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Comment waitbutwhy article (Score 1) 104 104

So with all the recent fuss over AI and some respectable folks being scared to death of it, I happened to stumble on this great article on waitbutwhy:


It's a long two parter, but well worth the read. If you want the tl;dr part, skip to part 2 and search for "Robotica". With that in mind, we're going to end up with a planet of mile-high stacks of Magic: The Gathering cards.

Comment Budget games (Score 1) 117 117

So there's a small subset of IT managers out there who get stuck with lousy budgets. I do a bunch of consulting and get into different businesses and some managers play a game:

Step 1: ask for a bunch of money as a capex expense to migrate servers. Let that request get denied.

Step 2: do it again the next year. Let it get denied again.

Step 3: wait until it's absolutely critical - show management articles on the pending doom that will happen - request a lot more money.

Step: Use all the extra money on all the extra IT projects they can't otherwise get approved easily.

I saw a large site that had a lot of XP workstations and the IT manager didn't push too hard to get Windows 7 licensing. Right before XP went out of maintenance he got a large expense approved to not only upgrade to Windows 7 but to actually replace all of the workstations. I saw the same thing with Windows 2000 and a company using that as an excuse to get into virtualization and purchase all that hardware.

Comment Politics - Internet Party and the TPP (Score 4, Interesting) 205 205

So you've recently taken a foray into politics with the formation of the Internet Party. What are your thoughts about what's needed to actually improve New Zealand politics? One of the stated goals of the Internet Party is to review the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which has recently become a hot topic in the US as well. What are your thoughts on the TPP?

Comment start a side business (Score 2) 227 227

Want some insulation? Start a side business. A friend and I both started separate businesses about 18 months ago. Him, because he wanted to. Me, because I had to. His business, really a side business, is beekeeping. Mine is IT consulting, but I have a very specific focus based on a specific thing here. We're both doing really well and last weekend we compared notes. We've both kind of knew this, but this is the conclusion we came to: His day job isn't the most thrilling and has ups and downs through the year, but he loves his side business. Me, I have a stable new business, but I might consider getting full time employment somewhere just to make my commute easier, however I love the business so much I'd have to keep parts of the work as a side business. Most people in other parts of the world seem to work like this. End result - side business is f*cking awesome and most people just seem too lazy to do it.

Comment Long Now Foundation - check it out (Score 1) 403 403

If you haven't heard of the Long Now Foundation, check it out - http://longnow.org/ 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) 484 484

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) 279 279

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) 295 295

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) 698 698

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) 698 698

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) 183 183

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) 343 343

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.)

"You're a creature of the night, Michael. Wait'll Mom hears about this." -- from the movie "The Lost Boys"