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Comment: stupid questions yield stupid answers (Score 1) 386

by Tom (#49725385) Attached to: Microsoft To Teachers: Using Pens and Paper Not Fair To Students

"When was the last time you used a piece of chalk to express yourself?"

Last week. Whiteboard marker, to be precise, but if we had a blackboard in the meeting room, it would have been a piece of chalk.

Everyone who knows something about presentations also understands that Powerpoint is a horrible abuse and failure in at least as many situations as those where it is a useful tool. There are things that you can best show in animated slides, others are best described with prosa text, yet others with short and memorable phrases. In addition, everyone learns slightly differently. Some people can't remember anything in a lecture unless they take notes while for others watching all the slides or the scribbles on the blackboard is the most important and for yet others hearing the professor / teacher / workshop-giver is the main part.

The so typical and almost always wrong our-one-size-fits-all Microsoft approach will not solve any problems, it'll make it worse.

If kids these days don't know how to express themselves with pen & paper, then maybe that is something you should teach them? It's a useful skill, and even though I've been a computer guy since the C64 was state-of-the-art, for some tasks I still prefer a notebook over any iPad app, and the reasons are purely practical.

Comment: Sorry, but... (Score 1) 769

...there are serious people and then there are clowns.

I'm the first to stand up and say that feminism in its current incarnation is just as evil as any other -ism and regularily crosses the border into misandry. However, portraying strong women in a fantasy world is not an attack on manhood.

Firstly, there's the fantasy aspect. Secondly, there is nothing wrong with strong women, and especially if you're a real man you aren't afraid of them. If you're a weak man, of course, who nurtures his illusion of superiority by surrounding himself with people even weaker than himself...

Unless the movie carries an "all men are evil" message, and from what I've seen and read so far that is not the case, I think in an ocean of stereotypical man=hero, woman=princess-in-need-of-saving Hollywood crap we can enjoy one movie every now and than that shows a different facet of life.

Comment: Welcome to Communism in the West (Score 2) 121

We've all seen and heard this kind of government behaviour before: In the communist countries.

In Eastern Germany there was a failed popular uprising in 1953. One of the most famous authors of that time, Bertold Brecht, coined a phrase following it that became immortal: If the government is not happy with the people anymore, wouldn't it be easier to dissolve the people and elect a new one?

He is spot on for today as well. It used to be the parliament would represent the people, and if we felt dissatisfied, we could dissolve it and elect a new one that represents us better.

But in almost all western countries, politicians have taken control of the political process that was intended to control them, and basically you don't have a chance to actually get a new government. You can choose different names, but they don't really mean different things. And more and more you hear politicians talk about their subjects (oh wait, isn't that the wrong way around? Yes, actually it is, but we're moving back to medieval mindsets!) in a way the reminds you of Brecht.

Comment: Re: Mac/Linux support removed... mildly surprised (Score 1) 227

I don't have a problem with DRM that doesn't get in the way.

Then you want to stay away from Steam, because there are whole forums filled with people telling you that when something breaks, not only can't you play your games, Valve also doesn't give a fuck and will be about as helpful as a dead parrot.

Comment: Re:Platform differences (Score 3, Insightful) 227

Because the only graphics that exist in the world are the high-end games that were intentionally written for hardware that didn't even exist at the time of programming, yes?

Wake up, man. High-end gamers have long ago become the minority, ever since the rest of the world discovered that you can use computers to play games. "My little pony" games outsell most of the games reviewed in gaming magazines except for the top 20 or so. Farmville has more players than World of Warcraft had even at its peak.

Occulus Rift is a cute toy for a gamer, but for people working in the 3D design sphere, it could have been a tool. I'm talking visualisation, architecture, construction, event management. Everything where a look at what it will look like before you build or make it can save you thousands or millions. Now have you checked lately what creative people use? I sat down in a room full of design people less than two weeks ago, and every single one of them had a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. Zero windows computers in the room. You think they're going to give a fuck for your technical argument about driver support? If it doesn't support what they're working with, they'll not be using it, and that's it.

Comment: Re:Agile is like ITIL (Score 1) 507

by Tom (#49695977) Attached to: Is Agile Development a Failing Concept?

Adhering to all of ITIL, for example, is a really good way to ensure your production systems almost never change. The number of people and sheer volume of paperwork, tickets and meetings to get anything even scheduled for a change in a "true ITIL" system is beyond insane

What I learned in my years in IT Compliance (SOX) is two things:

a) nobody really understands these things (ITIL, SOX, Agile, take any buzzword you want), including the people charging you at high-class escort levels for consulting.
b) there are many ways to skin a cat.

SOX is actually very simple, but consulting companies are not interested in simple, they're interested in selling a lot of expensive consulting hours, so they turned it into this monster. I was the Senior Manager for SOX in a 2500 people company and I was not overworked. Another company in the same corporate structure had a room full of people doing SOX, and I dare say their compliance wasn't better than ours.

ITIL is more formalized, but I don't see why anything in it has a hard requirement for the insanity you describe. I'm fairly sure the issue wasn't with ITIL, but with the particular way it was implemented. I'm almost certain it was implemented by outside consultants, am I right?

Just like nothing in Agile prevents you from making architecture decisions early on. It just tells you to keep an open mind for changing them. And nothing in ITIL tells you that you can't change anything, it just tells you to do it in a way that properly tracks the change.

I'm not saying these things are not often nightmares in the real world. I am saying that they do not have to be. There is no "it has to be horrible" clause in ITIL.

Comment: one size fails all (Score 2) 507

by Tom (#49695957) Attached to: Is Agile Development a Failing Concept?

The problem is not with Agile, but with people who believe in magic potions.

Nothing in this world ever solves all problems. Nothing in this world ever fits everyone. Agile is no exception. It might be good or bad, depending on circumstances such as your team, your culture, your project and a dozen more.

The best you can do as a leader (manager, lead dev, CTO, whatever) is to pick and choose and come up with a system that works for your company, your people. It might be Agile, or Agile with something else mixed in or something else with some Agile mixed in, or no Agile at all. It depends.

If you believe you can take something that someone else cooked up without knowing your situation, and just apply it by the book and that's it, then you are not doing your job.

Comment: wrong arrest (Score 2) 310

by Tom (#49525709) Attached to: Futures Trader Arrested For Causing 2010 'Flash Crash'

The real people to throw in jail are the ones who made it possible. The guys who deregulated the markets so much, the ones in oversight of the finance system who didn't see these things approaching and the people who dissolved all the protections of the real economy against the finance market because they were greedy for quick bucks.

Politicians, mostly, but we should also go after the lobbyists and their employers who influenced them.

Of course, that will never happen. Society rarely becomes self-conscious enough to get rid of its parasites.

Comment: Re:failed industry (Score 1) 67

by Tom (#49523033) Attached to: How Security Companies Peddle Snake Oil

That is exactly what I mean. I would even go one step further at the end: Without the risk of the computer compromising the user. Because the computer in itself is worth its scrap metal value and that's it. Everything of actual value is in the user - the data, the communication, the access to 3rd party networks and services. Not that one particular user in front of the machine, maybe, but a user.

Comment: failed industry (Score 4, Interesting) 67

by Tom (#49517301) Attached to: How Security Companies Peddle Snake Oil

I've exited the security industry after 15 years, no longer believing that it does any good. And TFA is pretty spot on.

The issue is that security is both wide and deep. You need to cover all your weak spots, and you need to cover them completely. As an industry, we have succeeded in finding technical solutions to almost every challenge, but we've failed in creating a systematic approach to the field. Look at the "best practice" documents - they are outdated and mostly a circle-jerk. I did a quick study some months ago checking the top 100 or so for what the academic or scientific or just substantiated-through-sources basis is, and the result is pretty much: None at all.
Even the different standards, including the ISO documents, are collections of topics, not systematic wholes. It's like high school physics: This month you get taught optics, next month Newton mechanics, the third month electromagnetism. The only thing they have in common is the class room.

Nowhere is it more visible than our treatment of the user. It's clear that most security professionals treat users as disturbances, as elements outside their field of security. I imagine what roads would look like if their planners would look at accidents and say "cars are a threat to our road system. They clog it up and very often they crash into each other and cause serious issues to traffic. We need to protect the road system against cars. Can we automate roads so they work without cars as much as possible?"

We need a much more systematic, holistic view on the whole field than we have right now. In a pre-scientific field, snake oil is the norm. It was the same in medicine (where the term originates), in chemistry (alchemy), in psychology (astrologie, numerology, one hundred other primitive attempts at understanding and predicting human behaviour) and virtually every other field, even many non-scientific areas, such as religion/magic.

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson