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Comment: Are we talking efficient computing or cheap boxes? (Score 1) 625

by Envy Life (#41601905) Attached to: Will the Desktop PC Live Forever?

They key to efficient computing is the display and input. It's many times more productive for me to work with a full sized keyboard and a large monitor or two than to squint at a small screen and use a keyboard sized for kid hands.

Fact is, most notebooks sold today are fast enough for 90% of the use of a PC (internet browsing, email, office documents), and include all the peripherals peole need, and will have more in the future. As a result desktop computers will die, and sooner than some of you want to believe. To the parent, a $80 SSD is a cheap fix for the encryption issue.

Comment: Re:Actual pay for overtime, and Prototype Developm (Score 1) 468

by Envy Life (#41531185) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Incentives For IT Workers?

I like this, I believe they are the only two items that are relevant: pay for effort, and allow creativity. Anything more complex than this is misguided fluff.

I'm a strong proponent of hourly pay.. go ahead and roll up all the "benefits" that a normal employee would get (401k, vacation, insurance, bonuses) and give it to me in an hourly rate. Accounting becomes very simple. The incentive to an employee is more hours or a higher hourly rate, no more complaints for working overtime, and if the rate is good, the employee won't be looking around like a transient contractor.

It's no secret that companies maximize profits by paying labor rates as low as they can, so bonus money implies companies purposely hold back a portion of salary to hold over the employee's head on a regular basis to get them to work extra hours. If it is truly corporate profit sharing, it's always a small fraction of the actual profits, so let's not kid ourselves and pretend owners actually distribute all their profits, because, frankly, they don't have to. What they do need are dedicated employees that are happy to stick around and work for their pay, it's more efficient to retain people, so it's worth paying better than market rate for good employees.

In contrast to owners, IT workers are in it because they are technology professionals--they like the work; they like to problem solve. The other important aspect is to keep the work interesting. Any employee stuck in a maintenance job is going to be a clock watcher. Any employee that has truly interesting and creative work they enjoy will put in extra effort because they enjoy it. Many companies simply do not have this available, nor can they make it available, so that puts even greater empasis on the hourly pay.

Comment: Life in the mobile world is not optimal (Score 2) 257

by Envy Life (#41273771) Attached to: For Android Users, 2012 Is Still the Year of Gingerbread

1)Too many versions too quickly.

Thus is life in the mobile world...

That's not how it should be. iPhone releases 1 phone per year, which includes 1 major OS upgrade to all prior phones of the past 2+ years (covering all carrier contract timeframes). All other mnaufacturers release so many phones that they can't keep up on software upgrades, and by the time that 1-2 year timeframe hits, that phone feels ancient. It's not exactly an optimal customer experience.

As a customer I specifically make phone purchases based on the odds of getting new android updates. At first I thought Samsung would do it, they failed me. Then I thought HTC would, and they failed too. Now I'm back to Samsung, and frankly the situation is even worse... even the Google branded phones have serious upgrade lag. Manufacturers blame it on the carrier, carriers blame it on the manufacturer. In the U.S. anyway, I've resigned to a best case scenario of getting a single upgrade in the first 6 months of the phones existence then spend the next 18 months watching several new Android releases come and do without being able to experience any more upgrades until my contract finally expires. It's just a big stalemate.

Comment: Re:Audio (Score 1) 1154

by Envy Life (#41269849) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Would You Fix the Linux Desktop?

Definitely! Sound issues have been my #1 complaint for years. Seriously Isn't this a problem that was solved 20 years ago? WTF is the OS interrupting audio playback for?

My daughter complains because sound clips when she plays music, and I don't blame her. Communication with VirtualBox and the sound system produces nothing but a muddy garbled mess (though it is perfect upon restart, that goes away quickly). Sound daemon constantly crashes, though admittedly crashing less and less. Microphone support is at best hit and miss. I've embarassed myself with clients due to microphone issues. Overall sound is a travesty in this day and age, something that just never happens on other desktop OSs. (Ubuntu 12.04)

Comment: Re:Ugh... (Score 1) 387

by Envy Life (#41156535) Attached to: Why Juries Have No Place In the Patent System

If a patent's cost doubled every year, few companies would renew many times past the $100,000,000 mark.

There are quite a lot of patents worth that kind of cash, and the biggest patent abusers are the companies that can afford to pay that. And then sometimes those are the very patents that would be most beneficial being released into the public domain.

Comment: Here are the numbers (Score 1) 378

by Envy Life (#40620567) Attached to: DirecTV Drops Viacom Channels

Cable TV was never advertised as commercial free outside of the subscription channels, just a wider selection of channels without the need to constantly fiddle with the rabbit-ears, and some premium options to boot

Viacom says the increase is "pennies per day" implying that DirecTV is obligated to suck up the cost and not pass it on to the consumer, and DirecTV says it's a 30% increase amounting to $1B. The calculations actually seem to match, amounting to something like $0.02 per day increase for 20 million customers is 146M/year or $1B over 7 years. So what does that mean, Viacom wants to go from $.06/day to $0.08/day? That would mean Viacom wants $2.40/month per subscriber out of DirecTV's $29.99 retail minimum subscription fee. Assuming 50% of which is the retail markup, means 16% of DirecTV's wholesale cost would be going to Viacom. Seems like a large enough chunk for DirecTV to complain about.

Content providers need bundling to stay alive, you know tax everyone regardless of whether or not they use the service. I just don't see that inflation has gone up 30% in 7 years do you? consumers would like a-la-carte, but content providers would find it difficult to fund any of the lesser channels, and we can see quite a few good series shunned by big networks being picked up by cable channels like The Walking Dead, so bundling isn't actually as terrible as it seems

Comment: Yea, where is Libre/Open Office? (Score 1) 245

by Envy Life (#39868649) Attached to: Google Apps Beats Office 365 For US Dept. of the Interior Contract
Hear hear! Two of the goals of government should be to remain open/transparent and save taxpayer money.... at what point does paying for office software (hosted or not) become beneficial to taxpayers over the high quality free versions readily available and well maintained? If they're not good ennough it would be far cheaper to staff a couple of LibreOffice developers to make required mods.

Comment: Re:Correct, but the reductions are through attriti (Score 2) 273

by Envy Life (#39735759) Attached to: Cringely Predicts IBM Will Shed 78% of US Employees By 2015

What? Most companies doing this outsourcing don't realize it's not an apples-to-apples tradeoff. One of the core issues is that IT education in India is different than in the U.S. In India they spend much of their time on the technical aspects of a broad range of languages and platforms, but that training lacks the depth and the thought training that universities in the U.S. use in their curriculums. That shifts the burden of design and management from the average U.S. CS degreed developer who can do it all, to a tiered project structure where you have to insert a layer of project leads to manage the to-do lists for the outsourced developers.

So we have layers are added by necessity, process time is increased as a result, and in an industry where timing is everything, that short term cost savings is negated by the lost opportunities. Let's not forget that adding one more layer of indirection between the developers and the product owners just gives the developers a lesser feeling of ownership and they have less reason to stick around. In an industry that takes wokers 6 months to come up to speed, and high aquisition costs to find replace them, the costs continue to mount for any outsourcing effort.

Comment: Obligatory clarification on corporate tax (Score 1) 1208

by Envy Life (#39623739) Attached to: Internet Responds To Racist Article, Gets Author Fired

(Totally disregarding the fact that NPR is tax exempt which eliminates corporate taxes which amount to about 34% of income according to Wikipedia).

True, but lets extend that accuracy a bit... U.S. Corporations are "world leaders in tax avoidance". A Government Accountability Office study released in 2008 found that 55 percent of United States companies paid no federal income taxes during at least one year in a seven-year period it studied.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/03/business/economy/03rates.html

Comment: Similar database buffer bloat (Score 4, Interesting) 105

by Envy Life (#39498535) Attached to: Linux 3.3: Making a Dent In Bufferbloat?

There is a similar, and well known situation that comes up in database optimization. For example, the Oracle database has over the years optimized its internal disk cache based on its own LRU algorithms, and performance tuning involves a combination of finding the right cache size (there is a point where too much causes performance issues), and manually pinning objects to the cache. If the database is back-ended by a SAN with its own cache and LRU algorithms, you wind up with the same data needlessly cached in multiple places and performance statistics reported incorrectly.

As a result I've run across recommendations from Oracle and other tuning experts to disable the SAN cache completely in favor of the database disk cache. That, or perhaps keep the SAN write dache and disable read cache, because the fact is that Oracle knows better than the SAN the best way to cache data for the application. Add in caching at the application server level, which involves much of the same data, and we have caching of the same information needlessly cached at many tiers.

Then, of course, every vendor at every tier will tell you that you should keep their cache enabled because caching is good and of course it doesn't comflict with other caching, but reality is that caching is not 100% free... there is overhead to manage the LRU chains, do garbage collection, etc. So in the end you wind up dealing with a very similar database buffer bloat issue to Cringely's network buffer bloat. Let's not discount the fact that many serverdisk communications are migrating toward similar communications protocols as networks (NAS, iSCSI, etc). Buffer bloat is not a big deal at home or even a mid-sized corporate intranet, but for super high speed communications like on-demand video, and mission critical multi terrabyte databases, these things matter

Comment: Re:That's been my experience (Score 5, Interesting) 403

by Envy Life (#39452957) Attached to: Do Women Make Better Bosses?

I have not found promotions into management to happen among the most competent. Companies lean toward keeping good employees in their position, and those with less competence get moved around, many times into management positions. In my experience I've come to believe that management is very difficult because most people don't get it. Out of all the companies I've worked for and all the management I've worked under or with, I'd say less than 10% are competent, and and the best was female.

Why was she best? Because she was good at organizing, good at following up on performance reviews, good at letting her team do what they were best at, and good at making decisions because her communication with her team allowed her a good pulse of what was going on. A large portion of male managers I've worked with want to be too hands on, and shirk some of the most basic organization and coordination that is needed to run a team. Lets face it, the bulk of a manager's responsibilities are secretarial tasks -- calendaring, organizing, scheduling, basically keeping their team on task. Some people get that, some people don't.

It is ideal to have a manager who was competent in a skills position at one point in their career, and work their way up as does a manager of a loading dock, but it isn't a requirement. For example in contrast to most other countries, many Chinese government officials have engineering backgrounds, and they "get" technology, and thus they seem to make much more intelligent decisions for their countries in many areas, e.g. manufacturing. In contrast, U.S. politicians are all lawyers, who are adept only at diverting and twisting issues for their own agenda rather than a pure sense of "good" and "not as good".

So background is important, but based on the high failure rate of managers I've seen in my decades of work experience, I'd just like someone who is a competent organizer and decision maker. Asking for someone who is good at that and who truly understands the jobs and skills of those underneath them is nearly impossible to find. That is largely because managers are hired by "Directors"--career management straight out of school, who don't have a clue how the world works above or below them... and Executives are skilled at sales. No one really gets it, and thus my opinion of corporate organization is very poor, so the most competent skilled workers have no desire to get "promoted" into a position largely occupied by incompetents.

Comment: Steve Wozniak would best sum up the topic with... (Score 1) 106

by Envy Life (#39445349) Attached to: When Social Media Meets TV, Are the Results Worth Watching?

Most inventors and engineers I've met are like me--they're shy and they live in their heads. They're almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone--best outside of corporate environments, best where they can control an invention's design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee. I don't believe anything really revolutionary has ever been invented by committee. Because the committee would never agree on it! -- Steve Wozniak, "iWoz"

This is why we have "director's cuts" and "theatrical versions" of many films... a single person's vision vs a product toned down for the masses.

Real Programmers don't write in PL/I. PL/I is for programmers who can't decide whether to write in COBOL or FORTRAN.

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