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Comment Re: Dump them as fast as you can (Score 2) 177

I'm brought in as an addition to the team, not a replacement. I also usually provide training to the normal employees as well.

This, precisely, has been my experience. Although TFS points out (properly, I think) that "cloudiness" is a big influence, it's actually going the other way--the local IT staff have enough on their hands without having to learn all the ins and outs of the latest shiny toy that management has acquired, but didn't realize needs a lot of work to make operable.

Comment Re:intuitively I would think steam would be better (Score 5, Informative) 217

Former carrier pilot here, so I'm familiar with the output of the old steam systems (having used/lived-and-not-died by them).

You would think that steam is better, and in terms of simplicity of energy supply, it might be: Run a bunch of pipes maintaining the steam energy levels, and hit the button--boom! You're done.

However, reality is hella more complicated. Old catapults were one-shot; you loaded up the steam, and hoped to hell that the spike in acceleration didn't break your aircraft (thus leading to a lot of over engineering of the aircraft and very careful quadruple-checking that you have it set for the right weight/speed/etc.)

Newer catapults were progressive--you add steam along the travel of the ram, and the acceleration was smoother. However, that means that you have to have multiple valves that function exactly right--enough of them go wrong at once, and you're just going to launch a $30+ million aircraft and crew into a minor speedbump in front of the carrier.

The ram itself is very impressive. Carriers have a couple hanging on the walls of the hangar deck, and they are monstrous--I don't have any stats, but they are like 30+ foot long torpedoes that have to be accelerated with the aircraft, then stopped in a very short distance. When carriers launch, you feel the entire ship shake from this massive metal rod hitting the front end of its track.

Then there's maintenance. We're talking live steam here, not the piddling crap that comes from your tea kettle. It's "dry", as in superheated and has to be kept that way. But that means complicated insulation, piping, and constant checking that you're not eating away at your metals in this environment. Not only to you have to keep it at the correct condition before using it, but you have to do something with the used steam--which means an equally complicated recovery system.

All of this adds up to a massive effort to slingshot some dumbass (speaking as one) off the front end of a ship so he can use equally complicated gear to try to stop him after a cycle or two.

Steam works, but only because it was the only medium that could do the job at the time. I don't know the details of the EM rails, but I'm sure that the final design probably uses electric/electronic analogs to the system...but you can replace a bad circuit board or switch a helluva lot easier than you can a bad valve or piping. That, and more refined control of the overall launch makes this an obvious evolution.

Comment Tragedy of the Commons (Score 2) 51

I think that's fairly descriptive of the behavior that led to this: Projects like OpenSSL and GPG are used by many people (and big companies), but since it's "not their responsibility", the haven't put any support into them. "I got mine--why should I pay up?" Fortunately, in those cases, highlighting the problem led to an outpouring of support. Those who didn't have direct skin in the game (coders, companies, etc) brought the problem to light and those who did have skin in the game (as well as others) started supporting the projects. I'm not making a real criticism--it's just the default human herd behavior. But with enough examples of things going wrong, maybe a few people can emulate those people and take up the mission of supporting them to keep this from happening. It sounds like things are already moving in that direction.

Comment Re:What do you want from life? (Score 2) 263

Agree with both CheezburgerBrown and MoonlessNights.

I was at a good paying job (for the area), but the work was ossifying into maintenance mode for internal-only apps; in 3-5 years, they wouldn't need anyone who could do put together new or better systems. Being a government contract project (federal level), I figured that 3-5 was about how long before I was on the chopping block or eyeing water towers as a sniper.

(Add to this the fact that the old IT team from 30 years ago was still around working on another part of the facility--it was like getting drug along by the Ghost of IT Departments Future, and I didn't want to become a caricature of myself or them...)

So I started looking around, willing to take a small short-term cut for long term growth and happiness. What I ended up with was more pay, working from home, and an entire industry that was ripe for upgrade and improvement.

You've got a job, so take your time. If the one you're thinking about will make you happy, and has the upward mobility you want, then you'll just have to make the call. If it doesn't pan out (like about 1/2 dozen of my potential jobs did), just keep looking.

Comment Re:You Tell Me If You're Too Old; What Is Your Goa (Score 3, Informative) 418

You know, 40 wasn't where it it me. It was about 46 or so. And then it HIT me. I love learning, so don't get me wrong, but a couple years ago, I really noticed that stuff was just not sticking like it used to. Abstraction helps, but specifics come and go. I no longer try to remember them, Google search everything.

I'm 42 now, and have had a full-time .NET dev job for the last year. Before that, I was going back to grad school for a degree in Computer Science. I loved the education environment, but left because a) I needed the money (loans were stacking up), and b) this was just about the ideal position.

On top of that, I have never worked with .NET before, but the business was willing to take a risk because they needed the experience and were setting up a shop to take over a lot of legacy tech.

Turns out it was the best move I could make. There's only one other developer in the group my age; the rest are in their late 20s to early 30s--several with .NET only experience. But the other "old" guy and myself are pretty much running the place from an expertise point of view*, because depth of experience can matter more than single-language expertise. An array is an array, string functions work pretty much the same across the board, and it's more a matter of Googling "How do I do X in .NET?" than trying to figure out what the hell you need to do in the first place.

If you love learning, you never get stale; if you're tired of or worried about learning, find something that will excite you enough to want to learn how to make it happen.

* This is not to say that I am all that and a bag of chips--I struggle with the way .NET handles certain things, but I enjoy learning how to do it. And, if something isn't working, I can usually figure out what is going wrong on a fundamental level instead of just throwing in a cookbook answer and saying, "Magic happens..."

Also, I am sure that in a heavy .NET shop that's been around for a while, the story would have ended with me as "that old guy who didn't know what LINQ was," but my point is that it's not all doom and gloom.

Comment Re:Yup, Probably true (Score 3, Insightful) 278

Same basic process, though different criteria for me:

  • Junk sites (one-time login for news, quick downloads, register-to-see, tech mailing lists) get the same low-end password. If I can't foresee any information that I care about going to that site, then it gets a basic throwaway. (I also misspell registration details so i have an idea if advertisers are getting that info).
  • Slashdot, forums, etc: Also low-grade. Sorry, but if someone gets their rocks off posting crap as me, I can live with it. I've got enough First Life points to keep me busy.
  • Personal email: Since I don't trust the email systems that are in the hands of others, I don't put anything on there I care about. (If someone wants to know that I'm asking my prof how to fix some code, more power to them--it'll bore them to tears.) Hence, it gets a medium-grade password.
  • Online stores: Medium grade for one-time purchases, high-grade for repeat business.
  • Own email system, bank, etc: High grade password, randomized (at least to the rest of the world) that it passes the basic dictionary-attack. For example, I somehow remember old phone numbers and bank accounts from 20 years ago (none of which are in use); add a couple of 1337-speak letters and you're in business.

Like the parent, it's really a matter of compartmentalization and damage control. If you don't own the system, it's not completely trustworthy. If it's your system, it's only modestly trustworthy. If you're doing something criminal/embarassing/stupid, it's better to leave all notes at the bottom of the Marianas trench.

Comment Re:Won't someone please think of the children (Score 2, Interesting) 256

Good "think of the children" dilemma for Haiti:

Human trafficking, sex slavery, and other forms of abuse happen. When you start transporting large numbers of people over borders, it's pretty much inevitable that some are going to end up in a living hell.

OTOH, kids in Haiti have lost parents, government has pretty much collapsed, and there will probably be plenty of horror stories of infection, disease, and abuse for the kids stuck in Haiti...in other words, children denied the opportunity to get out of the country will end up in a living hell.

So here's the question for all those 'think of the children' moralizers out there:

  • How many children are you going to condemn to die in Haiti to protect those who would end up abused by human traffickers and their customers?
  • How many children are you going to condemn to suffering and abuse at the hands of the worst of humanity in order to save those who would die or suffer horribly otherwise?

There is no good answer--"think of the children" is usually an excuse to get what you want anyways--without considering the consequences.

Comment Re:Wait hold on mugger... (Score 1) 457

As an aside, this would make locating weapons extremely easy--all you have to do is walk around with an RF scanner, searching for watch and/or weapons signals.

It's early, maybe I'm just slow, but what would be the advantage of that for the person who would be doing the scanning?

For an individual...not much at all.

For a group, though, it would make life much easier.

  • Building security (court houses, concerts, football games....)
  • Bodyguards (Secret Service, rich folk, etc)
  • Law enforcement serving warrants
  • Lynch mobs serving complaints
  • Jack-booted storm troopers "protecting" the citizenry
  • Anyone who wants to make sure anyone else doesn't have a weapon

Because of this, I believe there will be a brief, frenzied effort to make these things mandatory...and it will fail miserably in the long run.

Comment Re:Wait hold on mugger... (Score 5, Interesting) 457

And on the opposite side--send out a signal that authorizes any weapon!

If the authentication takes place only within the watch, then the weapon's mechanism is just looking for an arming signal--probably something simple--and you could mass jam or arm weapons with a strong enough transmitter (I'm thinking of those shopping-cart brake systems that people have been pranking...). Heck, you can even get your own watch, put in your own pin, and steal any weapon and it will work!

OTOH, if the weapons' system is tied to a specific watch, then the failure rate will be through the roof! And, of course, you can disarm everyone easily because the systems are so strict.

As an aside, this would make locating weapons extremely easy--all you have to do is walk around with an RF scanner, searching for watch and/or weapons signals.

I see a big market for jammers, spoofers, RF scanners, and a multitude of other mini-electronic RF products. I better go take some spectrum-analysis classes soon.

Comment LinuxMCE (Score 3, Interesting) 131

I've been looking at LinuxMCE for my own home system. It looks like a really good fit for what you want: Media, touchscreen controls, multiple outputs. Plus, it's a thin-client system, so once you decide on a terminal setup, you can repeat ad nauseum.

I would also point out that this may be a good setup for the expansion you're alluding to. For example, you could set up different accounts for either different works or different artists. Log all the terminals in one room to the account under that artist, and you could have the media for all the different pieces queued up on the menu.

Hmmm..if you ever had a Salvador Dali exhibit, you could have some Dark Side of the Moon playing on the sound system...

"I've finally learned what `upward compatible' means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes." -- Dennie van Tassel