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Journal: The tragedy of brain-dead apparatchiki entrusted with the care of children. 6

Journal by jcr

Earlier today, I read an account of a little girl getting a severe sunburn while on a school field trip, because of an unconscionable policy prohibiting children from possessing sunscreen while at school or on school activities. I looked up the name of the spokesman who had the nerve to try to defend this policy to the press, and wrote her the following e-mail:

Miss Chancellor, you and the pinheads you serve in the Northeast Indecent School District are a tragic example of the kind of abject incompetence that pervades American public schools in the past several decades.

I would urge you to resign and pursue employment in the janitorial services industry, but youâ(TM)re obviously too goddamned stupid to be trusted with cleaning supplies.

-jcr

Well, it would appear that Miss Chancellor was offended by my criticism, and she replied thusly:

Your comments do not warrant an intelligent response. Clearly - you do not have all the facts.

Now, it's rather unusual for an apparatchik in a shitstorm to bother to respond to any of the angry e-mails they get, so naturally I have replied:

On Jun 6, 2014, at 10:26 AM, Chancellor, Aubrey wrote:

>Your comments do not warrant an intelligent response.

Since youâ(TM)re entirely incapable of an intelligent response, that just works out fine and dandy now, doesnâ(TM)t it?

>Clearly - you do not have all the facts.

The fact is that when you screw up like this, the thing to do is apologize and promise the parents, the child, and the rest of the community that it will never happen again. You donâ(TM)t double down on your idiotic policy of depriving children of sunscreen.

When children are entrusted to you by their parents, your paramount duty is to ensure their safety and well being. it is NOT to sacrifice their welfare to your psychotic need for obedience.

-jcr

More on this as it develops. Start the popcorn.

User Journal

Journal: Throwing in the towel on Facebook. 7

Journal by jcr

Last post to FB:

In the time since I created this Facebook account in 2006, I found a bunch of old friends, met many new ones, wasted a whole lot of time, had some arguments that never would have happened in real life, and been frequently annoyed by the business decisions FB has made.

This post will be my last. I will delete this account 48 hours from now. Those of you who want to keep in touch can reach me as always at jcr@mac.com, which I've had for at least a decade.

All's well that ends. I wish you all peace, love and happiness.

It feels like leaving high school. There are people there that I will always care about, some that I love, some that I barely know, some that I have no idea how I met in the first place or why they're in my FB friends list.

A very smart friend of mine is working on changing social media from a site and a vendor that sells the users' info to advertisers, into a protocol that would operate on a peer-to-peer basis, with strong security to ensure that what we write goes to those we wish, and no one else. I hope he succeeds, and I look forward to making a fair bit of cash shorting FB when the writing appears on the wall.

  I will thank my friends who worked on FB, and every user there who ever shared a heartwarming, interesting, inspiring, or even outrageous bit of information that I wouldn't have found otherwise. Congrats to all the FB millionaires and worker bees, I wish them all the best.

I'll still be NSResponder here on /., on StackOverflow and Twitter. The internet is still a lot bigger than Facebook, and I'll see you all around.

User Journal

Journal: Well, that about wraps it up for e-trade. 2

Journal by jcr

E-mail to Neal Martin, E-trade's vice president of customer service:

Well Neal,

I doubt that this message will actually get to you personally, but what the hell.

After the fracas over the last few weeks in which e-trade failed to issue me a second ATM card, I finally got around to transferring the bulk of my shares to a competent broker.

The automatic mail from e-trade notifying me of the transfer included this paragraph:

E*TRADE strives to achieve best in class service and is focused on meeting all of your financial needs. We would like to understand your reason for your transfer out and see if there are any improvements we can make to serve you better in the future. If you have the time to discuss, please call us at 1-800-ETRADE -1 (1-800-387-2331).

The fact is, after going around with your underlings a few times on my requirement for a second card, and having told each of them several times that this was a deal breaker, I know that the claim that youâ(TM)re âoestriving to achieve best in class serviceâ is nothing but marketing drivel. Indeed, my direct, personal experience has shown me that my business isnâ(TM)t important enough to get on the radar of anyone who would actually solve the problem.

I had already planned to find another broker, but the thing that made me hurry up and do so was receiving your oh-so-thoughtful gift of an e-trade gym bag. So, after refusing my very simple request, you apparently assumed that Iâ(TM)d be satisfied if I just got a bag to advertise an incompetent financial institution to my friends.

Looking at the transaction log, I see that e-trade has charged me $25 for the privilege of taking my property elsewhere. Now, Iâ(TM)m sure you have something in your fine print that allows you to do that, but itâ(TM)s still kind of shitty on your part. Given that youâ(TM)re not even capable of issuing two cards on one account (as you had done for the previous decade or so), waiving that fee is probably entirely beyond the capabilities of the fifth-rate keyboard monkeys in your so-called âoeIT departmentâ, so you can go ahead and keep it. Iâ(TM)m getting a nice welcome gift from your competition, which I didnâ(TM)t even ask for.

Would you like the gym bag back?

-jcr

User Journal

Journal: Even less impressed with E-Trade. 3

Journal by jcr

Got this from some minion at E-trade, since the VP I wrote to was apparently too busy to answer a customer personally:

Good Morning Mr. Randolph,

We received your email inquiry to our VP of Customer Service, Neal Martin on 8/5/13. We regret that we are unable to accommodate your request for two ATM cards for your account. We appreciate your feedback and it has been shared with management and our product teams for review. If you have any additional questions or concerns feel free to contact me at [phone number deleted]

Thank You,

[Name redacted]
Corporate Support Manager
Alpharetta GA
E*TRADE Securities LLC
[phone number redacted]

Manager? Yeah, right. In a functioning company, a manager is someone who takes the initiative to solve a problem.

I left the VP's name because he fully deserves to have this come up when someone googles him in the future.

My response:

[redacted],

You might mention to Neal Martin that when a customer responds to an email message that has his name on it, itâ(TM)s rather poor form to pass the buck to someone else unless that other person is capable of solving the problem.

I was a more-or-less satisfied customer of E-trade for over a decade. I will be transferring my assets to another broker in the near future, as soon as I determine which of your competitors can demonstrate the competence that E-trade has abandoned.

-jcr

User Journal

Journal: Rather unimpressed with E-Trade today.

Journal by jcr

I've been a customer of theirs for over a decade, and I've had two ATM cards for the same account for many years. Recently, I needed to cancel one of the cards and instead of just replacing that card, they cancelled both of my cards. I just sent the following message to Neal Martin, VP of customer service at E-trade.

Neal,

I got a call from one of your employees this morning, Meagan something, who told me that after looking into it she wasnâ(TM)t able to find a way to issue a second card for my account. Her suggested workaround was that I should open another account, and get an ATM card for that account.

So, because of your IT departmentâ(TM)s refusal to fulfill a very simple request, E-tradeâ(TM)s âoesolutionâ is that I should give you MORE of my business, and incur whatever additional costs are associated with having a second account. Not to mention that using a second account means that if I lose a card while traveling, Iâ(TM)ll either be dead in the water for a day while funds get transferred to that second account, or Iâ(TM)d have to have money parked in that second account already.

Now, Iâ(TM)m a software engineer myself with a fair bit of experience in financial systems. In my Wall Street days, I worked at JP Morgan, Salomon Brothers, and UBS/Warburg. I know that there is indeed a way to solve the problem at hand, even if it requires manually editing a database to make it happen. If my business is important enough to you, youâ(TM)ll direct your IT department to do so.

In the meantime, I suggest your inform all of your employees in customer-facing roles that âoesecurity policy" is not an excuse for incompetence.

-jcr

The message above was a follow-up to this one:

Hello Neal,

I have been an E-Trade customer since 2002 or thereabouts, and I currently have about [redacted] in assets on deposit with e-trade.

Iâ(TM)ve got to say, Iâ(TM)m on the verge of taking my business elsewhere and itâ(TM)s because of something that should be trivial for you to solve.

Iâ(TM)ve had two debit cards for my account for a decade or more, and Iâ(TM)ve just been told that I can only have one now. This doesnâ(TM)t work for me, because I travel quite a bit, and I like to keep one card in the safe in my hotel room, and have the other one on me. If I lose a card while traveling, I do not want to be stranded without a way to access my funds.

Yesterday, I spoke with a representative who told me that he had figured it out and was sending me an additional card, but this morning he called me back and told me that he couldnâ(TM)t do it after all. Just now, I spoke with another representative from your âoeCorporate Relationship Managementâ team, and heâ(TM)s looking into it.

Iâ(TM)ve generally been happy with E-trade up to this point, but if you canâ(TM)t issue me two cards as before, itâ(TM)s a deal breaker. I hope you get this figured out.

Also, donâ(TM)t put your name on an e-mail address that doesnâ(TM)t go to you directly. Itâ(TM)s insulting.

-jcr

The upshot is I did some shopping around and found that Scottrade's fees are lower than E-trade's. The first brokerage company I find that can issue two cards on one account will get my business.

User Journal

Journal: Another interesting stint at Apple. 5

Journal by jcr

For the last two years (almost), I was back at Apple working on the UI frameworks that the ProApps and the iApps use to give them their distinctive look. Interesting work, nice people to work with, and now I can say that there's some of my code in most of Apple's Pro and consumer apps on the Mac.

To everyone in PhotoApps, ProApps, Frameworks, and Dev Tools, thanks much! I enjoyed working with you.

-jcr

The Internet

Journal: Ghost Article: Tea Party Win Shake Up Net Neutrality

Journal by RobertB-DC

This ungrammatical ghost (either "win shakes" or "wins shake" would have been correct) was a clear duplicate of another story, so I knew it was doomed when I saw it.

Tea Party Win Shake Up Net Neutrality
Date: 11/04/2010
Original link: http://politics.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=10/11/04/1544211
Posted by CmdrTaco in The Mysterious Future!
from the tea-shake dept.

GovTechGuy found a story discussing the Republican and Tea Party congressional wins and what that means for Net Neutrality. Apparently most of the dems who signed the net neutrality pledge last week are now looking for work.

Piracy

Journal: Ghost Article: BSA Inflate Their Piracy Losses 2

Journal by RobertB-DC

My guess is that this Monday-morning submission turned out to be a duplicate of something that came in over the weekend. But I haven't had a chance to check.

BSA Inflate Their Piracy Losses
Date: 09/20/2010
Original link: http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=10/09/20/1525220
Posted by CmdrTaco in The Mysterious Future!
from the thats-just-marketing dept.

superapecommando noted that Glyn Moody reckons
"The IDC numbers turn out to be reasonable enough, the conclusions drawn from them are not. Reducing software piracy will not magically conjure up those hundreds of billions of dollars of economic growth that the BSA invokes, or create huge numbers of new jobs: it will simply move the money around â" in fact, it will send more of it outside local economies to the US, and reduce the local employment. And it certainly won't do anything to ameliorate the quotidian problems of poorly-written software..."

Government

Journal: Ghost Article: UK Government Refuses To Ditch IE6 1

Journal by RobertB-DC

I was expecting this one to resurface -- it disappeared right about the time Slashdot posted a big political story -- but it hasn't come back yet. I'm guessing it's a dupe of a story over the weekend, but I haven't had time to go searching.

Your Rights Online: UK Government Refuses To Ditch IE6
Date: 08/02/2010
Orig link: http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=10/08/02/169202
Posted by CmdrTaco in The Mysterious Future!
from the good-plan-guys dept.

ChiefMonkeyGrinder writes
"The UK government has said it will not upgrade its departments computers from Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 because it would not be 'cost-effective'. A recent online petition posted to Number10.gov.uk received 6,223 signatures that called for the 'Prime Minister to encourage government departments to upgrade away from Internet Explorer 6' due to its alleged vulnerability to attack, and because it requires web developers to specially craft sites to support the browser. This raises the question, what is the cost of an upgrade compared to a massive security breach?"

Security

Journal: Ghost Article: Black Hat Talk On China Cyber Army Pulled

Journal by RobertB-DC

This one was funny -- it was in red on the front page at the same time as the article that eventually posted for real, Talk On Chinese Cyber Army Pulled From Black Hat. Oops!

Black Hat Talk On China Cyber Army Pulled
Date: 07/15/2010
Orig link: http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=10/07/15/1529241
Posted by CmdrTaco in The Mysterious Future!
from the nobody-ever-talks-about-the-purple-hats dept.

itwbennett writes
"A talk that would have given conference attendees a unique profile of China's secretive government-sponsored hacking efforts has been pulled from the Black Hat schedule. Wayne Huang, one of the presenters of the talk and CTO with Taiwanese security vendor Armorize, said that he decided to pull the talk after vetting it with several organizations that had contributed intelligence and getting pressure from several places, both in Taiwan and in China. Huang wouldn't say who complained or why, but he said that by pulling the talk Armorize will be able to maintain its good relations with the Asian security community. 'We ran the materials by some key people and they were not happy with it,' he said."

Medicine

Journal: Ghost Article: Man HIV-Free 2 Years After Stem Cell Treatment

Journal by RobertB-DC

The first Ghost Article in many, many months shows some strange behind-the-scenes SlashCode action. When I reload the original page URL, I get the generic "Nothing to see here, move along". But when I click on the "title" link, the one in the header before the comments section, the page that results has the full article title. It's not just echoing the text in the URL, either... otherwise it would say "Man HIV Free" instead of "Man HIV-Free". That implies that the ghost is still in the database... somewhere.

Man HIV-Free 2 Years After Stem Cell Treatment
Date: 26 Feb 2010
Orig link: http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=10/02/26/1637249
Title link: http://science.slashdot.org/story/10/02/26/1637249/Man-HIV-Free-2-Years-After-Stem-Cell-Treatment
Posted by kdawson in The Mysterious Future!
from the good-genes dept.

kkleiner writes

"According to a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine, a stem cell transplant performed in Germany has unexpectedly removed all signs of HIV from a 42-year-old American patient. The unnamed white male was treated two years ago for leukemia with a dose of donor stem cells, and his HIV RNA count has dropped to zero and remained there since. While the treatment was for leukemia, Dr. Gero Hutter and colleagues at the Charite Universitatsmedizen in Berlin had selected the stem cell donor for his HIV-resistant genes. While there are still many questions unanswered, this is the first such case of stem cells treating HIV that has been reported in a publication of the caliber of the NEJM."

The Courts

Journal: Ghost Article: The Long Term Impact of Jacobsen v. Katzer 2

Journal by RobertB-DC

Sorry, no time for fancy formatting. Here's the article... I don't keep up with the topic, so I don't know why it got yanked. Here's the link, in case it comes back: http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/04/16/1945246 Enjoy!

The Long Term Impact of Jacobsen v. Katzer
Posted by timothy in The Mysterious Future!
from the stabs-in-the-dark dept.

snydeq (http://www.infoworld.com/) writes
"Lawyer Jonathan Moskin has called into question the long-term impact (http://www.infoworld.com/d/open-source/does-court-ruling-raise-risks-open-source-687) last year's Java Model Railroad Interface court ruling will have on open source adoption among corporate entities. For many, the case in question, Jacobsen v. Katzer (http://jmri.sourceforge.net/k/docket/index.shtml), has represented a boon for open source, laying down a legal foundation for the protection of open source developers (http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/10/03/1447248&tid=185). But as Moskin sees it, the ruling 'enables a set of potentially onerous monetary remedies for failures to comply with even modest license terms, and it subjects a potentially larger community of intellectual property users to liability (http://www.law.com/jsp/legaltechnology/pubArticleLT.jsp?id=1202429618746).' In other words, in Moskin's eyes, Jacobsen v. Katzer could make firms wary of using open source software because they fear that someone in the food chain has violated a copyright, thus exposing them to lawsuit. It should be noted that Moskin's firm has represented Microsoft in anti-trust litigation before the European Union."

User Journal

Journal: Seven Dead Men 1

Journal by asparagus

I have released my first feature, Seven Dead Men, under a creative commons license. Feel free to download it off of LegalTorrents. If you would like to buy a copy, order it though google checkout and use the coupon code "slashdot" for a discount. The path to get to this point has been a long and circuitous one. If you have any questions about the process, ask away and I'll do my best to answer them.

OS X

Journal: Is your company new to the Mac or the iPhone? 1

Journal by jcr

1) Mac users are highly sensitive to the quality of your products' user experience. What this means is, go native or don't bother. Even though Google Earth and Photoshop are rife with UI atrocities, don't imagine that you can get away with ignoring the rules like they can. They're 500-pound Gorillas, and you're not. If you are Google or Adobe, get with the program and write a Cocoa UI, already. It's about time.

2) The native language for the Mac and the iPhone is Objective-C. Get used to it; it's not hard to learn. Any developer familiar with C should be able to learn Objective-C in a day, and be an Objective-C language lawyer within a week if he cares to. Yes, there are Ruby, Python, and other bridges you can use, and they work just fine, but limit this to integrating existing libraries with your apps. DO NOT try to use the bridges as a way to avoid learning the environment you're working with.

3) A cross-platform GUI is neither feasible nor desirable. You can't #ifdef the difference between Cocoa, xlib, and Win32. Don't believe me? Look at OpenOffice. (If OpenOffice looks OK to you, then please, forget about offering your products on the Mac. You'll only cause us pain.)

4) Don't bother with third-party cross-platform GUI libraries like Qt. Yeah, you can make it sort of work, but you'll get a lot of complaints from your Mac customers, and it will be more expensive than properly factoring your code and writing a native GUI for each platform. For every Mac customer who complains about a bad UI, there are many more who took one look at it and decided never to do business with the vendor in question. I just learned from a friend that Qt is far worse than I'd realized: if you use Qt, you wont' get any hardware acceleration , and you won't be able to deliver ADA compliance.

5) If you're shopping for people with years of experience in Cocoa and Objective-C, you should know that they're pretty scarce due to the flood of iPhone projects going on these days. I'm hearing about people getting $200 to 250/hr for iPhone projects. Keep in mind that you're also competing with Apple for those developers, and chances are your project isn't as interesting as Apple's. If you're a start-up and you can offer equity, then it's not too hard to find people who are willing to gamble with you if they believe in your business plan. Mac and iPhone developer tend to be somewhat less risk-averse than the average engineer, in my experience.

6) If you can't afford experienced Mac developers, you'll have to make your own. Save yourself a lot of time and money by sending your people to a class. I recommend Big Nerd Ranch, that's where Apple sent their own people when they quit doing Cocoa training in-house. Keep in mind though, that once your newly-minted Cocoa developers have a year or so of experience under their belts, you'd better be prepared to offer them market rates, or you'll lose them. Back in the NeXTSTEP days, Fannie Mae insisted on low salaries, and they lost people steadily to other NeXTSTEP shops. Attrition is expensive; it will cost you more than you think when your institutional knowledge of your product scatters to the winds.

7) Send your people to the Apple developer conference every year. I can't emphasize this enough. Time is money, and the connections you can make there with the Apple engineers you need to know can save you weeks or months of trial and error.

That should do for starters.

Addition 8/24/09:

8) When interviewing an Objective-C expert, DO NOT try the "Microsoft style interview". (See #5 above.) We are not entry-level, fresh-out-of-DeVry kids who have the time for solving the little brain teasers that someone looked up on the web last night. Talk about the actual work at hand, how the candidate's previous experience is relevant to what you need to do, and ask for some examples of creative solutions they've come up with before.

9) Probably the best place to advertise for iPhone or Mac developers is the cocoa-dev mailing list at lists.apple.com. You have to be a subscriber to the list, and you have to send your ad to the moderator for approval first. In any ad on Cocoa-dev, be very specific about what kind of developer you're looking for, and what the job entails. This is not the place to just list buzzwords or try to lowball anyone.

10) When advertising for candidates, don't hide behind a webform or an e-mail address. Put a phone number in your ad that reaches a human being. People with skills that are in high demand aren't going to mail their resume to recruiter@companyNobodyEverHeardOf, because that kind of thing gets you spammed.

-jcr

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