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* Posts by Orv

96 posts • joined 13 Aug 2007

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Job for IT generalist ...

Orv

I wish I could take that attitude, but retirement looms like an oncoming truck. Given the age discrimination in IT I'm not sure how I'm going to have enough money saved up soon enough to make it.

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Orv

Re: Depends on the country

I don't know what parallel universe you're living in, but in the US job market that exists in my reality, "at will" contracts are still the norm. Most people can be fired at any time, for any reason. Union contracts that make firing difficult are mostly limited to a handful of blue-collar trades. Job security here has been on the decline for years.

Good luck if you *do* get fired, too; the labor market is so flooded with applicants that most companies consider unemployed people undesirable, and will only interview people who already have a job. And if you get unemployment benefits -- which is a big "if", since companies often lie and say people were fired for cause, disqualifying them -- they'll eventually run out.

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Orv

That's the bind I find myself in. I don't want to manage people, but if I avoid it I've locked myself into a low salary forever. Advancement seems to involve spending less and less time working on computers and more and more time managing people.

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Cisco's Chambers to Obama: Stop fiddling with our routers

Orv

Nice idea, but...

How do you know the firmware the device lets you pull is the one it's actually executing? Or the only thing it's executing? If I were designing such a thing I'd insert the spying code as a wedge between the firmware's ethernet driver and the hardware. Flash a new firmware, reboot, looks good but you're still p0wned. Short of taking all the chips out of the device and extracting the data from the hardware side, there's no way to be sure.

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My name is NOT Dread Pirate Roberts: Silk Road accused's fam'n'friends stump up $1m bail

Orv

Re: Solitary Confinement?

He may not be in solitary as a harsher punishment. People are put in solitary for all kinds of reasons, including threats from other inmates. Some people even request to be put in solitary for fear of prison rape (which is not uncommon in the US.)

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Meg Whitman asks HPers to drag their asses into the office

Orv

Re: More than just doing the job

I think your point has merit, but for some jobs there's also a lot of merit in being able to control when and how interaction happens. A coder who gets interrupted by a coworker stopping by to tell him about the latest cat video loses a good 15-20 minutes of productivity, because he loses all the mental state he'd built up and has to start over. The typical modern open-plan office is a particularly poor environment for maintaining the concentration needed to write code.

I have both work-at-home days and office days. I generally use the office days for menial email-sorting type work and save the coding for the work-at-home days, when I can control my physical environment to minimize distractions.

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Limbaugh: If you hate Apple then you're a lefty blog-o-twat hipster

Orv
Coat

It's about a consistent experience

What people pay extra for on Apple products is the consistent experience. The "walled garden" that chafes geeks so badly is actually part of this. When you buy an iThing, it will work out of the box, it'll connect to your Mac without a lot of fuss, and it'll be able to run the same apps as all the other iThings. It may not be the best bang for the buck, but it'll work.

Now contrast with the situation with an Android device. First you have to research it to make sure it's got a recent OS version and processor and isn't some horribly slow "landfill Android." Then you have to find out if it can actually access the Google Play store, or if you'll be stuck in some off-brand app store with a limited selection. If it's a carrier-discount device, you have to find out what features they've crippled as part of locking it to their network and forcing it to use their services. Basically without doing a lot of digging around, you don't know if the stupid thing will WORK once you get your hands on it. Then you have to worry about which apps are legit and which are going to email porn to your grandmother.

That's basically it in a nutshell. Apple products appeal to people who just want to buy something that will work, instead of spending a week obsessing over review websites before making a decision. (And I say this as someone who actually enjoys the latter.)

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So you want to be a contractor? Well, here's how it works

Orv

Re: Hidden costs/benefits

I was going to mention health insurance, but I assume that's less of an issue in the UK, and this seemed like a pretty thoroughly UK-centric article. It can be a major obstacle to going freelance in the US, unless you have a spouse with a steady job with good health insurance.

Pensions aren't really an issue in the US, in that no one gets them anymore, anyway, except civil servants.

On the plus side, tax law here is a lot simpler -- although probably only because we've only had a couple hundred years to muddy it up. ;)

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Feds stamp on cash pipeline to Mt Gox, Bitcoin's Wall Street

Orv

Re: @Alan Esworthy Betting against the MAN

I have no doubt that some of my peaceful, orderly neighbors would happily steal me blind if they believed there was no entity that could punish them for it. One doesn't have to look far to realize this; even highly civilized places quickly revert to violence and looting if there's a temporary absence of government-enforced law and order. You don't have to look as far as Somalia to see that; just look at the looting and violence that happened after Hurricane Katrina, or during the 1977 blackout in NYC.

Throughout human history, power and wealth have always gone to whoever could most convincingly threaten violence against other people. It's the natural state of humanity. This is why revolutions almost always end as military dictatorships (our own revolution in the US was a fortunate exception.)

As I see it, government is an exercise in giving the biggest guns to an entity that we have some amount of control over, instead of leaving the choice of our rulers up to chance and violence. Given that I couldn't even hire a mall cop for what I pay in taxes, much less my own private police force, I'm going to stick with it.

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Orv

Re: Warnings from History: Wikileaks... Cyprus....

The Cyprus haircut was about as quiet and unexpected as a 4th of July parade. *I* heard it was coming weeks ahead, and I don't even follow financial news very closely. The fact is, in spite of all their outrage, the foreign investors who had money in Cyprus banks knew exactly what they were getting into. In the current economic climate, banks don't promise 9% APR on savings accounts unless they're on the verge of collapse.

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Orv

Re: Betting against the MAN

Because Somalia is what a state without a strong central government becomes.

Let's say, in your imaginary governmentless state, you buy your own police and military services. But so do your competitors. Guess what happens if they want you shut down? Now you're a warlord, trying to defend your territory against a rival warlord. Except you have a sign on your door that says "CEO." Well done.

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Orv
Coat

Re: Betting against the MAN

I'd suggest relocating to Somalia, then. There's no functioning government to worry about, and you can negotiate directly with the local businessmen who provide military and police functions in each region. (We usually call them "warlords," but that's just semantics.) It's libertarianism in action.

Me, I'll stay here and keep paying my taxes.

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Orv

Time to switch to another imaginary currency. I suggest Linden Dollars.

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Orv
Pint

Re: A non-merkin writes....

US banking regulation is managed by a whole raft of different agencies, with overlapping responsibilities. It's kind of a mess. Generally industries lobby to have their particular slice of territory regulated by whichever agency they think will have the fewest resources for policing their activities.

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Orv
WTF?

Re: Betting against the MAN

Not that I like Nixon, but by that point we were on the gold standard in name only. The dollar's value relative to gold had been repeatedly adjusted.

But there's nothing magic about gold. It has very little practical use, so it really amounts to yet another currency that has value only because we agree it does. During the era of money being linked to gold, we had inflation when there were large gold strikes and deflation when there were gold shortages. Favoring a gold standard is just another way of saying that guys in other countries digging with shovels will regulate the economy better than the Fed. You might honestly believe that's true, but at least be up front about it.

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Orv
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Re: Betting against the MAN

I expect Bitcoin itself will remain largely unregulated. It's the point where Bitcoins are exchanged for real US dollars they're interested in, since that can become a conduit for money laundering.

Also, taxation is only "theft" if you aren't getting anything in return. People who hope to avoid taxes via alternative currencies or other dodges are just trying to get the benefits of a functioning government without having to pay for it.

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The business mullet: Cool or tool?

Orv
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Meh

The problem with suits is you have to spend a LOT of money to get a good one, and if you buy a cheap one you look like a used car salesman. And then a few years later it's out of style because the lapels are 5mm too wide or it has four buttons on the cuffs instead of three. I feel like they're a result of management who get five times our salary thinking we should be spending as much money on clothes as they do.

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Orv

Re: Can't pull it off

I used to work for a bank that insisted everyone wear a suit and tie at all times. It was fun trying to install cards in desktops while simultaneously trying to keep my tie from falling into the dusty guts.

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Orv
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Re: trousers are more comfy anyway

The problem is, if I spent a big stack of cash on custom-tailored trousers, I'd feel very reluctant to crawl under people's desks in them. Wearing expensive pants in an IT environment is like using an iPad as a doorstop.

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New York tech firms form 'bucket brigade' to fuel flagging servers

Orv

Harder to ignite...

...is a bit of an understatement. Once, while using diesel fuel to light a fire, I dropped a match into a puddle of it. It put out the match.

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Apple's iPad Mini mishap: scratching out the retina screen

Orv

Re: Owners of rival devices will disagree, but the sales say it all.

It depends on what you want out of a car. Toyota has a reputation for reliability. Frankly, all most people really want out of a car is a transportation appliance that doesn't give them trouble. A Corolla delivers that admirably.

Mind you, I'm more of a Honda type myself, but I can see why Toyotas sell like they do.

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Apple unsheathes MacBook 13-incher

Orv
Thumb Up

Optical drive

Losing the optical drive doesn't bother me all that much...Apple's "Superdrives" consistently seem to fail after a few years, so I expect I'll have better luck with an external one. My suspicion is that their slot-loading design causes the drives to eventually end up full of dust.

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Earth-sized planet found at Alpha Centauri B

Orv

Re: Orion

I don't find the "setting them off" part scary, but I am wary of the "putting thousands of pounds of plutonium on top of a rocket and boosting it through the atmosphere" part. If the rocket explodes in flight you've just made the world's largest dirty bomb.

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Google promises autonomous cars for all within five years

Orv

If these really do appear in 2015, I bet by 2045 it will be illegal to drive a car manually except on a closed course. People will shake their heads at the idea that unreliable, inattentive meatbags ever piloted objects traveling at 70 mph.

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Most biofuels fail green test: study

Orv
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Re: Methane from Cellulose

I suspect the reason we're not trying to make methane from cellulose is natural gas is still cheap and plentiful, especially with the advent of "fracking" techniques. I doubt any process for making methane can compete, unless the input material is free and the usage point is nearby -- e.g., dairy farms will sometimes use methane from decomposing manure to generate power.

You're correct that it's never drawn that much interest as a motor fuel. There are a few reasons for this; the main ones are it's difficult to store in a compact way (has to be highly compressed, which means cylindrical takes that eat up passenger space) and it's still more expensive than gasoline per BTU. It also has distribution issues -- it can only be distributed economically to fueling stations that happen to be in areas that have natural gas pipelines.

It mainly sees use for powering captive fleets, especially ones in areas where pollution is a major concern. I pretty routinely see it used to run taxicabs, for example.

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Orv

Heating fuel

That reminds me that about ten years ago corn was so cheap in the US, thanks to subsidies, that people were burning dried corn as heating fuel in specially-designed stoves.

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Got a BMW? Thicko thieves can EASILY NICK IT with $30 box

Orv
Coat

Yes. It's insufficiently impressive to your friends, which defeats the purpose of buying a $50,000 car.

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Orv

Safe place...

I think this is why I've almost never bought a used car and gotten the original keys...just copies of copies that barely work. The previous owner probably put the original in a "safe place" and then forgot where that was. ;)

The one exception was, oddly, a 40-year-old Saab 95, which still had the original key. Unfortunately it didn't have most of the original LOCKS. ;)

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Bitcoin exchange shuts after heist

Orv
Coat

Re: Bitcoin

It's the new fiat currency for techno-libertarians who profess to not trust fiat currencies.

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Orv
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Re: Good way to shut down an "underground unregulated" currency

The underground nature of it is rather overstated. Very few places accept bitcoins directly, and the moment you convert it to some other currency, you're in a regulated market.

To me it seems like it's an "underground currency" in about the same way Beanie Babies were in the 90s. Something that briefly had a significant value because people thought they could buy in cheap and then profit as the market went up.

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Orv

Inflation isn't likely to be an issue

...at least not for the reason you state.

The algorithm is designed so each new coin takes more and more processing power to create, so the rate of inflation should be controlled to a fairly low level. (This means the people who got in on the ground floor, when the coins were "cheap" to create, made out handsomely. Rather clever, really; the person who designed it designed it to give himself and his friends an automatic head start in wealth. Not *quite* a pyramid scheme, but it sorta looks like one if you squint just right.)

That doesn't mean it can't collapse relative to other currencies, of course, as it appears to have done.

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Bomb sniffing “electric nose” turns cancer detector

Orv
FAIL

Mesothelioma? Seems like an odd application

What's the point of early diagnosis for an incurable disease? At best, it lets you agonize for longer about the fact you're going to die young. Not to mention making you uninsurable.

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US sets up underground dark matter detector

Orv

Re: not to be a dick

Of course, that's useful information in itself, just doesn't make for headlines that are as interesting.

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Door creaks and girl farts: computing in the real world

Orv
FAIL

You actually got IR to work?

IRDA sounded like such a good idea. I never, in practice, got it to work reliably. I could occasionally get my laptop to sync to my Palm via IRDA, but most of the time it would fail halfway through and I'd end up digging out the cable. Another fun experience was having someone walk between your IR-enabled laptop and your IR-enabled printer, resulting in the printing of gibberish.

Where I work we still have some electronic door locks that are programmed via IR from a PocketPC, and I get that to work about one try out of three. Any slight misalignment and it gives up, locking the PocketPC and forcing a hard reset.

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Americans stand against UN internet-tax plan

Orv

Re: Swings and Roundabouts

Your post is mostly true, except that health care for the unemployed is now nearly impossible to get. Most states have eliminated those programs due to lack of funding, or instituted quotas that require long waiting lists for coverage. Standards for receiving disability benefits have also been tightened. It's true that if you're a child, or a senior with no assets, you can still usually get care, though.

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Orv

Re: Indoctrinated

No hospital is allowed to discharge patients - no matter their financial condition - if doing so would endanger their life...

While that's true for emergency care, it doesn't do much for people with life-threatening chronic conditions. A friend of mine who has insulin-dependent diabetes and some mental health issues is facing losing his medical disability benefits, and I honestly don't know what he's going to do. Even if he somehow scrapes together the money for the insulin, the last time he was off his psych meds he tried to kill himself twice.

Ironically, what disqualified him for disability was finding a full-time job, which he worked for three months before illness forced him to quit again (He has some other long-term medical problems that cause him extreme fatigue due to lack of vitamin absorbtion...which could be helped by injections, which he can't afford.)

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US officials confirm Stuxnet was a joint US-Israeli op

Orv

IMAP + multiple machines = headache

Unlikely. Industrial control systems are highly implementation-specific, even if they're running the same hardware.

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How to simulate a light armoured vehicle

Orv

Maintenance, maybe.

I suspect these are high-maintenance vehicles. When I visited a Marine base I got the impression that maintaining the vehicles used for training there was a full-time job for a significant number of people; military gear like this is often built with the assumption that it won't travel a huge number of miles in its lifetime before being either destroyed by enemy action or written off in a mishap on rugged terrain, so being used day in and day out for training tends to consume spares rapidly.

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US, Euro e-car makers back 'standard' AC/DC jack

Orv

Re: I was hoping

While DC arcs aren't self-extinguishing, they will extinguish when the power is cut off. ;) I'm guessing an interlock will cut off the high voltage power the instant the handshake pin disconnects -- and if they follow good connector design guidelines, the DC pins will be longer and make first/break last. As a backup I would expect either a high-voltage DC breaker or a fast-acting silver-sand fuse.

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Orv
Boffin

Re: Back of the envelope

Most electric cars have a small radiator to dissipate heat from the electronics and in some cases the battery pack. I know on the Tesla the radiator fans will cycle on as needed during charging to keep the electronics cool; I'm sure other electric cars are similar.

10 kW is about the equivalent of the waste heat from a 20 shaft horsepower engine. It doesn't take much to dissipate that. It's easy to lose sight of just how massive the heat dissipation from a traditional car needs to be.

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Wind farms create local warming

Orv

It's cooled via radiation

On clear nights the ground loses heat to space via infrared radiation, actually becoming colder than the air temperature. This is why a car parked in the open will get frost on the windshield and one parked under a roof won't -- the roof blocks the car from radiating heat to space. The cold ground then cools the lowest layer of air, which is what causes inversion layers at night.

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DARPA boffins seek Terminator-style disaster-zone rescue robot

Orv
Pint

Re: They are going about this the wrong way

Keep in mind that DARPA sponsoring something is generally a sure sign that it will never actually work. But hey, if you get funded you can play with some nice toys at government expense. ;)

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Judge: Checking Facebook at work is not a crime

Orv

I'm glad this case was decided the way it was, because I feel rules like this that criminalize things everyone does are often used selectively against people who displease those in higher positions.

Government policies about technology use can be strange, because they often don't keep pace with changes in the technologies people use. For example, if you're a public employee in the state of Washington, "de minimus" use of your office phone for personal matters is okay. However, *any* personal use of your office Internet connection is illegal.

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Cable-cutting rogue engineer caused ultra fast broadband havoc

Orv
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They have bigger fish to fry

You have to understand Singapore's, uhm, interesting priorities.

Cutting 600 fiber optic cables = 15 months in jail.

Having sex with someone of the same gender = life in jail

Possessing 1/2 kilo of marijuana = death penalty

So clearly they didn't catch him because they were too busy with the real criminals.

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Google cools data center with bathtubs, dishwashers

Orv

Re: How are they getting a separate stream?

Stormwater runoff is kept separate in newer systems, but is combined in some older ones. (The reason it's kept separate now is the sudden influx of water during a heavy storm can exceed the plant capacity and cause a sewage overflow, which is generally frowned on these days.)

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Orv

How are they getting a separate stream?

I'm curious how they're getting greywater as a separate stream from sewage; in every US city I've been familiar with, they all arrive at the treatment plant in the same pipe.

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Windows 8: Thrown into a multi-tasking mosh pit

Orv
FAIL

Lack of context

One of the big problems I perceive with Metro is, for an OS meant to help new users, it has a serious lack of context clues to tell you what's clickable. The standard of shading buttons to look raised didn't come about because it looks pretty -- it came about because it clues you in that this is a clickable button. Metro's flat squares, un-windowed text, and magic screen regions you have to put the mouse into provide few hints to the user about how to proceed. It's not very discoverable. I never would have figured out how to navigate Win8 if someone hadn't told me to put the mouse in the upper right corner, or how to log into the stupid thing if someone didn't tell me to click and swipe upward.

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Foxconn pay hikes 'driving tech titans into Philippines'

Orv
Coat

Re: Predictable!

Yeah, we're all in a race to the bottom now. Or rather, a race to a midpoint that's a lot lower than the standard of living we're used to enjoying. The middle class was nice while it lasted.

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Pacific nation prepares to flee rising seas

Orv

Re: What's all this then?

I suggest you fly there immediately and tell them the tides that they're seeing reach their villages are actually a hoax created by the international scientific community.

Either that, or put your money where your mouth is -- buy up the land that's about to become cheaply available, and if you're right you can turn it into a private resort and make a bundle when it *doesn't* slip below the sea. ;)

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