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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.

Comment: Quit (Score 1, Insightful) 209

by vinn (#47578603) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When Is It Better To Modify the ERP vs. Interfacing It?

Just quit.

1. You don't seem to be the one in control of this project. So, you are stuck on this path. Or, do you have the political capital and will to fight to get your way? You're seriously going to piss in someone's Wheaties and when you're standing in the shower in the morning, you better have a smile on your face knowing it's worth it.

2. You work for a major HVAC manufacturer. That's the most exciting thing you can do with your life? It would make me want to slit my wrists every day with a spoon.

3. You have to re-do these applications and make the data integrity robust. That means seriously looking at things like where you can get the most benefit for least amount of cost and/or where the data integrity is shit. "Oh, Jim manages our entire Northwest supply chain and inventory using that Excel spreadsheet he keeps on his desktop." I don't care if you use and Oracle product to get there or a cloud-based, super-redundant shade of the color blue. The only thing your boss's boss cares about is whether you a) prevent the company from losing money or b) make the company more money.

4. Speaking about data center room makes you sound like a systems or support person. This is an application and developer thing.

5. I'm not sure I understand where your pain points are. Customer relationship management? Supply chain? Inventory? Quality control? Payroll/HR? Quantify.

6. Do they pay you enough to worry about this? That might seem flippant, but it's very valid.

Comment: Licensing/ownership irony (Score 2) 66

by vinn (#47518493) Attached to: Microsoft FY2014 Q4 Earnings: Revenues Up, Profits Down Slightly

I find it a bit ironic that Microsoft has helped usher in this huge digital age where none of us really want to "own" digital content any more. We don't rush out to buy CD's any more, we subscribe to music services or stream Pandora. We don't go out and purchase DVD's, we subscribe to Netflix or rent some viewing via iTunes.

Yet, despite some little things like Office 365, Microsoft still makes its bread and butter via selling software to OEM's and volume customers that runs on hardware, both of which many of us are increasingly not wanting to own. I f*cking hate installing an OS on a server and then making sure the damn thing stays running. I'd much rather rent the VM in the cloud. Even better, just let me subscribe to your web service.

Comment: I live in Montana. I'm looking forward to it. (Score 3, Interesting) 389

by vinn (#47417695) Attached to: Blueprints For Taming the Climate Crisis

I live in Montana and I'm rather looking forward to global warming. This place is gonna be even more amazing when it gets warmer. I might even have to buy a summer home in the Yukon.

On a slightly more serious note, as Winston Churchill once said, "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else."

Comment: duh: arch (Score 4, Interesting) 176

by vinn (#47326577) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is It Feasible To Revive an Old Linux PC Setup?

Obviously architecture is the biggest hindrance to what you proposed.

You could get away with some modern hardware, as long as it's x86 based. Or, maybe what you really want to consider is virtualizing an old distro on other modern hardware along with a modern distro, assuming the other modern hardware supports it.

There is some novelty in running old stuff, and I suppose everyone goes through that phase (along with the "I'm going to build a massive home network with multiple servers and run my own email" phase). But, I suspect you'll tire of it so you're just better off keeping it at a small budget and use hardware you can repurpose when you get bored with that little experiment.

Comment: suecenter.org (Score 1) 552

by vinn (#47075617) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Communication With Locked-in Syndrome Patient?

First off, be sure to read that post higher up about the guy who had a similar condition due to a ski accident - heed his advice - get a brain stem specialist contacted ASAP.

Down the road, you may want to consider looking at some software that was put together and found at suecenter.org. The fella who developed it is very enthusiastic about it and willing to help out. It doesn't sound like she has enough motor movement yet for the tracker to work, but conceivably you could attach the tracker to her lip to let her control the mouse in the application.

Prayers to ya.

Comment: DIY? (Score 1) 408

by vinn (#47019303) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Anti-Theft Products For the Over-Equipped Household?

What about some kind of DIY thing? Get a Raspberry Pi, use the GPIO pins to run some wires from the cases of each device (something thing like telco cross-connect), drive it and if the circuit breaks then send out an email or something. Bonus points for integrating a camera and snapping photos at the same time the wires break. Similarly, if the device is an always on kind of thing, just use some kind of network monitoring.

Comment: Re:Stop dicking around on the network, sign payche (Score 1) 125

by vinn (#46870443) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Intelligently Moving From IT Into Management?

+1

Seriously, at some point managing operations has to come second to company growth. Put your strategic vision goggles on when you leave the house every morning.

Now, as someone who has also very recently transitioned from the world of IT to money stuff, I will say you need to be very careful about it. Right now I have very few resources at my disposal to turn to when things get mucky. And, sometimes you need some accounting magic to get that balance sheet to balance (find an asset, depreciate it! have the company loan itself money!) Now, I've found it to be ridiculously easy compared to IT - oh, sure, I have a vast amount to learn, but I've found I absorb the knowledge quite fast. My recommendation to you is to begin building that safety net - find some friends who are amazing accountants (controllers) you can discuss things like P&L's and balance sheets with. Find finance friends who can give you sage advice on everything you don't know - are there tax ramifications if you make that purchase this quarter?

Then, just remember, always make sure the decision you're making isn't going to affect making payroll. If it does, what's your plan?

Comment: Dear Boneheads: Don't ever be happy on paper (Score 4, Interesting) 467

by vinn (#46772905) Attached to: Survey: 56 Percent of US Developers Expect To Become Millionaires

I remember when I was younger and management would send out employee opinion surveys. I'd answer them, be truthful and feel like my opinion actually mattered. I felt it was proper to express exactly how happy or unhappy I was and that the survey was some mechanism for improving things.

Then I became part of management and I realized how completely wrong I was.

The employee opinion survey mostly serves as a crutch for manager's to pat themselves on the back and the do a very good job curve fitting the results to their preconceived notions of how things are. It also serves to weed out people with bad attitudes - I've overheard more than one discussion of trying to locate an employee based on the comment they made on the survey.

So, if you say you're happy with the wage you're getting, you won't be getting a raise. In fact, it's even seen as a sign that pay cuts should be happening. Likewise, if you feel like you're a valued employee, good luck getting any more benefits. It's more likely management will use that as an excuse to strip away that one little perk, like free soda or something, just because they'll decrease the amount of HR budget dedicated to keeping employees happy. Don't ever be happy on paper.

Unfortunately, it's not enough for just you to express your desire for a raise. If 40% of your colleagues think they get paid enough, that's probably enough for management to little to no wage increase. You really want less than 5 - 10% say they're happy - in other words, 90% of the employees in your department need to express displeasure with their wages in order for the survey to have any meaningful effect on wages. (There's plenty of other ways to get a raise though - an employee survey is probably one of the least likely ways for it to happen.)

PS. If you think your company is one of those awesome companies that cares, you're probably wrong. If you sat in the room with the CEO, COO, and HR Director and heard that private conversation about the survey, you'd be horrified.

Comment: Itemizing? Pay someone. (Score 1) 386

by vinn (#46758555) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

At the point where you can itemize your deductions, you're better off paying someone else to do you taxes. A good accountant will more than pay for themselves - you'll likely be able to recoup thousands of dollars. A normal human just can't stay on top of the US tax code enough from year to year to know how to file for every qualifying deduction.

Finding the right accountant/tax preparer is very important. I don't have a lot of tips there other than asking around - I recommend asking some small business owners who they use. I've gone through 4 different accountants over the past ten years. One got me audited, two were just so-so, and now I have one that's fantastic. You probably don't want to go to one of those tax mill places like HR Block, although there is some advantage to working with someone who sees A LOT of tax returns. You probably also don't want to go to a big CPA firm that doesn't a lot of business work.

Even more important, if you don't own your own business yet, you need to create one. Filing an LLC is fairly simple in most states. Your business should be fairly in line with one of your hobbies and the writeoffs will be well worth it.

Comment: Still prohibited from importing computers.. (Score 1) 46

by vinn (#46231831) Attached to: North Korean Business Park Getting Internet Access

Keep in mind, US sanctions against North Korea mean key technologies make it difficult to import computers. Although these days there's so many ways to get mobile devices that might be a moot point.

Last year we were in South Korea and we went on one of the popular "DMZ Tours". So, on the tour you go to Dorason Station, which is the jumping off point from South Korea onto the rail line into North Korea, and then after that you go up a hill and look into North Korea. From that overlook, you can see Kaesong, which I think is about 7 miles over the border or so.

My guess is that this is going to be a simple and highly restricted system. A lot of management is from South Korea, so they'll give them access. From there, the simplest way would be a straight wireless shot to South Korea, but maybe N. Korea can make a play to get their paws on the traffic.

Interesting factoid, North Korea's official GDP (not counting it's counterfeit currency, drug and arms trade) is about $12 billion. Of that, $2 billion comes from trade generated by Kaesong. So when North Korea cut off access to Kaesong, it effectively made the decision to shut down 17% of its economy overnight.

Old programmers never die, they just hit account block limit.

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