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Comment: Re:Of course not. (Score 1) 307 307

I remember as a very young kid in the 70's hearing about the Lunar Laser Ranging experiment and wondering how they managed to aim and point the laser correctly and get it to return properly and all that. It still blows my mind today when I understand much more than I did back then, when I delve into even a cursory overview of the techniques the ongoing experiment uses to aim, point, and collect the photons to generate the experimental results.

Comment: Re:And if they really want to make nice (Score 1) 229 229

If Tilak Mandadi (LinkedIn profile not updated yet to reflect his Disney CIO/Parks position) did not actually orchestrate the restructuring himself (perhaps he was instructed from further up the executive chain), then he certainly did himself no favors by how he executed it (at least the announcement if not the actual restructuring logistics itself), oversaw the execution of it, and responded to it. If he's being muzzled by Disney from getting out in front of this story now with some spin control, then it is possible Disney has done so to keep him in their back pocket to throw under the bus if the legal and/or financial blow back from the story gets too hot.

So even if you see a "direct the termination of the executive responsible", it is entirely possible that the real architect(s) of the in-all-but-name layoff remain untouched, and you are only seeing the sacking of a scapegoat, even if they have a "CIO" in their title (he's CIO of a large division, but not over all of Disney). If instead something happened along the lines of Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services and HCL America (the contractors identified in the story) get their H1-B allotments catastrophically cut back (like 75-80%) with a maximum absolute cap set to the cut back level based on the 2014 allotment, for 7 years, then you would see very extreme avoidance of these kinds of restructurings in the future. Even if the H1-B program continues to exist, and even if American companies solicit for this kind of restructuring, there isn't a sales manager in the world who would allow that kind of deal through. Also effective would be to change the H1-B legislation so allotments become a granted privilege served at the pleasure of politics, not a protected right enjoying contractual legal protection, to nullify legal challenges to allotment changes, and let the executive (agency or President) or legislative branches alter the allotments by company. This would give the contracting companies a much greater incentive to solicit for more creatively value-added business, rather than extractive displacement-heavy business, as the political optics for any displacements (real or perceived) are just too much of a headache to deal with.

Comment: Re:TFA (Score 1) 229 229

What I haven't seen commented upon is the combined form factor and upgradeable, maximum RAM capacity.

There isn't another laptop I'm aware of on the current market with similar physical dimensions and is upgradeable to 32 GB RAM. For those who run VMs on the road and want to cram as much as possible into a small footprint, the Librem is a unique solution in more ways than the free software/hardware aspects. It could be more free with respect to the BIOS, but incremental baby steps will get us there; we first need to convince manufacturers a viable market for freedom-oriented products exists.

Comment: Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (Score 1) 93 93

The numbers work out for habitat-stealing if interstellar travel involved some quirk of technology that made dropping back into a gravity well somehow attractive at the end of the trip.

From what we can extrapolate given our current rudimentary state of technology, we think that if you can work out interstellar travel, then Iain Banks' popularized Culture series take on the matter is probably correct: that is, interstellar travel necessarily solves space habitat issues as a precondition. And once you have an interstellar-travel-grade space habitat, it is only the eccentrics who want to drop back down a gravity well.

Comment: School Missed An Opportunity Here (Score 1) 1010 1010

The school could have stepped in and said they have informally allowed it (thus graciously letting this guy off the hook), but now that it has become a big deal, they'll print up $30 per year tags to hang on the rear view mirror that gives parents the right to charge during school operating hours. Win for the school: they get to tap a small revenue source (but every little bit helps), and get to look progressive with parents that have the disposable income to choose EV's. Win for the parents: they get to top off during school events that they attend.

Comment: Re:The key to consumer based gear (Score 1) 241 241

Are you talking about something like a bench top supply, or just a high quality AC wall wart adapter replacement? If the former, sure they'll supply clean power for the price, but if the latter, please post some brands that you have had good experience with over the years. These days if I'm lazy I'll just order one from adafruit, or just grab the first switching wall wart adapter that meets my specs from mouser or digikey; are there specific brands that are known for high quality, reliability, and durability?

Comment: First Find an HSM System (Score 1) 268 268

There are a lot of naysayers on here, but since you did not specify the capacities you are handling I'm going to assume that you are working with hundreds of terabytes, the scale at which using a tape library starts to really make economic sense. Any kind of "use tape to complement hard disk storage" scheme will use a robot-driven tape library. If you aren't in this class of solution, then the other posters are right, do not even consider going down this path, the expense ($10K USD entry level) is not worth it.

What you are looking for is called a Hierarchical Storage Management solution. They are all proprietary software (the hardware part of the solution is pretty much functionally interchangeable), there is no production-grade open source offering, which is unfortunate. The proprietary ones I know of don't allow hooks to programmatically customize inject/retrieval policies and operations, the primary reason to want an open source alternative (though Tivoli Storage Manager has an extensive API that someone could use to roll their own HSM with its own API complete with programmatic hooks).

If you find these financial requirements too onerous, then as a middle ground solution I recommend you get commercial-grade hard disks like Western Digital Black with 5-year warranties to hold everything you have, a single tape drive for traditional backups, some software that supports incremental backups, and climate controlled storage for tapes.


+ - HP offer help migration from itanium to x86 platfo->

lpaseen writes: HP announced Odyssey (Press release), a project intended to create mission critical computing env on x86 platform. According to this blog
"Over the next two years, H-P will work with members of the Linux community to develop a version of that operating system with reliability features like those that come with the version of the Unix operating system that powers some of its Itanium-based machines. That will run on servers powered by x86 chips, such as Intel's Xeon or AMD's Opteron line."

Link to Original Source

+ - Time-zone Database Down->

tyen writes: The time-zone database source and mailing list were shut down due to a complaint filed by a company over the use of historical pre-1991 time-zone data from a book the company holds the copyright upon. A blog article discusses the context and the wide-ranging impact upon the (mainly Unix and Linux) computing world, and gives a call for action to commercial OS vendors who have benefitted over the years from the database for legal and financial assistance.
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Follow the cash (Score 1) 651 651

It is not social skills per se, but negotiation skills that engineers need. There are plenty of people with great social skills but fold at the negotiating table. I've seen some great negotiators who were not sociable, though that is less common. You don't ask for a better compensation package (to limit yourself to just the wage already disadvantages your negotiating position), you negotiate it. Fortunately, with the right resources negotiation and social skills are amenable to the problem solving nature of engineers.

Comment: Re:Here is how you handle this (Score 1) 785 785

Before a rookie who takes this seriously mouths off to management that they've done this, here is how this tactic works out in my prior life as an employee, before I started my own business. YMMV.

After I had stacked up three years of living expenses, on top of zero debt of any kind, I found that my demeanor in negotiations changed. Not obviously, and not obnoxiously. This, I found by accident, was far more effective than simply blurting out that I could give a damn because I was debt free. The other side of the negotiating table can sense the subtle shift, likely because without that debt clouding my judgement in the back of my mind, I could think without emotion about the negotiation itself. This business-like focus on the merits of my contributions to the bottom line were effective in securing what I wanted.

Years later, I appended additional rules to the two shown above, which other US-based Slashdotters might find even more effective after securing the first two rules.

  • Research your health insurance plan options available as a private entity, and be sure to set aside enough in your contingency budget to accomodate that amount. Speak to the billing staff of medical professionals you use today, and ask them which insurance plans (not companies) are the easiest to work with, and ask insurance brokers which plans they use for their own family.
  • Especially if you have family to look after, secure a long-term disability insurance policy and term life policy on your own. Read up on these insurance products at Consumer Reports.

After this point, as long as you focus on keeping yourself sharp and relevant to the market (when I was an employee I did this by continuously updating my resume on the job sites with each project I finished, comparing against skill sets listed in open positions I would be interested in if I was looking, and staying on friendly terms with the recruiters that kept calling me), you pretty much call the shots in compensation negotiations as long as you stay within market range.

Comment: Re:Re-couple Market Access With Market Making (Score 1) 216 216

They are called mini flash crashes, but only because of new circuit breakers put in place after the big one. I am a more old school, Graham-style market participant so I don't use GTC's. Most of my exits are measured in multiple years from my entries, and I'm switching over more to bonds instead of participating in secondary markets as a response to the principal agent problem. Even so, the vig HFTs and other participants take out of my trades is buried in the rounding error on those duration scales, unless it is a losing trade of course. As long as my participation helps me stay even with inflation, I'm content to focus upon my business and make money the old fashioned way.

Comment: Re-couple Market Access With Market Making (Score 5, Interesting) 216 216

The standard explanation proffered by the HFT owners and customers is they "add more liquidity". This is repeated so many times that laypeople buy it; see typical comments in this thread like "we have traded wider spreads for higher instability". This is not the entire story: the liquidity is for them, not for you . That there is sometimes a spillover liquidity and spread improvement for participants in the wider market is merely a convenient observation suitable for PR. The past and ongoing flash crashes demonstrate that when the liquidity trades against them, they pull this vaunted liquidity quicker than you can blink, literally. They're not going to leave money on the table supplying liquidity into the market if they don't have to.

Another oft-made claim is "anyone is welcome to do what we do, there are no barriers to entry". That is not quite the entire story as well. The defining feature of an HFT firm over the retail investor apart from scale (you need accredited investor-scale financial depth just to ante up the money to the exchange to cover their risk for you fracking up your code and making market on your fracked up orders they then have to make good upon) is access, as the articles this story links to amply documents. They are quite different from most market participants. While it is true that one doesn't have to have special institutional privileges and access to buy these newfangled digital-age "exchange seats", and "merely satisfying" some financial and technical criteria make these seats putatively easier to obtain than the old seats, make no mistake about it, they are more privileged than the old school NYSE exchange seat holders: they enjoy special access to the markets that "non-seat holders" do not, namely preferential positioning in the order flow inspection pipeline, or put another way, they enjoy market making access without market making responsibilities. Just because you no longer have to have a hallowed name descending from the Mayflower, a family history intertwined with the exchange, and an imposing granite edifice for offices to qualify for an exchange seat that buys access to the order flow doesn't mean that preferential access is open to everyone. The day the exchanges open up the HFT level and quality of tick access for the same price as 15-minute delayed ticker quotes, would be the day that I withdraw this observation.

If you chafe at these new special breed of privileged market participants, then an old school remedy is still available: with privileged market access, comes market making responsibilities and market making regulatory oversight. Perhaps not as much responsibility as the exchanges, but definitely more than those without the preferential access, commensurate with their impact upon the market as shown by the flash crashes. Let them have the special access, but make good on the liquidity and spread claims with regulatory enforcement; that is, they continue eating at the trough even when the liquidity and spread moves against them. It didn't stop the old school market makers from coming up with different licenses to print money, so they'll still make great bank (though they'll bitch like a platoon of coked-up noob IB's at Penthouse for having to run through regulatory hoops that didn't exist before, instead of spending that time cranking the next batch of algorithms onto FPGAs), but coupling privileged market access with market making responsibilities did truly impart long-term benefits to participants in the wider market. Arguable if the benefit was proportional, but as long as we will tolerate differential access, we might as well at least maintain the marginal benefits of status quo ante, eh?

"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so." -- Ford Prefect, _Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy_