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Comment: Re:Good times are more important (Score 1) 257

by Mark of the North (#46661055) Attached to: Start-Up Founders On Dealing With Depression

Having worked in more established institutions, mostly public ones, I'm envious of folk at start-ups. It seems like there could actually be a team, where everyone is mostly focused on the same goal. In established organizations this often isn't true and work becomes more about protecting one's position than getting a job done.

In an established organization, even if you are competent in your position, the management structure can mean you have little control over your destiny. Everyone between yourself and the tippy-top of the org-chart can decide your fate in a heart-beat. If any of those folk aren't worthy of the position (which happens a *lot* in public institutions) you have to have an exit strategy ready. Even if everyone above you is stellar now, tomorrow is a different day. I've had that sinking feeling, the one where I realize my direct superior doesn't have a clue and is making terrible decisions that directly, and devastatingly, impact myself and my staff. It has happened three times in the last five years and escalated in severity as each was of my superiors was replaced with someone worse. Serving at the pleasure of someone who is incompetent, and trying their damndest not to be found out, is tenuous.

So make sure your personal life is in order. Keep debt under control. Have at least six-months of living expenses in liquid savings. Live in a center where there are several other options for your skill-set. A partner with a stable income is wonderful insurance. Take your health seriously. Make sure that you are prepared for an unavoidable downward change in your health. That will happen eventually. Cultivate a network of friends and relatives that would stick their necks out for you in a time of need, by sticking your neck out for them when you can.

If one is personally prepared for things to go sour, the stress of personal loss won't add to the professional stress. Knowing that you can safely give your notice (no sense burning any bridges) goes a long long way.

Comment: Re:WOW! (Score 1) 132

by Mark of the North (#46621617) Attached to: Linux 3.14 Kernel Released

And get paid to do it?

Unless you are doing desktop support (which doesn't pay) or developing applications that will run directly on the devices that sit in front of users (which can pay very well or not at all), you will likely be doing backroom work, where Linux dominates. Backroom work pays nicely and there's lots of it. True, one can do backroom work from a Mac easily enough, but a Linux desktop has its productivity advantages, like being able to spin up dozens of LXC containers in a way that mirrors the production environment, which is exactly the reason why my work desktop is a Linux box.

If your work is aimed at desktop support of Macs or developing applications for Apple products, a Mac makes sense, as does a Windows box for Windows work, but the amount of real work opportunities I'm seeing with Linux has grown a great deal in the last five years, like quadrupled. We're not talking about a tiny slice of the pie anymore. It's significant and growing fast.

Comment: Re:The state of Linux (Score 1) 220

by Mark of the North (#46524601) Attached to: Malware Attack Infected 25,000 Linux/UNIX Servers

Regarding the Homeland Security code audit of Linux and the 14x fewer bugs figure: Can we get a reference? I've done some Googling, but came up empty. That would be a nice feather in one's cap when some idiot manager starts ragging on Linux's security. (Which is happening to me right now.)

Comment: Re:Bill Gates - changing people's lifes for the be (Score 1) 126

by Mark of the North (#46505857) Attached to: Solar-Powered Toilet Torches Waste For Public Health

Without saying too much, I have some first-hand experience with traditional and some not-so-traditional composting toilets. That experience leads me to believe that a manufactured composting toilet, a user-built Jenkins-style composting toilet, and a multi-chambered composting toilet, can all be easily scaled up. The Jenkins-style system, in particular, is dead-easy to scale.

The challenge is that the western world has grown used to the flush-toilet. All that extra moisture presents a problem to any composting system. A small constructed wetland (basically a lined pit or trench filled with pea-gravel and topped with a moisture prefering mixture of plants) could handle the extra moisture easily enough. A small constructed wetland a few feet in diameter and depth can process an amazing amount of waste liquid. The system scales well too.

So scaling is not an issue. As the system scales, I also feel that management becomes less of an issue as well (because it becomes feasible to hire expertise in system design and maintenance).

I'm leary of biochar. Frankly, its following seems a bit cultish. I understand the carbon sequestering angle, but the issue I can't get around is that the process of generating biochar volatilizes a lot of useful nutrients, almost everything actually. The result is, in many ways, similar to peat moss. Lots of carbon, not much else. I've dumped loads of peat moss into low-quality garden soil, and it helps, but not like compost does, not even close.

Comment: Re:Apply to jobs (Score 1) 451

by Mark of the North (#46427871) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Do I Change Tech Careers At 30?

Point taken, but the difference between customer and supervisor is important, at least I think so. The most important factor being that a supervisor can single-handedly decide your fate. As a consultant, my aim is to have no less than three clients at any one time, spreading my risk. If things start to go sour with one, I walk away and put some effort into drumming up a replacement. I imagine that will mean that I spend more time working with decent clients.

In a job situation, one gets the luck of the draw, and at times that you have no control over, you are forced to draw again.

Comment: Re:Apply to jobs (Score 5, Interesting) 451

by Mark of the North (#46422137) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Do I Change Tech Careers At 30?

Quit the soul-crushing job as soon as you are able. If you use phrases like soul-crushing to describe what you do for 40+ hours of work, you need a change.

I'm 40 and struggling with the aftermath of a similar situation. My last job as director of tech for a school division came to an end when a new superintendent came in with strong opinions about what technology in a school should be (Apple TVs and Ipads) but didn't have a clue what it took to support those technologies (like a secure network) or an understanding of the regulations we worked under. Being thrown under the bus was pretty painful. Can't say that I have fully recovered, physically or emotionally.

One thing is for sure, I never want to be stuck in a job where my supervisor is an opinionated moron again. Not unless the job has a short time-frame. This pretty much rules out working directly for government. Even if you are lucky to get in with a good group, it can change in a hurry.

Now, I'm doing tech consulting, raising sheep, building a green home, and being a dad again. Two months in and I can't see myself ever going back.

Comment: Re:VirtualBox (Score 1) 158

Virtualization is great, but compared to containerization it is a real pig. I'm in a similar situation to the OP, and I generally shut down my development VMs before doing graphics work, video editing, or relinquishing the workstation to my sons to play games. This includes idle VMs, which still chew up a fair amount of RAM and CPU. With containers, unless there is a busy process running, I can leave them running without notice.

Most operations on containers, with the exception of downloading the first image, are fast, like sub-second fast. Operations on VMs are painfully slow by comparison, easily a minute or more. The fact that containers are so lightweight opens up all kinds of uses that would be impossible with VMs, like deploying 40 containers to simulate a large environment, all on a ho-hum workstation. Even if you just use containers like VMs, it means you spend less time waiting and more time working.

I could mention more advantages, but I already sound like a new Christian.

For a decent implementation of containers you'll need Linux (LXC, perhaps under Docker) or FreeBSD (jails). And since a container uses the host kernel, you can't run Windows or FreeBSD inside a container on a Linux host. That is still the realm of virtualization.

To put containers in perspective, here is a good talk.

Comment: Re:No real reserver currency alternatives (Score 1) 634

No single currency, perhaps, but how about a basket of currencies? Better yet, why not let any country wanting to back it's own currency choose what it backs its currencies with? That way large trading partners could back one-another's currencies, in part. And why limit yourself to currencies, there's always prescious metals.

I can imagine that this move would make for an exciting currencies market, at least, initially. In the long-term, though, a currency's value as tool to back others with would come down to its performance and stability...or perhaps that it moves out of phase in relation to others and stabilizes the basket.

Comment: It's all the same stuff anyway (Score 1) 241

I've been using consumer-grade wireless equipment in the enterprise. The key is that we flash routers with OpenWRT. We decided to do this after testing out some enterprise wireless gear from a couple of reputable companies, cracking open their equipment, and realizing it was basically identical to the consumer-grade gear. It's also nice having to worry a little less about the possibility of manufacturer's back-doors. Much lower price and the ability to have a nearly identical interface on a mix of equipment are big positives as well. A minus is that devices tend to keep a death-grip on the access-point they connect to first.

We must have 50 wireless access points (mostly Netgear, some ASUS, some Linksys) running for a couple of years and have had no issues whatsoever other than having one router lock up after a power bump.

What equipment are you using? Either it's junk or you have some sort of problem in your environment (dirty power, high ambient temperatures).

Comment: Re:Reverse video (Score 1) 55

Under Linux, I found Blender's editor, although far from perfect, was a much better option than OpenShot. Crashing is the norm with OpenShot. I wouldn't even think of doing anything other than very simple editing under OpenShot. Anything more than nipping out the wanted portion of of a video clip and adding a single audio track would be a no-go for me with OpenShot. Anything more complicated and you are likely to eexperience crashes.

Blender worked for me on a project with about a dozen video clips (~5 minutes in total) and at least a couple of dozen audio clips that had to be accurately timed. (A Nerf "war" video that my young sons nagged me into.)

This was six months ago. Things may have changed for the better since then.

Comment: Re:becasue Apple never (Score 1) 367

by Mark of the North (#43053559) Attached to: Among Servers, Apple's Mac Mini Quietly Gains Ground

I replaced a failed hard-drive on 2U 12-drive storage (for VMs) storage server yesterday. It took less than 20 seconds. No downtime.

The complete process went like this: Press the button that releases the lever on the hot-swap tray, lever the hot-swap tray (and drive) loose, slide the tray completely free, put the failed tray and drive in the bad-drive pile, pull a new (and tested) hot-swap tray and drive off the shelf, insert it, and walk away. Including prep (installing the drive in the tray and testing), it might have taken five minutes.

If downtime matters to you, using a consumer device in a colo site probably won't be of interest. Having said that, I've seen colo services doing similar things with D-Link home server boxes a couple of years ago. Those were at least hot-swap. My guess is that it may have saved them some money in up-front costs.

"If value corrupts then absolute value corrupts absolutely."