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Comment: My friend was immune (Score 4, Funny) 247

by EmperorOfCanada (#47757925) Attached to: TechCentral Scams Call Center Scammers
A frustrating friend of mine who periodically calls me for computer help but will argue with any help I offer got nailed by one of these guys. Except that he argued with them the whole time and wouldn't follow their instructions. The only thing that ended up being changed was that he deleted his browser icon from his desktop.

Comment: Assume it isn't secure (Score 3, Insightful) 117

by EmperorOfCanada (#47751291) Attached to: Securing the US Electrical Grid
The worst thing they can do is to secure it and then depend upon the security working. Thus the system should be designed so that if it is hacked every other Monday that it can survive. There have been a number of recent (last 20 years) events that have shown that single points of failure can have devastating effects. So make sure that if terrible things happen that a lesser grid can be maintained manually.

A great example of this would be a local grocery store chain's SAP system failed shortly before Christmas(some years ago). They were so dependant upon it that their ability to order stuff and manage inventory was pretty much non existent. So the store ended up looking like some kind of soviet grocery store where the only goods on the shelves were pretty much those that are managed by the distributors themselves; things like milk.

This grocery store hopefully has learned from this and now has some kind of manual backup plan where a store manager can actually phone in his orders and crudely manage the store's needs in the case of another serious computer outage.

The same with the grid. Ideally they set some sort of minimal functionality emergency plan whereby humans can crudely manage the system as opposed to a system that either works perfectly by computer or doesn't work at all.

But I worry far less about hackers and far more about system design failures and Carrington events.

Comment: I live in a near zero earthquake area (Score 4, Funny) 191

by EmperorOfCanada (#47743355) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Prepared Are You For an Earthquake?
Where I live (Nova Scotia) basically doesn't have earthquakes. So the risk here would be Tsunami from a distant earthquake. Interestingly enough if there were a Tsunami the configuration of the seafloor would cause it to be massive and wipe everything out for 10 or more miles inland.

I am not sure how many bottles of water I would need for that scenario.

Comment: Never heard of it (Score 1) 129

I guess this is why this fine academic institution has never crossed my radar. I have never heard it mentioned in any publication, any citation, any contest win. I am not saying that they don't publish squat but that nothing they have published managed to catch my attention. And when I read something in Nature, etc I will check to see which institution the various authors are from to mentally compile a list of intellectually active institutions.

So as far as I can tell this place is the intellectual opposite of say, MIT.

Comment: Focus (Score 1) 609

by EmperorOfCanada (#47725943) Attached to: Study: Ad-Free Internet Would Cost Everyone $230-a-Year
I suspect that if most people were faced with the choice of paying for all ad-driven sites would simply not go to most sites. I could live with a only a few sites, StackOverflow being a huge one, a mapping web site, a classified ads site, etc. Do I really need to watch russian drivers crash into each other?

Comment: Re:Who signs the checks (Score 1) 371

How did you do as compared to say the CFO or the head of marketing(assuming equal time in the company)? I am not saying that techies lose every time but that often when you see a set of technical and business co founders that often the technical founder is gone by the time things go public.

Comment: Spam is worse than trolls (Score 1) 381

by EmperorOfCanada (#47696119) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Would You Pay For Websites Without Trolls?
I don't know how many magazine sites that I go to (often science ones) where many of the comments are "blah blah made $8,500 in one week, blah blah."

Interestingly enough I think that it is ironic that this article is being promoted on slashdot where the worst trolls are not that bad. Usually the worst trolls here are either being deliberately obtuse or are just dumb, "Linux probably won't exist in 2016".

Unless the fees that are being spent are used to have 100's of highly skilled moderators, all I can see from a pay site is the same old crap but now with the administrators reluctant to turf paying members.

My quest is for the avoidance of group think, which most voting systems tend to reinforce. Try going to the reddit /r/Python section and saying that either the 3.x version or the 2.7 version is an abomination; there are few healthy discussions on that topic.

Comment: Re:Who signs the checks (Score 1) 371

Engineers, MBAs, accountants, and then lawyers. That is the order of decay products of who runs a company after the engineers leave.

A slightly different funny story was when a different friend of mine owned a small chunk of a company; a chunk that was undilutable. He was telling me this over lunch with another guy who was a major investor in many companies. The investor just about lost his shit. He just about shouted, "Undilutable makes your company a worthless pile of shit!!!" He then ranted that nobody would touch that company with a bargepole, that it was obviously run my morons.

He then said that a single undilutable out of a million would make the company dog crap.

What we both realized was that what an undilutable share did was to eliminate a huge ability of this sort of guy to screw the founders. Technically it would prevent the company from going public as new shares would need to be issued for that and any single owner of undilutable shares could hold the company hostage, the same with being bought out. But is that a bad thing? I have seen many companies that were bought out and a few that went public and in exactly zero cases did the bulk of the employees do well. We have all heard of the tech people who became zillionaires but in all cases that I witnessed the result was that at first they were well off on paper but that somehow it evaporates before it becomes cash, then the layoffs take everyone out. My own personal experience was that I left a company just as it went public and nobody still works there and another company I left just as they were bought out; and..... nobody works there. While other companies around me that did nothing financially exciting are still cooking along just fine.

And I think that the financial guy story sums up the difference between the sociopaths and the engineers. The financial guy sees companies ideally as tools to make him richer; whereas the engineer ideally sees a company as a place where a smart team of like minded people can do cool things, and make a living doing them.

These are not often compatible views.

Comment: Re:Who signs the checks (Score 1) 371

This might sound like a tongue in cheek comment but it is my sincere belief that in all groupings of people there is a continuous pressure toward feudalism. That basically a Chief will surround himself with a few thugs and that they will take take take from the group. This applies to pretty much any grouping of people. companies, governments (of all levels), home owners associations, religions, condo management boards, school systems, playgrounds. Even if you look at things that should be wholesome and pure such as charities, you will find that many quickly degenerate into organizations that exist for the primary purpose of serving the upper management, I suspect that any charities that don't degenerate were cunningly set up to prevent such a degeneration.

Thus when any organization is created the primary rules should be created so as to resist that degeneration. It should be assumed that a group of sociopaths will assume leadership at some point and try to thwart the rules. So for instance if I were setting up a charity, I would create a rule that if more than 5% were spent on administration that it would result in the instant termination of the entire upper management. Then the next 600 rules would clearly define how 5% and administration were to be defined. I would have these rule set in stone.

Comment: Re:Who signs the checks (Score 1) 371

As I titled it, Who Signs the Checks. Often the non techie ends up in control of things like accounting, and eventually arranges for things like a board being created. Then when the techie finds themselves being pushed out they have zero recourse. In this case there was nearly non-stop pressure from the salesman to change this arrangement with tactics ranging from ignoring, pleas such as "let's be rational", 'You're not acting like an adult." to bringing in a lawyer (who went away when the engineer informed him that checks not signed by the both of them weren't valid.)

Probably the one saving grace from a lawyer hiring point was that the engineer also saved his money while the salesman lived beyond his growing income and never could afford a good one. His one attempt to buy it out was financed by some friend of his.

Comment: Re:Who signs the checks (Score 1) 371

The key was not that people would be fired on a whim but if suddenly the whole staff were obeying the only the salesman(or engineer) with the accountant being key in that they then knew that they needed both signatures before any check was cut. Otherwise things like the leased car would be happening every day. Other people who weren't hired were a personal assistant for the salesman, and in once case his wife.

Comment: Who signs the checks (Score 4, Interesting) 371

I hit upon a slight variation of this years ago when a friend of my was partnering up with a sales guy to start a company. I told my engineer friend to make sure that their written agreement was that not a dollar could be spent or a contract of any sort signed without his agreement. This included hiring peopel. Also any employee could be fired by either of them. The great twist that his lawyer threw in was that if one or the other agreed to something without the approval of the other that the cost came out of their share of the profits and has no legal standing with the company.

It wasn't two weeks after their first client wrote them a big check that the salesman leased himself a "company" car. My friend said, nope that comes out of your profits. The salesman went to a lawyer and then managed to return the car.

The other clause that totally screwed the salesman was what is called a "shotgun clause" basically what that states is that one partner can make an offer to buy out the other's share and that offer can not be refused; but it can be matched in which case the first party must sell for the amount they offered.

So the company was taking off and my friend just made an offer on a house. So the salesman made a lowball offer for my friend's half of the company thinking that all his money was tied up. My friend actually had quite a bit of money saved and combined with credit cards and family raised the matching money in about a day. This one ended up in court but didn't go anywhere as my friend was 100% in the right. What came out during the initial discovery was that now that they had hired a handful of engineers was that the salesman was ticked that he was paying 50% of the profits to my friend who he thought could be replaced with interns and local tech school graduates. But as my friend gleefully was able to do was replace the salesman with someone who was much cheaper than the 50% profits going to the salesman.

Needless to say, both of them were fairly replaceable but I would say that my friend had at least as good business skills as the salesman, while also possessing masterful engineering skills. The salesman only had moderate business skills and zero engineering skills.

The reality of the story was that while my friend was willing to let things continue as normal and let the salesman enjoy the fruits of his initial investment, the salesman was pretty much trying to screw my friend once a month. He just could not believe that some techy was his equal. Every new employee that was hired was told by the salesman that the salesman was in charge and that the engineer was basically a hanger on. So my engineering friend would often have to point out to people such as the accountant how things worked(as opposed how the salesman dreamed they worked) and that either one of them could fire anyone so if they tried picking a side they would be gone the next day.

Yet my friend fully agreed that when he turfed the salesman that either one of them were by that point replaceable. As he had brought engineering skills that at first the salesman could not get cheap enough, and that the salesman had brought a rolodex that got the company started before it was exhausted.

Comment: No features aimed at me (Score 1) 426

It seems that every feature that Microsoft seems to add is aimed at selling their other products. There don't ever seem to be features that are just cool. I am not talking about their keeping up with the Jones' features; but anything new they add only seems to relate to their ecosystem. I can't seem to think of any WebGL type feature that they have innovated that was cool just standing on its own.

So maybe if they let engineers and developers steer the boat for a while instead of a bunch of MBA laden salesmen they might catch my interest.

One picture is worth 128K words.