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Comment Re:Go on strike? (Score 1) 813

This may be a silly question since I've never been in this kind of situation, but why doesn't the IT staff all collectively refuse to train their outsourced replacements? Or go on strike? Even if they aren't unionized, they could go on strike (I assume). Am I just making some bad assumptions here?

Two main reasons - One of the conditions of getting a half-decent severance package will be that you have to train the outsourced labor to a standard satisfactory to the remaining management; secondly, one of the unwritten but impossible to avoid/prove conditions of getting a good reference from the employer will be training the replacement.
So... refuse to play nice with the managers screwing you over like this? No problem, you're fired immediately and you will get no reference from the employer (or even worse, an "off-the-record" conversation between your old manager and a potential new employer saying that they were happy to get rid of you because you are not a team player, have a bad attendance/disciplinary record, poor standards, racist views, take regular holidays in the MIddle East, and take regular breaks every hour or so to pray to Allah.

For the small minority who have enough money in the bank to get them through a lean year, or who get head-hunted, it is deeply satisfying to play the clown for a week while "training" the new hire then walking into the manager's office and taking a crap on his expensive chair. For the vast majority, though, who have the kind of personal finances that most members of the consumer society have, that severance package is badly needed and should just about cover the basics.

Comment Re:This simply means we're succeeding. (Score 2) 235

Very true... but outside of the article title, the article makes no distinction or breakdown between mass transit and personal transit, while alluding in the text to cars and other small/personal transport options - the Mike Orcutt article mentions vehicle sales, trucks, SUVs and cars, thus giving the impression that the increase is down to the American vehicle owner. Maybe the paper it references, written by John DeCicco, has a bit more of an objective viewpoint, but this particular paper is not yet linked from Prof. DeCicco's page on the MIT Faculty so it is impossible to say for sure.
Having said that, much of the language of his other linked papers specifically references "cars" and seems to point to an assumption that private transport is a greater contributory problem than mass transport so I would not hold my breath waiting for a balanced view on the relative impacts of mass- versus private-transport solutions.

Comment Interesting priorities for an elected official (Score 1) 84

So, an elected official is either approached by an AT&T/Comcast lobby group or approaches them, and she then allows that lobby group to submit legislative proposals to the council in her name because (paraphrasing somewhat) "she was too busy doing other stuff to make time to do it herself".
You know, I recall a few British and European politicians doing that over the last 15-20 years. One example, the "Cash for Questions" scandal in the 1990's...
It was labelled Corruption, and resulted in the end of a few political careers.

Comment EpiPen's value is in reliability/standardisation (Score 0) 327

I am all in favour of using a cheaper option that is equally as effective as its more expensive alternative - that is simply an expression of one of the bases of most Capitalist economic models, after all - that an existing incumbent in the market can be challenged by a new competitor providing the same or similar service at a lower cost. I also happen to love home-built and self-built solutions to many problems. But I mostly apply that passion when making furniture and tinkering with my car or the innards of my computers.
The reservation that I have with that approach around medicines and pharnaceuticals though, is the dosage, effectiveness of the delivery and consistency of the product. A case in point - Sanofi's Auvi-Q (the main EipPen alternative) which was withdrawn by Sanofi in 2015 because of concerns about its ability to deliver the correct amount of epinephrine. These pens are designed to be used without medical training, so someone with the skill required to recognise an under- or overdose may not be present. Heathkit solutions are great, IF they deliver a consistent (and correct) dose of the medicine, and IF the medicine contains a consistent (and correct) dose of the active ingredients. Without that reliability that the mechanism is going to work and deliver the correct dose, it is difficult to put trust in that solution, especially for for a parent or guardian whose child may have such an extreme allergic reaction that their health or life will be in danger without proper care.
For sure, this is a pretty blatant (in my opinion) example of price-gouging by Mylan. Trying to blame it on the US Healthcare system is weak, but they have been given a pretty clear monopoly in schools thanks to their political lobbying efforts and now they are extracting the maximum value possible from the situation - another example of capitalist economics at work - setting the cost of a product/service at a level the market can bear and that the seller is happy with, rather than the cost the market would like to pay.

Comment "Number of contributors" can be a misleading stat (Score 1) 118

I would applaud any serious attempt by any company to contribute to the Open Source community, both in terms of active contributors and also the open-sourcing of projects (particularly widely-used ones, such as the .Net Framework).

However, purely focussing on the number of contributors is potentially misleading for a number of reasons.
For example, a contributor who posts a single one-line update fixing a spelling mistake is still a contributor, and in the total that contributor carries as much weight as a contributor who has pushed out thousands of high quality updates across several/many projects.
Also, the quality of the contributions is important - on one level all contributions are welcome as they are an effort to help. But contributions which require subsequent additional contributions to resolve issues they have introduced are less desireable than the actual fix. I would assume that programmers working for MS and the other big contributing companies are more competent and therefore less likely to introduce problems than a part-time coder working from home, but that is a potentially dangerous assumption. Either way the quality of the contribution would be important, while also being hard to measure and quantify on a site-wide basis.
However, my biggest feeling for the misleading factor of the total contributors number is the range of projects on which those contributions are seen - if MS's 16k+ contributors all contribute solely to the open-sourced MS products, then (purely in my opinion) that somewhat devalues those contributions - they are still useful, welcome and gratefully accepted because the projects they are contributing to are themselves useful, but I feel they do less to improve the overall ecosystem of the Open Source community than the contributors putting time into projects from a range of different sources.

Comment Re:It's Sony - duh (Score 1) 467

.... How do you manage 50 hours of gameplay over a 48 hour period?

Start playing at 18:00 (6PM) on Friday, leave the computer switched on and the game loaded, finish playing at 20:00 (8PM) on Sunday. 50 hours.
Bonus points if you mainline coffee, and give up at 06:00 on Monday morning just before leaving for work/school, because then you clocked up 60 hours... if 50 hours is theft then 60 must be close to murder.

Comment Re:Ok, why? (Score 5, Insightful) 311

Mainly for failing to perform any checks to see if the party filing the DMCA notice actually has the authority (i.e. copyright ownership) to be able to enforce the notice.
However, such checks would go a long way toward invalidating the defense used by media companies who abuse the DMCA provisions when faced with such patently absurd filings - that they filed this specific request in error as a result of a failure of an automated reporting system, and that nobody at the media company making the filing was aware that the filing was incorrect. In the meantime, sanctions related to the number of DMCA notices received against content uploaded by specific accounts remains triggered even when many/most of the notices are shown to be bogus/in error, meaning that there is no incentive for the media companies to change and there are no satisfactory mechanisms in place for small uploaders to recover their content/challenge the behaviour.

Comment Customer dissatisfaction but little/no competition (Score 1) 148

The C-level executives in any large company are disconnected from the customers who buy/use their products, being concerned with the "high level" views. But for most of those companies, they know that they have some competitors in the marketplace and will lose market share to those competitors if they fail to deliver.
In the case of domestic US ISPs, decades of almost completely unregulated consolidation have put pretty much the whole country in a situation where each geographical area has a single large incumbent ISP (read, monopoly) and many have managed to get legislators in those areas to enact laws that effectively ban or put unfeasibly large hurdles in the way of competition starting up (for reference, see the "fun" that Google has gone through when trying to build out their fiber service in various cities).
In a typical capitalist model of an economy, when the large incumbent enterprise is unable or unwilling to provide customers with the service they want, a smaller competitor can come in and provide that service - whether it is lower cost, higher speed, no/higher data cap, or monthly bills hand-delivered by Playboy Bunnies. However, that model assumes that the economic barriers to starting to offer that service are low and that there are no legal blocks protecting the incumbent - in the case of domestic ISPs, there are both - because most of the cables, backbone to door, are owned by those incumbents, a competitor either has to buy from those incumbents thus limiting their ability to compete (because the incumbent can say "no" or set the pricing to be prohibitive, or set data caps on the competitor), or the competitor has to build out their own network of cables (resulting in a high capital cost - a significant barrier to market entry - and running up against many of those legislative blocks that state or city legislators have put in place).

So the ISPs can be pretty comfortable - they know that complaints are on the rise, and that they are more unpopular now than they have been for years, but they also know that their customers have little or no choice than to keep on giving them money.

Comment Re:Feinstein is one of those (Score 1) 241

Sorry, but forcing idiot politicians to show the electorate how good a job they are doing would basically put them in a continuous election/campaigning cycle (because that is effectively their job performance review, and the Congress/Senate campaign cycle lasts for at least 6-9 months as it is), meaning that they would do even less useful work than they do now.
The fact that you are right about the attention span of voters being too short to remember anything that has not happened in the last week (not sure if I am being too generous there, sometimes I think it is much shorter than that) does not mean that the election/performance review cycle should be shortened, it means that the electorate actually need to put some effort into considering who to vote for.
Too hard? Then the electorate are too lazy/stupid/incompetent, and they get the candidate they deserve. Remember, these politicians are supposed to be the best representatives of the people in their constituency. So if the electorate are lazy, then the politician has to be only slightly less lazy.
Remember, when being chased by zombies or cannibals, you do not have to be faster than the zombies or cannibals, you just have to be faster than the dumb schmuck next to you, so that they catch him, and you get away. On in the case of politicians, they only have to be slightly better than the other guy, who has to be only slightly better than anyone else.

Comment Cybersecurity IS a C-level problem (Score 2) 45

Yes, the technical analysis and implementation of security fixes/updates for hardware and software within a company is a set of IT tasks, but the task of budgeting for that is/should be a finance task, with oversight from C-level legal representation.
If the CEO doesn't know how to handle it, that is fine - as long as he/she understands that they are the ones who will ultimately be left holding the can for a data breach, they will have the incentive to get somebody in place who does know how to handle it - the role of the CEO is to be the figurehead and "big picture" source, not subject-matter expert in all areas.
So the CEO needs to think "this is an IT problem, but I will be carrying the can for a problem, so I need to talk to the head of IT and see what they need to help me save my job", and work from there.

Comment Re:RAID, let them fail (Score 1) 145

BackBlaze might have their own alternative reasons, but in my case ... Because whether you are using RAID, the Reed-Solomon setup that BackBlaze are using, or no distributed data system at all, it is easier/quicker to recover data directly from a drive that is showing signs of failure than it is to restore from a backup or recover from a RAID parity check.
Yes, it means that I am removing drives from my arrays that still have useful life in them, but they get repurposed - I am quite frequently asked by friends and family for a drive they can use as a one-time transport mechanism for music, photos, videos, documents, pretty much anything, and I go to great pains to point out that the drive is potentially failing. If the data size is "only" a few GB/10's of GB, then I usually have a USB drive or 3 lying around that they can use. But I also have a few external drive caddies that I can drop an old drive into, and which is either preferable or taken as a second copy, because the USB can get lost very easily, while a 1/2 kilo drive is less "lose-able".

Comment Re:File a Complaint, or generate revenue (Score 1) 172

Purely for personal phones, another option that might work is to get a premium rate telephone number linked to your landline, and use that number on your correspondence/website/profile details (I assume that friends and people you actually want to call you have your mobile number, and never call the landline). After a month or two, the telemarketers will get an updated phone list from whatever source they use, and unless their systems are setup to prevent calls to premium rate numbers, they will start calling you... at which point the goal would be to keep them on the line as long as possible. I am not saying it would make enough money for it to be worth your time and effort, but that is entirely your choice.

Comment Interesting idea, would need to see the research (Score 1) 602

Having spent a large part of my life living in Devon (a very rural part of the United Kingdom, lots of farms, tiny villages, small roads/lanes - often not wide enough for 1 car in each direction, except at specific "passing places" - with high hedges to the side limiting both long range visibility of the road ahead and the run-off/avoidance options for traffic coming in the opposite direction), I can say that driving on a road with no central line marking, which is also narrow and with limited visibility, does tend to lead to either slower speeds (the careful drivers) or much higher speeds (the drivers who fantasize about being a rally driver, and who assume nothing will be coming the other way).
Take away the line down the middle of the road, and the road feels narrower, at least to me. But there may also be an assumption that the road is a (very wide) one-way street, so the result would be that drivers move to the middle of the road. That would make life interesting if you come around the corner on such a road, and see a car driving in the middle of the road. Maybe I am not giving my fellow drivers enough credit, but when my father taught me to drive, he always reminded me "assume every other driver on the road is an incompetent idiot with no control over their vehicle"... sadly I have seen a lot of evidence that backed up his statement.
Another element came when driving the E10 highway in northern Norway and Sweden with my girlfriend (very competent driver, in a landscape that was sometimes the typical alpine "wall of rock on one side, sheer drop down the other"). She was perfectly happy and capable of driving when there was a line in the middle of the road, even with large semi-artic trucks coming in the opposite direction at 80+km/h (50+mph), but as soon as the lines disappeared because the road narrowed a bit, or there was a stretch of newly resurfaced road with no markings, she was very uncomfortable and wanted me to drive, because the road then felt restrictively narrow, especially with the trucks driving on it (there was space for the truck plus our car, but not a huge margin for error in car positioning).

Comment Re:Here's something worth crowdfunding. (Score 2) 96

At least in theory, what he is supposed to do is go to his direct superior or a direct superior of the individuals who were involved in the conduct and say "This client of ours is involved in illegal/unethical/unconstitutional (delete as appropriate) conduct. This client happens to be the Department of Justice".
Except that he was working for the DoJ at the time, so painting the DoJ as the "client" in this case seems at first face to be a tenuous thread on which to hang the case against him, and if it really was that tenuous, his lawyer would have no trouble breaking the argument. So I am guessing that there is something in the DoJ employment contracts or in some recent legal precedent that allows the DC Bar to go after him, because if there is one thing that a lawyer hates more than an open-and-shut case requiring little billable work, it is an honest lawyer who makes the rest of them look as bad as they really are. So now that there is some basis on which to charge Tamm, the DC Bar are going to go for it. Unless of course there is some other political consideration at play, and the case itself is just a front - a vehicle for someone to run for political office, perhaps.
Anyway, the idea is that Tamm should have gone to his superiors or the superiors of the person(s) involved in the scheme and raised the issue. And after a verbal discussion, he should have put the issue in writing, both email and printed version, and kept a copy or 20 of each for himself. He could then be fired for any number of reasons, from the color of his tie or a supposed drinking habit, to transmission of confidential documents to outside sources (his own email addresses or physical storage *cough* that the DoJ could not touch without a warrant), thus tainting him as a "disgruntled former employee".
Then, if there is no action following his escalation, and if he miraculously still has any credibility left following a smear campaign about his (previously un-known) mental health issues - Psych reports from willing doctors attached - he would be justified in going to the press. Except that you would probably find no-one within the DoJ who remembers a meeting with him about this, no record of any email communication about it with anyone inside the DoJ, and so on. So then there is still no validation for his "claim" that he raised the issue with his superiors, and he is right back in the situation he is in now, except that he was fired because of the apparent mental health issues, illegal extraction of documents, and oh by the way we also found evidence on his computer than he is a pedophile with extreme Islamist sympathies.
Note, I am not saying that all areas of the US Government are hopelessly corrupt and will destroy anyone who tries to disturb their spot at the pig trough. I am sure the US Government has lots of people who genuinely believe they are doing the Right Thing. But given the various oaths that people in Government swear (like "protecting the constitution", etc., etc.), I am damned sure that there are a lot of people who are not fulfilling those oaths, even if they do believe they are doing the Right Thing.

Comment Sounds almost like a scientific approach... (Score 1) 510

One of the best things about science is that, while we accept things "as they appear to be" and formulate theories about why that is, and what the mechanisms are that govern what we see, those theories are continually up for examination and re-examination in light of new evidence that is not explained by the existing theory. If the new evidence can be independently verified, and the results replicated, then the theory can be adjusted.
So, by (at least as I read it based on the summary) allowing teachers and students the possibility to discuss evolution versus creationism, to look with a critical eye at the evidence and find (NOT make) new evidence, to draw conclusions and either reinforce existing theories (by concluding that the evidence supports them) or contradict existing theories and propose new ones (because the evidence does not support the existing theories), this approach appears at first glance to be a very scientific approach to the debate.
However, that will "obviously"* not be the case. The goal is almost certainly not to allow a free and open discussion, but to push an agenda by only acknowledging evidence that supports the agenda, with the rationale that the time allotted for the debate is insufficient to consider all the evidence, so we have to pick and choose.
* Why do I say "obviously"? Partly because my (limited) experience of Oklahoma is of a state dominated by the conservative religious Right, who would mostly rather give a blow-job to Satan than admit that evolution is right and they are descended from monkeys; and partly because the people of Oklahoma are more concerned with where their next pay check is coming from than they are concerned with where THEY came from (not unlike many other parts of the world, though).
The basic approach of most religions is to say "come to us, we have the answers to all your questions", and most religious authority figures really dislike the fact that science ("we are still looking for the answers to all our questions, but we have some interesting answers to some of your questions already") comes up with answers that disagree with their religious doctrine and proof to support those answers, instead of relying on peoples' faith in the "right" religious answer.

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