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Comment Protection film (Score 2) 514

Where I live, there was a rash of smash'n'grab jobs (primarily against women) in traffic jams. Thieves would drive up on a motorcycle, hammer the window, and grab the purse on the seat. Since the victim was on a traffic jam, the bike could get away rather easily while the victim was helpless.

As a result, a vendor began importing film that can be applied to car windows to protect against such smash jobs. The film doesn't keep the glass from breaking, but instead keeps holding it together making it very very hard to actually make it PAST the glass in a short amount of time. Thus, the effect of the "smash" part of the operation is broken: smashing the glass is not enough to make it past it. And obviously you're concerned about protecting the data and the time and effort lost if the laptop is stolen, so an investment in this sort of passive protection system might be warranted - even if you throw in the price of a new (set of) window(s).

This is an example of just such a technology. I'm sure there are others and more than likely at a better price. The flipside is that in the event of an accident, it might increase the chances of injury (just a guess), or delay emergency personnel from prying your damaged laptop from your cold, dead fingers.

Comment Rebuild (Score 1) 424

The truth is if it's that fragile, then recovery or repair are not options because you never know when you'll be done. Your best strategy is to rebuild. Organize the rebuild jobs from smallest (simplest, or least-complex) to biggest, and start from the smaller ones.

Importantly, you need to understand what your infrastructure does and why (which you claim you're already trying to do). However, the most critical point is that your superiors understand what you're up against and the risks they bite into if they choose to not go forward with the rebuild(s).

Once you understand what it is you need to rebuild, then you can do it properly: document the strategy to be followed (and incredibly important is that you document the key reasoning points behind the decision process), and plan out the implementation. If your superiors find that it consumes too much of your time, try to talk them into hiring (one? two?) more folks to help you hold the fort while the rebuilds are in progress so the day-to-day isn't left in the lurch. I had to go through this type of a situation recently and the end result of the rebuilds was that the previously inevitable downtime went away almost completely (only ISP outages were an issue). Deployment of new servers was cut down by 95%, and tons and tons of other benefits. Biggest of all: by the time I was done, everything essentially ran itself and even on the end-user support things were almost automated (granted, 99% of my audience were tech-savvy so they didn't need much help anyway). 95%+ of my time was spent just scouring logs and servers to ensure everything was running smoothly (which it was).

Then again, the key point was selling my upper management on the fact that my predecessors had done such a lousy job of setting everything up that trying to fix it was more expensive than a from-scratch rebuild, and that they were one fly's fart away from a catastrophe. You don't need to scare them shitless, just point out where they are and what they're up against if a rebuild isn't even done (even rebuild of only SOME of the systems can make a huge difference). Make sure it's clearly stated in writing (a "big" e-mail explaining the situation clearly to get the ball rolling usually takes care of that).

Key thing: DO NOT try to fix or recover the old stuff - if it's really as messed up as you suggest, you will consume comparable amounts of time to a rebuild, with none of the benefits and the added risk that you didn't fix all the problems because you couldn't spot some of them.

One other thing that served me well in terms of plotting my strategy: take the approach that I'm building something and going to be fired the day I'm done, and whatever I build needs to be inheritable and clearly understandable by my potential successors. This angle will encourage you to keep it simple, stupid, well documented, and easy to maintain/audit. In the end, this is why your predecessors sucked: they didn't think they'd eventually (be) move(d) on - but in IT, that's the one constant: staff rotation.

Comment Re:Exercise (Score 1) 235

Seconded. I've recently dropped ~70lbs (yes, I have pictures to prove it!! haha) in the span of about 9 months, and have not significantly decreased my time in front of the computer. What I have changed is that I exercise much more (~2h/day), and obviously eating right (but that's not what this is about).

My point is that with exercise, your body will keep itself aligned and tuned up (so to speak). Make sure that whoever your trainer is or "gym guy" is, knows his stuff - mine has made all the difference b/c he was able to spot all of the little "deformities" and "inconsistencies" in posture and movement that I had earned from ~20 years in front of a computer with marginal exercise. For instance, I have a bad knee injury which for the better part of 15 years has plagued me. I'm now able to play sports in spite of not yet having the surgery I need because of all the other corrections in posture and joint movement. Point is: it won't make you a jock, but it will make a HUGE difference and you'll be less vulnerable to "bad" or "un-ergonomic" equipment.

I'm now able to play sports again (like in high-school and early college), and my posture is near-picture perfect (still some things to tweak). I sleep better at night, and have no aches or pains anymore other than the occasional bruise from football (soccer, for the gringos in the house!) contact.

I do have this keyboard (but ONLY the keyboard), but that's because I'm used to the curvature. Other than that my equipment is fairly standard.

One important detail: proper posture of your back when you sit - regardless of the chair - is CRUCIAL. Always sit with your back up straight, no slouching, and your weight on your buttocks and adductors (back of your leg), with your knee making a ~90 degree angle (can be slightly more or slightly less, as comfortable, but the closer to 90 you are the better). You can relax this position occasionally for short periods, but never more than as a "break".

Comment Re:You're a virgin! (Score 1) 735

I would have to disagree with much of what you say here, at least in the case of smaller companies. I've been fucked as much as the next guy (I think). And while I agree that your thinking is accurate when dealing with larger or somewhat politicized organizations, most smaller shops haven't yet succumbed to the corruption you speak of. If you've not been fucked, then don't act like you have... this is just me trying to see the glass half-full until proven otherwise (innocent until proven corrupt, anyone?).

I for one know of a small shop that got acquired a couple of years back in deep financial trouble. Everyone got fucked one way or the other. And I mean EVERYONE. Yet because of how things are run and their ability to insulate themselves from the parent company's policies, idiocy and bureaucracy, they are still fanatically loyal to each other as a group because they still run the shop the way they like it. That's an exception to the general rule of acquisitions, I know, but it also highlights the example that just because your cherry has been popped, you shouldn't assume everyone walking behind you has their dick in their hand waiting for you to drop your guard so they can play poke-the-stinker.

Comment Two questions (Score 1) 735

There are two questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Will the company show YOU the same loyalty you're showing the company?
  • Will you be happy enough on the new job that you won't miss the old one?

In the end it all boils down to quality of life, a.k.a.: happiness. Does your current job make you happy? Do you look forward to going into work every day? That your job makes you happy may sound naïve to some, so let's sum it up as this: does going to work amount to a positive experience for you that you are (at least!) content to partake in?

To me, for example, the happiness is the kicker - if you can't guarantee yourself that you'll be happy enough in the new job that you won't miss your old one, then don't leave. Sure you'll be getting more money, saving on gas and time, and not dealing with the "long" commute... but if you're going to be miserable doing it, all you'll really be doing is giving up quality of life - and that tends to be fairly hard to come by once given up.

Note that I didn't mention how you would measure "happy with your current job" - that's something deeply personal that only you can ascertain. The key thing is: the level of happiness you expect in the new job must be sufficient that you won't miss your old one. Note that I don't say that you must be as happy as, or happier than... you just have to be happy enough that you won't want to go back.

Comment Naive though it may sound, Zeroing it? (Score 1) 1016

A while back I remember a challenge being put out to any company specializing in drive forensics to recover ANY data from a drive that had been wiped using a simple dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda or what not. Something in the order of a million dollars or some other huge(ish) prize.

I also remember that there ended up being no takers for what would have in theory been a free meal if we're to believe the prevalent hooplah around drive forensics. Given how widely publicized the challenge was it was taken as many in the know as a sign that despite what the science behind the magnetic data on the platters says, once wiped to zeroes it becomes either impractical or impossible to reliably recover the actual data that was once stored there.

Again, this is just conjecture based on partially-informed observation, and incomplete recollection of that event. I didn't track it enough to know if there ended up being takers after all, how they fared, etc. I do remember it being publicized here on /. so you might search the archives for it. It was some time ago - years maybe, months definitely.

Comment Communism didn't fail per-se (Score 2) 1271

In reality, the "communism" of the world isn't/wasn't true communism. True communism is a philosphy WILLINGLY adopted by THE MAJORITY (and, eventually, totality) of a given society. In the numerous (failed) implementations of Communism, the ideology has been a thin veil for the authoritarian regime that simply wanted an excuse to assume power.

Communism, true communism, isn't a bad thing in and of itself. The problem is that others used its promises to seduce the masses for their own ends. Had it been implemented true to the original philosophy, there wouldn't have been a need for a repressive system to be in place because EVERYONE would have willingly embraced the philosophy.

However, given the overall maturity of humanity as a whole, it's also a philosophy that is doomed to fail because we're not yet "advanced" enough in our thinking to WILLINGLY embrace the principles needed for a successful *TRUE* communist state to be constructed. We're still covetous, fearful, greedy, petty, and envious - no matter how much we deny it. Those are qualities that conspire against us building a better society. The politicians know this full well and are masters at exploiting those 5 negative emotions for their own ends (much the same way the communist "leaders" of yore did, with their respective peoples). That's what I mean by "advanced" - until we overcome those shortcomings, we will be unable to aspire to a better system of government.

Hence why communism is often referred to as a Utopia. The problem in the US is that "communism" == "authoritarianism" == "anti-american", and no consideration is paid to the truth of the philosophy - only to the failed dictatorships of old.

Comment Re:Not so bad to have different systems. (Score 1, Insightful) 2288

Your argument about being able to convert from one system to another is valid - but why bite that bullet before we have absolutely no other choice?

Is it OK/beneficial to have different standards on how some things are done/built? Yes: those differences may make one method better than another for a particular set of applications. Ideally, though, those different processes should be condensed into a single process that covers them all applications well enough that we can all standardize.

Having said that, I fail to see a reason why ANYONE would need more than one *MEASUREMENT* system.

Are there any technical benefits to having more than one measurement system? (besides having one more way to confuse PHB's and morons out there). Tolerance for other's preferences/cultures aside (i.e. this isn't exactly a "burkas vs. miniskirts" debate)

Comment Re:In my corporate environment.... (Score 1) 1307

Actually, when "IT is the problem" it's usually the higher ups that are trying to shoehorn idiotic budgets together (without sacrificing executive perks/bonuses), and so they hire the cheapest staff they can get "to get the job done". Either that, or they're stupid enough to have being manipulated into having an "IT department" that's really just a proxy for all the vendors that continuously fleece the company (i.e. their IT skills go as far as filing support tickets and - sometimes - following up on them).

At any rate, you get what you pay for/invest in.

If you pay for quality IT, you'll very quickly realize why we "act so superior" sometimes. If you don't, then that's like complaining that all cars are bad just because your Yugo breaks down every 3 blocks. Remember, some cars are Mercedes Benz. However, they don't cost the same as a Yugo...

Comment Re:Oh no! (Score 1) 339

I would answer with the same to you bws...get some perspective. I'm not poor by any account, though I'm certainly not swimming in ca$h. I'm not based in the US nor do I have the ability to get one of the "cheap"(er) US phone plans so pay-as-I-go is my only choice when I travel to the US (which is often). This is very important for the same reasons your smartphone and tablet are important to you: keeping in touch with the fast-moving tech environment I work in.

I already got fleeced once by AT&T, and all because of a late "no credit left" message. I got the "0 data credit" left message at 8am, when i reality the actual point of running out of credit was 3am. So naturally I got fleeced for those 5 hours my phone was using data without a "bulk plan". Nevermind that I had ample credit in my pay-as-you-go account to renew the bulk plan had I been notified in a timely manner (or, at least, my data traffic stopped until a selection was made as to how I wanted to proceed).

Pay-as-you-go isn't JUST for the "poor, wretched masses yearning to have phones". It also serves a large portion of traveling, non-american (yes, such people exist in the world and are actually more numerous than americans) businessfolk who simply find it an easier (or as in my case, the only) option due to frequency of travel.

And yes - while we're not exactly destitute, few of us are happy with paying such abusive data rates when clearly such an overcharge is unwarranted.

So I second your sentiment: get some perspective - but first, get a bigger picture so that perspective is a bit better informed.

Comment Re:Speaking as an Outsource-Resource... (Score 1) 826

Actually, what I'm saying is that the decision is unethical when fueled by greed and/or (to a lesser degree) ignorance. It's everyone's right to want to turn a profit, but it's not your right to do so at the ruthless expense of the livelihoods of those who helped you get to where you are.

We should never forget those who helped us get to where we are.

The problem in America is that everyone wants to be rich - starting with the government. So everything is super expensive. If I can get the same service elsewhere for a lower "cost" (see previous post), why wouldn't I? Why is that unethical? What I'm saying is that it's unethical if I only consider the money aspect of it as the justification (so frequent these days), because then I'm selling all those who helped me get to where I am up the river simply to try to make a bigger buck.

However, if I'm getting fleeced by said resources and the opportunity presents itself to resolve that situation, getting similar service for a lower price, then I have every right to pursue that alternative. Isn't that what capitalism is about? (let's not get into the whole capitalism good-or-bad argument just yet :) )

This brings us to another important question that's being ignored: is it ethical for offshoring businesses to price their services so very low? That borders on dumping and is, as far as I see it, even more unethical than the original question. It's not because the cost of living in those countries is so very much lower (it rarely is anywhere)... It's that the outsourcing business owners in those countries are far more ruthless than their customers (i.e. they're even less willing to spread the wealth). Believe me, I know a little bit about that having been involved with several of them tightwads.

Comment Speaking as an Outsource-Resource... (Score 1) 826

I'm a nearshore resource-turned-businessowner and I can tell you a couple of things that might make you reconsider the true "evils" of outsourcing.

First: the problem with outsourcing is a combination of greed and/or ignorance at the business level - the afflicted tend to think that it's the easiest way out of a tight spot with money, or (funnier still) a solid route to increasing their riches. It rarely is, and frequently ends up being quite the opposite.

Second: outsourcing makes PERFECT sense if and only if you can get the same (VERY close to, or - in rare cases - better) quality of workmanship that you would otherwise get, at a lower cost. And note that cost doesn't necessarily mean just money. You have to factor in communication difficulties, cultural rift, timezone shift, etc.

The outsourcing of a (set of) job(s) is NEVER unethical as long as the reasons are the right reasons (quality, cost-effectiveness, rare or hard-to-find skills, etc). The problem nowadays is that they rarely are, and the decisions are driven mostly by greed and/or ignorance (as noted previously) and justified by contrived excuses (poorly) disguised to appear to be solid reasons.

I've heard such nonsense as "for half the money, we can train these guys to do the same job this 12-year veteran can do", or my personal favorite "why should we care about the quality and maintainability of the work? as long as the bottom line is where it needs to be...."

Comment Re:Arrrg... (Score 1) 470

Actually, as a "nearshore" vendor, I can honestly tell you that your problem isn't just offshoring, per-se.

Your problem is a combination of rampant and irresponsible "offshoring sales" (i.e. companies selling services they're not really up to part to deliver based solely on price which, btw, borders on dumping), ignorant management who just eats up the "price" argument thinking they can get a mercedes benz for the price of a yugo, and their disillusionment after being conned for years by incompetent IT workers charging astronomic salaries while at the same time not being worth those salaries.

Think of it: how many times have you been in a position where you are mad that you're having to clean up some incompetent slob's IT messes and wonder why they weren't let go rapidly? If your answer is "not too often at all", then I envy you. Sadly, the truth is often the opposite case.

The combination of these morons charging an arm and a leg (comparatively speaking), and management that is less than informed is fatal: even less-than-smart managers will come to the realization that it's better to get sucky labor for cheap than do it expensively. Even worse: true-blue-idiot managers think they can actually do BETTER.

Granted - sometimes they will, but this is by far the exception, not the rule, and is such a crapshoot it ain't even funny.

Bottom line: you want to keep and protect your job? Stop worrying about keeping and protecting it, and start worrying about how you can bring more value, produce more, be more efficient, etc. In the end, if you get canned for it, then you were already on the chopping block anyway and just didn't know it.

If not, then you're much more likely to be considered a valuable resource and your cost to the organization will be more than justified.

Bottom line: when an employee's value matches or outweighs their cost to the organization, the employee is a keeper regardless. Most managers - even stupid ones - think in those terms.

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