* Posts by Erik4872

241 posts • joined 11 Jan 2011

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For sale: One 236-bed nuclear bunker

Erik4872

Interesting

Looking back on the Cold War era, it's pretty amazing to see facilities like this. The assumption that anyone important could get to them in time seems quite absurd. You would need to start moving everyone at the first sign of a potential launch. That, and it would have to be maintained 24/7 to be fully ready. I can't imagine how much that cost.

There was a very famous bunker in West Virginia that was decommissioned after the location was leaked, but it was built into the basement of a luxury mountain hotel. Getting even a few key people out of Washington DC and all the way across Virginia in the middle of a panic, even in military helicopters wouldn't seem to be possible to me.

5
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Lincolnshire council shuts down all IT after alleged 0-day breach

Erik4872

Re: WTF?

"Where were they browsing??"

Idle hands... :-) I'm only half kidding, and it's not just a government thing. I post on The Reg and the like while I'm trying to solve a problem or wait for something to finish. There are some people in large companies (and local councils also) who do very little beyond manning a desk for the entire day. I think God that I've never had to manage the internet connection at some of the places I've worked, but I've heard many stories.

5
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Erik4872

Cryptolocker strikes again??

The worst thing that has happened recently to places that have no IT, or awful contracted IT, is Cryptolocker and the like. It's the perfect storm of users demanding to be administrators, looking for dodgy Internet content and never backing up their stuff. It may have been a zero day breach, or it may have been an "Oh crap, shut everything off before the entire file server gets encrypted!"

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China has a chip to fry with y'all: Wants its own chip smarts and fabs

Erik4872

Interesting times

Everyone loves to talk about US government corporate welfare, but China kind of takes it to a new level. We'll see how long it takes to go from "we want a chip fab and semiconductor manufacturer" to "People's Semiconductor buys Intel _and_ AMD on same day in $10 trillion mega-merger!" That would get around that "change of control" clause in AMD's x86 license.

The big difference seems to be that Chinese industry is much more aligned with state policy, which makes sense in their system. From an outsider looking in, it's pretty amazing how quickly resources are diverted to projects deemed critical. Very different from the US federal government being unable to channel highway refurbishment funds to avoid the occasional collapsing bridge...

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Microsoft struggles against self-inflicted Office 365 IMAP outage

Erik4872

Is part of the problem all that abstraction?

Every new project I've been involved in is many, many layers divorced from the real software, OS and hardware that it runs on. Is it possible that there's so much high-level stuff involved in Azure that directly managing each O365 customer as a discrete Exchange instance isn't really possible anymore? They mention a failed update, but you would think an update to Exchange could be rolled back. Unless that update had a knock-on effect to other software-defined stuff for that customer, that is...

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Oracle blurts Google's Android secrets in court: You made $22bn using Java, punk

Erik4872

Standard Oracle practice

Why do you think everyone who can is abandoning Solaris? Or Oracle's version of MySQL? Or Oracle's database and software platforms for that matter? When Oracle bought Sun, I knew that was pretty much going to be the end of new Solaris deployments, and that's exactly what's happening. The problem is that Oracle never gives anything away long-term; eventually they will take it back if they see a way to do so.

Oracle is doing the same thing with Java -- they're now changing the licensing of the runtime environment for customers who use it directly in certain embedded devices -- it used to be a free platform, still is for most uses, and that's why software was written in it, CS programs are based around it, etc. I know a few embedded device manufacturers who are taking the painful step to move years of Java code onto something else just so they don't have the uncertainty of having to suddenly pay millions of dollars when Oracle comes to collect license fees.

5
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Hortonworks shares plunge 22% after secondary IPO news

Erik4872

Most people aren't ready for Big Data yet

Outside of the Internet startup bubble, Big Data is still a pretty hard sell. Even businesses with high transaction volumes have a pretty good handle on analytics, and frankly have been sold management consultant snake oil for ages. In startup-land, the draw is the fact that the only way some of them can make money is mining and monetizing customer interaction data.

I'm not saying big data is useless, but the breathless consultant hype has to die down and people need to understand what it really offers them.

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Microsoft herds biz users to Windows 10 by denying support for Win 7 and 8 on new CPUs

Erik4872

Big shift for enterprise customers!

I work in "enterprise" end user computing. For those unaware. the typical desktop OS and hardware lifecycle is like this:

- OS images and software packages are certified and used for as long as possible. Sometimes this can be for a very long time if applications require an OS or hardware feature that gets dropped or changed.

- Enterprise desktop and laptop hardware from the Big 3 (HP, Lenovo, Dell) is on an 18-month sales cycle.

- Enterprise desktops are on a very conservative update track compared to consumer machines. Often, this is because they're sold into places that still need legacy stuff like serial ports, full BIOS emulation, and the ability to run very old OSes (even if the vendor doesn't explicitly support it.)

- Because of this, the progression usually is:

- Intel/AMD comes out with whizzy new architecture

- Enterprise desktops are released pretty far into the architecture cycle, and sometimes skip the "tick-tock" architecture change and opt for the die-shrunk version of the chip.

- New models are released with some overlap of the old ones to ensure companies have time to make sure all their applications work on the new hardware.

This announcement from Microsoft is a big shift. They're basically saying that anything you buy after a certain date will not be able to run supported Windows 7. I don't know what they're planning to tie this to, but it basically sets an expiration date for Win7 even for the most conservative Windows shops.

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Erik4872

Re: I just don't get the Windows 10 hate

I'm not in the camp of breathless "Windows 10 is malware!" people, but the truth is that Microsoft is making It very difficult for average users to use their PCs in non-smartphone mode. Their justification seems to be that people are fine with Apple and Android phones phoning home, and it's pretty obvious that Microsoft wants to turn end user platforms into phone-style terminals. It does take a lot of work, and it's a moving target, but it is possible to disable almost all of the communication.

I think Microsoft did a decent job fixing up Windows 8.1, and I'm no longer using 7 personally. But, I work in an environment that will be very slow to update from 7 due to a lot of legacy code. And when we're talking legacy, we're talking un-replaceable 16-bit code in some cases. Big businesses have stuff like this, and it'll take something like cutting off support to get them fixed; that's just real life.

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NY to Charter: Sure, we'll approve that TWC merger, if you boost our broadband speeds

Erik4872

Proof will be in the execution

Having grown up in the upstate (non-NYC) portion of New York, all I can say is "good luck with that." For those who are unaware, the upstate and downstate parts of NY are 2 different worlds. Upstate NY is very thinly populated in some places, and economically depressed in many others. Getting working, reliable 100 Mbps broadband to some of the little villages in the Adirondacks is going to be a challenge, let alone 300 Mbps. And the economics of providing broadband upgrades to decent-sized cities that are losing population and lacking people willing to pay for it is also going to be interesting.

I imagine it will work for metro NYC (and maybe Albany.) The contract probably specifies "average aggregate bandwidth" or some other clause to get them out of properly lighting up every single hamlet. At least it's cable, so it's a little easier than providing wireline DSL service.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook was paid more than $28,000 a day in 2015

Erik4872

A lot of this is reciprocal board membership

"Compensation Committee" indeed. The issue with large company boards is that their directors are also directors of other large companies and vice versa. Board members set the rules, so it's not surprising that they would help each other out to ensure their goals are quite attainable. Apple is in a position right now of being the gatekeeper for massive amounts of app and media purchases on their already high-margin devices, ensuring they can collect a toll for as long as people want to keep buying media and apps. So, I don't expect them to be in trouble any time soon.

It's the executive version of the same game most large company workers have to pay to get a bonus payout. I'm not sure which consultancy came up with it, but I've worked for 3 employers now who use the "trigger, on-target, max" SMART objective thing. I'm sure the rules for the executives are much easier to follow along with.

Hopefully he'll be like many multibillionaires and try to do something good with all that excess money even before he dies.

0
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The designer of the IBM ThinkPad has died

Erik4872

Lenovo's latest ThinkPad design did him in. :-)

Oh well, hopefully the clean ThinkPad design will come back in a "retro" phase 10 or 20 years from now.

I think I'm one of a dying breed that likes the boring, functional ThinkPad design. It would be interesting to see what happened if Lenovo licensed the design to a third party and let them keep making similar machines while they set their sights on copying Apple some more. (Lexmark did this when they stopped manufacturing IBM Model M keyboards (the clicky ones) and you can still buy them from the new manufacturer at pckeyboard.com.)

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HPE's London boozer dubbed the 'Hewlett You Inn?'

Erik4872

Is the company bar a European thing?

Being from the US, I was a little confused when I saw this. HPE is actually building and running a bar? For employees or customers?

I know companies rent "hospitality suites" at trade show hotels to provide the traditional "hookers-n-blow" to their CxO customers, but I've never heard of a company operating a full time booze joint. Those suites are usually pop up locations.

(The name is awesome BTW)

0
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We're all really excited about new smartphones, laptops, tablets – said no one ever

Erik4872

Maybe the focus will be on improvements now!

The market for consumer technology maturing is actually a good thing. It's kind of like the PC market...my home desktop machine is a 7 year old maxed out workstation and I'm only now starting to think about replacing it. It was expensive when I bought it, but now I want the new virtualization extensions available in the latest Xeon family. I'm sure there are plenty of non power users running even older stuff. PC manufacturers hate this and point to the death of the industry. The reality is that end user technology is finally way more than everyone needs. Even Windows 10 runs much better on older kit that struggled to support Windows 7, probably due to the fact that Microsoft focused on slimming down the OS to make it run on phones and tablets.

It goes in cycles -- after the dotcom crash there was a retrenching of just about everything, and the focus was on "Web 2.0" and cloudy stuff. This laid the groundwork for the smartphone's introduction and the current social media/mobile/IoT bubble. Once that pops, and everyone really does stop buying every shiny new toy, companies will be forced to make tangible improvements to products in order to sell replacements. Just think, if someone like me who loves technology is running a 7 year old desktop, what consumer is going to care about incremental improvements to the tablet they use to read email or watch Netflix on?

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Thinking of buying a Surface? Try a modular OLED Thinkpad first

Erik4872

Not bad, but I'd still like the retro options

Ever since Lenovo came out with the Tx40 series, with the weird clickable touchpad, people have been begging them to go back to at least giving people retro options. Lots of people were upset when the keyboard changed in the Tx30 series. I've been a ThinkPad user for ages, and I've mostly lived with the changes. I'm happy they brought back the normal touchpad in the T550; doesn't do much for the one on my T540p though.

I'm still trying to figure out why, after tons of complaints by die-hard users, they don't at least offer one model that isn't trying to be a black MacBook Pro. I've seen comments in forums along the lines of "we pay a premium for the boring functional design, Lenovo, please give it back to us!" I guess it's expensive to manufacture for a niche market, but from what I've seen it's not a niche market.

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Compuware promises mainframe DevOps as old programmers croak

Erik4872

Ops discipline is what's missing

I'm not a mainframer but work in an industry that is very dependent on them at the core. In the push for Agile and DevOps, the thing that's missing is the discipline that the mainframe world has. It's hard to find new COBOL coders, true, but it's also hard to find IT operations people who aren't enamored by the cowboy mentality of "just make it work, we're at web scale." So, I'm not sure how they're going to merge DevOps culture with mainframes; it will be interesting to see how much of this is marketing.

It's not even cloud vs. on premises. You can have cowboy admins in the cloud also, or you can design cloud systems that have discipline as well. The mainframe world is way more conservative than, say, a web server farm supporting the back end of a smartphone app that no one will gripe about. Code changes, patches, upgrades, etc. are not taken lightly because anything that still lives on a mainframe is likely to be any or all of (a) business critical, (b) brittle enough that it's dangerous to touch, or (c) disastrous to tons of upline systems and software that assumes the core never changes.

That said, too much conservatism and process is bad too. Any systems guy in IT has learned to hate the acronym ITIL for example, because it _usually_ means a bureaucratic nightmare implemented by consultants that drowns IT in process to the point where changing anything is a royal pain.

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CIOs aren't loving SAP's HANA. Yep, somebody's afraid of commitment

Erik4872

No one ever got fired for buying...

"CIOs may not like HANA but they still seem to love SAP."

They love safety. Why do you think airport advertising heavily features "XYZ runs SAP." content?

Real answer: Because SAP wants to remind all the Accenture consultants flying through said airports to their client site for the 23rd week in a row where their paycheck really comes from.

Seriously, CIOs want the safety of a nice brand-name vendor. Why do you think Oracle, CA and Symantec continue to exist in their current forms? It has nothing to do with functionality and everything to do with having one of those "MyCo runs SAP." ads in the airport.

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So why exactly are IT investors so utterly clueless?

Erik4872

Re: Possibly the rest of the world is catching on

We can only hope people wake up before more money is wasted.

What really gets me angry is that people have seen this before, within recent memory. The exact same venture capital startup business model inflated the First Dotcom Bubble of the late 90s. The only thing different is that instead of building web sites and data centers, we're pumping up cloud providers and building phone apps. Seriously, that's it. The same non-viable business plans, the same crazy promotion and marketing -- all of it is the same.

I have watched from the sidelines in a series of "boring, old school" jobs for both of these bubbles. The thing that bothers me is that the flash and marketing of these startups crowds out anything truly innovative and interesting from getting to the average person.

1
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Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Azure sitting in a tree, p-a-r-t-n-e-r-i-n-g

Erik4872

Not shocking

HP threw in the towel on their own cloud a while back, and Microsoft's a logical partner. VMWare's cloudy stuff is too wrapped up with VCE business-wise, and AWS or OpenStack-based clouds aren't "enterprisey."

The Azure perspective on cloud is pretty different from Amazon's, for example. Amazon does let you run virtual machines running your own applications as they were, but is heavily biased toward non-legacy, web-only stuff. Microsoft is taking a different approach in my estimation -- they make all sorts of cool new things available, but seem much more receptive to "hey, come run your crusty old apps the same way you used to while we work to cloudify you." A lot of HP's customers are probably firmly in the crusty old apps camp, and probably want to keep most things in house. After all, why would they be buying name-brand server hardware and storage otherwise?

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Ex-IT staff claim Disney fired them then gave their jobs H1-B peeps

Erik4872

Good effort, but they'll never win

I've been following this, mainly because I feel it's a good lesson for techies to learn -- even the most well-heeled company in the world does not consider IT strategic. This is a place that probably needs a fleet of armored trucks to collect the cash generated every day and take it to their bank, yet they don't want to pay full time employees to run the IT department. They will never win; even if they can prove discrimination, Disney's lawyers will have them tied up in court until they run out of money and give up.

The issue here is that Disney did this the nice legal way -- they outsourced to (I think) TCS, and TCS is the one using the H-1Bs to lower the labor costs and thus increase profit margin on the deal. The former employees should be going after the lax H-1B regulation and holding the IT services companies responsible for misuse of the visas. If they could somehow prove that they were replacing a US, say, DBA with an Indian DBA doing the exact same job, that would be a precedent setting case. The case would be further bolstered if they could prove that "training your replacement" meant teaching them how to do the job, rather than "here's how we do things in this particular environment." That would indicate that the H-1B wasn't being used for an exceptional skill set as these IT services firms like to claim.

I say it's time for a proper profession in IT. Rather than being a "techie union" it would be more like a lobbying group. It's time to admit that the only way to get legislation you want is to buy it, and take up a collection to do so. That would at least put IT workers on a level ground with Zuckerberg and others lobbying for cheaper labor.

19
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All Cisco certs add cloud, IoT, 'business transformation'

Erik4872

Re: "exciting as careers in professions like the law"

At least in the US, law is hurting in very much the same way IT is. There's increasing offshoring of routine legal work, all while law school graduation numbers have increased, leading to a very nasty surprise for new grads who had visions of working for white shoe law firms making 7 figures by age 30. Those jobs still exist, but there are a lot fewer, and they only go to the top graduates of the top 14 law schools in the country, period.

Law firms and management consulting firms operate on an "indoctrination model." They only hire new graduates into their entry classes, and the career progression is a lot like school. The problem is that these days, firms aren't able to bill as much for their services, and therefore can't pay all the new law grads $160,000 a year plus bonus (this is the standard new joiner salary for white shoe firms in New York.) This is where the mystique of a law career comes from -- a rarified world of expensive client paid lunches, secretaries and paralegals to do your bidding, and a lockstep partner-track career that puts you on Easy Street permanently.

So yeah, it's kind of like IT -- offshoring, cost reductions, official education policy forcing more graduates into the market...I see the parallels! :-) The reality of a law career nowadays is that unless you were top of your class at Harvard, Yale or Stanford (or the other top 11,) those Easy Street jobs are out of your reach and you just wasted a quarter million bucks on a legal education.

0
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Windows 10 pilot rollouts will surge in early 2016, says Gartner

Erik4872

Don't trust Gartner, but it is pretty inevitable

Look at it this way -- with the exception of the new UI, crazy mandatory update position, and the data slurping, Windows 10 is a Windows 7 work-alike under the hood for _most_ enterprisey situation. Win32 still works just fine, .NET is still in place, etc. It's even more of a Windows 8.1 work-alike -- it could have been 8.1 SP2.

I think the adoption rate in businesses will jump significantly, when Microsoft backs down on its data collection position. Until absolutely every telemetry feature can be disabled, you won't satisfy some companies. Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB already comes with most of the phone-style features like Cortana and the built-in apps stripped out due to the inability to constantly update them. That's a good start, but it isn't the answer for everyone. Regular business SKUs of Windows need that same kind of "anti-feature." Even if you have to use tons of group policy to shut it off, I feel that Windows users need the ability to jump off the update train and use the OS as a one-off like Windows 7 or 8.

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Rdio's collapse another nail in the coffin of the 'digital economy'

Erik4872

The problem is multiple subscriptions

One thing that's kept me out of the streaming media economy is the fact that media offerings among the different providers aren't the same. Netflix has some content, Amazon Prime Instant Video has others, and Hulu has still others. In addition to paying the cable bill to get Internet access, why would I want to pay 4 or 5 subscription fees every month? These services are nice because you can basically get instant access to whatever is in their library whenever you want. The problem is that the content shifts around -- some things are removed and added every month, and it's hard to find what provider has what you want to watch/listen to.

It would be a terribly powerful monopoly, but imagine if Apple, Google or whoever bought all the streaming services and basically said "here you go, any video ever made for $X per month." Or some aggregator negotiates cut-rate subscriptions with all the providers and centralizes media search. Until it doesn't require 5 separate monthly payments and hoop-jumping to cover your streaming needs, these services are going to have limited use.

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From $6bn to $4.2bn to $2.9bn: Square's ever shrinking unicorn horn

Erik4872

Why don't people remember Bubble 1.0?

Actually, given that valuations are being cut, I think people do remember a few things about the first dotcom bubble. But, it does amaze me that I'm still seeing/hearing the same stuff:

- Companies using the 2015 equivalent of "eyeballs" to determine value

- "This time it's different!"

- Crazy SV/San Francisco startup culture making its way back into popular media

I know an IPO is just a way for founders to cash in, but I do feel bad for suckers who think they're going to get rich. Look at Twitter -- there are only so many ways you can make money off a free platform, and most of them involve data mining or ads. Or Square for that matter; they're a ripe target for the mobile phone payment networks (Apple Pay, etc) and card issuers themselves (Visa's e-payment system for example) but just because they do "credit cards on a phone" they have a crazy valuation.

4
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Kids' tech skills go backwards thanks to tablets and smartmobes

Erik4872

The complexity hasn't really gone away

One of the problems with any comparison of "kids today" with what you remember is that the complexity has been abstracted away -- but it's still there. Every iPhone is running a *BSD based operating system under the hood, it still has a TCP/IP stack, hardware it communicates with, etc. A "web developer" cranking out PHP or JavaScript is writing to a standard library, but that standard library under the hood is making operating system calls, which make hardware-level calls to actually get the machine to do something useful.

The difference now is that locked down sanitized devices are the norm, not the exception. My iPhone very rarely crashes, but when something does happen it's not like I'm getting error messages...it just starts "acting strange." That's what I see, but I guarantee the people writing Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Linux, etc. know what's actually going on. That knowledge is harder to acquire now, and resides in the hands of specialists because the vast majority of people don't care how things work as long as Facebook is operating.

It's kind of like the discussions I have in the line of my end user computing work. People just don't get that VDI, Citrix, etc. don't make desktop applications go away. They're just moved into the data center or the cloud where you still need the experts to maintain them, and failure of them is much more noticeable.

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Erik4872

Re: As an ICT teacher I am not surprised

"He asked... "How does a mouse work?""

Maybe there's a reason he was working in a commercial bakery instead of at Google. :-)

In all seriousness, I have noticed that most software development people have no idea how the computer itself actually works, or how to do any systems management. They write to their language's standard library, and everything gets taken care of. No need to think about how a network request is routed, what the database is doing when it's fed your God-awful SQL query, etc.

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Citrix to axe 1,000 workers, tells GoTo to go to someplace else

Erik4872

They're in a bad spot

Between Microsoft improving basic RemoteApp for some scenarios, and the move of more "senior' desktop applications to web-based ones, I can see why Citrix might be caught in a negative feedback loop. Being owned by a cold-hearted asset stripping firm probably has something to do with it too.

4
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Is the world ready for a bare-metal OS/2 rebirth?

Erik4872

Major niche OS

I'm sure there are a very small number of OS/2 implementations kicking around in bank ATMs and maybe manufacturing controllers. But how would this fly today? How can you get people to develop anything beyond barely-breathing legacy app updates for such a niche platform? The company I work for has decades of legacy stuff, and even we got off OS/2 completely in the early 2000s. It would be like suggesting people run BeOS or AmigaOS as their daily driver platform.

Look at how much trouble Microsoft is having getting developers to write apps of any quality for their app store, and Microsoft has even said Universal apps are the future for all Windows development. You need that huge software base to attract users.

6
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What the bleedin' Dell is this? IT giant mulls unit selloffs – report

Erik4872

Re: Couch Change?

That has to be wrong. Companies can find $50 million in between their sofa cushions. $50 billion is a different story.

4
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Microsoft Windows 7 Pro: Halloween Horror for PC makers next year

Erik4872

There's always Windows 10 Enterprise/LTSB

If your company is willing to spend a little extra (OK, a lot extra) on Software Assurance, they get access to the Long Term Servicing Branch in Windows 10 Enterprise. This is about as close to the traditional RTM --> Security Patches --> Service Pack model that Microsoft is going to let people have now.

The only problem I see is this -- LTSB gets security updates, but not "feature updates." Where do bug fixes lie in this spectrum? Example: if someone demonstrates a true bug in IE 11, as shipped in LTSB, are they going to force them to upgrade to whatever IE 11 revision is current at that time and force a "feature upgrade" as well?

2
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Top watchdog probes IBM over 'transactions in US, UK, Ireland'

Erik4872

Cat and mouse game

The SEC, IRS, etc. are locked in a constant cat and mouse game with companies and their tax law/accounting firms. How many US companies pay zero or very little tax every year? The problem is that for every single new regulation or law, there are hundreds of lawyers and accountants constantly working on a financial product, revenue recognition scheme or complex web of transactions to just barely skirt around it. Corporations pay their accounting firms, the firms cook up a strategy, and the fees they pay are a drop in the bucket compared to their tax savings.

I can't wait to see a more regulation-friendly administration start trying to repatriate offshore assets in a sane way...the sparks will fly, to be sure.

1
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Microsoft enterprise licensing partners heading for extinction

Erik4872

Not surprising

Microsoft is shifting to the Adobe and Office 365 model for all of its products. Why pay fees to get companies to sell perpetual licenses, when you force all your customers to just pay you monthly forever to use the software? I don't see perpetual licenses being available much longer -- Microsoft's official policy so far is that there will not be a Windows 11, for example. They used Office 365 to start gaining the acceptance, next will be client OS, and finally the server and applications.

The next huge shift will be the Oracles, CAs and SAPs of the world shifting to this model. There are companies out there that do nothing but resell licenses and attempt to clarify the licensing mess that is enterprise software.

5
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We snubbed Microsoft's Surface Pro wooing, says Lenovo exec

Erik4872

Not surprising

Just another salvo in the Microsoft vs. OEM battle that's shaping up.

These deals exist so that large companies can buy something like the Surface Pro and have it supported in a similar fashion that their business desktops, laptops and servers are. Call and file a ticket with a single vendor, and the hardware magically gets replaced. Since there's practically nothing to repair on a Surface Pro, that just means HP and Dell do the sparing needed to get machines to customers fast.

I guess that for a global company that has to service these everywhere, it's not an option to just go down to the Microsoft store and make an appointment...

1
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Microsoft previews cloudy Active Directory Domain Services

Erik4872

Interesting development in the cloud tug of war

The other thing the article doesn't mention is that there really wasn't anything stopping you from building your own domain controllers in Azure virtual machines, and either having them work with on-site AD or (if you're nuts) just hosting the whole thing in Azure. Now it sounds like they're wrapping it as an "Azure AD" style service, where you just fire requests in and Microsoft handles all the heavy lifting. I'm definitely going to check it out - it would be cool if it was resillient enough to replace local AD, and I guarantee it's coming as a feature to Windows Server 2016 at some point, so not a bad idea to learn about it.

It's interesting if it allows the company to fully control everything, including GPOs and other stuff, but I wonder how many companies are going to be comfortable doing all their identity management, authentication and systems management off-premises. I guess Microsoft is playing the long game on this one and waiting for the pendulum to come all the way over to the "cloud-only" setting. Call me old, but I would have a big issue with handing all of the keys to the organization to a provider of any kind. I'm still one of those crazy IT guys who think there's a balance involved.

2
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IBM bags $700m services and infrastructure contract with Etihad Airways

Erik4872

Par for the course

For the most part, airlines outsource all or most of their IT to providers. It's very rare for an airline to still be running its own passenger processing systems, for example. My experience, on both sides of the equation, is that the boundary created between the outsourcer and the airline reduces the level of innovation, because the focus is on delivering the same services for less money, while allowing the outsourcer to make a profit. That's the same everywhere, but even more so for airlines. Despite the fares and fees they charge, airlines are extremely thin-margin businesses and notoriously cheap when it comes to IT especially.

I'm surprised they picked IBM. Don't most CIOs know already that outsourcing deals with IBM have been pretty toxic lately? It's been decades since "no one got fired for buying IBM" has applied.

1
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VW offices, employees' homes raided by German prosecutors

Erik4872

Or just vague requests

"There is no reason why a couple of engineers would do this without instructions from management"

Agreed, but it doesn't even have to be explicit instructions. It will be very interesting to see where the smoking gun ends up pointing, but I bet it'll be an overworked engineering manager in an email saying they're getting huge pressure from above to reduce emissions and to make it happen using any means necessary.

It will, of course, come down to who checked in the code, so someone in engineering is going to end up being the scapegoat. Too bad for him or her.

2
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Maker–NOT: 3D printer upstart Makerbot jams, cuts extra 20% of staff

Erik4872

Top of the bubble!

I'm old enough to recall the 1999 - 2001 announcements from various Web 1.0 startups that sounded a lot like this. This sounds a whole lot like the founders preparing the company for an acquisition, shortly followed by their personal paydays.

It's the classic hype cycle - a couple rounds of VC funding, excessive marketing (giving away 3D printers to schools), convincing the pundits to write that this will change the nature of manufacturing, more VC funding, and a slow decline as the bubble deflates. I think 3D printing is cool, and it's a good way to get kids interested in CAD and manufacturing, but startup hubris is legendary, especially when everyone around you is saying "This time it's different!"

5
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HP boss hopes MS Surface Book will jack up notebook prices

Erik4872

Gives them something to shoot for

Completely throw out the HP consumer-focused junk and look at their desktops and laptops (EliteBook, EliteDesk, etc.) They're aimed at corporate purchasers, who need a combination of (a) a decent warranty, (b) decent build quality, and (c) the ability to order thousands of the same machine for a defined period of time. I'd argue that these are the only machines HP makes any decent margin on, and a lot of that is probably eaten up by having to pay actual product design engineers, support the model for 18 months, and provide warranty service. This may be built into the price, but the constant cost pressure gives them very little room to do anything interesting with these machines. I think that, beyond the "we want more margin" mindset, they're looking to higher-priced machines to give HP some wiggle room to engineer something really cool that customers will want to buy. Otherwise, it'll continue to be a constant fight with the product engineers and product managers over the cost of screwing in components vs. gluing them in, using crap plastic instead of a sturdy metal frame, or skimping on component quality to save a few cents per unit.

Our group buys lots of HP machines and to be quite honest, we see this constant cost cutting in each new generation. You could argue they're responding to the "throwaway appliance" market, but customers will start looking elsewhere when your build quality drops far enough and your price is still a premium one.

2
0

Surface Book: Microsoft to turn unsuccessful tab into unsuccessful laptop

Erik4872

Interesting direction!

It's very interesting watching Microsoft trying to emulate the Jobsian product demos.

Two observations:

- I'll bet third party OEMs are just slightly more pissed off now that Microsoft is trying to cannibalize the rest of the device market. Tablets are one thing, but it looks like Microsoft is going full-on Apple with regards to hardware.

- If this and the Surface Pro 4 really do catch on, I'm not too hopeful about the future of the PC as we know it. This will just be another vendor selling a locked-down product with no customization and no access to anything other than their Store once they finish. At least they're still putting ports and SD slots on these things, but one wonders how much longer until they start charging $300 for 32 GB of extra soldered-in non-upgradeable flash memory.

20
2

DfID becomes second ministry to SPURN Cabinet Office IT scheme

Erik4872

This will keep happening over and over

IT is a funny beast. Companies hate having to pay for it, and at the same time they need it and it needs to be good quality. I've been working in IT for a little over 20 years and I've seen so many ways companies try to slice and dice the numbers. I've seen captive offshore centers, partnerships, full outsourcing, hiring permatemps instead of FTEs, embracing of the cloud, you name it...anything to make it look good to the spreadsheet-wielding MBA crowd.

The problem is that all this constant shifting is so much of a distraction that nothing gets done in-house, and outsourced service providers try to force-fit a company's infrastructure into their standard support model and provide the minimum level of work needed to keep the SLA. As a result, companies get an inflexible mess that takes immense amounts of effort to change or migrate.

4
0

US military personnel investigated for splashing $96,576 on strippers

Erik4872

Corporate Expenses 101

First off, yes I'm a prude, but I've never been to a strip club ever, and I'm 40. (Being happily married tends to alleviate that need.) *How* do you spend almost 100K on strippers? I can maybe see thousands on bottle service, but surely the more...personal...transactions require cash?

Second, this is why it's always best to establish personal credit, pay your expenses on your own card, and wait for reimbursement. I've had corporate Amex cards before, but I only use them when I have to buy last minute multi-thousand dollar plane tickets or similar. 20-somethings in the military probably can't do that; especially in the lower ranks you make very little once living allowances are factored in.

I know the few times I've used those corporate cards for anything, I've had to pay the bill anyway, -and- do extra paperwork to exclude anything that wasn't an allowed expense from my final payment. Plus, I can see how this goes undetected for a while. I was once summoned halfway around the world on an emergency basis for 2 weeks and the tab got pretty big after a while, yet things still continued to be approved. It's only when they start auditing that they find things. Same goes for my company's current expense policy -- almost everything is accepted, subject to a high percentage of audits and very public examples made of rulebreakers (immediate firing if it's severe enough.)

0
0

Buyout-happy Accenture hits $30bn in sales – as profits slide 10 per cent

Erik4872

The model is starting to show cracks

Having worked with Accenture employees on various projects, I can safely say their current business model is *exactly* as follows:

1. Hire extremely green recent college graduates and place them in customer locations -- this gives the illusion that they're hiring the best and brightest young talent and giving their customers value for money.

2. Have an "A Team" that does an extremely polished sales pitch to executives.

3. Once the contract is signed, bring in the "B Team" of college grads from Step 1 to do the actual customer facing work (PowerPoint delivery, etc.)

4. Offshore any actual behind the scenes work to the "C Team" in the cheapest possible location for the lowest possible price. Keep rotating countries when the cost of labor increases.

5. Repeat over and over again, get firm partners on corporate boards, or move them to customers so they can steer more business back to Accenture.

6. Profit!

I think the problem they have is with Step 4 right now. There are only so many countries that have enough IT resources and are cheap enough to make the high margin model work. Step 1 isn't a problem -- there are tons of academically smart new grads who fall right into this work. What 22 year old doesn't want to continue the collegiate atmosphere in their work culture, and be made to feel super-important by being flown around the country/world? It's perfect for academic overachievers who are faced with the real world for the first time -- there's a lockstep career progression, up-or-out promotion, and a strict set of rules to follow.

I could be dreaming and say executives are getting better BS detectors, but I think that's wishful thinking -- it's got to be the increase in labor costs.

9
1

Google stretches tentacles into the health market

Erik4872

New 60s/70s style conglomerate?

It must be a nice problem to have -- Google, Apple and the like are generating so much free cash that they have no idea how to put it to use. So, I guess their board thinks the best thing to do is diversify.

It was a little before my time, but I do know my corporate history. Whenever this happens and they don't want to give the shareholders a dividend, companies used to go out and buy or start unrelated businesses. That's how GE became a bank and bought a TV network, and how ITT was in the hotel business for a while and runs a crappy technical school chain. Seriously, Google Life Sciences? I guess I see the Big Data angle -- all those customers walking around with Android health monitors -er- smartphones.

1
0

Just WHO is hiring a 'Cloud Transformation Director' for £162,000? Actually YOU are

Erik4872

The cycle continues...

I have seen this so many times, in large companies, governments, you name it, over a 20+ year career. It's almost as regular as a pulsar -- the outsource-insource cycle.

1. Newly minted MBA turned CIO sees massive IT savings on a spreadsheet provided by a large outsourcing vendor, signs multi-year deal outsourcing "routine IT tasks."

2. Good internal people quit, vendor takes over and tries to migrate the customer to their "standard operations framework" of this year. The rest of internal IT gets fed up and quits, or is quietly fired by the outsourcer.

3. Vendor now has control of most of IT and a huge wall of process exists to get anything done anymore.

4. IT is declared an "inflexible shambles" and plans are made to bring it back in house.

The only thing that's different now is the existence of "The Cloud" which only serves to hasten a vendor's takeover of internal IT. The cycle remains the same though, and probably will forever.

3
0

Dell CEO: Very few will survive the PC bloodbath

Erik4872

Totally agree

"I think that there will always be, at the very least, a market for carefully designed, well thought out and beautifully constructed (and often bespoke) PCs for users who demand quality hardware but don't, for whatever reason, want a Mac."

Maybe not bespoke like Rolls-Royce style bespoke, but certainly firmly entrenched in the "not crap" camp. This is what Lenovo _was_ doing with the ex-IBM ThinkPads. Last generation, however, they started removing useful features and trying to make the thing look like a grayish-black MacBook Pro. They're only now reversing some of this with the new generation T and W series.

ThinkPads are a perfect example of this -- boring, non-sexy business notebooks that a certain set of professionals gravitate towards. They get their margin on these boxes -- they're still very expensive compared to a similarly-specced consumer garbage notebook.

What I think will happen with the PC market is this -- most consumers who used to buy the garbage $300 HP laptop from Best Buy are happy with their phones and iPads now. That whole range of the market is going to be gone, since PCs are increasingly going to be a niche purchase. As he people who need PCs shrink, they're going to be a more finicky bunch overall, and that is where the higher margins come through.

7
0

Amazon putting London’s hipster startups in the loft

Erik4872

Just cashing in on Bubble 2.0

Back in the 90s, most of these cloud-based startups would have had to put up lots of cash to build out or colocate in a data center. For us regular geeks, when that bubble popped, we had our choice of horrendously expensive equipment, Aeron chairs, etc. for pennies on the dollar. Now Amazon, Microsoft, etc. are going to have all that gear and it'll be all for naught. The public cloud is also allowing these startups to last longer than they normally would have, given they only have to pay monthly for their usage.

0
0

Intel workforce diversity report throws up a bunch of 'unknowns'

Erik4872

Wonder how much longer this will be a problem

One of the secrets that are kept from new engineering students is the tendency of the profession to grind down new hires and spit them out when they're "too old." It doesn't happen everywhere, and high-end chip designers, EEs, etc. may be less affected than run of the mill techies. But, now that this fact is starting to become common knoweldge, wouldn't it make sense that fewer smart people of any race are enthusiastically embracing an engineering job? If you want to get qualified candidates, as well as a diverse workforce, the perception of engineering as a dead end, easily offshorable, unstable career choice needs to go away. Combine that with improving education before college, and you should have a healthy crop of eager new grads willing to work in what is quite honestly still a very interesting field.

The last financial bubble showed that financial firms siphon away a lot of top technical people to work on HFT and other projects. For those who like a stable career, medicine is also available to smart people. If I were 18 again, I'm not sure I would consider the effort of an engineering degree if I could just go get an MBA, or any of the other paths to riches.

6
0

Oracle pulls CSO's BONKERS anti-bug bounty and infosec rant

Erik4872

She's not going to win any friends like that...

This was a very unprofessional post from the CSO. You'd expect something like this from a kid who thinks they know everything. I guess Larry likes to hire corporate officers that share his personality.

That said, I do wonder how many of Oracle's incoming reports are submitted by kids running exploit hunting kits they download on the Internet and don't understand the output of. Hiding behind the license agreement isn't an acceptable answer, for the record, but I imagine that reports like this can get tiresome. I know the security research field has grown up slightly, but I often see examples of "researchers" trying to make names for themselves by showing more than a little hubris.

I'm sure Microsoft, Cisco, etc. have boilerplate text somewhere in their agreements preventing reverse engineering as well. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen!

0
0

Apple splashes dough to keep Big Cheese safe

Erik4872

$700K is -nothing-

Apple is a public company and has to report stuff like this. I can't imagine what private companies stuff into executive compensation. Over the years of looking at job postings, etc. it's not uncommon to see large companies hiring an entire flight crew for their private jet fleet, security details, house cleaning services for the CEO, and others. We lowly employees don't get to write stuff like this into our contracts. $700K is a handful of ex-military security guys and part of an armored limousine.

One thing I'm not too keen about is execs basically getting their entire luxurious lives paid for by their company, then turning around and whining about paying taxes. Small business owners do this to a lesser extent too -- funneling their personal expenses through the corporation to reduce their net earnings and lower their tax bills, all while benefiting from the cars, houses, etc. that the company buys them. (Most companies hide this by giving "loans" and gradually forgiving them.)

3
0

RSA chief uncans insurance giant's mega IT infrastructure review

Erik4872

He's right, outsourcing doesn't work

The main problem is that whether it goes to the cheapest body shop in India, or into an office down the road, companies lose control of their systems to a disinterested third party. I've worked on both sides of the fence and this is the one truth that cuts through the debate. Once a company outsources, IT is no longer strategic no matter what anyone says. The outsourcing company takes a "we pay you for this, don't bother us with IT stuff anymore" attitude, and the company doing the work will now do the bare minimum to keep from losing the contract. There's no smoking gun (yet), but I'm convinced that's what's behind some of these high-profile security breaches...a service provider that barely cares, providing service to a company who doesn't want to know how things work anymore. It turns IT into a big mediocre mess.

3
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