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Comment This argument needs a scientific approach! (Score 3, Insightful) 564

The problem with what Mr Horgan is advocating is that his argument is based on his view of the Humanities subjects that he teaches, and the way he teaches them.
His view of science subjects, as fields dominated by facts and accepted doctrine based on those facts is an accurate representation of the way science subjects are taught by many teachers, but it does not match the science teaching I received from the teachers and lecturers throughout my school and university life.
There, I was taught that scientific "facts" are opinions tested and supported by experimentation, and which have not yet been proven incorrect. I was taught to consider the experiences of others, but to keep my eyes open and brain engaged, observe the world around me and to form my own opinions, then conduct my own experiments to determine the validity of those opinions. I was given the freedom to decide on the nature of those experiments - did I want to form experiments with a goal of proving and supporting my opinions (the "bias for confirmation" approach, and one in which Mr Horgan is right - we do have an immense capacity for self-and collective delusion), or did I want to actually test the accuracy of those opinions by trying to disprove them?
In short, my science teachers taught me to see all sides of a question, consider as many variables as I could find, look at things as they are instead of how I would like them to be, and form opinions based on those observations. But also to continuously re-evaluate my opinions in the light of any new information that comes to light.
I cannot comment readily on the teaching of the Humanities subjects, as from the age of 14 I concentrated exclusively on the mathematics and science disciplines, plus the fact that some of my friends were starting to experience a pronounced swelling in the chest area. However, my anecdotal recollection is that a lot of my humanities lessons were dominated by "facts" based on what was written in the Bible, a history book, geological or archaeological "facts", and accepted grammar in foreign languages.

On that basis, I feel a more accurate target for his attention would be the teaching methods in schools across all disciplines, where the individual teachers discourage independent critical thinking in favour of memorizing lists of "facts" designed to (1) prepare students for an exam, and (2) give the teacher an easier lesson plan with less preparation.

Comment He steals your work, break his kneecaps... (Score 1) 480

ok, maybe not... but I must admit that in the past I have been tempted by the idea of introducing that developer's legs to a 10 kilo sledgehammer...
Contacting the old client ahead of time, asking them for a reference which specifically mentions your work on that project (and ideally which mentions you as the author, with the new guy as maintainer).
Explain to the new client that the developer claiming the code was taken on to perform maintenance of the project after you left.

Comment What are the measurable criteria for his role? (Score 2) 331

SMART goals (Specific/Measurable/Achievable/Relevant/Time-bound) are typically used when discussing bonuses, but fundamentally they can also form the basis of a review process for somebody's base level ability to do their job, if the company does not have any other metric, which in this case it sounds as though they do not.
I suspect that the manager has high subordinate satisfaction ratings for the most part, as it seems he acts as nothing more than a mouthpiece for them, meaning they get what they want, while members of other teams do not see the performance issue as that of the IT Manager, but of the team as a whole, because IT is a "black box".
Depending on the employee rights and the politics of the company, it may be as simple as delivering a fact- and statistics-based report to the boss/board of directors. A complete breakdown of costs for every project and analysis of cost-overruns is probably overkill unless you are a consultant paid by the hour (but if this is the way you go, prepare a 1-2 page summary for presentation to the board, with the full 300 page report available for anyone who wants to read a more in-depth analysis).
At that point, your job is done. You were hired to produce a report, you have done that. Let them know that you can produce similar reports for other divisions if they want you to, and maybe ask them if their situation can be anonymised and used as a case study for your Management Forensics consultancy if they have the opportunity to review it before you publish the case study. Exit stage left, hopefully not pursued by a bear.
If you are angling to take over the guy's job, bear in mind that if you have a large part to play in firing a popular boss and then you replace him, you will have an uphill battle getting people on your side. The departure of the boss, and the introduction of business-oriented goals may change the atmosphere of the office... that together with you stepping in after sharpening the knife that killed your predecessor might result in a wave of departures from the team. As the new manager, the drop in productivity will be on you, not your predecessor. so you would need to turn it round quickly. All-in-all, I would say it is easier to let some other person take the management position and then step in when they almost inevitably fail - you are one step removed from the boss the guys liked, the tanking team performance is a god excuse to bring in some goal-based metrics, and by that time, people might have forgotten that you were around writing a report on the team in the weeks leading up to the popular boss getting the chop.

Comment Not sure... (Score 5, Funny) 267

A while ago, I started trying to decide if I was a geeky nerd or a nerdy geek. It turned into an internal debate that was about as entertaining as watching paint dry, and reminded me of a story I read somewhere (might have been /., but I don't think so, and I am too lazy to search now).

A man sits in his chair watching his dog spinning in circles, then the dog sits down and spends 10 minutes licking his (the dog's) balls. The man thinks to himself "wow, my dog is easily entertained - he is happy spending 10 minutes licking his balls... he must be really stupid". Then he thinks "crap, I have kept myself entertained for the last 10 minutes watching my dog lick his balls. I must be really really stupid".

Comment European Convention on Human Rights (Score 2) 404

Up until the Human Rights Act of 1998, which incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law, there was no legal right to privacy in the United Kingdom. There was some coverage in areas of legal and medical privacy under "Breach of Confidence" and related legislation around harrassment and data protection, but fundamentally the idea of "Privacy" is a very new one in UK law.
To see a UK politician (not just that, but one of the top 5 members of the ruling Government) being so cavalier about surveillance by organisations which have no judicial oversight, and justifying it with the old saw "you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide"...

This is the same politician (William Hague) who, in a speech to the Conservative Party's annual political conference in 2001 (at this point, he was the party leader, and the Conservatives were the opposition party to the ruling Labour government of the time... the Conservatives are now the government, having formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats after the last election) said:

"I think Britain would be all right, if only we had a different Government.
A Conservative Government that speaks with the voice of the British people.
A Conservative Government never embarrassed or ashamed of the British people.
A Conservative Government that trusts the people..."

So now, the Government wants to know what the voice of the British people are saying, so they are willing to spy on them.
The Government is either embarrassed by, ashamed of, or afraid of, the British people, so they are willing to spy on them.
The Government is so mistrustful of the people, that they are willing to spy on them,

And if there is any objection from the people, the response from the Government is "you only have something to fear if you have something to hide".
Sorry Mr Hague, but as far as I know I have nothing to hide (disclaimer, I am not a UK lawyer with extensive and up-to-the-minute knowledge of all laws on the statute books in the UK). All the same, I personally object strongly to having my legally conferred right to privacy circumscribed to satisfy the voyeurism tendencies of some random idiot who feels like peeking.

Comment Why do the bugs only surface toward the end? (Score 3, Informative) 524

My first thought as I was reading the summary is "why are the bugs only being highlighted at the end of the project?".
Granted, that is when the users have something approaching a "complete" product to work with so that is where they will do most of their testing... wait, have I just answered my own question?? It seems I have, yes.
Welcome to the wonderful world of the project manager and analyst - if the client is coming with bug reports, there are 3 potential areas where someone screwed up - either the client explained it badly (in which case, it is not a bug as such, it is a functional change - paid work), or you did not do as good a job as you should have of writing the spec (in which case, in my opinion, you should eat the cost and learn from the mistake), or the developer botched the implementation of your spec (in an ideal world, the developer *should* fix that, as they caused the problem).
If the client or you screw up, just about the only way to catch that is during a user acceptance test. Determining whether the screw-up is yours or the client's comes down to a review of your spec and needs some honest appraisal by you - if the spec is unambiguous and the product does what the spec says, and the client has signed off on the spec, then it is their fault. If the spec is ambiguous and open to interpretation (typically this is going to be when the spec matches what the user wants, and what the product does, but the product and the user's expectations do not match), then you have the fault. Yes, it is incredibly hard to write clear, unambiguous specs and then get a client to read through them and understand them... but in that case the spec is a bit like a EULA - the user does not have to read and understand them, they just have to sign on the dotted line to say "the spec matches what I want".
If the dev screws up, getting them to hold their hand up and admit to the fault and fix it is hard, as you have found - why work for free when you can work for money - but if you structure the contract correctly, with a completion bonus that they get when the client takes delivery, then you have some kind of hold over them. For example, a basic wage of $60k/year pro rata with $40k/year pro rata paid after sign-off. Some/most contractors will be put off by that, and they are typically the ones who will cut and run at the first mention of "bug" and "free". But the ones who are willing to take that on will probably be more conscientious in terms of self-testing, unit testing, analysis and possibly querying the spec, because if they can get it right first time, they get the bonus without doing any extra work...
As for the other side - getting the users to test and validate earlier in the process, for that you need to deliver functional prototypes early in the process and implement some manner of testing window - most of the companies I have worked for as a PM/analyst have contract clauses that give clients a 30-60 day window from delivery of a new version of an application to report bugs as bugs - after that, any errors are categorized as billable change requests, so the client has both incentive and responsibility to perform testing of their own.

It does mean that you get to have some tough conversations with a client because they are reporting a "bug" after 5 minutes of use, 6 months after you delivered the application, and if you want to be flexible and client-focussed, you can look at whether that bug should have been caught by in-house testing to confirm compliance with your spec.

Lastly, when you find a couple of good contractors who are able to write good code and who take enough pride in teh quality of their work that they are willing to work on fixing bugs in their code (they do exist, honestly, they are about twice as common as unicorns, and are sighted more often than flying pigs), either offer them a permanent position, marry them off to your sister so that you can keep track of them, or tell them that they do such good work you will want to call them back next time you get a juicy and interesting project.

ok, maybe I am a bit too naive for this job, but I have been working as an analyst/PM/IT implementation consultant in the banking and finance industry for the last 10 years.

Comment 6 of 1, half a dozen of the other... (Score 1) 716

If the app developed by Microsoft enables Youlube users to violate the Google ToS, then I can see an argument in Google's favour, especially if the app behaviour is not something the user can control.
Having said that, it also sounds as though the Youlube apps on "other platforms" (I am assuming this is a reference to both iOS and Android) are more functional than the version for WP8. If that is a function of the way that WP8 works compared to iOS and Android, then MS are again out of luck, but if Google are purposely denying MS access to features that are available to iOS and Android, then I can see Google getting a slap as well.

Basically, I think that MS will be getting told off, and Google might also be in hot water over this, if the disagreement ends up in court in front of a judge who has some understanding of technology*cough*.

Comment Judgement calls and research by the examiners (Score 4, Informative) 215

As a clarification and reminder for the patent examiners, this is a good thing. However, the USPTO has guidelines and rules as well, with odd little things like "Prior art" and descriptions of things that should not be patentable.
However, there is also a policy (not sure if it is written, or just written about) that if the patent examiner cannot understand the patent application but cannot specifically see that it definitely contravenes any of the guidelines for things that should not be patentable, the patent should be granted and then the court system should be used to test the validity of the patent.

Comment 2 people in my building with the same name (Score 1) 217

We have a lovely old lady living on the top floor, Mrs. Lundqvist. On the 2nd floor, we have a younger couple, Mr. & Mrs. Lundqvist... as I help the old Mrs. Lundqvist with managing her personal finances, I quite often end up acting as a local postman delivering letters to the correct Lundqvist.
It got problematic a couple of years ago - the Lundqvists downstairs got into debt, and ended up with debt collectors coming around to serve collection orders, yet they consistently ended up banging on the wrong door - a stressful thing she could do without, but one that I was well-placed to deal with as my apartment is adjascent to hers, but that is another story :)
So if she was on /., she would definitely be in the 150+ category for mail that is sent to her for which she is not the intended recipient.

The interesting thing for me would be if anyone else receives mail that is meant for her but that goes to the wrong address - if there is, nobody bothers to deliver or repost it... also to know what percentage of mail is mis-delivered. 1 mis-delivered item per month is not too bad unless you are only receiving one item per week...

Comment Don't you just love Government? (Score 4, Informative) 292

In 2000, the DoE and Bechtel National, Inc. (the contractor retained to build the Vitrification plant at Hanford) began construction of the plant before the design of the critical elements of the plant had been completed - in fact, before the design of many of those elements had even been started. The goal, to save time and money.
Trying to build a house? No problem... our construction team have built a few of those so they know what to do based on early architectural sketches and teamwork. But this is not a house, it is a vitrification plant for 50+ million gallons of the worst nuclear waste in the world with a total radioactive potential of around 170-180 million curies (Cernobyl released about half that). Oh, and that shit is not only hot radioactively, it is hot temperature-wise too.
Today, 60 of 177 storage tanks are leaking with the rest at a high risk of leaking, and if all goes well the complex to house the worst of the waste after vitrification will be built by 2048, with the whole vitrification process completed by 2062. Unless there are delays... after all, this is a government project, they are good at hitting project deadlines, right?
Each tank is layered, with a relatively solid layer at the bottom, a salt cake above that, then sludge followed by liquid and a gas layer. Sounds a bit like my toilet after a bad Chinese meal... only more of it. Most of the radioactivity is in the solids and sludge whereas most of the volume is in the liquids and the salt cake - you need the liquid to transfer the rest through the crappy piping and filters from the storage tanks to the vitrification plant, and it all has to flow fast enough to keep the solids moving without causing any blockages or radioactive buildups.
To top it all off, the glass mixture used in the vitrification process has to be tailoered to the mixture in the tank, and given the diversity of radioactive processes, materials and production methods in use on site, there will be at least 10 compounts required, with no way of knowing what is in what tank short of analysing the contents and getting a representative sample of everything in the tank.

Simple :-S

To my layman's mind, two things come to mind - 1. The whole thing is a complete clusterfuck, and it will be a miracle if the whole lot does not end very badly. 2, Top priority is to contain the leak in the immediate vicinity, but short of digging some massive trenches and excavating a huge foundation then filling the whole lot with some kind of radioactive-resistant concrete, and doing it in such a way that you can inspect the result for leaks, I cannot see how they are going to manage that.
Time to call in Bruce Willis and get him to start drilling, I guess.

Comment Re:To be fair (Score 4, Insightful) 124

it's not that hard. just go by the german definition.

But that means that leaving your towel on a sun lounger before breakfast to reserve that sun lounger for your sole use is perfectly acceptable!

As with any other internationalized business, though... either you tailor your offering to match the requirements or lack thereof of local laws in each case, or you put together a "one size fits all" policy that incorporates the strictest interpretation of each element of local legislation in individual countries.
Apple and other international businesses might complain about the complexity of either approach, but that is part of the cost of doing business in an international environment. Suck it up.

Comment Re:Glitches (Score 4, Insightful) 144

To me, this is exactly like charging a person who uses a buggy phone that gives them free calls every other call with fraud. They bought the phone as is, made no changes to it and they are being charged. These guys didn't change the code in the poker machine, they just knew what buttons to press after putting money in. If anything, they should be celebrated as the folks that beat the gaming industry.

While I agree that using CFAA to prosecute these guys was prosecutorial overreach of the abusive kind, the cellphone analogy does not quite work (close though :-) ) - if the "normal" operating process for the poker machine is "put money in", "play", "complete game", "cash out/play again/insert more money and repeat", and the guys were doing this, then the analogy would work.
But the actual process was one that was so illogical that the only statistically likely way to discover it would be with inside information or via hacking. Probably the prosecutors originally assumed this was the case and were looking at using CFAA, and decided to be lazy and press on with abusive over-reach instead of re-adjusting to use more appropriate legislation when their initial investigations. Alternatively, the prosecutors could actually have, SHOCK AND HORROR, actually done their job properly, and looked at all of the available evidence and THEN decided what statutes they were going to try and run the prosecution under to aim for a conviction based on the actual discovered evidence rather than their own assumptions or that one of them really wanted to try a CFAA case.

Having said that it is statistically likely to have been uncovered with inside information or hacking, the number of times people have played these machines means that there was still a slim but significant possibility of it being discovered by accident as seems to have happened here, and in those cases (as far as I am aware) there is no legal requirement for him to report the "malfunctioning" equipment to either the casino or the manufacturer so the worst thing that could be done to him legally is for the casino to ban him from their establishments and for the casino to take the matter up with the manufacturer, using a civil law suit to recover the lost money from the manufacturer, who then makes a claim on some liability insurance or other (and if I am wrong about him not having a duty to report the problem, then it is a civil problem between the casino and the patron).

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