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Comment Upper management gets special treatment (Score 1) 181

At my last job, upper management had different password strength requirements because they couldn't handle the normal ones designed to make them use secure passwords. Instead of 8 characters minimum with at least one capital letter, number and special character, they simply got away with 8 characters. Why? Because they complained enough, couldn't remember their passwords, and had the power to exempt themselves.

Comment Blockbuster had video on demand in beta in 2000 (Score 4, Interesting) 385

While working at Enron Broadband Services in 2000, we had partnered with Blockbuster to create a video on demand service, and had all the main/regional CLEC/ILECs as partners to provide last mile connectivity. We were able to stream better than VHS, but slightly worse than DVD quality video over a 1Mbps Internet connection that required you to have a set top box. We had successfully demonstrated the technology in the lab and were going into the first run trials to beta customer homes when Blockbuster pulled the plug. So they could have beat Netflix to the punch by bypassing the DVD rental business entirely and going straight to VOD, but they decided not to. Also, a little known fact is that it was the pro-forma $150 million Enron booked as earning on that VOD project before it ever hit a customer home that brought increased scrutiny to their financials before they ultimately went out of business a year later.

Comment Re:Obvious (Score 5, Interesting) 134

I would also state that in the vast majority of companies, managers are trained not to take risks. I work for a multibillion dollar company where the most common management decision at the mid-management level is simply to do nothing. By not making a decision, they believe they minimize the risk of making the wrong decision, never mind that doing nothing is rarely the right decision. It also means that most management decisions then come from the very top down, which means there's no innovation from the bottom, nor is there any real quality feedback loop since suggestions for improvement never make it up the chain of command. Of course, we're a health insurance company that wastes our members money on high administrative costs, but as long as we don't lose a substantial amount of members (and won't because the individual members don't decide who their company uses for insurance) we have no reason to change. We simply keep raising our rates. It's a very dirty business, and horribly run.

Comment Re:With a huge exception (Score 2) 268

The OS has nothing to do with it. Firewire ports are DMA, as are Thunderbolt ports if I remember correctly, which means access to the port means direct access to the RAM. That means you can not only read the data, but you can also potentially manipulate it (killing processes, injecting code into already running processes, etc.).

Comment Re:Misleading title (Score 1) 268

EXACTLY! Mod parent up please! This is not exactly new. Snagging encryption keys from hibernation files or RAM dumps is nothing new. And the Truecrypt win32 binary will allow you mount the volume in read only mode if you want to view the contents and have the acquired key. So, this does everything you can already do for free, but with the added benefit of being a $300 product. I guarantee you that law enforcement is going to be the biggest purchaser of this product, even though this capability already exists and has existed without spending a dime.

Comment We home shcool: Youtube/Google/Amazon, or co-op (Score 4, Informative) 701

My home school kids of MS/HS age are learning chemistry from a PhD chemist through our local home school group co-op. Barring access to a home school co-op, there's plenty of information and fun experiments available that should interest a 10 year old, either from online sources like youtube and google, or from books at Amazon. If you have a local science museum, you can contact them about any local science clubs/groups that cater to children that age. But unless he is more than just interested, most official curriculum is going to be at the high school level and a bit over the head of a 10 year old.

Comment Re:Perhaps a structural solution would be better (Score 1) 610

That's how the multi-billion dollar company I work for does it. I get generic PTO days and how I use them is up to me. I get a lump sum on Jan. 1, generally for "sick day" purposes, then earn additional PTO days each month. I also get at least one "diversity day" a year, which is a holdover from allowing each employee to take their birthday off. We actually got two of them this year since so many of our normal paid holidays fell on weekends. Now, I can take them all for vacation, or mix and match them as I need them. I can also take them off as half-days if I want instead of whole days. And yes, it's perfectly acceptable to take unscheduled PTO for a "mental health day," as my manager takes them too, so long as you don't abuse it and get important tasks done. But honestly, my company is really, really good about PTO. The only crappy thing is that starting next year everyone loses one day of PTO as some sort of cost reduction bullshit to increase productivity. I guess our HR goons haven't been following the working productivity studies showing that current working productivity is going down now after so many months of rising. You can only work your employees so hard without rest/PTO before they quit giving a damn. And taking away PTO just makes people sullen and resentful.

Comment Re:Security is about Risk Management (Score 1) 75

One could assume that since these were companies located in Texas, it was a non-issue. The energy business is a little superstitious, and unfortunately dominates the job market in Houston. I moved to Dallas and landed an Information Security job with a billion dollar company and then moved on to consulting for companies of similar size or larger. Life has been good so far. I've even done some work in the energy sector.

Comment Re:Security is about Risk Management (Score 1) 75

As a former Enron employee in the Information Security department, I can tell you that it did not matter that I was not an accountant while looking for information security work after the company tanked in late 2001. The simple mention of Enron on my resume sandbagged any interview I went on. I might as well have been shredding documents myself. Thankfully, I eventually found someone willing to give me a shot and got my career on track again. It just took 3 years to do it.

Comment Automatic wepaons (Score -1, Offtopic) 450

If they don't have to pay federal taxes, does this mean they can now have automatic weapons in the US? Please don't discount it out of turn. The only thing that keeps US citizens from owning automatic weapons is the fact that the US government demands a tax on those items that they stopped allowing us to pay in 1986. Owning a Class III automatic weapon without having it registered with the BATFE and paying your taxes is really just a tax violation. So, if they are no longer required to pay taxes on property, does this mean that INTERPOL agents in the US can have automatic weapons? That would be a hell of a tax loophole!

Comment It's about dynamics (Score 1) 849

In today's modern, tightly packed, overly compressed mastering of commercial audio, you'll have a very hard time telling the difference between MP3 and FLAC. But throw in a song with lots of dynamics, and you'll definitely hear a difference, though which one may be more pleasing is a matter of personal preference.

Comment Re:Experience from academia (Score 5, Insightful) 1259

I sit on an advisory board at the local community college, and as such I get the chance to rub elbows with others in academia, including faculty and administration at prestigious schools in the Ivy League. It's interesting that when you talk to these people, they make no bones about justifying why they charge so much for an education. As someone from Brown put it bluntly, "If we didn't charge so much, people would not think it was worth anything." Some might argue that the easy access of federal funds has done a lot to exacerbate the problem of rising tuition costs. Just as government contractors and consultants view federal government funds as a never-ending supply of money, colleges view it in a very similar way.

Comment Re:Nothing to worry about (Score 1) 379

Well the larger problem here is what the sequels indicate: Disney is getting its way.

Bullshit. Disney already owned all the rights to all the Pixar characters as part of their distribution deals, and already had a Toy Story 3 in the works. When Pixar joined the Disney fold and John Lasseter became Chief Creative Officer reporting directly to Iger and Roy Disney, and Ed Catmull became President of Pixar Animation and Walt Disney Animation Studios, the first thing Lasseter and Catmull did was kill Toy Story 3 and put all in process productions on hold until they could be reviewed. All Disney productions were stopped until Lasseter and Catmull could review them and approve viable projects, with Meet the Robinsons being the only one that survived after they consulted with the director and the story was drastically changed to be much more personal and reflect director Stephen J Anderson's own story of being an adopted child. The biggest problem with Disney features was Michael "going back to the well for the 11th billion time" Eisner, and the screwed up structure they had Roy Disney relegated to since his direct report also reported to Eisner. Things got better after he was out of the picture.

Disney has been churning out utter dreck for years. Go ahead, what was the last good original animated Disney movie (not counting those made by Pixar)? I don't know, but I'm estimating something like 20 years ago.

Let's see... While these were not successful movies at the box office, they were good and suffered more from the decline of Disney Animation's reputation at the hands of Eisner than their own merits.
The Emperor's New Groove (2000)
Lilo and Stitch (2002)
Meet the Robinsons (2007 and has the John Lasseter seal of approval, and overall favorable ratings)

It's common knowledge that Disney had been pressuring Pixar to do sequels to all their hits because Disney can't think of or even appreciate new ideas. The big question a few years back was, "When Disney buys Pixar, will Pixar be able to maintain their independence, or will Disney's 'creative' minds start steering the ship?"

Pixar's creative team are steering the ship! The only people over them is Bob Iger and the board of directors where Steve Jobs holds a majority stake and Roy Disney is a huge Pixar fan. Why do you think Catmull and Lasseter both report directly to Bob Iger? Furthermore, Disney has never put stock in sequels. Sure, they've churned them out on direct-to-DVD releases, but until Toy Story 2, they never released a theatrical sequel. Pixar, however, is batting 1.000 with sequels, and NOTHING so far indicates they will fail that.

I don't know if we really have a complete and definitive answer, since Pixar may have enough talent to make these sequels good. What's more it might be that these sequels are a blip, and after them we'll get a rash of original characters and story-lines. On the other hand, this doesn't seem like a good sign.

When has Pixar ever disappointed? Their worst works are better than just about anything any other animation house has put out. Even their shorts are exceptional! As long as Lasseter and Catmull are running things, I have absolute faith that if they do create sequels, they will be stories worth telling. Because to those guys, along with Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, and Brad Bird, the story IS what is important, and has always come first. Now, bring us a Lasseter/Pixar classic Disney character film!

Comment Re:About damned time. (Score 1) 1186

Fifteen years or more of progress totally wasted. Pity. And the managers of American auto makers wonder why their companies are in the toilet.

You do realize that since the mid-80's, which is when I'm assuming your car was made, significant mandates have been leveled by the federal government for safety? And these mandates have added weight, which decreases efficiency. The average curb weight of a 2010 Toyota Corolla is 3268 lbs. A 1987 Corolla was only 2300 lbs. Take 900lbs of weight off a 2010 Corolla, and you'll see efficiency go up, albeit at the cost of luxury, features, and safety equipment/unibody construction. You could certainly build a car using exotic materials to keep weight down, but you'd do so by increasing costs.

Simply mandating higher fuel efficiency won't make it happen. That, or the US automakers are going to get over their hatred of the diesel engine in the passenger car. VW gets 40+ MPG in the the 2010 Jetta weighing 3280 lbs, and has for a long time.

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