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Comment Wooden chopping boards. (Score 5, Informative) 205

Trees are great at dealing with bacteria.

We soon found that disease bacteria such as these were not recoverable from wooden surfaces in a short time after they were applied, unless very large numbers were used. New plastic surfaces allowed the bacteria to persist, but were easily cleaned and disinfected. However, wooden boards that had been used and had many knife cuts acted almost the same as new wood, whereas plastic surfaces that were knife-scarred were impossible to clean and disinfect manually, especially when food residues such as chicken fat were present.


Comment Re:Where did the money go? (Score 4, Informative) 501

It's a website that needs to be able to handle 3million visitors per day, with the majority of them being signups, or at least hitting the calculator. That's a lot of deep hits that can't be cached.

Then, add on a back-end that has to talk to insurance companies. These guys still have a tonne of Cobol code running around. There's nothing wrong with that (Seinfeld!), but I think it might indicate that their systems aren't necessarily built for online, real-time querying.

To recap, it is a multi-tier system:

1) Front end, performing user signup, and calculator.
2) Back end database. HIPA compliant, Sarbanes-Oxley compliant and able to deal with 100m customer records.
3) Feeds to remote systems, also HIPA compliant, Sarbanes-Oxley and other stuff.

So, you've got something that looks a lot like twitter (the back-end links), only more expensive because it needs to be Capital S secure, along with something that looks like an insurance company (the middle tier) and finally something that looks like a dot-com (front end calculator).

That's already a lot of hardware and software. "Free" open source doesn't actually save a lot of money here, since most of the money is in support (over 1/2 the 5year cost!). Now, triple it do deal with hot site failover, backups and other various disaster recovery plans.

Although they've had 3 years to get the system complete, the software was probably only developed in the last 10-12 months (at most). The rest of the time would have been spent in getting agreement on the data exchange formats with the insurance companies, deciding on a vendor to use for each part, and standing up an internal team to manage it. Then add in several parties involved playing schedule chicken with Congress, hoping for the whole thing to either be delayed or scrapped. Fun!

Finally, they went for a nationwide rollout for political reasons, which was guaranteed to result in peak traffic on day 0.

Comment Re:Doesn't mean you can copy it. (Score 2) 216

If what you say is true, Steamboat Willie, as well as Fantasia are both out of copyright in the UK. I wonder why no one has started selling copies?

The first time I saw the whole "50 years on fixed performances", I went "YAY! I can put them online!" Thankfully I talked to a lawyer who told me that the script and music rights are transitive and _not_ extinguished by being embodied in another work.

Of course, my IP lawyer might have been wrong. Personally, I'd love for you to be right. How about you put something up in the UK and see what happens?

Comment Not sure it's the panel. (Score 4, Interesting) 195

I've noticed this burn-in. However, I've noticed something else about it that makes me believe that it is not necessarily the panel itself. I've been playing World of Warcraft in a window, and when I move the window, the ghost moves with it - it maintains it's position relative to the top of the window, not the top of the screen. This would indicate to me that it isn't the display which is ghosting, but something further up the rendering chain.

Comment You need to answer "What's In It For Me?" (Score 1) 379

Once you can answer the WIIFM question, then you are ready to talk to Bob. Bob will be asked to do work - to change the way he works, to learn a new system. In the short term, this will cause hassle, frustration, delay and extra work. Those are all negative things. Change _itself_ can be perceived as a negative thing.

To be worth it, it needs to either save Bob time, or remove one of his pain points. The board doesn't matter, no one else matters. Only Bob's pain points matter.

So, look at the existing system from Bob's point of view. What does he spend most of his time doing? How can you make that faster and less error prone? If you can do that, then you have the hook to pull in changes that benefit everyone else.

Comment Cost used to keep the problem in check. (Score 1) 761

The level of cost involved used to provide a limit on the intrusiveness of the search. Police used to need to provide at least 6+ officers (2 on 8 hour shifts) to watch an individual, that means that following someone involves substantial cost to the department. The cost itself provided a check on the intrusion.

Using a tracker changes that entirely. The police can quickly check many, many trackers from a central location. They don't need to invest 6+ officers to each individual, it's 6+ suspects per officer! All of a sudden, large scale intrusion is cheap and the limit is no longer present.

That's the point you need the courts to step in and put limits in place.

Comment It's not just about your salary. (Score 1) 593

It's called a Loaded Labour Cost. Back the last time I had to deal with this (back in the 90's), the LLC for a staff member, regardless of salary ended up being around $150k/year. That's how much it cost the _employer_ to have you in a seat, pretty much regardless of your salary.

So, the federal government can either pay that themselves and have a full time employee on their staff, or they can pay that plus a markup and have a contractor they can get rid of whenever they want.

The contractor is typically better if only for the ease of downsizing.

Comment Not worth it to Google. (Score 1) 174

Android is a loss leader, and not worth a lot to Google. Google's patents are probably in their core business, search and advertising. Since a lawsuit would result in settlement and cross licensing, Google's patents are worth a lot more for keeping Microsoft out of that core business than saving HTC $5-15 per handset.

Comment Re:QA - Microsoft is really to blame. (Score 1) 213

Because vectors can't be initialized from initializer lists. At least, not until C++0x:

std::vector v = { "xyzzy", "plugh", "abracadabra" };

Won't compile with older C++ compilers.

While the following works now:

char *foo[] = { "xyzzy", "plugh", "abracadabra" };

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