November 5th - done properly.
That's how to organise a fireworks display.
2402 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
That's how to organise a fireworks display.
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the very first management handbook: The Prince by Machiavelli. Even if you don't want to be a boss, yourself: it's worth a read (and it has the added benefit of not being very long). That way you can identify the traits as described by an expert and wonder in the realisation that in the past half-millenium, nothing much has changed. With the possible exception of no longer being able to do away with your opponents.
Notable in the opening few paragraphs is any mention of the female gender - although I have worked for three [ Edit: 4. Just remembered about my first IT vacation job while at university ], and more if you count "dotted lines", women in the past. Although some of them still fit into the descriptions offered.
However, my favourite worst boss was The Twister.
Whatever you said to him (and this one was a bloke) would be twisted into an unrecognisable statement and then thrown back at you. For example: "We've been delayed because the delivery from the suppliers hasn't turned up". becomes "So what you're telling me is that you failed to manage a third party who was critical to the project?".
It became so bad that we (the team) were only prepared to communicate with him via email, so there was written proof of what had been said. Obviously it slowed things down, but sometime keeping your arse covered is the overriding factor - and getting any work done comes in a distant second.
> Some of us have clues
Indeed. Like the 95.5% of users who didn't have a password in the top 100. But where's the story in that?
Most people only sign up to websites in order to gain access to the trough of free downloadable stuff. The account being the "deal with the devil": you get a 30 day trial of their product, they get to spam you to oblivion with offers, discounts and deals (none of which you ever had any intention of accepting).
Whether or not you have the integrity to supply true and valid log-in details is also debatable. If you simply regard a vendor's attempts to get into your inbox as an annoyance you could well have typed the first thing that came to mind - I expect that a significant number of these stolen accounts list Afghanistan as the country in users' addresses, for that very reason.
You'd hope that the level of security surrounding accounts is a step or several below the security that contains any credit card info (though there should never be any CC data that's not behind industrial strength protection). So the value of all these accounts, probably with multiple accounts for each trough-feeder, should be very small. Apart from having simple passwords - matching the value that individuals place on these accounts - I wonder how many "users" have equally simple names. Maybe most of the 1.9 million "123456" passwords were protecting "Mickey Mouse"'s account.
> I'm sure the Chinese have had a good go
If I was running the country that made the chips, firmware and phones themselves I'd have many, many opportunities to add surveillance abilities right down to the level of the silicon. So if you really want a secure phone, there seems to be few options other than building your own - from scratch.
Shame we blew it.
Both the Cubieboard2 and the Olimex A20 have LCD interfaces (not HDMI: raw LCD) built onto their boards. Both vendors sell LCD screens in various sizes and definitions than you can use on your projects right now.
Sure neither of those SBCs is a $25 Pi (but then, nor is a Pi - has anyone, anywhere paid exactly 25 USD and received a Pi? - ever?)
Some of these screens even have add-on resistive (yeah, I know) front plates you can add that work with Debian. There's even talk of a 15.6 incher coming soon. Now if I could just persuade zenity or yad to do what I want I could dump the keyboard and mouse completely.
Time for a new hashtag, methinks.
Maybe when this starts to appear on the FB blabberings of the "other 95%" of the population's social media excretions, it might just "click" with some some of our parochial cousins that not everyone on the planet identifies with their vocabulary, ideologies, values hangups or even spellings.
OTOH, maybe they should be the ones flagging their posts, instead.
Sounds like something Cheryl Cole would do.
> that's 24,000TB
And how, exactly will you do an off-site backup of that?
Even if you just do a device - device copy and you have a 100GBit/s link to your beta site, that's 24 million GByte - and a frightening number of I-O channels needed to keep the connection running at 100%. So, running at 10 GByte/sec will take nearly a month to perform that backup.
Looks like the world will have to re-embrace a 1980's adage: never under-estimate the bandwidth of a van filled with CDs.
So let's suppose that FB accept this guy's recommendations. That they do manage to harness all the lies, wishes, flights of fantasy and misconceptions that FB-ers put in their profiles (and possibly their posts, too). What then?
They become the most success advertising platform the world has ever seen. The accuracy of their targetting produces stupendous results and advertiers eschew all other media in favour of FB. So all the world's advertising money stops flowing to newspapers, TV and magazines and they all go out of business.
Net result: one advertising monster, serving trivia to the world and bugger all print media, serious reporting, analysis, whistle-blowing or reigning-in (though if it kills off the Daily Mail all that might be a price worth paying). However, most of the quality TV that we import (let's forget about ITV and other commercial UK TV as lost causes and not worth their bandwidth) into the UK would be gone,too.
So maybe FB already know how to leverage advertising. Maybe their analysts have performed an in-depth analysis of the consequences and decided that while they could do that, it wouldn't serve their purpose (as they'd also kill off most commercial websites and ad-dependent searches, thereby destroying the attraction of the internet which they rely on) and therefore they choose not to dominate - primarily for their own benefit.
Sometimes you have to let the goose have it's freedom to continue laying those golden eggs.
... is still nothing.
Not every XP instance has an internet connection. Some are used solely for dedicated purposes and wouldn't recoognise a connection if it snuck up and inserted itself firmly in their ethernet port.
For boxes (or virtual instances) like this, XP is still perfectly good. In fact, once you remove, or never install, all the malarky involved with keeping the O/S "safe": a euphemism for working around all the security bugs and bad design, it's storms along, incredibly fast.
Just don't plug anything into it.
> I never want to think about rice production in the Po valley again.
OK, I'll bite. What on earth have the Teletubbies got to do with knowing about where countries are?
(It's probably a good thing that I was told at age 12 that I couldn't do geography any more).
He came out of university with a 1st in history. After a few jobless years he asked his university careers people. They suggested teaching. He asked his college mentor who also suggested teaching and added "if the worst comes to the worst, there's always computing". Which is how he ended up in an IT company.
So far as employing social scientists, this extract from the report is telling:
recruit social science graduates because they have the skills of analysis and communication that our economy and society needs
Though personally, I'd think that what "our economy ... needs" is people who actually make stuff.
> with "no risk of discovery."
Errm. That sounds to me like a very good definition of privacy, but has nothing to do with anonymity. You don't need to know someone's identity to catch them if they're performing a criminal act - just ask any policeman.
As for giving free reign to "our networks"? Well, no. You can still have security at the point of entry to the network - or even at sensitive nodes within it. However the privacy element still holds: that if someone wants to say or do something once they have been validated and allowed access, their right to do or say that privately can be upheld.
The problem is that the
NRSA don't have the skills or ability to properly determine who are the righteous folk who should be allowed in and who should not. That's their failing to keep security up to speed with network development.
Of course, that doesn't mean people should be allowed anonymous access to sensitive, secret or vital infrastructure. But only a damn fool would permit those anywhere near a public network.
> the jobs are more competitive and demanding with long hours
It does sound to me like most of the pressure is coming from within.
My experience of working (some might even say: succeeding) in IT is to do what you say you will, at the time you have stipulated and with as little drama and error as you can muster. There's nothing wrong with saying "I can't do that" - except the injuries done to personal pride. You might even get thanked for saying-so up front, rather than your inability to deliver becoming apparent when it's too late to fix it (unless you have found someone else to lay the blame on). You will get the occasional arsehole of a boss who puts you down and belittles you for admitting to limitations, but planting some pr0n on his/her computer is an easy fix to that problem (and might even get you to fill the ensuing vacancy).
If you feel pressure to excel - one that my colleagues will testify that I have never felt - then that's something within you, as a person. Nobody else is driving you. Any demands you have (reasonable or otherwise) are ones you place on yourself: either though having agreed to someone else's agenda, or from some sort of self-image that requires you meet some sort of standard.
A successful IT person is a happy IT person. No more, no less (and you can probably scratch "IT" from that aphorism).
> And if you think an A20 is so much better, and the boards so much better designed, well, try some benchmarks
OK. RPi BogoMIPS = 700 or thereabouts
Olimex A20 BogoMIPS = 1800 a Cubieboard2 with the same spec scores bout the same, provided you have CPU clock scaling turned off.
root@A20:~# cat /proc/cpuinfo
Processor : ARMv7 Processor rev 4 (v7l)
processor : 0
BogoMIPS : 1816.97
processor : 1
BogoMIPS : 1823.52
Despite the oft repeated mantra about teaching children, it's clear that the Pi is completely inadequate for use in an educational environment. Especially when most UK schools (and that's what we're talking about, not some third-world location) have PCs coming out of their ears. If you want to teach programming, drop some educational software on a PC and just get on with it - with the kit you already have.
No. What we see with most of the million-sold Pis - at least the ones that generate publicity - is a split between children using them to play games, people trying to pimp their cars with an on-board "PC" and the home enthusiast who sees it as a cheap way to run XBMC. There are a small minority of experimenters who get an LED to flash and a smaller minority who write some original software - a tiny proportion of whom go on to contribute something new and useful to the community.
However, any serious home SBC-hacker will already have moved on to one of the A20 boards that are so much more powerful and better designed.
I suspect the reason a lot of people take calls while in meetings is that they are hoping the call will provide them with an excuse to leave.
Most meetings are irrelevant to most of the participants, serve little or no purpose (except to share responsibility for any decisions made - thereby muddying the waters about who's to blame for any cockups that arise) and have far too many attendees: most of whom know nothing about the topics on the agenda - if there even is one.
So yes, it is rude to take calls during meetings. But it's also rude to require the attendance of so many disinterested and unnecessary staff. So many meeting organisers consider the number of staff they can pull away from doing proper work as some sort of ego trip or empire building. A well-timed SMS can be the best way to get back to doing something useful.
Oddly, I have noticed that call-taking is a feature of the lower echelons. Among (truly) in control individuals: Cxx types, they hardly ever take calls while doing something else. While this may be because they have professional gatekeepers guarding access to them, because nobody has the
balls fooishness to interrupt them or simply because they are better at organising their time, I cannot say. I do get the impression that they consider being interrupted a sign of weakness and lack of control. And of course, no other attendee would consider cutting *them* off to take a call. Maybe there should be a CEO present at every meeting?
> permanent war is required by politicians
Although it's worth noting that the British armed forces have been on active deployment somewhere on the planet every year since 1948.
As for the original piece:
> The expiry period for such secrets is a bit shorter these days:
There are secrets and there are secrets. I am sure, though based on no evidence, that what gets leaked to the public, or gets its whistle blown,is only the tip of the iceberg compared to all the stuff that does stay behind closed doors.
Surely the leaders who weren't spied on should be the ones who are outraged. The conclusion would be that they weren't worth the effort.
The Apple "brand" is known to be high price, high status. If it tries to introduce cheap products, it will devalue the whole line and lose its cachet. (Just as you don't see a budget-priced Rolls-Royce).
The solution would be for Apple to open a second line: extolling the virtues of "It's still an Apple", but with its own branding, style, lower prices and possibly less ornamental value.
If they did that skillfully, it wouldn't canabalise their premium offerings as it would address a different market. After all if Unilever can manage to market both Persil and Surf, you'd think that Apple could work out how to sell iPads and <some-other>Pads.
The only question is: would it have to start suing it's own arse off for patent infringements?
> £18m ... for a three-year Next Generation Digital Analytics
So £6M year. That makes it large enough to be noticed, yet small enough to be able to bury in the detail when it all goes terribly wrong.
Hopefully they haven't made the beginner's error of stating up-front what benefits they hope to get from this (or even worse: having some measurable targets). However it all sounds airy-fairy enough that they'll be able to take whatever this collection of buzzwords produces and say that that's what they expected to get from it.
> it is very difficult to completely remove potentially offensive or upsetting material
Consider a name to be a pointer to a structure containing all the online material about an individual.
There seems to be a lot of scope for a person to change their name and leave all that old stuff behind. So what if "Fred Smith" has been tagged in lots of FB photos, banned from every forum west of the Caucasus and #FredSmith has made several career-limiting comments about certain types of people - or politicians.
A quick name change, moustache, new accounts, a (very) limited migration of email contacts and a ceremonial burning of his/her/its old PC and as a musician might say: viola! Fred Symthe comes into the online world - reborn, fresh, all slates wiped clean. All the old stuff is still there, but now orphaned and so long as the moustache stays in place or the prosthetic nose doesn't fall off, should stay that way.
I can see this become a right of passage and possibly even a very popular 18th birthday present (and again: post-graduation, prior to trying one's luck in the job/partner markets).
As with politicians, the more you engage with them, the greater is their feeling of validation. It doesn't matter what you say - all they take away from the encounter is "these people all care".
So criticising him or RA just adds fuel to his fire - as well as giving him a load of twitter idents for free, to spam in the future.
> Bringing the family computer into the living room
... for 1995. However technology, mobile phones and tablets have rendered it useless (and you have to question the clued-in-ness of those people still offering this sort of advice).
Basically, telling children about abstract threats doesn't work. Even getting them to pay attention to simple road-crossing instructions is hard. Consequently telling them that the internet is full of baddies, when they know from their first-hand experience that it isn't just kills your credibility.
Maybe what we need are a few modern-day fairy tales. Stuff like the original Grimm Bros. material: cooking children in ovens and the like (Hansel & Gretel, before it got watered down). Though since kids are so inured to "horror" from zombie-TV, video games and modern media, it's difficult to know what would induce enough fear of strangers, without scarring the little darlings for life.
.. and some fish. That doesn't make it "fishier" that a larger pond with proportionately fewer fish.
However, following the same statistical misdirection that only accountants would consider valid - OK, maybe lawyers, too - , I nominate my house as a technological hotspot since every worker there is in IT.
> If Apple can patent ...
Maybe I should submit a patent application for A method of ascertaining the current time using audio tokens and social interaction
I.E. ask someone.
(Though I'm unclear how I'd go about enforcing the patent and collecting royalties. More thought needed.)
The bracelet features six screens, ...
A true "how a smartwatch ought to work" would monitor your brainwaves and detect when you wanted to know the time, then stimulate the correct neurons with the required information.
Anything less is barely an improvement on a 500 year-old fob watch.
> “a very advanced nanomaterial” is embedded in the resin, which is sealed in between two layers of carbon fibre to form a “super capacitor”.
... now turns into a major cost. I don't think the local "dent removers" will be able to deal with this one.
> The fact that you don't have to install a 3rd party client to a PC is awesome
So now awesome means sensible?
> I've Remote Desktop'd home, and it just works. This is awesome but I bet it'll cause some security risks.
and now it means, what? nice, surprise, expected, shocking, insecure?
Maybe the trick is to completely ignore any sentence that contains the word, since it appears to have so many meanings. As Harry Nilsson¹ might have suggested "A meaning in every direction is the same as no meaning at all"
 The Point, album release: 1971
> only two bodies yet found that may threaten Earth
The other being whichever "body" has his finger on the big red button?
> It is always annoying when forecasters fail to forecast disruption
The article goes to great lengths to describe what is already happening. So, since tablets are a given and internet connected TVs, essentially tablets, with a sensibly sized screen and decent sound are nothing new - where's the disruptive technology the author is so keen for forecasters to forecast?
> why an audit of TrueCrypt is needed and arguably even overdue
And as soon as the developers come up with a new version, the auditing needs to be all over again.
However, what's worse is if someone brings out a TrueCrypt virus. One that only attacks that particular program and inserts a backdoor into installed copies (or some other binary it depends on). You can have audited source - but that's no use if the environment the program is running on is insecure and is therefore open to having the binary attacked, post-audit.
The only audit that a user could trust would be of an entire system: O/S, applications+libraries and TrueCrypt. Then as soon as any of those are changed, upgraded or patched, the whole audit becomes invalidated. Oh, and as for proprietary binary-only drivers, codecs or libraries: don't even think about installing them.
> why on earth would I believe an energy sector player when they tell me they are going to close gas plants by 2016?
Simply put. They are running a business. If the cost of running that business, or factory, or power station, is greater than the profit they make from running it, they'll close it. Why would they do otherwise? It's a free country and manufacturers are under no obligation to supply electricity or any other product. They will only do so if there's monkey to be made.
We have heard the same warnings from car makers, steel plants, coal mines and many, many other parts of what old-timers used to call "british industry". They all closed. Electricity generation will stop, too, if a regulated market gets in the way of supply-and-demand and makes it unprofitable.
There's no rule that says we *have* to be supplied with electricity, on demand, whenever we want, in whatever quantity we please. And just because we've had (largely) interrupted supplies for the past 100 years - that's no reason to suppose that they will go on forever. Up until recently it has been profitable for generators to make electricity and to sell it to us. That it's strategically important and without it you're looking at a cold and wet version of Angola: generating capacity: 1.16GW - though ravaged by war, rather than stupidity,
So why doesn't the UK do what every other EU country does why faced with a directive it doesn't like? ignore it?
Most EU countries take a healthy, skeptical, pragmatic approach to EU "law". If it's in their favour (e.g. fishing rights) they embrace it and extol its virtues. If it is to their disadvantage they say "it doesn't apply to us" or "it's discriminatory", "we can't do it in time" or just do .... nothing.
Laws anywhere, at any level, only work with the acquiesence of the subjects it's applied to. If they give it a gallic shrug, or a british V sign there's not much anyone else can do. It only seems to be in Britiain that everyone goes into a bit of a tizz and says "but it's the law" without realising that laws only work if people obey them and that our representatives helped shape them - and if it's to our detriment, they obviously didn't do a very good job of politicking.
> Economics is not a science, the closest that it gets is to be a branch of psychology.
That's probably true, since economics is tightly bound to the motivations people have for doing things - and it's not always about money. And, like any subject that has to add the suffix "science" (just like countries that call themselves "democratic" or "the people's ... "), almost certainly isn't.
However, that doesn't mean it is irrelevant to how we live and has nothing to contribute. Have a read of some of Tim Harford's books: The Undercover Economist being a good start: not only entertaining but easy reading. And if you want to know why oral sex is becoming so popular, read his second paperback, TLoL.
[ Disclaimer: I am not Tim Harford and he is not me ]
It's not the job of a policeman to say we need more laws. Just like it's not the job of a doctor to call for more illnesses. Obviously, the more laws there are, the greater the need for enforcement and therefore the more police - so the self-interest is apparent.
Although it's unfashionable to say so, the job of government is to say what should be legal and what deserves having your front door smashed in at 6 a.m. It's the job of the police to do that smashing, not to choose who's doors.
As for The vast majority of those we're really interested in are overseas, well good: let it stay there. Not our problem.
> businesses will soon need to make the transformation into the Social Enterprise
OK, that extrapolates existing trends. But it will only continue if someone works out how to make money from it. So, the question is: how do people make money from Social Enterprise?
I think we can discount (even more, or targeted) advertising. The more you push unwanted advertisements into peoples' faces, the less they will use a service. What does that leave? Historically we know that after every expansion comes a correction. Maybe the near-future (the next 10 years) sees social media implode under it's own unsupportable weight and the realisation that it's really a bust, since it offers no value.
Personally, I reckon that the next big thing will be something new (like the internet was). Something that few, if any, can foresee - and that nobody thinking about it today is able to determine the consequences of. We probably won't even realise it's "the next big thing" for several years after it's kicked off. Which opens the possibility that it's already here.
> Cat videos will outlast humanity
when cats evolve an opposable thumb, turn into Kzinti and take over the world.
Will they waste their civilisations away watching endless videos of humans?
If newspapers and TV reports simply stuck to telling us the unassailable facts, rather than filling their pages or 24*7 broadcasts with gossip, opinion, innuendo, criticism or value judgments.
It would certainly save a lot of newsprint.
> There is now evidence of people leaving rural communities to live in urban areas ... due to a lack of connectivity ... due to lack of access to higher education, affordable housing or employment
Basically, the (ex) inhabitants of these regions are moving away because they can get a better quality of life elsewhere. That's a good thing, surely!
There's nothing sacred about being able to live in the same town where you were born or grew up. People always move about (sometimes to "get on their bikes ... ") and improve their lives by doing so. What the government should be doing is encouraging mobility: making housing and jobs available in the locations where people want to live. Building homes that people can afford to buy or rent and ensuring there are enough schools, shops, hospitals and roads in those places.
There's little point spending £££s installing broadband if the population has all buggered off due to a lack of schools, shops or decent houses.
The crucial word is "directly". You can't say the government hasn't learned from it's past mistakes. This time the cash will be channeled through all sorts of intermediaries, shell companies and sub-contracts. That way it will be impossible for anyone to say for sure how much was
> Spine, which was one of the two successful components
So they've identified one of the successes in their ill-fated adventure and have decided to mess with it. I suppose that will, at least, bring it into line with all the other badly designed, poorly managed and hopelessly implemented projects.
At least by using free (OK Open Source: not the same, blah! blah ....) software, the cost of this failure will be a lot less.
[postscript. to increase the flexibility of the system ... one of the largest backbone systems for NHS IT is this really an attribute you want in a spine - or are we talking snakes? ]
It's the incessant babble of our radio (and TV, for those people who don't realise that, technically speaking, they are the same) transmissions which sends any spacecraft that is unlucky enough to be exposed to them into a safe mode. Where "safe" would mean putting as many light-years as possible between itself and the source.
Maybe the good book doesn't say Mostly harmless. Could the entry really read: Stay away, for your own sanity.
> Cancelling WFH also screams "I don't trust my employees!",
It could equally mean "We made a mistake. We tried an experiment and it didn't produce the results we expected". Which *could* be a heartening sign that there is humility somewhere in the upper echelons.
It's also possible that the top brass *did* trust the employees (to do the work without supervision), but that the employees betrayed that trust and goofed around all the time, instead of working.
Heard once: you can work from home, but if you come back in with a suntan, you're fired.
A big part, possibly the biggest part, of working in a team is spreading the knowledge. For an individual, sitting in a darkened room hacking away, writing 1,000 lines per day (or whatever measure of productivity - if not quality - you employ) may well get the job done. However, as the AC below illustrates perfectly: that's all it does. You may well ask "but what more is there?" to which the reply would be: Spreading the knowledge. Growing the team. Letting others benefit from your specialities and you from theirs.
The ex-iBMer illustrates this perfectly. Sure, the immediate problem got fixed (in record time: respect is due). But that's all that happened. The knowledge was still locked away in one person's head - so the next time a similar problem crops up, there's still only 1 person who could deal with it.
That might be good in the short-term, but it's no way to build a knowledgable and cohesive team: one that will pull together, help each other out and generally be worth more than the sum of their parts. Some of that can be done electronically, but the unstructured, chance meetings and conversations can't. The "whatcha doin? -- hey that looks like something Fred was trying last week - You should go talk to ... they had a guy in with a solution to that " conversations don't happen when each "professional" is (metaphorically) locked away in their own little world. Likewise, people can't ask you for help - it's too easy to fob them off or ignore their emails. Professionalism is as much about the good of the team as delivering your own personal goals.
That's what working with other, similarly talented, people lets you do, that you can't do on your own. It's also something that not many companies recognise as having value.
> the more employees we get into the office the better
Can't argue with that. There are two aspects to being a professional: doing the stuff youve been told to do and being a part of the company. The first can usually be done from anywhere and home working is a good solution for that. However, the second part does require human contact with colleagues. It is necessary for the chance meetings, the networking and the social interaction / bonding needed to turn a group of people into a team.
Having said that, in any company there will always be a proportion of employees who's biggest contribution to the success of the company is to shut the hell up and not touch anything. For these individuals, home working should not only be allowed, it should be mandatory.
> I hope this recognition of fundamental science will help raise awareness of the value of blue-sky research
I hope so, too. But given the hopelessness of the BBC's "explanation" of what the HB does (a video insert on their coverage of the award) I think trying to get the media to explain abstract ideas - and physics in particular - is a lost cause.
Possibly the biggest lesson for anyone comtemplating a secure or anonymised internet (dark or light) for any sort of transactions: legal, financial or various shades of naughty, is to design it such that no part of it touches the USA.
If 5% of the world wants to build a wall around themselves, the other 95% should let 'em.