Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:A long time coming... (Score 1) 364 364

This is the key thing.

At this point in our history, no country has anything resembling a free market. The entire system, for good or bad is tied to financial games and government spending.

Say you what you will, but infrastructure provides something very tangible for the nation.

That's more than you can say for war spending or financial sector spending.

Heck, that's probably more than you can say for spending on healthcare and education. We've spent more and more on healthcare and education (in Canada), and I don't know if our kids are people really any healthier overall. Sure, for a country with really crappy healthcare and education, you can see some tangible benefits. But for most western countries, it doesn't seem like things have improved with more spending.

But I can tell you we have one hell of an infrastructure deficit. People notice it every single day taking transit or driving to work. If you build a new subway, people will notice it...

Comment Re:huh (Score 1) 211 211

Here's the interesting thing.
Let me preface all this by saying my values generally agree with you. You should earn your living. You have no right to be better or more well off than someone else except if you are able to be of more service to the world and convince people to voluntarily pay you more money.

That all said, these kids who want to be protected from everything and who want no responsibility for themselves. The ultra-feminists and ultra-leftists as many would point out. Well here's the thing. do we need responsible and self-sufficient people anymore?

I pose that as a serious question. If there is no need for something, I don't see any reason why it should remain so valued?

As we enter the age of automation, so much of *need* is generally taken care of. I'm under no illusions that society still needs a lot of human labor. So much of it done by overseas or migrant labor. But play along with the thought experiment.

Heck, I barely feel hot anymore, because I'm protected via air conditioning. Oh how the conveniences creep up on you in life :P My biggest bill is housing, which has little to do with the actual cost of a home, and everything to do with low interest rates and outbidding my fellow citizen to get into a *hot* area/market.

I'm protected from disease via vaccinations and a decent universal healthcare system (I'm Canadian).

I'm protected from crime, by a decent police force and welfare system.

I'm protected from employee abuse by labor laws (well somewhat :P)

So while, I still hold that scarcity immigrant mindset of being self-sufficient and responsible, I at times wonder if it is even needed anymore. I doubt I'll be able to change. I'm young, but too old to suddenly change all my values.

Maybe it is time we self-sufficient and responsible men learned to relax a little. No need to work so hard. No need to take on societies burdens. We do have the organization and technical automation for us all to live decent lala land enjoyable lives.

That all said. Will society survive? Will it collapse if everyone buys into the left-wing feminist ideology? I have no idea.

I could write a critique on the left very easily. They want everything for free, while ignoring those who do the productive work (migrant workers, overseas working, the factory workers... They have no idea what things would cost if that self-sufficient responsible person suddenly adopted their entitled values.

But it's something I've been thinking about. I'll still raise my kids to be self-sufficient because if society has struggles, I want them prepared to deal with shit. But I leave the door open. Maybe its needless worrying on my part and we can all just enjoy life a bit more and worry less about being responsible/self sufficient.

It's an open question in my view.

Comment It has more to do with your IT department (Score 1) 517 517

My home PC is running Windows 8, but started off as Windows 7. It is as snappy as the day I bought it.

The issue with your organization, as with more organization is they install so much crap on there that it slows it down. It would happen if they installed so much crap on linux or mac or whatever.

It just so happens that tend not to for those system. But if enough regular users switch to those, they will.

I hate my work laptop. It auto installs software, demands reboots at varying times, runs a really shitty custom backup that backsup/restores/sometimes overwrites my local files, runs slow enterprise anti virus software, endpoint configuration, reporting tools, software scanning tools...
Heck, just recently, they started doing HTTPS man in the middle monitoring. So even google throws cert errors when I use firefox/chrome. Heck, I'm not using Bing just to avoid google HTTPs. Officially we must use IE.

In my last job, if we got our PCs to use a test domain, we could avoid all the corporate crap. But not at my current company.

Long story short, there's nothing that will cause windows 7 or 8 to slow down in time. It is generally enterprise install bullshit or users installing bad software.

Comment Re:Economic Externality (Score 1) 371 371

I agree with your general point.

Yes, the financial growth system is a mess.
The problem is that both the left and right are just as dependent on GDP growth. Heck, probably the only opposition you have to the financial growth system comes from the extremes on the left (occupy wall street) and the tea party (right). Everyone other movement basically believes in growth and the financial section.

Do you ever wonder why every big city (New York, Toronto, London) is 'progressive', while at the same time pretty much generating most of its wealth from financial games?

It's a big irony.

There's also a huge number of political ironies. One of the reasons you can eat so cheaply in much of the developing world is because you can pay people crap. I guarantee you, you make the minimum wage $2.00/hour in London and you'll magically start seeing lots of places serving fresh food.
But that brings all sorts of issues depending on your end of the political spectrum.

Probably the biggest issue right now is housing. Our politicians/bankers have convinced the population that increases in home prices increase their wealth. That this is somehow a good thing.

When in reality, you're still living in the same home you were 20 years ago when home prices were more reasonable. You get the same value out of the home. The only difference is all your citizens are trying to jump on the real estate train out bidding each other due to low interest rates.

In any case, I'll sneak this is there. I hate plastic and packaging. I can claim it from a moral angle. But it's also out of self interest. Every week, I take out the trash and my god is there a lot of packaging that takes up space. It's just me and my wife and there's so many bottles, cans, boxes... it's insane.
I actually started buying products with nicer packaging, just knowing I have to take this crap out.

At my supermarket for example, they sell croissants. But they package it in a big plastic container. Just think of the wasted space in my recycling bag. I stopped buying it and only grab it when they sometimes package it in a bag. Or even sometimes we buy the fresh cut fruit. That shit comes in a plastic container. Man, at least make it out of something better. It is literally used to hold the fruit for less than a week, but they package it in plastic that can last 100 years or whatever.

I don't know what it will take, but I want to see less packaging, at least in these obvious cases. I know some products needs to be shipped or need more packaging for security/anti theft... but there is so much low hanging fruit...

Comment Re:Trimming the fat (Score 1) 96 96

Forget about paying top dollar.

Banks spend huge amount of money on IT.
The problem is that it is really poorly allocated.

They'll spend massive amounts of money buying expensive products from IBM. Spend massive amount of money on IT contractors. Spend massive amounts of money on IT security scanning...

The problem is largely in the small space with dev and IT where the people who actually make the damn thing work day in and day out.

When it comes to banks, I'm sorry, I've worked in the industry. They have no shortage of IT money. It's just spent horribly.

Comment I think you have it figured out already (Score 1) 257 257

It seems to me that you have already figured it out.

Get a developer/build VM Image and you're basically done.
Well, that and make sure to use open source / easily licensed tools so you won't ever run out of a license.

Are you worried that the x64 instruction set is going to disappear within the next 25 years?

I'd say that is highly unlikely.
When AMD when to x64, they made sure it still ran x86.

In 25 years, I doubt we'll be dropping x64 from mainstream support. You're probably safe there.

Not to mention, you'll probably be able to buy some old chips if that should ever happen. Just go on ebay and you can still find 386 chips :P

Not to mention virtualization.

Comment Re:First Post with good info (Score 3, Insightful) 51 51

Yep, I had a very interesting talk with my wife's friend.
She's an accountant and she was just complaining about IT.

So I talked to her about our side, and it's amazing the disconnect there.

We talked and I mentioned how every IT project needs a maintenance budget. You need knowledge retention in case the service needs to be updated in the future. You need someone to support it... You know, just like any other project. You wouldn't build a washroom and budget someone to clean it.

So she asked, well why don't you include that in your estimates? So we can have proper costing for the project.

Then I thought about it. There is a huge gap in accounting and IT. In IT, we often view accounting as something in the way. Stupid time tracking software. Bah, I'll just charge all my time to my assigned project. I have to provide an estimate. I'll just provide an estimate for the development. It's not my job to think about knowledge maintenance or operations...

Now of course the average IT person should not think about this, but the upper IT folks definitely should by setting up the right groups and proper leadership on how projects are structured. It's their job to get the funding so to speak.

It's not so much a problem that all the heads want to know is budget, on time...
It's largely that IT accounting is very poor to not account for all the costs. And we're so used to delivering something even if it does not account for maintenance that they get used to it.

Comment Re:Really? (Score 4, Interesting) 225 225

It's often not even ignorance. Sometimes there is a mentality of correctness over keeping it running.

Never is this more of a debate that in exception handling.

I've worked in places where it was against the gods if you simply had a catch( Exception e). You had to *know* which exceptions you are catching and then catch each one separately.

The keep it running in me is annoyed because there's always some possibility of a runtime Exception or that we miss something and then it crashes instead of just failing that one operation.

The reason given was it is better for us to find out the exception and then fix the code, than to mask it with a catch all.

To each his own, but it's definitely not as simple as ignorance.
I've fought a lot of battles writing the software. I can tell its often the case of correctness versus keep it running.

Comment They will still get their cut (Score 2, Insightful) 160 160

I'm in Canada and I've been moving away from cable. I've managed to get the wife down to basic cable. We still have Internet from our cable provider though.

Here's the thing though. The price of our internet has gone up. Even with Netflix, our Internet usage is barely 100 GB / month.

It's almost like they want their $130-$150 a month for cable/internet/phone. It almost doesn't matter if you from one, they'll just jack up the rates of the other eventually.

Such is the power of monopoly.

Comment Re:Simplistic (Score 4, Insightful) 385 385

While this is true, when you actually look at people working, the number of jobs that 'truly require' a mind is much smaller.

Even jobs that people think require a great mind like say a doctor. In reality, the way a lot of doctors operate in the real world, it is rather routine.

A lot of diagnosis work can be pretty well automated. Simple stuff. For example, I'm on Thyroid medication. I get a blood test once a year. I've seen this happen first hand now. The blood lab does the work. The doctor gets an automated analysis of the results showing acceptable levels of thyroid... and the corresponding dosage. This entire process could be automated. Even things like radiology, which is very costly, could deal with a lot of automation. I worked briefly in the field about 8 years ago, and back then we were working on automated detection of anomalies in MRI/PET scans.

Two things have to be taken into account here.
One is that so much of a doctors work is routine that a lot of that can be automated. Then if there is an exception, you can have that handled by a human. Or you can do a human review on a positive case. For example, you can have 80% of MRI/PET scans automated for analysis. But before you decide on surgery, have it confirmed by a human radiologist.

The other is to actually look at real work. Theoretically, doctors can spend lots of time with their patients and this extra touch can lead to better analysis and treatment. Look, I'm in Canada, land of universal healthcare. Almost every doctor I've seen (both walkin and family) over the past 10 years has been running a tight ship. 15 minute appointments. Get straight to business.

I don't know if they could theoretically do better if they spent more time, but this is the reality of healthcare. I'd guesstimate you could automate a lot of the diagnosis and treatment. Of course like I said above, serious issues would need to get more serious approvals.

For automation to make sense, it simply has to make sense for a large number of cases. I don't think the automated system needs to beat the very best, because how many of the cases are actually done by the very best?
Again, back to
You also have other jobs that could be automated. Most of the tax system could be automated. I've been seeing it more computerized for years and years, but we're nowhere close. But really, there is no reason my taxes could not be automatically done. They have my income slips. All my investments are with major financial institutions who should be able to calculate my profit/loss...
If they simplified the tax code, it could probably be automated even better.

The more you actually dwell on it, the number of jobs that truly require a mind are simply not that many. Most can be automated. Even judgment style jobs can be automated and probably perform better than the average of human practitioners in the field.

Comment Re:Unintended consequences (Score 1) 129 129

Sure, that would put that kind of transaction in danger.

On the other hand, maybe that is a good thing.

And to top it all off, sending money to people is even easier these days. I'm in Canada and I've just gotten used to the email money transfers. $1.50 fee, but its worth the convenience to me.

I've heard that Asia is really big on mobile payments and transfers, so I'd imagine its much easier there.

Comment Market versus Free-Market (Score 1) 356 356

I was on vacation this past week and at the hotel, they got great reception of Fox News. Just a preamble so you can ignore the rest of this :P

Anyways, there was a pretty good debate there on college tuition with some of panel saying it is a free market because it is based on supply and demand and another panel member saying it can't be a free market because of the subsidies. The cost would not be as high if there were no subsidies because the payout of the college degree is not that high for everyone...

Anyways, it got me thinking of where we are. In pretty much every industry today, you don't have anything that resembles a 'free market'. But you do have a lot of 'markets'.

Almost everywhere you look, you see heavy government involvement from direct subsidies, to investments, to laws, to regulations... that heavily distort any notion of a free market.

I'm not saying this is right or wrong, I'm simply saying what it is.

But then what surprises me is the outrage people get when it comes to subsidies to industries that make things.

I see this all the time. Even in Canada. Suddenly we turn all free-market when it comes to industries that make things. Oh god forbid Nortel or BlackBerry get direct subsidies. These engineers have to operate in the global free market. Meanwhile probably something like 70% of GDP is subsidy based (real estate, healthcare, education, finance...)

Alright, let's take it all at face value. Musk's companies have 5 billion dollars in subsidies. Seems like he is delivering with real jobs and real products.

Meanwhile, hundreds of billions and trillions are spent every year subsidizing the military, healthcare, education, real estate, finance, public sector...

I don't care which side of the fence you stand on. Free market or socialism, why complain about Musk? You want to complain about socialism, let's talk healthcare and education and military and finance and real estate first. That's the big money in socialism.

Comment Re:This is possibly the dumbest things I've seen.. (Score 1) 68 68

I don't have a clue as to all the use cases the navy needs a data center for. I really don't.

But I'm pretty sure a lot of it can be sent into *the cloud* with vendors with decent credentials. I would hope the navy ensures the cloud location and physical security. Maybe they reach an agreement to post their own navy security for particular labs? This is not an usual agreement to have a dedicated physical location for big clients. This happens with corporations. I'm sure the military could get such an agreement.

Not everything is "Top secret plans to invade Russia.docx"
I'm sure there's a lot of boring logistical, hr, mundane reports, recruitment tools, videos... that you don't need that anything beyond good cloud security.

Not to mention, there are various kinds of technologies that allow you to encrypt data going into the cloud so nothing in stored raw.

It has to be done intelligently of course, but I don't see why the government should not use the vast array of cloud solutions available from a lot of vendors.

Comment Re:Economics is a science! (Score 1) 335 335

The problem with looking at the economy by numbers is that so much of the numbers are set by people (Governments, ordinary citizens, bankers...)

People want to treat it like a scientific physical system, but it simply isn't.

When when interest rates go up/down? Entirely a political decision.

How much demand is there for housing? Depends largely on government policies (immigration, proprety tax rates, green belts, urban sprawl policies...)

How much are people investing? What tax shelters are there ( TFSA, RRSP by the government)... Related to the interest rate... do people feel like they have to invest because their money is always losing money...

Taxes, investments, subsidies, big infrastructure programs... all decided on a whim by governments.

I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated. -- Poul Anderson