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Comment Shipping Costs, Etc. (Score 4, Insightful) 377

I've always wondered why when irate brick and mortar retailers yell about an "unfair advantage" with no sales tax, they invariably fail to mention shipping costs, which don't exist for direct in-person brick and mortar store purchases. Admittedly, Amazon (for example) these days has free shipping for many orders of $25.00 or over, and intense competition over the past few years has put great pressure on all on-line retailers to not play games with charging excessive shipping fees to pad their profits, which used to be a huge problem.

Frankly, I gloat over not having to pay sales taxes (when possible). That's the free market. Amazon certainly has no moral obligation to levy sales taxes if there's no direct legal obligation to do it. It's up to the individual states to decide how badly they want to drive out business or attract it with varying tax treatment.

Comment Re:At least they are trying... (Score 1) 179

I also am a happy A&A customer.

I had a nightmare problem with my ADSL line (eventually traced to water in an underground junction box), the lengths A&A went to in supporting me to get this fixed were remarkable. For starters, their control panel allowed me to show the BT engineers who were round (often) when my line was dropping or throttling back. These engineers said I had online access to quality of service info even they didn't know about, and were amazed.

No comparison with the major ISPs - just none whatsoever.

Comment Re:sco still alive? (Score -1, Offtopic) 286

I would support the social causes if I thought government could fix them. Instead it often makes the problems worse and at best wastes a ton of money for little result. The American people are very generous and dont mind spending money to help people who are in need. At the state and community level they can do it more effectively. It just doesnt work having the federal government involved. In some cases it has the opposite affect and makes the problem worse.

Comment Windows users and BIOS updates... (Score 1) 558

I've encountered plenty of corporates which keep a box of floppies around, primarily to bootstrap windows (prior to 2008/vista you had to load storage drivers from floppy if they werent in the default install) and to perform bios updates...

Also at least one place includes floppies in their monthly stationary orders, even tho noone has used them in years. Someone who works there was telling me how he has to throw out all the unused floppies to stop them filling up the stores.

Comment Re:older developers... (Score 1) 742

Schools teach many skills which aren't explicitly on any syllabi or assignment, not the least of which are copy and paste, and ethanol appreciation. I'm sure a plurality of universities produce high quality CS graduates, but most of the A and A- graduates from the five major universities within 200 miles in the last decade or so did not appear to be of that variety. There were a few gems, to be sure, but they had unremarkable academic careers.

I've mostly retired from IT in the last two years, but the recent graduates I run into at the usual industry groups and events still complain about being forced to choose in fourth year one of: their first experience with LDAP, their first experience with SQL, "system administration", how to write malware, or history of computing. They admit that the majority of their cohort have graduated without any substantial exposure to some major concepts and basic tools of the trade.

I'd be glad to introduce any good resources you may know of with respect to "how to recruit talent" to the local and regional industry groups since everyone from 10-person consultancies up to the local branches of the big three letter global services companies are all hurting for skilled grads.

Comment Re:Excuse me? All criticism has been well earned. (Score 3, Insightful) 324

As much as you have a point, I've been working in IT for years as well and I've only met one British worker in the US, and I think he's got at least a green card because he married an American girl. Just about everyone else I have ever seen working H1-B is Indian and boy do they fuck them over. As a white man who actually speaks a dialect of English that is considered civilized in the US, you are going to have a decent time of it. The only thing you need to worry about is idiots making too many Limey jokes and telling you that your spelling is funny.

The Indians generally have to worry about unscrupulous companies that bring them in, keep them in the dark and then make sure that they work under conditions that you could consider appalling. I can't tell you the number of H1-B colleagues that I know who have at one time or another had to worry about losing their job and then having to deal with being packed off back to India 5 days later because they are a guest worker.

The problem with H1-B is that it allows more bad than good. Clearly we want to have some guest workers like you over here to provide actual technical expertise, but most of these guest workers are doing jobs that Americans could definitely do and not even getting paid decently for it. That may be because we don't have enough IT people available to work over here, but I suspect that the supposed lack of IT workers is more of a situation where those said workers actually want to be paid US wages and treated like professionals.

Of course, the H1-B problem is one where many of us feel we are being unemployed in favor of cheap labor, but it doesn't change the fact that the program is allowing the guest workers to get screwed too, if they happen to be from somewhere sufficiently backward. That's just bad all around, and I see no reason that it should be allowed to continue as it has been.

Comment Myself excluded (Score 1) 742

I'm not a kernel hacker, just yet, but it is a personal goal that I've been working towards for a while now. I don't get a chance to work on anything deeply linux at work, but I've seen some shortcomings in the kernel that I'd like to rectify. One example is the lack of a "Ready Boost" like cache, but a bit beefier, utilizing SSD's to alow large databses to run at SSD speed for writes and cached reads while gaining the benefit of cheap spinning disk storage. This is a LOT of theory work and deep kernel driver stuff that I'm glad to learn on my own time.
I might be unique, or perhaps the fact that I'm not actively DOING it makes me another statistic, but i think the kernel is a worthwhile cause.

Comment Re:He can plead the Fifth in jail too. (Score 1) 367

Perhaps she's waiting to see who offers the better deal. All the prosecutor can offer is staying out of jail. If there are enough bigshots behind this, it could mean a very comfortable retirement.

I know one guy who got caught as the patsy for some company wrongdoing. He spent a few months in jail, paid a few hundred K$ in fines. But for admitting to being the sole actor in the crime, he's now better off than he would have ever been working as a corporate officer until retirement.

Comment Possibly Risky But Highly Useful Nonetheless (Score 3, Informative) 293

I saw this news item as well, albeit at PhysOrg, which has linked a few interesting related articles. From the comments, it struck me that a concern is indeed the possibility that stray particles from applying this stuff might get into your lungs or on your eyes, causing all sorts of problems since it apparently binds well to organic substances. Also, one wonders what happens if the coating is degraded on food-handling surfaces. Do fragmented microparticles rip up your insides after being carried into your body within contaminated food?

Even with these concerns, of course, I'd love to test this stuff on various less risky surfaces, such as bathroom tiles and shop tools, with appropriate respiratory and eye protection. Being able to use it on a kitchen countertop would just be a welcome bonus if it turns out to be safe for that use after all. (As an aside, I think that use wouldn't breed resistant bacteria since it simply discourages any bacteria at all from growing on the protected surfaces).

Comment Re:So from what I can gather... (Score 1) 454

Well, perhaps not as often. I'm married and I regularly masturbate to keep the pipes clear and get rid of idle sperm, much like you'd urinate or defecate. They're produced all the time and just sit in the gland waiting to be sent on their way. They are busy little guys though so the prostate needs to be emptied regularly. No point in having all those little guys causing trouble in the prostate.

Since the wife is not interested in sex any more (for various reasons), I have to do something with the sperm so out they go :)


Comment Re:Wait, what? (Score 1) 275

starting at certain bitrates, there's simply not enough processing power to apply compression.
modern general purpose CPU can gzip at just tens of megabytes per second, simpler and less effective algorithms may give you couple hundred MBytes/sec, which is still just a couple Gb/s.

now imagine you have couple dozen 10 gig ports, in and out. and that's just the beginning, some high-end gear has 100+ 10G ports, all lit.
specialized ASICs can help, but they're not free either and ultimately don't take you very far, especially after throwing in all that memory required for processing.
all in all, none of the high-end routing or switching gear does compression nowadays, it's simply not worth it, in dollars and milliseconds of added latency.

Comment Re:Memeory Leaks (Score 1) 145

Firefox 3.5.7 is using a whopping 174Mb of ram.

Put another way, that would be gobbling up an Earth-shattering 2.83% of the RAM in the desktop I'm typing this on. They should drop everything and get that down to no more than 1.4% of my installed RAM.

Yeah, I know: best practices, bloat, netbooks, old computers, etc. Those are all perfectly valid reasons why all software should be well-crafted and should limit wasted resources. I just can't get excited about the raw numbers involved in this case.

Submission + - The Neuroscience of Screwing Up (

resistant writes: As the evocative title from Wired magazine implies, Kevin Dunbar of the University of Toronto has taken an in-depth and fascinating look at scientific error and the scientists who cope with it and sometimes transcend it to find new lines of inquiry. Three key passages follow:

"Dunbar came away from his in vivo studies with an unsettling insight: Science is a deeply frustrating pursuit. Although the researchers were mostly using established techniques, more than 50 percent of their data was unexpected. (In some labs, the figure exceeded 75 percent.) 'The scientists had these elaborate theories about what was supposed to happen,' Dunbar says. 'But the results kept contradicting their theories. It wasn't uncommon for someone to spend a month on a project and then just discard all their data because the data didn't make sense.'" [...]

[...] "The scientific process, after all, is supposed to be an orderly pursuit of the truth, full of elegant hypotheses and control variables. (Twentieth-century science philosopher Thomas Kuhn, for instance, defined normal science as the kind of research in which 'everything but the most esoteric detail of the result is known in advance.') However, when experiments were observed up close — and Dunbar interviewed the scientists about even the most trifling details — this idealized version of the lab fell apart, replaced by an endless supply of disappointing surprises. There were models that didn't work and data that couldn't be replicated and simple studies riddled with anomalies. 'These weren't sloppy people,' Dunbar says. 'They were working in some of the finest labs in the world. But experiments rarely tell us what we think they're going to tell us. That's the dirty secret of science.'"

"While the scientific process is typically seen as a lonely pursuit — researchers solve problems by themselves — Dunbar found that most new scientific ideas emerged from lab meetings, those weekly sessions in which people publicly present their data. Interestingly, the most important element of the lab meeting wasn't the presentation — it was the debate that followed. Dunbar observed that the skeptical (and sometimes heated) questions asked during a group session frequently triggered breakthroughs, as the scientists were forced to reconsider data they'd previously ignored. The new theory was a product of spontaneous conversation, not solitude; a single bracing query was enough to turn scientists into temporary outsiders, able to look anew at their own work."

Mentioned in the article itself is mysterious radio interference from the heavens, a huge error by Aristotle that is commonly repeated even today, and a quote from the late physicist Richard Feynman.

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