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Comment: Re:I have experienced this first hand (Score 5, Insightful) 574

by lordlod (#48307607) Attached to: The Great IT Hiring He-Said / She-Said
The catch here is that a degree is a very poor first step.

If you have recently graduated think of the worst person you just went through university with. The one who plagerised all their assignments and never seemed to get caught, who struggles to understand the difference between a loop and an if block, the person you would fake a heart attack to avoid getting stuck with in a group project.

This person has the same qualifications as you do.

In fact, the person described probably has better qualifications on their CV because they are more happy to lie about them.

You need to figure out how you differentiate yourself from them. As someone hiring that person is the absolute last thing I want to end up with and I will happily chuck 50 maybe CVs to avoid them.

This differentiation is where things like prior work experience, open source contributions and memberships of local user groups plays a role.

Btw, being in Aus have you signed up for linux.conf.au yet? lots of recruitment happens in forums like this.

Comment: Re:This is complete crap!!! (Score 1) 112

If they're worried about hacking it, it's a complete farce; there's no reason why the computer doing the sums even has to be connected to the internet, seeing as I think all the ballots are counted by people (they're farcically large ballots often described as table cloths), they just plod in a few numbers as the data comes in. Someone must be worried that competent, impartial people will have a look and find something which has been giving out porky pies.

They said "hacking or manipulation", they mean that there are potentially bugs which could be triggered by malicious input. The computer doing the tally is not connected to the internet. This is a bit alarmist and they have only tried playing the card recently, the AEC seems to be getting desperate.

The real reason is the other one that they offered, "underpins the industrial and fee-for-service election counting systems". The AEC makes a fair bit of money running elections private organisations and other countries. While what they primarily offer is impartiality, technical assistance is a strong component and they obviously feel that releasing their software would impact that business.

The AEC tallies have been independently verified several times, there isn't a substantial case that the election outcomes are being distorted. However I still believe that the code should be public.

Comment: Changes but not automation (Score 4, Insightful) 870

by lordlod (#46579779) Attached to: Job Automation and the Minimum Wage Debate

I live in a country where the minimum wage is roughly $15USD. More crucially though, I live in an area with low unemployment so the practical minimum wage is considerably higher.

What we have seen is changes like such as smaller retailers only have a single staff member on during the week. This means that when the staff member goes to the bathroom or gets lunch, the shop closes briefly. For larger retailers there is an ongoing shift towards self-checkouts, but as they are constantly pushing their costs this seems independent of wage levels.

Other fields have seen similar pressure. Restaurants try and make do with less staff, warehouses focus more on minimising idle time and companies may consider how often they really need the bins empty.

All of these are fundamentally positive changes.

Comment: Re: And we're going to trust self driving cars now (Score 1) 664

by lordlod (#46310339) Attached to: Stack Overflow Could Explain Toyota Vehicles' Unintended Acceleration

I've known a lot of high-quality developers over my 15 years of professionally developing software. The reason I don't want an automated car is because of these people. People make mistakes, intentionally or otherwise.

When it comes to true high-rel software, like that written to DO-178B Level A (an avionics software standard used for things like fly-by-wire) it's almost never the software per se that's at fault. The stuff is amazingly good. It's also amazingly expensive to write and test. You might also find it frustrating because it brings new meaning to the idea of conservative design. For example, I don't think it allows recursion. I know it doesn't allow dynamic allocation.

Firmware engineer here. While I don't work on safety critical systems not allowing recursion or dynamic allocation is just standard practice.

Memory leak errors are almost impossible to debug on a microcontroller. So as a preventative measure, standard practice is not to do any dynamic allocation after hitting the main loop. Initialisation is ok, it runs once and never gets freed. Once the system is running however, the risks outweigh the benefits.

Recursion is much the same, it's easy to blow the stack, messy to debug and makes static analysis hard.

While both can be done safely we consider them automatic red flags and any use needs to be accompanied with a justification in the comments. The code is also very carefully checked. Typically the problem is readdressed and another method used.

Comment: Re:welcome to the socialist wonderland (Score 1) 206

by lordlod (#45296633) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Package Redirection Service For Shipping to Australia?
You are using Australian figures from 2008, which is fair, the income doesn't change too quickly. However the USD numbers are also on 2008 exchange rates, which makes your figures useless.

The 2008 number you quoted (which looks a little fishy), at current exchange rates is $63k USD.

The latest official figures are from 2011 with a median of $64kAUD, the equivilent of $61k USD.

The US census figures list $51k USD for 2011.

So you are right, it's nowhere near more than double. But using decent figures the Australian Median Household Income is 20% higher (2011).

And speaking personally, 20% extra income is a price I happily pay to live in a statist utopia.

Comment: Re:Why is EC more secure than RSA? (Score 5, Interesting) 366

by lordlod (#44818785) Attached to: Are the NIST Standard Elliptic Curves Back-doored?

The elliptic-curve algorithm is much slower for future quantum based attacks. So it's future-proofing, which is required if you want your secrets to stay secret.

You could get similar results by adopting a 15000 bit RSA key... but that's getting rather large.

A paper with some classical and quantum time estimates, Elliptic-Curve vs RSA: http://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/0301141v2.pdf

Comment: Re:When you don't want a reference (Score 1) 892

by lordlod (#44579919) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When Is It OK To Not Give Notice?

In Australia I am required by law to give a notice period to my employer and my employer is required by law to pay me for my notice period.

If you read the fine print the punishment for not giving two weeks notice is that they don't pay you the two weeks that you don't work... which seems fair.

Comment: Re:You have consented to large government (Score 1) 104

by lordlod (#43737709) Attached to: Australian Government Initiates Covert Internet Censorship

Australia kind of leapfrogged past the US and even the UK in terms of a soft tyrannical take over. I found it surprising, but as soon as they lost their ability to fight (gave up the guns) the changes have been moving very quickly.

You are making a mistake in assuming the Australian culture is the same as US culture. It's one our own commentators have actually started doing too.

Australia has never had the same views on freedom and rights that the US has. It has always been understood that there is a compromise between personal freedoms and state control. An example of this is that we don't have a Bill or Rights, we don't have a Freedom of Expression, in fact there are no "rights" in our federal law at all. (We are a signatory to the UN human rights convention and one of the territories has rights legistlation which complicates things a little, but in general when an Australian mentions their rights they have no idea what they are talking about).

So this isn't a recent tyrannical takeover and raising guns as an issue is completely irrelevant. Hell, we started has a prison colony where everyone had to obey orders and there has never ever been a serious movement of Australians employing violence against their own government. What we have is a misstep by a government regulator that has very little idea what it's doing. The IT press are whipping up the rage to try and ensure that this is an election issue, for at least a day or two. The major parties will probably move strongly to avoid it becoming a problem for them and the regulator will be put back in it's box for a few years.

Comment: Re:Some Niche Engineering Jobs Needed (Score 1) 375

by lordlod (#39374777) Attached to: Reversing the Loss of Science and Engineering Careers

I'm a programmer and electrical engineer with the kind of experience you are looking for. I've debugged UARTs, multi-device SPI, played with a fair few ATMELs and spent a few years with a small proprietary processor I've tried to scrub from my memory.

I am also finishing up my current contract in about a month. So (after a holiday) I will be back in the job market soon.

Unfortunately I'm not competent enough to figure out how to send a PM through slashdot.

So email me, ad454-5-lod at spamgourmet.com I would be interested in knowing what companies are looking for this type of expertise, even if it doesn't lead anywhere.

Comment: Metrics, why do they keep doing it wrong? (Score 1) 223

by lordlod (#38383804) Attached to: The Four Fallacies of IT Metrics
Metrics are useful, essential even. If you want to track the progress of a project you need some way of measuring it. If you want to be able to improve you estimates for the next project bid, you need to be able to figure out what happened to the last one. It's even useful as a management tool, right down to individual employees.

But announcing your metric and using it to directly reward or penalise employees is just stupid and not a proper reflection on metrics. It's like pouring coke in your eye and then claiming coke isn't good for anything.

Metrics provide a view into whats happening and allow you to gain insights into the process. Take lines of code, a widely reviled metric. You have two employees, one creates 4x the average number of lines of code, one creates 4x less than the average. The wrong next step is to praise the first employee and penalise the second. The right next step is to look into it further and figure out why. Is one producing standard template code like accessors while the other tackles hard problems, if so, is this desired? Does one have considerably superior tools allowing them to work faster? It may be that one coder isn't up to pace with the rest, a manager needs to be aware of that so that they can work around it or address it, but not by telling them to write more lines of code.

What I'm trying to get at is that they are indicators, like the smell of food suggests it's taste. A broad range of metrics provides an indication of the life of the project. However they should be triggers for further investigation, like system monitoring for a computer system. A manager should never should never use a metric to justify a decision. Employees shouldn't be aware of the metrics being used around them, not because it's a secret but simply because they shouldn't have to care.

Comment: Re:Really bad idea. (Score 1) 1173

by lordlod (#36657950) Attached to: Roundabout Revolution Sweeping US
I actually disagree. In most scenarios the roundabout self balances really well. The key failure condition for a roundabout is a steady traffic going straight through, enough to always fill the roundabout. When this happens the straight through cars fill the roundabout and starve the other lanes, you need cars going 3/4 of the way around to break the flow and allow the cars going across to get in. If the traffic flow is primarily straight through with a few cars coming in the sides this actually works fairly well. The few cars have to wait a while at the roundabout but most of the cars get through quickly. It's a bit like a traffic light that's green in one direction for five minutes, and in the other for 20 seconds. Where this falls over is when you have substantial flows coming from all directions but only one of the directions is going straight. The straight cars (going NS) lock it up for a while, when there's a break the EW cars get to go. If they are going straight they can establish a lock and push a fair few cars through. If they also want to go NS they don't lock the roundabout and the NS cars reestablish control. This is actually a fairly common peak hour issue and indicates a mistake by the traffic planners, or an increase in flow since the road was designed. Roundabouts, like most traffic devices, work better if people are occasionally kind. If there's someone waiting to break into the flow that's been there for a while they'll often be let in.

Comment: Syntax improvements are a huge step forward (Score 1) 187

by lordlod (#36134926) Attached to: Perl 5.14 Released

There are some really good changes going into 5.14. Worth highlighting for anyone with Perl experience.

The Array/Hash reference mess has been greatly improved. You can now perform most builtin operations directly on array references. So no need to mess around with dereferencing things all over the place. This is a huge improvement in the syntax surrounding complex data structures.

The eval exception handling mess has been cleaned up so that error handling modules such as autodie can function properly without strange corner cases.

Comment: Script: Links + IMDB (Score 2) 361

by lordlod (#35560284) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Huge Digital Media Libraries

I looked at exactly this problem and came up with my own custom solution.

I wrote a Perl script that queried IMDB, there are simple CPAN libraries out there. The highest rank search based off the filename was always the correct movie.

Then I pulled out the director, lead actors, proper title etc. Any details that you actually care about.

Finally I created the directory structure for each detail and put a hardlink to the file. The original files were all kept in a single flat directory for storage, symlinks would work just as well if you prefer.

The end product is exactly what you are looking for:
-> Directors
--> Ridley Scott
---> Actual movie file 1
---> Actual movie file 2
--> Tim Burton
---> Actual movie file 1
---> Actual movie file 2
-> Actors
--> ...

No issues with duplicates or anything like that. No requirement for your media player to understand some sort of database. No problems sharing it across a network filesystem.

All less than a page of Perl. Unfortunately the code is currently inaccessible to me.

Comment: Re:It is ethical (Score 1) 826

by lordlod (#35119882) Attached to: Is Setting Up an Offshore IT Help Desk Ethical?

Is there a top-level executive in the U.S. today, working for a sizable company (say, 100k or more employees), who worked their way up through the ranks of that organization?

Jim Skinner President and CEO of McDonalds has been with the company for 39 years.

His predecessor, Charles Hamilton Bell, started as a burger flipper at fifteen and stayed with the company until his death.

So they exist, but I doubt there are many of them.

Comment: Re:Troubleshooting blind... (Score 3, Insightful) 208

by lordlod (#34543106) Attached to: Stunts, Idiocy, and Hero Hacks

When you are spending so long doing something awkward it's normally worth sitting back for a few minutes and reconsidering the goal and approach.

Goal: Recover documents off computer.

Solution 1: Spend hours writing down key strokes and working blind.

Solution 2: Plug harddrive into another computer and retrieve files.

Solution 3: Use VGA mode or any Windows install disk to recover drivers.

Most of the time when you are working hard it's because you are doing it wrong.

"Pull the trigger and you're garbage." -- Lady Blue