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Comment It's called "the Geek lottery"... (Score 4, Insightful) 129

...and while it has significantly better odds than the actual lottery, it's much the same thing. Part of what drives the Valley -- and the IT startup industry in general -- is that it's very easy to track down large numbers of people who have, in fact, become millionaires (or better) through stock options and buy outs. It is a siren song that occasionally pays off.

The problem since the late 1990s is that vast amounts of capital have distorted the natural harsh realities of running a business, not to mention Economics 101. Too many tech startup business plans are, in effect, "Get funding. Create buzz. Get more funding. Sell out to a firm that actually makes money or go public." It occasionally works -- and all you have to do is read the industry press to see the multi-billion-dollar IPOs/acquisitions that never panned out.

Now, excuse me while I go back to work on my indie game and my graphic novel. :-) ..bruce..

Comment It depends so much on the setting (Score 1) 654

If I lived in NYC, I would not own a car. We did live in Washington DC (the Very District Itself) for nearly 6 years, but we still needed a car, because it was the only way to go shopping for groceries, etc. Still, while living there, I would regularly go to NYC on business by (a) walking 3 blocks to the Metro station, (b) taking the Metro to Union Station, (c), taking Amtrak to NYC, and (d) walking and/or using taxis in NYC. Coming home, I'd reverse the process.

The fundamental issue with public transit is that unless you have a very dense urban setting, you just can't get around all the places you need to in the time frame required. For vast portions of the US, that just doesn't work all that well.

Comment Trailer left me unimpressed (Score 5, Interesting) 266

I didn't know Jobs well, but I did have a number of direct conversations with him, sat in on meetings at NeXT with him, spent five years developing software for NeXTstep, and had many talks with people who worked closely him (again, mostly at NeXT); our last conversation was him calling me up to yell at me for an op-ed piece of mine in BYTE (Nov 94) called "Whither Nextstep?"

With that tee-up, I'll say that Fassbender's portrayal of Jobs in this trailer pretty much falls flat. Fassbender looks too professional and lacks that burning gaze that Jobs used to such great effect, even while using up the people around him. Frankly, Fassbender comes across more like John Scully trying to act like Steve Jobs than like Jobs himself. Also, it took me a bit to realize that Seth Rogan was supposed to be playing Woz; again, the wrong vibes and aura. Frankly, I think that Jack Black with a beard would have been a better choice for Woz. ..bruce..

Comment Amiga used for ~30 years for HVAC control (Score 2) 257

/. just ran this article about an Amiga still being used to control HVAC at multiple public schools after nearly 30 years: http://tech.slashdot.org/story...

Technology embeds itself (so to speak); it is far harder to retire old tech (as per this article) than you might think (Windows 8/8.1 just barely passed up WinXP this year). I think that Linux + C makes as much sense as anything, especially for an embedded system, and I'll cheerfully bet that both will still be around and in active use in 25 years. ..bruce..

Comment New technique, old problem (Score 1) 507

It's a good article, but the pattern is an old one. Twenty (20) years ago, I wrote much the same thing about object-oriented technology. Since then, I've found that the same issues, the same pitfalls, pretty much apply to any new technology or methodology; here are some more generalized pitfalls (based on ones from the 1995 book) that I wrote up nearly a decade ago (2008):

-- Adopting a new technology or methodology for the wrong reason
-- Thinking a new technology or methodology comes for free
-- Thinking a new technology or methodology will solve all your problems
-- Betting the company on a given technology or methodology
-- Getting religious about the technology or methodology
-- Adopting a technology or methodology without well-defined objectives
-- Overselling the technology or methodology

These all apply to Agile -- but they also apply to just about every other 'silver bullet' technology or methodology that's come along. ..bruce..

Comment But where is the SECRET-level physical security? (Score 5, Interesting) 315

I had someone who did SECRET-grade e-mails setup in the military write the following to me:

So, if for example Clinton only dealt with SECRET materials and they were sent or received in her email, all of the equipment (routers, switches, etc.) would have to be rated for that SIPRNet connection. Also, the space in which the equipment and servers and client computers resided in would also have to meet the specifications for SECRET material. This would include various forms of physical access to the space in the form of secure cards, biometrics, etc. No space rated for SECRET opens with a key from the local hardware store. . . .

The biggest issue I see here would be is if the server was connected to the public Internet and it resided in a non-DoD-approved space.

Not sure there are biometrics installed in the Clinton home in Chappaqua. ..bruce..

Comment I have some standard playlists for coding, writing (Score 3, Informative) 181

My best coding/writing playlist is...the entire set of Moody Blues albums, in chronological order. (I've been listening to them for nearly 50 years. Crap I'm old.) The albums have to play in correct order, and the cuts on each album have to play in standard order. It just pretty much becomes a musical cocoon. I've found that if I'm avoiding doing some necessary writing or coding, I can put the playlist on, and I start working almost immediately.

I do much the same thing with the collected Star Wars soundtracks (played in film sequence, i.e., Eps I through VI; and the soundtracks for the prequels are much better than the movies themselves) and the three LOTR soundtracks (again, played in film sequence).

If I'm getting sleepy, I'll put on "Wireless Barenaked Giants", a playlist containing all my Thomas Dolby, Barenaked Ladies, and TMBG songs, played on shuffle.

Ambient electronic would probably put me to sleep.

Comment Oh, please (Score 1) 145

I can't thing of a quicker way to terminate an interview with me were I looking to hire developers.

I actually had something a bit like this happen back in 1990 or 1991 when I was building the engineering team for a software startup. I had two developers who were local to the area (San Diego) come in together for interviews. They actually had great resumes and relevant experience -- but when it came to talking compensation, then wanted (a) six-figure salaries (more than I was making as CTO/chief architect), (b) signing bonuses (did I mention that we were a startup and we're still about a year away from closing on venture funding?), and (c) broached the idea of company cars.

I thanked them for coming in and sent them on their way.

Comment "In a place you might not expect it" -- srsly? (Score 3, Insightful) 580

The anti-vaxx movement has been almost entirely among liberals and environmentalist, who view Big Pharma and anything "unnatural" with deep suspicion. I've been highly amused at recent efforts to cast it as a conservative cause; there are some anti-vaxxers among the hard right, but the vast majority are on the left.

Comment We use the wrong model for IT hiring and retention (Score 4, Interesting) 574

Eight years ago, Ruby Raley and I published (in Cutter IT Journal) an article entitled "The Longest Yard: Reorganizing IT for Success" (you can read it here). Our basic premise is that the current "industrial" model of IT hiring/management -- treating IT engineers like cogs or components -- is fundamentally flawed, and that a model based on professional sports teams would likely work much better. Having spent 20 years analyzing troubled or failed software projects, I believe we need a significantly different approach on hiring and retaining the right IT engineers. ..bruce..

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The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow