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Comment Re: CHEP pallets, I've got a story about those!!! (Score 4, Interesting) 250

CHEP pallets...

The Truckie above is right about CHEP pallets. These blue pallets with white lettering are ubiquitous in Australia, and there are a number of yards at which you can pick them up and drop them off.

Because it's a rental thing and pallets aren't free to manufacture, there's a penalty if you don't bring them back. AND -- amazingly -- it is at least sometimes NOT on the people who picked them up, or loaded or unloaded them, but on the person who authorised the job with the contractor, who may not have ever even SEEN the pallets in question.

Why would this happen? Because anyone can rock up to a CHEP yard with a bunch of blue pallets and receive back, in cash, the deposit for said pallets. Going pallet-hunting is apparently not an uncommon activity among Australian tradesman after a big night of drinking when the next payday is still days away. Most of us would have no reason to know this, and presumably the economy somewhat relies on this, but basically an unguarded CHEP pallet is like a $100 note (or whatever the deposit is... as I recall, it isn't a small number) sitting on the ground.

So, a friend of mine, in charge of maintenance for a piece of public infrastructure, one day had some maintenance done. The supplies for this apparently came on CHEP pallets. He knows this not because he'd ever been TOLD about any CHEP pallets by the workers... but because one day CHEP sent him a bill for $4,000. He wrote back, don't know anything about your pallets, never seen 'em, don't have 'em, not paying this invoice. SOMEHOW this degenerated into a personal attack by CHEP on him, calling him at home, nagging him for these pallets he'd had nothing to do with. It went on for months. His management backed him on not paying the invoice, but that didn't help in the context of CHEP taking the dispute personal.

One day he got sick and tired of this, and called up the contractors in the middle of the night. "Round up your mates, and round up a big-ass truck. We're going for a drive." And they drove around all night, picking up any blue pallet that wasn't nailed down. Final count it was something like hundreds of them, if I recall correctly. They dropped them off at CHEP. He used the funds to pay the CHEP invoice and pocketed the rest and told the contractors they better not ever say another word about this.

Apparently in recent years, CHEP has begun to bar code pallets so they can track them, so I have no idea if they're still easy, untraceable currency as they were 5+ years ago.

Comment Re:I think you may be confused (Score 1) 309

My parents gre up in the Great Depression. My mom's family had the only car on the block, and they took in 4-5 boarders at a time to make ends meet.

Now I myself am a boarder. Working overseas at less than half my old income in a coal mining town where housing costs 45% of my weekly paycheck. Mandatory insurance eats up another 10%. Then there's food (meat unlikely, as i cannot cook where I live, so I eat a lot of veggies out of the can, for example), detergent to wash my work clothes since I cannot afford to have them dry cleaned, etc. And that housing is a single non-airconditioned room big enough for a bed, garment rack and refrigerator. And hundreds of cockroaches and lizards no matter how many cans of spray I emtpy onto floors and into corners. In the tropics where 95 degree days are common. Kind of makes it not so bad that some mornings there isn't any hot water, because I need to cool off before going to work in my office geek job.

I was lucky to land this accomodation. Many people have it worse; I've heard my region leads the country in homelessness percentage. I begged my way into couch surfing for months while looking for impossible to find affordale housing that 2000 other people in town are also searching for. I was out on the street for a while, periodically when between accommodations. Lacking a car, I slept rough.

And I didn't have to use the daily newspaper for tp only because I could swipe some from a public restroom when needed. But the rest of it, like going without food for 3 days because I'd used up my stock of canned beans, while waitng for the next payday, is de rigeur.

If someone with a masters degree with 20 years experience working in a professional technical field is part of the working poor as a result of the events of the past 3-4 years, and even needed to leave the country to get a deal that good, the country has a problem.

Comment Aussie style rock paper scissors (Score 1) 210

Ayers Rock (it's a big rock in outback Oz) paper scissors.

Gecko frightens non-Aussie-native human. Human's out, hiding away from gecko-attracting lights and insects (that would be, ohhhh, somewhere in Antarctica?)

Gecko eats spider. Spider's out, much in the sense that the innocuous paper covers rock.

Gecko v shark. Hardly a decent entree, where's the rest of the plate?

Shark v croc. How big a croc did you say it was? Less than 2.5m? Shark. One of those medieval guys? Croc.

Comment I've seen this work in multiple organizations (Score 2) 498

I've brought my own laptop to a startup that employed me on a W-2 basis. The idea being, it's already set up with all of my dev and productivity tools, and I'm comfortable with its performance, so why spend $$ on giving someone a duplicate of what they already have (that I'm not using during business hours otherwise), if they're still willing to sign the agreement saying they give all rights to what they do for you in the workplace to the employer? (Note: it's crucial in these situations to make sure that you keep rights to your OWN stuff developed on the same hardware for non-work purposes.)

Another time, years ago, I was stuck with a 486sx PC. I had a Sun Sparcstation at home. I brought in the Sparcstation and was much, much, much more productive for two weeks, until the beancounters spied it and asked WTF? I copped to it being my personal machine, whereupon they directed me to take it home at the end of the day because it ran afoul of their insurance requirements that all in-house equipment be owned by the company. It was only months later that I realized they leased a crapload of machines from GE Leasing, and that I could have suggested, "Why don't you lease it from me for $1/month?", as a way around that if the problem REALLY was the insurance issue they described.

Still another time, I worked for a large tech company. Whilst they were a bit skittish about people's personal laptops being connected to the domain, as long as you went through the setup process to put all of their security software on your machine (and were willing to accept someone else's closed-source security software whose full functionality you could not predict), they tended to tolerate it. Eventually, they got more generous in handing out laptops.

At the same company, they have a policy of allowing personal phones to connect to the Exchange server for email and calendaring purposes. Not everyone gets a company cell phone, but since it's a company full of geeks, most employees have one of their own. Being able to catch up on your email in the morning whilst on the bus to work, and being reminded while you're out at lunch that a super-important meeting is beginning in 15 minutes and you better get yourself back to the office, are valuable things that contribute to productivity. Sure, the company may lose a bit in security by "opening up" their email server to personal devices, but multiple large and small companies I know have concluded that the tradeoff is worth it. Funny thing was, they didn't like iphone, and I THINK they might even have had an official policy against allowing iphones on their network, but since at least 20% of the technical staff at the company (a couple years ago) seemed to use iphones, I'm not sure it was enforced.

At my present employer, only high level managers and up have access to smartphone based email. Some other employees have company phones, but they're not net-access-capable. However, many employees seem to have Apple, HTC, Sony, etc. devices with smartphone functionality -- and many of them could benefit from being able to send "oops, I'll be a bit late, stuck in traffic" to the office, or check their email while out in the field, etc. So I'm currently playing change agent and talking up the benefits of allowing them access to company email from those devices.

Comment Re:AKA a modem (Score 1) 96

That was my first thought. Gee, someone's rediscovered digital/analog conversion... funny how in this industry things that were ubiquitous 20 years ago sometimes pop up as the next new groundbreaking thins 20 years later. (Accessing centralized systems from relatively dumb/low-powered clients, I'm thinking of you, too! ;-)

Comment Foxtel on Xbox 360 already advertised in Australia (Score 1) 121

$20 for the basic package (which is quite basic), and $15 each for additional sets of channels like sport, movies, Showtime, and "entertainment" (random channels that didn't get into the basic package ;-).

This is not perfect. For example, Fox Sports will black out AFL and NRL games that they would normally show on cable, because they don't have Internet broadcast rights for those games. But it seems to be a fair start at giving people tired of paying hundreds of dollars for hundreds of channels, when they may only watch 7 or 8 channels that just happen to be spread across a few different packages, an alternative to cable TV. Completely unbundled pricing -- subscribe on a channel by channel basis -- would be ideal, and this isn't there yet, but maybe it'll help push things in that direction.

Comment Re:None of us are innocent. (Score 3, Interesting) 305

Good post title, BrokenHalo. I'll chime in with my two. 1987, my first full time job. I was a small ISV's UNIX guru. I wanted to remove everything under /usr/someone. I cd'd to /usr/someone and typed, "rm -r *", then I realized, hey, I know that won't get everything, better add some more, and the command became, "rm -r * .*". I realized, oh, no, this'll get .. too, so I better change it to: "rm -r * .?*". It took about 12 microseconds after I hit enter to realize that ".?*" still included "..". Yes, disastrous results ensued, even though I was able to ^C to avoid most of the damage, and I had the backup tape (back in the day, we used reels) in the tape drive just as users (other devs) began to notice that /usr/lib wasn't there. Yep, I have my own memories of red-facedly telling my boss, "oops, I did this, I'm in the process of fixing it now. Give me half an hour." In the future, "rm -r /usr/someone" did the trick nicely. Early 1990's, I was consulting in the data center of a company with 8 locations around the world. It contained the company's central servers that were accessed by about 700 users. Being a consultant, they didn't have a good place to put me, so I ended up at a desk in the computer room. Behind me was a large counter-high UPS that the previous occupant had used as somewhat of a credenza, and I carried on the tradition. That is, until the day I had put my cape on there, and the cape slid down and through one of those Rube Goldberg miracles caught the UPS master shutoff handle, pulled it down, and I heard about 30 servers (thank goodness there weren't more) powering down instantaneously. Amazingly, I lived, based on the ops manager pointing out to the powers that be that it was a freak accident and that others had been sitting similar stuff in the same place for years. The cape, however, was not allowed back in the data center. Fortunately, I've had better luck and/or been more careful over the past 20 years.

Comment Re:"spatial memory" and electronic devices (Score 1) 256

The parent makes an interesting point -- that searching is done on electronic devices by text, but not all of our memory cues which aid in searching are textual. I am absolutely sure that arrangement of information on a page, the presence or absense of a particular graphic, or the color of text (or, my highlighting of it :-) were all factors in how I remembered information when I was in academia and had to study for exams. And I made a bit of pocket money selling my color-highlighted and carefully indented/organized study sheets to other students studying for the same exams, too, so I wasn't the only one who found visual presentation useful. In the case of color, that entire aspect of visual presentation is missing on some electronic readers including the Kindle, thereby giving me one less memory aid.

Comment Re:I was torn between modding this up and commenti (Score 1) 216

To me, kernel and other generally-invisible platform internals *are* the sexy parts, because they require serious geek skill, and often a combination of both software AND hardware know-how to code around hardware bugs, meet perf targets, etc. If these parts don't work, that Flash game is going to have a hell of a time impressing anyone.

Comment Picked up mine after the Seattle quake (Score 1) 368

As a no-code tech, I'm feeling a bit inadequate here, but be that as it may. My radio is with me when I'm at home and whenever I'm out doing something where it's more likely than usual that I'll be out of cell contact (think bike rides in the countryside), just in case. I started declaring I wanted a license back in the 1980's. For a long time, I held out because I wanted one of the "real" licenses that required Morse Code, and I was simply having a hard time learning it due to lack of time to obsessively devote to it until I'd "gotten it". I finally got my no-code tech 20 years later. What helped push me over the edge: I was in Seattle when we hard our earthquake. Cell phones were down for hours, and (back then) the laptop I was using to access the Internet only lasted an hour and a half without power. No one else was home when it happened. I decided that an extra bit of communication redundancy *NOW* was better than no license at all until I qualified for one of the higher classes.

Comment Re:xkydgtufhlofhil (Score 3, Informative) 111

"nobody's going to have a single-quote character in their name" (hello, SQL injection attack)

Hey, I resemble that remark! And yes, it's resulted in chuckles over the years. Microsoft, DevelopMentor, random e-commerce sites... many have fallen to the Irish. When talking to security professionals, I introduce myself as "the woman whose name is a SQL injection attack", and it seems to help them remember me.

Input Devices

Is the Line-in Jack On the Verge of Extinction? 411

SlashD0tter writes "Many older sound cards were shipped with line-out, microphone-in, and a line-in jacks. For years I've used such a line-in jack on an old Windows 2000 dinosaur desktop that I bought in 2000 (600 Mhz PIII) to capture the stereo audio signal from an old Technics receiver. I've used this arrangement to recover the audio from a slew of old vinyl LPs and even a few cassettes using some simple audio manipulating software from a small shop in Australia. I've noticed only recently, unfortunately, that all of the four laptops I've bought since then have omitted a line-in jack, forcing me to continue keeping this old desktop on life support. I've looked around for USB sound cards that include a line-in jack, but I haven't been too impressed by the selection. Is the line-in jack doomed to extinction, possibly due to lobbying from vested interests, or are there better thinking-outside-the-box alternatives available?"

Can You Fight DRM With Patience? 309

As modern DRM schemes get more annoying and invasive, the common wisdom is to vote with your wallet and avoid supporting developers and publishers who include such schemes with their games. Or, if you simply must play it, wait a while until outcry and complaints have caused the DRM restrictions to be loosened. But will any of that make game creators rethink their stance? An article at CNet argues that gamers are, in general, an impatient bunch, and that trait combined with the nature of the games industry means that progress fighting DRM will be slow or nonexistent. Quoting: "Increasingly so, the joke seems to be on the customers who end up buying this software when it first comes out. A simple look back at some controversial titles has shown us that after the initial sales come, the publisher later removes the vast majority of the DRM, leaving gamers to enjoy the software with fewer restrictions. ... Still, [waiting until later to purchase the game] isn't a good long-term solution. Early sales are often one of the big quantifiers in whether a studio will start working on a sequel, and if everyone were to wait to buy games once they hit the bargain price, publishers would simply stop making PC versions. There's also no promise that the really heavy bits of DRM will be stripped out at a later date, except for the fact that most publishers are unlikely to want to maintain the cost of running the activation, and/or online verification servers for older software."

Comment Re:It's not the white males they're hiding. (Score 4, Insightful) 554

It's the H1Bs.

I don't think that's what's going on, because the government already makes H1B statistics available. They can't be hiding something that's already out there in plain sight. If you want to know how many H1B's have been granted to your least favorite employer, you can look it up! True, the statistics are a couple years behind the current year, but the statistics are THERE.

Take a look at Microsoft's for example, and take a look at the salaries offered (for those of you who know MS salary levels). And then factor in a good portion of Wipro and other Indian contracting firms requesting H1B's for positions in Redmond, as also likely working at MS. Given how desperate MS is for staff that they'd be importing that many workers, it doesn't make sense that there'd be more than 1-2% tech unemployment in this area, but there is. Still, I don't think that's what Google and Apple don't want others finding out.

Google/Apple/others MIGHT think (for example) that they're carefully crafting their image to every country they serve, and that a country hearing google only has 7 people on staff from that particular country might feel a bit put out and find reason to, maybe, make a search deal with a competitor who offers more employment to its countrymen. This would be the kind of logic that would lead someone to claim that divulging that information would be too much of a window into strategy.

Gender, I can't explain as easily. But one look around the annual Microsoft "MVP Conference" occurring in downtown Bellevue, WA this week (near MS) tells me that if they're primarily male, they're not the only ones. So I'm not sure why it'd be an issue, except that it could be as simple as preventing someone from being successful with the argument that, "If you divulged your gender mix, why won't you divulge your racial mix?".

Comment Re:Duh (Score 3, Funny) 356

Parent wrote the $64,000 question: Why would the exact same list of services running under svchost.exe use different amounts of memory when reported by two different versions of Process Explorer?

Plausible answer: because one of the versions of Process Explorer has a bug, and the other either does not, or has a different bug.

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