Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment re: public transit (Score 1) 354

Where I live in Maryland, taking the commuter train in to work in the DC area is actually faster than trying to drive, but only due to the congestion on the highway and roads.

If I'm able to go in to work a few hours later than everyone else, the drive takes about 45-50 minutes, vs. the 2+ hours during rush-hour.

With the train though, you're also freed up to do a little bit more than you can while driving. You can read a book or magazine, or get some work done on a computer.... That has some value too.

Mass transit is never going to really be the king of convenience, but when your alternatives aren't good, it can win out as the best choice.

Comment General thought on a "no bosses" concept .... (Score 1) 324

I believe these "flat hierarchy" business models have been tried before.... It's not a brand new, amazing thing that Zappo's was the first to attempt.

That said, it's pretty uncommon because more conventional arrangements are time-tested and proven to work reasonably well. "Why change what ain't broke?", is often a prudent way to go about running a company.

Personally, I think the biggest problem companies trying it will have is making it scale well. It's relatively easy to get a good group of intelligent, motivated people together in some division of a company who start questioning the value in having a boss or bosses. They know how the get the tasks done better than anyone else, and they thrive on as little micro-management as possible. But expand that to the WHOLE company (and keep hiring enough people), and I think the whole culture risks turning "poisonous" at some point. As it is now, you see too many companies with nepotism running rampant. The bosses take turns hiring their stepbrothers, cousins, sons or daughters, etc. - instead of finding someone else who'd actually be far better for the job. Imagine what happens when everyone essentially has equal rank? A few people pull this off as a favor for family/relatives/friends and suddenly, everyone else feels they get a pass to recommend their own friends and family too. At least with a traditional structure, the project manager or mid-level manager who does this can be put in his/her place by someone above them they have to answer to -- questioning why "so and so wasn't selected despite submitting a great resume".

Comment re: trash talk (Score 1) 920

I dunno.... If this is how things are being conducted on the developer lists, I think the woman has a valid complaint/point.

It's one thing to talk trash to each other when you're playing competitive sports against each other. (And I'm willing to bet women do the same thing when playing tennis, basketball or other womens' sports?)

But software development should be a little bit more professional in nature. I'm more of a sysadmin than a software coder myself, but I'd probably take it personally, too, if every time I worked hard to contribute something to a development project, people turned around and told me I was a "fuckwad" for having the idea and so on.

I mean, why bother contributing at all if everyone else involved comes across like they're that unappreciative of my efforts? I'm not going to "take it personally" in the sense it makes me question my ability to code and I consider switching careers .... but I'd definitely think about putting my efforts into other projects.

Comment Meh... trends come and go. (Score 2) 570

Right now, it's just the in thing to avoid soda. The pre-teens and teens I see who tell you they "don't drink that stuff" are the same ones buying up those nasty tasting "energy drinks" chock full of caffeine and all sorts of other chemicals.

Anything you eat or drink too much of can be bad for you. The people I knew who'd wind up with a huge tower of empty soda cans in their cubicle at work, for example? Probably wasn't doing them much good, health-wise.

But honestly, I'm already well into my 40's and am one of those people who gets a fountain soda pretty often at the gas station, or with lunch or dinner when I go out. I occasionally buy a 2 liter of Pepsi or Dr. Pepper or something to drink at home too. I've been doing this since I was a teenager. Can't really say I've had any negative heath effects from it, so far. And I'm getting to the age where stuff starts going wrong, regardless. So I expect someone will blame my thumb that keeps popping out of its joint on the soda drinking or who knows what.... But hey, I don't smoke and really cut back on drinking alcohol since my late 20's.

Personally, I'd trust any of the sodas with real cane sugar in them more than these artificially sweetened low-cal/no cal drinks and/or the energy drinks on the market.

Comment Patriotism vs. Nationalism ? (Score 1) 488

Reminds me of a big discussion we had in history class back in high school .... Supposedly, Nationalism was the blind, "racism without mention of color" that you speak of, as opposed to the good/healthy concept of Patriotism.

Frankly, I was never that convinced the difference was substantial. In theory anyway, Patriotism is simply taking pride in your country without going to the extreme of using it as a reason to put down any other nation.

As you point out though? In practice, I think the difference amounts to splitting hairs, because the place you're born into is just a structured organization full of rules and regulations. Chances are, some of them are ones you agree with and others you take issue with. There's never a valid reason to declare something "right" or "better/superior" just because it comes from the nation you were born in or live in. Even if all you do is wave the flag and put a big one in your front yard, you're probably accomplishing almost nothing. (What message are you trying to send with those flags? Letting people know you're one of their citizens? So what? Most people probably figure that out with the need to fly a flag to let them know.)

Comment re: Sanders (Score 1) 488

Yeah..... I actually agree. Though I don't like the idea of Bernie getting elected at ALL, it's also pretty clear he's not paid for by the establishment (corporate interests, military contractors, etc.). He's essentially advocating for the United States to end the political design of its founders and convert to Socialism. That, in itself, separates him from everyone else running for office under the Democratic or Republican ticket.

Comment This is nonsense, written for page views..... (Score 4, Interesting) 233

Come on.... I've worked in I.T. for almost 30 years now and the changes tend to happen incrementally, at a pace largely dependent on the release schedules of the vendors involved.

I don't know of a single person in corporate I.T. who feels threatened by the potential of some "upstart" business model appearing out of nowhere and wiping out their job.

If there's a single trend I would say "upset the apple cart" more than anything else for I.T. -- it would be cloud services. But even there, I.T. quickly got a handle on the concept and embraced it selectively in most cases, applying it where it added real value and ignoring it where it was just hype and buzzwords. It probably shifted the number of people doing server support towards the large data centers to an extent not seen since the microcomputer took off in the 80's -- but people with those skills still found places to work using those skills. And more recently, I've seen the cloud technologies begin to get "rolled back" into in-house solutions. For example, our company tried out CrashPlan for backups and put all of our mobile workers on cloud based backup with them. Worked well, but we eventually shifted to the "Enterprise" version of the product, where we run the CrashPlan servers internally and people back up to them over the Internet or any office LAN or wi-fi connection. Saves us money paying someone else for the storage space and gives us the ability to do a restore much more quickly, if needed.

I know several pro photography people doing a similar thing with DropBox. They liked the service but when they really started using it heavily, realized uploads of huge batches of RAW photos was SLOW (partially because upload speeds to DropBox in the cloud are throttled). Now they're looking at alternatives like Transporter, where again, your mass storage is local, on site -- but it works like the cloud in the sense you can upload to it from anywhere.

Comment Re:Don't train them in the current systems (Score 2) 158

This is great advice.... If this place is anything like a couple of them I've seen before though? They likely decided to become primarily a "Linux shop" in the first place because they were unwilling to spend much on I.T. -- and somewhere along the line, staff deployed Linux as a way to keep old/obsolete hardware functional.

Assuming you can get some kind of workable I.T. budget in place, I think you want to start by analyzing what's exactly going on, on the server-side of things. Windows Server 2003 still in use? Where and why? Is there an Active Directory master keeping all of the user account logins? How many servers are just doing basic file/print or web services for various things?

In the last 2 jobs I've had, it made sense to invest in a relatively high-spec server to run VMWare ESXi and create virtual servers in place of the older, physical systems. Right off the bat, you get a cost savings in electrical power usage (less heat generated by a bunch of older servers in a computer room, etc.). If they have "legacy" apps that would be problematic to get running properly on a current OS, at least you can virtualize that old environment and run it on the new system where making regular snapshot images of the whole thing is trivial. And you often remove physical constraints on the maximum available storage space too. (Old servers with SCSI RAID cards may not support drive partitions over a certain size, and you may not be able to add hard drives of the capacities you typically see today.)

On the PC workstation side of things? Anything running XP should be budgeted for complete replacement, IMO. Yes, some of those systems can easily run Windows 7 -- but by the time you buy the licenses for them, you're probably spending about as much as the used hardware is worth in resale value, if not more. Exceptions might be any laptops bought in the Win 7 era that just had XP loaded on them because that was what they preferred.... On those, maybe you can just load a Win 7 recovery/restore disc that came with it to begin with and get it current at no cost except for your time.

Comment I get the concern, but .... (Score 3, Interesting) 137

Ultimately, part of me is screaming "Good! Who cares?!" inside.

That's because educational institutions should be staffed with people who have the burning desire to teach other people. It's not for everyone, but there's a big difference between the person who is really interested in a subject, and the person who is really interested in sharing knowledge about the subject with as many others as possible.

If an entire lab full of faculty was poached by corporations, that tells me those people were more interested in big paychecks and/or being a part of a commercial project than in teaching.

It's a big mistake for a college or university to go down the road of trying to pay more and more, to "compete" with businesses for staff. That just raises the price of tuition and puts the education out of reach of more people. Precisely what the schools should NOT be about. Maybe they need to consider more flexible options to let experts in these industries come in and teach 1 or 2 classes, part-time? Otherwise, maybe they're getting too specific with what they're teaching, if their workers keep getting pulled right out for very specific corporate projects. Seems to me you can run a technology or science lab that teaches all sorts of concepts useful to a person interested in building an autonomous vehicle, without running autonomous vehicle research labs themselves.

Comment Truth (in the "lottery in reverse" thing)... (Score 1) 242

But really, what you've got going on these days are a lot of people just fighting to keep the status quo. Most changes that get proposed are historically made by the Democrats. (Look at everything from "The New Deal" to the concept of the social security system, to orders for NASA to explore space and try to get a man put on the moon.) Sometimes (usually in hindsight), these changes are viewed as progress or good moves by our government. But they're almost always expensive undertakings, which get fought by people more worried about a balanced budget.

I've often heard it said that with folks in charge like President Obama (or Bush before him), people would rather see a Congress and/or Senate so divisive, it just log-jams things and prevents much of anything from changing. That's viewed as better than the alternative.

Comment Re:Asking about capture or storage? (Score 1) 174

IMO, this post was FULL of truth and reality!

I will say though, as someone who is really growing tired of constantly paying for subscription based services that keep chipping away at my income month after month -- I'm not so thrilled about "cloud storage/backup" solutions.

I know some people hate Apple and Macs but I can definitely see one reason they're a popular computer choice with people into photography. The fact that Mac OS X does backups automatically with "Time Machine" and any external USB hard drive you attach and designate for it means "no brainer" backups of all of your data (photos!) you download into the machine. And the included "Photos" application is a perfectly good app at getting the content off your camera and into the Mac, as well as giving you a digital photo album to view everything and organize it in one place. All the basic editing capabilities are right there in it too.

With this setup, I've been happily keeping and displaying my photo collection of our kids, our vacation trips, items I photographed to put up for sale and more. It's been shuffled from Mac to Mac as I upgraded machines over the years - but that process is pretty painless too with Apple's "migration wizard" tool. No lost photos since 2002 or so, here. A couple of Time Machine backup hard drives failed over the years but so what? As long as you don't have the horrible luck of the Mac AND the Time Machine drive dying at the same time -- you're still fine. Just buy a new drive and let it do a full backup again. Any important photos can always be burnt to DVD media or copied to a separate USB hard drive that's kept in a safe deposit box or other safe location, for even more security against data loss, if you feel it's warranted.

Comment The camera you have with you is the best one ... (Score 1) 174

Truthfully, cellphone cameras wind up the most useful tool simply because you're most likely to be carrying one with you, whenever opportunity strikes to take a worthwhile photo.

IMO though, this is also why the "point and shoot" camera category is dying a slow death. If you care about your photos to the point you demand better quality than you're getting from a cellphone, you may as well invest a bit more and go with a digital SLR with interchangeable lenses. Then you have a camera worthy of investing some real time learning to use and master, and it might really take you to a place where photography becomes a new hobby for you. Whether you go with a nice point and shoot or an SLR, you're still talking about a single purpose device you have to make a special effort to carry with you and maintain (battery kept charged up, memory card ready to use with it, etc.). Why not make it a device that's as flexible as possible for the one task it's designed for?

I've owned several of Canon's Digital Rebel series of cameras over the years. (My most recent one was a T2i which I held onto until just a month or two ago. The later revisions like T3i and T4i just didn't add enough value to be worth an upgrade from it -- so got a lot of life about of that one. Frankly, a T2i is *still* an excellent choice if you're looking for a good used digital SLR on a tight budget. The lenses it uses will work with the latest Rebel cameras OR the mid-range Canon D series SLRs like the 7D or 70D.)

Now, I've stepped up to the 70D myself. The camera has better low light photo capabilities than anything I used previously, and definitely has a heavier, more weather-resistant case design to it. More control dials and buttons for features you'd have to navigate on-screen menus to change on a Rebel camera, too. But in a nutshell? It probably makes the most sense if you already KNOW you're going to stick with photography as a true hobby/pastime. One of the digital Rebels is probably a better starting point into the digital SLR genre if you're coming from only using a cellphone camera and/or other point and shoot.

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"