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Comment: Re:Is it sad that it is old hat (Score 1) 224

by QuestorTapes (#49270261) Attached to: California Looking To Make All Bitcoin Businesses Illegal

> If the community's citizens didn't want such a business there, the business would get no customers and close down naturally.

Not necessarily. It always possible that the customers come over from other towns.

No actually disagreeing with you; just disagreeing on this particular bit of reasoning.

Comment: Original paper hardly seems conclusive (Score 1) 473

by QuestorTapes (#34453564) Attached to: People With University Degree Fear Death Less

A few points from the original research article (in Spanish). One link I found:

Perhaps someone with better Spanish skills might like to look at it.

They interviewed 288 kids from 11 schools in the city of Ronda, Málaga province. Rather a small group and only in one city.

They did appear to use some sensible question criteria and evaluation techniques. However, I saw nothing in the paper (I freely admit I skimmed, so it might be there), anything to indicate that any other factors were considered. In addition to University Degrees, economic factors, personal experiences, any number of other things might enter into this.

It's a long way from a definitive research. At best, I'd say it's a possible starting point for more rigorous research on a -much- wider broader base of respondents.

Anyone with better Spanish skills who would like to follow up, please do so.

Comment: Re:Why, why, why???? (Score 1) 375

by QuestorTapes (#34215132) Attached to: Can Windows, OS X and Fedora All Work Together?

Excellent response. A few more points to consider for the original poster:

> I've recently been tasked with documenting our organization's IT infrastructure,
> primarily focusing on cost analysis of our hardware leases and software purchases.

You appear to have only done a -partial- cost-benefit analysis.

You state that you have a "marketing department ...composed...of Apple systems ...[using] Adobe Creative Suite", and need to continue to use Macs to support that, and a "Sales department ...[relying] on a proprietary sales platform that is Windows only"

Factor in needing the additional Apple hardware and software and the additional Windows licenses and other software. Factor in the support costs, patching, and additional IT expertise required. You may need -fewer- Windows support staff, but now you'll need some with cross-platform knowledge (Fedora and Windows),as well as dedicated Windows support staff and Fedora support staff.

Your Sales and Marketing ain't gonna move, unless you have credible replacements for the tools they are using and the solid support of a powerful majority of the corporate officers. They will bitch, and most of their bosses will shoot this up the chain. If they want to, they can and will derail -anything- you can do to bring this about.

Factor in the training costs, and the "I ain't gonna cooperate" costs. Look up "work to rule". Any of the staff who want to fight will do exactly as they are told, and call you for tech support if the reflection of the afternoon sunlight is causing a little glare.

I agree, -most- users could probably pick up Fedora quickly. But some will need a lot of hand-holding, and, of course, the Windows users will save documents in the newest Office formats, and they won't render properly in OpenOffice/LibreOffice.

And factor in your time. While you are doing this, you'll be taking time away from other work the company will want done.

If you convert, you're probably going to have to justify it in great detail, migrate slowly, and plan on much slower return on the investment.

And, as others have noted, while Outlook sucks, some people really do use the Calendar and scheduling features. There are some Linux alternatives, but you'll need to put a lot of effort into support to get started.

I agree, I'd much prefer Linux all around. But your organization doesn't sound remotely ready, and the reasons you're presenting don't seem compelling.

Licenses alone won't achieve the savings to justify this. You'll need a -lot- more return on the investment to do so.

Comment: Organizational adoption of OO/Libre (Score 2, Interesting) 589

by QuestorTapes (#33923126) Attached to: Oracle Asks OpenOffice Community Members To Leave

> Answer: "It *IS* OpenOffice. It uses the exact same code even though the company
> that owns it was bought out by a rival that now wants to control what you do
> with their version

Excellent point. Viewed that way, this is more like one of Microsoft's product
name changes than a product change. At this point, there is no difference between
the products (It's not MS Office, it's MS Office.NET!)

Changes are likely to be fairly slow for a time.

There is a legitimate reason to be concerned about the corporate perception on
this; but it's just a valid to say that LibreOffice is the product you've been
using, from the same source. That the _CHANGE_ is that _Oracle_ purchased the
name when they acquired Sun, and _Oracle_ is the cause of the perceived conflict.

Approached properly, Oracle's habit of overcharging and pissing off people
(there's a reason Oracle is often called 'Orrible) could aid in driving
LibreOffice to the front. It's not a lock; but it's too soon to call.

Comment: Re:you can't legislate intelligent decision making (Score 1) 439

by QuestorTapes (#33909038) Attached to: FCC Approves Changes To Cable Box Rules

> no rule changes are warranted. cablecard standards have already solved this problem, and
> enabled 3rd parties. i've been using a tivo HD with premium cable service for many years
> now. it works perfect.

It appears that the order hits something else as well. From the source:

"...order that would promote competition in the marketplace for set-top boxes by
ensuring retail devices such as TiVo have the __same access to prescheduled programming__
as cable providers"

If I recall properly, this has been a problem in many areas; the cable-provider's box gets full, accurate schedules, and the third parties get limited and inaccurate ones. I don't use cable, so comments from others on this would be appreciated.

Comment: Re:And technology? (Score 1) 325

by QuestorTapes (#33851608) Attached to: What Tech Should Be In a Fifth-Grade Classroom?

> I don't see a problem with allowing calculators...disallow them the first few times,
> but generally they solve problems far quicker than a human can.

Have to disagree; calculators and computers don't solve problems; they are tools to allow people to solve problems.

Many kids with calculators don't get that you have to understand what to solve -for- before punching the keys.

Comment: Re:You're kidding, right? (Score 1) 2058

by QuestorTapes (#33822802) Attached to: Firefighters Let House Burn Because Owner Didn't Pay Fee

Not claiming what they did was right, but:

It's not a $75 fee for putting out a fire. Putting out fires costs a hell of a lot more in terms of costs for equipment, supplies, labor, etc. The $75 fee depends on amortizing the cost over time, and spreading the risk around a large pool of contributors. If they did charge on site, it would have to be a -very- big charge, at least thousands, probably tens of thousands of dollars.

Do you have thousands or tens of thousands to pay on site? I wouldn't; nor would most people in this position.

Others have pointed out the possibility of paying the cost by hitting him with a fine for needing the service and not paying for it previously. But this is a private firefighting company, contracted by South Fulton. They can't levy fines, nor can South Fulton, since the homeowner lives outside the city. The county could, but they didn't set up a fire fighting contract.

This is as much a failure of the homeowner and the county government as the city and the fire department.

And I think it is a failure on the part of the city and the fire department. The city chose to contract out the service, and both the city and the company should have anticipated these situations, and made some sort of arrangement with the county or state government.

Comment: Re:And yet, there's no need! (Score 1) 321

by QuestorTapes (#33687168) Attached to: Is the Web Heading Toward Redirect Hell?

This page:

has some neat bookmarklets, one of which removes redirects.
I don't use it all the time, because some sites depend on the ad revenue.
But if the site abuses redirects, I have it as an option.

Several other nice bookmarklets there.

Comment: MS FUD Factory (Score 1) 464

by QuestorTapes (#33352796) Attached to: Microsoft Claims 'We Love Open Source'

> The mistake of equating all open source technology with Linux was "really very early on,"
> Paoli says. "That was really a long time ago," he says. "We understand our mistake."

So... Microsoft's new tune is "We Love Open Source...Except GPL Licensed Open Source"

> Microsoft hasn't ... rescinded its declaration that Linux violates its patents...
> [Microsoft's] earlier battle stance was a mistake. Microsoft wants the world to
> understand, whatever its issues with Linux, it no longer has any gripe toward open source.

Except GPL Licensed Open Source

> Microsoft has released some technology under its own open source license (the
> "Microsoft Public License"), such as IronRuby, which integrates .Net code with
> the Ruby programming language.

"Signs are pointing to Microsoft backing away from IronRuby..."

ZDNet, "What's next for Microsoft's IronRuby?" by Mary Jo Foley

From the article:
'According to a now former IronRuby developer, Jimmy Schementi, Microsoft
has just one developer left on that project (who is committed to it half-time).
Schementi recently quit Microsoft when his manager asked him "what else would
you want to work on other than Ruby," he blogged.'

Summary: Microsoft says "We Love Open Source..."

  - except Linux...well, any GPL Licensing, really
  - and we still maintain they violate MS patents...a bunch of em.
      Really, you can take our word for it
  - and we'll still extort license fees under threat of enforcing these
      patents we refuse to enumerate
  - and we love open standards and open technologies, and want to
      work with long as we can make a proprietary DotNet version...

And Microsoft will stand by its commitment to open source, unless its
absolutely convenient.

Hurray for Microsoft! Hip, Hip, Phhhffffttt!

Comment: My thoughts on this (Score 1) 126

by QuestorTapes (#33051752) Attached to: When Is It Right To Go Public With Security Flaws?

Contact vendor and a reputable third party, such as CERT, simultaneously.

Give vendor a -very- small window (at -most- a week or so) to respond, with (1) contact information; (2) an assigned issue identifier (at least one while triaging), and (3) a specific time frame till a follow-up response, not to exceed N days (your choice; 14, 30, 60, 90, etc.). This response does not need to be a full triage and verification, just a real response of "we assigned this to John Doe to research as issue number 54321-unverified", rather than an automated "Thank you for your email..." BS response.

If the vendor blows off responding to this, contact one time requesting the information within a short time frame, informing the vendor of your intent to go public if they do not respond. If they fail to respond, release the information on the exploit, along with any known workarounds.

If the vendor responds with contact, information, etc., give them a time frame of N days (your choice) for analysis and wait for follow up until the time frame of N days specified earlier. If they fail to respond, see above. Again, this does not need to be the fix, just "we confirmed the issue and have determined this is a priority X issue. We are assigning it to Richard Roe to be addressed in a patch/scheduled update/major service pack/next version of product"

After the vendor has performed this initial assessment, give them a fixed, fairly aggressive period to respond with a fix, patch, or workaround, and hold them to the date as above. It's up to you to decide how long to give the vendor before you release the information. If their estimate is too long or inadequate (next version of the product, 18 months from now; will require all new hardware and tens of thousands of dollars), then give them a shorter time frame for a patch or workaround, and inform them that you will hold them to it.

Then hold them to it.

My biases: I believe vendors almost always take much too long. The goal is not to give them a comfortable time frame to respond or fix the issue, but -enough- time. If it's comfortable, it's too long.

Security flaws are unacceptable. If the vendor can't fix it, they must provide a workaround. If they can't provide a workaround, people need to be informed so they can stop using the vulnerable product or feature.

A lot of times you can just disable the feature rather than the entire product.

But people can't do that if they don't know it's broken.

Comment: Re:Stupid system (Score 1) 175

by QuestorTapes (#32138788) Attached to: USPTO Plans Could Kill Small Business Innovation

> If a patent is overturned in court, you pay a statutory $10,000 fine, plus the
> legal fees of the person who sues you.

I'd adjust that to reduce litigation. If the patent is overturned in court, I'd add an additional penalty for the time between the initial suit and the time it's resolved. The additional penalties can be waived if the patent is retracted unconditionally, and the matter is settled out of court. No out of court settlement would allow waiver of the burden of legal fees, no out of court settlements allowed without retracting the patent unconditionally.

> If you are found to have filed the patent in bad faith (i.e. knowing
> that there was prior art) then this becomes willful abuse of the patent
> system and the fine goes up to $100,000.

And an additional payment to the person who filed the suit.

> If a patent is found to be invalid, you must refund all license fees
> collected on it, plus 50%. This is a statutory penalty and may not be
> disclaimed by contract.

Agreed if found to be a bad faith patent. Limit to the license fees themselves for invalid patents filed in good faith.

> Anyone has standing to sue for an invalid patent, but the loser
> pays the legal fees of both parties.

Needs work. Big companies would benefit from this, in that they would be encouraged to abuse the system with counter-suits, delaying tactics, etc. Effectively, people suing the big guys would need to have all of the following:

    - absolute certainty they are right
    - massive amounts of time to devote to this case (decades)
    - and massive funds in reserve.

For both the above, a recent twit tv floss program discussed the real story of how ugly and expensive some of these fights can be. And it would be _much_ worse if you were involved in a suit with a big company with very deep pockets.

That's why people settle. The legal system is too expensive for the common man.

> Companies have a one-year amnesty after these rules are introduced
> to retract patents that they discover to be invalid as a result of
> internal auditing. No fines are incurred for patents that are
> disowned during this period.

Why limit it to one year? Unlimited amnesty, but after one year, an upward sliding scale of the percentage of licensing fees that need to be returned. Encourage them to audit soon to avoid repaying years of licensing fees.

Comment: No one right answer (Score 1) 520

by QuestorTapes (#31963324) Attached to: Best Seating Arrangement For a Team of Developers?

I worked on a couple of different teams for one company, in different office situations.

In one, 8 of us were in one common room, and we worked well together. Originally, we were all facing the walls, but we all agreed and moved the desks so we were facing one another. It was great; close group, close spacing, got along, worked well together.

Later, in the same company, in a different group, just three of us in a larger room. One of the guys snagged a conference room for a week just to get some work done. One member of our group was a "social butterfly." Loud conversations, all day long. Impossible to concentrate. Very limited knowledge of technology, always undoing the good work done by others.

I work now with some folks who are productive later in the day; in the morning they socialize, loudly. I work best early. It's unbelievably difficult to concentrate sometimes. Sometimes people need closeness, other times they need space. Particularly if work and personal styles don't mesh.

It's not the "most productive arrangement" that matters. It's the most productive team. What's best for the individuals that make up your group? Talk to -them-.

Comment: Re:National Drivers License (Score 1) 826

by QuestorTapes (#31592286) Attached to: US Lawmakers Eyeing National ID Card

> ...the idea of federal standards for driving certification kind of appeals to me.

I assume you mean "good" standard for driving certification.

Unfortunately, good standards are no more likely on the Federal level than they are on the state level. A number of the biggest problem cases are political hot potatoes, such as driver age (both too young and too old), and the fact that outside of a relatively few large cities with good public transportation systems, getting around without a car is nearly impossible.

I know a number of people who, for physical reasons can't drive or walk long distances, and who find it enormously difficult to get to medical appointments and take care of grocery shopping. There is -no- public transportation alternative for them.

That problem was made the loss of small retailers and corner markets, replaced by big box stores and supermarkets, and the replacement of the small office general practitioner with the "medical group".

Politicians who want to get reelected are not going to put more people in this kind of a position.

Comment: One of my experiences (Score 1) 951

by QuestorTapes (#31326240) Attached to: How Do You Get Users To Read Error Messages?

Application from hell. Client was almost ready to accept delivery of an application from another firm. Application was to distribute procedure documents created by central office.

Client forgot to develop and application to generate the procedure documents.

We had to slap together a tool to do this in less than 1/100 the time used to design the original application.

Did I mention it needed to support rich text, linked documents incremental translation and editing for the overseas offices?

Duct taped together several programs (Word, Access, Excel, others), users had to follow instructions and prompts. But, users don't -read- instructions or prompts.

One guy on my team wrote a custom messagebox. Anywhere any code called Windows MessageBox, it logged to a flat file:

  - the calling function and context
  - the exact title of the message
  - the exact text of the message body
  - the exact selection the user made

Tech support could view the flat file, read backwards, and see exactly what the user did, then walk them through doing it correctly.

Still a pain, but a manageable one.

Computers will not be perfected until they can compute how much more than the estimate the job will cost.