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Comment: Re: I don't follow (Score 3, Insightful) 368

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48180955) Attached to: Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday

It's general knowledge in typography that Helvetica is the most legible typeface.

That is very much convention wisdom, yes.

It really isn't. Helvetica is actually a relatively awkward typeface to work with, particularly for body text. Its default tracking/kerning are tight for extended reading, its glyphs have quite inconsistent width fittings, and it has various problems with similar-looking glyphs that are easily mistaken for one another, which also makes it a less than ideal choice for user interfaces. Don't mistake popularity or endurance for quality.

Comment: HR idealism vs. the real world (Score 1) 148

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48175495) Attached to: Cisco Exec: Turnover In Engineering No Problem

Lest somebody misunderstand, the very essence of an enterprise (any enterprise) is that it is a bundle of labour and capital whose essential structure and identity is independent of and more persistent than the labour it employs.

That's a horrible oversimplification, but let's take it as read for the purposes of this discussion.

It is for this reason that any contemporary HR policy is aimed at (and this is important) divorcing the work from specific individuals.
What this means is that all and any employees must (and this is essential) be plug-replaceable as a matter of policy.

Unfortunately, if you adopt that policy, you have immediately and severely restricted your ability both to hire and retain the most effective staff and to build the most productive teams.

It is obvious that HR would love for employees to be plug-replaceable in such a way, and it is obvious why. However, the reality is that in a creative industry, and particularly in one related to technology, no two employees offer exactly the same potential contributions. If as a matter of policy you won't hire or depend on anyone with unique contributions to offer, then almost by definition you're only going to have staff with typical combinations of widely available skills and no special experience or unique insights to draw upon.

However, given that the creative component of technology companies is often where much of their value comes from, a business that can't or won't hire the most creative people is always at risk of a competitor disrupting their business model with a new product, service, distribution model...

Moreover, technology can be a dramatic effectiveness multiplier. A single smart, creative person using the best technologies can sometimes outperform an entire team of mediocre people with average technologies. More importantly, in scalable fields like software and on-line services, a relatively small team of smart, creative people with complementary skill sets and the best technologies has the potential compete with a much larger organisation on raw effectiveness, before you even consider the overheads that the larger organisation must bear.

Finally, one of the major factors in maintaining productivity and developing existing technological assets and IP is keeping sufficient knowledge and expertise available within the development team. That can be done through good documentation, tools, processes and so on, but in reality this very rarely happens and word-of-mouth advice is a far more efficient and effective way to pass information around. Of course, if you treat everyone as replaceable you not only forego that most efficient mechanism but also incur the very substantial overheads of trying to use other documentation and tools to compensate. In short, high turnover is an efficiency killer in technical teams where shared knowledge is a vital asset.

If you think all of this is nonsense, you might consider that this is a discussion about Cisco, whose main business model is currently facing an existential threat from modern technologies like SDN. I'm guessing you're a business studies or MBA student, so you might like to consider the commercial relationships between Cisco and the likes of Amazon, Facebook and Google as a case study for what can happen. Cisco's recurring model of spinning out and later buying up side companies to do the R&D for innovative technologies would also make an interesting case study.

Comment: Those are Baby steps (Score 1) 348

.. and are questionable boot strapping projects.

The biggest cost and therefore barrier to Space exploration is launch costs. These needs to be side stepped.

Launch a design prize for low cost probes to be sent in their dozens, hundreds or perhaps even
thousands to the asteroid belt on low energy transfer trajectories. These need to include cheap & reliable ways to analyse the asteroids for useful materials.

Have a second round to design low cost extraction 'bots' to follow up the analysis probes to 'mine' those materials. These could hoard the supplies or even again use low energy transfer to Earth/Lunar Lagrangian points.

Sell futures to fund the next step based on the value of those materials.

We don't need (and probably don't want) full functional Von Neumann machines.

Comment: Re:incremental backups (Score 1) 150

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48152439) Attached to: If Your Cloud Vendor Goes Out of Business, Are You Ready?

Gosh, I'm running out of "I told you so" moments lately. First it turns out that Open Source networking software can have spectacularly serious security vulnerabilities after all. Then it turns out that Linux is not immune to worms and other malware. Now you're telling me that outsourcing everything to a remote system and remote staff of unknown competence, unknown security, unknown reliability, unknown solvency and business planning, and assorted other uncontrolled risks might not always be the best solution to every problem in computing? Seriously? :-)

+ - How Women Became Gamers Through D&D->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "To shed further light on the currently controversy surrounding female participation in gaming, via Playing at the World comes an in-depth historical look at the unsurprisingly male origins of the "gamer" identity and the way that Dungeons & Dragons pretty much accidentally opened the door to women in gaming — overturning a sixty-year-old dogma that was born when Wells's Little Wars first assumed the 'disdain' of women for gaming."
Link to Original Source

+ - Confidence Shaken In Open Source Security Idealism-> 1

Submitted by iONiUM
iONiUM (530420) writes "According to a few news articles, the general public has taken notice of all the recent security breaches in open source software. From the article: 'Hackers have shaken the free-software movement that once symbolized the Web’s idealism. Several high-profile attacks in recent months exploited security flaws found in the “open-source” software created by volunteers collaborating online, building off each other’s work.'

While it's true that open source means you can review the actual code to ensure there's no data-theft, loggers, or glaring security holes, that idealism doesn't really help out most people who simply don't have time, or the knowledge, to do it. As such, the trust is left to the open source community, and is that really so different than leaving it to a corporation with closed source?"

Link to Original Source

+ - How English Beat German as the Language Of Science

Submitted by (3830033) writes "German was the dominant scientific language in 1900. Today if a scientist is going to coin a new term, it's most likely in English. And if they are going to publish a new discovery, it is most definitely in English. Look no further than the Nobel Prize awarded for physiology and medicine to Norwegian couple May-Britt and Edvard Moser. Their research was written and published in English. How did English come to dominate German in the realm of science? BBC reports that the major shock to the system was World War One, which had two major impacts. According to Gordin, after World War One, Belgian, French and British scientists organized a boycott of scientists from Germany and Austria. They were blocked from conferences and weren't able to publish in Western European journals. "Increasingly, you have two scientific communities, one German, which functions in the defeated [Central Powers] of Germany and Austria, and another that functions in Western Europe, which is mostly English and French," says Gordin.

The second effect of World War One took place in the US. Starting in 1917 when the US entered the war, there was a wave of anti-German hysteria that swept the country. In Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota there were many, many German speakers. World War One changed all that. "German is criminalized in 23 states. You're not allowed to speak it in public, you're not allowed to use it in the radio, you're not allowed to teach it to a child under the age of 10," says Gordin. The Supreme Court overturned those anti-German laws in 1923, but for years they were the law of the land. What that effectively did, according to Gordin, was decimate foreign language learning in the US resulting in a generation of future scientists who come of age with limited exposure to foreign languages. That was also the moment, according to Gordin, when the American scientific establishment started to take over dominance in the world. "The story of the 20th Century is not so much the rise of English as the serial collapse of German as the up-and-coming language of scientific communication," concludes Gordin."

Comment: Any standard source for reliable info on updates? (Score 1) 63

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48120563) Attached to: Windows Users, Get Ready For a Bigger-Than-Usual Patch Tuesday

Does anyone know of a site or mailing list specifically dedicated to checking out the new updates and rating how safe and reliable they are to install? I've had far too many stability and performance problems after installing recommend updates to trust Microsoft's "Install this update to make {some important but unspecified change} to Windows" messages any more. However, life's too short to keep running a search on every update ID every month to see which ones are getting red flagged.

+ - MIT study finds fault with Mars One colony concept-> 2

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington (1084047) writes "The Mars One project created a great deal of fanfare when it was first announced in 2012. The project, based in Holland, aspires to build a colony on Mars with the first uncrewed flight taking place in 2018 and the first colonists setting forth around 2024. The idea is that the colonists would go to Mars to stay, slowly building up the colony in four-person increments every 26-month launch window. However, Space Policy Online on Tuesday reported that an independent study conducted by MIT has poured cold water on the Mars colony idea.

The MIT team consisting of engineering students had to make a number of assumptions based on public sources since the Mars One concept lacks a great many technical details. The study made the bottom line conclusion that the Mars One project is overly optimistic at best and unworkable at worst. The concept is “unsustainable” given the current state of technology and the aggressive schedule that the Mars One project has presented."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Leader quotation bingo (Score 1) 264

I decided four quotations was enough to make my point, but that observation by Mencken was nearly the fifth. It comes to mind every time some government minister talks about repealing the Human Rights Act and cites the difficulties they've had in deporting a tiny number of high profile people as their justification.

The relative importance of files depends on their cost in terms of the human effort needed to regenerate them. -- T.A. Dolotta