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Businesses

What To Do When a Megacorp Wants To Buy You? 412

Posted by Soulskill
from the demand-autonomy-from-marketing dept.
Anonymous Entrepreneur writes "I run a small technology startup company; so small that our offices are still located in a room in my home. We are just some young friends, fresh from college, and we haven't started having regular sales, as 99% of our time is invested in development. A large corporation has just approached us, trying to persuade us to sell our company. The money is fair enough, and the employment conditions would seem excellent, since they would enable us to manage good-sized motivated teams, but we are very emotionally attached to our development and we place great importance to being independent. We founded our company because we didn't want to follow rules. We wanted to be the ones who make the rules instead. Money really doesn't mean much to us as long as we can do whatever we want while excelling at our passions. We feel that by accepting the offer, we couldn't achieve the maximum of our potential, and one of us joked that if we get in contact with the corporate environment and accept their money, we risk becoming lazy. Another member is more pragmatic, saying that accepting some money now is better than waiting for the development to go gold, even though all of us agree that if we finished our thing, we'd earn more than what the corporation has offered us. We would be very interested to know your thoughts and viewpoints, especially if you have ever faced a similar dilemma."
The Almighty Buck

When To Consider Taking Shares In an IT Company? 315

Posted by timothy
from the opportunity-costs-and-the-time-value-of-time dept.
pgpark writes "I've been working as a key resource for a small IT consulting firm in the US. While the job has been interesting and the company's growth quite impressive over the last few years, it's been almost half a dozen years now and being ready for something new, I was ready to quit for consulting. It looks like the CEO would prefer to see me stay, as she is offering me ten percent of shares in the company in exchange for five additional years of my services. So the big question for me now is 'should I stay or should I go now?' Have you guys on Slashdot ever been dealing with such a situation? What points would you consider in order to make your choice?"

Comment: Re:Yes, but (Score 1) 1123

by ArbitraryConstant (#25940951) Attached to: IT Job Without a Degree?

I work for a small contracting company. A degree is definitely seen as an asset, but we've seen enough idiots at university that we recognize it's not everything. A technical college is an asset too, as are certs, but honestly people smart enough to figure things out for themselves are hard enough to find that if we see that we'll hire you either way.

OTOH, plenty of people make it through school without developing an aptitude for problem solving, so that's definitely not enough. It's probably going to have an impact on your starting pay though.

Comment: Re:Embedded Linux does ipv6 too (Score 4, Informative) 241

by ArbitraryConstant (#25934877) Attached to: Linux Foundation Says All Major Distros Are IPv6 Compliant

> What happens if NAT is used all over the place? You could imagine a bunch of
> subnets that use one address to the outside world but have hundreds or
> thousands of machines internally.

It *is* used all over the place. It's even used on an ISP-wide scale (expect that to become more common in the west). NAT delayed IP address exhaustion for a few years, a few years ago. The current rate of IP usage is what's happening *with* widespread use of NAT.

> There's a lot to be said for NAT from a security point of view too. Since you
> need to open up holes manually for incoming services, incoming connections
> for anything else will be blocked which makes it impossible for people to
> exploit most security flaws on the machines behind the router.

You can get all of that from a stateful firewall that blocks inbound connections by default.

> Reading between the lines it seems like IPv6 was a revolutionary solution to
> running out of address space. NAT was an evolutionary one. As usual the
> market has picked the evolutionary solution and more purist types are whining
> about it.

NAT isn't a solution at all, it's a way to delay the inevitable. It has successfully done that, into approximately 2011-2012. What it doesn't do is change the fundamental problem, it's not possible to use it *enough* to hold off exhaustion indefinitely.

Breaking end-to-end connectivity isn't the primary concern. This has already largely happened with NAT, and will continue to happen to a certain extent with IPv6 because we'll be using stateful firewalls. We can deal with this for most home users.

The problem is that NAT still consumes IPs, and other hosts like servers really do need to be reachable. The market prefers NAT now because exhaustion hasn't happened yet, and as the last few months have demonstrated, the market is remarkably good at ignoring problems for as long as possible.

Purist types *are* whining about it. But pragmatic types like me are also concerned that people like you seem to think NAT is something we can use later as a solution, when we've already been using it for years as a way to buy time.

Comment: Re:ZFS!! (Score 1) 319

by ArbitraryConstant (#25931769) Attached to: On the State of Linux File Systems

> But you did not say why, other than "designing a rich API is hard". It is also
> hard to get the last corruption bug out of a program that is more complex than
> necessary, as a combined LVM+filesystem surely must be. So given two hard
> tasks, only one of which yields a component that can be shared, I favor the
> hard API design task.

It's not just designing the rich API, it would also require porting everything to it and dealing with all the corruption bugs that would no doubt result from such an effort -- *nothing* is in a state where it could use the proposed volume manager efficiently. If you really want to reuse BTRFS as a volume manager for other filesystems, make yourself a filesystem image file on top of BTRFS.

Comment: Re:ZFS!! (Score 1) 319

by ArbitraryConstant (#25931687) Attached to: On the State of Linux File Systems

> I've repeatedly proposed something, only to find that ZFS already implements
> it: Define one layer which is solely responsible for storing your bare
> primitives, like a sequence of data. It is the FS-level equivalent of
> malloc/free.

That sounds like the extent allocation mechanism in BTRFS as well.

> Then, implement everything else on top of that layer. Databases could sit
> directly on the layer -- no reason they need to pretend to create files.
> Filesystems would sit on that layer, implementing structures like directories
> and POSIX file permissions.

I am unconvinced of the utility of this idea: Partly because I don't think the performance impact of going through the POSIX API is that bad when you're going to have to hit the extent allocation either way, partly because I think it's dumb to create another persistent storage abstraction with another set of permissions when we've already got two in widespread use (POSIX, SQL).

If you want the FS-level equivalent of malloc/free, make a directory and start putting files in it. I'm not sure what advantages your idea provides over that method that would be worth the complexity of another API.

Comment: Re:ZFS!! (Score 1) 319

by ArbitraryConstant (#25931529) Attached to: On the State of Linux File Systems

Huh?

The next gen filesystems discussed here (ZFS and BTRFS) are both open source (the latter is also released under the GPL for compatibility with Linux), and both are backed by big companies (Sun and Oracle, respectively). Linux would not be where it was today if it weren't for big companies committing big bucks to developing open source software.

Comment: Re:ZFS!! (Score 4, Interesting) 319

by ArbitraryConstant (#25928233) Attached to: On the State of Linux File Systems

> But hey maybe I'm missing something, why not improve or create a replacement for LVM instead of including volume management in the filesystem?

Maybe. But it would be a lot harder.

Think about LVM snapshots for example. LVM allocates a chunk of the disk for your filesystem, and then a chunk of disk for your snapshot. When something changes in the parent filesystem, the original contents of that block are first copied to the snapshot. But if you've got two snapshots, it has to be copied to two places, and each snapshot needs its own space to store the original data. Because ZFS/BTRFS/etc are unified, they can keep the original data for any number of snapshots by the simple expedient of leaving it alone and writing the new data someplace new.

LVMs can grow/shrink filesystems, but filesystems deal with this somewhat grudgingly. LVM lacks a way to handle dynamic allocation of blocks to filesystems in such a way that they can give them back dynamically when they're not using them. ZFS/BTRFS/etc can do this completely on the fly. LVMs rely on an underlying RAID layer to handle data integrity, but most RAID doesn't do this very well. BTRFS is getting a feature that allows it to handle seeky metadata differently than data (eg, use an SSD as a fast index into slow but large disks).

It is conceivable that an advanced volume manager could be created that does all these things and all the rest (eg checksumming) just as well... but I think the key point is that this isn't something you can do without a *much* richer API for filesystems talking to block devices. They'd need to be able to free up blocks they don't need anymore, and have a way to handle fragmentation when both the filesystem and the volume manager would try to allocate blocks efficiently. They'd need substantially improved RAID implementations, or they'd need to bring the checksumming into the volume manager. I'm not saying it can't be done, but doing it as well as ZFS/BTRFS/etc when you're trying to preserve layering would be very tough. At a minimum you'd need new or substantially updated filesystems and a new volume manager of comparable complexity to ZFS/BTRFS/etc. I understand the preference for a layered approach, but I just don't think it's competitive here.

Comment: Re:You're not so smart yourself (Score 1) 162

by ArbitraryConstant (#25760655) Attached to: US Has More IPv6 Eyeballs Than Asia, Because of Apple

So either you'll keep getting router advertisements on your network indefinitely, or your computers will have to keep requesting for it (instead of eventually giving up- which is what happens now).

Correct. New computers can use router solicitations to get this information immediately, router advertisements can be used once the initial prefix delegation is complete (eg, the public prefix to use is know) and periodically thereafter to prevent autoconfig addresses for expiring.

I'm curious why you seem to regard this as a big deal.

Next question: What url does Joe Public enter on his browser to get to the router config page, so that he can enter the username and password in order to get access to the ISP's network?

I like the mDNS method personally.

Reserved by RFC or not, .local is sufficiently common for mDNS that it's basically unusable for any other purpose.

Comment: Re:Do Macs automatically setup a 6over4 Tunnel? (Score 1) 162

by ArbitraryConstant (#25757231) Attached to: US Has More IPv6 Eyeballs Than Asia, Because of Apple

I got a /48 from Hurricane Electric, I used OpenVPN to become my own tunnel broker. Probably the most useful thing so far for me has been making machines behind NATs accessible without having to get ports forwarded (this is often a pain if the eg someone doesn't remember their router's password).

This could obviously be done with RFC1918 addresses on v4, but it's hard to pick a range there because someone somewhere will end up being incompatible with it.

Comment: Re:You're not so smart yourself (Score 2, Informative) 162

by ArbitraryConstant (#25757145) Attached to: US Has More IPv6 Eyeballs Than Asia, Because of Apple

> Without a NAT, how does a "NoNAT router" know what public IP range to give via DHCP (or other means) to Joe User's WinXP/Mac box, BEFORE it manages to get that public IP range from the ISP?

Before it connects to the ISP you'll be using link-local addresses. The router will then get a prefix from the ISP via DHCP prefix delegation and begin sending router advertisements so internal computers can configure themselves with public addresses (though they retain their link-local addresses).

Comment: Re:How can they tell? (Score 1) 162

by ArbitraryConstant (#25756633) Attached to: US Has More IPv6 Eyeballs Than Asia, Because of Apple

You can get a similar level of security by using a stateful firewall. The main security advantage to NAT is really the property of limiting inbound packets to those that are associated with existing connections, and that's what you get with a stateful firewall. You don't have to have disjoint address spaces to get this feature.

Businesses

3 Firms Confess To Fixing LCD Prices, Agree To Pay $585M Fine 417

Posted by timothy
from the win-friends-and-influence-people dept.
Oldyeller89 writes "LG, Sharp, and Chunghwa Picture Tubes pleaded guilty to charges of price fixing in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. They fixed the prices on LCD screens used not only in their products but also in other products such as Apple's iPods. The three companies agreed to pay $585 million in fines. Perhaps this will cause the price of our TVs to drop?" The New York Times also has a story on the outcome of this case.
Programming

Loebner Talks AI 107

Posted by timothy
from the well-tell-him-ai-back dept.
Mighty Squirrel writes "This is a fascinating interivew with Hugh Loebner, the academic who has arguably done more to promote the development of artifical intelligence than anyone else. He founded the Loebner prize in 1990 to promote the development of artificial intelligence by asking developers to create a machine which passes the Turing Test — meaning it responds in a way indistinguishable from a human. The latest running of the contest is this weekend and this article shows what an interesting and colourful character Loebner is."

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