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It's Not Developers Slowing Things Down, It's the Process

scamper_22 Knowledge (178 comments)

I'm surprised knowledge is not listed on there.

I guess it depends on what you work on. But in many places I've worked, you are interacting with other pieces of software both old and new. Often times interacting with these is a bit of a void and you end up having to figure it all out, which is error prone.

Knowledge maintenance is not something that is accounted for in the process. Heck, you could probably even get accounting on board with that one.

The other part of it is a lack of devops.

A big part of the blame here lies with developers who think of themselves as rockstars, compensating with late night heroics to solve problems that really should not happen in the first place if the process was done and funded properly.

2 days ago

Microsoft Azure Outage Across the Globe

scamper_22 Re:Yawn ... (164 comments)

I really wonder how people make these arguments?

Your in-house servers have never been down?
Every company I've ever worked for has had their in house server go down (email, collaboration, web servers, git...).

Pure anecdotally, but as I've seen cloud services used more, I've experienced less downtime. Yes, Google may go down for a few hours. Yes, Azure may go down for a few hours. Yes, hosted git (BitBucket) may go down.

But these downtime are much less frequent than the internal server. Sure, it might cause some greater anxiety as it is 'out of your control', but overall, I've only experienced more reliability by using cloud services from good providers.

Yes, I'm pretty sure Google, IBM, Amazon, and even Microsoft know more about IT infrastructure and how to keep it running ad scaled one that a regular company.

Much the same with any other service. You could run your own home generator to power your house. I'm not sure what planet you live where you think you'd get fewer blackouts/brownouts than relying on the grid we use. You'll run of gas at some point. Your generator will break down. You won't have backup generator in place...

4 days ago

HTML5: It's Already Everywhere, Even In Mobile

scamper_22 Re:Can someone expolain what's so great about HTML (133 comments)

There is nothing great about HTML. There is really nothing great about almost any modern web language/platform.

We've been solving the same problem for the past 20+ years.
It's all just an API

Print text, drawing graphics, networking api, database api.

The issue has never been about anything great, but about somehow getting this API to be supported and adopted across all devices/platforms.

Heck, if we all used Windows, the whole web could have just been activeX controls and we'd have all had the same API as windows desktop programming. Or QT, TCL, Java applets, or any other language/platform.

So yes, absolutely nothing great about HTML5. Whatever it supports has been available in the past on other platforms.

But WHAT IS GREAT, is most major browsers and mobile platforms now agree to support HTML5 by in large and have kept it relatively speaking, up to date. So we can add more APIS (database, caching, graphics rendering...) to HTML5 and away we go.

In a way, it is the second coming of C, because no matter what platform you have, C will probably be supported :P

4 days ago

The Students Who Feel They Have the Right To Cheat

scamper_22 Re:Be the Change You Wish to See in the World (438 comments)

As an Indian, Gandhi didn't really accomplish much. India gained its freedom, but so did virtually every other British colony. It had little to do with Gandhi and everything to do with a collapsing British empire. As a person, well, read a bit on Gandhi.

It is very hard to get people to act ethically, when they're a sucker for doing so. It is one of the reasons the 'system' much ensure itself to be fair, so that people can act ethically.

Even in the western world, students feel the right to cheat. Afterall, getting an education is just about getting the piece of paper and little to do with the job. Or it has to do with entrance into a post bachelor degree like med or law school. Or the job market is viewed as all about connections or we're all victims, or the education is viewed as not being tied to the job; just hoops you have to jump through.

Be the change sounds nice, but it isn't really proven to work. Better to actually make better laws and better governance structures.

You can be outlier and be honest in a system where everyone is cheating.
You can be an outlier by scheming in a system where generally everyone is acting fairly.
But if a large number of people find something harmless or something that can be justified, it problem probably lies with the government.

about two weeks ago

China Plans To Build a Domestic Robotics Industry

scamper_22 Re:Comforting to say, but matters not. (67 comments)

I am truly puzzled by people who talk about education solving these issues.

There's almost no empirical evidence to support this.
There's almost no thought experiment to support this.
Yet, people keep claiming it.

America has about 300 million people. There's more than enough 'educated' people to do any number of tasks.

The truth is that you really don't need that many smart people to do amazing things; especially with computers. You only need a few really educated people.

Just look at a company like Google. Google has 50000 employees. It shoulds like a lot, but its really small. These folks can build entire industries to support the entire world (email, search, word processing, networking, IM, smartphones, OS...) not to mention their new ventures in automated driving, and lord knows what else.

Yes, you definitely need some number of well educated people. But you don't need a very large number. It's actually why America has traditionally done well in innovation and still continues to do well.

Education simply does not help that much with competition these days. If you actually look at the countries, there are definitely more likely parameters.
Trade protection
Government supported industries
Tie in with trade school
Different union/industry cultures
Relative industry pay
Industry focus ....

Like I said, general education is important, and most Americans or any western country already has this.

Advanced education for the few is also important for competitiveness. But this is for a very small number of people.

about three weeks ago

What Will It Take To Make Automated Vehicles Legal In the US?

scamper_22 How about no-fault (320 comments)

It is naturally a legal question of who can be held liable should an accident happen.

People want to assign blame to the car manufacturer, to the driver...

There are valid cases that can be discussed on an individual level for each one. If a manufacturer has a bug in the code that results in a crash and did not do due diligence, that is one thing.

But there is another solution that many people don't consider.

This is how it is in Ontario, Canada. It has it's flaws, but the concept is really good and I think would work really well with automated cars.

Basically, you get your insurance from your own insurance company and they cover your losses.

Person A and person B get into an accident.
A gets damages resolved from A's insurance company.
B gets damages resolved from B's insurance company.

A doesn't care about getting money from B or dealing with B's insurance.

Generally what happens here is your insurance premiums go up the more risk you take on (fancy red sports car = more risk) or the more claims you've had in the past.

So we could easily see insurance companies evaluating automated cars. Cars with better ratings/systems can get lower insurance premiums...

Again, this does not mean other liability causes are out of the window. A person who disables their auto system and crashes or a does not maintain scheduled maintenance, or a manufacturer who has a bug...those are separate issues.

about a month ago

Confidence Shaken In Open Source Security Idealism

scamper_22 Re:Yes, it really is so different. (265 comments)

It would probably not be much different, just on the basis of 'open source' alone.

Both open source and closed source can make their case that their way means better software.

Open source basically claims code is available for anyone to see/fix/build on top.

Proprietary software claims their software is more controlled, they can formalize review processes, and they have paid people attending to the code.

But in reality, the open/closed nature of a project is probably one of the smallest factors in terms of affecting quality.

There are open source projects that no one really looks at, there are projects that people use that no one thinks of going into the depths of...

For closed source, often time legacy software/libraries get abandoned, support handed to people who know nothing about it, they go bankrupt...

It really just depends on the company/team/organization assigned to working on said project.

about a month ago

Fighting the Culture of 'Worse Is Better'

scamper_22 Re:Worse is worse (240 comments)

I had an interesting talk with an accountant friend of my wife. Being on the accounting side, she was completely puzzled by IT projects. Time isn't book properly on projects, budget overruns, time overruns, no one can give proper estimates because no one knows the backend...

We had a really good discussion actually, and one thing that actually came to my mind is there is a real accounting deficit on the engineer/IT side.

Here's the example that we both really understood.
She wanted some field added to some web application. In her head, it's a simple field... you know like adding a new column in Excel.

She goes to IT. They say, it's complicated. They need to interface with some backend system that no one knows anymore. It takes like 6 months.

The real issue here is a lack of accounting on the IT side. When this backend system was commissioned, it was viewed as a 'project'. Like building a building. You build it, and it is done.

Yet, maintenance is not really accounted for, when it absolutely should be. There should be an accounting cost for every piece of software so someone 'knows' that software. So that when a field needs to be added, there is a person there that knows it.

I gave the crude analogy that basing IT on a per project basis is like building a washroom, and not planning for cleaners. It's going to result in a lot of sh*t.

There is a similar cost to maintaining interoperability. Somehow, because it is 'software', people seem to think they have a natural right to simple 'upgrade'. When you buy a new Honda Civic, there is no general expectation of being able to update to a new engine. Yes, you can do it if you're a modder or really into things, but the general expectation is you buy a new car.

Now I understand all too well that providing such cost estimates is beyond my scope, but I can surely tell you there is such a cost.

Honestly, the most I've seen is 'agile' when it works properly, which is basically assume a fixed cost (fixed number of developers/tests... and hours) and then do what work can be done using those resources. And that's basically accepting the reality of not being able to properly cost things out, which might very well be a good solution, but it's not how most places operate.

Similarly, there is a cost to not hiring long term engineering minded people to think about compatibility, interop...

about a month ago

Former GM Product Czar: Tesla a "Fringe Brand"

scamper_22 Read the full quote (267 comments)

"He thinks that the company will remain a "fringe brand" until it introduces its next generation of cars, the smaller and less expensive Model 3 currently planned for a late 2017 introduction.

That's pretty much a reasonable statement. Telsa gets a lot of buzz and I'm sure a lot of wealthy people have them. Yet, it is not a common person's car until the less expensive models come in 2017.

There's a lot of anticipation with Tesla and we all wait and see to see how it impacts the regular person with respect to delivery, service, cost, warranty, scale...

The test of Tesla is coming soon to the mass market. The big auto are already ingraining their hybrids and all electrics.

Who knows what they will have by 2017.

Tesla has the benefit of a fresh start. But the rest have all their service centers, branding...

about 2 months ago

Amazon Forced To Reboot EC2 To Patch Bug In Xen

scamper_22 It is still magical enough (94 comments)

Seriously, if you ran your own server, you think you would never have to reboot it?

Yes, the cloud will have downtime. Just like we sometimes have blackouts/brownouts from an electricity outage.

BUT, chances are that downtime is LESS than the downtime you'd have running things on your own.

In every company I've worked in, there have been days the internet goes down, some intranet app goes down, exchange goes down... things need to updated and are down for a few hours.

about 2 months ago

Why India's Mars Probe Was So Cheap

scamper_22 Re:I'm gonna go with (200 comments)

I'm not sure what connotation you are implying, but this is a good thing.

That the general public and general worker is not accustomed to bribery is a good thing.

Yes, it would be better if the upper crust didn't bribe as well. But understand that bribery for the average person is horrible.

Being pulled over by police looking for a bribe.
Getting your passport takes a bribe.
Teachers take bribes for grades. ...

Those are issues that would affect and ruin most interactions of most regular people. Thank god, us regular people are 'not allowed' to bribe. Most of us who grew up in countries like that know what kind of environment it is.

Let's face it if it is a choice between BIGCORPA and BIGCORPB getting a big government contract and there is bribery involved, it doesn't affect the average person on a day to day level. Yes, it is wrong. Yes, it should be fixed. But you cannot compare this high level corruption to the day to day corruption that infects your daily life.

about 2 months ago

How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

scamper_22 Re:The article is more extreme than the summary (795 comments)

Well he is on to something and has a good point.

There is a real problem with the public's perception of science. From a sociological point of view, it very much does resemble a priestly cast like religion.

Let me give you a rather mundane example. Transit is a big issue in my home town of Toronto. Now there is a very real debate to be had here in terms of subways, rapid bus, LRT, regional rail...

But there is a certain class of citizenry that takes it's beliefs from the people who 'claim' science by stating the answer is so obvious because it is in this REPORT.

You will often hear in Toronto for example this report clearly says that light rail is the answer. Here's the catch... ever read into these 'reports'

Allow me to summarize:
Create a bunch of weights (subjective criteria)
- average travel time (x %)
- people near stop ( y %)
- cost ( z %) ...

Then do the calculation and come to a conclusion. The problem is you basically already know the answer by choosing your weights.

For example, in light rail versus subway, the real choice in the reports is actually based on people near a station. Light rail in their report using shorter stop spacing which means more people near transit. Subways, typically have fewer stations/fast travel time, but of course have less people near a station. You might have to walk more.

Again, a perfectly reasonable debate that can occur based on what you value or what you think is best or what you can afford.

But there is this undeniable group of people who decide to adhere to a report, unaware of what is actually in the report... how things were weighted, unaware that most of it is basically subjective based on the values assigned in the weighting process, unaware of the restriction of options, etc.

But again, no need to have a discussion or admit a simple difference of opinion. Afterall, a study showed it is the best option, and you must just be anti-science if you disagree with it.

And yes, it is very hard to know the context of each study without actually delving into the details. It is very much like religion in the sense that the average person gets their understanding from a pastor/organization of some kid.

science gained a great reputation largely because it had little power. Sure, I'll use science to investigate the law of gravity...

But now 'science' is being invoked on how to spend billions in healthcare, transit, decide the taxation policy, manage human made systems like the economy...

In my view, science will not cure politics... politics will infect science.

The more people see 'science' being invoked into all these subjective areas, the less they are likely to believe the institution of 'science' in other areas.

From a layman point of view, it is the same body that tells one global warming is an urgent problem and that light rail must be chosen over subways.

about 2 months ago

Logitech Aims To Control the Smart Home

scamper_22 Re:Stupid luxuries? (115 comments)

Really, you've never gone grocery shopping and can't remember how many eggs you have left or how much milk you have left?

These are real problems. Now they're fairly minor and certainly not worth the problem of installing or setting up a system. None of the solutions out there solve it in a reasonable way, but let's not pretend it is not a valid problem.

I for one would love to be able to have a fridge that somehow automatically knew exactly what and how much was stored in it that I could access over my smartphone.

about 2 months ago

Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

scamper_22 Re:Time for new terminology (635 comments)

Being resistant to change is a good thing.
I mean, if things are working as is, any change could be bad.

Of course change can be good too.

The irony of course is this is not tied to conservative/liberal. It is merely on the issues.

For example, conservatives are resistant to social change. The family has been working for a long time now. What's a world of single mothers, non-married people, children raised in daycares... going to result in? They are resistant to that change and fear that world. They have plenty of studies to back up their fear on the surface.

But for some reason, they don't have as much fear of environmental damage. The data is there, but they still believe we can conquer nature by managing it.
Just think about it. Have they really thought about farming, relocating population, eroding shorelines, increased storms...? Really it is a huge change we've embarked on in the last 150 years of industrialization. Yet, they charge on without question assuming they can always correct that damage if any occurs.

Liberals/Progressives are resistant to environmental change. The environment has been working for a long time now. What's a world of increased C02, changing climate, and others going to result in. They are resistant to that change and fear that world. They have plenty of doomsday studies to back up that fear on the surface.

But for some reason, they don't have as much fear of social damage. The data is there, but they still believe we can conquer society by managing it.
Just think about it. Have they really thought about pensions, taking care of the elderly, slowing growth, raising kids in daycares... in their master social plans? Really it is a huge change we've embarked on in the last 50 years. Yet, they charge on without question assuming they can always correct that damage if any occurs.

Rational thinking people avoid big changes to large scale complex systems (like society or the environment) when they can. They move incrementally as much as possible and see the changes (both good and bad). That's about all you can really say about these huge complex system be it the environment/economy/society.

Heck, maybe C02 rise and we just adapt to it by moving people away from shorelines, moving farmland to areas that used to be colder..
You know... like maybe the family structure is outdated to a large extent, and we as a society adapt to it via more government programs.

about 2 months ago

Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

scamper_22 Re:That is science. (937 comments)

You can state until the cows come home what science is. Yes, science is the scientific process and a very good way of getting at the *truth* of things.

However, does there exist an ideology that claims the name of science? Absolutely. You can call it whatever you want, but it does exist. It comes complete with all the good/bad things that any ideology/religion comes with.

Most regular people are not scientists following the scientific method. Be it global warming, the economy, transit, food, education, healthcare, war... They're follows of a movement and act as such. Heck, even scientists who might be in the field and doing science probably fall prey to some of the issues of priests (self interest, power, political affiliations...)

about 2 months ago

Ontario Government Wants To Regulate the Internet

scamper_22 Re:Government doesn't get it. (184 comments)

This has little to do with Canadian Content. Most Canadians are well passed the 'Canadian Content' and tend to consume regular popular TV shows. I can't recall the last time cultural influence from 'America' was even an issue (except for maybe Quebec).

You will notice this comes from Ontario. Bell and Rogers have a huge presence here. As does the film and media industry.

It is about jobs and corporate welfare. This government has been very big on trying to create/contain jobs. Just today, Ontario wants to contract out the OLG (Ontario Lottery and Gaming) to Bell or Rogers. Throw that into job creation and containment schemes in the auto sector, green energy...

Jobs might very well be a good goal, but I generally hope subsidies work better than these schemes.

about 2 months ago

VMware Unveils Workplace Suite and NVIDIA Partnership For Chromebooks

scamper_22 Re:No more "Cloud", please (60 comments)

I don't know about you, but this is generally how I've always worked when I WFH.

I have my desktop at work. The company provides a great laptop, that I simply used to VPN and remote desktop into my work desktop.

I don't have fiber. Just a regular cable connection.

This kind of service is definitely doable.

The obvious question becomes... what happens IF the internet goes down. I think this really depends on your work place. But in many places, the work simply shuts down anyways if you have no internet or network connection. Downtime is pretty low anyways.

Yes, there is still a need for people who travel a lot or are in more remote areas, but for a lot of work, this is all they will need.

about 3 months ago

Cisco To Slash Up To 6,000 Jobs -- 8% of Its Workforce -- In "Reorganization"

scamper_22 Shortage of tech workers :P (207 comments)

So I hear there is a shortage of tech workers.
Apparently, we need more education, more IT and engineering grads, more H1B Visa.

This makes total sense considering the massive layoffs we keep hearing about. It's all nicely packaged.

about 3 months ago

Apple's Diversity Numbers: 70% Male, 55% White

scamper_22 It is complicated... but do not dismiss it (561 comments)

This issue is very complicated. First off Apple's numbers are not that bad considering the US itself is a pretty white country.

Here's the issue, and it is a real one.
Almost every large society has upper class groups and lower class groups. The extreme case is something like India where the caste system was actually enforced and you're pretty much stuck there.

In every one of these societies, the upper class group is probably a good hire at any moment. It's not just a matter of money. It's also a matter of having mentors, parents, connections in your community, high expectations, leadership, knowing how to talk to people...

Now here's a little caveat. I'm speaking heavily from the Asian perspective as that is my heritage. I know many here are commenting from America where they would associate the upper class as 'whites' and the lower class as 'blacks' and they would then suggest a big problem in America is that the class rejects upper class values as being too white.

That is true to the extent it goes. It is one of the reasons even a low class Asian can rise up in the US. They still think of the upper class values as good.

But societies DO TEND to segregate in these groups. It's one of the reasons Asian societies are so heavily family based and obsessed with good families and communities. They keep it in the family, and the extreme poverty and exclusion is attributed to lower class groups as dirty.

It is a real issue. Thinking of things like diversity and societal groups is helpful to the the extent that it goes. I fully understand it is complicated and all the faults with quotas and everything, but thinking about the issue is useful.

Myself, I am a person with a disability, a pretty bad stutter. It is much better now. Does this impact my hiring? Of course it does.

I am also of Indian heritage. Although I received a mainly British education.

First appearances matter and they matter a great deal. Yes, once in a team, these barriers all become meaningless. But how do you get started. The starting point is huge. Who gets first sent to training. Who is assumed on first hire to be the code monkey? Who is assumed to value abstract thinking?

You also get a certain culture within teams that tends to crowd out different thinking individuals. As a bit of a different example, I've been in heavy Indian groups (like 8/10 people were Indian). A culture of heavy work, just get it done regardless of quality, developed on that team. Anyone not of that mindstate would quickly feel excluded and would not perform their best.

Like I said, I am not a big fan of quotas and what not because they don't really create results. They don't change cultures or get the best out of people. But it is definitely something that is useful to ponder and take note when there are grand disparities.

about 3 months ago


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