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Comment: Re:Uproar? (Score 1) 107

by Peter Simpson (#46777849) Attached to: Vintage 1960s Era Film Shows IRS Defending Its Use of Computers

These attitudes persist today. A man used an ATM outside a bank, and the machine made noise but no money came out. His receipt indicated money had been withdrawn from his account, so he used his mobile phone to call the bank and report the problem. He was told there was nothing they could do, could not send anyone to look, etc. He then hung up and called back, reporting that the ATM had spit out too much money. A bank executive and repairman were on the scene in less than five minutes.

I actually had this happen to me at a Home Depot. The self-checkout machine had been loaded with a cassette of $10 bills where the cassette of $1 bills should have been. I got $30 change from my $20, instead of $3. Being a (usually) honest kind of guy, I walked over to the clerk monitoring the self checkout lane and smiled, handed her the money and the receipt and said "No.", and pointed to the machine I had used She and the floor manager had that machine open in less than a minute. I got to see enough to note that the cassettes were all the same size and color, with masking tape labels for the denominations ($1,$5 and $10). I guess someone had loaded that machine in the reverse order. I think they were wondering how many people had used it that morning, and neglected to report the discrepancies. The experience brightened my whole morning (especially as the self checkout machines always squawk if you don't place each object you buy on the weight scale, because they just *know* you're gonna try to sneak something through).

Comment: Soundbites (Score 1) 639

If you watch the trailer (ugh! I did), and listen critically, you'll notice that the soundbites were all fairly innocuous and non-specific. The quotes used were not in any way related to the premise of the film, they were general in the extreme: "We don't know what we don't know" or "Everything we know about the universe is wrong". I've heard similar quotes in almost every popular science-related film.

We'll see what the movie looks like. There is, however, no doubt in my mind that the two guys who made it, Robert Sungenis (Dr Sungenis, thanks to a mail-order doctorate from a "university" in Vanuatu) and Rick DeLano (his blog says it all: http://magisterialfundies.blog...) are grade-A, raving nutters. They are Catholic fundamentalists with an agenda.

Comment: The Mythical Man-Month (Score 5, Informative) 169

Should be required reading for anyone planning to manage a large engineering project. It's full of tips that can save you from significant embarassment. If you're not managing a software development project, at least make sure your boss reads it. If your boss has *already* read it, he might be worth working for.

Comment: [sigh] Why is this so hard to understand? (Score 1) 323

FTFA: we aren’t anywhere close to getting a service that allows customers to pay a single monthly fee for access to a wide range of top-notch movies and TV shows.Instead of a single comprehensive service, the future of digital TV and movies is destined to be fragmented...

Thankfully, there's still bittorrent...your one-stop shop for pretty much anything you want to watch.

I guess we should be thankful that the media companies are at least beginning to realize what their customers want, even if they are still declining to provide it.

Comment: Re:Oopsie! (Score 1) 154

by Peter Simpson (#46576185) Attached to: What Fire and Leakage At WIPP Means For Nuclear Waste Disposal

Yet another contractor who seems to have been doing the minimum required to get paid. Fire suppression turned off, flammable materials stored after repeated inspections required that they be removed. Outsource responsibility and this seems to be the result.

What I can't accept is the adults' repeated refusal to punish bad behavior. We have a regulatory framework. Enforce it.

I'm sure everyone in the chain of command, who isn't a political appointee, would agree with you. The problem is, "corporations are people, too", and they've paid to elect people who agree with them; that there's just nothing they could have done in this case, and it was, sadly, just an unavoidable accident.

Comment: Re:Oopsie! (Score 1) 154

by Peter Simpson (#46572767) Attached to: What Fire and Leakage At WIPP Means For Nuclear Waste Disposal
Let's take these one at a time:

OMFG SOMETHING MIGHT GO WRONG ... even when we put it in someplace that if something does go wrong ... its okay ... like this particular incident.
If you call blowing plutonium dust through the ventilation system "okay"...I think most people would say that's stretching the definition of "okay", just a bit. And then there's the whole "oops, contractor f@cked up...again" problem that never quite seems to go away.

There really isn't that much we can't reprocess, reuse and repeat until its not nearly as dangerous or there is a lot less of it.
Well, there's a whole mine full of stuff, and lots more buried all over the country, and all those pools at the nuclear plants, full of more stuff. We don't seem to have been "reprocessing, reusing and repeating" fast enough over the past 40 years, do we?

this stuff came out of the ground in the first place. Putting it back isn't going to be what kills us all.
Problem is, we refined and concentrated what came out of the ground. Putting it back where it came from is no longer an option, because we can't get it deep enough that it won't pop back up and kill us when we least expect it.

Comment: Oopsie! (Score 5, Interesting) 154

by Peter Simpson (#46566657) Attached to: What Fire and Leakage At WIPP Means For Nuclear Waste Disposal
[sigh] Yet another contractor who seems to have been doing the minimum required to get paid. Fire suppression turned off, flammable materieals stored after repeated inspections required that they be removed. Outsource responsibility and this seems to be the result. Words cannot express how disappointed I am that "business" seems to be going on "as usual" even when managing something as hazardous as nuclear waste.

Comment: Re:model plane != plane (Score 1) 236

by Peter Simpson (#46427107) Attached to: Drone Pilot Wins Case Against FAA
I wonder what the FAA's reaction would have been to a kite photo platform? It would have arguably been the same level of hazard to people and helicopters.

And the "active heliport" sounds like BS to me. If the guy was taking an advertising video, I'm assuming he at least mentioned it to the operations department at the medical center, who would have verified that no activity was planned at the heliport while the video was being shot. "Active" in the FAA sense probably means "approved for use", not "helicopters coming in and out while the model was in the air".

Comment: Re:In touch with customers...Microsoft? (Score 1) 860

by Peter Simpson (#46411561) Attached to: Microsoft's Attempt To Convert Users From Windows XP Backfires
Absolutely agree that Apple is not perfect. Apple's OS and devices are good, not great (better than Windows, though). However, the entire iDevice ecosystem is built on creating the "Ooooh! Shiny! Want!" reaction in their customers, even to the extent of getting the owner of a current device to upgrade to the next one. My point is that Apple's business *depends* on being in touch with their customer base, creating things that customers "have to have" (at horrendous markups, even), while Microsoft's contact with individual consumers is pretty much limited to activating a copy of Windows, which comes as the default OS when you buy a computer from Best Buy. Nobody makes a conscious choice to buy Windows, it's just "what you get" when you don't buy (or can't afford) an Apple. And Microsoft could care less what happens to you after the sale, while Apple has Genius Bars.

Comment: In touch with customers...Microsoft? (Score 3, Interesting) 860

by Peter Simpson (#46408023) Attached to: Microsoft's Attempt To Convert Users From Windows XP Backfires
Microsoft has misjudged how strong its relationship is with consumers and failed to acknowledge its own shortcomings.

You owe me a new keyboard.

Microsoft has never given the least bit of thought to its (individual) customers or their needs. To say that there has ever been a "relationship" is laughable. For the past few years, Microsoft's effort has been to force upgrades to maintain a revenue stream. Useless features and frills (Metro, ribbon, addition of gratuitous whitespace) have been added to products, because the company is either unable or unwilling to make substantial improvements in quality or performance, choosing instead to force upgrades with incompatible features and formats. Each release is less well thought out than the previous one, and I have yet to meet someone who wants a Microsoft tablet. (I will grant that Microsoft has paid some attention to the corporate customers, but that's not who we're talking about here)

OK, maybe the above is a bit harsh, but the fact remains that Microsoft seems to have lost the trail (if it was ever on it). When I think about companies in touch with individual customers and their wants, Apple comes to mind, not Microsoft. Love 'em or hate 'em, the folks in Cupertino don't seem to have any problem shifting their rounded-corner wares... People don't want to upgrade from XP, because it does what they need it to do, and it works for them. They don't want (or need) to learn a completely new UI. They'd probably appreciate a more secure OS, but buying an entirely new computer to get it (and shifting all their applications and data over) seems like too much work.

Comment: Swipe card or RFID card plus RFID tags (Score 1) 130

All RFID scheme would allow hands-full exit. A high power tag reader at the door would read the RFID badge and whatever equipment tags were being removed, tying equipment to the person who removed them. If yourfacility doesn't have RFID badges, just get some more RFID tags (different series number, perhaps) and stick 'em on the back of the users' ID badges..

Locating the equipment would still be an issue, though.

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. -- Sagan

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