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Comment: Re:Perception of Necessity (Score 1) 242

by bengoerz (#47433301) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Unattended Maintenance Windows?
My point is not that you should never automate things. Rather, when you automate things, you should make sure your managers know (1) that you were smart enough to improve processes and are therefore valuable to future projects and (2) that the things you automate could one day break (process changes, etc.).

At very least, the poster should be able to articulate a better reason for automation than "I wanted to sleep in".

Comment: Re:Why is it cheaper in China? (Score 4, Insightful) 526

by JanneM (#47404693) Attached to: Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots

But an assembly line manned by robots? Why should that be cheaper in China? Is capital that much cheaper?

Even if wages and other costs were equal, the location advantage is substantial. It's not that it's cheaper in China, but that it's cheaper in the huge manufacturing hubs. You have suppliers and manufacturers for just about every single component you need without long-distance shipping, and a deep pool of design and manufacturing expertise working in the area.

That's not to say you can't manufacture efficiently elsewhere (we have plenty of recent examples such as the Raspberry Pi), but that the advantages has as much to do with the concentration of resources as with the cost of labour and regulations. And of course, as this inudstry becomes ever more automated, it no longer matters much for jobs where it happens any longer.

Comment: Re:Always a balance (Score 1) 100

by JanneM (#47167829) Attached to: Google Announces 'End-To-End' Encryption Extension For Chrome

OpenPGP was right in all ways except one: you can't even explain what it does to your grandma, let alone get her to use it.

Never mind grandma, I can't use it. Decided I'd try it this spring. Spent an afternoon reading manuals, blog posts and howto's, until I realized this is complicated and brittle enough that I'm likely to mess things up and compromise any security as a result. Better to avoid it, and behave under the assumption that people are bulk scanning and analyzing everything i send or receive.

Comment: Re:Sounds like IT incompetence (Score 3, Insightful) 564

People make mistakes. Everybody makes them, everybody does it all the time, and they do it even when they should know better, when the consequences are high, and when they've received training specifically aimed at avoiding those particular mistakes.

Aviation, process and other industries know this by now, after many, many hard-earned lessons. They know you have to design your interfaces under the assumption that people will screw up, push the wrong button, or misread the situation. The general software industry, on the other hand, seems amazingly resilient against accepting this simple fact.

Comment: Re:This may be crass but... (Score 2) 283

It's easy to say we want to make the rural areas as attractive as the big cities. Notably, I've yet to see any credible ideas for actually achieving it.

Big cities are amazing. Because of network effects and the efficiencies of small distances and dense accumulation of resources, competing directly is extremely difficult. It's like deciding you want to make a new, fledging social network as attractive to users as the current big ones. The only thing you could feasibly do in both cases is to push it as a niche for special interests.

Comment: Re:Very cool - but where do you get the chip for $ (Score 1) 138

by JanneM (#46963781) Attached to: A 32-bit Development System For $2

"I don't know anyone who just has a serial converter just lying around unless they're an engineer"

This is not a first project for anybody. Chances are high that you've already played with Arduino a fair bit, and built your own on breadboard as well. In which case you most likely have a USB-serial cable or board already, in order to program them.

Comment: Re:A good sign (Score 0) 177

by JanneM (#46945159) Attached to: Programming Language Diversity On the Rise

"Which platforms were Java and Obj-C specific to again?"

The wording was unclear on my part; you pretty much need to use Java to develop for Android, and Objective-C to develop for IOS. Those platforms use those languages specifically, not that they are used only on those platforms. You can use a few other languages to develop Android or IOS apps if you insist, but with more pain, less support, and you'll normally still have to write minor parts in these languages to make it a complete application.

Comment: Re:A good sign (Score 1) 177

by JanneM (#46944175) Attached to: Programming Language Diversity On the Rise

"I'd error on having 3 languages in the shop and that's about all that you'd need for most things."

That sounds on the low side to me. One low-level, hardware-linked language (C or C++); one dynamic language (Python, Ruby); a functional language (Scala, Scheme, Haskell); one for numerics (R, Matlab/Octave); one embedded language (Scheme, Lua); client-side web (javascript); database access (SQL); and of course the platform-specific major languages you can't get around: Java, C# and Objective-C. I'm sure you can add other categories to the list as well.

Comment: Re:Activist investors (Score 1) 208

by JanneM (#46944055) Attached to: Stanford Getting Rid of $18 Billion Endowment of Coal Stock

The endowment is there to serve the university. And the university is plenty sensitive to its public perception; that affects both enrollment as well as donations. It's not a stretch to say that a fairly large proportion of both current and former students and faculty view global warming as a threat and coal as a bad choice for producing power.

Making these people happy is vital for the universitys bottom line - not to mention that "the university" consists of people that themselves share many of these values. So yes, they are acting in the best interest of those the endowments are there to serve.

If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, then a consensus forecast is a camel's behind. -- Edgar R. Fiedler