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Comment What a craptastic idea.... (Score 2) 370

Bill Gates.... how far you're fallen! Or maybe, Bill Gates ... your good fortune only struck once!
Whatever the deal is, he completely changed ever since he had to fight the Federal govt. over the monopolistic practices lawsuits.
Now, he just spouts off disturbing ideas and trite "predictions of the future of tech".

Taxing automation to slow down the speed of its utilization is really pretty much the equivalent of proposing, back when he wanted "a PC on every desktop", that it was all going way too fast, requiring heavy taxes on anyone using a personal computer. I mean otherwise? Look how many people the technology would put out of work, in ALL different fields!

As far as I'm concerned, technologies like A.I. have a *long* way to go to become viable. Everything we've been sold so far as "artificial intelligence" has NO intelligence at all! It's taken decades to get things to a state where you can give a computer a voice command and it understands your speech reliably enough not to be frustrating. And we've gotten pretty good at making computers speak without rambling in monotone. But these pieces just allow fakery ... personal assistants like Siri or Cortana. But they wouldn't even understand who is "mom" and who is "dad" in a family, or who your boss is, if you didn't tag it first in your contact list on your device!

All of this fear of robots taking all the jobs is nonsense. If we keep progressing as fast as possible, we've still got a L-O-N-G way to go. People are afraid of things like self-driving vehicles. And sure, that's disruptive. But that just happens to be ONE area where huge amounts of money are going into R&D to make it work. The tech you find in a Tesla or in a self-driving truck doesn't really translate to an ability to do anything else. It just knows how to make a wheeled vehicle follow the rules of a public road or highway and travel between points.

A whole lot of assembly work going on in today's factories is already automated. There's not THAT much more automation to do, and you get diminishing returns as you spend more money for more complex machinery to replace the last 100, last 50 and then last 25 workers in a particular facility. For example? I used to work for a place that heat-treated and finished various metals. They had automation for things like hammering a material into shape, so people didn't sit out in the shop with giant sledgehammers, banging on parts by hand anymore. But you still needed humans to inspect all the parts as they went through the ovens and baths, running "recipes" programmed into the systems. Almost like a gourmet chef, they had to make judgement calls during the middle of processes to see if a batch was turning out as intended or not. And sometimes, if something wasn't coming out right - they had to cancel things so more material wasn't wasted, before trying again. New customers or new orders were always asking for different things, so you needed humans to translate all of those requests into results. Automation would have been more complete in such a place if they only did specific things to specific parts, the same way every time. But that's not what people outsourced work to them for. (If it was that easy, places would just heat treat or finish the metals in-house!)

Comment re: Edison (Score 4, Insightful) 356

You know, when you read about Edison growing up as a kid, it's clear he had some issues. Maybe he was Asperger's? That would explain his willingness to stubbornly sit there trying material after material to find a suitable filament to make a working light bulb.

Steve Jobs is also often described as "a jerk and an ass", yet it's clear he had some great ideas and was able to not only build a computer company that went head-to-head against Microsoft, but brought it back from the dead when he took it back over again for the second time.

A lot of people running companies are perceived as jerks. Some of that is probably warranted, but maybe it's ALSO because they focus so much on making the company a success? Most "rank and file" employees only care about the paycheck, or doing the little piece of the whole puzzle they're hired to do. If something bad for the company but good for them happens, they're probably pleased about it. The business owner who created it as his "baby" from the ground up? Not so much.

Torvalds is right, IMO, embracing Edison's quote. The people who pretend it's not so are just the ones at the top who can take all the credit for that 99% perspiration of others they hired to implement an idea.

Comment Re:What is the R&D Actually For? (Score 5, Interesting) 86

I've made this comment before, but I think it bears repeating. I'm not really sure we can tell if Apple "just doesn't care about a lot of products in their lineup anymore" or not, until we let them get the new "spaceship" campus up and running?

That's a huge real-estate investment that allows them to hire a whole lot of employees or contractors, especially given that Apple has said they don't plan on getting rid of any of its EXISTING office space.

I think historically, Apple has *always* struggled with trying to do so much with so little manpower. They went head-to-head with companies the size of Microsoft, while selling a whole line of hardware along with the operating system and applications for it - when Apple employed FAR fewer people. This has resulted in the ongoing wisdom of "avoiding revision A of a new Mac" and the famed shortages of new products at launch time, among other things.

It appears the head-count is about to dramatically increase at Apple, and I'd like to think a lot of things have gotten behind because it's slated to get addressed when new teams are hired to tackle some of it. The company certainly has the money to make those changes.

I'm one of the people who shelled out the crazy high price for a new Mac Pro "cylinder" workstation, a month or two after it came out. I even upgraded it to 64GB of RAM via a 3rd. party memory supplier and upgraded the 256GB SSD in it to 512GB when I could source the needed part on the used market. I'm using it to type this message today and its still my "main" computer I use at home. But I only invested in this thing because I put faith in Apple to support it at least as well as they did the previous Mac Pro towers. (I owned a 2006 and a 2008 model before this one, and both were excellent workhorses that more than paid for themselves with work I got done with them.) Essentially, my loyalty was taken advantage of. Apple not only couldn't release a suitable display of their own for the machine, but never even took the obvious step of marketing an external drive storage cabinet for it. I bought a 3rd. party (DATOptic e-Box) external Thunderbolt RAID enclosure that I use with it -- but the point is, it looks like something that belongs on a Windows PC, not a Mac. It's bigger and noisier than the Mac Pro itself, and I can't put the Mac into sleep mode while it's on, or it doersn't handle it gracefully and can cause data corruption. Apple has never sold a single video card upgrade for this machine either, which is kind of ridiculous for a "Pro" desktop workstation. The dual FirePro D500's in this one perform about as well as a pair of ATI Radeon 7950 or 7970 cards, but OS X doesn't even support CrossFire mode with them. There should really be a program to take these in to have a newer, better graphics card upgrade professionally installed, since both nVidia and ATI/AMD are selling cards that are essentially 2 generations ahead of this technology now.

Comment Re:Harder Than It Sounds (Score 1) 489

I was born and raised in the midwest too, and could never fathom doing a cross-country move with the wife and 3 kids. (Especially difficult since 2 of the kids are "special needs" and were in a good school system where we were at.)

It turns out we live in the metro DC area now. How? Honestly, just total luck. A job offer kind of fell into my lap because of old friends who already worked for the company in question, and they needed someone with my skillset to work in their DC area office.

I negotiated for them to cover $7,500 or so in moving expenses for us. That didn't quite cover everything, but I sold everything I could part with to scrape up the rest of what we needed to do it (including my dad's coin collection he handed down to me before he passed away).

It was one of the harder things I've ever done, to be honest with you. So much stress and uncertainty, combined with the wife almost threatening a divorce because she didn't want to go through with a move and having to leave a job she liked. But a few years into it, it's been an overall good decision. She found a job nearby that she likes, and mine pays better than I was getting in the midwest. More stability too, because my previous jobs were generally in smaller manufacturing places where their success came and went with the trends in the marketplace. We had to move pretty far out from my job, because anything too close to DC itself is wildly unaffordable for us. But the upside is the small town we wound up in having MUCH less crime and a better environment for the kids to grow up in. People actually know who their neighbors are. If one of our kids invites other kids over, there's a good chance we know their parents and/or grandparents and can tell them directly if their kid is acting up. If we don't? We can ask someone else who does and get the "scoop" on the kid's family situation.

Comment Not into mocking them, but .... (Score 1) 489

I look at my own situation, growing up in Gen-X, where today's millennials insist I supposedly "had it much better than they do". I just don't see it?
I had to live with my parents until I was in my early 20's. Couldn't afford the expensive colleges out of state, so I attended the local community college that was only a few miles from my parents' house.

My job options ranged from telemarketing for a carpet cleaning firm to working as a bench computer tech for small "mom and pop" computer stores. (Most of which paid little more than minimum wage and always found ways to screw me into working extra hours without compensation.)

When I did move out, I shared an apartment with a female friend. (No romantic relationship going on... just a friend who was dating one of my best friends at the time.) That ended badly when I lost my job and couldn't find another one quickly enough to cover my share of the rent on time. I got another job 2 weeks after I was kicked out and had to go back to my parents place again. THAT was a fun conversation....

It really wasn't until I was almost 30 years old that I got a real "career job", and even that was very much a "who you know" thing. (An old friend of mine was in management there and agreed to hire me part-time, temporarily. I was then able to impress enough other employees with my work ethic so they pressured him to give me a full time job. He really didn't want to, out of fear people would accuse him of favoritism -- but eventually gave in.)

Comment Re:having kids is dumb (Score 1) 489

If you really feel that having kids is "dumb", then you should do everything possible to avoid getting yourself into that situation.

Honestly though? A whole lot of parents out there, if they were 100% honest, would admit that they had their first kid without putting a whole lot of thought into all the "pros" and "cons". They took the view about the financials of, "We'll find SOME way to make it all work out." and their partner probably helped prod them into taking the plunge (if it wasn't more of an accident or carelessness causing the pregnancy in the first place).

And yet, once you find yourself in the situation -- you just kind of throw yourself into it, partly out of a sense of personal responsibility for your actions/decisions, and increasingly, because the whole thing becomes more comfortable. And at that point, you might decide you both want another kid too. (That starts making more sense after the first one because you can re-use a lot of the stuff you bought that the first one grew out of, AND the two kids will keep each other company so YOUR personal attention isn't demanded of them quite so much of the time.)

There's no doubt kids are expensive and often a stressful, disappointing experience. But it's ALSO just as true that the so-called "good life" isn't all it's cracked up to be either. Sure, you might enjoy it for a while. But eventually, almost anything gets old and dull. Give yourself 20 or so years of being single or dating people with the "child free by choice!" attitude, and you might find you start asking yourself what your life's real purpose is. Are you just another consumer on this planet, doing all the things marketed to you as fun, trendy and entertaining? What will people remember you by after you're gone?

The answer is going to be different for different people. But a majority of people I know eventually feel a need to "leave their mark" on this Earth. Sometimes, that comes in the form of building things. A buddy of mine got into furniture-making for this reason. He liked the idea that even after he's gone, people will still be using his dressers or beds or cedar chests each day. But raising another human being is kind of the ultimate "build" to leave behind. You created LIFE ... another person who can talk about you and will actually remember you after you're gone. And even though they'll do their own things (not YOUR things), they do all of it with your influence on them.

Comment re: Prosper (Score 1) 99

Same here!

I lent nearly $1,000 to deadbeats on Prosper who never paid back a dime.
I got payments from 2 separate class action suits against Prosper since then, but both were for under $10.

The part that angers me the most is that Prosper was SUPPOSED to turn those debts over to your choice of 2 collection agencies they supposedly employed. I selected one but never heard a THING again. For all I know, they never even really sent anything to collections at all? How would you know as an individual lender?

Comment Re:"Up to $10" (Score 1) 99

Exactly!

There's a class action underway right now over milk price fixing, and it started out talking about you earning as much as $43 or something like that.
I went ahead and filled out my claim, since I lived in one of the states covered and bought milk during that time. But a week later, a friend of mine checked the site and the estimated payout was down to under $10 already, due to all the claims filed.

Comment I'm not a fan of them in general, but .... (Score 1) 197

I recently attended a Cisco conference and it was helpful. In my case, it was only 20 minutes away from my office, so it didn't cost anything to go. 90% of it was just like people on Slashdot complain about with these conferences ... a lot of bored-looking people manning booths where they just hand you a business card and some pamphlet for hardware you don't need a "contact person" to shop for. (EG. Plantronics was there. Wireless telephone headsets and bluetooth headsets are pretty much commodities these days. If I want a Plantronics product, I'll just order it on Amazon or something. I really didn't need the woman's contact info.)

But it's that 10% of info that turns out to be a real gem. EG. Had a specific question about the future roadmap for a Meraki product and got Cisco to admit that the current offering was "under-powered" and did, indeed suffer from the complaints we had about it. They said it was on the way out, and they recommended buying a different unit they sell until that update/refresh is made available. That might sound like a "small thing" - but it's the kind of information your salespeople won't usually tell you over the phone when you're ordering, and cemented our strategy to stop buying that one unit.

Also picked up a flier from a local firm specializing in recovering your whole network and server infrastructure in case you've been hacked. Do I think I'll ever need their services? I sure hope we don't! But that's something nice to file away, as a "just in case". You don't want to have to spend a lot of time finding suitable people to assist with a disaster like that AFTER the fact.

Comment Reminds me of the #linux IRC channels (Score 2) 477

As far back as the early 2000's or late 90's, I remember running into this same attitude all the time in the IRC channels for Linux.

They used to be one of the best places to get assistance, but also the best place to get verbal abuse from half the users in the channel in the process.

So yeah .... sure is irritating, but nothing new by a long shot.

Comment Re:I don't see the problem. (Score 1) 660

That's what I think, too.

The people trying to sell us on H1B's are always giving these examples of high-end, specialized career jobs where you really might have a tough time finding enough qualified people in America. But the H1B owners I actually witness doing jobs are taking up an awful lot of "rank and file I.T." positions doing basic coding, web design, computer or network support, or server support roles.

Furthermore, it doesn't really make sense that our colleges and universities are supposedly "good" at training foreigners for these jobs, yet somehow, they don't manage to be nearly as good at training Americans to do the same things? The implication seems to be that Americans aren't as smart or are too lazy to study any of these more advanced subjects, so we have to rely on Asians, Indians and others who decide to go to our schools, and hope to keep them here when they graduate. I don't buy into that claim.

Comment Top I.T. talent isn't always needed, either .... (Score 1) 435

One thing I'm coming to grips with, having worked in I.T. my whole working career (and in my mid 40's now), is that a lot of companies simply don't want to pay for "top I.T. talent" anymore. The whole reason they're entertaining the idea of hiring a permanent I.T. person in the first place is the idea it'll be more convenient and save some money over the outside consultants they have to schedule to come in and pay by the hour (or project).

If you're really good and experienced, and believe your talents should be worth well into the 6 figure range? You might be absolutely right, but you're pricing yourself out of what many, many companies are actually budgeting for and interested in getting.

Competition is really heavy, these days, to just "cloud-ify" many of the things a business used to do internally. That means less need for on-site I.T. talent to care for those servers and applications. The need doesn't disappear to make sure the network is still working well, the company's Internet circuit(s) are up, and new hires receive training and the hardware they need to work. And there will always be the trouble tickets put in to get assistance when something's malfunctioning and they don't know if it's on "our end or the other end". But this is all stuff a person can do competently for them without being a "top tier" I.T. support engineer.

I might be biased due to my location (DC metro area, essentially).... but the #1 thing I've seen that justifies a bigger salary for I.T. around here is possessing an active "top secret clearance". A whole lot of govt. and military contractors need I.T. support for even mundane things, but need the person doing the work to be "top secret" cleared because of the information getting handled. That's a really costly and lengthy process to run someone through, so they'll gladly pay above market rate if you already have one. Also tends to mean ex-military get cherry-picked for great paying, easy to do work around here.

Comment re: Glassdoor (Score 1) 435

My experience with Glassdoor is it's most valuable if you're already researching a specific company you want to work for. The comments people leave about the pros and cons of the companies are usually pretty accurate. (You'll often see the random one that paints an especially good or bad picture. But just like Yelp and other ratings sites, it's wise to discard that as "fringe" and read everything else to get a good average/overall sense of how things are there.)

I also agree that salaries posted from specific companies and job titles are pretty accurate. (I doubt many users are motivated to post false numbers there?) The problem is -- there aren't a huge number of users willing to leave that information at all. So for small or mid-sized companies, you might only see one or two salaries posted. Not that helpful if those were people doing entry level work and you're looking for a management or senior position there, etc.

Comment And this is "failure" ? (Score 1) 353

Selling 4.3 million subscriptions for Office 365 last year doesn't sound like the kind of failure I would mind having!

If the issue is inability to keep subscription levels up as high as they peaked at, when O365 was introduced? I'd suggest several reasons that should be expected.

1. There was definitely some pent up demand for this product on the Mac side, considering Mac OS X users were stuck on Office 2011 as the latest version, until this finally came out.
2. A pretty sizeable number of the total O365 subscription base comes from people who qualified for educational discounts, offered by the high-school, college or university they attended. As far as I can determine? Once you buy one of these heavily discounted licenses for Office 365 this way, it effectively stays active indefinitely. (What seems to determine if the license lives on or expires is if the institution you purchased it through keeps renewing their annual agreement with Microsoft to keep offering it at a discount to people. Unless you attended a school that failed and went out of business, I'd assume the vast majority keep these arrangements active with Microsoft.) I *bet* every time a retail or corporate customer renews Office 365 (annually), Microsoft counts that as another "sale"? If so, the educational customers only wind up counting for that 1 initial sale, since they're not renewing it each year like everyone else.
3. I don't really think the latest Office release offered via O365 is that impressive compared to the one that came before it, for Windows users? My workplace purchased stand alone Office 2013 Pro licenses for a number of PCs, and it's so much like the latest release, you almost have to click "Help" and "About" to make sure which one it is. Many of the improvements are relatively minor and need to be pointed out to someone for them to even realize it's there. It feels to me like MS tries to get you onto the O365 subscription train by bundling cloud services with it, like use of their cloud based Exchange server for Outlook and cloud storage via "OneDrive". Some of that is actually compelling for *some* customers (mostly corporate), but it's worth little or nothing to a whole lot of others.
4. I'll state the reason last that I'm sure lots of Slashdot users were already saying first: Alternatives to Office are eating into its profits. Google Docs, for example, is increasingly used in school classrooms and runs on cheap Chromebooks. Still others are making do with OpenOffice or a variant of it, often on an open source Linux box.

Comment New campus might help? (Score 1) 328

The *one* remaining hope I have for Apple is that huge new "spaceship" campus they're building. I mean, if you look at all the office space that gives them? That could represent an opportunity for Apple to finally employ enough engineers, developers and designers to really plow forward with some innovation.

I find it interesting that so far, I've heard that Apple intends to keep all of its existing office buildings after the new one goes online, too.

They don't do any manufacturing in any of these buildings ... so ALL of this would appear to be for the purposing of coding software, designing things, or providing user support.

I don't know for sure, but I think it's possible Apple has kind of put things on the back burner while it ramps all of this up and reorganizes staff internally?

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