferences.

Back in the 90s when I was using a 486DX2 I brought home two CDs from the local computer swapmeet. FreeBSD and Yggdrasil plug and play Linux. Having grown up on BSD in college I first tried FreeBSD. It crashed during install. I tried Yggdrasil, it installed and configured just fine, that's why I used Linux.

Note, configuration includes **autoconfiguing** graphics, audio, and networking. It truly was plug and play. It was only later when I tried other Linux distributions that I became familiar with the absurdity of having to enter in the monitor timing values to get graphics to work. Other Linux distros were truly far behind Yggdrasil.

Today for desktop tasks where *nix provides the better solution I use Mac OS X's BSD environment. Linux is for the headless servers in the closet and for devices like a raspberry pi.

about two weeks ago
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What's Been the Best Linux Distro of 2014?

perpenso Re:Most Linux users just want Unix ... (303 comments)

By politics of the GPL I am referring to things like GPL v BSD. I don't think many *nix users will ever care at that level.

Proprietary vs FOSS, that is something different, that may one day become an issue. But FOSS in general, not the GPL specifically.

about two weeks ago
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Where Intel Processors Fail At Math (Again)

perpenso FPUs are **inherently** approximations (239 comments)

If you want it precise, do it yourself to the level of precision you need.

People just don't realize that FPUs are **inherently** approximations, anyone's FPU, its not Intel specific. There are inaccuracies converting to and from binary, there are inaccuracies depending on the relative magnitude of operands, the are inaccuracies due to rounding, etc ...

Do you know one way to tell if a calculator app is implemented using the FPU. Try 0.5 - 0.4 - 0.1, you may not get zero if a FPU is used. That is why handheld calculators often implement calculations using decimal math rather than a FPU. The better apps do so as well. This includes an iOS scientific/stats/business/hex calculator app that I wrote. Decimal math for operations, Taylor series based trig calculations, etc.

about two weeks ago
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What's Been the Best Linux Distro of 2014?

perpenso Most Linux users just want Unix ... (303 comments)

FreeBSD is not Linux though.

Which isn't really much of a problem. Many, if not most, Linux users just want Unix functionality and don't care about the Linux brand itself, don't care about the GPL and its politics, etc. Hence the popularity of Mac OS X for many *nix users. It just so happens that for commodity PC hardware Linux is one of the more convenient *nix offerings.

about two weeks ago
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Why Military Personnel Make the Best IT Pros

perpenso Mechanics making changes to V-22 Osprey ... (299 comments)

Systems are delivered ready-to-use, and the military personnel are there to follow the book to keep them running

Not even close. Former Marine, and current defense contractor here. DoD systems need constant work, and work-arounds. Finding ways to get things done, despite the systems provided, is part of daily military life.

Here's a practical example. Many people would be surprised at the number of changes being made to the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft that are not coming from degreed engineers but rather from a corporal or sergeant who works on the aircraft. Boeing is routinely sending engineers out to get feedback and suggestions the people who fly and maintain these new and incredibly complicated machines.

And to be honest, this is not really something new. There are similar stories going back to the 50s and probably back to the dawn of military aviation. Its not specific to aviation either. Another famous example is the "teeth" added to tanks during the Normandy campaign of WW2. The tanks were getting stuck in the thick hedgerows, some "hillbilly" suggests putting saw teeth on the tank and some sergeant grabs a welding torch a starts cutting up some angle iron from German anti-tank obstacles and then welding the result onto some tanks. It worked brilliantly.

about three weeks ago
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Why Military Personnel Make the Best IT Pros

perpenso Re:Some would be well suited. (299 comments)

I don't know about "military IT pros" but if you pick people from combat specialties, and yes some of them know IT, you will find many quite adept at going outside the norm and improvising while lacking the proper equipment and support. One of the favorite IT admins at a previous employer spent time as a door gunner on a blackhawk.

To be honest I'm skeptical about your "military IT pros" appraisal. Are you referring to people working at the Pentagon or something more like people at a Battalion HQ who kept things running on base and who on occasion set things up in the field. I suspect the later would also be quite adept at improvisation and meeting deadlines.

about three weeks ago
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How President Nixon Saved/Wrecked the American Space Program

perpenso Kennedy did *not* believe in manned spaceflight (125 comments)

Growing up on the mythology of Apollo (the space program not the god) I was shocked to read the things found in the quite below. But mythology is one thing and history is another.

As a Senator Kennedy did not believe in manned space flight, he thought the money should be spent on social programs. He was more open to less expensive robotic missions.

As President he was still not interested in manned flight. The "new frontier" was actually of little interest to Kennedy. What did get Kennedy behind the Apollo program was, payback to Vice President Johnson for his support and more importantly Cold War politics.

Shockingly, here is NASA's portrayal of Kennedy's motivations:
"Kennedy as president had little direct interest in the U.S. space program. He was not a visionary enraptured with the romantic image of the last American frontier in space and consumed by the adventure of exploring the unknown. He was, on the other hand, a Cold Warrior with a keen sense of Realpolitik in foreign affairs, and worked hard to maintain balance of power and spheres of influence in American/Soviet relations. The Soviet Union's non-military accomplishments in space, therefore, forced Kennedy to respond and to serve notice that the U.S. was every bit as capable in the space arena as the Soviets. Of course, to prove this fact, Kennedy had to be willing to commit national resources to NASA and the civil space program. The Cold War realities of the time, therefore, served as the primary vehicle for an expansion of NASA's activities and for the definition of Project Apollo as the premier civil space effort of the nation. Even more significant, from Kennedy's perspective the Cold War necessitated the expansion of the military space program, especially the development of ICBMs and satellite reconnaissance systems."
http://history.nasa.gov/Apollo...

Another interesting and shocking bit of trivia.

"Consistently throughout the 1960s a majority of Americans did not believe Apollo was worth the cost, with the one exception to this a poll taken at the time of the Apollo 11 lunar landing in July 1969. And consistently throughout the decade 45-60 percent of Americans believed that the government was spending too much onspace, indicative of a lack of commitment to the spaceight agenda."
http://www.theatlantic.com/tec...

about three weeks ago
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Boeing Told To Replace Cockpit Screens Affected By Wi-Fi

perpenso Re:Boeing says not a theoretical problem ... (142 comments)

... Emissions at the operating frequency were as high as 60 dB over the airplane equipment emission limits ...

The funny part being that iPads and the MS Surfaces are rated for Cockpit use. Pilots are now using these all the time because it saves them from having to carry around 30lbs worth of paper charts. It's kind of a big deal if the pilot isn't allowed to double check where he or she is going because the plane might break. Oh, and when I say carry around I mean it. Things like charts are per pilot, not per aircraft.

And why are they rated for cockpit use, because their emissions have been tested and unlike some of the devices that Boeing found they do not exceed limits?

about three weeks ago
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Boeing Told To Replace Cockpit Screens Affected By Wi-Fi

perpenso Boeing says not a theoretical problem ... (142 comments)

As others have pointed out, Boeing says it is not a theoretical problem ...

"Operators of commercial airplanes have reported numerous cases of portable electronic devices affecting airplane systems during flight. These devices, including laptop and palmtop computers, audio players/recorders, electronic games, cell phones, compact-disc players, electronic toys, and laser pointers, have been suspected of causing such anomalous events as autopilot disconnects, erratic flight deck indications, airplanes turning off course, and uncommanded turns. Boeing has recommended that devices suspected of causing these anomalies be turned off during critical stages of flight (takeoff and landing)."

"Boeing conducted a laboratory and airplane test with 16 cell phones typical of those carried by passengers, to determine the emission characteristics of these intentionally transmitting PEDs. The laboratory results indicated that the phones not only produce emissions at the operating frequency, but also produce other emissions that fall within airplane communication/navigation frequency bands (automatic direction finder, high frequency, very high frequency [VHF] omni range/locator, and VHF communications and instrument landing system [ILS]). Emissions at the operating frequency were as high as 60 dB over the airplane equipment emission limits, but the other emissions were generally within airplane equipment emission limits."

http://www.boeing.com/commerci...

about three weeks ago

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