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Comment Re:Nelson: Ha Ha. (Score 1) 383

Maybe pay is a problem for IT, but it usually isn't an issue at all for programmers. For example, here in the Bay Area, at roughly $90-$150k per year, the hourly rate would still be better than most jobs even if it required working 80-hour weeks. The problem is that most people can't survive an 80-hour work week for more than a couple of weeks, and even a 40-hour week is horribly inefficient and, frankly, exhausting at times.

The 40-hour work week is optimal for menial tasks that require very little thinking. For a technical workforce that spends most of their day thinking and trying to solve complex problems, workers are most efficient when working six or seven hours per day, not eight, and certainly not 12. Long before they reach the 50-hour mark, they're actually getting less work done per week than somebody working a 35-hour week, because they have less energy and are less focused. In fact, I rather suspect that the optimal work week in tech is somewhere closer to 20 hours, and that even a 35-hour week involves significant loss of efficiency.

What we need is for employers to hire twice as many people, pay them half as much, and work them half as long. Doing so on a broad scale, however, would require some serious changes, particularly in the way we try to attract people to the field. But it should be done, not just because employees would be happier with a better work-life balance, but also because employers would be getting what they paid for instead of only about two-thirds of it.

Comment Re:Work-life balance (Score 1) 383

I mostly agree, except for this one:

Things that don't matter: Lunch or snacks (free or otherwise)

I'm currently working for a company that feeds us three days a week. I'm very grateful for that, because we moved from an area that had a few restaurants within easy walking distance to a new location that has none. At our exit off the 101, there's one restaurant that's kind of like a Denny's (not fast at all), one Mexican restaurant, and that's it. None of them are within walking distance (okay, so there's one Mexican food truck, but...), and the shared parking lot for those two restaurants is always full. Other than that, there's no food until you get all the way to the next exit off the 101 in either direction.

Worse, when you do go one exit away in either direction, you similarly find only two or three restaurants, also with inadequate parking. Most of the time, I end up driving three exits north on the 101 to where there are enough restaurants to actually be practical (including a few with drive-thru windows), but that means burning about half of my lunch hour just driving to and from the restaurant.

So yes, it doesn't matter even slightly whether an employer provides food for free, or even provides it on-site, but it matters a great deal whether there is ready access to food within a reasonable walking distance. If there isn't, and if the employer doesn't provide food, it can get rather annoying. :-)

Comment Re:Use-case? (Score 1) 162

We've seen what happens when you treat unrepentant criminals as outcasts. They remain unrepentant criminals. The recidivism rate in American prisons should be proof enough that such tactics don't work. Or take a look at countries that try to imprison the opposing forces after a civil war. Things never stabilize. Sometimes, forgiveness by others is the first step towards repentance—turn the other cheek, and all that.

Comment Re:Use-case? (Score 2) 162

Perhaps you don't understand what the word "harbor" means. It means to give a home or shelter to someone; in this usage, it implies doing so in secret. Allowing someone to contribute code openly (not in secret) is precisely the opposite. It keeps the person talking, thus revealing that person's location, and making it easier to bring that person to justice.

Besides, it's a bit like the ethical question of "tainted" money. If someone earns money through doing bad things, is it ethical to use that money for good? Maybe. To me, the answer comes down to whether doing so would encourage continued bad behavior. For example, it would be unethical to accept evidence obtained through an illegal search (fruit of the poisonous tree) because doing so would encourage police to ignore the legal process and get the evidence through any means necessary. But in this case, if what you described is accurate, it is one step removed from that, even. The coding wasn't gained through illegal or unethical means; accepting the code would probably not make the person more likely to do bad things in his personal life, because the two are largely unconnected aspects of the person in question.

Comment Re:Bureaucracy (Score 2) 275

I thought this was going an entirely different direction.

Thank you for your request for a citation. Please fill out form 132-B if you would like a citation for a traffic offense, 132-G if you would like a citation for a parking violation, or form 132-Q if you would like a citation for improperly posted signage outside your place of business. We would be happy to issue you a citation, and we thank you for your self-reporting. The fees from these citations for self-reported infractions help fund our department.

If you would like to report an infraction being committed by someone else, please call us on the phone at 555-555-5555. We apologize that third-party reporting cannot be done online or by mail at this time.

Comment Re:Ulterior motive implied (Score 5, Insightful) 198

Yeah, I was thinking much the same, except slightly more cynically:

  1. Develop a faster negotiation scheme for 802.11 with encryption that involves extra data in the beacon frame plus a single ARP with shortened delay waiting for a response
  2. Make changes to improve handoff speed between 802.11 and LTE
  3. Become an MVNO for Android devices
  4. Silently introduce a software update that automatically shares a portion of your bandwidth with Android cell phones for voice call purposes

Comment Re:Filtering (Score 1) 34

Your traffic, yes. The average user's traffic, no. The average computer user has Windows file sharing turned on for the root volume, with the relevant ports wide open to the outside world, and with an empty admin password.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of people are simply not equipped to protect their own networks, and need their ISPs to do it for them. As long as that is the case, network connections that allow unfiltered inbound traffic should be by request, not by default. If you know enough to ask, you probably know enough to set it up correctly, and if you don't, you probably aren't missing anything by being limited to the handful of end-user server-like apps that support NAT-PMP.

Comment Re:Filtering (Score 1) 34

Yes, though it might also break things for larger customers who have more than one ISP, whose IP ranges should at least ostensibly be advertised as routable through both networks. Mind you, that's a fairly small percentage of users out there, so yes, the default policy for such traffic should almost certainly be "drop".

Of course, you could do the port blocking at the ISP level and be done with it. IMO, an ISP should port filter everything into the ground by default; a customer should have to explicitly request that his or her connection be fully open to incoming requests. Doing so would have basically the same effect as blocking based on source address, but you'd just have a short list of open incoming ports (22, 80, 443, and the ephemeral range, give or take) instead of a potentially long list of IP ranges.

Comment Re:Filtering (Score 3, Informative) 34

In case you're not joking, the problem is that by the time it reaches the customer premises equipment (your router), it has already wasted bandwidth on the slowest link (the one between the home/business and the ISP). So if you are the target, the damage is already done before you can filter it. That's why amplification attacks have to be prevented by blocking the ports of the systems participating in the amplification, rather than by blocking ports at the victim's site.

Comment Re:And, it's spreading to more companies in Seattl (Score 1) 268

And, that is now the new normal at Seattle tech companies. When I first moved here seven years ago, I asked how to notify the company of planned vacation time. I couldn't find it in the HR system. I got screamed at for using the word "notify" rather than "request." Our HR director called me "an arrogant little sh--" for that. Because she also bitched at my boss, he told me no vacation time for one year. The jerk was serious.

I'm pretty sure I would have handed in my resignation the next day. Life's too short to put up with an abusive sociopath as a boss and coworkers who create a hostile work environment. That's simply inexcusable behavior, period.

And as much as I hate to say it, have you ever thought about forming a union? Because it sounds like your company is precisely the sort of abusive company whose workers are most in need of that sort of protection.

Comment Re:There is no reason for any drought to continue (Score 1) 390

Er, no. Residential use is barely over 10% of the state's water consumption, and much of that goes into swimming pools and golf courses for the 1%. 80% of the water is used by agriculture, which makes up 2% of the state's GDP.

That's technically true, but at the same time, it isn't a very accurate picture. 80% of the water that is actually consumed (which ends up being only about 39% of the total water supply) is used by agriculture, but even in the worst-case watering scheme, at least half of that water ends up soaking into the ground, where much of it eventually goes back into aquifers, where it later gets pulled back out by pumps and used to water other crops or provide drinking water.

By contrast, the water that we use in our households (ignoring the small percentage of houses with septic tanks) typically ends up getting dumped into rivers, where nearly all of it ends up either evaporating or flowing out into the ocean. In effect, most of that water is basically lost until the next time it rains. So the real impact of agriculture is likely considerably less than that 80% number suggests.

Also, remember that agriculture is, at least to some degree, proportional to the population. So population growth increases agricultural water consumption, assuming all other factors remain the same.

You're certainly correct that reducing agricultural water consumption can help as a short-term means of reducing our state's water needs. However, as I understand it, the general consensus is that we are already past the point where the added cost of reducing that consumption through changes in farming techniques and technology exceeds the cost of simply bringing in more water through other means (e.g. massive desalination). So the only really practical way to reduce agricultural consumption is not through improved technology, but rather by growing crops that require less water.

Unfortunately, that's easier said than done. The reason California grows many of those water-hungry crops is that it has fertile enough soil and high enough rainfall to make it practical, which isn't true for most of the planet's surface. That's why 80% of the world's almonds are grown here, for example. And, of course, by some measures, meat and dairy make up about half of California's water use by themselves.

So basically, we have a choice: Give up a lot of foods that people like (no more meat, no more dairy, no more almonds) or we find ways to ensure that we can produce enough water to continue producing those water-hungry foods. Want to keep eating meat and drinking milk? Then those animals are going to still need water.

Comment Re:There is no reason for any drought to continue (Score 3, Insightful) 390

The idiots are the ones who actually believe that the drought is the root cause of our water shortage. It isn't. It just made the real problem harder to ignore. The real problem is that California's population has grown by about 30% in the past 20 years, and the water system hasn't kept up. That's a staggering rate of growth. Keeping people out isn't realistic, which means the water system absolutely must be expanded in every respect—more water storage (whether dams or otherwise), more desalination plants, etc. to meet the growing needs of that growing population. We haven't been doing that adequately; we've been cutting corners to save money, allowing the safety margins to get smaller and smaller, and now we're paying the piper. We need to not make that mistake again going forward.

The problem with conservation is that people mistakenly try to treat it as the final solution to problems. It isn't; it can't be. When it comes to a limited resource, conservation can only be effective as a stop-gap workaround until either an alternate source for a scarce resource can be found or an alternative to that resource can be found. Otherwise, population growth alone will eventually exceed the limits of conservation, at which point you are totally and completely screwed. And when you're in your fourth consecutive year of drought and some people are still saying, "We don't need to build desalination plants because the drought has to end eventually, and the next one might be far away", you have to start wondering about their sanity, because yes, the next one might be in thirty years, or it might be in three.

The mind-boggling thing is that the people who support anthropogenic global warming tend to be the very same folks who are saying that we don't need desalination plants because we're going to get back to normal levels of wetness soon. We might, but there's at least as good a chance that this is the new normal. If we aren't prepared for that, we're signing our own death sentences.

So yes, conservation might get us through the drought. Then again, if the folks predicting the weather are right, the drought might end this winter anyway, making any further reductions in usage largely moot. And if the AGW folks are right, we might go right back into a drought in a couple of years. No matter which of those possible scenarios pans out, the true underlying problem—a water system whose capacity has not kept up with the population growth—will still be there.

My biggest concern when it comes to our water system is that a year from now, people will say, "The drought is over. There's no need to build this expensive infrastructure. That money can better be spent on [insert more short-term need here]." And then just as before, nothing will get done, and we'll end up in the same boat a decade or two down the line, only at that point, everybody will be conserving as much as they can without causing serious problems, so the conservation efforts will become more and more draconian.

Folks need to take a serious look at the projected population growth, assume that we're rapidly approaching peak conservancy already, and do the math. Then, the infrastructure needs to get out ahead of the curve instead of being behind it. Anything less than that is just asking for a disaster down the road. After all, you don't build a computer system to handle your capacity needs right now, because you'll be screwed in a year. You build a computer system to handle your projected capacity needs over the next several years. Our water system is fundamentally no different.

And just to be clear, I was being facetious about wasting as much water as you can. Doing it for a week might be an interesting way to protest and cause the water board folks to wet their pants, panic, and get more insistent about building the additional infrastructure we need, but doing it long-term would obviously be catastrophic, because we'd run out of water before the winter. The point of that bit of satire was to show contrast; although doing precisely the opposite of what we're currently doing would cause catastrophe in the short term, it would also inevitably encourage a long-term solution, whereas conservation might stave off the crisis in the short term, but eliminates the urgency and much of the financial motivation for building the infrastructure that our state needs to be viable in the long term. Neither extreme is the right solution, obviously.

There's only one correct solution, which is to not deliberately waste water, but at the same time, stop looking for more and more aggressive ways to conserve water. Demand that lawmakers spend the money to increase the capacity of our infrastructure so that its growth is proportional to the population growth, thus ensuring a permanently viable water supply for all of California. Accept that doing so is simply part of the cost of living, and that reductions in margins to save money in the short term are shortsighted and will eventually cause serious problems in the long term. After all, it isn't a question of whether we'll have another drought, but when.

To that end, I just can't fathom why desalination isn't being done a lot more than it is. We have 38 million people currently living entirely at the mercy of the weather, and the problem is solvable, with the only major barrier being the cost. (Yes, there are some environmental issues, but they're all solvable with current technology, and the only barrier to doing that is also cost.) Let's just cut all the red tape and get it done already. Build enough capacity to ensure that we don't have to draw down our lakes to the point where fish are dying, to ensure that when the next drought inevitably arrives, we can handle it without all the drama and political infighting.

Sorry if I was being too subtle in making the point.

A CONS is an object which cares. -- Bernie Greenberg.

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