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Comment Re: History.... learn from it! (Score 1) 582

Also, large chunks of the switch can go down, but as long as power stays up, existing calls through that switch stay up. New calls may not happen (no dial tone), though. This was true even in the days of mechanical step-switches. The calls always stayed connected until and unless something proactively broke the connection. When they went to electronic switching in the 1970s and 1980s, much effort was spent making sure this was still true. This was one of the weapons on the circuit side of the packet-switching versus circuit-switching wars.

The present issue is the last skirmish in that war. IMO packet-switching won that war the first time a telco installed a VOIP trunk from one CO to another. Everything since has been nuts-and-bolts buildout.

(Claimer: I wrote call processing software for telephone switches in the mid-1980s.)

Comment Re:At least it's not CFL (Score 1) 372

I have lots of CFLs and their lifespan varies widely. I've had some going for almost five years now, and others didn't last five months, all indoors and on roughly the same duty cycle. I don't have too many LED bulbs yet, the oldest maybe 18 months, but none of them have failed yet. I guess LEDs don't have as much "infant mortality". OTOH, we have some incandescents that were here when we bought this house 17 years ago and are still humming along.

It'd be nice if we could get a nonbiased study of lifespans, changes in output, etc., based on a decent sample size and not connected with any manufacturer.

Comment Language/cultural barriers (Score 2) 473

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned this. I work on a project that's spread across eight countries. The lingua franca is English, which makes me one of the lucky ones as a native English speaker. As you might guess, it's a pretty big project, so things like push-button refactoring aren't any use when someone misspells a variable name, or inadvertently names something after a swear word or a racial slur. (Or, more to the point, did so in acquired code that's now 12 years old and really shouldn't be touched if it's been working fine, and there's no staff for cosmetic changes anyway.)

People have talked about commenting and documentation. It's that much worse when someone's writing in their third language, or they write in their native language and you hope you can translate it well enough to get what they're really trying to say.

And then you've got all the cultural issues surrounding hierarchy, face and the loss thereof, egos, power, seniority, communication formats, and all that.

I'd love to have the luxury of being the lone cowboy, even if the PHBs were constantly jerking me around about what I'm supposed to be doing.

Comment Re:I'm getting tired of this industry (Score 1) 75

I've spent about half my 30-year career as an employee and half as a contractor (which I am now). When you count benefits and everything else, the difference in net cost to the client isn't as much as you'd think. The advantage to the client is disposability. While it may look like companies fire their employees as easily as they throw out their cafeteria trash, there's more overhead involved in getting rid of an employee (even without tenure, collective bargaining,etc.) and WAY more when hiring an employee than when renting and returning a contractor.

Speaking of net, my net income as a contractor (full-time, on-site) is not a whole lot different from the equivalent employee position. (YMMV, especially if you're an H1-B.) Of course, I bill short-term work much, much higher, but that's because there's less of it. I prefer the (very relative) stability of being on a full-time PSA versus billing a couple hours a week from a dozen different clients.

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