Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: More than One Keyboard to Prevent Damage (Score 1) 451

by seawall (#49276255) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Good Keyboard?

  Having gone through some hand nerve damage over the years I found it useful to have more than 1 keyboard;
  having my hands in different positions during the day has proved useful to preventing further problems.

  Most of my typing is done on a Unicomp Model M, which is very much an IBM Model M. I type most
  reliably there although the I can type longer at the Kinesis models and probably would be almost as fast if there
  if I really devoted the effort to it.

I find the clickety-clack of Model M type switches cheerful and I need all the happy thoughts possible when
debugging Ansible scripts.

I probably wouldn't inflict that on people in an open office.

Comment: Had that problem, now much less so. (Score 1) 312

by seawall (#48539243) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Electronics-Induced Inattentiveness?

Two things helped me so far:

1) A Sleep Study

  I thought I was sleeping well because I fell asleep easily and stayed asleep. Nope: That
  was my body trying to make up in quantity what the sleep lacked in quality. I thought my problem was
  caused by too many electronic distractions (yeah some, but not most of it).

  You don't get enough deep and REM sleep, you don't have focus and your ability to remember new things takes a BIG hit.
  My problem was ridiculously easy to treat and I deeply regret spending several years not realizing I was being fuzzier than
  I needed to be for want of a couple slightly uncomfortable nights wired up.

  2) Turning off the router at night

  Also helpful: I put my home router on a timer. 10pm, BANG! No internet on anything but my phone, which is OK to use
  for short periods as an internet device and keeps me in touch if need be. Nonetheless it's much easier for me to decide to close
  my eyes now. That probably only works because my phone screen isn't very big.

Comment: Health Issues a Real Possibility (Score 1) 275

by seawall (#47977283) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Becoming a Complacent Software Developer?

At my job it was noticed I was getting increasingly conservative about the systems. Some of that was justified but eventually I found I had a medical problem that made learning new things hard; it had been gradually messing with memory....very very slowly so as to be hard to notice until it became obvious something was very wrong indeed and being fired became likely.

    Learning new stuff when you can't reliably remember what you learned the day before will rapidly decrease ones enthusiasm, even if one recognizes change as necessary.

    Before losing insurance, I started insisting on checking out possible causes. If you're lucky (I was) there might be a simple fix: diet change, CPAP, whatever. That's the good news. Not so good: the longer a problem goes on, the longer it may take to recover and one may never get back to 100%. Very scary but it's better to get back 90% than to continue to degrade.

    I'm convinced that for some significant fraction of older workers, this kind of thing can be some or all of their problem and I urge people reading this who have memory and learning problems they didn't use to have: check out stuff like sleep apnea, vitamin deficiency and the like.

+ - x86 Computation Without Executing Any Instructions->

Submitted by jones_supa
jones_supa (887896) writes "Trust Analysis, i.e. determining that a system will not execute some class of computations, typically assumes that all computation is captured by an instruction trace. A team at Dartmouth College shows that powerful computation on x86 processors is possible without executing any CPU instructions. They demonstrate a Turing-complete execution environment driven solely by the IA32 architecture’s interrupt handling and memory translation tables, in which the processor is trapped in a series of page faults and double faults, without ever successfully dispatching any instructions. The 'hard-wired' logic of handling these faults is used to perform arithmetic and logic primitives, as well as memory reads and writes. This mechanism can also perform branches and loops if the memory is set up and mapped just right. The lessons of this execution model are discussed for future trustworthy architectures."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Places Needing Stable IT Staff (Score 1) 472

by seawall (#44114399) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Getting Hired As a Self-Taught Old Guy?

  I get your point but:

  In todays economy there are still a few pockets of stability and they tend to be in the
  places I put in this list. Not all positions, but some. E.g. We do hire some temps but they know they
  are temps and are about 5% of the workforce. I obviously don't work for Microsoft.

  These are places where they need (and more importantly: know they need) some working memory
  of how the place is runs. They are places where it is a big hairy deal to hire or fire certain positions.
  They are of a size that it is not unusual for exactly ONE person to know how to do a critical task.
  Even if cross trained, there is usually one (or maybe two) people who are really good at that critical
  task so you better have responsible people who would like to stay awhile.

  I am a sysadmin, I've been here for a decade, my most junior co-sysadmin has been here for years.
  No degree by the way, just a massive list of accomplishment. Me, I have a degree in a related field
  and fewer accomplishments.

  Even our web people have been here for years. That said, we all sometimes find ourselves working
  outside our original job descriptions from time to time. Money is tight but they want us to stay as long as
  we are doing a job that needs (or will soon need) doing.

  My particular organization has been through many expansions and contractions in the last century
  but makes extraordinary efforts to keep sharp people. My part is to stay sharp and grow. We have
  let go sharp people in the recent contraction, but we try to avoid it.

  In 2013 this is an exceptionally good situation to be in I know but these situations exist and are
  worth looking for.

Comment: Places Needing Stable IT Staff (Score 2) 472

by seawall (#44109035) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Getting Hired As a Self-Taught Old Guy?

Emphasize stability if you can, this can make age a plus. Not that age
guarantees stability or youth means not responsible but you are more
likely to be considered in a place looking for stability.

County government,especially smaller counties. They typically run on shoestrings but they
can really appreciate someone who can keep systems running well. Likewise midsize
towns and cities.

If you have some oddball skills, that can be a plus. In fact if you know INGRES, are willing
to live in Seattle and are stable: Drop me a line!

Medical computing often wants someone a little older. Banking will often hire someone older.

  Midsized organizations 100-500 can be an especially rich vein, places that have been around
  awhile so gray hair isn't unusual and small enough not to automate the initial job search. They
  also often have enough work to keep a small team busy.

  Surprisingly, these can be research departments at
  Universities (yes, they sometimes happily hire people without degrees. Who
  better knows a degrees worth for day to day computing? Arguing with the person
  with an MS who wants to convert everything to Python is not fun.).

I think it a fair bet there are security companies watching the news
that are going to be more accepting of someone older than they were
a month ago.

Comment: Socratic Dialog (Score 1) 716

by seawall (#42174305) Attached to: Just Say No To College

Some of us need the Socratic Dialog. I was driven to learn about mathematics. I had real drive and read a LOT. I was smart. Yay me. I managed to mis-learn a heck of a lot that way. It wouldn't have been so bad later on but I mis-learned some basic things. It was unpleasant and time consuming to go back and edit out what I got wrong and I needed someone outside my own head. I couldn't see what's wrong in my own head alone. Sadly, even in college, that kind of teaching isn't available so much but it's golden.

Comment: Re:I'm Cured! (Score 1) 602

by seawall (#42173869) Attached to: No More "Asperger's Syndrome"
As funny as that is: "I'm Autistic" seems a more powerful social excuse than "I have Aspergers". In any case: most of us whatever-we-ares still need to do our limited best not to be jerks. If we want a social life: Labels are more of a tool to find strategies to be less of an asshole than an excuse for being one. ...and pathetically, getting all pedantic on a funny joke is probably itself an example of assholery. Sorry dmomo.

Comment: MANY Daylight Savings Times, Not One. (Score 1) 475

by seawall (#41926609) Attached to: On Daylight Savings Time:
If you co-ordinate with people in different countries this gets to be pretty annoying. Seattle PST/PDT doesn't change the same days as in, for instance: Victoria, Australia. Which aren't the same days as say, London, England. This makes co-ordination a bit of a drag. The deltas shift around every Spring and Fall: not once, but several times. UT makes it manageable but it still grates.

Further, the few farmers I know couldn't care less.

To communicate is the beginning of understanding. -- AT&T