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Comment Re:Some tips (Score 2, Insightful) 229

Think of the managers you have respected, and analyze what made them great managers for you. Some common things that have served me well:

1. Don't try to change your people. They are who they are. Work with their strengths. If you can't deal with who they are, you'll need to work on getting them off your team.
2. Pay attention to your employees' careers. You should be training them to see the broader aspects of what they're working on. You should have a career path in mind for them. Some may want to do what they're doing for the rest of their lives. But you should be looking for the ones who will eventually want to move up or sideways, and you should help prepare them for that.
3. Remember that if you're successful, it's because of the work they do. Don't forget that. You aren't successful all by your little lonesome.
4. When you give them something to do, give them a result. Don't micromanage the way they do it. Certainly standards have to be applied, regulations complied with, etc. But as much as possible, let them work toward the goal.
5. Your authority is in your title. It's in black and white. You don't need to prove it all the time. You don't need to fear challenges to your authority: they're stupid and you can't lose them.
6. Finally, this one is tough, but be aware of the difference in your relationship now. There are some jokes that will not go over like they used to, because although you are still who you are, you are now also boss. Neither you nor they can forget that, and shouldn't. Otherwise what would be the point of making you boss?

Comment Re:God, I can sympathize (Score 1) 538

For what it's worth, I often see this scenario from the opposite perspective:

Them: We've got a new program that we chose on our own and requires customization and a lot of changes to our default security policies.
Me: It's not that easy, we have regulatory compliance issues to sort out, and the security policies are in place for a reason. You should have consulted us before you spent the money.
Them: I just want to do what I want to do, and you need to help me because I make money and you don't.
Me: That's exactly why we've ended up with all of these regulatory compliance issues, people just doing what they want. I wish it were different, too. I could be a lot more effective.
Them: I don't care about you. My wants are the only thing that matter.

Comment Re:Take that Terry Childs (Score 1) 488

Agreed. Both sides of the debate are doing a good bit of quibbling about how things are being represented, but the truth is that he refused to give the owners of the system the information they needed to run it, information they owned and were entitled to. The result of that action (or inaction, however you wish to represent it) is that a lot of time was spent by a lot of people dealing with the situation, whether they were 3rd party consultants doing the technical work, or city staff who gave reports, depositions, investigated his employment history, argued the case in court, etc.

We can argue about calling it "damages", but the costs are real. And Terry is nobody to hang your hat on. Having a jerk for a boss is no excuse for what he did. Every boss is a jerk in someone's eyes.

Comment Re:In my corporate environment.... (Score 1) 1307

Here's a little secret of System Administration: Much of being a good admin is your skill and knowledge; but more of it is your wisdom and caution. You don't have enough people to support convenient one-offs all over the place. Keeping the environment manageable (and not just by you) is most of the battle.

Your fellow Docs want an electronic calendar. You don't say that the current system isn't working, just that they would like the more convenient electronic function. Perfectly reasonable. But, it's not reasonable to do an end run around IT. I know that we're sometimes slow to get something done. I know that we can seem very bureaucratic. But you have to understand why and help us to help you. We're slow to get things done because we have way more work to do than we can get done, so we have to prioritize. Your little calendar is not a high priority. If you want it worked on promptly, make some waves in the budget process so IT can get more staff.

As for the bureaucracy, I really think people don't understand that much, sometimes even most of the regulatory burden falls on IT. We do the rights and access work to the data. We produce the reports. We have to write the polices and procedures. We face the auditors. We burn when something goes wrong. None of this is our core function. We'd rather be coding or installing your calendar. These regulations are written with the operational staff in mind, but IT is the one who achieves (or doesn't) compliance, and IT is the one who is held accountable. Strangely, we get held accountable by both sides. People actually give me grief as if I'm the one responsible for Sarbanes Oxley. It wasn't an IT guy that lied to everybody and wiped out their pension funds. And the really big secret of IT is that we feel the same way you do about the bureaucracy. We wish we could do away with it and get some things done.

I know that you're a smart guy; but I have my job for a reason, and it isn't because I can install BSD and set up a calendar. I could train a monkey for that. I have my job because I can also apply standards, evaluate a given system's impact in the environment, understand the policies and procedures (and the regulatory requirements from which they came), and keep it running when some obscure problem happens. You're certainly capable of doing all of those things; but you don't do them, because it's not your job, and you haven't got the knowledge and experience. I'm pretty smart myself, and I like to think I could be a good doctor; but I wouldn't set a leg just because I know how to mix plaster.

If you think the calendar is a priority, then walk over and beat on Sr. IT Mgt. They'll make it a priority and some IT tech will actually enjoy having a project he or she can complete that will make life easier for someone.

Comment Re:First thoughts (Score 1) 215

The piece missing from your analysis is that Sully's performance is only half the story, or even less than half. The real story is his quick decision to land in the Hudson, a crazy and terrible decision that was right in this circumstance, and maybe no other.

For all the talk of reflexes vs clock speed, etc., how do you program a computer to make a decision like this, and make it smart enough not to do it the next time? I know somebody is going to say "It made sense. It was the only thing he could do." But even if you believe that, how do you code it? Do you just tell the computer that when all else fails, head for a flat open space? How do you tell it which flat open spaces are school yards, or mall parking lots, vs empty freeways or ploughed fields, or a busy freeway?

Yes, pilots are limited human beings, and will sometimes have the wrong answer, or make a mistake; but you're really only moving that to the programmer when you fully automate air travel. I don't believe you can develop or code enough "proper emergency protocols" to meet the flexibility and perception of an experienced pilot.

Comment Re:419 Scams (Score 1) 808

I've seen some poor people that fit that mold; but I've also seen a LOT of people below the poverty line who are hard working, spend what little money they have on necessities, and receive assistance with great shame.

I spent about a decade in the restaurant business, doing everything from cook to store manager. The conception of poverty by people who went to college and got a decent job afterward is skewed. Most of us simply do not realize the margins that some people live on. They can't buy that song they heard on the radio because they can't splurge $15 this week on a cd, and don't have internet access to download the song for $.99. They buy more thread than socks.

They work two jobs because they are in debt for the full price of the last visit to the ER. They plan their day around the bus schedule. Weekends don't mean anything to them except that they have to now find a babysitter for the entire day, and the bus schedule is different. Holidays mean lost pay.

The easy retort is that these people chose their life, and that they could improve it if they wished; but it's not as easy as that, and repeating it ever more loudly won't make it true. Many of these people work every minute of the day to maintain their meager living.

They are often intelligent people who by happenstance, or societal conditioning, tragedy, or accident of birth never got many of the little opportunities that allow us who are maybe not rich but live comfortably to achieve the lifestyle we have.

I've been fortunate (or unfortunate, depending upon how you look at it) to spend time with very rich people and some very poor people. Trying to equate IQ with either station is a fool's exercise. Trying to generalize poor people as unmotivated, entitled, profligate spenders is no better.

Comment Re:Another Benefit of Traditional Planes (Score 1) 419

I highly recommend 2 books for the reader "One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer" by Nate Fick, and "Generation Kill" by Evan Wright. They both tell the same story of the Second Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Recon Marines who invaded Iraq. They briefly mention these "moto" missions whereby fighter jets make very low passes over a firefight. They both intimidate the enemy and provide a morale boost to the troops. Fighting spirit should not be underestimated and at the right time, a low pass might be more effective than a danger close bomb.

Comment Re:ChAir Force (Score 1) 419

Not a military pilot; but I'm a commercial civilian pilot and flight instructor.

The time should count. They aren't flying games or even simulations at all. They can't pause or restart the flight. They're flying real airplanes and the resemblance to a sim is only in the interface. But that interface is the same one they have in the real plane: altimeters, directional gyros, airspeed indicators, even tactical computers. They do not have the sensory input or the personal risk; but sensory input can be misleading, and in most situations notions of pilots flying "by the seat of their pants" are quaint at best. And as for risk, you don't get to log flight time because of the risk. You log flight time because it requires skill to do it well and correctly.

Personally, I would give higher honors to the pilots flying manned airplanes; but that doesn't mean I don't respect these guys or the job they do, or believe they shouldn't get credit or professional reward for doing it.

Comment Re:Mod parent up please (Score 2, Informative) 424

I don't have a paper to cite for you; but I can confirm that staff at nuclear facilities do handle new uranium fuel assemblies with cotton gloves while dressed in casual cotton attire (jeans, work shirts, boots). They don't wear respirators or lead-lined suits.

The uranium fuel used in reactors is predominantly U-238 mixed with a small percentage (3-4%) of enriched U-235. U-235 is the fissile material and while it does spontaneously emit neutrons at a low level, it becomes useful for power generation when placed in the presence of other neutron emitting material and a moderator. A moderator slows the velocity of neutrons which makes them more likely to interact with the U-235. Fast neutrons bad, slow neutrons good. The fuel is loaded into tubes in pellets roughly 1/2 inch long by 1/4 inch in diameter. Each tube is about 12 feet long and there are a number of tubes in each fuel assembly. There may be a couple of hundred assemblies in the reactor. Each pellet contains roughly the same potential energy as a ton of coal. This whole paragraph is oversimplified of course, but you get the idea.

It is indeed the spent fuel that is highly radioactive. All work done on spent fuel assemblies and assemblies currently in the core is done under water. Spent assemblies are moved entirely under water from the core to the storage pool, where they will stay for the licensed life of the reactor. Of course, if your reactor gets a license extension, some of the spent fuel will eventually need to be moved off-site.

Contact the community relations or corporate communications group at your local nuke plant. They likely have an introductory video they can send you. Those videos are cool, if for no other reason, because they film place you'll never get to visit in person. I've seen one video that had a shot looking down into the reactor core during a refueling outage. How many people would get to see that in person?

Comment Re:Suspect?.... (Score 1) 403

The decision to replace the pitot tubes would have been made over time, and it's likely that the pilots had trained for conflicting or errant airspeed indications in the simulator. Even without the suspected pitot tube problem in the Airbus line, it's likely they faced the scenario in the simulator. There was a famous accident involving a Boeing 757 chartered from the Dominican Republic that crashed when the pitot tubes fouled with water.

In such a situation, a known power setting in straight and level flight would produce a certain airspeed, give or take some margin. The difficulty in the Air France situation would be the whole "straight and level" thing. The Airbus aircraft have a "rough air penetration" speed that pilots should assume when entering turbulence, but they would have no way of ensuring that the airplane remained at or below the rough air penetration speed without their pitot tubes. They could use power settings and attitude to take a shot at it; but they would not be assured of having a safe airspeed.

Overseas flight crews are VERY experienced professionals. You might find young pilots fresh out of a civilian academy on domestic flights; but overseas flight crews are seasoned vets. They know all the tricks, but sometimes circumstances trump skill. There are no procedures, and there is no training that can account for everything.

Of all the scenarios I've heard, the pitot tube problem seems the most realistic, but it's all academic until the investigation is complete. The Journal really has no business printing such an article this early. Nobody's going to pay much attention to us armchair quarterbacks on slashdot, but the Journal carries an artificial importance. The article is purely sensationalism at the cost of pain and confusion to family members.

Comment Re:Best Photos (Score 1) 582

I guess if you're the pilot, you just hope nothing gets ingested into those engines, sitting 6 inches from you, or that you never get any leaks in the hot section. Very impressive machine, actually; but scary from an operational standpoint.

Comment Devil's Advocate (Score 2, Interesting) 368

To play devil's advocate for a moment, let's think about how many flights are made daily, and for how many years we've been making them, and this is the first time we've lost an airplane to bird ingestions in all/both engines. Reducing risk is great (multiple engines, redundant systems, etc), and I'm all for it; but I wonder at what point we see diminishing returns for the cost. Should there be an acceptance of these risks at some level?

Comment Re:A pretty good one, actually (Score 1) 821

In the past year, I set up my mother's new Vista PC, and a new Dell Ubuntu system for myself. I have to say that the Ubuntu system was up faster, and worked better. I had a small battle getting drivers for my mother's printers and scanner, electronic picture frame (a simple usb storage device), etc.; but my peripherals worked perfectly out of the box. I took her picture frame home and loaded pics on it from my system.

There is no perfect apples to apples comparison for these things; but having set up both systems as shipped, the Ubuntu was a more pleasant experience and showed better hardware support.

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