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Comment Re:impossible (Score 3, Insightful) 297

which is why infrastructure projects should all be privately funded, then their economic viability, success or failure are on the backs of the owners and not tax payers.

Let's explore that thought a bit.

Say the local islanders dislike Mr. Ellison's policies. Say, for example, that someone wants to start a local airline which competes with the ones that already serve the island. Well, the ones that serve the island are owned by Ellison, and any competition is going to eat into profits. Fortunately (for him) he also owns the airport, so he can just refuse to allow the 3rd party airline to fly there.

Of course this competing airline could start their own airport, but that's likely prohibitively expensive. And even if they had they money, Larry owns all the land on the island, so he can just refuse to lease them land on which to run an airport.

The inhabitants of this island are, for all intents and purposes, indentured peasants to Larry Ellison. He has an effective monopoly on their food, housing, and transport off the island, and they have only as much say in how he runs things as he feels like letting them have. If you honestly think that's a good way to live, then I'll be happy to purchase your house and vehicle from you and let you pay me rent (at a rate that I choose, of course).

Of course Lanai is an extreme example, but similar problems occur when you try to run certain types of infrastructure projects with private companies on the mainland. For certain classes of things like roads, water/sewer lines, and probably electric, the amount of space and planning required makes it prohibitive to build multiple competing services. You can't have a city based on TWO separate street grids. And trying to run more than one water system or electric grid through the same town would get intrusive and immensely confusing in all but the most sparsely populated areas.

So what you end up with out of necessity is either a government monopoly or a private one. You no longer have the ability to "take your money elsewhere" so the private company has zero incentive to listen to you. With the government monopoly, though, you get two major benefits: one, you're guaranteed a vote, and in a local government that means a lot more than at the federal level; and two, the government's goal is to serve the needs of the citizens, NOT to make a profit off them.

In short, you've grossly oversimplified the problem. Of course private corporations COULD own and run infrastructure projects. Nobody's disputing that. But it's highly unlikely that they would run it WELL in cases where competition isn't feasible.

Comment Re:Rogue employees (Score 1) 457

No. Just no. SAYING that data protection trumps all concerns is common. So is wanting to hit your yearly goals by shipping your project, and agreeing with the objectives your VP sets. Sure, some people really want to do the right thing, and sometimes they even have enough time to figure out what that is, and enough backbone to stand up for it. But that combination exists in way less of middle management than you seem to think it does.

Comment Re:doesn't work (Score 1) 597

The problem with Agile is that it gives too much freedom to the customer to change their mind late in the project and make the developers do it all over again.

Call me crazy, but I always thought Agile was developed in response to customers doing exactly that, but under methodologies where it was much more expensive to do so.

Comment Re:Not good enough (Score 0) 800

Word from inside the company is that Sinofsky made the devs "p4 obliterate" the Start menu code, meaning not only did they delete it but they wiped the entire history of the code from their source control. If true, it would mean that they couldn't just "bring back" the start menu, they'd have to entirely rewrite it.
The Media

Apple Leaves Journalists Jonesing 277

Hodejo1 writes "Apple traditionally has big product announcements in the early spring, so around February both the mainstream press and the tech blogs began to circulate their favorite rumors (the iWatch, iTV). They also announced the date of the next Apple event, which this year was in March — except it didn't happen. 'Reliable sources' then confirmed it would be in April, then May and then — nothing. In withdrawal and with a notoriously secretive Apple offering no relief the tech journalists started to get cranky. The end result is a rash of petulant stories that insist Apple is desperate for new products, in trouble (with $150 billion dollars in the bank, I should be in such trouble) and in decline. The only ones desperate seem to be editors addicted to traffic-generating Apple announcements. Good news is on the horizon, though, as the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference starts June 10th." This was in evidence last night, as Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke to the press at the All Things D conference. Cook's statements were mostly the sort of vague, grandiose talk that gets fed to investors on an earnings call, but it's generating article after article because, hey, it's Tim Cook.

Comment Re:Easy (Score 5, Insightful) 161

Business executives don't care about the details of technology, they care about the whether and how that technology can deliver value in the context of their business problems.

The problem is, those two things go hand in hand. If you don't understand the details of the technology, you're highly likely to miss a bunch of nuance in understanding how (and how much) it can solve your business problems.

Now, if you as a hypothetical executive are willing to accept that you really DON'T understand the nuance, and trust those under you that do, then things are just peachy. Except that attitude doesn't often pair with the type-A personality that inhabits the C*O world, or even the VP world. What you're left with a majority of the time is someone who thinks technical details are "beneath them", but wants to make sweeping generalizations about what tech will do for their business. Due to the points above, those generalizations are nearly always wrong, and sometimes dangerously so.

I like to use an analogy in this type of discussion: Neil Gaiman once said (I'm paraphrasing) "People think an author goes off in a room for a week and stares at a typewriter. Then magic happens, they're hit by a stroke of genius, and emerge with a completed novel, fully formed. The reality is nothing like that. It takes years of hard work from multiple people, endless revisions, and is generally the opposite of magic."

Most people can connect with that. Of course an author doesn't write a 400 page novel in a fit of genius. Of course there are editors, and revisions, and revisions on revisions. We may not have an intuitive view of what all that work actually looks like, but anyone who's not a complete twit can examine that statement of reality against their preconceived idea, and sense its correctness.

Well, technology is a lot like that. Redundant failover systems don't fall from the sky fully formed. Coding API or User Interface abstractions don't leap into existence overnight. They're painstakingly nurtured from the seed of an idea by someone who's tired of facing the same problem over and over, and grown over months or years, usually while fending off a bunch of half-interested managers and coworkers who are more interested in making themselves look smart by talking loudly than in actually understanding what's being built.

You may think that higher ups shouldn't care about that, and to a degree I suppose that's right. They shouldn't care about the minute details of every technical thing to cross their desk. But damn it, they SHOULD understand the difference between good tech and shoddy tech, and what it means to their business. Because a corporate culture starts with the C*Os. And a corporate culture where proper respect is paid to the painstaking work of building quality systems can accelerate that business in a self-reinforcing process, while a corporate culture that dismisses tech as "that geeky stuff they do with computers" will almost certainly fall behind and fail as the people who know how to build stuff well get pissed off at constantly justifying doing things "the right way" to people who don't care, and eventually quit.

To go back to the analogy... how long do you think a publishing house would stay in business with a CEO who thinks that "writing is that thing where authors go off in a room for a week and magic happens"? That's essentially what this article is tacitly saying is A-OK, and for any company that's even remotely based on technology it's just as ludicrously wrong. That kind of BS may fly today because the culture is still in flux, but in the next 20 years every one of those companies is going to get lapped by another company that understands the magnifying effect technology can have on productivity, and understands it from the top down.

Comment Re:Crap, the sky is falling (Score 1) 334

When you cant buy a week's of groceries (real food not ramen) for two people and stay under $80.00 you have a economic crash happening.

This is asinine. What makes $80 the limit? Why not 90? Why not 75? And what year and location are we talking about? Because in 1910 that seems excessive, while on the west coast that mark was passed over a decade ago.

Comment Re:Poor Management (Score 2) 347

When this happens, the manager who is in charge of all those people steps in and says "You will co-operate and get things done, or else you will no longer work here". Sadly, too many managers are too lazy and/or gutless to do this.

What incentive does the manager have to do this? He's the one responsible for setting all those goals that an unplanned patch is putting at risk, and he's doing it because he's on the hook for shipping certain features by a certain date. This unplanned, extra-team patch is in his way just as much as it is any of the people under him, only he's several steps removed from the technology and doesn't care AT ALL that it makes things cleaner or is technically "cool" (which any of the dev lead/test/PM set MIGHT care about, since they work more closely with the product). He has way less reason to accept random work than they do.

Comment Re:Yes (Score 1) 614

If nothing else, collaboration and recovery features in most common office software have only come into their own in the last 5 years or so. Earlier versions of Microsoft Office (yes, I know, but a lot of people use it) had very limited collaborative or multi-revision support, and very little in the way of auto-save or recovery post failure. It's not a major win, but it's a subtle efficiency improvement across your workforce.

On top of that, most companies had to upgrade their OS and software versions to take advantage of the x64 switch at the hardware level, since the standard install of XP was 32 bit. Now, you might argue that you don't need larger amounts of RAM if you don't upgrade the software, but that's not really true from my experience. Even with fast hardware XP would start to chug badly when you ran out of physical memory, and that could happen pretty easily as you started to run real amounts of apps. At the same time, XP was locked to some ridiculously small number of cores (maybe 2) so to get the full benefit of your shiny new 8 core machine you again have to upgrade. And all new hardware is going multi-core, since traditional speed increases have pretty much been halted by physical limitations (ok, multi-core and decreased instruction cycles, but that only gets you so far).

Again, maybe not a sea change, but things just work way faster today than they did five years ago. Remember when IE and Firefox had splash screens? We forget really easily how slow "fast" was in 2005. All of these things make workers more efficient over time, and make the business that employs them more productive.

And hell, if nothing else, companies have to upgrade eventually or people will start moving to jobs where they aren't forced to work with 20 year old software. Not everyone, sure, but being forced to work with inefficient or poorly written UIs can piss people off enough to become a legitimate factor in attrition, especially if a lot of other companies are keeping up with the tech curve.

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