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Comment: General upgrades vs IE6 (Score 1) 614

by dabblah (#43664261) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Won't Companies Upgrade Old Software?

In terms of Stability, with a capital S, Microsoft hit their height with NT 3.5.1 (mainly because an application that wasn't specifically engineered for it just wouldn't run on it, but still). For a simple office that only needs file and print sharing Netware 3.12 or 3.20 really was good enough. In office applications I had thought for years that Word 6 or Word 97 (matter of taste) did everything anyone could reasonably need to do. My * on it now is I don't know Word 97's track change and compare capabilities, but I do know that went downhill from Office 2003 to Office 2007 and 2010... And I won't even more than start on this whole insane idea of getting rid of the menus (fortunately alt-e, s, t still works in Excel...).

There really were two points in the OP. First is software in general, and really there is no need to upgrade for upgrades sake in many cases. The second point is IE6 in particular and the security problems inherent therein, but you can solve that one by running a modern version of Chrome or Firefox even on XP... My company generally doesn't care what you install as long as it doesn't require administrator privileges (I left IT support many, many moons ago now), and so the last time I had a website that IE wouldn't load properly I installed Chrome...

To the point of applications specifically engineered for IE6 - a company that does that deserves what it gets in the way of broken support and being hacked. IE 3 was originally the more standards compliant browser back in the browser war days. If you are engineering a browser based solution that is not standards compliant, you have sewn the seeds of your own doom.

Comment: Purchase Order (Score 1) 341

by dabblah (#42310573) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Collect Payments From a Multinational Company?

Ok, you people that are talking about lawyers and letters and late fees are just not with the reality of a large company. I am not all that an important an employee at a global 500 company, and I have a good dozen lawyers I know by first name that I might use for various purposes...

For the most part, large companies work from purchase orders. Up front, get whoever you are doing business with in the company to give you a purchase order. Write your contract with the company so that all actual work will be released by issuance of a valid purchase order. If you have a valid purchase order number, and submit an invoice in good format that has the PO # and the invoice total due very clearly displayed on the first page, you have gone most of the distance toward getting successfully paid. Those two things will insure that the invoice has a really good chance of getting coded in their system properly, at least, and then you will be talking in the terms of how to get an invoice that is in their system paid. The less AP has to think about, the better, because those people are not paid to think.

Ideally the company will also have an email address that you can electronically send the invoice, so that you don't get stuck in a situation where you send the paper invoice somewhere and the global company processes all paper invoices on the other side of the world and they all get shipped there without even being looked at... That happens, or used to, at one of the largest companies in the world and so they would insist on 45 day payment terms with all of their contractors.

Comment: Re:I'm sorry.... I don't see the problem. (Score 1) 305

Finally, some sanity. I was about to chime in with a lot of the content of the parent post.

Also, this idea that RFID tags are the mark of the beast needs to be stamped out on two grounds. 1) the religious loonies are hiding behind that one way too much and it relies on a very particular (and as the link in the story points out, misguided in the mainstream view) reading of one of the most ambiguous books of the bible, itself one of the most ambiguous books ever written on the whole... 2) catering to fringe beliefs isn't the concern of the state. Educating the next generation is the concern of the state.

To respond to another point I see above: Just because we didn't have RFID when I was going to school doesn't mean that we can't adopt advances that are useful in society. I am not convinced that this is, but I am also not convinced that it isn't and that is the idea of a pilot.

I have a reasonable civil liberties bent in general but I can't get too excited one way or the other about this issue. As I live in Bexar (pronounced something like the word Beyer, as in asprin - spanish x) county, I have heard a fair amount of reporting on this one... My kids are in another district, however.

Comment: Re:I find this depressing (Score 5, Insightful) 275

by dabblah (#40883543) Attached to: Neutrino-Powered Financial Trading In Our Future?

It's worse than depressing. There is no socially redeeming value to high frequency trading. At best the practice steals a small amount of value from any affected fundamental (or non high speed technical for that matter...) trade. At worst, it may have caused the flash crash or be able to trigger a similar event.

If we as a world collectively had reasonable securities laws, the idea of high frequency trading would soon become moot. For the right to host the capital markets, the exchanges should be required to be neutral to latency, and certainly not co-host high frequency trading with the exchange computer systems. Also, a very small Pigovian tax on financial transactions would clean up a lot of undesirable activity in the securities markets, this included, while being a source of revenue proximate to provision of a societal good (that being regulation for efficiency sake of the capital markets).

Comment: Re:Lots of misinformation (Score 1) 267

by dabblah (#39626359) Attached to: My gut feeling about fracking:

Sort-of correct. Aside from dumping wastewater into rivers, the other water issue is that fracking consumes a lot of water. If the potable supply is meeting the need for hydrolic fluid feedstock, then at a minimum there is a waste of water. In South Texas, you do get some frackers against the ranchers. The ranchers like getting royalty checks, but they also like their cows...

If saline water from a saline aquifer is meeting the need, maybe not so much of an issue unless that is compounding a problem. I don't know of recycled water being used for fracking anywhere, which would obviously make sense except it would have to be mandated due to the cost.

Comment: Re:A Few Notes on Your Suggestion (Score 1) 736

by dabblah (#39458723) Attached to: Domestic Drilling Doesn't Decrease Gasoline Prices

I dispute that OPEC is weakened. The Saudis have controlled the marginal barrel for about ten years, except for the brief periods when oil spiked down. OPEC weakness would be demonstrated by low prices, not high prices, and world prices are currently relatively high in historic terms. Non OPEC is pretty much pumping all it reasonably can at these levels, including the Russians who are increasingly technically less competent to bring more oil to market. This pricing regime fits with Saudi planning where they desire their oil to be valuable for many years to come. Sheikh Yamani several years ago made an excellent point that this pricing and behavior could eventually be what drives the first world, and America in particular, to electrify and invest in nuclear. That is pretty much the obvious policy response, except for fear and the NIMBY factor.

Gasoline isn't all that international either. You can't take generic gasoline and sell it into either California or Europe, for example. Jet and Diesel, which have been on and off again more valuable than gasoline since 2008, are more generally similar in required specification.

To the point in the parent's parent, the best evidence that Wall Street is not setting prices is OPEC likes to say that Wall Street is setting prices. If OPEC is saying it, it has nothing to do with the truth and only anything to do with what OPEC wants the world to believe. More precisely, crude oil has no value independent of its utility unlike gold, for example, which has cosmetic value aside from industrial utility (I lump the supposed intrinsic value of gold in with cosmetic). Also, storage of crude oil once produced is much more constrained than that of gold. There are a bunch of safe deposit boxes and jewelry boxes and basements on top of the massive facilities at Fort Knox and the Fed Branch of New York and wherever else around the world. There is not an excess of crude oil tankage around the world, you can't store it in your basement, and if you could it would then be difficult to get to a refinery. If speculation, and not physical supply and demand, were driving the market, that existing tankage would fill with no viable outlet and prices would adjust downward. The absence of a global build up of crude or products is evidence against speculation being the driver.

Prices don't come down from domestic drilling because the United States and Canada (considering both domestic to catch a wide net with this response) are not setting the marginal barrel. The Saudis are. The US and Canada can't produce enough, even in Sarah Palin's wildest deluded dreams, to set the marginal barrel on the world level, at least not as long as the Japanese are not restarting their nukes and are running Indonesian light sweet crude through power plants (an insane waste of crude, except that is all they have without the nukes).

If anyone reads my post and is generally interested in market pricing, I point to Valero which maintains an excellent spreadsheet showing current pricing trends:
http://www.valero.com/InvestorRelations/Pages/IndustryFundamentals.aspx

Their refining tutorials are also very good for a non Chem E introduction to the industry.

Reposting since I saw I wasn't logged in for the original (slow on the uptake tonight...). I'll claim my opinions...

Comment: Re:This applies to ALL textbooks (Score 2) 446

by dabblah (#39240873) Attached to: Math Textbooks a Textbook Example of Bad Textbooks

I'll one up you on this one. Why PDF's? Soon enough the Kindle (or something like it) is going to be a commodity. One Kindle is already cheaper than two textbooks.

"Basic Math" defined as anything you get into until late undergrad in a pure math degree, tops out somewhere around the 18th century for the most part. A trig textbook from 75 years ago would work for today, maybe edited to remove some really tedious exercises that nobody would actually do any more. Almost all of the content, and 90% of the problems would likely still be applicable. Pay one editor to get the text and problems in shape, and another to format and get any required graphics for the mobile reader solution, and you have a public domain solution that can destroy the market entirely for trig text books. It doesn't matter if the solutions are well known or not; students aren't going to pass a real math test without understanding (meaning having worked and struggled individually) the problems anyway.

As a parent outside the educational establishment with a couple of math degrees and who hates waste, I would be quite willing to contribute time to this effort. I wonder how to get it started?

Comment: Poll for the dudes (Score 1) 502

by dabblah (#39154667) Attached to: The correct number of shoes to own:

I once read (in an ad for shoe organization at the container store) that the average woman has 40 pairs of shoes. My wife (maybe future wife at that point) looked indignant at me thinking that a lot, but at dinner with friends that night the other woman smiled and said "oh, I have that {40 pairs} beat a mile".

Comment: Re:I had four megabytes and it was pretty (Score 1) 461

by dabblah (#39148461) Attached to: Comparing Today's Computers To 1995's

Ah, but did you have the config.sys with the menu and autoexec.bat set to do almost nothing so that you could run the customized batch program to load whatever you wanted customized for the particular game?

Actually, neither did I but my gamer/CS major roommate did, and I was adept enough that I helped him debug those from time to time... He had the original Pentium chip with the on chip error and 8 MB of ram. I seem to remember it took a little while to get Dark Forces working on that.

Those were the days. I actually spanned that article by having a 486dx (dx=with math co-processor on chip if I remember properly, sx was without) which I upgraded from 4 MB to 16 MB ram. I ran OS2 warp on that thing...And then my next computer was the Pentium Pro 180 oced to 225 as per Tom's hardware guide back when it was just Tom, with the then revolutionary 6mb Canopus 3d card.

Comment: Re:The Shire Calendar (Score 1) 725

by dabblah (#38511228) Attached to: Christmas Always On Sunday? Researchers Propose New Calendar

You beat me to the punch on this. I am actually shocked that the shire calendar was so low on the list responses...

I see stuff like the OP and think I could have just stayed in academia. If someone at John's Hopkins can get any kind of publication value out of something this pointless, I could have made a nice career there... Ah well. Money called...

Comment: Re:No idea, doesn't matter. (Score 1) 216

by dabblah (#38250266) Attached to: For 1 kWh of electricity, I pay ...

Ok, reality here. Metering and associated costs are like .8% not 80%... Smart meters do not replace meter readers, either, since part of the meter reader's job is rudimentary inspection of the parts of the system he contacts. It is a low level job, but they are trained in tasks that help keep the system whole. Also, in many cases it costs a utility more to try to bill from a pulsed read on the distribution level than just having someone read the actual meter.

It could well be that in some given year metering was 80% of a British utility's cost, but that is actually more indicative of the backwardness of the British utility industry (or was, I suspect that number is dated if it ever was real).

Comment: Re:I don't hate IT and never have (Score 1) 960

by dabblah (#38177996) Attached to: Why Everyone Hates the IT Department

Yes, this is the best diagnosis of the problem. I administered a network and a few hundred users in the late 90s. Since then I have worked in unrelated careers for two fortune 500 companies and I am still more capable of diagnosing a problem than any frontline it support I have seen at either. Given what I can see of network support, I would bet on me there given a week to get up to speed as well. Users who don't know much about computing in general in the CS sense, thinking of my current boss, can spot uselessness and incompetence. Also, incompetence breeds bloat according to the principles of a war of attrition (throw enough men and equipment into the confused battle and eventually someone is bound to do something right).

Comment: Re:RAM's cheap (Score 1) 543

by dabblah (#38094570) Attached to: RAM in my most-used personal computer:

Old Timer? Please... $400 for 16 MB of Ram established my rule of thumb that you should always spend $400 for ram to get enough. That held pretty much the entire time I was in IT in the 90s. Then I didn't build a computer for a few years and when I went back to build one I found that $400 worth of ram was preposterous and the number was more like $200 then...

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