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Comment: only one good manager in five years (Score 5, Interesting) 209

by xeno (#49589321) Attached to: Yes, You Can Blame Your Pointy-Haired Boss On the Peter Principle

I just quit Micro^h^h^h^h for this exact reason.

Over a period of 5 years:
Hired in.
Report to a guy who looks 12, but turns out to be an Excellent Manager*.
Do my best work in a decade.
Excellent Manager reorg'ed from Inspiring General Manager to Disastrous Director.
Excellent Manager is driven out by political fuckery by Disastrous Director.
Disastrous Director is fired for malfeasance.
Inspiring General Manager won't come back, had enough, quits managing to do research.
Report to Microsoft Lifer, old EM's technical manager a who does a passable job leading.
Microsoft Lifer is reorg'ed under General Manager/Bottlewasher who can't stop micromanaging.
Lifer gets ruthlessly fucked with, has entire team's work credited to incompetent Level 67 Blowhard.
Lifer's team is reorg'ed under Blowhard, except for me+handful.
Old EM's peer Last Asskicking Manager quits because he won't work for Blowhard.
GM/Bottlewasher can't stop micromanaging everyone.
Lifer gives up and takes a non-mgmt job.
Report to McManager hired from military, who used to manage 600.
GM/Bottlewasher can't stop micromanaging everyone.
McManager reorg'ed, team reduced to 5.
Blowhard steals work output from McManager, leaving no credit.
GM/Bottlewasher lines up all resources behind Blowhard.
McManager demoted to my peer.
Report to new guy Perennial Survivor, brought in by another reog.
Lifer demoted to my peer.
Old Excellent Manager quits to work for Amazon, because it's saner(!!!).
Survivor admits 80% of Botlewasher's 2015-16 yearly plan is bullshit makework.
Fuck this noise, quit. Even a startup is saner.

*only one in 5 years.

It's easier for incompetence to hide in large enterprises. They used to write books about how great Redmond managers were. Now the entire enterprise is infested with pointy-haired, risk-averse, beige, wannabe-hipsters who can't make any decisions other than to stab each other in the back. And front. And sides. Precious few people do actual work, when so much effort is devoted to bad management and the shielding of productive people from that bad management.

Comment: give and take (Score 1) 104

by xeno (#49552509) Attached to: Vizio, Destroyer of Patent Trolls

Ok, now Vizio, you have my attention for being a good guy... in this regard. I'm in the market for a couple of new screens every year (home offices for two, couple of tech saavy kids, etc etc), and this sort of corporate behavior is a huge influencer in my decision of whose almost-commodity product to buy.

If you're listening at all: I'll buy your products again this year. How about you try to be better about the GPL?

Comment: What do people want? (Score 1) 445

by xeno (#49183027) Attached to: Microsoft Convinced That Windows 10 Will Be Its Smartphone Breakthrough

I see this sort of news couched in discussions of "What do people /really/ want?" but that has little relation to what would be a market success.
That's like asking "What kind of food do people really want?" when the reality is that people cluster around multiple options in the market.

With plenty of room for debate, there are multiple clusters of success in the mobile market today. For the sake of argument:
- safe, pretty, predictable, simple, stable, walled garden -- apple totally owns this ~20% of the market, populated mostly with 1+gen older iPhone devices
- predictable, pretty, open/powerful, cheap, with a walled garden that's easy to exit -- android devices mostly running 4.3 and prior
- powerful, predictable, pretty, walled garden that's easy to exit -- top-line android devices mostly running 4.4+
- purpose-built, totally walled, predictable, safe (and fugly), designed for easy remote mgmt by corp -- used to be owned by Blackberry
- totally walled, predictable, safe (and very pretty), designed for easy remote mgmt by corp -- top line windows mobile devices

From this view, Windows Mobile doesn't compete in or intersect much with the same success cluster as newer OR older clusters of Android. So you have to ask yourself, what does success look like for Windows mobile? Dominating the market that Blackberry/RIM dropped through their own mismanagement? Not being snide here, but I keep looking at WinOS devices, and see elegant solutions to problems that few people have or that are increasingly becoming solved by feature subsets of other clusters.

Comment: wide range of solutions (Score 0) 343

by xeno (#49074747) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Version Control For Non-Developers?

Other posters have given several solutions, just collecting and adding my voice to a few of them:

in a pinch:
Google docs: lightweight and simple, with limited functionality and a light learning curve
Sharepoint: simple to use, full of hassle to administer, limited functionality, gets expensive
mediawiki: like sharepoint without the licensing problems, but gets limiting beyond simple document collections

More serious solutions:
Alfresco: serious document/object management and workflow, free version to start/pay for support if you like it (spinoff of Documentum)
Documentum: elder god #1 of doc management, excellent repository, workflow, project management functions. rather expensive
Opentext Livelink: elder god #2 of doc management, excellent repository, project management, nice Visio-like workflow development that makes sharepoint devs cry, also rather expensive.

Google docs if you need a fix today, Alfresco if you have a month or two to fix the problem and want it to stay fixed.

Comment: Re:Only Office (Score 0) 343

by xeno (#49074617) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Version Control For Non-Developers?

MSOffice has NEITHER version control NOR document management built in. Word/Ppt/etc provide track-changes internal to a file, which is a very nice feature for tracking edits and incremental rollback. However, this shouldn't be confused with file/object version tracking, repository functions, checkin/checkout or other functions external to the file objects. Sharepoint provides some of these, but it's still basically a wiki for content management. OP is looking for a solution to "fix the wrong file version" not "fix a bad edit."

+ - HP Security Research (ZDI) claims $125K Microsoft bug bounty

Submitted by xeno
xeno writes: Articles at ZDNet and Threatpost describe HP's Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) team winning Microsoft's $100K Mitigation Bypass Bounty for compromises of the Isolated Heap and MemoryProtection functions in the most recent IE. Their findings included how to do an "oracle" compromise of MemProtect to make it provide details on how to completely bypass ASLR, which has broader implications. HP also provided solution guidance to MS and received another $25k through the BlueHat Bonus for Defense. HPSR posted a video announcement, and researchers Brian Gorenc, AbdulAziz Hariri and Simon Zuckerbraun are donating the entire $125k proceeds evenly to STEM education programs at Texas A&M, Concordia, and Khan Academy.

Comment: Re:devoid of stated ingredients/purpose = homeopat (Score 2) 412

by xeno (#48975115) Attached to: Major Retailers Accused of Selling Fraudulent Herbal Supplements

Arguing about a bottle label? Now you're just trollin.'

Homeopathy is a system that claims to treat disease. A homeopathic preparation "made in the standard way" incorporates those claims, even if the FDA/equiv prohibits printing that claim on the bottle. This is because the preparation and method have been subjected to rigorous scientific and medical examination (for over two centuries) and found to be fake medicines before the fact.

Herbal supplements also claim to treat disease, and some of them have been found effective through scientific and medical examination. An herbal supplement (or any other medicine at all) that doesn't contain the specified substance is found to be a fake medicine after the fact.

I suppose the difference is "can't work" versus "doesn't work." Now if you're arguing that I ought to trust homeopathic preparations to actually be pure water when the entire system's basis has been utterly debunked.... that boils down to trusting a systemic liar to be consistent (and not to include harmful stuff). That's somehow better than finding incidents of lying (and possibly including harmful stuff) in a consistent supply chain? Really, really, no.

Comment: Re:devoid of stated ingredients/purpose = homeopat (Score 1) 412

by xeno (#48974513) Attached to: Major Retailers Accused of Selling Fraudulent Herbal Supplements

No. One claims to do something it does not.* The other claims to be something it is not, to the same outcome.
Both mislead the consumer, both are equally as useless, and both may be dangerous to a person believing they have treated a condition when they have not. Barring extra harmful substances in the fake pills, the only substantive difference from homeopathic remedies is _when_ the lie is told.

*Specifically, the idea that a homeopathic potion "is what it claims to be" is wrong, in that it claims to be a treatment for a condition or to effect a change in a condition. It absolutely does not and cannot, unless one throws out basic laws of physics and chemistry. Homeopathy is solid bullshit from roots to branch, and it occasionally kills people.

Comment: devoid of stated ingredients/purpose = homeopathic (Score 0) 412

by xeno (#48971705) Attached to: Major Retailers Accused of Selling Fraudulent Herbal Supplements

What's the difference between this surreptitiously fraudulent store-brand crap (does not contain stated ingredients unproven to work) versus purposely fraudulent homeopathic crap (explicitly does not contain ingredients for the stated purpose)?

They're all placebos, and they are a genuine danger to ignorant people who need actual treatment for actual medical conditions. It'd be interesting to see a solid study of how many people are killed each year through opting for homeopathic flu and pneumonia cures, instead of actual treatment.

Comment: Montgomery County's own guidance allows 1mile walk (Score 3, Insightful) 784

by xeno (#48835019) Attached to: Parents Investigated For Neglect For Letting Kids Walk Home Alone

According to the Montgomery County school website, having the kids walk a mile with a sibling is within normal community standards, and in line with guidelines set forth by the county itself.
(See )

In Montgomery County where this occurred, school bus transportation is only provided for elementary school children who live further than 1mi from school, and for middle schoolers (11yo+) further than 1.5mi. The county's guidance for elementary school kids walking 1 mile or less is "Younger walkers are encouraged to walk to and from school with siblings, older children from their neighborhood, or parents. At many schools, Montgomery County crossing guards help walkers cross at busy intersections near the school. In most elementary schools, student safety patrols guide younger children in crossing smaller neighborhood streets."

I don't see how CPS has a leg to stand on here; the children were simply practicing what they are expected to do by the county school system itself.

Comment: Re:parachute (Score 3, Informative) 248

by xeno (#48834575) Attached to: SpaceX Landing Attempt Video Released

Because parachute recovery is a method of salvage, while "crazy rocket landing" is a method of full reuse without refurbishment.

Keep in mind that refurbishing the waterlogged shuttle boosters ended up being 3X more costly than original estimates, much of the nozzle apparatus was completely trashed each time, and the whole process took months to turn around a single booster.

SpaceX is working toward an airplane/airport-style refuel-and-refly-immediately model. That autonomous landing platform is actually a fuel depot, with the eventual intention to refuel first stages and relaunch them immediately for short hops back to a proper launch facility where they can be fitted with a new payload within a day. Crazy? Maybe. Wrong? I don't think so.

Comment: I'll take that kind of progress any day. (Score 4, Insightful) 248

by xeno (#48833629) Attached to: SpaceX Landing Attempt Video Released

Hey, as these things go, this was a very very good failure. Consider that we've just progressed from the old reality's typical "the vehicle will splash down somewhere in this 500-square-mile area of the ocean," to Spacex's new reality of "we accurately flew down to a 0.0018-square-mile platform, and borked the touchdown on this first try."

I'll take that kind of progress any day.

Comment: Re:The Dangers of the World (Score 3, Insightful) 784

by xeno (#48833377) Attached to: Parents Investigated For Neglect For Letting Kids Walk Home Alone

An how many of those runaways are in response to aggressively controlling parenting behaviors? This is not a facetious comment; my otherwise model children (12 and 15) have in recent years begun to sharply rebel against their mother's strict control of their travel and other normal expansion of responsibility, to the point where they now simply ignore her and leave her home, and she calls them in as missing to the police. (They turn up at the local coffee shop doing their homework, more often than not.) In contrast, I have given both children guidance on how to travel safely, made sure they have state ID cards, bus passes, mobile phones, and bank cards, and I get to know their friends. When I call, the kids always pick up. Always.

The path of fear feeds on itself, and leads to very dark places. I fear for children who are sheltered and smothered in this way, because it just delays a child's process of learning how to manage risk. When these same innocent and ignorant kids are turned loose on college campuses at 17-18yo without the survival skills of my 12yo and without parental support when learning to manage their own risk, they end up with alcohol poisoning, stoned, roofied, fucked, pregnant, infected, robbed, indebted, flunked out, helpless, and ground down on the grit of all the other things they were never told about.**

I let my kids walk home, thank you very much.

( ** Nothing has changed about this, btw. Decades ago it was sad to see the home-schooled and mormon kids fall this way among their college freshman peers, but more often than not... in the long run, being sheltered just makes you soft and unprepared. It's the same today.)

Comment: summary of SCOTUS case law: "pppphhhhhhtttttt, no" (Score 1, Interesting) 250

by xeno (#48603963) Attached to: Sony Demands Press Destroy Leaked Documents

Mod parent up! (crap, I had points left yesterday.... :)

Parent makes the important point: There's existing SCOTUS case law for this, and Sony's legal-ish threats and demand for press et al to refrain from looking at embarrassing things wouldn't stand up in a stiff breeze, much less in a lower court.

Frankly I'm kind of surprised to see a relatively experienced lawyer such as Boies make a demand like this, even if he is a distinguished douchebag. Usually lawyers like him are concerned about appearances, and making laughable demands that evoke a Streisand effect is bad for business.

Comment: No, Windows 8 pulled a Unity, not the reverse (Score 2) 125

by xeno (#48556367) Attached to: Unity 8 Will Bring 'Pure' Linux Experience To Mobile Devices

OP gets things turned around: Canonical released the Unity interface for Ubuntu in the summer of 2010, and then made it the mandatory desktop on Ubuntu in mid-2011 sparking an exodus of users to other distros, Windows, and OSX. Without getting into some curious timing... Just about a year later in the summer of 2012, Microsoft released the Metro interface for Windows 8, copying many of the tiled UI ideas and touch/gesture-on-the-desktop that had been rejected by more geeky and novice users alike -- only this time into a far larger market.

Honestly, from inside Redmond it was very strange to watch this happen, with a lot of people asking 'what the hell are we doing?' and variations on 'didn't the little guy fall on his face when he tried this?' The parallels were almost comical; with Ballmer and Sinofsky insisting that "customers like this!" in words almost identical to Shuttleworth two years earlier, and similar expressions of dismay and denial of the humiliating reception that followed. Though Ballmer and Sinofsky wielded market power Shuttleworth could only dream of, the outcomes were predictable and there had been plenty of warning. The hard part for these guys to accept is that when your ideas are so thoroughly rejected by people/consumers/end users -- and you keep doing the unwanted thing anyway -- it's not like the audience remains as motivated to see what you come up with next**. They just start ignoring you.

** (even if the very same UI concepts work well in another context -- in this case, on a mobile handset)


A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough For Love"