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Comment: Telecommuting tools (Score 2) 131

by billstewart (#47381513) Attached to: Employees Staying Away From Internal Corporate Social Networks

I work for a very big, bureaucratic company. Communication tool needs are really different for different scales of companies.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and have a lab across the bay with a couple of coworkers that I generally go to once or twice a week. My current supervisor is in Atlanta; I've never met him in person. I worked for my previous supervisor for a year before I met him. I've worked for my director for about 5 years (he's in Indianapolis, and I've never met him in person.) We work with a bunch of developers and operations folks around the US and some in Eurasia. We use all those tools, and they've got different purposes. For maintaining documentation that sticks around, sometimes it's useful to have wikis and similar web sites that users can edit; for shorter-term documentation, we use tools that are designed for faster communication, and haven't really figured out how to handle the problem of obsolete chunks of information, which is harder on less-aggressively-managed systems.

Social networks are another point in the communications spectrum. For dealing with bug reports or feature suggestions from users, they're less formal than ticket tracking systems, but sometimes that's useful. If some developer wants to steal my ideas or listen to my rants\\\\ insightful comments, that's just fine. We've been starting to do a lot more with social networks, and we'll see how well it handles the problems of disposing of conversations that don't need to be kept around or are no longer current, or keeping information accessible that is current.

Comment: Hey, we get badges! (Score 1) 131

by billstewart (#47381467) Attached to: Employees Staying Away From Internal Corporate Social Networks

At $DAYJOB, we've had a variety of work collaboration tools over the years similar to the then-current* social networking tools. The most useful ones are instant messaging and wikis (or wiki-equivalents), and internal Usenet groups back in the day. Apparently having little badges next to your name is something that some current social networks do, so ours has that also (I haven't used it; I suspect there's some sort of "VMware User - Achievement Unlocked!" sort of thing.)

And we do have games, like "Guess which Wiki pages are current or abandoned!" and "Guess which User Stories in Rally are current vs. long-irrelevant!" (If you win the latter one, you get to submit your own user stories under the ones the Scrum Master is going to reject for this sprint, instead of under the ones he's not even going to look at.)

I will post a less-cynical note elsewhere in this discussion :-)

* ok, actually similar to the then-slightly-out-of-date social networking fads, rather than the actually current ones...

Comment: CERN, not just Brits, and SGML,GIF,JPEG (Score 5, Informative) 328

by billstewart (#47381383) Attached to: On 4th of July:

Sir Tim is a Brit, but he was working at CERN, an international collaboration in Europe. Somebody once said that Sir Tim invented 80-90% of what the web needed, while Ted Nelson invented 120%, which is why we use HTTP/HTML instead of Xanadu.

URLs were really the big win - most previous hypertext systems were contained on single platforms, whether it was Apple Hypercard or whatever, while URLs let the hypertext connect pages by multiple authors and organizations. The other big win was including pictures in practical widespread formats.

HTML wasn't as big an invention - it was a derivative of SGML, and five years before the web I was a newbie on documentation standards committees that were using SGML and vector-based graphics standards (and even back then, there were people who got that the big win was content description, not format description, and many of the problems we have today are because too many people lost sight of that and wanted authors to control presentation instead of readers, forcing us to deal with flash and Javascript and lots of other brokenness.)

Comment: Random Illegal Fireworks All Week (Score 1) 328

by billstewart (#47381275) Attached to: On 4th of July:

There was an event at a nearby university last weekend that had fireworks I could hear. My local community will have a concert and fireworks in the park on July 4th, as will several communities up and down the freeway from here. (I won't be going; traffic is a horrendous fail :-) There have been a few random illegal fireworks every night all week, and I suspect there'll be more tonight, lots more tomorrow, some Saturday, a few Sunday.

Some years ago there was a nearby highway construction project that had a 20-foot-high pile of dirt around for a couple of years. Folks from my neighborhood would bring our lawn chairs up their for July 4th evening, and we had a decent view of the nearest couple of sets of official fireworks and random illegal ones as well.

Comment: CPU-Mining The Non-ASIC Coin Types. Much Wow! (Score 1) 281

by billstewart (#47343229) Attached to: Bitcoin Security Endangered By Powerful Mining Pool

There are crypto-currencies designed to be resistant to ASIC mining (though some are starting to get hit with GPU mining), by using algorithms that take enough memory or other complexities that are easy to do in CPU but hard to do on non-general platforms. Litecoin's one example.

Some of them might have enough market depth that a stolen-CPU botnet mining farm could actually make money on them. There was a recent hack where somebody mined a lot of DogeCoins, and supposedly got about $200K worth - it's just appalling, because while DogeCoin is supposed to be ASIC-resistant, it's also supposed to be worth so little that it's purely for fun and nobody could actually make real money mining it.

Comment: Re:Banjo/drummer/viola/accordion jokes (Score 1) 101

Most of them can be recycled easily between genres; the drummer jokes (or bass player jokes) are more likely to be about the players, while the others are more likely to be about the instruments themselves, but either way.

I did see somebody the other day with a t-shirt captioned "First violinist problems", showing a musical staff and a note about 10 lines above the staff.

Comment: Sitars (Score 4, Informative) 101

The sitar has several things going on with it

  • -- The body has a chamber made from a big gourd, and a wooden neck with adjustable frets.
  • -- There's a layer of strings that you pick, optionally pressing on the string over a fret to change the pitch.
  • -- There's another layer of strings underneath that resonate when you play the note they're tuned to on the main strings, which provides some amplification and a lot of sustain; that's one of the things that gives the sitar its characteristic sound.
  • -- In addition to fretting a string when you pick it, you can also bend it to the side, changing the pitch dynamically, which is another characteristic sitar sound. Guitar and bass players also use this technique, but sitar strings are long enough that it's easier to do.
  • -- Generally there are two or three strings that you'll play the melody notes on, and several more strings that you pick without fretting, letting them drone like a mountain dulcimer; that's another characteristic sitar sound.
  • That's most of the technology parts; the rest is about the music itself.

Indian classical music theory is complex, at least as much as European classical music theory or jazz. There's a lot of stuff about "ragas", which are a combination of a scale or scales, melodies, fixed parts and improvised parts, with a lot of rules about which ones are appropriate for which situations.

The Military

The Military Is About To Get New Augmented Reality Spy Glasses 58

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
schwit1 writes in with this story about some interesting new eyewear purchased by the Defense Department. Getting secret information to specific people, like the location of the nearest nuclear power plant, in a way that doesn't draw attention from outside is a classic spy problem. Another one is giving agents the ability to match names to faces in the real world, at blackjack tables and fancy soirees and other places spies frequent. The Defense Department is buying some new spy specs to give spooks in the field an intelligence edge over everybody else. The glasses, called simply the X6, are from San Francisco-based Osterhout Design Group. They look like the lovechild of Google Glass and the Oculus Rift, providing more information to the wearer than the small window on Google's much-maligned headset but not obstructing vision like the Oculus Rift. (Admittedly, for spy glasses, they lack a certain subtlety.)

Comment: Re:Match doesn't understand "smart" (Score 4, Informative) 561

by billstewart (#47322163) Attached to: Match.com, Mensa Create Dating Site For Geniuses

The primary distinguisher of the Ivy League schools isn't that they're rich or that they're exceptionally high quality (though generally they are.) They're a group of colleges that a century or so ago made an agreement with each other not to have athletic scholarships, so the students could play amateur sports against each other instead of having to compete with semi-professionals. Yes, occasionally a student at the Ivies is good enough to get into the NFL or NHL, but they've got to spend time being a student as well.

To be awake is to be alive. -- Henry David Thoreau, in "Walden"

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