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Comment: Re:How many employees does Slashdot need? (Score 1) 272

Unions aren't evil but sometimes they go a little overboard. Nobody needs to make $20 an hour to make cupcakes. My ex works in a medical profession that requires a college degree and extensive training. Her uncle worked his whole life as a cashier in a grocery store. He made more an hour than she did and retired in his 50's. He didn't even graduate from high school. All he had to do was say "HI!", smile and pass boxes over a barcode reader.

Comment: Re:Corporate culture (Score 1) 272

Yeah that one is a bit of a mystery. My uber white trash, almost penniless ex in-laws have one and I'm pretty sure its bigger than that. Huge driveway penis. The thing is, they can't afford the fuel for it but that's okay because they can't afford to put new tires on it either. The ones on there are at least ten years old and as any RV owner will tell you, pushing those past 7 years is asking for trouble.

My greatest hope is that they offer to take my ex on a long trip through a winding mountainous bypass with lots and lots of long drop offs on both sides.

Comment: Re:How Many Employees are Required? (Score 1) 272

To be fair, Windows has had an issue that many other OS's haven't really had. It had to maintain compatibility with a ridiculous array of third party apps written in a bazillion languages over a very long time period with a fairly monolithic operating system that was built like topsy on a fairly hard to work with processor architecture that also grew like topsy. While their ability to maintain backwards compatibility has been way less than perfect, unix/linux had a much more technically adept user base and apple had a much smaller collection of applications and third party products to deal with. Microsoft had a lot of baggage in terms of user volume and apps to deal with, and a ridiculously broad array of hardware and oddball drivers.

I never saw a unix/linux release that didn't go something like "Well, I put in the upgrade, recompiled almost everything, edited 57,000 text files filled with arcane settings, half the drivers didn't work for six more months until I got a version 6 revs back, waved some chicken bones over my head and learned swahili". Apples migration from 68k to powerpc to intel came with a very small comparative user base, very limited hardware, and not many apps...but a lot of stuff still broke. I remember putting the first version of OS X on my mac. Nothing worked.

But your point is well made. When you have just the people needed to do the work, you're all like minded, and you don't have a lot of legacy stuff to deal with, you can really crank out some code.

Comment: My experience (Score 5, Interesting) 272

I worked for some time for one of the largest companies in the world during its biggest growth period. We had about 40,000 employees when I joined and about 15 years later we had about 120k. Honestly, we didn't really do anything significantly different production wise at the end that we weren't doing that the beginning, perhaps 10k of those extra 80k employees contributed to an actual increase in delivered products and services.

At the beginning a department was generally a manager who reported to a VP or GM, they had 5-6 managers under them and each manager had 6-12 employees. Those first line managers were responsible for making decisions and accountable for the results. About half the company was in manufacturing or customer support of some kind.

What we had at the end were lots and lots of meetings with lots and lots of people who all wanted a vote. Ownership and accountability were all over the place. Perhaps 3-5 people were all doing the job that one FLM was doing at the beginning. We had a ton of process and paperwork. Lots and lots of middle management. There were now as many as 7-8 layers between a first line manager and a GM or VP. That's another thing. I think we had about 9 or 10 VP's at the start and we had about 50 of them towards the end. We spent millions, even billions on things we really had no core competency on and then abandoned them when the people running them realized the quagmire they were in was about to go over their heads. We got further and further away from profitable products and services.

Then we took a seriously wrong turn innovation-wise (like we didn't do any for a while, just insisted on doing the same stuff we'd always done, the way we'd always done it) and we almost had our lunch eaten by a far less capable competitor. We lost or laid off about 30,000 employees in just a few years. Unfortunately many of them were the talented people who just didn't need to deal with uncertainty or bureaucracy anymore. Miraculously, a small group of employees coughed up a major innovation and we got back into the game and came back gangbusters. The company has such a commanding lead in the market they're in and are so efficient at manufacturing that really nobody else can profit in the segment so they'll maintain inertia for at least another 3-5 years, maybe more.

The company is still doing well, but frankly even at current employee levels you could take another 20-30k of the middle management and redundant "stakeholders" out to the parking lot, tar and feather them and not allow them back into the building ever again and absolutely nothing bad would happen. As long as you held onto the manufacturing, IT, customer service, engineering and about 50 marketing/PR people, things would go at least as well.

We worked with Microsoft a lot and I met regularly with their execs and senior management. They have pretty much the same disease. A long in the tooth cash cow that turns out money like a broken ATM and management that's sure all of that is due to their guidance and genius. Extreme narcissism and an ivory tower that goes to the moon. Most of the key decision makers and innovators are probably mired down in 7.5 hours of meetings a day and spend the other hour and a half doing e-mail and writing progress reports. Once they wander too far away from the cash cow, they burn through money and get nowhere. They absolutely fit the saying "when you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail". Its all about "how do we stuff Windows into it, and lets just try to do the same things that others already squeezed the profit out of, whether there is a real strategy there or if it even fits into anything we have any competence in".

So I'd say that with their current reasonable and profitable product set, they probably need around 65k-70k employees. I don't think at this point that they really have any valid position in the hardware business. The mobile market blew past them 3+ years ago. They might make 4th or 5th in the ecosystem business if they tried hard. They could easily be pushed right out of business in under 5 years.

Comment: Good luck (Score 1) 278

I have about 25 accounts on sites that have things like payment information. About 25% of them have odd password restrictions to the extent where I have no choice but to write them down. Some require a special symbol, some won't allow that, and one requires a 12 character password and nothing else I use will allow that many.

So while I do use the same password for all sites that haven't got any monetary or important personal information (and I've used the same one for 30 years), I have to have 5 other passwords. Since most of the sites also require a unique username and not an email or other username that I could re-use, I also have about 40 user names. So again, have to write it all down.

At some point, I'd like to see the security level of a piece of paper with usernames and passwords written down all over the front and back sitting in a drawer next to the computer vs just being able to use the same username/password on every system without ever changing it. I actually get ticked off when I'm asked for a password without any listed qualifiers, and its only after I put one in that the site tells me what they will and won't allow. And its *MY* password. I'd like to pick whatever the hell I want, how long I want, whether I want upper/lower/numbers/special characters in it, etc.

The greatest concern I have is that the company holding the password will lose it. I've had my account info hacked/lost about 100 times over the years. Number of times someone has gotten into an account I own without the password being simply lost by the holder? Zero over 35+ years.

Comment: Re:It's time (Score 1) 66

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#47389443) Attached to: Does Google Have Too Much Influence Over K-12 CS Education?

That's one way to possibly solve the problem. If you've got a long time to work with and aren't concerned with what happens to the kids currently in the programs. It'd turn out badly in areas of low affluence. When California tried reducing class sizes without thinking about making more qualified teachers, as jobs opened at the schools in affluent areas, the good teachers ran to them and the schools in poor areas had to hire crap teachers just to fill the jobs. Quality of education plummeted right in lock step with how wealthy the neighborhoods were.

The other way would be to do what the top education graded countries do. All education free from kindergarten to college. Longer school days but about 50% of it extracurricular and fun. Highly trained and certified teachers. Low student to teacher ratios. Minimal standardized testing since the teachers are trusted to handle education issues in the class room and the low ratios and rigorous teacher certification actually allow that to happen. We happen to be doing the exact opposite.

I have a son in public elementary school and have dealt with the issues. The principal is a bureaucrat and low grade politician, but she isn't very good at it. She'd last about a month as a first line manager in a fortune 500 company. The superintendent is a pure politician. Neither has an education bone in their body. The teachers are all unionized, and right now they're forcing out one of the best teachers in the school because they keep expanding class sizes (past 30 to one teacher) and she's got the least tenure. Half the teachers suck so badly I'm surprised the kids learn anything. Some are decent, but badly undertrained or inexperienced and the huge class load burns them out.

There's a big push to use technology as a teaching replacement. Only problem is that many of the younger kids have no computer experience. What's worse is I live in an extremely affluent area, yet mommy doesn't want little Jimmy playing with her computer and many of them won't cough up the $200 for a dedicated machine for the kid.

This is the top end experience for public schools, due to the affluence in my area. Schools in run down areas are horrific by comparison. Private schools aren't much of a panacea. There is very little to go on when trying to figure out which private schools are good and which aren't. Many of the better private schools are religion based and after my experience with private Catholic schools, I'll just say no thank you. A lot of the private schools are really no better than the public schools and if you complain, they'll show you the door and keep your tuition. Plenty more people in line waiting to pay.

We know how to do it. There are dozens of countries that spend a fraction of what we spend and they don't depend on competition. Our universities and major companies are full of their graduates. We'll just keep doing the same wrong things over and over again (and moreso!) and hope to magically end up with a different result.

Comment: Horrible (Score 1) 66

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#47389377) Attached to: Does Google Have Too Much Influence Over K-12 CS Education?

I totally hate it when billion dollar companies dump money into education. I spend so much time turning the whole thing over in my head looking for the downside that its too much of a time waster.

But the tone of the article is correct. Instead of corporations investing and looking for ways to innovate, we should keep having substandard teachers, throw billions into testing because we don't know if the teachers are any good, and somewhere along the line we'll magically have good education by doing the exact opposite of what successful education programs around the world are doing.

Comment: It doesn't matter (Score 1) 282

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#47389357) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Often Should You Change Jobs?

I'm retired now, but I tended to change jobs every ~2 years. Companies get stuck on this "we can only give you a single digit % raise" thing. The competition didn't feel bad about shelling out a 30-40% raise after getting their butts handed to them a few times. Had I stayed with one company for 4-5 years, I'd have fallen behind badly in salary.

Not to mention a great company this year may easily get plowed under or become irrelevant in 5 years.

Once when I'd changed jobs about 5 times in 6 years, a hiring manager said "Gee, you tend to jump around a lot". When I explained the salary bumps I got for each of those changes and the radically different stuff I got to do at each company, he didn't seem to be that bothered by it.

Comment: Dead company walking (Score 1) 67

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#47293883) Attached to: BlackBerry Back In Profit

Selling phones below cost and major cost cutting doesn't turn into a positive long term trend. It just gets the CEO paid well for a while, nice golden parachute and lines them up for a job with a company that actually has a chance of surviving.

I like blackberry. Good solid hardware. The OS is far better than ios or android, at least until recently. The security is excellent.

But they rested on their laurels too long and everything they're doing now is too little, too late. I'm sure that certain verticals will keep using their stuff for a while, but the world has moved on.

Comment: Seen it (Score 1) 370

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#47293847) Attached to: Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry

Actually my old company had a group of former employees who'd been given the boot form an organization to fight the company's obvious age discrimination. They used a two prong approach. One was that 1/3 of your annual review process gauged you for 'new skill development', when many older employees are employing a broad range of skills but not necessarily developing new ones. On the other hand, 20-somethings have to develop new skills because they don't have many. The second prong was to move the 'underperforming' employees who weren't developing new skills as fast as they're younger counterparts into a 'redeployment' group where they could either choose to voluntarily resign with a payout or hang around and wait for a job offer from another department. Nobody wanted to take the older guys because it was a major fight to get them through the annual review process.

When I retired, a new manager took over the group and with HR's advice, put the two oldest guys in my department straight into redeployment, both guys in their 50's. Pretty invaluable employees too. I'd have a room full of young alpha male type A's sitting around arguing over who had the biggest one and it'd go in circles for hours. If I sent one of those older guys into the process, they'd settle it down, shoot down the bad ideas with their experience, get a plan formed and point the testosterone in the right direction to get something done. They were also better at fully forming plans, managing and monitoring progress, writing documentation, and handling senior management issues/politics.

At another job with a major company, I helped out a neighbor by putting his resume in with HR. The HR person told me to have him remove his photo from the resume, because he was clearly over 50 and many hiring managers would just toss it if they saw the picture and never interview him. A fine line between it being okay to not even process someone due to their age but once you interview them, you cross over into the discrimination area.

I had a long career with a dozen companies, mostly large and well known, and the mantra all along was that if you hadn't gotten yourself into a people/project/program management job by the time you were in your late 40's, you were screwed.

Comment: Besides reducing content providers to middleware (Score 1) 130

Its also that you simply cannot get any two people/organizations to accept 'not invented here'. We can't even agree on how to fasten a windshield wiper to an arm or what pieces of plumbing should be used to screw something into a water pipe with.

Tivo actually eliminated my need for other remotes most of the time because it made the satellite box/cable box a slave to it. I liked that, because I was able to switch from directv to dish to comcast and get their new customer deals, plug in the box and my shows still recorded. The remote worked the tv well enough. Only problem I had was when I wanted to watch a dvd. Of course, after a bit the satellite/cable companies reduced them to using an IR blaster and then refused to fix little glitches that messed up show recording when an IR action failed.

If my google tv with the built in blu-ray player was still being updated and had apps for hulu and an amazon app that wasn't just a web browser, and if all the flash streaming sites hadn't excluded it from playing their content, that also was a pretty close universal/one remote product that even solved playing physical disks. In one remote I could control the cable/sat aspect, stream netflix, control the tv/audio equipment, and even browse sites.

Nobody will allow their content to be subjugated to middleware. Everyone wants their box to be the primary interface. No two companies will ever agree on the same things. Whatever compromise shows up will be a PITA for customers to deal with.

Comment: There's more than one part to this (Score 2, Insightful) 1116

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#46697955) Attached to: Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

The first part is that there are basically two groups of people: those that feel they should be able to do whatever makes them happy as long as what they're doing doesn't adversely affect others, and those who feel they have the right to tell others what they can and can't do regardless of impact on themselves.

Make whatever convoluted case or slippery slope argument you want, Adam and Steve getting married has zero actual effect on anyone else. So what you have is a CEO basically giving his social opinion that he feels something is wrong that people who work for him feel is okay. My last company allowed employees to wear shorts to work because it was 120 out in the summer. One day someone brought that up in a room with a vice president in it and his comment was "Yeah, you're allowed to do it...but I think its damned unprofessional". Half the people in the room were wearing shorts. Word got around and nobody wore them anymore. So what a senior manager says has a significant effect on workers, right or wrong, rules/laws or not.

Second part is that roughly half the people/customers/programmers/business owners/executives believe one way on this and the other half believe the opposite. You're therefore alienating half the people that work for the company and half the people it works with. Not a good idea from any perspective. Sure, the ones that feel like you do will rally behind you while the other half walk away. Probably okay if you're making chicken sandwiches. Not okay when you're trying to manage a major software company.

Bottom line: keep your social opinions to a personal level and keep them out of a professional environment. You can make all the legal arguments you want. The VP still thinks shorts are unprofessional and chances are if you wear them, you're going to be getting the crap jobs if he notices.

Comment: Translation: (Score 0) 331

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#44470771) Attached to: Why PBS Won't Do Android

"We're apple snobs who want donation money from people who blow money on i-products. Now roll out the usual lame claims about fragmentation and cheap flaky devices, which is totally overblown and irrelevant. Please don't ask how it is that everyone else on earth manages to turn out ios and android versions of anything and everything, and it works just fine for everyone except the people who bought knock off chinatabs and chinaphones, who aren't affected and don't care because half of the rest of the apps they try don't work either".

The sad truth is that the vast majority of android devices run on three versions of android and it hardly rocket surgery to get an app to work on those. Or you can do what many ios developers do and only allow the app to run on the more recent versions of android. I have a number of ~3 year old apple devices that won't run ios past v3 or v4, and lots and lots of apps that require 4 or 5 to operate. Why a recipe app requires ios5 is a mighty fine mystery to me, but there it is.

It is absolutely, positively no harder or more expensive to build an android app that runs only on gingerbread/ics/jellybean and only runs on majority well established devices than it is to write an app to work on ios v3-5. A choice was made, and that choice has absolutely, positively no grounding in technical complexity, market factors or anything else. The choice was "We're only going to spend $xxx, lets write for the audience we'll get the most donations from".

Comment: The truth is (Score 3, Informative) 707

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#44344401) Attached to: The Man Who Convinced Us We Needed Vitamin Supplements

that almost everything you know about nutrition is wrong, often started up by one person or a group of people who failed to prove even loose correlation, yet people take up their suggestions and after a while they become 'common knowledge'.

Most multivitamins contain ingredients that pass through your digestive tract without even being absorbed. What does get absorbed is excessive and the system is unfamiliar with these huge doses of bioavailable vitamins and your system works overtime to eliminate it. Puts a real beating on the kidneys.

To extend the ridiculousness, nobody has ever proved that fat or meat are bad for you, yet people avoid them both and suffer nutritionally. In the 50's, Ancel Keys wrote a paper on his lipid theory where he 'proved' that fat was bad for you by eliminating the data from 17 of 23 countries he studied. The 17 he threw out were large consumers of fats with no problems with heart disease or cancer, such as the Innuit and Masai. He also noted in his study that there was no connection between dietary cholesterol and cholesterol levels in blood, but everyone seems to have skipped that part.

50 years of studies showed that salt was also not at all harmful to the average person, but doctors couldn't shake the idea of salt raising blood pressure temporarily so they gamed a study called Intersalt, where...you guessed it...they deleted around 40% of the data that included people who ate plenty of salt and led perfectly healthy lives. The excuse? "We already know that salt is bad for you, so if people say they ate it and were healthy, then they were lying". Hmm. It should be interesting to note at this point that all these studies do go on what people say they did and didn't eat and did or didn't do. Faulty data in the first place.

No study has ever proven that MSG is bad for you, in fact its approved by each and every equivalent of the FDA worldwide with zero dissenters, and its been eaten by billions of people for a century with no ill health effects. All it does is make healthy food taste better so you're more likely to eat it. In fact, the studies that were run showed more false positives as a placebo effect than actual reactions. Fun part is the whole thing goes back to one doctor who wasn't a nutritional expert writing a letter noting a possible 'chinese food syndrome' that he suggested at random might be MSG related. Its an amino acid derived from boiling kombu seaweed.

Meat is bad? The studies that say so point out that most of the people who eat meat, bacon and so forth also smoke, drink, don't exercise and live a lousy lifestyle. Of course they do, we've been telling people that meat is bad for them for 60 years, so anyone that eats it doesn't care about their health. Yet there is no study whatsoever that ever tested perfectly healthy people with a good lifestyle whose health suffered when they ate meat.

What IS bad for you are most pills, supplements, things in cans, fake 'diet' brownies and cookies, sugar, processed foods, vegetable oils except for olive, processed starches, and high energy/low nutrition foods that make up the bulk of the 'western diet'. Eat meat, quality fats, whole fruits and veg and steer clear of the high profit, easy to produce items made from grains and processed starches.

If that seems hard to believe, recall that we were told for decades that cigarettes were good for us, with doctors recommending particular brands. We were also moved from relatively healthy animal fats/butter to transfats, partially hydrogenated fats and so forth. That recommendation probably killed millions. Eggs are bad/good/bad/good/bad/good. By the way, they're just fine and a great source of B vitamins and protein.

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