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Comment: Re:They always told me I was so smart... (Score 1) 243

by Cytotoxic (#47741625) Attached to: It's Dumb To Tell Kids They're Smart

Or even different skills. Not every great system administrator is a great manager. I gave my best SysAdmin a shot at being the Director of IT infrastructure. He not only failed, he was miserable. So we put him back in his old job and moved up a young lady who had less training and experience, but more ambition. She worked out wonderfully.

Not every great player can be a coach (look at how it worked out for Magic Johnson). And not every great coach was a great player (Dean Smith, Mike Kryzewski)

Comment: Re:They messed with me once too... apk (Score 1) 180

by Cytotoxic (#47741493) Attached to: BBC and FACT Shut Down Doctor Who Fansite

in the run-up to the new season they ran a show that specifically touted the input from fans, including fan-produced content like episodes and trailers. The new season's opening sequence was created by a fan that they discovered from a demo opening sequence he posted on the internet. Seems they are at least a bit schizophrenic about such things.

Comment: Re:Ob XKCD... (Score 1) 358

by Cytotoxic (#47739967) Attached to: "MythBusters" Drops Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci

Interesting that he chose dentistry. Over at Science Based Medicine I learned about the new Science Based Dentistry group. They are a few years behind the medical field, but this group is trying to push for more scientific rigor in the field of dentistry. In the podcast that introduced me to the Science Based Dentistry folks they actually mentioned the fact that most of the "best practices" of dentistry have not been rigorously studied. They pointed out a recent study that demonstrated that flossing doesn't actually help prevent gum disease and didn't really provide any benefit to dental health. Completely against the "conventional wisdom" - and to be honest pretty much completely against common sense. Apparently this was the largest and most rigorous study on the topic ever performed. Since it isn't my field of interest, I didn't follow up, but I still found it very instructive that something as "scientific" as dentistry is so weak on clinical studies.

Medicine has its own problems in that regard. Most primary care level doctoring seems to be experience based and informed by science, more than purely scientific. Sadly, I ran into the result of this just this week. My pediatrician recommended what she termed an "herbal remedy" that they had samples of in the office. She wasn't sure if it worked, but she offered a free sample. I told her I suspected woo, but took it anyway. Once I got the box in hand I could see that not only was it based on completely made-up herbal history - it was a 5C homeopathic preparation of the herbs in question. Pure, unadulterated snake oil. Really a sad state of affairs.

Comment: Re:begs FFS (Score 1) 186

by Cytotoxic (#47669535) Attached to: Entire South Korean Space Programme Shuts Down As Sole Astronaut Quits

The only inevitability is that the term "begs the question" is now and will remain ambiguous.

The phrase should be abandoned, IMO. Use "raises the question" for the one, and "assumes the conclusion" for the other, or "beggars the question" if your audience has half a clue.

Or "buggars the question" if it is a politician.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 2) 393

by Cytotoxic (#47668359) Attached to: 3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

That is all just ballocks. The number people care about when they buy a blanket is "how much money do I hand to the shopkeep." Yes, sales tax are "collected on behalf of the government". This is a distinction without a difference. If I collect 10 bucks for a blanket and send 80 cents to the local government it doesn't matter what you label it. If my cost of goods sold is $8 and 0.80 goes to local taxes that leaves a buck twenty for me. Of which the state and federal government take another bite - 13% for FICA, 8% for medicare, 30% for income tax - call it 0.60 just for the sake of argument. That leaves me with 60 cents in my pocket.

So you can whack it up anyway you like, put any labels on it you like, but the final result is that the government takes away twice as much from that sale as I do.

Most small businesses don't have special set-asides in the tax code that allow them to offset income with special incentives stuck in the code by their favorite congressmen. They don't pay taxes on gross revenue any more than you do. You have a line called "adjusted gross income" on your tax return. You get special interest set-asides for things like owning a home, having kids or being a refugee immigrant farmer who is an elementary school teacher. Big corporations get similar set-asides designed just for them, particularly if they are in insurance, banking, energy, farming or the automotive sector. Exxon pays the full tax rate based on their adjusted income, just like you do. The "unfair" part isn't what the final number is, it is in all of the special tax incentives that are put in place just for Exxon and their cohort.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 393

by Cytotoxic (#47662561) Attached to: 3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

They money is redistributed, not eliminated. The people as a whole have the same amount of money regardless of whether taxes go up or down.

This is why the wealthiest counties in America are all clustered around Washington DC.

Here's the top of the list:

Falls Church City, Va.
Loudoun County, Va.
Los Alamos County, N.M.
Howard County, Md.
Fairfax County, Va.
Hunterdon County, N.J.
Arlington County, Va.

None of these DC counties were on the list in the 90's when government spending was out of control at nearly a trillion dollars. At 3 trillion, look at where all of the wealth is concentrated.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 393

by Cytotoxic (#47662499) Attached to: 3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

All of that also assumes that there is no corruption, no good ol' boy's network, no cronyism. The bigger the pile of money there is to redistribute, the greater the incentives to corruption - which of course leads to more inefficient use of resources.

This is why the nutty people on the extreme left (those anti-corporation, anti-corporate-control nutballs) and the crazy extremists on the right (those anti-government, cold-dead-hand-gun-totin' crazies) have common cause in creating the smallest government possible. A government with little power and little wealth to spread around is not attractive to corporate lobbyists.

Of course, without all that lobbyist support they have a snowball's chance in hell of electing any of their candidates.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 393

by Cytotoxic (#47661947) Attached to: 3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

I don't think libertarian means what you think it means. You seem to have replaced the "neocon" boogeyman word from the 90's with "libertarian". They are not the same thing. In fact, they are in many ways diametrically opposed.

Libertarians are those wackos who are so far to the left that they fall of the map. Or so far to the right. It's hard to tell. They have this nutty notion that if they want to smoke dope in their gay polyamorous collective while shooting guns and drinking unpasturized milk during their worship of the sun-god - well, they should be left alone to their own devices. Kind of a "if you aren't free to make stupid choices, then you have no freedom" sort of ideal.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 393

by Cytotoxic (#47661913) Attached to: 3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

When I had a small business a while back the numbers were pretty sobering. Between sales tax collected, property taxes, income taxes, FICA, etc. the government took over twice as much away from my business as I received. In a highly competitive, low margin business the government often takes a larger percentage than the principals.

Factor in the accounting and other recordkeeping required for compliance with tax and other regulatory laws taking over a third of my time and it just wasn't worth it. Absent all of the layers of government I had a nice little business. But after a couple of years it became apparent that you have to be above a certain size to make a go of it. Anything less and the resources devoted to compliance and taxes are just too great to make it worth the effort.

So I gave up and joined someone else's startup that had more growth potential. We managed to break through the small business trap and grow to a midsized company. Even so, we were often right at the cusp of going under. Several times we were forced to make bad deals just to get the cash flow to make payroll. And you don't think that an extra few million bucks a year would have made a difference on how many people we could hire?

Any added expense makes it more difficult to hire more people. Very few businesses are flush with cash like Microsoft and Apple.

Comment: Re:Major application vendor headaches... (Score 2) 209

That was always my opinion. Unless you happen to run a business that has been completely solved in the enterprise software world - something like a mortgage broker or a restaurant - I would rather roll my own. I met a group who started a mortgage company and their entire business plan centered around using things off the shelf as they were intended to be used - designing their business processes around the available tools rather than trying to customize them to an existing business plan. Their IT shop was amazingly cheap - because they didn't customize anything. They even used off-the-shelf reports.

My business was such a niche market that nothing off-the-shelf would work for us without major customization. So we designed our own systems from the ground up around the business processes we needed automating. We ended up building a dozen CRM applications from scratch and definitely saved millions for the company on each one.

The nice thing is that everyone recognized how great it was that we saved them millions each year on software licenses while pumping up productivity across the enterprise. And we were all handsomely rewarded. And we all got rainbow ponies.....

Comment: Re:No matter how common you think it is... (Score 1) 209

Excellent point.

People are smart. Even the low-level clerical worker who dropped out of high school - smart enough to work around any obstacle their systems present. They are also likely to be ignorant of the consequences of their work-around. I have had such people do things like put DECEASED 1/2/2007 into the "last name" field so that the date of death would show up on the sticker that got printed out to put on a folder. That way they could file it appropriately. Never mind that things like privacy mailers were going out to families of the deceased with "Joe Smith DECEASED 1/2/2007" on the address. Nice.

This is the conundrum of moving to a professional IT shop with full software development life cycle controls. Things that a small shop could get done the same afternoon take months to accomplish in a big operation, and may never make it onto the priority list. So people quit asking and just start making their own solution. The fact that it causes other problems all over the enterprise might not be discovered for years - because the people affected might not even know that it exists.

The only answer to this problem is even more resources for IT - particularly to ferret out the small problems that people are having and provide immediate solutions. Something that is not likely to happen.

Comment: Re:Hire More Devs (Score 3, Informative) 209

This is good advice. In-house expertise is always preferable when possible.

I would not call the ERP a single point of failure though. It means having one version of the truth. If you have one place where the data is kept (and only one place), then the data will be correct - or as correct as the people using it need it to be. If you have it in multiple places, then none of them will be correct. Especially if spreadsheets are among the places where the data is kept and manipulated.

I would recommend using the ERP database as the master repository for every business application, even if you are using other custom apps to curate the data. That way you can maintain the business rules at the Oracle DB level and ensure data integrity.

The macro-laden Access databases and spreadsheets are fine for laymen to prototype their business models - but you have to hand it over to real developers to build enterprise class applications using the Oracle DB when it is time to go to production.

You can sell all of that to the accountants by including a push toward automation of the GL by using the ERP as a subledger. You can save tons of money on accountants and auditors by having every action in the company reliably captured in a database and automatically rolled into the accounting systems. Also, the board reports suddenly become reliable and easy to produce if you have a single version of reality. Bringing all of these little apps up to spec is a no-brainer. Sure, some of the managers who like having local control over their macros will complain about being hamstrung by IT, but it has to be done.

Comment: Re:Another another delay? (Score 3, Insightful) 43

by Cytotoxic (#47296017) Attached to: SpaceX Delays Falcon 9 Launch To Tuesday

Shuttle launch delays were the worst.... because shuttle launches are the only one's I have travelled to the cape to see. On at least half of our trips we went home disappointed.

SpaceX will get the chance to disappoint us when they launch the Falcon 9 Heavy. Or when they start landing the first stage back at Canaveral. Either of those will be worth the trip to see. Of course, worst case is that you spend the day splashing around in the bay along the causeway and meeting other dorks who think it is normal to sit around on a causeway all day waiting to watch a launch. A pretty good day even without the launch.

Comment: Re:Email recipients (Score 1) 465

by Cytotoxic (#47265593) Attached to: IRS Lost Emails of 6 More Employees Under Investigation

The IRS has already used this tactic to obtain internal emails. This is why the controversy is over the loss of external emails, which cannot be recovered by IRS IT personnel. Of course, it is the external emails that are the most damaging to political interests.

And you also need to know who they sent email to in order to check their local machine for copies of the email. And if 6 of those recipients just happened to also accidentally have hard drive crashes in the same time period, well, you wouldn't be able to find out what those 7 were talking to each other about. But that's a little far-fetched. I doubt that would ever come up.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.