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Comment: HR considerations - they need to be in the loop (Score 1) 279

by vinn (#49380963) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Dealing With User Resignation From an IT Perspective?

First off, backups are the solution to this - don't let important things be stored locally. (Not that it matters, the new hires always like to reinvent the wheel.)

However, a bunch of things need to be solved from an HR perspective. You need to make a checklist for HR on how to handle IT things. Things like, "Get the PIN code to their iPhone" or "Make sure social media accounts have documented passwords" that'll make your life easier.) Basically you have 6 different situations:

  • Senior/Upper Management - resigns - be nice. If some knowledge might be needed later, HR should have a policy to hire that person on a consulting/1099 basis if needed. Even if they're disgruntled, it should make them happy to hear that. Treat them with respect, cut off IT access as early and quickly as possible, but realistically that probably means their last day. Get their laptop and phone (if its not BYOD) their last day and check and double check accounts (VPN, Dropbox) they might have set up.
  • Senior/Upper Management - fired - be careful. If you're terminating senior management and they've been there a while, you need to specifically ask HR if they're going to be malicious. They probably won't (I've never run into it), but cut off account access immediately and redirect emails to somewhere appropriate. Tell HR that severance needs to be withheld until you know things are ok if you think it's appropriate.
  • IT staff - resigns - be nice. I always like to try to treat them like I would senior management. I've hired many a former employee on a 1099 basis later.
  • IT staff - fired - be paranoid. Ok, this is where you do everything BEFORE HR sits down with them. Accounts cut off, especially remote access, change admin passwords, etc. Have them go clean something the hour before you all them in and quietly take care of it all. When a regular employee quits, you don't worry about them walking into the lobby later with a laptop loaded up with vSphere Client and wirelessly deleting VM's. Check backups.
  • Staff - resigns - be nice. If you can handle the situations above, you can handle this. I agree with the other post about cutting off access as quickly as possible - take away shared Inboxes, etc.
  • Staff - fired - be careful. Get the laptop and phone, turn off access.

I remember working with a telecom guy who installed a campus wide fiber network. When he was terminated I was slightly concerned he was going to take a pair of boltcutters to a fiber ped.

Comment: I agree (Score 1) 295

by vinn (#49283497) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Advice For Domain Name Registration?
I'm just chiming in to agree. NetSol sucks beyond belief and is a small nightmare to work with, to top it off, you get to pay extortion level rates for poor service. I suspect their business model at this point is to basically rape and pillage fees from customers they still have from fifteen years ago when they were the only game in town.

Comment: Meet awesome people and have adventures (Score 1) 698

by vinn (#49130213) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Terminally Ill - What Wisdom Should I Pass On To My Geek Daughter?
I'd recommend teaching her to go out of her way to meet awesome people. Go work at that amazing summer job that pays crap but lets you be a scuba instructor. Spend a few months traveling around Thailand. Take a NOLS course. Volunteer for a fantastic organization. I imagine to some degree she'll have a safety net in life - she can always move back in with Mom. Let her know that failing won't be the end of the world and risks are worth taking.

Comment: Re:Don't Waste Time Making films (Score 1) 698

by vinn (#49130141) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Terminally Ill - What Wisdom Should I Pass On To My Geek Daughter?

I disagree too. My grandfather died of cancer when I was young and he spent A LOT of time with me those last few years. I look back and I know he did it to pass some wisdom on to the next generation, but unfortunately it's thirty years later and my memory of that stuff is pretty thing. The stuff I remember isn't as much as I want it to be. There were also some things I was just too young to understand and I wish he would have had a way to let me know. I love the book idea above - I really wish I knew what he enjoyed reading. He also had some pretty formative events in his life and I wish I knew what he thought of those.

Now, just be realistic - record these videos late at night after she's gone to bed or in school.

Comment: Slippery slope (Score 1) 183

by vinn (#49101563) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Can Technology Improve the Judicial System?

Do you really want more efficiency? Even the simplest technology adoption would help immensely help that group of self-serving luddites. How about using email to mail copies of documents in advance of actual signed copies? How about using electronic records for managing cases? How about sharing information between jurisdictions? How about better surveillance equipment so we can simply have better evidence? WHOA.. wait.. maybe not some of those.. Hm.. maybe this is a slippery slope and you should be careful what you wish for.

Comment: Use specialized tools designed for this (Score 1) 343

by vinn (#49073993) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Version Control For Non-Developers?
As everyone is suggesting, look for some specialized tools. A lot of the world uses Sharepoint and there's other benefits to using it. You can purchase Sharepoint through cloud service folks and pay a monthly per user fee. There's also some very good companies that just specialize in this stuff Although, I suspect this is a small office and no one wants to pay for a real solution.

If you can't afford to pay for a real solution, you should be prepared to invest an exceptional amount of time in a custom solution, most of which you probably won't bill them for. If they can afford to pay you the proper consulting amount, then they should pay for the right software. If you're willing to dedicated an exceptional amount of time, you can make something like SVN work. To do it with something like SVN - to do the training, to set up the automation, etc - it will likely take WAY longer than you think. And then it will likely fail. Or, it will work and you will be forced to support this until the end of time. If you're getting paid, that's awesome. If you're not, it sucks.

So what I recommend is:

  • stay away from this project if they won't pay the right amount for a solution
  • kindly recommend that they use Google Drive. It's dumb, it's simple, it provides some extra backup for them for cheap. Let them set it up. (Note: there may be regulations involved that prevent them from using a service like that. IANAL.)

Comment: Re:No they did not. They have failed HARD. (Score 3, Interesting) 296

by vinn (#49001427) Attached to: Firefox Succeeded In Its Goal -- But What's Next?
Well, presumably that's what we were told at the time, but truly what was going on was Netscape throwing as much open source code out there before being gobbled up by AOL. There was zero promise AOL would continue browser development, they had a deal with IE. Netscape was very much aware that IE might be the only game in town. Much of the email code couldn't be open sourced because I don't think Netscape had full rights to the code.

Comment: Do what you want and try *not to be afraid* (Score 1) 376

by vinn (#48491451) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: IT Career Path After 35?
Fear is the hardest thing to get over on the road to being happy. And for this purpose, I'll define happy as "doing what you want", both professionally and in the rest of your life. If you want to keep doing what you're doing, then you should just do that. Don't worry about what your friends are doing. If you want to go start your own business, then you should just go do that. If you want to write code until you're 50, you should do that. You're probably pretty bright and perhaps you haven't realized it yet, but because of that you'll always be employed. Don't worry about your job, you'll find another and if you want to switch career paths, it's probably easier than you think. I know those pay checks are comfy and they arrive regularly. That health insurance you probably don't use much is comforting too. You're probably afraid what might happen to your family if you decided to chance upon something different. Just keep in mind, the market or perhaps even the company you work for has very carefully determined the bare minimum it should pay you or otherwise compensate you to keep your job. If you're already happy, keep doing what you're doing. If you're not happy, stop being afraid. (Just a bit over a year ago the company I worked for slowly melted down over the course of the summer. Losing my job was the best thing that ever happened to me. Along the way to where I'm at now, I had to take some small risks - at each turn life got better.)

Comment: Who wants this? You? (Score 4, Interesting) 127

by vinn (#48472243) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Biometric Authentication System?
Having spent a lot of time around such things, I have to ask, who's project is this? Who wants this? Just you?

If your boss or the CEO is asking for this - great. Go do it. That's your job. (The RFID comments seem in the right ballpark.)

If a mid-level manager or you is taking this on as a pet project, then you need to do some soul searching. This doesn't seem to have much immediate benefit to the bottom line of the company. This doesn't drive revenue creation and it doesn't drive product development. Almost every time I hear someone say, "We need to track X", I rarely ever hear someone else say, "Get me the statistics on X". Tracking shit is easy, crunching the numbers to calculate metrics isn't. If this is simply compliance tracking, listen to the guy who says to install cameras and then dump it to a crapload of drives. If there's an audit, hand over the video and let the auditors sort it out.

There is a whole lot of not-your-job in here and very little hero making to be done.

Comment: Finance needs it (Score 1) 179

by vinn (#47995189) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Reporting Still Relevant?
Where reporting is really needed is with finance. So all those lovely metrics you collect should at some level get tied to financials. That site traffic has expenses associated with it - labor, acquisition, and hard costs like data pipes. Downtime has costs associated with it. At the end of the day, I'd venture that nearly every company just uses Excel to crunch those kinds numbers. (Perhaps they get stored in a database, in which case the staff accountant who generates the reports likely exports them to Excel, makes a few modifications or fixups, and then emails them on.) So yes, in order to intelligently run your company you need to meld together all kinds of different numbers and that's where reporting typically comes into play. Also, the higher up the food chain you go in any company, typically the older the employees are. The folks higher up typically have very little time to twiddle around with a web interface. In fact, they probably just use Outlook all day long and just send email around. So, if the report comes in via email, there's a reasonable chance they'll look at it. Not every day, but at least occasionally.

Comment: Cost/benefit (Score 1) 182

by vinn (#47967093) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Who Should Pay Costs To Attend Conferences?
First off, if you enjoy your job and this is the single sticking point, then I would consider it to be relatively minor. In which case you either play by their rules, quit, or some how convince them to pay. If I was in the position of your manager, I think their offer is fair. For instance, it might be easy for him to get payments made for an actual training or conference, but employee expenses might involve a lot of scrutiny. So, in your ideal world you want him to pay for it. Well, every time I've been in this situation (i.e. paying for training that wasn't budgeted), I've always told the person that if they can directly show me a cost/benefit that I'll go to bat for them and sign off on it. For example, one guy wanted us to pay for his CCNA and later CCNP training and at the time we had an external support contract in a specific area. Well, he made a convincing case we'd be able to cut back on that support contract. He was right - the first year we went from a $48000 expense to a $24000 expense and later down to a $6000 expense. I wanted to go to a conference to meet some contacts, so I told my boss we'd be able to save on custom reporting that was being outsourced. Sure enough, 3 months later a guy I met at the conference did some simple modifications to a canned report that our vendor would have charged a bunch for. I've almost always been able to send someone to training or a conference if I can directly show how it'll benefit.

Comment: Anarchist Cookbook (Score 1) 231

by vinn (#47828443) Attached to: Did you use technology to get into mischief as a child?

My early years on a computer were spent cracking the DRM (I think we just called it copy protection back then) on Commodore video games and sharing them with friends. It was fun and a good learning experience.

What would have likely landed me in juvey today or possibly jail though was when we discovered the Anarchist Cookbook. We had an AP chemistry teacher who was really cool and we used to try to work out some of the formulas for some of the explosives found in there... so we could "improve" them. I distinctly remember one night being out in the middle of a farmer's field with something consisting of cotton balls soaked in something, stuffed inside newspaper and diesel fuel. A curious sheriff showed up and some how believed we were doing a science experiment for class. (Probably because most people building bombs don't pull out sheets of chemical equations to show off.) We also used to buy black powder, ground it, build into various kinds of pipe bombs along with custom fuses.

In college I fell in love with Sun workstations and loved using in the engineering labs. Workstations all in use? Compile a fork bomb and crash SunOS. Need to start your own business? Acquire some university server space for hosting. Need some fake ID's? Get access to the lab with the Tektronix dye sub color printer.

Behind every great computer sits a skinny little geek.