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Comment: Re:In plain English, what's a FreedomBox? (Score 1) 42

by nine-times (#46768169) Attached to: All Packages Needed For FreedomBox Now In Debian

I think the problem is that, in all those links, there isn't an obvious link to a clear explanation of what Freedombox actually does. There's a vague "vision statement" about ideological goals. There's a set of directions that tells you how to plug it in (hint: you plug it in). There are video presentations which I can't watch conveniently, but I assume will explain something-or-other. There isn't really a clear plain-english write-up of what's supposed to be accomplished by using one of these, nor the details on how it works.

Is it some kind of pass-through Tor client? A VPN-like encryption scheme? Does it actually host web/email/chat? I get that it has something to do with privacy and communications, but... what?

Comment: Re:Gentrification? (Score 1) 327

by nine-times (#46766779) Attached to: San Francisco's Housing Crisis Explained

If you're paying more than $1,500/month rent to live in a one bedroom apartment anywhere in the US, you're very rich. If you're paying $2,500/month to live in a one bedroom apartment anywhere in the US, you're super rich.

I don't think that's quite fair. In some places, rent is just very high. Some people pay a half of their net income (or more) on rent. So you might meet someone paying $1,500 in rent per month and only making $50k. Or you might have a couple sharing a $2,500k/month one-bedroom, each only making $40k each. Now I'll admit that those people are better off than the truly "poor" who can't make ends meet, but it's hardly "super-rich".

Comment: Re:So it's the "tech industry", so what? (Score 1) 283

by nine-times (#46762339) Attached to: Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job

I'm not sure that sysadmins, network engineers, and the other better IT jobs have to start out at the bottom rung.

I'm sure it's not always the case. There are various reasons why people get hired to jobs-- some better than others. However, I'll tell you that I wouldn't hire someone as a sysadmin who hasn't had experience as a sysadmin unless I knew that they had prior troubleshooting and support experience in a real-world setting. There are lots of reasons for that, some of them more obvious than others. I'll also comment that my position seems to fit along with other people that I've known who would hire a sysadmin or network engineer, though that's still all anecdotal.

It's ok. Like you said, to each his own.

Yup. Honestly, I've found I just don't like programming. I don't even like scripting and web development. I like logically solving problems, product design, and I'm even interested in some of the math involved, but I don't enjoy the process of actually coding or the project planning involved. I actually prefer the support side, though it's not tons of money, and it's been a long time since I was tier-1. Also, even when I was tier-1, I wasn't doing the sort of work where people read a script sitting in a huge support farm.

Yes. That is true. And if you DO have an education, you typically start at a higher point in said path, end at a higher point, and have vastly greater chances of reaching the upper echelons than if you do not have an education. Depends on the career.

Starting at a higher point... I think it probably depends on the industry. In my experience in IT support, it's definitely not the huge determining factor. We're always looking for young people who can be trained. I think you have a better point in saying, "have vastly greater chances of reaching the upper echelons", but I suspect it's for a weird mix of reasons. I do expect that there are bosses who won't promote you to a certain level without having the "college degree" box checked on your records. I also think that, to some degree, there are qualities that help you be successful in business and also make you more likely to go to college, e.g. a tendency toward conformity and willingness to jump through required hoops, or the idea that people with a certain kind of intelligence are more likely to be able to finish school and do well in business.

Actually though, it's true that there are businesses who will hire IT purely based on college education and certificates. Those people tend not to know what they're doing.

Comment: Re:u wot m8 (Score 1) 562

by nine-times (#46760351) Attached to: Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

Well you don't have to. Lots of Linux distros will provide a nice little GUI pop-up that tells you that updates are available, and if you click "Ok" or "Update now" or whatever, it'll do the rest on its own. That's how most Microsoft updates work too, though you can also script them too. The differences really aren't so earth-shattering.

Comment: Re:So it's the "tech industry", so what? (Score 1) 283

by nine-times (#46760273) Attached to: Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job

Except those jobs aren't the sort that are simply better. They're conflating the good tech jobs for which a degree is helpful, with the shit tech jobs which do not need a degree. That false presumption turns the thrust of their argument from "you don't need a degree to get a tech job" to "you don't need a degree to get a shitty tech job". Which doesn't quite have the same inspiring message.

Well... that kinda makes it seem like you're just on an ego trip to justify your own career choices. I would say more to the point: there are lots of career paths where, regardless of education, you tend to start at the bottom and work your way up. Often, a formal education is not necessary for those jobs. Sometimes, the people hiring choose to require an education (for various reasons, some valid, some not). This is true whether or not the job is a "tech job".

The starting jobs for doctors and lawyers often suck too, and those are highly educated positions. Lots of times, you just have to start with a shitty job.

Well maybe for you, but I graduated with a computer engineering degree and my first job out of school was developing software for embedded systems.

Yeah, well that doesn't sound fun to me. It may have been lucrative, but to each his own. Again, I'm not sure what your point here is, other than a misguided desire to brag.

Everyone I've known with the job has been desperate to get out, move up into managing others, or more commonly move "sideways" into development or sysadmin work.

Yet again, I'm not sure what your point is there. Many of the shitty jobs you start out with, people are looking to somehow "get out" or "move up". Doctors don't usually want to stay in their internships. Lawyers don't like doing the grunt work that young lawyers do. People starting in IT support don't like to stay at tier 1 helpdesk. That's all pretty normal. So what you're saying is IT support is an inferior career to programming embedded systems because people like to get promoted? Moving into management, systems administration, project management, network architecture, etc. are all routes upward. They're not really "sideways" or anything else. The path into those jobs are generally through tier 1 helpdesk. There isn't a level of formal education sufficient to have me hire someone directly into a sysadmin position, let alone something higher, without experience.

Let's look at all the directors and CIO and techy business owners. Obviously since they're "at the top" there's going to be less of them then the workers. That's how heirarchies work. So the odds of getting there are slim already...Now take your typical help-desk worker. Are you going to tell them that if they stay in this job they'll eventually get to be the director?

Yet again, I'm not sure what point you're trying to illustrate here. Yes, businesses run as hierarchies. The odds of reaching the top in any field are not great, and not everyone will accomplish that. Not every lawyer makes partner in a prestigious firm. Not every programmer gets to be CEO of a successful software company. Not every musician gets to become world-famous millionaire rockstars who sell out huge stadiums. What is the conclusion that you think we should draw from that? Because it's sounding more and more like you're just on a deranged ego trip to prove that you're better than helpdesk techs.

A comSci PhD can be overqualified AND not have the skills for the job. "Qualifications" it's a word that means something.

You do know that "overqualified" actually has a meaning, right? When someone is "overqualified", it means that they can easily do the job but have qualifications beyond that which make them unsuited for such a low-level position. For example, hiring someone to do tier-1 helpdesk who has been doing IT support for 6 years, and has since moved through tier-2, tier-3, and project management roles-- that would be an example of hiring someone who is "overqualified". Hiring a compsci PhD to do tier-1 support is something other than that. Absent other qualifications, he probably isn't qualified for a higher job. He probably can't easily do the tier-1 job without learning a lot.

For example, you're a programmer. If you were hiring a programmer, and a guy comes in and he has a PhD in Comparative Literature but has never programmed anything--- would you say that he's "overqualified" to be a programmer? Not unless you misunderstand the meaning of the word "overqualified".

Now I've hired 21-year old kids who have CompSci degrees from a reputable university (and had certs to boot!), and they may be fine programmers and have some understanding of theoretical computer concepts, but starting off they couldn't fix computers worth a damn. Meanwhile I've hired kids who didn't finish college but have been fixing computers for years as a side-job, and they were pretty solid right away. I also once helped train a kid, for example, who was a compsci major who had been running his own support business on the side for a few years. That guy was smart. Still, there's a lot of work that I wouldn't have him do until he had more experience, just because people without much experience tend to make a lot of mistakes.

I guess it's just some kind of a weird blow to your ego to think that IT support people aren't all losers, and I don't really see why. I'm guessing you're very self-conscious about something weird, and IT support is a touchy subject for you.

Comment: Re:So it's the "tech industry", so what? (Score 1) 283

by nine-times (#46756777) Attached to: Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job

I'm not sure what your point is. Yes, doing low-level tier 1 desktop support is a kind of shitty job. It's worth pointing out that a lot of jobs, when you're starting out right after college, aren't very fun or lucrative. But yes, people choose to do it, including people with options. There are people who like fixing computers and want to learn more about it. At the point, it's still something that you can make a decent career out of. You could end up being the Director of Technology or CIO of a business, or running your own consulting or MSP business.

I've hired people with STEM degrees and Masters Degrees. No one with a PhD or a Masters in a STEM field. And no, I wouldn't say that a STEM major is "overqualified". I think I would sooner say that when you're fresh out of school, you're not qualified for much of anything at all. I wouldn't say that a PhD is exactly overqualified, either, but there's a qualification mismatch. They're no more overqualified for helpdesk stuff than a great helpdesk tech is overqualified for being a research assistant.

But probably roughly half of the people I've hired have been some kind of STEM (CompSci or engineering) major, and they're not overqualified. They're often about on par with the people who have a BA (or no degree) but have been messing around with computers on their own for a while. If anything, I'd say the amateurs are usually better. In fact, there's a whole class of applicants who are the sort of weren't interested in computers but who have some kind of degree related to IT/MIS because they thought it would get them a good job. Those guys are usually the worst.

Comment: Re:So it's the "tech industry", so what? (Score 1) 283

by nine-times (#46748715) Attached to: Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job

There's some truth to that, though a lot of things don't actually require a reboot-- even when they say they do. One of the secrets is that sometimes, asking someone to reboot is just a customer support tactic. For example, if I have 5 things to do in the next hour, and only time to do four of them, I might ask one of them to wait until they have time to save all of their work, reboot the computer, and check to see if they're still having problems. I might not expect that rebooting will fix the problem, but if the client is the sort who will refuse to reboot their computer for 3 hours because they're "too busy" to save their work and close their programs, then I've just bought myself 3 hours to sort out the other 4 cases and research what might be the cause of the 5th case. Besides, even if the reboot itself doesn't fix the problem, maybe getting the user to save/close all of their documents will help, if you know it's someone who generally has a billion windows open at one time.

But that's kind of the thing: Formal education doesn't usually train you to think about things like that. Experience does.

Comment: Re:So it's the "tech industry", so what? (Score 1) 283

by nine-times (#46748341) Attached to: Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job

As someone who hires and manages tech support workers (and has done so for a few different companies), I can say that the point being made isn't as trite as all of that. When I look at a resume or interview someone, I don't ultimately pay very much attention to the education. The reason why is that most degrees are virtually useless for the work.

I've known and hired people who have degrees related to computers/engineering, and others who have no degree or have a degree in something completely irrelevant to the job. Regardless of the degree (or lack thereof), I'm more interested in experience. If they have no experience, then they're going to start of doing the simplest grunt work while I train them. I don't care if you're a computer science major. If anything, CompSci majors are worse, because they have a lot of bad habits and misconceptions. You could have a PhD in CompSci, and if you have no experience working help-desk, you're still doing the lowest-level grunt-work until you can prove yourself. Once you prove yourself, I don't care whether you have a career.

On a basic level, fixing computers isn't very tough, but experience of how computers actually work in the real world is often worth more than abstract knowledge of how computers are supposed to work, when they work as theoretically expected. When you get beyond the basic level, the job is more about being organized, communicating, prioritizing, and providing customer service than it is about computers.

Comment: Re:So basically... (Score 4, Insightful) 283

by nine-times (#46748173) Attached to: Bachelor's Degree: An Unnecessary Path To a Tech Job

Well I think the elephant in the room is that we need a lesser focus on "higher education" and a greater focus on "trade schools". In fact, that's what's happening already, in a half-assed way, when people have the mentality "I just want to get a job/make money!" They're thinking of our colleges and universities as trade schools, and those schools are, to some extent, setting themselves up to be trade schools.

The only real problem that I see with all of this is that we can't make up our minds what we want. Lots of people want to go to schools that will teach them a trade that will make money, but call it a "trade school" and those same people think that it's beneath them, that it's low-class. They don't like learning a broad spectrum of generalized and abstract concepts, but they've been taught that either you go to college, or you should work the cash register at a fast-food restaurant-- there's no middle ground. There are professions like plumbing, which make decent money but people think are for stupid low-class people, and then professions like IT support which are considered more "professional" though it often amounts to similar work-- you're a mr. fix-it working with computers rather than pipes.

It's in coherent.

Meanwhile, colleges are actually more focused on research dollars, sports teams, and frat parties than providing either a "higher education" or a "trade education", all of which confuses these issues even more. I'm of the opinion that these things impede each other, and we need to begin to separate them back out. Young people who have no interest in studying anything and only want to party should go to cities and communities where they can get drunk and messy, instead of coupling that experience with "education". We should have minor league sports teams which have no college association, and let promising young athletes get jobs in those leagues instead of taking sham courses in big universities. We should look at how we fund and handle research and see if so much of it should be taking place in universities. We develop respectable trade schools for young people to learn a trade (or for older people to retrain in a different trade) for instances where people are looking for practical employable skills rather than abstract knowledge.

All of these things are achievable if only we could get our collective heads out of our asses. Unfortunately, I have very little faith in humanity being able to do that sort of thing.

Comment: Re:First step: Audit (Score 1) 450

by nine-times (#46724285) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Start With Linux In the Workplace?

In many many cases you can subsitute "Windows 7" or "Windows 8" for "Linux".

Yeah, well here's a hint: the process I laid out isn't just for planning to change operating systems either.

However, the fact is that Microsoft has generally maintained compatibility pretty well between OS versions. If you have software running on XP, there's a good chance it will run on the latest version of Windows. Most of the apps that won't run are apps that were already old when Windows XP came out, or else applications that are very poorly written.

Comment: Re:What kind of industry do you work in? (Score 2) 450

by nine-times (#46717693) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Start With Linux In the Workplace?

On the other hand, if you're working with people for whom computers and technology are PFM (Pure @#%$ing Magic) then ANY CHANGE, no matter how trivial, will lead to nervous breakdowns. For such people, use of a computer involves memorized incantations (if not outright prayers) based on mouse movements, clicks, and magic words typed into the screen. If these change, even slightly, they will be utterly lost and terrified -- and they'll blame YOU.... Even so, there will always be some differences that will trip such users up. You guys might have to hire a temp worker whose sole job will be to train and support your employees until they learn the new incantations.

Yeah, tech savvy people who haven't done IT support often don't quite understand this. There are lots of people-- people of all ages and backgrounds-- who have no understanding whatsoever about how computers work. All they know is, "I move the mouse here and I click this button." They don't understand how it works. They just know, "When I want to process an expense report, I click on this button, then that button, then I type in this product code, and then I hit Enter 5 times." Or it might be that they don't even know what they're doing, but they know, "If I don't click on this icon on my desktop every Friday at 4:30pm, my boss gets angry. I don't know what it does, but he told me that there's something about payroll that doesn't work if I don't click on that and type in my password." If you so much as change the colors of an icon, these people are lost.

Know your audience.

Comment: Re:First step: Audit (Score 2) 450

by nine-times (#46717453) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Start With Linux In the Workplace?

Does that software run on Linux? - Or a platinum rating on WINE? - Can we use our XP licenses for a VM if need be?

Eh.... it depends. I'd be more open to WINE, though for business purposes it's often not worth it to run non-native apps. Running XP in a VM has its purposes (mostly in running a very isolated application), but as a general rule it's not going to actually solve your problems. It's like, "Congratulations! You've gotten rid of the headache with managing a bunch of Windows XP machines! You've replaced it with managing a bunch of Windows XP virtual machines, which is almost as bad, plus now you have to manage the Linux machines hosting them!"

Depending on the environment, you might also be able to host the one-or-two required apps on a remote desktop server.

And do you have a contingency plan when they suddenly a must-have feature they forgot to mention?

Well that's the main reason why I finished up by saying you need to start with a pilot program. Make people actually use it to do their jobs. Involve management in the process, and get management to sign off based on the outcome of the pilot program with the power users. It should cut out a lot of the must-have-but-forgot-to-mention functions if people actually have to use it for their daily work for an extended period of time. There may still be some lingering issue somewhere, but at least it won't be gross negligence on your part if you've missed it.

Otherwise a VM

Comment: First step: Audit (Score 4, Informative) 450

by nine-times (#46716439) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Start With Linux In the Workplace?

If you want to know how to start, your first step would be to audit all the software that people use to get their jobs done. Once you have a complete list, ask these questions for each piece of software:

  1. Does that software run on Linux?
  2. If not, is there a comparable piece of software that would have all the functionality we need?
  3. If not, can we live without the missing functionality?

If you get to the end of those questions and the answer is "no", then you should probably cut your losses and accept that you'll have to stick with Windows. If you can answer "yes" to at least one of these questions for every piece of software on your list, then select some users to be in a pilot program. You should find at least a couple semi-influential but fairly patient power users and set up a new test machine for them.

When someone says "I want a programming language in which I need only say what I wish done," give him a lollipop.