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Comment Hate to say this...forget the web. (Score 1) 87

Soliciting charitable donations is still a very personal thing. Especially if you intend on getting beyond the nickle and dime range (under $50 US). It requires directly talking to potential donors. What's the benefit to your organization - you have 30-seconds, tops. They think they know what you want and why you want it. Money, but what are you really asking for? Operational (smells of on-going funds)? Grants (one time). Equipment? Services? What? Target your pitch to them in terms of what they already do. Not just a check for x dollars. Then you need to spell out what they are going to get in return? Name recognition? Tax write off? What are you going to give them? A plaque? Name wall? What? Have this before you call them. If you are asking for scholarship monies, you can easily handle that one.. Example... the Fred and Ethyl Mertz Scholarship Fund. Will you let them reach out to their employees? Will they match it at the corporate level?

Do this in person, and old-school. That means a paper letter (typeset in a nice font with good legibility and hand signed! (Yes, there is still a need for good penmanship!).

Once you get whatever you are asking for send them a thank you note - personally addressed listing what you received, how it was used and how it benefited whomever it benefited.

If they won't cough over the dough, ask them for a pledge or letter of intent. Something on the order of - XYZ Corp pledges the sum of $5,000 to ABC Organization if they make the goal of raising $150,000. Similar letters of intent will be counted towards funds raised.

This mechanism allows a lot of folks to intend to contribute, but gives them an out if you cannot make the goal. It also allows you to get public support on a nascent project that has little name recognition.

Otherwise you can continue with the bake sales.

Comment Even ordinary people.... (Score 1) 630

I have a thought, that I am happy to share.....

Even ordinary people can have extraordinary thoughts.

In that everyone can think about this stuff. Not just Rand, Aristotle, and the like. No, the layman may make many more mistakes than the professional. Just as the amateur mechanic, photographer and programmer tends to make more mistakes than those professionally trained. And, yes, the school of hard knocks does count in this regards. However, I tend to find that people who do actually think about philosophy, regardless of their station in life, tend to be more humanistic in their approach.

Philosophy is hard work - it takes time and effort to actually 'think'. But, so does exercise. And, like exercise, the more you do it the easier it becomes. All of a sudden you realize that the arguments that most people make (both liberal and conservative) either pro or con to any particular issue are hollow, shallow, full of half-truths and lies.

Our society is such that, As the Jello Biafra tune "Message From Our Sponsor" declares - Finally, the thinking will be done for you.


Claimed Proof That P != NP 457

morsch writes "Researcher Vinay Deolalikar from HP Labs claims proof that P != NP. The 100-page paper has apparently not been peer-reviewed yet, so feel free to dig in and find some flaws. However, the attempt seems to be quite genuine, and Deolalikar has published papers in the same field in the past. So this may be the real thing. Given that $1M from the Millennium Prize is involved, it will certainly get enough scrutiny. Greg Baker broke the story on his blog, including the email Deolalikar sent around."

Comment Depends on the boss... (Score 1) 387

If the boss is a decent guy/gal just mention it to them that we have a corporate policy regarding xyz. Don't mention they implemented it. Don't say the words 'against xyz' Your goal is to get them to comply. Not point out they are wrong.

The other avenue would be to talk to the Secretary/Administrative Assistant. Bosses don't want to listen to peons. That's why they are the boss. However, they will usually listen to their most trusted confidant - that is usually the Sect/AA. They point you want to make to the AA isn't that the boss is wrong (see a trend here?) it's to change their behavior to be in line with corporate policy.

If the boss is a bonehead - talking to them won't solve anything. If the transgression will torpedo the company, go look for other work.

In any event, none of these conversations should be in public (your not out to embarrass the dude) and be careful if you tell someone else that they don't go spreading it around.

Remember - you are trying to get them to stop what they are doing not get them into trouble.

Another avenue is to speak with whomever is incharge of security. In a small shop it may also be the CIO and a really small shop the CIO may be 'Frank - he fixes our computers.'

Comment Discrete, Graphs, Combinatorics - Definitely (Score 1) 466

Graph theory underlies every datastructure ever designed - link-lists, trees, etc. It is also how you build the schema map for a RDBMS and remove redundancies through normalization*. It is also needed for modeling program, data, network and other sorts of 'information flow'... including recursion.

* Yes, Dorothy, most databases in the business world are RDBMS as most systems do not benefit from the obtuseness of object based DBs.

Discrete is very handy when you have to convert from one number space to another. Not all systems are UNIX/ASCII based. I do a lot of work in the print industry - the core of that is still built on OCTAL character representation and a great deal of EBCDIC.

Combinatorics - Basically, how do you count. Again, you need this to know if your elementary math is giving you the correct numbers. A lot of things have been automated (BCD and the like), but that doesn't mean you will be working on a 'new' system when you graduate. There is still a lot of COBOL out there. It's not sexy, but it pays well and is generally a stable gigl

I would also suggest you take a course on Linear Algebra. Again, I'm in print and so use it more than most, but any time you need to lay something out in 2-space (e.g. a web page) and you need to translate that space to another (e.g. iPhone) LA will come in handy to fine tune the output. ... As well as a calculus based course on Stats. With today's data sets, analysis is no longer being done against the entire set, but a sample of the set. How to set up the sample and what sort of distribution you use is different than for algebraic based stats.

Calculus, IMHO, is only good for the rigor unless you get into engineering, graphics or physics. It's still good to have.

Lastly, Take at least two classes in communication. One on public speaking (your in meetings a lot and have to learn to communicate what you know to someone who doesn't - e.g. your boss). The other on writing - you will be writing a lot of system documentation, proposals, e-mails and the like. Other than your core CS/Math, I would say to have very, very solid communication skills. They never hurt.


Comment From someone in the trenches. (Score 2, Informative) 1006

Either get licensed or get a new job - seems to be the running theme here. I agree. As the license manager (and product expert) for Adobe Acrobat at my company I can honestly say that if you don't have the support of leadership to get and stay licensed you really need to get a new job. Software worth using is software worth paying for. Many software companies really would rather you became compliant rather than have to deal with litigation - no one wins. And in these economic times your negotiation power is that much greater. You can always threaten with the 'I really like your xyz product, but if terms aren't favorable I guess we will just have to go with the FOSS abc tool. Yea, we are willing to take the functional hit.' Two things - be willing to back it up. Be reasonable in your requests. Sorry - you will never get Acrobat Pro for less that $250/seat unless you are handing over at least seven figures. But by then, you are already at CLP Level 4 pricing - which is a significant discount against list - that you can leverage across ALL your Adobe products (CS, Flex, etc.) For Acrobat - Yea, it's expensive but it does a lot of things that are hard to do with FOSS* tools. You may also want to investigate just 'lower cost' alternatives - Nuance's is pretty good along the solution from ArtsPDF. With some negotiation you may be able to get Nuance's sub $10US/seat. Stay away from PDF995 and other such really low-cost tools - they aren't worth the hassle. The primary problem with them is the way they handle the conversion. Most are implemented as a GDI printer which tends to have problems with some graphics and layout accuracy. Direct to PDF is the best (e.g. Adobe CS tools), but if the underlying library is bunk that makes the PDF bunk. Second best is through PostScript, but it has it's limitations. PDF, as a filetype, is much, much more complicated than many folks realize. A lots of ways to screw it up - not so many to do it right. * Sorry if I rub some folks wrong here - but I have yet to find a FOSS implemented PDF library that is any good. The GNU library, and products based on it (OpenOffice, GhostScript, FOP, etc.) really produce poor quality PDFs in the production world. For quick, one-off work it works just fine. But when you have to take their PDF output and use it as input into another system (or even just to combine them) they tend to breakdown. Or the PDF becomes overly bloated. Yes, the Adobe library is expensive, but I know what I am getting and don't have problems with them. PDFlib is also a really good production-grade library and isn't all that expensive. Licensing terms are more than generous. More language bindings and platforms than you can shake a stick at (even native z/OS - not just USFHFS). We had some reasonable success with iText for on-the-fly generation but in a production print workflow, not all that good.

Comment In a hundred years.... (Score 1) 658

I was in the middle of music throws in the 80's when MJ, Hair Bands and pop were all the rage. When MTV was new, Tripple-J, Nina Blackwood, and other 'V-Jay's' I was not a fan of MJ - neither his music or lifestyle. I don't own a single album and only saw the Thriller video more than once simply because MTV was saturated with it. But did understand that his music, like that of the Beatles/John Lennon, Elvis and other such avant guard artists would have lasting influence on not only music, but world culture. In a hundred years, if I am around, I would expect to see some 20-something write a PhD thesis on 'Michael Jackson and the fall of Communism' or other such works regarding his music, impact on society or culture. Similar to ones written about Shakespear, Wagner or J.S.Bach. World wide, MJ had a much greater influence than those three combined. That alone grants him a minor decorum of respect.

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