1229 posts • joined 2 Jul 2007
Re: You're lucky! @LaeMing
" Maybe you're like Kelly Bundy and a new bit of knowledge pushes an old one out, leaving the total the same ..."
I think you have missed the point. As he was referring to the job descriptions quoted in the article, no "knowledge" was involved.
"Only if they'd have placed "Apply" at (7)."
Reminds me of a one-to-one I had with my boss at the time, about 25 years ago. Trying to make clear to him my point of view, I said something like this:
"Look, I think of all the people in business and industry as divided into four main categories. (1) Most important, those who have new ideas and invent things - without them we'd all be in caves still. (2) Regrettably but necessarily, those who sell things; otherwise no one would get the benefit of all the great new inventions, and the inventors and makers wouldn't be rewarded and motivated. (3) The managers: those who organise everyone and keep things ticking over smoothly. (4) Last and least, the bean-counters who keep track of the accounts. They have a humble but essential role".
My boss nodded, smiled, and replied that he accepted my four categories but placed them in exactly the opposite order of importance.
Re: Breaking news...
"It makes me mad. Fuckers."
Try to cultivate, instead, an attitude of cold, mildly amused contempt.
Curiously, when I lived in Argentina as a young boy, the locals used to tell angry people soothingly, "No te da mala sangre" - "Don't give yourself bad blood". According to this research, the mechanism of harm is indeed through the composition of the blood.
As far as I can see, no one (apart from Gray in his short comment) has mentioned the elephant in the server room. What Schneier said implies that nobody, from here on out, can trust the Internet. Nobody can be sure of anonymity, or privacy, or secrecy, or trust - no matter what they do, no matter what technology they use or what scrupulous precautions they take. What many of us took for a civilized, relatively safe community has suddenly degenerated into the Wild West. And that is exactly what many people in government wanted all along. They hated the idea that citizens could talk to each other in private, or even form associations without the politicians and their hired thugs knowing.
The next step, I take it, will be for governments to offer to keep our precious data and communications for us - so that the nasty mean foreigners and terrorists can't get it. Of course, subscribing to such services will be everyone's patriotic duty, and anyone who refuses will be viewed with justified suspicion. And I do mean VIEWED - 24 hours a day, in microscopic detail and with no benefit of the doubt.
Fauna can do worse than that...
Over 70 years ago, what might have developed into a smashing attack by a Panzer division was thwarted before it began by Communist rodents.
"On November 19, 1942, Operation Uranus began. The great Soviet counter-offensive encircled the German 6th Army and much of the 4th Panzer Army and smashed the XXXXVIII Panzer Corps, including the 22nd Panzer Division. Many of the division's tanks had been parked in dugouts for an extended period of time and protected from the frost by straw. When the tanks were called on to respond to the Soviet offensive, many could not be started because mice had sought refuge in the straw and then in the tanks where they chewed up the insulation of electric system wires".
Not ideal for supervillains
It's very flash, but the navies of the world could hardly imagine a nicer big, fat juicy target bobbing gently on the waves...
On the open ocean, there's nowhere to hide...
Re: Got to admire them ...
"It's the armpit of Europe."
That IS you, Bill, isn't it?
"I know that this is only a Munich project but it could be in the process of establishing a precedent for others to come."
Also (slightly but significantly different) an existence proof that the thing can be done. All over the world, others will be thinking "So they pulled it off. Maybe we should think about a similar move".
Re: Hmm. You never......
"It is Microsoft that involved a third party here".
By "third party" I take it you mean HP, one of the biggest sellers of Windows PCs in the world? One so fanatically attached to Redmond that until it was recently forced to see reason, it offered only Windows 8 on new computers?
Re: Hmm. You never......
"Nah - it's much better now that they ditched all the bits ported from UNIX and rewrote it from scratch..."
OK, that's enough fun. Come on out Bill, we know it's you hiding behind that AC identity!
Re: Microsoft needs to adapt
"The failing here is that Linux was not designed with the enterprise in mind..."
To the extent that that is true, neither was any other operating system - without exception. Certainly not Windows, which was initially designed to be as cheap as possible while still performing a few of the more superficial user-oriented tasks of an operating system. Since it swallowed a lot of VMS code (or at least design) in the shape of Windows NT it has been somewhat more robust, but even full-fledged VMS wasn't "designed with the enterprise in mind". It was designed to extend the kind of tasks previously performed by RSTS and RSX11 to a 64-bit memory space - those tasks being mainly scientific, engineering, and low- to mid-level administration and database work.
The only operating systems that have any claim at all to have been "designed with the enterprise in mind" are, of course, IBM's. Which is why they have always been far and away the best suited to that environment.
"And they really can't afford to restrict the market for these products to their own OS platforms."
But I bet they will. Just as DEC cut its own throat 30 years ago by restricting the market for its excellent software to its own hardware platforms. It's the nature of the beast.
"That's just stupid. No company wants to kill potential customers except possibly Philip Morris."
My point was that if someone at Microsoft could just press a button and have Munich disappear, they would be strongly tempted. As for customers, Microsoft doesn't have customers in Munich - or at least not in its municipal government. And I imagine a number of companies and private individuals have reflected that if their government can save money without any loss of services, they could do so too.
The citizens of Munich are lucky that Microsoft doesn't (yet) have nuclear capability.
Let me know
when they are offering punters £50 to take each slab. I have a wall to build in my back garden.
A word with that sub, please
"Big Data is like TEENAGE SEX
Everyone is talking about it, nobody doing it correctly...."
Boy, are your social statistics out of date! Not sure how many people are talking about teenage (and pre-teen) sex, but for some decades now almost EVERYONE has been doing it.
Re: Let me get this straight
"I presume this makes sense to an engineer, but it makes me want to scream".
Please don't presume any such thing. If I might be permitted to adjust your statement slightly, "this makes sense to the PHB, but it makes Dilbert/Alice/Wally/Asok/anyone remotely qualified want to scream".
Let me get this straight
So mechanical and electrical engineers may need to communicate about detailed product requirements with software engineers.
And the answer to this "problem" is provided by a bunch of non-engineering suits from Gartner?
From where I am sitting, there is not much of a problem when engineers communicate with one another. It's when suits enter the system, in any guise whatsoever, that the grief really sets in.
Nothing really new
This more ambitious approach, of looking for characteristic patterns in requests and data, has been used by top-end firewall manufacturers for at least 15 years and possibly longer. After all, it's the logical thing to do if you want to identify more attacks and thus have a chance of shutting them out, rather than having to clean up the damage afterwards.
However, like all "smart" software, I suspect it will turn out to have distinct limitations. The idea is somewhat similar, in the broadest terms, to that behind Web content filtering - and we know how well that works in practice. It always looks fairly straightforward, at first glance, to make software behave "intelligently" by making it carry out a set of rules. Trouble is, life tends to be a lot more complicated than any simple set of rules we can devise. There are exceptions, and the exceptions also have exceptions... and so on.
Paul Leigh, your suggestion that young people be given a free choice of what they study is far too sensible for politicians to consider.
It does remind me, though, of something I once read in one of Freeman Dyson's books. He said that, as a boy, he studied mathematics as a form of rebellion. When his parents, concerned at his studious habits, took him for a summer holiday on a farm, he quickly discovered a suitable hayloft and spent his days as happy as a clam reading about advanced calculus while the parents imagined he was off "enjoying the fresh air".
Dyson then expressed alarm that the government of the time was trying to launch a drive to encourage more children to take up mathematics. As his main reason for devoting himself to it was to rebel against adult expectations, he feared that government support would prevent any of the right type of student from ever taking an interest in math.
We don't have anyone competent to do that
"Sporting two-day stubble, he enthuses that writing laws is really a form of computation, so we should make it more like a software project..."
That is actually a thought that occurred to me about 25 years ago. (It fits in with my perennial question as to why programmers are paid less and considered socially inferior to lawyers, when the work they do is probably harder and more abstract).
There is one big problem, though. If writing laws were treated like a proper software project, no law would ever yet have been finalized by Parliament. They'd all still be in perpetual debug mode.
Re: Schol [sic] Reform
"Leaving aside the fact that teaching is actually a hell of a lot harder than you appear to think it is, the human brain can only process so much new data in a day. The brain suffers from fatigue, just like your muscles do".
And the brain adapts to handle more and harder work, just as your muscles do. Ask any Olympic marathon runner. If he had followed your advice, he'd never have run more than 3 miles at a time.
At any good independent school - where the curriculum is planned according to what works best, not some idiot politician's pet theories - pupils are taught actively for up to 45 hours a week - plus at least 7 hours of evening study/prep. They thrive on it, and that's why such schools get far more university entrances and scholarships than the average state school.
As for the teachers, it is true that good teaching is a demanding job and plenty of prep time is needed. That is taken care of by having excellent teachers, competent department heads, and an adequate pupil/teacher ratio, sufficient to let the average class size be about 20 while giving teachers plenty of time for prep, marking, and time off. Long holidays - which are affordable when a 13-week term packs in over 500 classroom hours and 100 hours of solitary study - give everyone a chance to relax and enjoy themselves (while doing some extra study if they choose).
Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code
"I've dealt with more than one PHB who's taken a timeframe from coders and halved it when passing it upstream".
Yes, that's typical in-house behaviour. The real fun starts when successive levels of management iterate, reducing the deadline by successive powers of 2.
Amusingly enough, in the world of contracting (especially government contracting) the reverse process can take place. I was once on a training course whose instructor, a Scot with delightfully dry wit and cynical attitude, told us during a tea break about one project he worked on while programming for such a contractor. He was told the requirements, and estimated that the work would take a month. Then the fun began, as his manager doubled that - only for his manager to double it again, before it was finally doubled once more before being given to the customer. As the customer was a government department and the contractor was a regular supplier, the estimate was of course accepted without question. So the future instructor went on site, did the job in about 10 days (being no fool, he had built in plenty of margin on his own account), and then spent the next 30 or so weeks hanging around reading books and pretending to work. But he got his salary, and the contractor got paid about 20 times what the job was worth - and it was only taxpayers' money, so everyone was happy.
Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code
"Sadly, nobody in command ever seems to learn from these failures.
"They just blame it on the incompetent developers and go somewhere else to do the same thing over again. "F*ck up and move up" is how a former boss put it."
That's because, in the management jargon such people love, "you can't drive by looking in the rear view mirror". (Translation: MY mistakes are not to be discussed, EVER. Let's focus on YOUR mistakes).
Re: I hate to say it...
"Coders are the new factory workers and this is setting up that exact scenario. The country needs a large number of people who can write code to fulfil a design done by someone else".
Another perfect example of what happens when the partially sighted are led by the blind. Managers (and politicians in this country at least) know so little about computing that they imagine "coding" to be a simple, low-skilled job that any fool can do if they are not talented or ambitious to go into finance, law or politics where the money is.
Of course, the whole paradigm is entirely, disastrously wrong. You get the best results when analysts are expert programmers already, and the programmers understand the skills and difficulties of analysis. On small enough projects, the ideal is to have one person do both.
Suffice it to point out that the view of coders as "factory workers... who can write code to fulfil a design done by someone else" is about as far away from agile development methods (such as XP) as it's possible to get.
"Firstly, you don't need to know anything about a subject to manage it at a very top levelFirstly, you don't need to know anything about a subject to manage it at a very top level..."
Don't you believe it. This item of faith is probably the number one reason for the terrible state of British management and business, not to mention the chronic failure of governments to get results.
It's true there is room for some people who are, above all, "people specialists" - I don't mean HR people, they are the diametric opposite of people specialists. In their classic book "Peopleware" (which all managers should read) De Marco and Lister describe a person who mysteriously caused every team of which she was a member to excel - although she had no obviously relevant or outstanding skills. Those teams just, somehow, jelled and worked far more effectively than others.
But the top boss does need to understand the work that is being done - and in a deep, comprehensive way. Otherwise you get heaps of trouble.
Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code
'"why didn't you deliver?"
'If they are asking you this, it's likely that you agreed earlier you could deliver it so the fault is not with them.'
I surmise that you have never worked for the type of management that brings about such situations; but I assure you they exist and are flourishing. The sales people and their managers "win" business from the competition by promising features and deadlines that are quite impossible. Then they present their technical staff with a fait accompli, and tell them they have to deliver or the company's good name will be ruined, the company's finances will be wrecked, and mainly they will be unemployed. (By the way, this syndrome helps to account for the quality of much commercial software). So the programmers work days, nights and weekends in the hope of delivering something that will pass for barely adequate by the deadline. It's a no-lose proposition for the sales people; if the company goes under, they simply go off to another company complaining how the technical staff at their last place simply weren't up to it. And if the technical manager tells management the promises can't be kept, guess who is believed - him or the sales manager? ***
On a massively larger scale, similar methods are used to make vast amounts of money out of government contracts (in "defence" and other areas). Company A wins the business by putting in a proposal that simply defies reason; the government eagerly signs them up; and work begins. Two or three years later, the management of Company A suddenly discovers that the agreed work will take twice as long and cost five times as much. They tell the government people that, and implicitly ask, "Which would you prefer: to submit to our blackmail, bearing in mind that the voters won't notice, or to cancel our contract, thereby revealing yourselves to be incompetent?" Guess which the politicians choose.
*** It's hardly a new scenario. See, for example, Exodus 5:
6 That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers in charge of the people: 7 “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. 8 But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.”
10 Then the slave drivers and the overseers went out and said to the people, “This is what Pharaoh says: ‘I will not give you any more straw. 11 Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced at all.’” 12 So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble to use for straw. 13 The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, “Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw.” 14 And Pharaoh’s slave drivers beat the Israelite overseers they had appointed, demanding, “Why haven’t you met your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?”
15 Then the Israelite overseers went and appealed to Pharaoh: “Why have you treated your servants this way? 16 Your servants are given no straw, yet we are told, ‘Make bricks!’ Your servants are being beaten, but the fault is with your own people.”
17 Pharaoh said, “Lazy, that’s what you are—lazy! That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ 18 Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.”
Re: For Windows guest - KVM or XEN and which distro for host?
"I agree with the posts suggesting it would be easier to use Windows as the host".
I know just how you feel, Bronek, and I would want to have Linux as the foundation of my system too. But if you decide, on reflection, that for practical purposes it's necessary to run Windows native, just grit your teeth and keep reminding yourself "This is VMS with a silly GUI on top".
Re: Everybody or Nobody
As John Kenneth Galbraith was pointing out as long ago as the 1950s, modern corporations are run overwhelmingly in the interests of their managers - not the shareholders (owners), customers, employees or anyone else, and most certainly not society as a whole.
Sound reliable advice. Oh wait...
"If your mates want an upgrade, get 'em to buy a new PC says Microsoft..."
... which definitely doesn't get a cut of the price of every new PC sold. So entirely disinterested then.
'Network access != "browsing internet"'
Isn't that a pedantic distinction? "Browsing" is a popular term that has come to mean any network activity - although technically, of course, it should be restricted to reading Web pages.
But then there are plenty of safe Web pages, and plenty of unsafe non-Web Internet addresses.
Yes, manufacturers should replace unsafe cars
Your car analogy isn't entirely convincing. See, for example, http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/Pinto.htm.
"What moron browses the internet while logged on as Admin?"
1. Anyone using Windows, which makes it extremely awkward to work with separate root and user accounts.
2. Anyone using Linux who has to do system admin work that involves (as it all too often does nowadays) network access as an integral part of processes such as installations and upgrades.
All the sums you mention are peanuts in the context of Microsoft's cash flow and income figures. No doubt Mr Nadella will get the vast bulk of his remuneration in the form of stock options or the like.
Bill Gates didn't amass $70 billion or more by saving up his salary. And Steve Jobs was not impoverished when he dramatically cut his salary to $1.
I am afraid there seems to be a discontinuity in your argument. The quotation I cited mentioned science, but you then said something about an economist. Surely you don't believe that economists have anything to do with science? I thought they were more into telling rich and powerful people what those people want to hear. It certainly pays well, but so does astrology.
Oh that reminds me...
'"I like the idea science tells us something, and we have to agree," said John Robertson (Lab, Glasgow North West)'
That reminds me strongly of stories Theodore Dalrymple (an ex prison doctor) used to tell about recidivist criminals. Time and again, he talked to convicts who told him that they much preferred life in prison - mainly because they didn't have to think. Someone else told them when to get up, when to eat, and generally what to do, thus relieving their brains of the awful stress of freedom. Oddly enough, I had never noticed the powerful analogy with MPs, who are also relieved of the need to think by that useful mechanism - the whip.
Damn your principles! Stick to your party.
- Benjamin Disraeli
Old as data warehousing (at least)
Apart from archiving, why on earth do people think organizations have long spent large sums of money collecting and storing lots of data? Obviously, to extract meaningful information from it as far as possible.
That was the rationale for data warehouses, when that buzzword was introduced about 20 years ago. It's 40 years since Stafford Beer began working on his real-time executive dashboard plan for the Allende government in Chile. Of course, in the newly fashionable sense of "at least as much data as you can afford to pay for and preferably more", Big Data is a transparent sales ploy by Oracle and other database and iron (shouldn't that be "plastic" nowadays?) vendors.
What is illegal but normal?
It's a trick question: there are many, many valid answers - from burglary and drug addiction to fraud and political corruption. But the one I have in mind is "operating a cartel". Illegal in most civilised countries, it is almost impossible to prevent.
If you don't take this point, watch almost any episode of "Yes, Minister" or "Yes, Prime Minister" - specifically the part where Sir Humphrey meets someone who is to be influenced at one of their clubs for a drink or dinner. First, Sir Humphrey mentions some plum job that is within his gift, and how hard it is proving to find suitable candidates. Then, taking a sip of his drink, he remarks, "On an entirely different subject..." and then explains how his Minister has some tricky problem to solve - which, by some inexplicable coincidence, his current interlocutor is ideally placed to deal with.
No jury, of course, will ever hear about that conversation. And even if one did, being a jury of Sir Humphrey's peers, it would naturally pretend to see nothing incriminating in it at all.
Although I would be amused to hear what the animatronic Turing would say! If it was any kind of realistic replica, it might be scathing. Turing was no respecter of persons, and did not mince his words or suffer fools gladly.
"His high pitched voice already stood out above the general murmur of well-behaved junior executives grooming themselves for promotion within the Bell corporation. Then he was suddenly heard to say: 'No, I'm not interested in developing a powerful brain. All I'm after is just a mediocre brain, something like the President of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company.' (In the Bell Labs cafeteria, New York, 1943)".
- Alan Hodges (Alan Turing: the Enigma of Intelligence, page 251).
"It's almost as if the wrong organisation is getting all the sponsorship."
Well, as lotteries have been described as a tax on stupidity (and government officials may have been involved), that's what you'd expect. At least the whole affair is consistent.
Capitalism in action
The epitome of modern "civilisation". A place where a hastily-gathered team of volunteers did amazing work with historic results, now being run by a pack of business hyenas who can't see any further than the ends of their own lolling tongues.
Re: End of the world
Unfortunately, it doesn't matter how embarrassed or angry or inconvenienced the customer is. In theory, he or she can take their business to another bank that performs better. In the real world, there is no such bank. Instead of competing to provide better service for less money - as theory dictates - they have realised it's much more profitable (and less work) to standardize on a uniformly low level of service. If the customer doesn't like it, he (or she) can do the other thing.
In theory, too, cartels are illegal. In practice, there is no conceivable way of preventing them. (Even if most of our rulers weren't in their pay).
"Once this was funded by the fact that they didn't pay interest on current accounts, but with interest rates at zero they don't have any income to pay for the services."
Please think this through. Interest rates are at zero for money that WE lend to BANKS. Have you checked out mortgage or other loan interest rates for money BANKS lend to US lately? Not to mention the far higher rates they can get for lending to actual productive ventures such as industry and commerce.
Even at a very low rate of interest, banks could make plenty of money to run their businesses out of the interest they can get on the vast amounts of money deposited with them. Don't forget, that's a substantial fraction of all the money in the UK.
CEO's tweet implied hardware
The CEO's tweet clearly implied that one specific HP server had failed. As software is not specific to any single computer, that clearly implies it was a hardware fault. If not, HP has grounds for complaint - if not legal redress.
I found it extremely odd that he saw fit to name a supplier in that way.
"None of us like terrorism but when the police state is the terrorist it is too late to do much about it."
As has often been pointed out, states are the original and by far the dominant terrorist organizations. Compared to, say, Al Qaeda (assuming such an entity really exists at all) the US federal government is like a T Rex next to a shrew. (The UK government would be intermediate; something like those nasty little chicken-sized dinosaurs that ganged up on Richard Attenborough in "Jurassic Park").
Better cultivate your memory
This guy, and anyone in a similar position, would have done well simply to memorize whatever dark secrets he had. Throughout history, after all, poets and others have memorized the equivalent of whole libraries.
Even more important, no technology yet exists to determine what information a person has memorized.
As Bernard in "Yes, Minister" quotes Francis Bacon: "He that would keep a secret, must keep it secret that he has a secret to keep". That is probably the biggest single blunder made by those who wish to keep secrets. Once the secret's existence is known, it's only a matter of time - whether the technique involves decryption, thumbscrews, or drugs.
1. There's no such word as "ethicity", despite its resemblance to "ethnicity".
2. If you believe there is a difference between morality and ethics, what do you think it is? Or were you just repeating yourself?
"...the most recent science on the stuff debunks the dearly-held myth that coffee causes dehydration..."
Because it was always likely that drinking a pint or so of water with a small amount of dissolved chemicals would lead to dehydration. Just as living in a strictly dehumidified atmosphere raises the danger of drowning.
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