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Comment: Re:Nonsense (Score 4, Insightful) 286

by Ash Vince (#46778435) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: System Administrator Vs Change Advisory Board

The crown was an insane rule that every new hyperlink had to be aproved not just by a department head but by the vice chancellor himself.

At that point you should have just emailed everyone on the committee, and copied in the vice-chancellor with some stats on exactly how many approvals this would generate on a daily basis. Include the actual statistics for the previous 7 days so if this was generating 50 pages per day you had some clear number to back this up while still in the planning stage. That was clearly why you were put on the committee, to stop a bunch of know nothings from coming up with a stupid policy, you failed.

The way to succeed as a techie is not about being technically brilliant any more, it is about how you can talk people round to your way of thinking and use evidence to back up your points of view.

Comment: Re:Nonsense (Score 5, Insightful) 286

by Ash Vince (#46778309) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: System Administrator Vs Change Advisory Board

They want bureaucracy, they make the paperwork. Tell them to track windows and distro security pages, the changes are there.

Yep. They're the "experts". Just tell them the Microsoft KB number, that's all the information they need.

Yup, follow this advice and come across like an unhelpful douchbag.

Or, bend over backwards to help them. Provide them with a break down on every single patch (a few line summary with a link to the KB article for the full details), then give each patch a priority based on its impact and come up with different deployment routes for each one, then explain to your manager who allocates your time why patch management for the CAB board just became a full time job.

Also, if they ever reject any and you end up a dependency hell where you cannot install a critical patch because of a low impact one you rejected (you do test each patch deployment run on a dummy server don't you?) then explain why the process failed, politely, without saying thing like "I told you this was dumb years ago!".

Alternatively, if the system runs for a few months and every single patch sent to the CAB board has been approved then you can clearly demonstrate the do not really add anything and start making rational arguments to abandon the process from a sound basis while demonstrating you are an excellent team player who easily adapts.

But if you would rather come across like a non-team player who hates any interference in your system admin fiefdom then, just go with the douche bag option and watch your job get outsourced in 6 months.

In my experience the world of work is full of crap like this, times when processes that are overly bureaucratic are forced on us techies even though we clearly see them as a waste of our time. Unfortunately this is generally just stuff we have to lap up as part of our job, if you can, you generally end up earning more and with the greater long term job security that working as part of a larger company provides.

An excellent book on this sort of business related stuff is called "Who moved my cheese" and the gist of it is that you want to come across as and "enabler" rather than a "blocker". That often means trying your best to make what is clearly a stupid idea a success.

Comment: Re:Back to One Man, One Vote (Score 1) 803

by Bob9113 (#46767059) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

What we need to do is simple: We need to define, in simple print, that corporate fictions are not in fact citizens, and as such, do not have political freedoms or civil rights as such.

It's good, and I think you are right that (by hook or by crook) it must happen or decline is inevitable. I think, though, that we must also define that compulsory speech is not free speech. That free speech is the freedom to express yourself, not the right to pay others on the condition that they express your views -- ie: advertising is not free speech.

Comment: Re:Overseas comment (Score 1) 385

by DeathToBill (#46766215) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

Well, as I said, you can do that calculation, and if they haven't got it right you can file a tax return. If you held two jobs in a year then you might well want to do that.

We have another good taxation innovation in the UK: donations to charities are tax exempt, but the money (usually) goes to the charity, not to the taxpayer. So if you've given £1000 to charity, the exchequer will give the charity another £250, so long as you sign a simple statement to go with the donation saying you're a taxpayer and have/will pay at least that much tax in the current year.

Comment: Re:Revolt? (Score 1) 803

by Ash Vince (#46766061) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy


The other truth is... the American Revolution wasn't started by a bunch of serfs, it was started by rich land owners who didn't like their deal...

That is the truth about almost any revolution there ever was. In reality any uprising of the masses that did not get organized by some silly or evil group from the top, failed.

It is worth reading some of the sections of Goldstein's book in George Orwell's 1984 regarding this.

He suggests that all revolutions are actually started and driven by the middle classes so it is them who you really need to watch as they who possess the skills like leadership needed to stir the proletariat into action. Thus generally the result of most revolutions is that the old ruling class is destroyed and the middle class replace them, the proletariat however generally stay in the same position apart from a few who are elevated to form the new middle class along with some members of the previous ruling class who didn't put up too much of a fight and went quietly.

Comment: Re:Are you kidding (Score 3, Insightful) 803

by Ash Vince (#46765911) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

I'm from Europe. I know what it is like if you actually DO have parties with diverging world views. There are countries where you actually have everything from far left to far right to choose from.

And if you look at certain parts of Europe (ie, anywhere not the UK) you have proportional representation where people with politically diverse views actually have to work together to get stuff done. The problem is that makes for a "weak" government because it tends to be more responsive to the public who elected them. Can't have that :)

Comment: Overseas comment (Score 4, Interesting) 385

by DeathToBill (#46756705) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

I like the UK system - if you're an employee and you're happy with the tax your employer has withheld on your behalf, you don't have to do anything. You get a statement at the end of the year telling you how much you've been paid and how much tax has been withheld - if you think they've got it wrong, or you want to claim deductions, you file a tax return saying so.

Comment: Re:Gatling guns? (Score 1) 157

by Ash Vince (#46755563) Attached to: Will This Flying Car Get Crowdfunded?

"A failing road car stops on the road. Not always ideal, but generally a controllable event"

Far from ideal, quite often fatal. A failing car on a crowded interstate can result in an accident involving many vehicles with lots of casualties, and this happens shockingly often.

"A failing flying car drops out of the sky."

Unlikely. You have redundant systems, if your main control system fails the backup kicks in, you have 8 engines and still have limited flight abilities even if over half of them fail simultaneously, and even if absolutely everything else fails there is a parachute big enough to bring the entire car down relatively gently.

"Therefore it has to be orders of magnitude more reliable than your typical car."

Yes, that part is correct.

What happens when some terrorist scumbag deliberately crashes it into a heavily populated are laden with gasoline and soap (napalm). Or they go for a very tall building but fill the vehicle with high explosive instead.

Flying cars open up a whole new avenue of terrorist targets as they are far more manoeuvrable then a light aircraft. If they became ubiquitous they also have the problem that it would become commonplace for people to get lost and accidentally fly into restricted airspace so you could not just shoot down anyone that did on sight.

The reality is that flying cars are not ever likely to happen in our lifetimes because it is in governments interest to keep most of us on the ground and only let a small minority fly around. It used to be that costs of manufacture prohibited flying cars but if this price ever comes down then government will just come up with some insane airworthiness test or similar that costs billions to put a vehicle through. Or just keep the pilots licence requirement, not matter how simple that a flying car could actually be made.

I believe the term is "artificial scarcity"

Comment: Hmmm (Score 1) 307

If you really want to use this method to calculate pi, here's how to actually go about it. What you need is a hundred yards or so of string, four stakes, a stick and something that's a reasonable approximation to a right-angle (perhaps a piece of a cardboard box salvaged from the apocalypse). If you're really stuck for a right angle you can construct one with three stakes and a piece of string by putting two stakes in the ground and using the string to mark a straight line between them, then tying one end of the string to one of the stakes and tying the third stake to the string, so that length of string between them is a bit over half the distance between the stakes in the ground. Mark out a circle using this. Then mark out a second circle with the other stake in the ground as the centre. These two circles will intersect at two places - use the string to mark a straight line between them. The two straight lines you have marked will be at right angles.

Now put two stakes in the ground, about 20 yards apart. Stretch string between them. Put your right-angled thing with one side against the string and the right-angle corner at one of the stakes. Measure another piece of string to be the same length as the piece stretched between the two stakes. Tie it to a third stake and stretch it out so that it runs along the other side of the right-angled thing. You've now marked out two sides of a square with string. Repeat to form the other two sides.

Take your stick and break it down to about a foot long. Use it to mark out on the ground equally-spaced marks along each side of the square. Get two people to hold each end of a fifth piece of string across the square so that you can mark straight lines on the ground, dividing the square into a grid.

Cut your fifth piece of string to be the same length as one side of the square. Tie one end to one of the stakes. Now use the other end to mark out an arc from one corner of the square to the opposite corner.

Count the number of squares that are inside the arc and the total number of squares. Take the ratio of these two numbers and multiply it by 4. Here is your approximation to pi.

This method has many advantages over the one proposed: With the dimensions given above, it gives a considerably better answer, correct to four significant figures (3.141). It is easy to scale for better accuracy - make the square 100 yards and the stick four inches and you get six correct digits (3.141590123). You don't need to correct for uneven shot pattern. And, crucially I'd say in an apocalypse, you don't need a shotgun or ammunition and, if you do happen to have them, you can use them for useful things like fending off the zombies or hunting.

Comment: Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (Score 4, Insightful) 119

Well, I see you haven't established that the Koch brothers are actually right wing.

All the Koch brothers care about is making themselves richer and paying less in tax. They mostly donate case to conservative campaigns and think tanks, that counts as right wing in my book.

Also note this bit:

"Charles also organizes twice yearly meetings[20] with Republican donors.[16]"

I would have linked directly the the references above but they are pay walled.

I could not give a crap about the Gmail example, but the fact is that "libertarianism" in the US is just a front, funded by the likes of the Koch brothers (and others) and designed to facilitate a tax regime friendly to the richest 1% of the population. If that does not count as right wing I do not know what does.

Comment: Re:Might look like less of a (Score 2) 477

by DeathToBill (#46713887) Attached to: New French Law Prohibits After-Hours Work Emails

Well colour me puzzled. Surely the expression "whatever the French call la dolce vita" demonstrates that, whatever the French do call it, they don't call it la dolce vita? So he knows it's not a French expression, he just doesn't know what the equivalent expression in French is.

Well done for supplying the French equivalent.

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all alike.