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Comment: Re:don't worry about it (Score 4, Funny) 178

by bscott (#48389489) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Non-USB Flash Direct From China Safe?

Yeah - I worked for a gadget retailer and was asked to test some 8GB flash sticks several years ago.

You could write 8GB to them, but anything past the first 4GB returned a read error.

My boss called the supplier in Shenzen to yell at them - "How could you do this?" Their response: "I don't understand - you SAID you wanted the best price?!"

Comment: Mentor? (Score 1) 234

by bscott (#47941749) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

There's something of a dearth of material out there for people who want to learn STEM topics on a casual basis and are somewhere in between a layperson and a specialist. Most of what you can find to read is either written for the general public (popular science books and magazines) or dry scientific papers. I've also had a lifelong interest in science, but did not pursue it as a career, and it's always a challenge to find stuff which I can read and yet which hasn't had the details filtered out...

"Science News" magazine is a stand-out example though - it's science reporting written for an educated audience, often people who are scientists themselves who want to keep up in other fields. It's amazing how concise and information-packed the articles can become when you can use words above the typical 6th-grade reading level (or whatever they use for newspapers these days).

But, I digress. In your position I'd try to find a mentor - maybe barter some IT services in return. There are lots of people out there who'd probably enjoy the process of helping a mature student get started.

Comment: Re:Content Developer here (Score 1) 158

By the way - the coolest thing about transitioning OUT of IT is that when the office network goes down, it's neither your fault nor your problem... you get to hang around the coffee machine and complain with everyone else!

I don't tell most of my coworkers about my background. If they know you can fix computers... well, it's like owning a pickup truck, and everyone asks you to help them move!

Comment: Content Developer here (Score 1) 158

After ~20 years working in every area of IT, for a number of reasons I've recently transitioned over to "Online Content Developer" as a career track.

I'm just starting a new job with a major supplier of accounting / tax software. Most of the reason I was hired was my IT background, since a big part of my job will be helping manage the flow of information (internally and, eventually, to the public) from the tech support and consulting departments to other areas of the company.

In this new role, I use some of my technical skills just getting the most from all the internal systems and platforms here, but mostly I draw from my experience with helping people use technology. I understand tech support from both sides of the equation, and can help translate issues to people who don't. Later on I'll be tasked with helping interpret complex accounting software issues for the general public as well.

In the past I've done similar work for a vocational training company, and again my experience with developing helpdesk materials, Knowledge Bases and other forms of online training was a big reason why I was hired. (I also have a track record in writing and video production, with lots of exposure to online marketing methods as well - but many people have that without being techies)

FWIW!

Comment: Re:WHy would he do it? (Score 4, Informative) 193

by bscott (#46722631) Attached to: Stephen Colbert To Be Letterman's Successor

> His bank account will see a significant step up

Not as much as you might think. He makes more than half what Letterman does now ($8 mil/yr vs Dave's ~$15mil) and it's unlikely CBS will pay him as much as they paid Dave, at least not to begin with.

Since Dave (and Leno for that matter) took pay cuts a few years back due to declining audiences across the board, Jon Stewart has been the highest-paid talk show host on the air.

Comment: Re:Pragmatism (Score 1) 503

You could usually see it coming at my last job, when a Dvorak user would step up to - for instance - a communal computer used for presentations, and attempted to log into something. They always had to type their password twice, the second time after wincing in realization of what they'd done the first time...

Comment: Re:Pragmatism (Score 1) 503

by bscott (#46131799) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are Linux Desktop Users More Pragmatic Now Or Is It Inertia?

I should add - I'm glad those features are there, I think they're cool, and I sometimes wish I could use them. If I had only one computer to use for the rest of eternity, it'd be so customized I'd only need eyeblinks to do everything.

But those features are only good insofar as they don't take away from stability. And when my Linux desktop encounters an error, it's pretty much always Compiz these days... this has been true across the last two revs of Ubuntu, v11-v13 and across two separate hardware platforms Dell-Lenovo, and reinstalls every few months. Never had problems with Ubuntu v8-v10...

Comment: Pragmatism (Score 5, Insightful) 503

by bscott (#46130709) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are Linux Desktop Users More Pragmatic Now Or Is It Inertia?

If you can't have a consistent experience across even one day, why get too reliant on customizations and shortcuts?

Back in the day, I had to switch between Data General (terminals), MacOS, and Amiga keyboards and UIs on a daily basis between work and home. These days, of course, everything has changed - now I bounce from Linux to Android to OSX, and more than occasionally Windows too. It's just never paid off to build a super-custom setup when you can't stick with it.

I use Linux for my main desktop at home partly because it is so quick and easy to reinstall - just keep your data on a backed-up server and you can virtually forget about maintenance or troubleshooting. Get used to the default setup and just reinstall whenever you run into something you can't work around - 15 minutes to get back to a familiar desktop is quicker than any full restore-from-backup I'm aware of. (I actually like Linux internals but every time I learn something, I end up forgetting it before I need it a second time; it gets frustrating...)

I'm aware I'm giving up a fair amount of potential productivity and convenience. I don't care any more. I'm just happy when I remember not to try and touch the monitor on my wife's iMac.

I got friends and colleagues who, for example, use Dvorak. More power to 'em. They're younger and more stubborn than I, and most of the time they have one laptop they use both at home and at work. As a wise man once remarked, I'm older now, I got to move my car on street-sweeping day, I can't be doing just anything I want any more...

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming

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