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Comment An easier solution: Don't make coins (Score 1) 121

The article assumes for some strange reason, that those countries use coins. Well hello to the reality, many countries have paper money only and no coins, or after inflation the coins are so worthless, that they're good as collectors items only. Problem solved and other half-baked college theses can be safe stored in the depths of some library to be forgotten for the next millennia.

Comment Re:All I Have To Say Is (Score 1) 437

In the same CNC business, it wasn't uncommon for small shops to by the small model and then accidentally swap the ROM or change the model encoding.
Also remember how consumers dealt with feature-crippled mobile phones. Some models were rooted even before they properly hit the shelves.
Not to forget the fate of all kind of copy protection and dongles for popular software, from Windows to Photoshop, from DVDs to Ebooks. It can be summed up by one word: Broken.

The same will happen here, only that BMW and other manufacturers have a lot less resources available to stay ahead of the evil crackers, hackers modders. Those cars will be rooted pretty quickly and for good.

Fleets will pay for the features, but I'm certain the chip-tuning shops of today will expand to feature unlocking at discount prices. Bring on that cunning plan and lets hack a little!

Comment Services (Score 3, Interesting) 732

Ok, jobs in manufacturing have been greatly reduced over the past century and the individual productivity sky-rocketed. The consequence was consumer goods became dirt cheap and few people work at producing them - at least in the western world.

Now things start the same with knowledge jobs and some services. With a diagnostic tricorder, automatic blood analyser and self-service MRI, the doctors and many specialists at the labs will have a good part of their work disappear or be replaced by a friendly unskilled worker telling you where to place your hand and hand you the print-out. Another set of jobs on the way out are train-drivers, truckers, taxi-drivers and pilots, they have a big chance of being replaced by computers in the near future.

What will be the consequence? Will the world end? Will the mschines rise and Skynet take over?

One of the first consequences will be, that the value of the service rendered will be greatly devaluated. In the end, we humans pay manly for three things: The value of the raw materials, the necessary investments for the production site and the time spent by a human to create the product. If the latter two drop significantly, the second because the productivity of the machines go up and the third because of automation, then simple we won't be willing to pay as much for the product and spend out money elsewhere. This elsewhere is where the jobs for humans will be.

For one, personal comfort services are very often hard to automate. Hairdressers and make-up stylists will be be hard to replace by computers. As another consequence, the organisations will fill with pointless jobs which keep each other busy. We see that today with all the consultants, controllers, marketing departments, safety and security people, quality assurance, project managers, application owners and so on. Those are nearly totally unproductive or, the few that are good at their job, cost only a little less than what their work saves. This is the negative aspect, but the same also exists in positive. Skilled people are able to spend more time doing things not possible before. Today, many illnesses have been identified that before didn't have a name because people died of other things first. And for many of those illnesses, cures have been developed.

In the end, humans will go on pushing the envelope, being that with discovering new cures to make life longer and better or be that by spending more effort on hairdos and the next fashion in legging-design. Automated tasks will just become a commodity, no matter how complicated it is. If you don't believe me, just look at that mobile phone of yours and look around how many designer cases are floating around. People are willing to spend 25% of the value of the phone on a piece of printed plastic with some designer-scribbles on it.

Comment Oh, quelle catastrophe! (Score 1) 314

What a catastrophe, Youtube and DailyMotion are supposed to pay a tax of 1% or so on the business involved in France! I'm certain, this 1% of their revenue will make the difference between going bankrupt or being the pride of capitalistic success.

Seriously, to corporations like Google or Amazon, taxes and tariffs are just regular business to be dealt with as appropriate, just like road traffic is to be dealt with when driving around the city. It really doesn't matter whether its called VAT or some other name or if the money is used as bribes for corrupt politicos - sorry lobbying money - to avoid costly laws. It's never a matter of freedom or or up about fairness. In the end only one thing count and that's how much money is left after all expenses are paid.

Comment The right way (Score 1) 310

Work the system and treat the boss just like you would handle a system bug or limitation.

Step 1: Get it into your official procedure, to do some kind of acceptance test or quality checks for software delivered by 3rd parties. This can often be done innocently and disguised as a formality.

Step 2: Improve the acceptance test procedure so that the pieces of garbage with security holes will fail Here, make sure the improved tests become official and rubber stamped.

Step 3: When at delivery the tests fail, raise a critical ticket with the delivering company. This works best if you managed in step 2 to make the test part of the acceptance. Now people will start to feel the pain, because a failed acceptance and a piece of software marked as "Not Ready for Deployment" will have commercial impacts. People will curse and try to force it through.

Step 4: While the shit is flying your way, make sure you stay reasonable, helpful and stick very closely to the official company procedures. Get acquainted with the QC department and ISO-whatever proceedings. Don't be controversial, never bad-mouth anyone. At the same time, document your cases, print out the mails where people attach your message to their replies.

Step 5: The software will be rolled out no matter what you said, but now you have a proper documentation of how your boss and the marketing department bend and break the holy official rules nobody want to keep.

Step 6: Various outcomes
a: People in marketing hate your guts now and avoid you as much as they can because you're branded as difficult. Problem solved for you.
b: They want you to do it again next month. Some chances are that the delivering organisation learned that releases are smoother if the software doesn't fail the test devised by that crazy lunatic in software engineering (this means you). A slow increase of security will ensure.

Step 7: Somewhere down the road there's a big chance the company will get into troubles because of their faulty software. Make sure, the people investigating that get access to your documentation.

Comment Fun with the TSA and similar clows elsewhere (Score 4, Interesting) 218

Those passenger screenings are as we all know a big charade. Here's an anecdote of Munich Airport in Germany - probably the most idiotic airport in Germany I had to travel through.

While most airports in Germany don't care about cameras, Munich airport has a special fetish for controlling cameras. 2 times out of 3 they want me to take my dSLR out of my Backpack to finger it. Usually they want me to turn it on and look through it, but my friendly offers to take an image to prove it works usually ends it panicky horror. Whatever.

So I got a little pissed of and decided the next time to take out the battery of the camera. And sure enough they wanted to to search it again and asked me to turn it on. As usual, I turned the Power switch to on, but without battery nothing happened, and handed the camera to the goon. I don't know what he ascertained with his ritual, but after looking through it, he was happy the camera without power is real.

As at that time I was playing around with long-exposures during daytime, I carried with me an ND1000 filter. This is basically a piece of black glass that lets through only minimal light. It's about as dark as welders glasses or those things you used to observer the sun during an eclipse. In the rather low light at the airport, you don't see anything through that filter. So evil me removed the battery again and screwed that filter on in front the next times I flew out of Munich. Out of about 5 manual checks, here's the breakdown:

2 checked the camera after the power-up without battery and the black glass in front of the lens the usual way by looking through it and doing their magic ritual. The fact that the camera was dead as a brick and the didn't see anything didn't faze them to hand it back satisfied without comment.

2 wondered why the didn't see anything and looked if the lens-cap was still on. After they saw that no it isn't on and the front is some kind of glass, they relooked through the camera - without seining anything more - and were happy with the results.

Only one out if the 5 asked why he can't see anything and when I told him, that this is a special filter for long exposure was also happy to let me pass. Asking to remove it for the check wasn't in his book.

So 5 out of 5 weren't bothered by the fact that turning the camera on has no visible effect and the same 5 in the end were also happy that they didn't see anything when they looked through the camera.

What a strange world we live in!

Comment Makes sense (Score 1) 356

It makes sense, that the IRS takes a close look at open source software organisations claiming exempt status.

Software is usually a very commercial thing and a big business. So if someone makes software for free, the idea isn't far behind for some evil people to use this to optimise taxes: Create an Open Source foundation to build some very limited distribution open source and reaping all benefits of the tax exemption, then sell the software. This kind of scam looks pretty obvious.

So it's only natural, that the IRS looks at those organisations a lot more closely to figure out whether they're legit or just another tax fraud. So this wasn't directed against the Linux or Apache foundation, but more against the shady organisations claiming to produce open source of which nobody except the tax-man ever heard.

Comment Missing option: The one paying for it (Score 1) 262

I'm missing the most important option: The one with the money paying for the software.

That's the one the vendors need to court, because he has the power to put money into the till. All the others are secondary. And this is also the reason, why I like open-source software so much. The mutual back-scratching between salespeople and purchase departments is disrupted by developer doing whatever they feel useful. Sometimes for very good effects, sometimes less so.

Comment Memories are created (Score 3, Interesting) 379

As if it was so simple, record everything and nothing will be forgotten. Even assuming that recording everything is technically possible and legally or morally acceptable, how are you going to find the moments you cherish? Was it two months ago or five, that you had this wonderful sex ending in some earth-shattering climax? Or was that last year? Was little Timmy 3 or 5 when he was so cute losing the fight against a roll of toilet paper, and was that in that motel in Lake Tahoe or in Chattanooga? Anyone having a huge collection of pictures will attest, that finding one specific one you can dimly recollect is a huge task.

And then, even if you manage to find that even, times over times it has been proven, that people photographing or videotaping some event are later disappointed how bland the recording was and not matching the remembered reality. The brain is constantly editing and enhancing impression to create memories, but who's going to do that with your life recording? Taking good still-photographs that are emotionally gripping is already hard enough and needs training and experience - flickr is a testimony on what doesn't work for most part - video is even worse, not even counting cutting and post production. A life-recording that isn't edited will be of horribly low quality and have nearly no value watching.

If you want to show your future loved ones how you were in college, don't clobber them with 1200 days of 24 hour recording. Make the effort and get a few representative images or short videos which communicate the essence of this time.

As to how I feel if someone recorded his whole day including the time we spend in bed together? I couldn't care less.

Comment Re:Model M (Score 1) 341

Same here. An old IBM MF2 keyboard dating back to 1988 is still in use. And in case it breaks, there's a spare in the cupboard. Those keyboards were built like a tank to last - and about as heavy. I think meanwhile the keyboard weighs more than the computer it's attached to.

Comment Avoid being black-mailed (Score 3, Interesting) 525

This might be a difference in work-place culture, but whenever I choose a job I always only considered the fixed salary part for comparison. If I was happy with that, the job is ok. If I need some bonuses to make a decent living, it was re-negotiation time. The nice consequence of this is, that I don't care much about the rigmaroles with performance reviews to decide on the bonus. That makes me very relaxed and whatever comes in is just a nice bonus and nothing I really need. In the end by not caring, I swim along with the average, but I still can tell them to get stuffed if the idiocy becomes too rampart. And being the one to stand up and voice what everyone is thinking sometimes makes you popular or someone to be consulted beforehand.

In the companies I worked for, the more formal and stupid the system was, the easier it was to gamble. I liked best the system with self-defined yearly goals, where the road to success was in the skill to formulate impressive sounding goals where the non-performance was hard to verify. Or to be part in projects that get shut down because of reorganisation before being delivered. That never got me top rates, but before going through the hassle of digging through the bones for some real data average success and bonus (or slightly above average, if I bickered too much about my valuable contributions) was assumed independent of the actual performance.

For me that gives the best results for a minimum of exposure to the whole idiocy.

Comment Beat them with their own weapons (Score 1) 848

First, if your employer starts to play such silly games, you have a problem. If you're already I trouble with them anyway, the only reasonable thing to do is to consult a lawyer familiar with such matters and follow his advice.

In case you don't want to sue them and leave the company anyway, the only reasonable position is to let them have whatever they already have in hand. You can't take it from them anyway. Now to get back at them, produce some legalese statement that the code has been produced as ad-hoc tools for personal use of the creator and as a proof of concept. That those tools haven't be developed adhering to the relevant coding standards and not ready for productive use. Whatever the company does with that, they accept them as is and won't hold you liable for any thing bad happening as a result from using those tools in any way and that they will protect you from any liability claims resulting from any of your involvement with this software. Also add that this software needs to be reviewed and made ready for commercial use by qualified software engineers - which by coincidence you aren't, you're just a dumb L3 admin. If you feel nasty, add a NDA for good measure too. That won't help you, but is another hassle they'll have to resolve.

Make those statements broad enough, mention liability often enough and require a legal binding signature from the company on the contract. That will make sure that the legal department will get hold of the document and you won't have to hand over the code any time soon now. Even worse, any action in the matter on their side might be considered affecting the negotiations and review of the legal department. If they try to pressure you, write a naive question to legal asking about the progress. Bosses really hate to involve the legal department when they try to get things done.

With this, you won't get any money for the time already spent, but the company won't get the code either. You're in the comfortable position that you're cooperative and just want to handle this properly and protect you from claims. Nobody can fault you for not helping them and still, they don't get anything useful.

If they're really stupid enough to sign the document, you hand over those parts they don't have yet. Make sure you strip all useful structure, variable names and comment from it and run it afterwards through a code beautifier to make it look structured again. It's important that you don't touch files they already have, changing those would be obvious bad faith.

Now, things like those work in reality only when someone is maintaining the system. With the signed document, you as a L3 can't really be involved with that tool in any way in the future, you officially lack the skill. This has to go via software development. If the don't have any of those or can't bother them, you might want to suggest that a freelancing friend might provide the necessary skills - at slightly above the the going market rates for software consulting. I'm certain, you'll find a way of handling the doing in the future.

All in all, a company playing such silly games must be pretty stupid.

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