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Comment Keep it from becoming a closet. (Score 1) 174

The most important thing you need is every copy of the keys to that space. Don't even let the janitor have one.

If people have keys to it, eventually someone will open the door when they're doing a building inspection, and think, "Man, this is a great place for a closet. Clear all this random junk (read: your in progress project) out of here, and we'll be able to claim X amount of square feet back on the management floor, where it clearly goes to better use."

Seriously. Keys. Everything else is nice, but you need to control the space that was built reluctantly.

Comment This is the route to.... (Score 1) 606

Lots of heartache and pain.

You're looking at short term savings to inflate long term expenses.

Sure, it seems like it'll save you money in the beginning, but then components start to fail, and you can't find exact replacements. Then components that you bought to work with the old system don't work with the new motherboard/videocard/something. Then you think "we'll have two disk images". Then, a few months down the road, something else becomes hard to buy. Three disk images.... and so on. And you have to remember the quirks of each system as you set work with them.

Assuming you don't buy 1000 groups of parts immediately. (You won't, no accountant out there will approve it. Basic business needs say that's a bad management of cash flow.), You'll be spreading that purchase over 6 months or a year. I don't know if you've noticed how often basic components get refreshed, but by the end of the year, you won't have 1000 identical PCs.

I know calling support for Dell is a pain in the butt, but try calling tech support for Asus. In Taiwan. During business hours EDT. Plus, you can't expect them to keep spares for the time you need them, where most OEMs keep spares on the shelf for 3 years. Do you have the warehouse space for that? What if there's another run of bad capacitors, and all components manufactured during a time period are bad.

And... then there's your time. At my peak, I could assemble and build a PC in about 3 hours. Multiply that by 1000. That's 3000 hours. Non-stop building. There are only 2080 working hours in a year. When are you going to have time to do your actual job, that of system administration? Yes, you can hire someone, but so you want to hire a person who assembles PCs, or do you want to another system admin, which will actually make your job easier?

We're not even talking about the government's needs to track where money is spent. How are you going to stick asset tags on a random bunch of assembled components? What happens when most of the guts of a PC get put into a case where it already has an existing asset tag?

Man... I've beendown this road. We got about 18 months down it and we went back to the OEMs. Dell, HP, etc.

If you're going down to the local PC store, or buying direct from Dell's retail side, STOP. Look into Dell's corporate line of PCs and the HP's corporate line. I just checked HP's government purchasing site, and you can get a small form factor PC for about $350. I'm sure RAM isn't that expensive, and the three year service contract in bulk won't be that bad. If you're in the state of Virginia (and if you're working for the government, there's a high likelihood that you are), consult an eVA price list. Or go off the VITA contract. The amount of PC you can get for very little money at government pricing is somewhat ridiculous.

Just, please, no, don't go down the path you're going. If you really really really want to, do it in one department only, for 18 months. See if it's worth the hassle. I'm betting it's not.

These thoughts are all just dashed off. I'm willing to go into more specific detail if needed. I just remember how happy we were to get out last HP Vectra machine in to replace the custom built pieces of crap we had before. It was nice in so many ways. I could actually go back to administration and not construction.

Comment Old School on the New School (Score 3, Informative) 391

I don't know what OS the author of the original post is using, but if he's using a Mac, he should look into WriteRoom.


It's like writing on the word processor from the Apple II days, it clear all the modern OS widgets out of the way so you're not constantly distracted, and you can edit in any combination of background/text colors you want.

I prefer bold blue text on a black background. None of the formatting is saved in the document, it's only done in presentation by the app and you get modern features like word count and what not.

I can't recommend it high enough.

But hey, I'm an oldster around here, what do I know?

Comment Market share != quality online experience. (Score 2, Interesting) 630

Just because hundreds of millions of people have it installed, doesn't mean they like it.

Silverlight is probably closer to what Flash's market penetration would be if Flash hadn't become a compulsory install. If it weren't installed by default. SIlverlight is only installed because it blocks the path to content that people want to see. There's no SilverlightTube (yet). Few Silverlight webgames. It's only there because people want access to what it blocks.

When the day comes where it isn't assumed you need Flash player in order to be a good Internet consumer, you can expect to see it's market share plummet.

The numbers also don't account for the amount of frustration Flash causes people who have to use it. It's only been recently (version 10.1.18xxxxxx) that I can run Flash on my MacBook and not have it cripple the performance.

I think they should give it a few years and see what happens. It smells a lot like the same argument that used to be thrown against Firefox when it had only been out a little while versus. IE's market share.

Look where that wound up.

Comment leave messages for milestones. (Score 2, Interesting) 527

A friend of mine died nine years ago from colon cancer. She had a then 4-year old boy when she passed.

There were a handful of things that she did for her son that were pretty well received as he grew older.

She left letters or recordings for him at various milestones. Graduation. age 21. Age 25. Wedding. Etc. Nothing too specific, but things talking about how she hoped things turned out for him.

A recording of her singing Happy Birthday, that she gave him on CD. He played it every year until he was 12. After that, I don't know if he continued to play it, but it was a nice touchpoint for him as he grew older.

That's really about it. Too much stuff, I think, and the survivors have issues getting over the loss. And too much past stuff, and people seem to feel a little out of touch. It truly makes people think they were loved if their parent thinks about future events before the child even does.

That's all I have.

Comment Re:Eh? (Score 1) 420

You forgot to add in the salaries of the IT guys. Don't forget their taxes, healthcare, retirement, and other benefits. In the private sector that's generally a 1.8 multiplier on the salary. (someone making $100,000 dollars a year costs the company $180,000 salary inclusive.)

That 360k doesn't go very far if you're paying for a handful of $60,000/year IT techs. It's a little over 3, or two with one making a bit more.

Unless, in the "Everything's Free" economy, people are no longer supposed to get paid. In which case everything's different.

Comment Those fucking advertisers. (Score 0) 437

I just graduated from grad school to become one of them.

First, sue. Well, maybe not sue, but notify the company's legal department that your images are being used in an infringing manner and your license terms. They will either stop using the images post haste (in this case, the shit will run down hill straight to the advertising firm that did it, and they'll jump) or pay you for the rights to your image.

Second, make your image license fees reasonable. You are not going to get 150k. Even some of the most famous images don't fetch that from a stock image library. Martin Luther King's image of him giving his famous speech in a national print campaign, with print billboards, etc? $50,000. Ghandi reading on the mat, same rates. Typical stock images of kids playing on the beach? License fees in the hundreds of dollars up to a few thousand if you're lucky.But that's generally if it's running in print and not online. The prices scale based on how famous the image is and what resolution they use. 8.5 x 11 at 300 dpi is a whole lot different than a 3 x 4" 96 dpi image. Really. That's how it's priced. So, send their legal departments a nicely worded letter, with print outs of the ads in question and a reasonable quote for the use of your image. I can definitely say that if you ask for $150k, they're going to laugh in your face and replace the image by tomorrow morning. If you ask for $500, they'll probably just cut you a check since it's cheaper to pay for it than to replace it.

If you think those rates seem low, I'm sorry, that's the way that market works. It's called the Long Tail (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html) and it looks like you've stumbled across the way to start building your own.

Comment Online classes are wastes... (Score 0) 428

Go to a real school.

College isn't about the trade you learn. (that's really what it is, white collar trade school).

College is about the people you meet, the handful of cool projects you complete, and the doors that can be open to you by going to a specific school.

This is one area where the real world trumps the online world. Face-to-face interactions. You'll interact with other people with similar interests. You'll interact with members of the opposite sex. You'll interact with professors. The thing is, the caliber of college you attend is a sorting hat (oblig Harry Potter reference) for the type of people you're going to interact with. If you're not good at interacting with people, in the long term that will become career limiting and college is a good place to get better. It's OK to be a little "off" in college.

You're probably not willing to do what I'm about to suggest but, unless you're married or taking of parents in their dotage, you should move to a city/town with a really good program for what you want to do and attend classes there. Physically attend them. Yes, I understand the convenience of online course, but you miss out on a big part of the college experience that way and many employers see "online university" on your resume (trust me, they know) and discard it. You'll likely meet people that are smarter than you. You'll definitely meet people who have varied backgrounds. You will get a different experience than you think you need.

Also, here's the secret thing I found out. College isn't about the degree you earn. It's about the set of keys you earn that open certain doors. For example, the odds of you working for Apple or Google are slim unless you attend Stanford. If you want to work at IBM, they have feeder colleges too. My undergrad program places a people at Target Corporate HQ (not the stores). Almost all colleges are feeder schools. They all have companies they put potential candidates in front of. Some of these companies you can't get into at all unless you attend the right schools. Some of them you can get into if you don't attend the right schools, but it's harder. But that's the thing that the college paperwork tells you in an oblique manner. They all tell you they'll get you a degree, and you will, but the degree isn't the important part. It's where you go afterwards, and the people you meet along the way.

Which, unfortunately, you can't do online. Go to school in meatspace. It'll be worth it, in the long run and the short run.

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Systems programmers are the high priests of a low cult. -- R.S. Barton