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In IT, Beware of Fad Versus Functional

unimacs Agile hasn't been "new" for a long time. (153 comments)

And the cloud / cloud services aren't going away anytime soon. I have a hard time thinking of those as "Fads" though they might be supplanted or the terminology might change in a few years.

"Big Data" for me is still a buzzword that I'm not sure I understand the value of for most IT shops.

4 days ago
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Virtual Reality Experiment Wants To Put White People In Black Bodies

unimacs Re:Tired of this shit (447 comments)

My first boss in IT (and the guy who hired me) was black.

I'm white and I was the first guy he hired into the newly formed department.

4 days ago
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The Shale Boom Won't Stop Climate Change; It Could Make It Worse

unimacs Re:We are doomed... (392 comments)

If we double the population we need to cut the pollution in half to stay constant, it's not higher math. That's a very touch subject of personal freedom, but condoms, birth control and China's one child policy is probably the best long term action for the environment.

It's not higher math, but it's also not correct. ;-)

There is not a fixed amount of CO2 produced per person so doubling the population doesn't necessarily double the pollution. Further there are often serious issues that result from population decline. Just look at Japan. Besides, most of the Western world has near zero population growth and that trend is moving into Asia. My guess Africa won't be THAT far behind. Yes, birth control should be provided and encouraged in developing countries but I don't think we really need to be draconian about it.

Population does matter but it's not everything. Take a look at the Mayans. Many folks feel that the Mayan empire collapsed because they weren't living sustainably. Certainly population growth played a role but so did slashing and burning the rain forest.

about a week ago
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Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?

unimacs Re:In Massachusetts... (1050 comments)

Public schools aren't the only option. Most states now allow home schooling and there are always private schools (who may have their own policies). I think it's entirely reasonable for a state to say that not vaccinating your kids is putting other kids at risk and we therefore can't have them in a public school. As a parent, you may disagree but it is then up to you find alternative education, - and it is available.

about a week ago
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Is Enterprise IT More Difficult To Manage Now Than Ever?

unimacs IT has to accept new realities (241 comments)

If IT were easy and things never changed then anybody could do it. If you expect long term stability then you are in the wrong field.

about a week ago
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Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?

unimacs Re:In Massachusetts... (1050 comments)

I'm not suggesting that the state try to exclude kids from those things. Excluding them from school is a huge incentive to get them vaccinated. Only excluding them in the event of an outbreak removes that incentive and doesn't stop the kids from contracting it or spreading it by the time the outbreak is identified (or after).

about a week ago
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Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?

unimacs Re:In Massachusetts... (1050 comments)

Are they excluded from hanging around with their friends, non school sponsored sports, or other activities?

about a week ago
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Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?

unimacs Re:In Massachusetts... (1050 comments)

Except that often you need multiple doses and time for the immunizations to work. After an outbreak is too late.

about a week ago
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Displaced IT Workers Being Silenced

unimacs Re:"IT workers" vs. programmers not finding work? (398 comments)

I'm not suggesting you embellish you experience with linux or OS X, just saying that it's not enough to convince me to give you the keys to those kinds of systems.

It seems you have a couple of different problems related to getting hired that don't have much to do with H1-Bs. You didn't completely make the transition to management so you have neither the training (MBA) nor quite enough experience that would make it easy to get hired into a IT management position.

The other thing (just based on what you've mentioned) is that you have a set of relatively commonly available technical skills that might even be a touch out of date. I didn't see you list a skill that's either in high demand now or that would be in the near future. That's why I asked about virtualization and security. Think about this for a minute. With Amazon, Google, or MS Azure, I can configure a server in the cloud and have it available in minutes. Those services are only going to get cheaper, easier, and more powerful. How does that change what it means to be a sysadmin and are you prepared for that future?

I'm sure you've heard this before, but you need to be able to put something on your resume to help you stand out from the crowd. That's what I would be looking to do if I were in your shoes. I'm not saying that it's easy. I'm at an age that if things were to go South at my current company, it would be a challenge to find a comparable position. I feel relatively secure but I am looking at getting myself a little insurance like an MBA or masters in software engineering.

about two weeks ago
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Displaced IT Workers Being Silenced

unimacs Re:"IT workers" vs. programmers not finding work? (398 comments)

What about VMWare or Hyper-V?

You may be right about companies like GE and Erie, I guess I don't know. What I can tell you is that if my company posts a position for a Windows help desk or admin position, we get plenty of resumes. Enough that I think that there are just a lot of people available with those skills or at least claiming to have those skills. Good Linux admins are harder to find. Unfortunately when somebody puts "experience with..." on a resume, I take it as code for "I have very limited experience with...".

Whether or not H1-Bs are making it harder for you, I think you would be well served to branch out into other areas and/or start participating in meetups/user groups to network. Given the movement towards cloud services, I think there is going to be less demand for the traditional sysadmins anyway. There will be a need but it's going to be in larger data centers and it's going to require more specialized skills.

If I were a sysadmin today and trying to enhance my marketability, I'd be seriously looking at getting information security experience and certification.

about two weeks ago
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Displaced IT Workers Being Silenced

unimacs Re:"IT workers" vs. programmers not finding work? (398 comments)

What sort of systems have you been an admin for? Windows Server? Windows Deskop? Linux?, Other?

I guess what I'm trying to get at is whether or not H-1Bs really have anything to do with the trouble you and others have had finding employment. Or is it more of a matter of some IT jobs and skills being in less demand.

My very limited experience with H1-Bs is that for small companies anyway, it wouldn't be worth the hassle. The last time I had an opening for a software developer, I only got a few good local candidates. There was a student who was about to graduate who told me that he would have needed an H1-B visa to stay. I had no real intention of hiring him but I was curious about the process so I checked into it. Let's just say that if you need some help in the next month or two, that is not the route to go. I'm sure large companies have the staff necessary to deal with all the paperwork and legal hoops that need to be jumped through. A lot of companies aren't going to bother.

about two weeks ago
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Displaced IT Workers Being Silenced

unimacs "IT workers" vs. programmers not finding work? (398 comments)

Just curious. Are experienced IT workers with up to date skills really not able to find jobs? What about programmers specifically ("IT Worker" can mean a lot of things)?

I'm assuming that age discrimination is impacting some of these people, but what about relatively young software developers? How many of you are young and talented software developers with at least of few years of experience and are having trouble finding work?

about two weeks ago
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Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?

unimacs Re:The road to hell (545 comments)

If you have mouths to feed, bills to pay, and no health insurance, one may be coerced into accepting crappy pay and crappy conditions rather than it being truly voluntary.

Also since you feel that negotiating pay is reasonable system you must also recognize that often in negotiations one side has greater leverage or bargaining power than the other. If I feel that I'm in a weaker position shouldn't I be allowed to strengthen it? And wouldn't that include bargaining collectively rather than as an individual?

I don't know how you can say unions are off topic. It's been shown that unionization both increases the prevalence of premium pay for overtime hours and reduces the extent and incidence of overtime hours.

about two weeks ago
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Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?

unimacs Re:The road to hell (545 comments)

Yes, unions can and did greedy. That doesn't mean that they aren't valuable.

As more workplaces in the 30's and 40's became unionized, the middle class grew. A public and free high school education was enough to get you a decent job, a good work/life balance and a pension. Not only did that benefit the workers themselves, but those workers had disposable income that they could spend on other products and services, which meant more jobs for other people. These same people could afford to send their kids to college which fueled further innovation.

If an employer needed more production, there was a financial disincentive for them to have their employees work overtime, so they had to hire more people. These people also made a living wage, didn't require welfare, paid taxes, and contributed to the economic vitality of their community.

All in all it worked pretty well for everybody.

But employers are always looking for ways to cut costs and labor is typically a company's biggest expense. So then we got more automation, jobs being outsourced, and union busting. Big companies paying low wages came in to displace smaller ones "to create jobs". But the number of new jobs created is never as many as promised nor do they pay as well. Those jobs that do get created often get moved someplace else or cut altogether when the company merges with another one.

Today, outside of the few union jobs left, it takes specialized education, one you have to pay dearly for, to make a living wage. Graduating college students start out in huge debt and are encouraged to start saving now for their retirement because nobody has pensions anymore and social security is expected to disappear. Hopefully they can get a job that allows them to pay off their student loans before they need to start saving for their kids college education. And hopefully they won't find their job outsourced or outdated by some form of automation before they have saved up enough to retire.

I'm sorry, but I much preferred the outlook for joe and jane six pack when unions were actually relevant. And I'm afraid automation and outsourcing has started whittling away at white collar jobs too. How long before only the most specialized and expensive skills to obtain will be valued enough to pay a living wage for ?

about two weeks ago
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Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?

unimacs Re:The road to hell (545 comments)

Everything is worth exactly as much as someone is willing to pay for it, but they are sure happy to pay a lot less if they can.

Decades ago workers figured out that they collectively they have a lot more negotiating power than individually and companies have been fighting that ever since.

about two weeks ago
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Programmer Father Asks: What Gets Little Girls Interested In Science?

unimacs Let her be a princess who like science. (584 comments)

I'm telling you this as a Father of an 11 year old daughter and a 15 year old son. First off social conditioning is real and there are pitfalls. It's disturbing that a lot of people don't seem to recognize that. At the same time I wouldn't be overly concerned that your daughter wants to be a princess. If pretending to be a princess is fun for her, let her enjoy that. At the same time you should be introducing her to things that she wouldn't find through targeted advertising or in the girl's section of a toy store.

There are lots of science activities she can enjoy while dressed up as Ariel. As she gets older, involve her in your hobbies. Kids love to be included in adult activities. At the same time, don't get her toys she's not old enough for. That will just make her frustrated. Also don't try to talk her out of doing the girly things her friends like, but be vigilant about exposing her to other stuff.

Here's an example of where I very nearly missed the boat. I got a Lego Mindstorm set for my son and I to play with. The only mistake I made is not getting it sooner. He now thinks of himself as too old for Legos so he won't do anything with it on his own though he gladly helps me with building and programming the robots. My daughter never showed any interest in it. She is not in any way a shrinking wall flower. If she wants to do something she will typically ask.

But recognizing that the window for this might be small, I just decided to ask her if she wanted to help me one day. She was soooo happy to help. She's pretty good at it too. The sad thing is that if I were to have never asked, she'd never gotten into it.

about two weeks ago
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IoT Is the Third Big Technology 'Wave' In the Last 50 Years, Says Harvard

unimacs Re:Fad (196 comments)

The beauty is that there's no wiring, you don't need a contractor. The kind of system I'm looking at use devices that communicate wirelessly using zigbee or z-wave protocols (not wifi). There have long life LED bulbs with built in wireless capability today. You just screw them in like any other bulb. Yes they are expensive, but costs will come way down.

I agree these are not something most grandmas are going to use anymore than they would have used a smartphone in 2005 or even today. That doesn't mean there won't be a huge market in the coming years as costs come down and ease of use improves. My mom died 5 years ago having never really used a computer let alone grasped the Internet, but the Internet was still huge and impacted her. Further, one thing that have could have helped her independence later in life was an Internet connected pill dispenser. She had a pill dispenser that we paid a service to keep track of. It would know for example if she hadn't taken her pills on a given day and call one of her family if she didn't. Let me qualify that. It would sort of know. A much better system would have allowed the family to monitor it directly and leave the service out of it. The thing was a bear to program because it had a clunky interface. A web interface would have been much nicer. Incorporating a camera that would capture her removing the pills would have been another improvement.

That's just scratching the surface. There are all kinds of automation related things that could be done to help people with various disabilities stay in their homes.

Then there's security. Think about it. People today spend good money on complex and expensive security systems that aren't very user friendly and don't provide near as much convenience as the newer "smart home" products that are becoming available. Home security is where many of these systems will get a foothold. Once they're in the home there is so much more potential.

Back in the 90's when the public first started venturing out on to the Internet, I doubt many of us realized the potential it had and the ways in would change the world. Think about what something like twitter alone has done.

about two weeks ago
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IoT Is the Third Big Technology 'Wave' In the Last 50 Years, Says Harvard

unimacs Re:Fad (196 comments)

No, but you might want to know that your sump just quit working while out of town on vacation. Or you might want a little alarm to go off on the phone next to your bed if it's midnight and the garage door has been left open since 10:00 pm. Even better if you could shut it via the phone rather than having to get out of bed.

Personally, I'd want to know if 10 windows in the house are open and somebody turned on the AC, or a closet light has been left on since morning.

I work in the energy efficiency industry and our ability to collect data remotely from sensors monitoring the performance of HVAC and lighting systems in large buildings has saved us a ton of money and time.

about two weeks ago
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Finland Dumps Handwriting In Favor of Typing

unimacs I'd rather see less cursive, more art, music, and (523 comments)

At my kids' K through 8 school, they had 1 hour a week of Spanish class just so the school could say they taught a second language. I'd just as soon they didn't have it. Not because I don't think a second language is valuable, but because I don't think one hour a week accomplishes much. Middle school kids had no recess. I think they'd be better off using that hour and lengthening the school day a bit to get some recess in there.

Further, the kids spend much less time on music, art, and gym than when I was a kid. Personally, given all the time that was devoted to practicing cursive, I'd say there are more important things that kids can be doing with their study time. It's not that I don't think it has any value, but to me it's less valuable than things that are already lacking.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Forcing IT Department Staff to Take Long Vacations

unimacs unimacs writes  |  about a year and a half ago

unimacs (597299) writes "I run the IT Department at a relatively small organization. Each year we go through an annual audit. This year the IT portion of the audit was much more extensive than in the past and we were provided with a written report that contained various recommendations. One of them was that staff be required to take a vacation each year that was at least a week in duration.

The reason behind the recommendation is that it would ensure that people are adequately cross trained and that no particular employee would become so critical that the organization couldn't function without them for a week.

I should add that the auditing company specializes on small non-profits and I could see where heavy reliance on one person could be a problem for some places though I don't think it's a issue for us at the moment. Anyway, I'm in a position to implement that policy and am not really opposed to it but I am wondering what Slashdot's take on it is. Seems to me we could accomplish the same thing (and more) by making sure each staff person leaves the office for a week long training session each year."
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Want to buy a smart phone without exploiting Chinese workers. Choices ?

unimacs unimacs writes  |  more than 2 years ago

unimacs writes "So Apple has been under fire recently for the conditions at the factories of their Chinese suppliers. I listened to "This American Life's" recent retraction of the Michael Daisey piece they did awhile back. Great Radio for those of you who haven't heard it. Rarely has dead air been used to such effect.

Anyway, while his work has been discredited, Michael Daisey wasn't inaccurate in his claims that working conditions are poor in iPhone and iPad factories. Given that, are there any smart phone manufacturers whose phones are made under better conditions?"
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Still getting bit by Y2K bug. Why haven't we learn

unimacs unimacs writes  |  more than 3 years ago

unimacs (597299) writes "I work with data loggers of various types and I use perl to parse the information. I rely heavily on the str2time function to parse the timestamps. It works pretty well except that I was getting strange errors with a new logger file format I was processing.

It turns out that the logger was outputting dates like "9/24/11 10:27:30 AM". On my OSX development machine, perl and str2time (via timelocal) interpreted that date as September 24, 2011. On our linux production server, it was interpreted as September 24th, 1911.

Have we already forgotten that 2 digit years are no-no? Anybody else running into these kinds of problems?"

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