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Comment: Re:-dafuq, Slashdot? (Score 1) 249

by Vitriol+Angst (#49693631) Attached to: Greenland's Glaciers Develop Stretch Marks As They Accelerate

I came for the stretch marks.

Why do we always have to discuss the manner in the way data is presented when it's pretty well known that Global Warming is changing the poles? Much better to spend our time on "what's next" and "how fast?"

The stretch marks are obviously and indication of movement that is "faster" than what we usually see; and how fast is that? A meter per day?

I'm thinking something the size of New Jersey is going to slip into the ocean in the next few years and "what happens" after that? Do we get a tsunami?

Comment: Re:One thing to keep in mind... (Score 1) 244

by Vitriol+Angst (#49693527) Attached to: RTFM? How To Write a Manual Worth Reading

Couldn't agree more. I went for years not being able to use UNIX man pages on command lines or common documents with apps because the switches never gave examples that made it clear. Was the bracket part of the command, was there a space or comma after the -p or do the letters run together? So many possible combinations that a novice or causal user is often left clueless how to use it so they go search on the web for a complete example and the man page lays dormant and useless.

And even though I've done some programming or scripts that use the command line -- I still don't know how to use most switches in UNIX because the man pages all follow the same example of "let's keep this opaque as possible and never, ever explain anything simply."

Comment: Re:More voters voting is not better in itself (Score 1) 258

by Vitriol+Angst (#49693161) Attached to: Online Voting Should Be Verifiable -- But It's a Hard Problem

You beat me to it. this is pretty much the system I would suggest to verify "e voting." The "ticket" is just to let you know what your vote token is. Nobody knows who you are -- they only know that person X was eligible to vote and did vote in election Y.

The vote tally would have to be made of a series of private/public key encrypted files and there would be spot-checking with exit polling to check back with token owners to see if they voted how the token indicated. Anonymously and randomly.

You'd also need a verification of the person from time to time to create the voter ID -- kind of like a social security number with it's own password. And this is what is used to create the vote token.

I think it's totally do-able and in fact, there is already a system like it with Apple Pay. The Vendors and the Voting location don't verify or know the vote cast -- just the tally machine at the end. They just verify that Person X was person X and voted. So even if we stay with voting locations -- we should move to a token system because our current "black box" -- privately programmed touch screens are not verifiable, no matter what garbage we are being told today because their is no way to match up the vote with the voter -- only a tally, and the individual vote, with no guarantee that THAT vote is part of the tally.

The other absurdity is to get a slip of paper or a card with "your vote" that you hand in. And there's someone with a badge there to protect it. I feel embarrassed by how stupid they have to think I am as a voter that this gives me any confidence at all that they can't just write down whomever they wanted as the winner of the vote. Our old paper and pencil system was 100% better than the electronic one we have now and cheaper as well (because crooks had to be paid, no doubt).

Comment: Re:More voters voting is not better in itself (Score 1) 258

by Vitriol+Angst (#49693057) Attached to: Online Voting Should Be Verifiable -- But It's a Hard Problem

I would have agreed with this about a decade ago, but then I thought about how I became sick and tired of the process -- I feel the vote machines are rigged and the choices pre-approved by the lobbyists, yadda, yadda. I still vote, but I do so out of duty and absolutely no delusion that my candidate is EVER going to win. We vote in the most corrupt person we can, and that's the way it's going to be.

But I thought about WHY the ancient Greeks forced people to the poles and would even fine them and mark their necks with a purple die (wrapping around a cloth to secure the print). It's the disenfranchised that you WANT to vote because otherwise the game is won by whomever can disgust everyone about the other candidate. Either they believe the much thrower and vote with him, or they don't vote -- says the logic of reality as we've seen it in modern voting patterns. The more negative, the more independent voters and the fewer people show up to vote overall. Winner; muck thrower.

Comment: Re:The problem is not methodology... (Score 1) 507

by Vitriol+Angst (#49692339) Attached to: Is Agile Development a Failing Concept?

I just took a course on Scrum/ AGILE and it was refreshing to learn that "the hardest thing to figure is how long things take on a complex project."

So an AGILE PM would say; "How complex do you think task X is relative to Y?" You'd then break things down into units of labor and try and attack the priorities and the lowest number units. This will of course, come as no shock to anyone in AGILE development -- but I'm repeating this stuff for the benefit of anyone who hasn't, and myself to reinforce the concepts.

Over time and consistency, your work units will translate to "time" -- but not until a while with a team and working on the same types of projects.

The point is; a business needs to hire the labor that they need, and get as much done as they can in a reasonable amount of time. No matter what they do, they can't get an unreasonable amount of work done with a small amount of labor -- they can only fail to produce good work or timely work.

AGILE fails because companies and or management do not adhere to it's principles. Unless workers are empowered to do all that they must do to accomplish a given task -- it isn't going to work. And if you want a timescale of less than 6 months where you can predict the rate of output -- that's also going to fail

Management has been blowing smoke up the rear of executives for decades now, and I suppose everyone still likes the breeze it makes.

Comment: Re:"Best" depends on intent (Score 1) 200

by Vitriol+Angst (#49692253) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Is the Best Open Document Format?

Sometimes you people make things WAY too complicated.

In our 'best judgement' -- what's a very open standard for documents? Now, we can ask "what type of document" -- and we can also try and answer for whatever documents we know.

So here goes;

Documents; Try RTFD. Rich Text Formatted Document. It might not be perfect in layout -- but it's open, and accessible to a lot of apps and cross platform. If you get bad results, you might just need to switch to some other "open" app. OpenOffice on all platforms will likely have consistent results but I haven't tried this. I use "Bean" on the Mac for a lightweight text editor and have no trouble.

PDF is good if you need to preserve the look and feel and for the most part -- it's accessible even without paying Adobe. Higher end features require an editor -- but you can have text, images and basic hyper links without cost. There are open source tools available. Adobe of course is a for profit company, but you can get 90% of everything you need with the free and "accessible" standard it has become. It isn't open -- but the PDF format won't change for anything it is compatible with right now.

SVG is a vector based image format. PNG is an image format. JPEG is a lossy compression format. All highly available.

Not so sure for 3D but Collada may be the best. Obj and DXF are old as dirt and don't transfer a lot of information like vertex normals correctly -- at least from discussions I've read. Someone with more experience should weigh in on this topic.

Comment: Re:Not really about lie detectors per se (Score 4, Interesting) 245

While yes, Bill Clinton was impeached for lying on a civil case -- it was a foregone conclusion BEFORE they impeached him that there was no perjury nor would he be able to be convicted.

Perjury charges are usually very difficult for prosecutors to prove because perjury is a crime of intent. This means that a defendant charged with perjury can only be found guilty if the prosecutor shows beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she intended to make the false statement under oath, or, that the witness told the lie on purpose. As such, criminal attorneys often defend their clients by arguing that the defendant did not intend to lie, or that the party believed the statement to be the truth at the time they made it.

The other thing is that it was not a Material Matter and it was not a criminal case. Having sex or not with Monica Lewinsky had beans to do with whether he forced himself on Jennifer Flowers (her own sister said she was trying to climb that pole for months).

Additionally, the Judge instructed that "sex was copulation between a man and a woman" -- so by the court rules laid out, Clinton's BJ was not considered "sex."

He was impeached, but he did not perjure himself. But he Republicans did, no numerous occasions in order to get him in the hot seat to talk about his penis.

This is just a public service announcement from people sick of us worrying about crap that doesn't matter instead of WAR CRIMES and an asshat like Bush that destroyed our economy, hired mercenaries, profited on war, approved torture, and made a fortune for oil companies and weapons dealers with a direct material benefit back to him -- and YET, we cannot investigate this unless there is a penis involved.

And we have another one of these scumbags from this rotten family in the pipe to go into office again and half the country thinks the Clintons are "more corrupt" even though they were exonerated on all 5 charges that Kenneth Starr spent 5 long years and more money than the 9.11 committee investigating.

Comment: High-priced is one key. (Score 1) 469

by aussersterne (#49641391) Attached to: Why Was Linux the Kernel That Succeeded?

Sure, the hardware was pretty cool, but the prices were just really, really high.

I remember a call to Sun where I was asking about a SunOS license for a used 3/80 I was thinking of buying from the department, and it was going to run me like $3,000 for the OS or $5,000 with development environment or something along those lines, and it was quoted to me as the *academic* price, and no matter which media delivery I wanted I would have had to buy additional hardware to read it, and so on. I mean, that's $5,000 to $8,000+ in today's cash for an already old, low-end Unix system at the time. I remember pleading with the person on the other end of the line to help me brainstorm and find other options, as I was a CS student and needed to be able to do my homework at home and all of that, but of course, they just felt like I was tying up the line—I looked sort of ridiculous from their perspective.

And then they told me that it was really too old to be useful, that I wanted an IPC or an IPX, I forget which, and the prices were well into five digits, again *academic* price for a bare bones configuration. And here I am a broke CS undergrad already struggling to pay $4k/year in tuition to a state school. It was a total non-starter.

Meanwhile, the first purpose-specific Linux box that I assembled (as my Linux excitement grew and I knew I wanted to do a dedicated build) was a 386/40 with 8MB RAM and about 1GB ESDI storage, along with a Tseng ET4000 VGA card. It was all used gear, again bought in surplus channels, but the thing was that it got me beyond what the 3/80 would have provided in terms of performance, and was perfectly servicable at the time as an X+development box, and it cost me a total of like $200. That was just plausible.

I built a sync converter circuit to connect an old Tektronix 19" fixed-sync color monitor to the VGA port and felt like I had a real, honest-to-god Unix workstation for $300, with a very competent development environment and Emacs, NCSA Mosaic, etc., rather than having had to spend 10x that much for less in the end.

People talk about *BSD, but the driver support on *BSD wasn't as good even a few years later when I looked at it. Linux supported crap hardware in addition to great hardware, which sounds bad until you realize it means that any broke student could scrounge around in the boardbucket and put together a fairly decent Linux system for peanuts.

Comment: To each his own (servers). (Score 1) 469

by aussersterne (#49641237) Attached to: Why Was Linux the Kernel That Succeeded?

I didn't have access to that tier of internet service at home at the time—I had UUCP and a Fido tosser, both of which dialed out over a modem once a day for a multi-megabyte sync.

Sun3/4, HP900, and some DEC boxes were all in use in the CS labs at my school at that period, though they were getting old. So I had ftp access there, but there was no removable storage on those machines, and no direct way to access them from my dial-up, and my account quota was pretty low on the NFS server, just enough to hold a bunch of C code for class and the binaries it produced, so space was pretty precious. For those reasons, it never occurred to me to ftp or gopher around at school for software to figure out how to take home. Plus lab access was limited and you really wanted to spend your time there doing your homework problems and getting them to compile and run, not dinking around looking for freeware.

Minix I read about on Usenet and tracked down some binaries, IIRC. But it wasn't impressive. Every now and then I'd hear something about *BSD, but it really wasn't clear how to get my hands on it, and nobody could really tell me. The people "in the know" as far as I knew were in the CS department and they were using the commercial unices and knew those pretty well.

In the Fido and Usenet groups I was in, Linux was the thing that turned up often and easily. Maybe I was reading the wrong groups, who knows. There were a hell of a lot of them in those days, if you recall, and it was all pretty noisy.

But Linux seemed then and over the several years that followed to come up over and over again. Others—not so much. It is what it is.

Comment: Re:Now do the same for Russian & NK? (Score 1) 82

It's not 100% safe, or hadn't you been tracking the state of Whistle-blowers or people in the press who get imprisoned? Whether it's just "more free" than Russia but less free than Norway and we can pat ourselves on the back or not -- the assumption that secret organizations keeping us safe without any oversight is anti-Democratic. America is better than Russia BECAUSE of the ACLU and other organizations and individuals that stand up to secrecy and how people are treated. The only thing we know is what we know and can measure -- everything else is an assumption. And we are told they are keeping us safe. Either they believe Democracy doesn't work because "we can't handle the truth" or they aren't working for us and just lie. I think there are a lot of people in this country who feel "you can't handle the truth" and they somehow feel like they are better qualified because we are naive; the enemy will take any advantage and won't hesitate to harm us if they can. I understand that kind of enemy; they think a lot like the "you can't handle the truth" people. I think the world is made up of "live and let live" and the cynical; "stab you in the back first" people. We can only win the hearts and minds of the former and hope they have influence on the latter.

Being subversive and using Linked-In to track the people who track you seems like a very patriotic thing do. What is good for the goose should be good for the gander. If the intelligence community doesn’t like being outed, perhaps they should revisit the 4th Amendment.

I just hope NOT posting this anonymously, doesn't hurt my credit rating -- you just don't know in this day and age how someone in power with no oversight can affect your life.

Comment: Single case anecdote. (Score 4, Interesting) 469

by aussersterne (#49632059) Attached to: Why Was Linux the Kernel That Succeeded?

I had been trying to afford a Unix installation at home as a CS student. All I knew was the Unix vendors. I was not aware of the social structure of the Unix world, various distributions, etc. I was crawling university surplus lots and calling Sun and DEC on the phone to try to find a complete package that I could afford (hardware + license and media). Nothing was affordable.

I was also a heavy BBS and UUCP user at the time over a dial-up line. One day, I found an upload from someone described as "free Unix." It was Linux.

I downloaded it, installed it on the 80386 hardware I was already using, and the rest is history. This was 1993.

So in my case at least, Linux became the OS of choice becuase it had traveled in ways that the other free Unices didn't. It was simply available somewhere where I was.

This isn't an explanation for why Linux ended up there instead of some other free *nix, of course, but by way of explaining the social diffusion of the actual files, I saw Linux distros as floppy disks around on BBSs and newsgroups for several years, with no hint of the others.

For someone with limited network access (by today's standards), this meant that Linux was the obvious choice.

As to why Linux was there and not the others—perhaps packaging and ease of installation had something to do with it? Without much effort, I recognized that the disks were floppy images and wrote out a floppy set. Booted from the first one, and followed my nose. There was no documentation required, and it Just Worked, at least as much as any bare-bones, home-grown CLI *nix clone could be said to Just Work.

I had supported hardware, as it turned out, but then Linux did tend to support the most common commodity hardware at the time.

My hunch is that Linux succeeded because it happened to have the right drivers (developed for what people had in their home PCs, rather than what a university lab might happen to have), and the right packaging (an end-user-oriented install that made it a simple, step-by-step, floppy-by-floppy process to get it up) while the other free *nix systems were less able to go from nothing to system without help and without additional hardware for most home and tiny lab users.

For comparison, I tried Minix around the same time (I can't remember if it was before or after) and struggled mightily just to get it installed, before questions of its capabilities were even at issue. I remember my first Linux install having taken an hour or two, and I was able to get X up and running the same day. It took me much longer to get the disks downloaded and written. Minix, by comparison, took about a week of evenings, and at the end, I was disappointed with the result.

Comment: Re:Rely on the counterfactual. (Score 1) 211

by aussersterne (#49589491) Attached to: Yes, You Can Blame Your Pointy-Haired Boss On the Peter Principle

Yes, in practice it's usually a mix of the two, so the principle is more an abstract model than an argument about real, concrete thresholding.

But the general idea is that by the time someone stops being promoted, if they continue in the job that they are in while not being promoted for an extended period of time, it means that they are likely not amongst the highest-merit individuals around for that particular job and responsibility list—because if they were, they'd have been promoted and/or would have moved to another job elsewhere that offered an equivalent to a promotion.

Comment: Rely on the counterfactual. (Score 5, Informative) 211

by aussersterne (#49588929) Attached to: Yes, You Can Blame Your Pointy-Haired Boss On the Peter Principle

The best way to understand the principle is to imagine the counterfactual.

When does a person *not* get promoted any longer? When they are not actually that great at the position into which they have most recently been promoted. At that point, they do not demonstrate enough merit to earn the next obvious promotion.

So, the cadence goes:

Demonstrates mastery of title A, promoted to title B.
Demonstrates mastery of title B, promoted to title C.
Demonstrates mastery of title C, promoted to title D.

Does not manage to demonstrate mastery of D = is not promoted and stays at that level indefinitely as "merely adequate" or "maybe next year" or "still has a lot to learn."

That's the principle in a nutshell—when you're actually good at your job, you get promoted out of it. When you're average at your job, you stay there for a long time.

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