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Comment: Long Now Foundation - check it out (Score 1) 402

If you haven't heard of the Long Now Foundation, check it out - I think the whole paradigm is pretty cool - civilization has been in existence for 10,000 years, so let's build stuff now that will last for another 10,000 years. Surely by then any civilization will wonder what the hell we were thinking. Anyway, one of their projects is the cryptically named "Long Server". Now, assuming humans just disappeared tomorrow, it's completely possible that Hoover Dam could run for 50-100 years and thereby entire data centers could stay up and running. That's a blink of an eye in geologic terms though.

Comment: Waiting for Ara (Score 1) 484

by vinn (#49555169) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Most Stable Smartphones These Days?
I've got a Moto X 2013 that I love. It might not be the phone for everyone, but it does exactly what I need in the way I want it done. It's standard Verizon firmware, nothing too fancy, and fairly stable - maybe one crash or reboot needed every other month. My contract will be up in less than 6 months and the timing seems like it might be right to wait it out for one of the Project Ara phones - the modular Google phones. Part of that is because there will likely be a Nexus reference spec phone that I can just use on a pay-as-you-go plan. I think I'm ditching the whole contract thing - I think I'd be much happier with an MVNO.

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.

All great discoveries are made by mistake. -- Young