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Comments

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California Utility May Replace IT Workers with H-1B Workers

roc97007 Outsourcing is definition of "view from the top" (203 comments)

> This fosters an unhealthy culture and climate by sending a message to employees that it is more important to focus on how things look from the top than how they actually are down below.

In what world is outsourcing not the same culture in spades? Specifically, a few suits and a few lucky fourth or fifth level professionals selling the idea that a bunch of farmers with three hours of training can take over IT? This only works when the people making the decisions have a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem they're trying to solve.

As if Californians didn't have enough power problems... I'm glad I don't live there.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: System Administrator Vs Change Advisory Board

roc97007 Re:Change management gone wrong (287 comments)

> The idea of change management is to ensure that changes are tracked, but this sounds like bureaucratic crap.

Yep, that often happens when the people who are putting together the change management system have little experience with the issues that a change management system is supposed to fix. You then get hilarity like systems that prevent reasonable reaction time to production outages, "blanket" notification for every single change, a process that can't be successfully negotiated in less than a week, or my personal favorite, a mandatory process with no owners.

The issues as I see them are (a) what does the change entail? (a Red Hat "patch" sometimes will change the RHEL version number, which may take your apps out of compliance) (b) what else does it affect? (Sun patches often installed a virgin sendmail.cf, rendering email inoperable) (c) have you tested this change in a non-production environment? (if you're going to brick a server, do dev first) (d) will we be able to look back later and figure out what change occurred when and by who?

But this often degenerates into the managerial equivalent of a hen party, driven by people with way too much time on their hands, and the value is lost.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: System Administrator Vs Change Advisory Board

roc97007 patches really are an issue (287 comments)

I'm not sure that CAB is necessarily the right solution, but patching really is a problem and can't be done blindly unless your business can take the occasional production hit.

Admin is outsourced at out company, (I'm a former sysadmin who now does application admin, still local) and the contract apparently specifies "current minus one", which means we patch frequently on all platforms. The problem is, the offshore admins have no context, no idea what server provides what resources, (and yes, we've tried to educate them -- the information gets "lost" within weeks or months) and no conception of the idea of patching first on dev, then test, then prod. They manage patches by version numbers not by environments, which means a collection of patches may be announced (to all and sundry because they refuse to use the contact list) is a hodgepodge of development, sandbox and production servers. Information is commonly that the servers "will be patched" but not to what version, which has caused contractual support problems (where a server is running a more recent version of the OS than is supported by the app). Other joys have involved bricking prod servers with firmware patches, because they didn't try them in test first, insisting on doing nonessential servers on the weekends instead of evenings (because, no context) and forgetting that when it's daytime over there, it's dark over here, and I'm probably not going to be at my desk at 0'dark thirty to give some last minute approval to take a server down.

It's a mess, and the CAB process, as obnoxious as it is (we sit through 150 -- 200 change descriptions every week) serves to catch many of the above issues. The outsourcing company is annoyed by this -- they just want to patch -- but we have the process as self defense against very real issues.

What I'd recommend to the OP is to hire someone to manage the CAB process. We did, and it worked out pretty good.

2 days ago
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Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job

roc97007 Re:Modded down? (286 comments)

> I'm glad I was able to make it, retire, and now I only program for fun again like I did back when I was young. But I did that by living on half of what I made (which was a lot thankfully).

This is hard to confess. That's one of my biggest regrets, that I wasn't strong enough at the time to stand up to my wife and say, yes, I make six figures right now, but it may not last forever and we should plan accordingly. I was under huge pressure to spend money on her, to the point that for a time I was spending more than what I was making. (I calculated once that just under 2/3 of my net pay was going into food and entertainment alone.) By the time I grew a spine and started cutting back, I barely had enough time to approach debt-neutrality before the bust came. And then, a long period out of work. I nearly lost the house.

Anyone who wasn't an idiot would have continued to live simply, invest, pay off the house, and get ready for hard times. Had I done this, I might have chosen to retire when the crash came, and pursue activities that aren't as profitable but are more enjoyable than my geek job. I take small comfort that I didn't live quite as large as some of my associates during the boom, and didn't fall as far during bust. I could have done better, and should have.

2 days ago
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Industry-Wide Smartphone "Kill Switch" Closer To Reality

roc97007 Re:Is there a rising problem of smartphone theft? (137 comments)

That article is an excellent example of the complete absence of usable statistics. "Involve a cell phone" is very different from "mugged for their cell phone". Thefts are up 40%... from what? 10 people to 14 people? Of those 1.6 million people who had their handsets stolen last year, how many had their handsets stolen in the commission of a robbery where they took everything? How many were a purse snatching which happened to include a cell phone? In other words, is the real issue that criminals are targeting cell phones, or is it that more people have cell phones than at any time in the country's history, which would necessitate an increase in having them stolen?

I could probably make a case that most muggings involve theft of driver's licenses. Does this mean that thieves are targeting driver's licenses, or is it because the card is usually kept in the same wallet or pocketbook as the cash and credit cards?

Stolen iphones can be sold for "upwards of" $2K. What's the median? What's the volume? Is this a real problem?

2 days ago
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Industry-Wide Smartphone "Kill Switch" Closer To Reality

roc97007 Is there a rising problem of smartphone theft? (137 comments)

...and why would police care? Smartphones are rapidly becoming commodity items, and police have already demonstrated (to me at least) that they don't care about the theft of more valuable items than mere smartphones. For theft that doesn't involve violence, they give you a case number for your insurance and that's the end of their involvement. With the possible exception of stolen firearms, which the police seem to take far more seriously. So lessee... firearms, smartphones... what do these have in common?

3 days ago
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Industry-Wide Smartphone "Kill Switch" Closer To Reality

roc97007 Re:What about consumer rights? (137 comments)

Why are you foisting this on us if we don't want it?!?!

Because law enforcement wants it.

3 days ago
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Netflix Gets What It Pays For: Comcast Streaming Speeds Skyrocket

roc97007 So let me get this straight... (324 comments)

Comcast swore up and down that they didn't do traffic shaping on their networks. But now that Netflix has paid Comcast not to do traffic shaping and they've stopped. Doing what they said. They weren't. Doing. I don' geddit.

4 days ago
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Inside the Stolen Smartphone Black Market In London

roc97007 Re:Um Yeah. Right. (109 comments)

Wow, you might consider moving.

In some parts of the world cellphones are known as "mobile" phones or "portable" phones. Maybe he wasn't at home when they were stolen?

I assumed that. I know "robbed" technically implies a home invasion, but I was assuming he meant "mugged". (Which I agree may not be a valid assumption.) My comment meant: If the crime rate in the area where you live is so high that being robbed for something as trivial as a cell phone (it used to be tennis shoes...) is common, you might consider relocating to some place where that's less likely to happen. Parenthetically, I think this (not robbed for cell phones but crime rates in general) might have been the original reason people who could afford it moved out of the city into the suburbs.

I travel around the continental US for work, was an early adopter of cell phones, (worked as a contractor for a provider for awhile) and I've never had a phone stolen. Not once. Of course, (a) I always have my cell on me, so stealing it would involve interacting with me in some fashion (and I'm pretty big...) (b) I tend to buy a little better than I need and then keep it for a very long time, so the cell I'm carrying at any given moment is pretty beat up, and (c) I've never owned an Apple mobile device. I think they're trendy nonsense and I'm not surprised that they get stolen a lot. Like trendy overpriced tennis shoes used to be. But mostly, I try to stay out of areas where crime is common. (That time in Miami was an accident....)

4 days ago
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Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

roc97007 You kids with your Windows 8.1 (573 comments)

I couldn't upgrade to 8.1, let alone 8.1 update 1. 8.0 installed fine, but got massive acpi errors with 8.1 that neither Microsoft nor the hardware manufacturer could fix. (Which, I'd like to say, was a bit annoying after waiting for hours for it to download and install.) For that and other reasons, finally gave up and reinstalled Win7. My copy of Win8 gathers dust on the bookshelf.

It looks like at least some early adopters may be stuck. I don't know of a solution, except perhaps waiting for Microsoft to issue build disks that already contain some future update that sets things right. If such a beast ever materializes.

What a mess. I'd like to submit, this seems to prove that Ballmer wasn't all that's wrong with Microsoft.

4 days ago
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Inside the Stolen Smartphone Black Market In London

roc97007 Re:Um Yeah. Right. (109 comments)

Wow, you might consider moving.

5 days ago
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Mathematicians Use Mossberg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun To Calculate Pi

roc97007 sounds like a waste of ammo (307 comments)

Pi = "three and a bit"

Or, wrap a tape measure around a tin can, and then stretch it across the largest distance from lip to lip. Divide one into t'other.

5 days ago
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Mathematicians Use Mossberg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun To Calculate Pi

roc97007 Re:Who doesn't know the Montecarlo method? (307 comments)

I thought it was a common knowledge.

Why not just put peebles uniformelly distributed on a quarter of a circle inscribed on a square and use the same method?
you will only need a good hand, a stick, and some peebles.

I'm assuming you mean small rocks, and not department stores, which would be much more difficult to drop on a quarter circle. (But not impossible with adequate preparation.)

The simplest answer to your question is "because shotgun shells go bang".

5 days ago
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Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job

roc97007 Re:Modded down? (286 comments)

I can certainly see an argument for moving, but the poster I was replying to suggested that the only reason people might need more than that kind of wage (roughly $80k / year) would be because they're wasting it on luxuries like a massive house or some such. Which is not the case.

I agree with that. It's a classic problem -- a high cost of living in a given area tends to either drive wages up beyond national average, or drive living conditions down compared to the same career opportunities in other areas. Usually a combination of these.

I still keep in touch with a few people in the Bay Area, and the only ones who own a home live many miles to the east and endure an hours-long daily commute. Most are still renting apartments well into middle age. A few have invested in condos, which in most cases are repurposed motels and apartment complexes.

I've never lived in New York, but from personal experience living in SF, $33/hour isn't exactly rolling in cash.

5 days ago
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Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job

roc97007 Re:Modded down? (286 comments)

The problem with this thinking is that outsourcing jobs reduces the number of people, holistically, who can afford to buy non-essential products. So eventually, your sales go down anyway. Perhaps not right away, especially if you were on the leading edge of the outsourcing curve, but it's inevitable.

A "gaming mouse" (to use your example) assumes people who (a) have the free time to play games, (b) have the discretionary income to buy games, (what are computer games, still $60 per seat?) and (c) have enough discretionary income left over to buy a gaming mouse. And it is a certainty that some of the young people manning your call center are in that demographic. Except they can't afford that anymore, because you just outsourced phone support off shore and they're back living with their parents.

Of course, there isn't a 1:1 correlation, but the example above illustrates how, on a macroscopic level, every reduction in the number of locals working reduces the number of purchases made by locals. And if you're not exporting, that probably includes consumers in your sales demographic. It's a downward spiral, and it only seems like a fun ride if you're leading the pack. And then, only for a short time.

5 days ago
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Inside the Stolen Smartphone Black Market In London

roc97007 Um Yeah. Right. (109 comments)

Ok, so, apocryphal stories, check. Stats with no useful contextual data, check. (The number of deaths by falling pianos is up 100%!!)

A cell phone kill switch is still a phenomenally bad idea. Let's not let the media sell us on it with heart rending stories about some random person being robbed for their smartphone.

5 days ago
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Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job

roc97007 Re:Modded down? (286 comments)

Has anyone studied long term survival/performance of businesses that went whole-hog into H1B versus businesses that opted for local workers and paying them to keep high quality?

That's a truly excellent question. Not as far as I know. It's possible that the phenomenon has not been going on long enough for the effects to be apparent from outside the company. Big corporations tend to have a lot of inertia. I think that's the only reason HP still exists as a company.

5 days ago
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Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job

roc97007 Re:Modded down? (286 comments)

or you can turn it the other way around, ask the person why he wants to get paid 33$ or 37$ an hour in the first place as I think this is a very high amount to get paid. I could assume that over 50% of a paycheck goes to the house, appartment or mortgage then the problem ain't the paycheck alone but rather what he pays with it. Don't pay for waht you can't afford is what I can tell from lots of people. They got 3 floor house when they can alone afford a garden house anyways.

It's NYC. $37/hour doesn't go that far, especially if you have a family.

Then it might be time to move. Back in the nineties I moved out of the San Francisco bay area, where I had lived most of my life, because I took a hard look at the cost of living and the chances of ever owning a home, and decided that my salary as an engineer would never get me out of the apartment, much less raise a family. Finding a high tech job at the same salary in an area with lower cost of living was like getting a huge raise. And the quality of life is higher, the level of crime is much lower, and there's significantly less traffic. Of course, the temperatures and weather vary dramatically from the bay area, but the other things made it worth the trade, and we can always visit.

5 days ago
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Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job

roc97007 Re:Modded down? (286 comments)

Or we could turn it around again and point and laugh at losers like you who think everyone should be psychic and not buy homes with a 30 year mortgage because they should see that 15 years in the future some cretin will say "why should this person get paid $33 or $37 an hour" and work to cut their pay.

What does your crystal ball see in your future?

Mine sees wages continuing to deflate. Of all my friends during dot com boom, only two of us kept our houses after the bust. He, because he fully committed his salary at the time and now owns it outright, and me because I bought a smaller house in a child friendly neighborhood, and managed to find enough work post boom to keep up payments. Those who bought huge show pieces in gated hives are all gone now. Living in apartments or had moved out of state looking for work, or in very rare cases moved into sales or management. And don't let the rhetoric fool you -- sales and upper management are worked like dogs, constantly aware that they need to justify their inflated salaries or be replaced at a moment's notice.

My crystal ball sees a continuing flood of third world workers willing to accept convenience store salaries, and a lot more locals out of work. My boss actually brags in status meetings how much money he's saved with H1B workers, and how he intends to hire them whenever possible. (I'm a "legacy employee" grimly determined to hang onto my job.) In the meantime, morale has never been lower, communication suffers, and project continuity is almost nonexistent. But as long as the practice looks profitable on the short term, it will continue.

Part of me thinks that business is running mostly on inertia at the moment. Eventually we'll reach the point where consumers can't afford the non-essential trinkets that make so much money, because there aren't jobs anymore that pay enough to afford them. Currently it's a downward spiral, with companies paying less, causing consumers to have less to spend, reducing sales, which cause companies to find more cost cutting measures. (Currently, the biggest fad of which is hiring third world workers.) In the meantime, it's just a different kind of race to the bottom.

Oh, and I'm not just sitting around waiting for the axe to fall. I'm working on starting a new business in a completely different kind of work, one that involves directly interfacing with people, a skill that H1B employees generally lack. As a local, communication skills are your biggest advantage. Don't forget that, it might become useful some day.

5 days ago

Submissions

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Google Latitude leaves Google Maps, will be turned off August 9

roc97007 roc97007 writes  |  about 9 months ago

roc97007 (608802) writes "According to Cnet (and notifications to google users) Google Latitude is no longer part of Maps and will be turned off August 9. The functionality will be incorporated into Google+. Is this a natural progression or an effort to increase participation in Plus? Will users migrate to Plus, or switch to competing platforms like Life 360?

I used to use Latitude to track my daughter's whereabouts, first as a child while on vacations, and again when she first started driving solo, and having it directly incorporated into Maps was a plus. But now that she's on her own my use case has gone away, so I'm ambivalent about this. Others might feel differently."
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Malware causes fatal plane crash

roc97007 roc97007 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

roc97007 (608802) writes "As if you needed another reason not to get on the plane: Malware, possibly from an infected USB stick, caused a fatal crash of Spanair flight 5022. From the article:

  Authorities investigating the 2008 crash of Spanair flight 5022 have discovered a central computer system used to monitor technical problems in the aircraft was infected with malware.

An internal report issued by the airline revealed the infected computer failed to detect three technical problems with the aircraft, which if detected, may have prevented the plane from taking off, according to reports in the Spanish newspaper, El Pais."

Link to Original Source
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Yorke says music industry on verge of collapse

roc97007 roc97007 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

roc97007 (608802) writes "Thom Yorke cautions up and coming musicians not to sign traditional record deals because the industry could collapse within months.

From the article: "It will be only a matter of time — months rather than years — before the music business establishment completely folds. (It will be) no great loss to the world.""

Link to Original Source

Journals

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First week on company iPhone

roc97007 roc97007 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

A week ago, my team received their new company iPhones. For the first few days, lots of playing, exploring, downloading of apps, taking pictures, putting funny faces on them, showing off various discoveries.

Today was the first team meeting since the iPhones were delivered. It wasn't pretty.

One team member has already traded in his for a Motorola Razr because "it will receive calls". Another says she keeps hers in Edge mode normally, so the phone will work, switching to G3 only when she needs to be on the internet. Another guy forwarded his iPhone to his private cell and uses the iPhone as a rather expensive iPod. The recently released firmware update made no noticeably difference to the reception issues. Our program manager described trying to make a call as "hello? I'd like to... damn" (redial) "Hello? I'd like... damn" (redial) "Hello? damn" (redial).

Other gripes -- Rapid battery death in GPS mode. The camera isn't as good as the one in the company-issued Blackberry. (2.0 Mp vs 3.0 Mp). No flash. No video capabilities. No MMS. Awkward file management. One person said "Once you get past the flashy interface, you realize the guts are five or six years old".

Early adopters. Don't you love 'em.

But seriously, I'm glad there are people out there who will put up with teething issues as the necessary price of being the first to have something shiny and new. I think the concept has merit, and will be glad to "drink the Kool-Aid" as the detractors put it, when the time is right. Which isn't now. My phone, is, like, my phone. First and foremost, it has to work as a phone. The rest is cake.

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Are the number of MS licenses significantly overreported?

roc97007 roc97007 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Yesterday I was helping move around some desktop and laptop machines at work, and noticed for the first time that every one of these units had an official Microsoft sticker with a Windows license key, the great majority of which were for Windows Home Edition, which we do not use at work. (We only use XP Professional or Windows Server.)

I asked around, and apparently all those Home Edition licenses are legitimate; they are part of the cost of the unit. The company then stages the disk with the copy of windows for which we have a corporate license.

I haven't checked yet, but I suspect the latest hardware come with a Vista Home Basic license, which is then re-imaged with corporate XP Pro. (I will check this and update as necessary.)

I'm wondering -- doesn't this effectively double the number of licenses that Microsoft can claim to have sold, at least for corporate customers?

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