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Comment Re:Go Work for the Competition (Score 1) 192

Actually, it probably can be quantified, just not necessarily easy.

Example. The poster said that their market is a niche, so the market is not very large, but they probably are known. The competitors for their product are probably also known. First, identify (within a ballpark accuracy) everyone's market percentage. Identify (again, within a ballpark accuracy), the growth rate of their product and everyone else's product.

Then, how is their product and market growth comparing to everyone else's? If it is below the rest, then why? Maybe it can be attributed to the UI, maybe not. If they are losing customers, why?

An interesting book is How to Measure Anything which could be helpful.

Full disclosure. I do know the author, but receive no financial benefits. I didn't even get a free copy.

Comment I worked at Gateway 2000 from 1990-1996 (Score 5, Interesting) 77

First, my condolences to his family.

I worked at the North Sioux City facility from late 1990 to mid-96. It was my first full-time job after college. I started in manufacturing for about 6 months, then moved to tech support for a number of years before going to a couple of other places in the company.

It was an interesting place to work and I have a lot of memories of working there. At first, the parking lot was still gravel and didn't get paved until the new manufacturing building was finished. Up until then, the existing building had at least 2, maybe 3 additions put on it. They had a monthly bonus program. It wasn't that much, but it seemed to give everybody an extra motivation to do better, that they had some skin in the game. I don't mean just push more systems out the door, although that was part of it, of course. But just to do their jobs better because it could affect the bottom line. The parking lot of actually a bit of a point of pride, i.e if we had a choice between the two, we would rather have a bigger monthly bonus over a paved parking lot. There was a story that Ted Waitt wanted to leave his spot gravel, but it was too much of a pain so they didn't. Maybe true, maybe not. I never interacted with him or his brother, although I did see them many times in the early days. Not so much later on.

There was also a sense of purpose in the first few years I was there. When I worked tech support (especially consumer before going to corporate support), I remember talking to people who was happy to be able to afford a computer to help them run their small businesses that they would not otherwise have been able to buy.

The cow spotted boxes. Yeah, at first, I remember thinking that it was dumb. It got people's attention and I talked to people who had bought from them after seeing many deliveries in their neighborhoods. I remember seeing all of our competitors with the ads in Computer Shopper. Back then, Computer Shopper was like the Montgomery Wards catalog for geeks. Talk about dating myself. -sigh- Over time, the number of competitors dwindled. I remember the owner of at least one of them saying that he was going to bury Gateway 2000. That business closed a couple of years later.

I remember when I started, working with ESDI drives, 5 1/2 floppy drives, Windows 3.0 (oh, the horror), motherboards with DIPP memory (up to 72 DIPP chips of horror for a whopping 8 meg of ram). I also remember in the early days, having production waiting on a shipment of something (motherboard, hard drives, etc.) to land at the Sioux City airport so that it could be trucked to North Sioux City. Talk about "Just in time inventory." I think that was the first time I heard that term and that was probably 1991.

Others have commented about failure rate of components. Yeah, I remember some of that. Not to excuse the problems inflicted on customers, but that was the very early days of WD IDE hard drives. I'm not sure if the first ones were 20 MB or 40 MB. Some of the boards (sound cards especially come to mind) had different revisions that just showed up with little, if any, documentation. Drivers... yeah... drivers were problematic. Motherboard BIOSes. This was before they were flashable and chips that were socketed (if you were lucky), but an upgraded BIOS meant swapping out the whole motherboard.

The company kept growing and the quality of some people definitely went down along with the sense of purpose. On the other hand, the manufacturing line had a number of improvements that did raise the overall quality. I think the Waitts (directly or indirectly) made some poor choices of hiring some key people to help manage the growth. I remember a few people from some big name companies at the time (HP, maybe... definitely one from Compaq who came and left). That's not to say that all of them were bad, it's just the bad ones that stick in my memory. There were also consultants, like Ernst & Young. They would bring in a team consisting of some very junior people who were obviously had no clue to as to what they were doing and were learning on the job. I am sure there is some data to support research of when it is good / when it is bad to bring in consultants versus using your own in-house talent for IT projects.

I also remember when I got laid off in mid-1996. That was the first large layoff they company had. I think there had a been a couple before, but they were just a handful of people. I remember going back a couple of days later and walking down the hall with a early-20s female HR employee who looked at me and asked if I was "enjoying my time off." I was so shocked, I could not respond. It's probably better that I didn't.

Anyway, I had started grad school part-time so I went full-time and moved on with my life.
But that was the start of my career in IT.

P.S. I did receive the highly-coveted 5 year varsity-style coat with the company logo embroidered on the back. I never did wear it. I am pretty sure I still have it.

Comment Re:A bank outsourcing IT support? (Score 1) 602

You are vastly overestimating how much typical customers know/care about the labor practices of the businesses that they patronize.

For a lot of people and businesses, I think you are absolutely right.
Originally, I was not going to say who my bank is, but.. what the heck...

It's USAA.

They quite proudly proclaim that a very high percentage of their customers stay for life.
They have been in the "Top 100 Companies to Work For" for many years.

Given that their target customers are current / former service members & veterans, I think they recognize that it would be a disaster to outsource any part of their operation.

Comment Re:Shop elsewhere if you need this drug (Score 1) 372

They charge the insurance compaines more because they know they can get it.

No, that's not why they do it... Well, maybe, but it is not the only reason.
It's call "cost-shifting."

They do it because for some procedures / treatments / claims, they get less from some insurance companies than the office normally charges, so to make it up, they charge others more. That's why there are anecdotal stories of $25 aspirin dispensed in a hospital.

Comment Re:Geographic redundancy (Score 1) 174

The best camera is the camera you have with you when you need it.

This is very true.

There are 3 primary variables when it comes to camera selection: physical size, photo quality, and price.
My advice (based on my experience) is to get the best camera you can for a size that will make it easy for you to carry with you. While cost was important, it was the least important of the 3 variables.

I went with one of the Canon point-and-shoots ( PowerShot SD1100 IS) partly because it was supported by CHDK which enables me to take pictures in both jpg and raw formats and its small size makes it easy to carry in my pants pocket.

I bought that at least 5 years ago, so there may be better choices now. I took it with me on my last overseas deployment and it worked quite well. I was able to take a number of pictures that I would not have been able with a DSLR just because of physical size. I was able to stick together a number of panoramic shots that turned out quite well.

Also a last piece of advice is don't try to live the moment through the camera. If something happens that is worth a photo or two, take several in quick succession realizing that most may be crap, but one or two may capture the moment... Then put it away and actually live the moment.

Comment (Score -1) 368

Well... first, I think it would be appropriate to just start a casual conversation; set the mood. You don't want to rush into things as that may scare the drone off. Then, if things seem to be going well, maybe a cup of coffee and lunch. If things still seem to be going well, then the next step is dinner and a movie followed by drinks. Then, SURPRISE!!! Sex!

I get really tired of the phrase "take out" when what people really mean to "kill" or "destroy." Have the intellectual honesty to use the words which mean precisely what you are describing.

Comment vaporware (Score 1) 79

...should be ready to serve as a nuclear safeguard in less than two years

a detector parked outside in a shipping container could do the job.

How does this really help us NOW?
Assuming that such a detector is possible, can be built, and does work, then the next problem is getting the Iranians to allow it to be emplaced and not tampered.
Also, who pays for it? Money stopped growing on trees sometime ago. As a US taxpayer, why should I have to foot the bill for something to ensure that a rogue state is playing by the rules to which they agreed?

Comment Re:Party loyalty is the root of the problem ... (Score 1) 191

Members of Congress may be peers, but they are in no way equals when it comes to influence.

Membership and especially chair positions on some committees (House Ways & Means, Intelligence, etc.) have a lot more power than other committees and those memberships are not handed out to the freshmen class.

Comment Re:Memory Safe Languages As Countermeasure (Score 1) 165

I do wish for a resurgence in Ada's use.

As do I.

Security depends on the programmer mainly (regardless of language), but there are better tools to do it right in Ada than most other languages. This doesn't mean it is a one size fits all language... but for code that is critical to security, it might be wise to use a language designed with security from the ground up. Spark Ada has provable security, for example (as per "SPARK - A Safety Related Ada Subset")

Hear, hear. I have no doubt that such a world would be trading one set of problems for another, however, I do believe that the second set of problems would be much smaller than the first.

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