22 posts • joined 11 Jun 2009
Once learned - never forgotton
After 17 years as a contractor (and now 13 years 'on the dark side') I was recently invited to mentor some junior engineers. The mid-level manager type nearly had a fit when I proposed the following exhortation "It's a commercial transaction, they rent your life for 40 hours a week, if they decide to waste that time that's their privilege and they will exercise it. Take every opportunity to plausibly add buzzwords to your resume because you will inevitably be deemed expendable when a PHB fouls up a project and you will be out with the trash because the bean counter's spreadsheet is more important than you"
Apparently I also lack respect for the company. No shit sherlock - I wouldn't have noticed if you hadn't told me. Now STFU and pay me.
Ah yes - the Johnson manned space center (as was). First went there about 20 years ago - fascinating stuff, guided by people who were space geeks. Now that I live just up the road (well, in Texas terms - about 200 miles) it's an easy day trip - and no longer worth the effort. Some of the 'specials' they put on are OK but in general it's set up for the touring family with young kids and no real interest in the space program outside crappy CGI movies. The 'more interesting' (read older) parts are almost deserted. I suspect because they aren't interactive enough.
Much the same has happened to the Kennedy facility. There is a saving grace there though. Pay for the Canaveral rocket site tour. That's the old army rocket/missile sites. Again (well, as of a couple of years ago) that is still guided by people who worked there when they were preparing things like nuclear anti-aircraft missiles designed to take out the Russian bomber fleets in mid-atlantic. You get to see the bunker which was the control station for the original Redstone manned flights. And find out why it was only 250 ft from the launch pad. Wonderful stuff - highly recommended for your El-Reg reader.
More to the point - you can even get 'proper' bacon in Austin - unlike the streaky mass produced crap that seems to be endemic elsewhere in the colonies.
Hmm, now I'm salivating, OK - I know where I'm going for breakfast on Saturday.
Re: I called it!!
Actually - I think they are a company that out-do even Apple. Like $2300 in shipping charges. That's airmail - it's only $230 ground mail. To either the US or the UK. Damn I bet Tim Cook would cream himself for those margins.
It's strangely depressing to think that someone would pay that.
Re: It'll be Android but that's all I know
Just about sums it up for me too. MicroSD and a replaceable battery are positives, SWMBO has a fruity phone and I don't get on with it, I've played with the winphone and I like that even less. I will look at the blackberry but the bugginess stories don't make me hopeful. I looked very hard at the Nexus 4, but the 'everything in the cloud' aspect of it finally put me off (no google - we don't have infinite data plans here in the real world). Looks like an S4 - but cyanogen saying that they won't support it makes that less appealing as the carrier crapware irritates the hell out of me.
Sigh. My old S1 really has reached the end of it's practical life so I've gotta do something. Maybe I'll just wait until I can pick up an S3 at good money.
Some hints for beer
Hi thee south for about 450 miles, find the Stone brewery. Sample. Extensively. Actually Safeway and Raleys/Bel Air carry their stuff so you just have to go to your local supermarket. I wouldn't suggest starting with Ruination IPA or Arrogant Bastard - but I would offer the opinion that they disprove the assumption that all American beer is crap (admittedly 90%+ is of a quality that would make a cat ashamed to piss it - but there's some really good stuff as well).
Oh - and if you can get hold their winter ale (Oaked Double Bastard) make sure you don't have any other plans for the rest of the evening. Reminds me of Robinsons Old Tom of many decades past.
Best guess would be just south of the HP Aviation terminal. There's a bunch of space there that's used for tying down GA planes but SJC have been 'easing' them out for 5 years anyway.
Re: shooting Glock 17 from a UK newbie.
I've taught gun safety and how to shoot. The dangerous and silly things an untrained person will do with a handgun will turn your hair gray.
I used to run a ladies handgun training class - I always knew I was in for a stressful evening when 2 friends would come in together for their first class. They always want to 'share' the experience - which means turning to speak to their friend. Normally forgetting about the bang stick in the hand.
On the plus side - they do listen - which makes them a damn sight easier to teach than the guys that come in convinced they can outshoot John Wayne because they've watched the movies. How often do you have to explain that gangsta style shooting is just on the screen and that 9mm handguns do not have an infinite magazine.
Re: Suck my Glock..
In general - no. Standard ball is only used for practice (coz it's cheaper) and by the military (as per the Geneva convention I believe). JHP is way more effective and less likely to pop out the other side. Personally I ask the local cops what they use - Hornady Critical Duty/Defense seems to be the order of the day in mid Texas. If they are willing to spend the FBI's time and money figuring out the 'best' stopping round then I'll go with that.
True - but it's a nice freeby if you happen to benefit. I just got an email from Amazon telling me that they'd populated the cloud player. Should keep me entertained for the afternoon while I watch people wave their egos around. Dontcha love meetings.
Totally conflicted on this one
My latest e-reader (Sony TSR-1, which I loved but it just couldn't survive being the cushion when I sat down) gave up the ghost and now I have to replace it. Played with a Nexus 7 in the shop the other day and it's a *really* nice shiny thing. But - I like reading outdoors as well. And the phone can show movies but it's really limiting for web browsing (especially with my aging eyes). I like the idea that I only have to charge it up every few weeks - but I habitually carry an external power source for the phone anyway - so that is easily capable of charging up a tablet.
SWMBO will throw a fit if I get both and I've been digital for so long now that a vital part of my reference material mandates some form of reader.
Single data point ... ICS (CM9) runs like a dog on a Captivate. I stepped through a bunch of the nightly builds, the RCs and the stable release. While they got better as they went it's still massively slower than CM 7.2. From my inexpert perusal it looks like it expects multi cores and lotsa memory.
Re: OK, one down...
Ah WallyWorld. Whenever I find myself anywhere near one I'm reminded of Arthur's reaction when they arrive at the Restaurant.
Arthur: Incredible ! The people ! the things !
Ford: The things are also people
Arthur: The people, the .... other people
For the true experience you really have to visit one in rural Arkansas. Where it's the best shop in town. The big challenge lies in trying not to poke your own eyes out.
Re: Male primary school teachers? Hah
So back when my daughters were just starting school (and we were living in the UK) there was a flyer from the local education people that encouraged parents to get involved as helpers in class. Given that I was contracting and working from home at the time I figured that I had the schedule flexibility to deal with it and I was still new enough at the parenting thing to think it would be a pretty cool thing to do.
So I send in an email and wander in for a chat. To be met with a 'but you're a man !!' attitude. Well, yes, I knew that. Turns out that the prevailing (or at least well entrenched) opinion is/was that only a male who is a pervert would apply to work with young children. I was left under no illusions that I wasn't welcome.
I spoke with some of the fathers of the other kids in the class - to be met with cynical laughter and a 'welcome to the new world' response.
Given that single anecdotal piece of 'evidence' you can draw any conclusion you like - but I have to say that the lack of male primary school teachers doesn't surprise me. The numbers are slightly (but not much) better in California BTW - although when I volunteered for my kids schools there I was welcomed with open arms.
Re: The last tale...
They don't?? Hmm - wonder what my two were learning in driver's ed then? Last year.
Oh - and in Ca they have sex ed as well. Which they preview for the parents before the start of the year. Watching the reaction of some of the more 'religiously oriented' parents seeing it for the first time was side splittingly funny. Best laugh I had for ages.
Of course - having it all explained by the teacher who also acted as the girls water polo coach (young, very attractive and with legs of seemingly infinite length) was kinda dangerous for my blood pressure. Which my wife also found hilarious. All in all an excellent evening's entertainment.
On the firearms side - almost every town of reasonable size has at least one range where they teach a free course on kids firearms safety. With firing practice to go with it if the instructor wants. Normally based on the Eddy Eagle program (http://www.nrahq.org/safety/eddie/). I teach it myself occasionally. You really do have to be verging on the criminally insane not to have your kids go through at least some training. Even if it's just enough so that if (when) they see a firearm they don't immediately want to play with the damn thing. At our club we have events like 'bring your daughter to the range day'. Which are generally a huge success - guns are a lot of fun when used properly and safely.
Re: Too little, too late.
Too little, too late for whom? Those of us over the age of 45 are still allowed to buy things you know. I even have my daughter's permission :-)
Having owned and worked with a number of start-ups over the last few decades I think there are two specific failure points for product based ventures.
Firstly - getting a workable, saleable product out of the door and in paying customer's hands. This seems to be the limit of ambition of many start-ups and I think this is a major error.
The second, and I believe more pervasive, failure point is getting that second version out. With all the implications of upgrades, testing, customer support, maintenance of multiple versions in the field, the reality of hotfixes for specific customers.
Now - for the amazon hosted web service this works differently - but I think it follows a similar pattern. First step is getting enough people to use/adopt your wonderful free service. The second issue surfaces when they look to monetize their customer base. Same sort of thing - all of a sudden you have support issues because people are paying for the service.
I've always regarded that second step as the maturing of the company. Of course - a lot of them look to get bought out by one of the big players at that point and so avoid having to grow their own infrastructure will all those boring grown up details that they've managed to ignore up until then.
Just my observations - your mileage will undoubtedly vary.
Re: Highlander 2
Yeah - here too. Loved the original, even enjoyed most of the Adrian Paul TV series (well, up until series 5 - after that it seriously jumped the shark) but the H2 movie was for me the biggest drop-off between original and sequel of all time.
I mean I really really wanted to like it, spent money going to the cinema to watch it, gritted my teeth and stayed to the end just in case it had a single redeeming feature that I could point to and say "well, it wasn't all bad" - but no. It *was* all bad. It made party political broadcasts seem like masterpieces of erudite film making.
God it was awful.
A note on colonial banking arrangements
>> "encouraging people to close their accounts at high street banks and deposit their money with credit unions instead"
Actually this is mandated by a knowledge of simple arithmetic. Anyone who has their main business with the big banks probably has a first name relationship with the drooling idiot at McDonalds due to eating there every day. Why people accept their abusive terms of business escapes me.
Example - I recently changed jobs and as is fairly normal in the US my new employer <bigcorp> has a 'special relationship' with one of the big banks. So as part of the induction process you get a pitch from the bank. Being new to the area I open an account (it's free and convenient - also you need a local bank to write a cheque - there is no concept of a cheque guarantee card). Skip forward a few weeks and the old truck I'm driving finally starts to show signs of incipient mortality so I consider replacing it. Go to onsite bank branch waving flier promising 'great service and special offers for <bigcorp> employees'. Undergo 30 minute grilling about income and assets. Get told I'll get a decision 'soon'. 36 hours later I get an email telling me that the wonderful reduced rate for a car loan will mean payments of $X (where X is a suspiciously larger number than I was expecting). Takes 4 more email exchanges before they will tell me what the interest rate is that they think they are charging (which actually worked out to 19%). They were proud that they were only charging 11.5%. So - not only are they thieves - they can't do simple maths either.
As the alternative I'd also contacted the convenient credit union at the same time. The conversation went like
"Got a job ?"
"Yeah - work for <bigcorp> - new starter"
"Welcome to <state> - brought a payslip with you?>
"Yup - here you are>
"Thanks - home address ?"
"Yup - wrote it all down (Note - I do this because the foreign accent tends to confuse the colonials)"
"Thanks .... keyboard keyboard ...... approved - 3.5%"
For those of you that are old enough to remember the local building societies (before they sold out) it's kinda like that
TG without the satire
Is truly awful. They now have an 'American' version. Not the 'americanised' UK one with the prices in $ - but reusing the old scripts (or situations at least) with 3 merkins. But to avoid annoying the advertisers they can't say anything rude about the cars and to avoid being sued they can't say much about anyone either. Which leaves it dull and boring. I managed to sit through 2 episodes (to make sure that the first wasn't just an aberration) before deciding that enough was enough.
My wife described it as 'watching a warm-up act with 3 failed stand-ins'.
Very very bad. To be avoided.
BBC America on the other hand is at last showing the uncut (and bleeped) UK versions and is raking in many many viewers. I get people at work who aren't car types at all commenting - though mainly along the lines of 'how do they get away with saying that?' :-)
%age of US leccy from natural gas
Lewis - I think you need to investigate a little more - the US generates about 25% of it's electricity from natural gas (recent gov figures here ...http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/epm_sum.html) - that's a shit load of gas (technical term defined as the traditional way of generating methane). More than the UK uses? The gulf of mexico has some *very* wide pipes coming out of it - some of which find their way to the left coast.
Memorex - ahh yes - I had one of those. I even had the 'size of a small table' double floppy unit for it.
I actually bought the first issue of PCW while waiting outside a courthouse for a hearing to start. The mag was the high point of the day :-). I'm pretty sure I owned every copy up to Sept 2001 when I abandoned the sceptred isle. Sad to see it go - it actually managed to combine real journalism with an understanding of the tech, a feat which is all too rarely seen. Do they all still hang out on CIX or has that gone the way of the dodo as well?
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