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Comment Because work makes me (Score 1) 1880

I use Windows at work, because work says I have to. I have a Windows 7 laptop loaded down with management agents and security agents and update agents and all kinds of other agents, which makes IT security comfortable. If I wiped it and loaded Linux, or God forbid if I brought my MacBook from home in to work, my network port would be disabled within seconds and I'd get a fun walk-up visit from security a minute later.

My job requires me to shuffle around MS Office documents, do e-mail, and use web-based tools. There's nothing there that can't be done on another platform, but Windows lets my work keep tight, locked-down tabs on my laptop. The need for that control is at least in part driven by the vendors selling those lock-down solutions. There is a fear- and risk-management-based culture in IT security these days, and Windows is the platform that has the tools that companies have been told they have to deploy to keep things safe.

Comment Change jobs (Score 5, Informative) 247

I'm 33, and I've worked for a single large aerospace company since getting my undergrad degree 11 years ago. I started off as a desktop support guy making $42k, and then was bumped to $43k after a year, then to $45k after another year, then to $46k after another year. In late 2004 I was promoted to junior sysadmin and was bumped to $50k, and through yearly raises got that up to $55k by 2006, when I transferred formally from sysadmin to the enterprise architect side of the house. That got me a bump to $68k, which brought me up to the minimum salary level for that position, and then between 2006 and mid-2010 the pay rose to $74k through those yearly incremental raises.

In 2010 I was a senior architect, making decisions that directly affected the technology direction of a Fortune 50 company with $65B in revenue, making $74k a year. It was nice, of course, and the job was fun, but the compensation just hadn't scaled to the job. There were other benefits--outstanding and near-zero-cost insurance, stock, a functioning pension program, and as near a thing to stability as it's possible to get in an American job--but I wanted more money, so I left. Now I work as a presales engineer (that's "engineer," not real engineer) at one of the same vendors that used to sell to me, making $120k. I would have had to stay at the first job for another 20 years to hit the same level of salary. More, I left on excellent terms, and I wouldn't mind going back there some day.

This experience echoes that of my much-older peers at the aerospace job, where I was one of the only folks in the group less than 50 years old. All of them, without exception, had left at some point for between 1-5 years and then come back, bringing with them a large salary bump. Even in a company that gives you near-guaranteed 2-5% incremental raises, the only way to get a massive salary increase is by leaving.

Data Storage

Submission + - The Drobo FS in depth (

willith writes: Part one of a two-part in-depth review of the Drobo FS, a near-zero-configuration-required soho NAS box produced by Data Robotics, has been published on Ars Technica. This article appears to be the first deep examination of the Drobo's proprietary "BeyondRAID" data redundancy scheme to appear on the web, and discusses how BeyondRAID works as a mix of block- and file-level techniques. Disclosure: I'm the article's author!

Comment Good or bad not to be on FB? (Score 1) 283

I don't have a Facebook account--nor do I have a Myspace page, LinkedIn profile, or any other social networking connection. I don't even show up in the Google results for my real name until somewhere around the 20th page of results. This is yet another occasion where I'm glad I don't have those potential huge liabilities hanging around my neck, but I have to wonder: would an attorney consider this kind of non-presence a desirable characteristic, or a non-desirable one?

Comment Re:Sad, actually (Score 5, Informative) 285

If we wanted to build a Saturn V rocket today it could not be done. The original design is gone.

GOD DAMN IT. I really, really wish people would quit perpetuating this wildly incorrect urban legend. The original design details, down to the very last nut and bolt, are on file at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Absolutely nothing at all is "gone". Source.

The experts that had been working with rocket engines since the late 1940s worked on the Saturn V. Today there is nobody that knows anywhere near as much about rocket engines left. While the main engines for the Shuttle are somewhat of a marvel, I doubt they could be reproduced today either. The people resources simply aren't there - it would take 10 years of experimentation and learning about rockets.

Also ridiculously incorrect. You truly don't believe that the Space Shuttle Main Engines could be "reproduced" today? You're completely unaware of the fact that they've been continually "reproduced" since the beginning of the program, right? That they're rebuilt between missions, and that the design has improved and evolved over the life of the program? That as of right now there are in fact nine fully-built spare ones in storage at KSC? The engineers didn't just build a bunch of them in 1980 and then zap themselves with the Men In Black flashy-thing--SSMEs have been constantly built for the past almost thirty years. If my tone is coming across as a little coarse, it's because I'm having a hard time understanding how you could have a highly-moderated post to Slashdot when thirty seconds of research would refute almost everything you just said.

The reason why building a Saturn V today from the old plans is impossible has nothing to do with "cheaper labor" or "people that didn't mind getting their hands dirty" or whatever stupidness you wrote. Rather, you can't build a Saturn V today because a Saturn V isn't just a bunch of tanks with engines strapped to it--it's half of a complex launch system, with the other half being the Apollo CSM that sits on top of it. A Saturn V is an end-to-end system designed around the IBM-produced instrumentation unit, two tons of analog and basic digital computers and instrumentation. It's not that you can't build it--it's that building it wouldn't make any sense. You'd need to completely de-Apollo the rocket for it to work right, and guess what? That's exactly what NASA has been doing, although the political will to make it happen is sorely lacking.

Please educate yourself before you spout off such a mixture of urban legend and outright incorrect craziness.

Comment Re:One lone protester (Score 1) 411

You're being disingenuous, whether you mean to or not. I drive past that same corner every day on the way to and from work at one of the major subs, and while the turnout today might be low, I've at times seen dozens of folks with signs standing on that same spot. Couple that with the signs that are pasted up in the windows of business up and down NASA rd 1 and Bay Area Blvd, along with the words of coworkers in my group and in other groups, and the impression I get is that the Obama plan is wildly unpopular among the people doing the wrench-turning.

I actually read the Augustine report, cover to cover, and it most emphatically did not say that the current plan is broken and unworkable--it said that the current plan is $3B/yr underfunded, and that given the correct amount of funding, would be perfectly viable. Given that you can pretty much trip on $3B while walking down the hallway on the way to the bathroom at the Capital building, it's shameful that those monies can't be allocated to NASA. Further, the direction being pushed by the administration is a half-assed take on one of the Augustine "Flexible Path" options, and the implementation details and goals are disgustingly vague. It makes me wonder if the folks responsible for drafting the plan bothered to read more than Augustine's executive summary.

The most disheartening thing happening right now, though, is that everyone at the subs--from the major players of Lockheed & Boeing all the way down to the tiny shops--is still doing what they were doing in December, prior to the new budget announcement, because nothing's actually been passed yet. So all the folks working Ares I are still working Ares I, all the folks working full-mission Orion are still working full-mission Orion, and so on, and everyone pretty damn depressed about it. It's one thing to be told that the project on which you've killed yourself for three or four years is now dead; it's quite another thing to be told that the project on which you've killed yourself for three or four years is almost certainly about to be dead, but for now just keep slaving away at it full-tilt because nothing's actually happened yet.

Comment Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (Score 2, Interesting) 166

Imagine the hilarity when they realize they paid twice for the project, and one of the costs is already in the house...

Judging by how most workplaces function, his employer would immediately source the in-house cost. Then they'd end up with one offshore code house fixing another offshore code house's mistake. They'd still pay twice for the work, but now it would be "aligned to strategy."


Submission + - NASA names space station treadmill after Colbert (

willith writes: "Looks like the SF Chronicle is jumping the gun by an hour or so, but they've got an AP article up detailing the results of the International Space Station Node 3 naming contest (previously on Slashdot). Comedian and fake-pundit Stephen Colbert conducted a bombastic write-in campaign and repeatedly urged his show's fan base (the "Colbert Nation") to stuff the ballot box with his name, which resulted in "Colbert" coming in first in the write-in contest with almost a quarter-million votes. Although the Node 3 component will not be named "Colbert"--NASA has instead chosen to call it "Tranquility"--one of the Node 3 components will bear the honor: the second ISS treadmill, which will be installed in Node 3, will be named the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill. The formal announcement will be made on air tonight at 22:30 EDT on the Colbert Report on Comedy Central by astronaut Sunita Williams."

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