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Comment: Technical People (Score 1) 194

by cshamis (#47678121) Attached to: The Billion-Dollar Website

Normally, in order to solicit a project of any appreciable size, (over 100K) the government is required to produce a detailed SOW (Statement of Work) that defines the scope and goals. As projects get bigger (over 100M) the SOW begins to get more and more generic, but the accompaning Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) gets more detailed, and much much longer (five, six, sometimes as deep as eight or nine sub-sections) Each sub-section may generate dozens of Task Orders (TOs). Task Orders are what get assigned to contractors to work. If the upper document is vauge, or poorly thought out, or poorly defined, then the individual TO may be nonsensical.

Okay... so who is writing this nonsense? Well, the Government can't have the contractors who will be doing the work come up with the work they will do. (That's putting a fox in the henhouse.) So the Government will sometimes turn to a special type of contractor called a SETA (Scientific Engineering Technical Adisor) or FFRDC employee (Federally Funded Resarch Development Center) to develop the approach and SOW, WBS, and sometimes even write the TO. A SETA or FFRDC is specially recognised in that, they (and their respective employer) are expressly forbidden from bidding on or performing work on ANY project for which they have acted as a SETA or FFRDC. It's a classic case of conflict of interest. And, usually these guys are pretty good. There was no SETA or for the Healthcare.gov website. It wasn't considered a "technical" project (like building a moon-lander) so... that was probably the first mistake.

The second mistake is that the people in Government who normally get tasked with writing the RFPs SOWs and evaulating them are usually the same people who aren't um... "smart enough" to figure out how to get out of it. (LIke the jury-duty joke) They's also the same folks who get tasked with evaulating the proposals that come back... again... not the sharpest tools in the shed. So... there's plenty of blame to go round.

The absense of personal accountability in Government encourages irresponsible behavior. But, too much accountability encourages paralysis. (I'm not signing off on that!) So until we figure out how to fix that too... well... this is just going to keep happening.

Comment: Processes don't affect professionals... (Score 1) 460

by cshamis (#36092930) Attached to: Is Process Killing the Software Industry?
Software professionals aren't deterred by software processes; some may B&M that writing test cases for a UI is a PITA and a waste of time, but a professional software engineer doesn't mind this extra work, because it's just part of the job. Architects, Doctors, and structural engineers have processes that they need to follow, and so should software engineers. Software engineering has only really been coming into its own in the last 30 years, so it's still a young engineering discipline, and the entire field is still struggling to come up with a guide-book. From the stakeholder's perspective: software is crushingly expensive. It takes many man-hours to develop quality software. Project management processes used by "metal-benders" who actually produce a tangible product didn't always map well to software development practices; but 30 years ago that's all anybody had. The last 15 years has seen a huge improvement in software design processes. Much of what was thought to be the last word on the subject (SEI/CMMI, and ISO-9000) turned out to be impractical, inappropriate and/or counterproductive in the real world. Newer mentalities like Agile, and XP are much better suited, but are usually snubbed by middle management tiers because the control gates require qualitative decisions not quantitative. Any idiot can sign off on a status report if X-many bugs per Y-lines of code is met. ---But when decisions need to be made solely on subjective opinion and experience, then suddenly nobody wants to sign off on anything; requests are denied, decisions are postponed, and the project suffers. That's not a problem with processes, that's a problem of ineffective leadership, and it's endemic in the software industry. --But that's the subject of an entire other essay...

Comment: Organizations think PCs are like furniture (Score 2) 533

by cshamis (#35793850) Attached to: Workers Will Smash Their PCs To Get an Upgrade
When in fact, they're tools; and, tools eventually wear out or become obsolete. You wouldn't expect a chef to never sharpen his knife, how can anybody expect that computers will continue to "stay sharp" as the day they were installed? We've got over 30 years of evidence that this is not the case. As the OS accumulates service packs and additional add-ons (read: Enterprise malware) eventually everything slows down and makes the machine clunky and awkward. The hardware doesn't change, but the software loads continue to become more demanding; factor in all the new idiot security policies most IT departments dream up, (full disk virus scans in the middle of the workday, password changes every 30 days, emails older than 90 days are deleted, no personal flashdrives, firewall monitoring, 180-day new software approval processes, requiring a "code" to use the color printer, etc.) ---The end result: Frustration, annoyance, anger... like road-rage; we feel that the computer, (like a slow guy blocking the fast lane) is holding us up, and keeping us from accomplishing our goals, and that leads to "keyboard rage." If people are breaking their machines to get upgrades, that's a sure-sign that the organization is failing to provide a suitable IT environment.

Comment: Dude, where's my bacon? (Score 2) 348

by cshamis (#35585276) Attached to: Senators To Apple: Pull iPhone DUI-Check Alerts
Okay, I'm not condoning drunk driving. It's deadly dangerous full stop. However, the state has no right to prevent me from knowing the locations of DUI checkpoints, or patrol cars that are camping behind billboards, or in unlit parking lots, etc. I find it completely unacceptable that US Senators would suggest we begin employing secret police tactics like those used by the STASI in cold-war era East Germany. iPhone app, Android, whatever, that doesn't matter guys. Next they'll tell you can't text the location of a speed trap to somebody else, or talk on the phone about it. That's what this is really all about; restricting free communication of the citizens. The app is just the medium, it's not important. Please remember to vote these Senators out of office next election.

Comment: Re:too little, too late, too wrong... (Score 1) 280

by cshamis (#34011848) Attached to: Amazon To Allow Book Lending On the Kindle
I don't understand why this is so complicated for the businesspeople who are trying to develop eBooks to grasp. The strength of eBooks, are (primarily): The lack of size and weight restrictions on the library a person can take with them, and (for all practical purposes) instantaneous content delivery. That's it. Everything else about the experience is completely sub-par to dead-tree editions. Instead on simply capitalizing on those strengths, they expound the weaknesses by adding on these ridiculous usability restrictions. Really? The *last* thing I want to worry about if I have a book I want to share with somebody is whether or not I've shared it before, or who is "share-worthy" or... being the receiver, that there is now a ticking time-bomb attached to when I have to read this book. Seriously? Libraries lend books for longer than that; and I have books as both a lender and lendee that have been out for over 2 YEARS! What is going to happen is the lendee is going to tell the lender, "Oh, don't send it to me yet, I won't have time until after the holidays." ---Great, that throws the burden back on me, the lender, to get back with them in order to lend them a book that I've already read! What's far more likely is eBooks just won't get lent, full stop. Things they should have focused on were the things that the technology makes possible, for example let me as the owner "pull back" my eBook from a lendee. Instead, they've just made more aggravation for me. Now, I didn't major in business, but I'm pretty sure there's a class called Don't_Annoy_Your_Customers_101 that's required for graduation. It's ironic but, everything Kindle has done has made the old paper editions look just that much more attractive. So, I'll keep buying them too.

Comment: Re:Somebody (Score 1) 250

by cshamis (#33374126) Attached to: Rustock Botnet Responsible For 40% of Spam
Just follow the money, anybody's who's making money from illegal advertisements should be rounded up and charged. And, it's not that hard because somebody is making money somewhere or they wouldn't be doing it. And if money is changing hands from one person to the next then there's a trail, and they can follow it.

Comment: Is this different from just following somebody? (Score 2, Insightful) 926

by cshamis (#33373950) Attached to: GPS Tracking Without a Warrant Declared Legal
Aside from using a technological tracker, this doesn't seem like it's any more an infringement of privacy than simply having the police follow you everywhere you go. Which they also do not need a warrant to do. Now, to attach a tracker to a car sitting in a driveway would be trespassing... unless the car was parked on a public street, or inside a garage.

Comment: In the wake of Toyota's trouble they pull this?? (Score 1) 238

by cshamis (#31586804) Attached to: Oracle/Sun Enforces Pay-For-Security-Updates Plan
Feature updates (or upgrades) aside, how can they produce a fix to a known problem and then demand that the customer pay to get the fix? In the midst of Toyota's recall PR disaster you would think that maybe somebody at Oracle would have a clue that maybe this is a bad idea. As for comparisons to Linux distro's those arguments don't apply because you're paying for the convienience of the distro in collecting all the updates and packaging them for their OS. In Linux, you can always go out and get the updates yourself directly from the package maintainers directly. --That's simply not possible with Solaris security patches. The only place to get them is from Sun. If they want to charge for "feature" upgrades, fine. But to deliberately withhold security patches is irresponsible and bad business.
GNU is Not Unix

Oracle/Sun Enforces Pay-For-Security-Updates Plan 238

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the you-get-what-you-pay-for dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Recently, the Oracle/Sun conglomerate has denied public download access to all service packs for Solaris unless you have a support contract. Now, paying a premium for gold-class service is nothing new in the industry, but withholding critical security updates smacks of extortion. While this pay-for-play model may be de rigueur for enterprise database systems, it is certainly not the norm for OS manufactures. What may be more interesting is how Oracle/Sun is able to sidestep GNU licensing requirements since several of the Solaris cluster packs contain patches to GNU utilities and applications."

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