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Comment: It may only be temporary... (Score 2) 159

by greg_robson (#45034401) Attached to: Facebook Building a Company Town

"Facebook's plan breaks new ground."

Not really, Bournville (home of the makers of Cadburys Chocolate) was constructed by it's Quaker founders. They built affordable housing for the workers, a swimming baths, parks, and made sure that their workers lived in good surroundings for their own health and welfare. No pubs though, Quakers are not too fond of alcohol!

Other wealthy Victorian companies did the same in the cotton industries and other areas of extreme expansion.

It didn't last forever though, those companies either no longer exist today, or have far fewer profits to lavish on the workers.

Comment: Don't forget your transferable skills (Score 1) 293

by greg_robson (#43930253) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Getting Exchange and SQL Experience?

Technical skills can be obtained but they are something that anyone can get.

The soft skills are important too. I have managed Exchange in the past and I'm currently training for my first SQL Server qualification after a year of optimising and improving the maintenance of some business critical databases. (About 10 years of SQL/Access experience from before that)

Both require the ability to maintain uptime, schedule appropriate and timely maintenance and the ability to fall back should your "easy" upgrade go completely wrong. (This is often not your fault!). Have you set up WSUS to roll out Windows Updates to computers for you? Do you vet updates and roll them out to small subset of PCs before allowing the update to go out across the network to make sure that there isn't an issue? One rogue update can cause a day of grief if you have to manually uninstall it.

Do you maintain backups? Do you test them regularly?

Do you produce good, well written documentation? You may be replacing somebody who has been sacked as something has gone wrong and their documentation consists of post-its on servers saying "reboot me every Thursday at 5pm, managers in a meeting then.".

Things like this are probably more encouraging to an employer who has critical services (and all services become critical if they go offline!). Eager people can learn fast, they can also make critical mistakes very quickly if they make quick assumptions.

I have only recently started with the SQL Server books and—to my surprise Microsoft—I have been pleasantly surprised. They acknowledge that they cannot teach a fixed solution. The books teach that "X, Y and Z are solutions", but also ask you know the reasons WHY you would pick one above another in a given situation.

I second the idea of helping a voluntary organisation as well then are often in need of expertise and going into a real world scenario and being able to fix issues and improve systems is valuable experience.

Comment: Re:Sublime Text 2 (Score 3, Informative) 193

by greg_robson (#40938665) Attached to: TextMate 2 Released As Open Source

Download and evaluate the full version for free... it does produce a dialog box on every 20th save asking if you would like to buy, which is fairly unobtrusive.

$59 for a single user license. Bulk discounts apply

Since it was recommended by colleagues at a new place, I enjoyed it after 5 minutes, loved it after an hour, and depend on every day. I have come to depend on it's features like editing with mutiple cursors, simple interface and keyboard controls as alternatives to switching to the menus.

Even though the nag dialog is not much of a nag we intend to buy licenses as it is stable, feature packed and fast.

The $59 is a lot less than the cost of the time it has saved me (or cost me in crashes).

Comment: The menu bar cannae take much more it captain! (Score 1) 415

by greg_robson (#40246301) Attached to: Microsoft Ignores Usability With All-Caps Menu in Visual Studio
I prefer the mixture of case, but regardless of that argument.... 17 menus? I thought the whole idea of the "The Ribbon" was Microsoft's way to counter the excessive amount of menu items and text heavy nature of reading everything. (I'm not advocating for the Ribbon here! We need as much screen real estate as possible!) Perhaps categorise the menus better and turn some into icons? Window and Help could be shoved over to the right. Then give Architecture and Analyze a toolbar, not a menu bar. I don't imagine everyone will use them frequently (I may be wrong). Perhaps the Data and/or "deployment" options could be put on a side panel. Or who knows, perhaps small icons next to the items, like the "yellow database cylinders" next to data. Dear Microsoft When You Have Lots Of Menu Items Your Eyes Get Tired Reading Every Change Of Case On Small Words You Must Do Better!

Comment: As a resident of Birmingham... (Score 5, Informative) 150

by greg_robson (#33551354) Attached to: £32k a Day For Birmingham Council Website

...I can say that we all waited ages for the site to relaunch, when it finally did we are shocked.

  • Poor accessibility, basically the same content under a different template. It took them 2 months to get the "Pay your Council Tax online" feature working again.
  • There was no consultation with the target audience (Birmingham City Council covers approximately 1.2 million people).
  • All the features we were expected such as here's my postcode...
    • ...where's my nearest school/doctor"
    • ...who's my Member of Parliament
    • ...when do my bins (trash cans for those across the pond) get collected.
  • ...were nowhere to be seen despite being common on many other council websites.

So bad is the situation, some local web developers have set up their own community built site:
And while still in it's early days (design could be improved), it has the useful features and shows events that are taking place in what is a vibrant and modern city.

Comment: Compare it with oil, people eventually snap (Score 2, Insightful) 362

by greg_robson (#29403931) Attached to: eBay Denies New Design Is Broken, Blames Users

We use petrol-based cars by habit, but in the UK when it last peaked at £1.20 it was noticable how people were driving less. If you applied eBay's price hikes to the petrol industry I believe you would see increasing demand for LPG/electric alternatives (even public transport if they can put up with the crowding).

A loyal customer base today is no guarantee for a loyal customer base tomorrow. They must remember to innovate well, you can go too far in the wrong direction: Delorean got it wrong with the car!

"Free markets select for winning solutions." -- Eric S. Raymond