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Comment: Re:Prior art (Score 1) 468

The bridge of the Enterprise.

obgeek:

I think it was in the TNG episode Brothers where Data locked out all of the systems on the ship, including Navigation.

WESLEY: We don't even know what star system we're in, sir.
RIKER: The only way we knew we'd come out of warp was by looking out a window.

Comment: Re:software (Score 1) 169

by clintp (#46685287) Attached to: Fifty Years Ago IBM 'Bet the Company' On the 360 Series Mainframe

Um, so how does one break into this dull field?

* Learn systems, and programming, and all that other crap but you were going to do that anyway. Linux and the cool stuff are fine, just remember to learn Windows too. Enjoy it. It won't be the worst system you'll use by any stretch.
  * Use whatever system they give you. You'll learn something from everything you use. If someone pulls a 1978 CADO Systems CAT III out of a closet and needs you to retrieve financials from it, you'll learn the wonders of 8086 multi-user programming and hashed files.
  * Take an accounting class. Hell, take two. Business classes are helpful as well. See things from your employer's and their client's perspective. Look at double-entry bookkeeping as a wonderful checksum and transaction based system. Speak to them in their own language.
  * Try data entry for a spell. Barring that, go quietly watch your users work. Don't tell people how to use your software, watch how they use it. Nobody wants to click a mouse when they're being read columns of numbers over a telephone by a busy accountant.
  * Make yourself useful. If you're not useful there, go find somewhere else to work.

Comment: Re:software (Score 1) 169

by clintp (#46685109) Attached to: Fifty Years Ago IBM 'Bet the Company' On the 360 Series Mainframe

No fear of that my friend. The biggest reason is that most US employers are unwilling to put their futures with the IRS into the hands of someone beyond the reach of US law. Generally, employers want the money here, the companies here, the programmers within easy reach, and full auditing on everything. Even if most of the code is done offshore, someone here still has to look it over.

There are a lot of trust issues around this industry. If the bank absconds with your cash, you're out the cash. If the payroll company takes the cash and fails to make your Federal deposit, you can go to jail (you can't pass the buck on that one).

This is what happens when you deal with something not entirely transparent.

Comment: Re:software (Score 2) 169

by clintp (#46685021) Attached to: Fifty Years Ago IBM 'Bet the Company' On the 360 Series Mainframe

That's because the software is largely crap. I say that as someone who still learned COBOL and yes, on a mainframe, in university.

I didn't pull any good lessons out of COBOL decades ago, however the designs around RPG turn out to be surprisingly useful even today. The basic concepts of header, details, running totals, nested breaks, subtotals, etc.. don't seem to be easy for programmers, and the interfaces to them in modern reporting systems are universally terrible.

All the while RPG handles this stuff like breathing, in a minimal problems kind of way. Plus the event-loop concept of processing incoming records and calculations is still freaking genius.

I wish they'd teach it now.

Comment: Re:software (Score -1, Flamebait) 169

by clintp (#46683471) Attached to: Fifty Years Ago IBM 'Bet the Company' On the 360 Series Mainframe

We struggle trying to get someone new motivated to learn the technology.

I wonder how the banks end up getting people working in banking. After all, it's dull (yeah, the maths in the software is generally not that interesting), high stress and ultimately pointless. I guess they find *some* way of motivating those people.

Agreed. Adding my own anecdote.

(modesty filter off for a moment)

I'm a talented programmer. Yes, I'm in my 40's, but I'm also well-versed in tech both new and old. I keep up with the kiddies and their frameworks-of-the-month for web, mobile, and other development platforms. I grok my systems from the applications down to the network protocols on the wire and the byte arrangement on the disks. I can train, have written books, deal with management well, and mange people adequately. I can work where I want to, command good salaries, and have turned down good offers recently.

(modesty filter back on)

I'm currently working in the Payroll industry in the midwest. Not quite banking, but well, it's close. The core application here is from the 1980's. Legacy shit abounds in this place. Our vendors are using tech even older, judging by how file exchange and their API's look. Government and regulatory agencies are terrible partners. Progress is slow, cumbersome, and painful.

Why the hell would I work here? Employers take note:

    * They pay me very well.
    * I have a short commute. I don't waste a lot of time in my car or on a train.
    * They don't work me very hard. Honestly I can come and go as I need. My time off is mine.
    * Regulatory deadlines are distant, well-known, rock solid, and usually easily achieved. Congress notwithstanding.
    * There's money here. If I need equipment, it shows up. If I need software, it gets bought.
    * My software is quietly useful. Millions of people look at their paychecks (or bank statements) and most of the time it's just right.
    * I am not technologically micromanaged. I can use the tools I want, the way I want.
    * My employers are good at weeding out poisonous co-workers. I don't work with assholes, ever.
    * The challenges are of my own devising. I have enough time to experiment, throw away, re-work, and try new things.

All of that is how dull industries like banking (and payroll) wind up with talented people.

Comment: Re:I'll wait and see (Score 1) 117

by clintp (#46676039) Attached to: The Verge: Google Is Working on a TV Box Of Its Own

It's not the boxes themselves that are the failures, it's the content that's all shit. Netflix has old shit, HBO doesn't play nicely with anyone, movie and cable distributors are still living in the 1970's, sports leagues are still living in the 1980's. Even when you manage to get two or more players together, the metadata blows chunks.

No thanks. I'll wait for the Pirate Bay STB.

Comment: Re:Prior Art (Score 1) 93

by clintp (#45922837) Attached to: First Recorded Observation of Freshwater Fish Preying On Birds In Flight

I've seen largemouth bass take dragonflies at full speed over the water, and those little things are fast. That a larger fish could take a bird in flight comes as no surprise.

For the fish a bird is a large, tasty, pretty much defenseless (once it hits the water) meal.

Nico Smit, director of the Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management at North-West University in Potchefstroom, needs to get out more.

Comment: Re:Do I need a license? (Score 1) 370

by clintp (#45846495) Attached to: Illinois Law Grounds PETA Drones Meant To Harass Hunters

If you shot down a PETA drone on public land while, say, quail hunting the local sheriff or game officer who'd investigate wouldn't give you any trouble and would be quite sympathetic I'm sure. You're shooting flying things, something flew by, oh well. Many birding seasons overlap.

Deer hunting would be a tougher sell to the sheriff.

I don't hunt, but I do fish (for food, not sport). If I were harassed somehow by a PETA drone it would have to be awfully close by to really be bothersome; close enough that a heavy test line and a weight with large treble hooks attached could bring it down. Like anything caught accidentally out of season, I'd evaluate its condition and throw it back in the water immediately. Possibly with some assistance to help it swim.

It's easier to spook game for hunters than fishermen. You'd have to fly damned close to the water for noise, and drones don't fly like fish-eating birds do.

Comment: Re:Newspeak? (Score 2) 177

by clintp (#44923699) Attached to: NSA Posts Opening For "Civil Liberties & Privacy Officer"

Over the summer I learned that the medical research division at ARPA has one bio-ethicist on staff. He's completely overwhelmed, walks around in a horrified daze, and rubber stamps everything that lands on his desk (when they bother). This is third-hand, of course. I can't believe that a Civil Liberties & Privacy Officer for the NSA would be any more useful than just a PR stunt.

Comment: Re:Gun Makers (Score 1) 1111

by clintp (#43339655) Attached to: Build a Secret Compartment, Go To Jail

And, sadly, once he saw it, and reasonably knew what the second one was likely to be used for .. he was screwed. Because either he said nothing and became complicit, or he turned in some shady people who might not be understanding of that.

A couple of months ago, Bruce Shneier linked to an interview with a professional safe cracker. Relevant piece:

Q: Do you ever look inside?
A: I NEVER look. It’s none of my business. Involving yourself in people’s private affairs can lead to being subpoenaed in a lawsuit or criminal trial. Besides, I’d prefer not knowing about a client’s drug stash, personal porn, or belly button lint collection.

When I’m done I gather my tools and walk to the truck to write my invoice. Sometimes I’m out of the room before they open it. I don’t want to be nearby if there is a booby trap.

I think if Anaya was following the same rule, he'd be a free man today. Once the mechanisms failed to trip, he should have handed the gentlemen tools (drill, saws, etc..) told them where to drill and walked away.

Comment: Re:Alternatives? (Score 1) 386

by clintp (#43171897) Attached to: Google Reader Being Retired

Can anyone show me an alternative that isn't getting totally hammered right now? That kind of thing just doesn't inspire confidence...

If these services are totally hammered now when people are just browsing for an alternative, think of how piss-poor it will be when the service has actual users, and data and... .

*shudder*

Someone will eventually emerge with a usable, scalable service to take in the Reader Refugees. Until amateur hour is over, I'll just sit on the sidelines and wait for that service to emerge.

PS: Fuck you, Google.

Comment: Re:the goal... (Score 1) 306

by clintp (#42286697) Attached to: Islamic Hacker Group Resumes Attacks On Banks

If this hacker group is "sophisticated" enough to DDOS banks... wouldn't they realize that "eliminating" ANYTHING from the Internet is impossible?

The stated goal is for shit. This has nothing to do with some video insulting the prophet Mohamed. That was simply the next excuse that came up when the Mohammedans shook the Magic 8-Ball of Islamic Gripes. The next will be Israel's existence, infidels in Afghanistan, pornographic magazines like "Time" and "National Geographic" with immodest women, or some other perceived insult that demands some kind of retribution.

"I have just one word for you, my boy...plastics." - from "The Graduate"

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