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Comments

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Without Jobs, Will Open Source Suffer?

wikinerd You understand you are a nerd when... (275 comments)

You understand you are a nerd when your friends ask you whether you are looking for jobs and you say you want his autograph on the label of your first 1980s Macintosh floppy diskette.

more than 5 years ago
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How Do I Put Unused Servers To Work?

wikinerd GIMPS (302 comments)

Some of my servers that don't have much to do contribute to GIMPS

more than 5 years ago
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Long-Term Performance Analysis of Intel SSDs

wikinerd Certainly ready for prime-time (95 comments)

For some time now all my storage needs are satisfied in their entirety by SSDs and I have no HDDs now. Certainly much better than my previous 10,000 RPM hard disks, so I think they are ready for the prime time.

more than 5 years ago
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Nvidia Is Trying To Make an x86 Chip

wikinerd could it be for mini laptops? (420 comments)

I bet nVidia wants to make a x86 low-power CPU for mini laptops (like Acer Aspire One or Asus Eee).

more than 5 years ago
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U.C. System and Springer Agree To CC-Licensed Journal Articles

wikinerd Re:change is a comin' (54 comments)

If I write a paper, I'm going to try to get it in the best journal I can so it looks better on my resume.

If I write a paper, I'm going to just put it on my webpage, or maybe at arXiv as public domain or under a licence that allows other people to copy it, and in this way any journal that wants to print it can do so. I see no reason why I should submit my writings to anyone since now with the Internet we all can publish our papers on our servers/websites. People who search for papers will find them, whether they are on personal sites or journals, just as they already find whatever they look for now.

As for the CV factor, I think it's bad for science to try to make ourselves look better based on how prestigious a journals that accepted our writings is (and what is prestige anyway?). I prefer people to judge me from the quality of my work, rather than from shortcuts like which journal published me or such things.

Of course I am well-aware that there are many people who either don't have the time or don't have the ability to judge the quality of a paper from what it writes alone, and instead use shortcuts like where it was published and who wrote it in order to judge it. But I don't want this kind of people to judge me, so I don't care to find ways to impress them. If I write something good or discover something new in science I can feel happiness that people who really love science understood what I had to say and put it into good use. I don't think that people who make quick judgements based on external factors like where something was published are good for science.

That said, of course, I can understand people who are forced by societal customs to take the prestige of a journal into account because they need to give a good impression to people who are accustomed to think in this way. In that way, it's really not different than clothing. But if someone has no real need to do so, I think it's better to stay away from a rat race trying to find who can give the greatest meaningless impression to people who make quick judgements without realising the essence of a paper (or person).

more than 5 years ago
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Dvorak Layout Claimed Not Superior To QWERTY

wikinerd Trust your personal experience (663 comments)

I use Dvorak and I love it, I certainly see it as superior to QWERTY for typing English (but not other languages), because of its ergonomics, speed, and accuracy. I don't care what some journalist says, I trust my personal experience. You should, too: buy a Dvorak keyboard and try it. The one I use is the Typematrix, which is both Dvorak and QWERTY (useful if you are just now learning Dvorak, or if you change the keyboard between computers, or if you want to use Dvorak for English and QWERTY for another language as I do).

more than 5 years ago
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Qt Becomes LGPL

wikinerd Re:Great news (828 comments)

I don't think the concept of fight exists in free and open source software. Free software is free speech, and different projects exist because different people have different things to say. Nobody is fighting.

more than 5 years ago
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Visitors To US Now Required To Register Online

wikinerd Let's hope HDD/SSD/CD/tape prices go UP :) (734 comments)

information from applications will be retained for 12 years, and eventually up to 75 years.

The perils of cheap storage...

more than 5 years ago
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Why the Mediterranean Is the Net's Achilles' Heel

wikinerd what if the next cable is cut by an asteroid? (195 comments)

Mediterranean isn't just at threat from ships cutting cables with their anchors, politics, wars, earthquakes, and volcanoes, but also from asteroids as powerful as two Little Boys. I guess there is no good cable defence against a big asteroid, is there?

more than 5 years ago
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How Does a 9/80 Work Schedule Work Out?

wikinerd entrepreneurship (1055 comments)

The best strategy when evaluating work regimes is always to ask yourself: "will this help me to eventually set up my own business?".

If you believe the extra Friday off will enable you to pursue a self-employed career, then do it. If not, then you need to find another solution that would enable you to set up as self-employed, or do it immediatelly if you can.

more than 5 years ago
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Personality Testing For Employment

wikinerd If you would prefer to avoid the personality test (581 comments)

There is no better way to avoid the personality test than not being in employment, ie to run your own business. There is no reason why a programmer should become an employee, since the production technology for software is well-distributed amongst the populace. If you already own a computer and you know how to program it, then you can become an entrepreneur immediately. I can understand why one would prefer to be an employee if their expertise was in nuclear reactors, considering that in our era nuclear reactors are more likely to be found in large organisations rather than in homes, but for programmers who already own personal computers there is no good reason not to be self-employed.

more than 5 years ago
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How Will Recent Financial Downturns Affect IT Jobs?

wikinerd entrepreneurship (372 comments)

Stop thinking about jobs and start considering becoming an entrepreneur with your own business (and in the field of IT, particularly in software, there is really little or no need for startup capital). It is generally much better to create your own success rather than wait for someone else to feed you. You might be afraid of the risk, but with the lay-offs now the risk of being an employee is about the same as the risk of being an entrepreneur, plus you must know that life belongs to those who know how to take risks.

more than 5 years ago
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Asus Reveals the Eee Keyboard

wikinerd Re:work (312 comments)

it would be ideal for me when visiting clients for work.

Even better is a virtualised server accessible through the internet or vpn. In this way you can access your work and show it to your clients everywhere there is an internet connection.

more than 5 years ago
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Panasonic Working On 2-Terabyte SD Cards

wikinerd FAT64 only for digital cameras (270 comments)

What file system comes with an SD card only matters if you use the card with a device like a digital camera. If you use it on a PC equipped with GNU/Linux, there is no reason to use any version of FAT. You are much better off formatting the card with a free GNU/Linux file system.

more than 5 years ago
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"Smash Your Hard Drive" To Fight Identity Theft

wikinerd Which hard drive? (527 comments)

Which hard drive? I have gone nearly 100% SSD and flash.

more than 5 years ago
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Are My Ideas Being Stolen? If So, What Then?

wikinerd Just don't talk about your ideas (508 comments)

If you don't want your ideas to be stolen then just don't talk about your ideas. Keep your technological ideas a secret, and only use well-known and cliche ideas in your university assignments. You will still get good marks, since after all the university as it is now is not promoting independent and original thought, and after you get the degree you will be able to do whatever you want with your ideas.

more than 5 years ago
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NZ File-Sharers, Remixers Guilty Upon Accusation

wikinerd Put Internet Rights into the Constitution (449 comments)

The citizens of NZ should ask for a constitutional amendment to include internet rights as a basic human right, just as Greece did in its 2001 constitution:

1. All persons have the right to information [...] 2. All persons have the right to participate in the Information Society. Facilitation of access to electronically transmitted information, as well as of the production, exchange and diffusion thereof, constitutes an obligation of the State [...]

Of course even if something is codified into the constitution it could be limited by law (as it does in the case above if you read the PDF) or not implemented at all, but it is in general a good idea even just for the sake of the symbolism itself to have internet rights codified into the constitution.

more than 5 years ago
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How the City Hurts Your Brain

wikinerd Do we still need the downtown? (439 comments)

Nice study that confirms what we all knew: that the downtown is the worst place to live and full of smog. Downtowns developed for safety and economic reasons, but now we have the Internet, so I expect people to start abandoning the downtown to live in suburbs and the countryside close to nature, communicating and working through the Internet (as I do). We really don't need a smog-infected and crime-prone downtown anymore.

more than 5 years ago
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The Best Computer Mice In Every Category

wikinerd trackball (246 comments)

Mice are for the weak. I can't understand why not more people use trackballs.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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IBM refuses to liberate OS/2

wikinerd wikinerd writes  |  more than 6 years ago

wikinerd writes "Following an online petition in November 2007 by members of an OS/2 online community to open-source OS/2, IBM answered by sending a letter via FedEx making it clear that OS/2 is going to remain closed-source, citing business, technical, and legal problems. Previously there was an older petition in 2005 which attracted over 11 thousand signatures, and both petition letters to IBM Corp can be seen at OS2World.com library. The End of Support period for OS/2 passed by in December 2006, and the given IBM's response the future for OS/2 doesn't look bright, except if re-implementation projects such as the Voyager or osFree attract the necessary critical mass of operating system developers."
Link to Original Source
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Is 2008 the time for digital gold currency?

wikinerd wikinerd writes  |  more than 6 years ago

wikinerd writes "Gold as an investment is frequently used when investors are worried about the economy, the geopolitical situation, and inflation. Generally, the higher the price, the more desirable gold is by investors. Gold just now made the jump to a new all-time high price, at the time of writing being 856.70 USD (see recent charts). While this does not signify anything about the value of gold as a short-term investment, as the price often drops after the holidays, the fact that it reached such a record and has been generally upward for the last 10 years should make us think of the reasons investors prefer tangible commodities to papers (currency or stock).

One possible reason is the currency situation: A softer US dollar is often cited as a driver for rocketing gold prices, but alternative currencies, such as digital gold currency, time-based money or similar schemes are sometimes viewed with suspicion, but not by everyone. According to Wikipedia, in response to a recent FBI raid in the offices of Liberty Dollar, a firm circulating private alternative currency, presidential candidate Dr Ron Paul said: "We stand on the precipice of an unprecedented monetary collapse, and as a result many people have begun to look for alternatives to the dollar...I believe that the American people should be free to choose the type of currency they prefer to use. The ability of consumers to adopt alternative currencies can help to keep the government and the Federal Reserve honest, as the threat that further inflation will cause more and more people to opt out of using the dollar may restrain the government from debasing the currency".

As it is recognised by economists that there is profit in the issuing of currency, wouldn't it be a reasonable to encourage the establishment of alternative parallel currencies, particularly digital gold money or time-based schemes, in a free market system controlled by the laws of competition in order to avoid a monopoly in currency? Such an environment could, in theory, help keep a nation's main currency in stability, thus solving one of the prime reasons that make investors worry and seek safety in gold."

Link to Original Source
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UK students must submit fingerprints for lunch

wikinerd wikinerd writes  |  more than 7 years ago

wikinerd writes "A school in the UK decided to start requesting fingerprint scans from its 1100 students before being allowed to get their lunch. From next term, the same school expects to use the biometric system for controlling entry into the school, as well as for dictating who is allowed to use the school's printers. According to a concerned citizen, the school did not consult the parents before implementing the new policy. Currently students carry ID cards that are used for getting their lunches, and the school claims that the biometric system is a means to limit expenses from lost cards, and since the fingerprint scans are not stored there is no breach of civil rights and no need for asking the parents first. However, a group named Leave The Kids Alone says that this is an infringement of liberty since fingerprint templates are stored and can be accessed by the police."
Link to Original Source
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Computing is now a natural science

wikinerd wikinerd writes  |  more than 7 years ago

wikinerd writes "Peter J. Denning just published an article in the July 2007 issue of the Communications of the ACM journal-magazine explaining that computing is a natural science and announcing his Great Principles of Computing framework. He says that there are 7 common overlapping categories of principles that can be used to study computation in any field. He goes on to report views of other scientists, such as Baltimore's view that biology is an information science, or Wolfram's claim in 'A New Kind of Science' that nature is expressed in terms of computation. He provides an example application of the Great Principles framework in finding out whether the recent game programming degrees offered by many universities are just a fad or a legitimate field, and he ends proclaiming that computing is an infinite game itself. The article suggests that the Great Principles framework could help to develop more meaningful CS curricula, reversing the recent trend of failing student numbers."
Link to Original Source
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Are IT deadlines too strict?

wikinerd wikinerd writes  |  more than 7 years ago

wikinerd writes "Reading the latest issue of Information Age, a publication of the ACS (Australian Computer Society), an organisation with which I am associated, I became concerned by an article about ethics in ICT. Citing a recent ACS-funded online survey among public and private sector ICT professionals, with over 40% of them being aware of ACS Code of Ethics, the authors show that the leading cause of concern about ICT ethics among respondends is compromising quality to meet deadlines (54.9%), while the second (49.7%) is about unprofessional behaviour. Concerns over deadlines also appear as the 7th and 8th cause of worry among ICT pros: 29.9% say consider compromising user requirements to meet deadlines an ethical issue facing ICT, and 29.6% say the same about compromising functionality to meet deadlines.

What are your own personal observations regarding deadlines of IT and software projects and their correlation with the quality of the delivered projects? Have unrealistic deadline demands from PHBs forced you or your team to deliver something below your own quality standards? If you work solo, have you tried to explain to pushy clients that quality is not subject to cutbacks, especially in critical systems? Would you ever accept to deliver a system knowing that it is highly likely to fail in operation? How many do the right thing, ie attempting to discuss and explain the issue to the client and if unsuccessful turn down a contract before committing to a client asking you to underdeliver in your chosen profession?"

Link to Original Source
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Dead webmasters online?

wikinerd wikinerd writes  |  more than 7 years ago

wikinerd writes "I'm looking to create a list of still-operational websites (or other online presences) whose webmaster has died and their content is not updated anymore. Could you help me to make a list of such dormant websites? Practically, if the server fees are paid in advance and the hardware is taken care by a datacentre sysadmin, a website can probably remain online for a few months or years after the death of its webmaster with no one to take care of the content. Sites maintained by relatives or friends obviously don't fall into this category. While in the past most content was written in books, which were preserved after the death of the author, nowadays many people publish online, but apart from Internet Archive there seems to be no guarantee that their writings will be preserved for future generations after their death. I'm looking for ways to "save" worthy content present in such websites, but I'm a bit unsure how to handle issues of intellectual property. Shall I assume that the content of a dead webmaster's site is owned by their heirs? How can one locate and contact the copyright owner of a dead person?"
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Best open-source virtualisation solution?

wikinerd wikinerd writes  |  more than 7 years ago

wikinerd writes "I am looking for a fast virtualisation solution supporting Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 64bit with file-based storage or LVM. Apart from speed and OS, my other requirements are that the project must be released as free software under GPL or open-source under BSDL or similar licence, and that the project must be developed by a strictly non-commercial 'hacker-ethics' community. I am using Xen at the moment, and it works great, but I wish to keep my eyes open for any other alternatives satisfying my criteria. What would you suggest?"
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wikinerd wikinerd writes  |  more than 7 years ago

wikinerd writes "In the last few years several gadgets that were previously commonly used mostly by nerds and geeks have been welcomed by the mainstream. Many ordinary people have GPS, camera phones, 3G broadband, PDAs, and other gadgets. I use my PDA for playing with PythonCE, but the device itself is not a nerds's-only gadget anymore, as many people use PDAs nowadays for calendaring and similar uses. The same is true for laser pointers, GPS receivers, and other stuff, which are now becoming commonplace. What gadgets, especially handheld devices, do self-respecting nerds and geeks use nowadays, and what mobile devices do you own? I am not talking about nerdy innovative uses of commonplace devices, or just more powerful PDAs or high-resolution cameras, but rather about mobile gadgets that are too new, strange, or especial to be ever used by mere mortals."
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wikinerd wikinerd writes  |  more than 7 years ago

wikinerd writes "What do you do to upgrade your skills? We all have to remain competitive in a volatile IT economy. Personally, as a full-time Analyst Programmer with a Bachelor's in Computer Science, I decided to invest in an MSc in Management, and broad my skills in and outside IT (such as learning foreign languages and new programming languages). Do you actively seek to reskill, and how? Do you focus in IT, or embrace non-IT skills as well?"
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wikinerd wikinerd writes  |  more than 7 years ago

wikinerd writes "As reported on Wikinews, India's economy has grown by 9.2% in Q2, and China is following suit, while the EU is investing on research to boost it competitiveness, particularly in ICT and health industries, with a commissioner noting that 'What we are seeing in Asia, especially China, is incredible'. I do support globalisation and immigration, competition and free access to the job markets, I disapprove protectionism, and I sincerely believe that immigration helps our economies and the world as well. I actually have the opportunity to work with many nationalities including Indians and I value their skills and knowledge, but I also know that in the modern economy they have the advantage of low-cost and I think it's obvious that we all need to learn new skills if we want to survive the next downsizing or offshoring wave. No one is immune from economic cycles, no matter how much wealth you may have: Your investments may fail to produce capital gains at any time, and we all have to remain competitive.

Some days ago I went to a speak on Globalisation by a UK diplomat-ambassador, and he very clearly explained that re-skilling is extremely important in a globalised economy, and I agree with him. This is part of the reasons I chose to invest in an MSc in Management after my degree in Computer Science (note that here in EU education costs less than US: You can get a Master's degree for less than $10,000, sometimes even less than $7,000 if you live modestly, and it isn't too difficult to get student loans or even funding). Somebody has to manage the low-cost immigrant programmers and bridge the cultural barriers and timezone differences. At the same time I plan for another science or engineering degree, with the prospects of a university job in mind (somebody has to do some research or teach the next generation of low-cost programmers). My other plans for reskilling are aiming towards science journalism opportunities (somebody has to persuade our children that it worths studying for a PhD in science, and then enjoy unemployment or live as a cubicle drone waiting to get redundant, right?) and entrepreneurship (somebody has to hire the low-cost programmers!). As you can figure out, my overall strategy to fight uncertain economic cycles is to broaden my skillset, without sacrifying depth, focusing on mobility, rather than extreme specialisation which may prove unfruitful (sounds difficult, and it is). On a more short-term and practical basis, I have started learning programming smartphones and PDAs as I expect the mobile market to boom in the following years and was feeling too narrowly focused only on desktop and Web applications until now. I also invest some time in foreign languages (French and German).

Putting humour aside, what are your reskilling strategies? What are the needs of the globalised economy, and how can we educate ourselves to satisfy these needs in return of a respectable paycheck? What actions do you take to adapt to downsizing cycles, and what do you do to improve your skills? How do you sell or present your skills to prospective employers (if you look for a job) or customers (if you work for yourself)? Have you found any degree programmes worth mentioning (although it's obvious, I think, that many organisations nowadays do not value education and avoid advanced degree holders to keep salaries down), and how much do you value professional organisations like ACM, IEEE, BCS, and IET? (personally I am a member of all of them and place great importance on the available networking and training opportunities)."
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wikinerd wikinerd writes  |  more than 7 years ago

wikinerd writes "We all know it, and most of us hate it: Commercial websites paginate their articles, forcing you to click Next Page all the time. If they have a print-friendly link, it is usually regarded a 'second-class citizen' and displayed in small font size, if not buried somewhere at the end of the page. On top of that, they serve annoying Flash ads and popups. Why do they do this? Don't they understand that they annoy the base of their popularity, the users?

Pagination is surely not out of kindness to slow connection users; I use cellular connections that aren't as reliable as ADSL or cable and being disconnected between pages sucks. I would very much prefer one big continuous page where I could hit Stop if I didn't want to download more. I argue that their only interest in paginating their Web articles is to serve more ads.

Advertising isn't necessarily a bad thing: As a user I often click on interesting ads, mainly text links, and I learn about new products and services. If the ads are context-sensitive, then I may even regard them as useful, as long as their location is such that I am free to ignore them if I have no interest to research new products. However, in many commercial sites, advertising is done via behemoth animating banners, or even worse, distracting video and Flash ads (and, in case you wonder, hover ads, popups and interstitials that force the ads in your throat are IMHO forms of torture, not advertising).

Studying Marketing as part of my Master's, I understand that forcing one to see an ad can only turn them away, and advertising can only assist already interested customers to find your product, as any kind of campaign has only limited effect on people's desire to buy what you sell. Instead of spending millions on annoying ads, perhaps they should use their obscene advertising budget to lower their prices so that they could better penetrate the market and serve the customer better (a win-win solution).

Some marketroids seem to think that 'since x ads bought us y customers, then 2x ads will bring us 2y customers', but it doesn't work this way because the more ads you serve, the more vague their message is, resulting in people paying no attention. When the marketroids discover that, they say 'let us push the ads to their throats', and then they ask to burn up more budget as their mediaeval methods only result in an apathetic audience.

As an example, a week ago I was in a taxi that had two large TFT screens just centimetres (inches) in front of my face showing video ads; and the company that installed them was so obscene that they even put 'advertisements' explaining that this 'business method' and form of advertising is patented and anyone who copies their idea will have to fight with them in the courts. I ended up looking outside the window during the whole trip, as I felt I was being treated like an animal with a wallet.

The solution is simple and straightforward: Find out what people need, build it, place one or two ads at strategic locations to make sure people can find you, sell your product at good prices, provide great service, and then wait for word of mouth to do the rest (with some luck, of course). As for the websites serving popups and Flash ads, what they have to do is simply to respect the user and accept the fact that nobody likes being served huge banners (especially with connections where you pay per megabyte or hour used). Context-sensitive text ads are minimalist and therefore usually well-received by the users, although some sites abuse even this form of advertising by putting obscene amounts of text ads on pages with little content.

It is only a matter of time before users find and start using community-oriented open-content websites, as commercial sites have long ago lost the track to providing good service and respecting the users's real needs (just compare Wikinews with registration-required online newspapers, and Wikitravel with commercial travel guides with nothing more than full-page useless ads).

What forms and amounts of advertising do you, as a user, find useful or acceptable? What are the worst exploitations of advertising technology that you have come across? How can we get our message across to the advertisers and commercial websites? We often want their products and services, but many times we find their advertising methods annoying and unrespectful."
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wikinerd wikinerd writes  |  more than 7 years ago

wikinerd writes "How can we get rid of the widely hated cubicle and its ugly cousin, the stressing open-plan office? Some business owners and managers are too old, and having grown up in a different environment, cannot understand the advantages of teleworking, or even of private offices with Aerons. There are people in high positions who seem to think that stuffing a bunch of engineers into a noisy landscaped office is the best way to organise a company. It is not, and we all know it, but can we prove it? How can we communicate to them the fact that teleworking is good not only for the engineers, but also for the organisations?"

Journals

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Wikinerds: A wiki for nerds!

wikinerd wikinerd writes  |  more than 6 years ago I started a new wiki for nerds at wikinerds.org. It's non-commercial and runs on the volunteerist model used by Wikipedia. Come visiting!

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