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Comment Re:Account should not try to "get knowledgeable" (Score 1) 87

Yes and no.

I agree that an accountant should not aim for the same depth of detailed knowledge as a developer (unless he means to be one himself, in which case he should stop being an accountant), and shouldn't try to descend to code level. That's not his job-skill, so he should respect that and depend on developers to tackle that aspect of the work instead of trying to butt in.

An accountant should thoroughly understand where his job ends and where that of a developer begins (since he's the one with the opportunity to cross the line). As you say, he has a different contribution to make to the team.

On the other hand there's nothing wrong with an accountant getting to understand a little about what developers are doing. Like what makes a website tick and what developers are doing. Programming isn't rocket science after all, and mostly consists of getting lots of stupid details right quickly and reliably. Getting a feeling for how a website actually works could be quite helpful (as long as he remembers to think about (and ask for) functionality, not implementation).

My suggestion to this accountant is to look at up to three past projects that went well, and three that went wrong, and figure out what the root causes for success and failure were in terms of what business process was served in each case, what was asked for and how (organically grown versus properly specified and designed), and how the team that did them worked.

Comment In short ... (Score 1) 417

The example you gave is a bit extreme, in two ways. First off, the task is pretty darned simple, and I'll admit that anyone who takes more than 15 minutes doesn't know his tools. As to spending 8 hours: that's something you see with fresh-out-of-school people who're afraid to ask questions and haven't cottoned on to the cost of their time to the company. It happens.

Not knowing particular tools can also happen, but people with higher education usually catch on in short order. That's what they're trained for.

As to not hiring Masters or PhD's for programming on the other hand: that depends on the kind of programming you do. If your company's work has a lot of stupidly simple jobs like adding columns to a database table, then apparently your company it shouldn't be looking for programmers (as in software engineers) at all. It should be looking for code-monkeys.

Not hiring anyone with a bit of education makes actually sense in that case.

Comment Correct ... as born out by 2011 research (Score 1) 417

A pointer to solid evidence for what you say can be found e.g. this post:

Which point to this article which cites this article http://sciencecareers.sciencem... , which cites this researcher Matlof in this paper:

The long and the short of it: "It boils down to cheap, compliant labor." -- Norman Matloff.

Comment It simply IS (Score 2) 417

I have no idea what the definition of "runaway" has to do with anything, but changing conditions in the ocean really are happening.

Just like decreasing ice-caps, sea-level rises, and increasingly chaotic weather. And threatening changes in major ocean currents .. like the atlantic conveyor belt (see e.g.

And they could be mand-made to ... and in all probability are. Except in the US of course. There they're just "God hugging us closer".

Comment Ueber is redundant ... but doesn't realise it yet (Score 1) 330

Ueber consists of two separate parts:

- An app-and-server cab flagging service

- A batallion of unlicensed (and licensed) taxicab drivers that fall somewhere in between employees and and independent drivers.

The flagging service is nothing special; any company can set one up in any city. There's also nothing specifically "Ueber" about that, and I expect it to get stiff competition.

Then there is a horde of drivers, some unlicensed some licensed taxicab drivers, whom Ueber contracts to conduct rides. The worrisome part is that it's unclear whether they're qualified, insured, fit, etc. and whether they're employees or not. Fact of the matter is that Ueber both dodges the responsibilities that come with having employees and gouges drivers more for their flagging service than they'd be if they were truly independent.

It's that part of Ueber that's predatory, legally questionable and which is therefore under attack.

Then there's quality control, insurance, and liability. Which is where Ueber falls short and practices unfair competition with respect to other taxicab drivers.

We have government agencies that regulate taxicabs, make sure they uniformly adhere to certain minimum standards and won't simply abduct and rob their passengers. Without first having to look up a driver's "reviews".

There's nothing at all "irrelevant" about a government agency that does that, and it's worth having.

If Ueber wants to be a taxicab company, fine, but it will have to play by the same rules as everybody else: licensed drivers only. The fact that it's burning a load of venture capital to bend the rules is no reason to support them.

Comment Just turn it off ... (Score 4, Interesting) 515


Or have it turned off for you.

Seriously. The fact that this *can* be turned off in the enterprise version shows that there is nothing in Windows' archictecture that requires it.

As long as each and every MS Windows installation makes one administrator when one installs it, one can turn all those things off (or de-install them).

When I say "one", I don't mean the "average user" of course. It would take 'em (myself included) months of intense study to figure out how to do that (and they won't have the time, the interest, the aptitude, or the stamina for that). The good news is that they probably won't have to.

For computer-literate people there will probably be utilities / batch files to take care of Microsoft's pre-installed "tattleware" for you.

For complete end-users I also foresee a market for something like an "add-on control panel" that shows every (known) piece of "tattleware" on MS Windows and allows you to switch it off (or even de-install it). A seperate piece of software that works as a Windows "service" can ensure that this user "policy" is enforced every time Windows boots plus, say, at 2-hr intervals.

Comment Re:Bogus (Score 1) 363

Increasing penalties for breaking and entering for a specific case, beyond what's reasonable for the majority of cases, (in my view) already twists the law beyond its legitimate purpose and is something one could legitimately call an escalation.

If activists (let alone undercover journalists) subsequently take advantage of being hired to take pictures inside farms, to avoid the (upped) charges on breaking and entering, that may be undesirable from the point of the farmers concerned but I think that curtailing free speech for that is a bridge too far. And that's what this law does.

Free speech is far more important than protecting the whatever commercial interest farmers have in avoiding negative PR (if such interests are at stake at all).

If farmers object to information on how they treat their livestock getting to the public (for fear of being considered abusive) they can either change the way they operate or be more cautious in hiring people.

Using your line of reasoning anyone who conducts undercover journalism (and potentially anyone who publishes any kind of information that makes a company looks bad but uses information on which that company might conceivably claim copyright or of which that company claims is not used for its intended purpose) would be left open to a charge (in my opinion a contrived one) of "fraud".

I think that on reflection you will agree that's too steep a price to pay. There are far too many ongoing corporate abuses for us to compromise the one effective antidote against it, namely adverse publicity based on free speech, simply because some people don't like this particular use of free speech.

Comment My granny ... (Score 1) 64

Well, yes and no.

On the one hand, my granny was an apothecary, and I've seen custom pills, powders, tinctures, and syrups being made about 40 years ago. So, yes, the idea (custom dosages) is anything but new.

However I appreciate that labour costs make that sort of thing (customised dosing) infeasible today (except for millionares).

As such I recognise that having a cupboard-size machine that reliably produces dozens of pills in non-standard dosages may well make it economically feasible (again) to administer individually dosed medication to patients.

It has a much more mundane application too. It could also be used to cut down on the number of pills that patients have to be fed. That's a cost-saver right there. Just consider some elderly patient suffering from a heart condition, and diabetes. They might require as many as 5-6 different pills three to four times a day in different combinations throughout the day.

I've seen nurses prepare a week's worth of pills for people in pill dispensers where you have one dispenser for each day and 4 sections to each dispenser). Filling boxes with 7 x 4 x 5 = 140 pills is a time-consuming chore I can tell you, and you really don't want to make sloppy mistakes filling those dispensers. Now imagine having to dose a ward of 20 patients.

Of course the 3D printing part is bit of a gimmic but it probably makes it cost-efficient to produce accurately dosed customised pills (customised as in all 5 or 6 ingredients put together in 1 pill) pills in series of under 20. Put 'em in boxes with a name and a barcode and you're ready to roll.

The nursing staff will love it, elderly patients will probably find it convenient, and insurers will probably like it too because it's efficient and hence drives down the cost of nursing staff.

Simple and unassuming as it is I can definitely see it becoming entrenched over the next 5-10 years for that reason alone.

Comment Bogus (Score 1) 363

The issue you purport to be concerned about, namely "breaking and entering", carries its own penalties. If police are "getting sick and tired" of prosecuting people for that, perhaps they ought to look around for alternative employment.

Even if that were your concern, you would be willing to accept blanket exceptions to this law for employees and for anyone who obtained their information without breaking and entering (including undercover journalism). Something the supporters of this law obviously weren't.

Your further appeal to the "shouting 'Fire'" limitation on free speech to get the verdict repealed appeal indicates that you won't accept such exceptions either.

The so-called "fraud" you go on about is a standard journalistic practice to obtain evidence on scandals and wrongdoing that would otherwise remain undetected (or at the very least unreported) because of non-cooperation, threats, abuse of power, or plain criminal behaviour on part of powerful individuals or firms.

For better or worse, this sort of thing (up to and including criminal behaviour) is absolutely ingrained in US history and culture. And so it its antidote, "free speech". Free speech isn't about being "nice" or "lovable" or "fuddy duddy". It can be (and indeed often is) a means of fighting a conflict.

I can only conclude that you really want to see free speech, the very essence of our culture, curtailed when it threatens to inconvenience commercial interests. You want to see the conflict "resolved" by ensuring the basic facts it's about remain outside the public view. You're not he first and you certainly won't be the last.

As I see it, this is where you cross the line between "being concerned" and "bluntly trying to suppress speech you don't like".

Comment Barking up the wrong tree (Score 1) 365

The article is totally barking up the wrong tree.

There is nothing wrong with every jack on the planet cobbling together their very own programs. Programming is dead easy. Any fool can code, and I have nothing against that.

The point is that software which is to be re-used (whether FOSS or proprietary software) should be held to certain design standards.

FOSS software manages itself, more or less, and the user's job is to choose software that does what's needed and looks credible from a development point of view (sensible forums, active development community, public source code repository so that you can check activity, etc.),

Proprietary software is more difficult. It runs the entire spectrum from shoddy to excellent, and you can't really tell from the outside (short of reading forum posts about it).

Software for which there is substantial cost attached to failing (whether proprietary or FOSS) should be properly designed, quality-controlled, and managed (as opposed to being hacked together).

Comment Regulation needed? (Score 1) 85

Given the natural tendency of companies to (deliberately) skimp on security and the fact that offering decent security isn't likely to emerge by itself in the marketplace, it's clear that we're looking at a deluge of consumer electronics that control real-world equipment and is dead easy to break into,

I think that security in the consumer sphere is worth having (for our society as a whole) even if nobody (in the market) wants to do it.

So I was wondering if this (security for electronic equipment that controls real-world stuff) isn't an area that could genuinely benefit from government regulation. Just like minimum safety norms for electrical equipment, building fire regulations and safety regulations for cars.

"Old age and treachery will beat youth and skill every time." -- a coffee cup