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Comment Re:Wow (Score 1) 45

What about those who pay for Netflix but aren't getting content in a timely manner (most series), see content disappear after a year (there's been a terrible purge here recently), or aren't getting the content at all? The availability and selection in certain smaller countries is kind of rubbish compared to what one gets in the US or the UK. So yes, in some cases even Netflix subscribers have to resort to Bittorrent. Maybe this is due to outdated license models, where one can buy the rights to show something in country X for a period of Y months or some such, instead of a license granting the right to show it everywhere for a certain amount per view. In the meantime I sure hope my country will at some point revive its old policy on piracy: "If content isn't available legally, then we don't prosecute people who pirate it". If you don't sell your content here, you should have no recourse against pirates; remember that copyright is not a natural right but something cooked up to encourage production and distribution of cultural works, by granting artists a temporary monopoly that enables them to make some money off their creation. I will pay for content, but if you will not take my money I have zero moral objections to availing myself of your works by other means.

Comment Re:Filters (Score 1) 149

I agree. I love the convenience of being able to buy book whereever I am, but the online bookstores are rather rubbish (it's not just Kindle, Kobo suffers from similar issues) and the tools to manage your library are terrible. There's a hell of a lot of room for improvement in the UX alone.

But the idea of e-readers itself is great... I use one with e-ink, the book reading part works great, and the screen is comfortable in any light. And it offers no distractions the way a tablet or laptop does, so I don't count using an e-reader as "screen time"

Comment Re:Trains (Score 1) 160

Trains are fine if you happen to be near one that is going to where you want to go. Otherwise taking the train adds a lot of travel time, even in areas with a dense network of them. And sometimes they are overcrowded and/or inhabited with inconsiderate asshats.

This tunnel idea is cute and the lifts are a nice solution to the problem of on/off ramps that require a huge footprint. The lifts don't allow a large volume of traffic though, even if they only take a few seconds to cycle (all existing car lifts I have seen are slooooow). And in an urban environment you're going to have to dig deep.

Comment Re: You were hired to work for THEM (Score 2) 387

That's a sensible policy that reflects mutual trust and respect. And it can work in larger organisations too, where I have worked as a contractor billing by the hour. I interviewed for what were essentially full time positions at large corporations, where I disclosed that every now and then I might have to do a bit of work for a couple of previous clients. They were ok with that, as long as they were notified up front when this happened, with the understanding that it wouldn't interfere with my work and that they would come first, and that of course I would bill the right hours. In one of those companies there were a few employees working under a similar arrangement, HR had no problem with that as long as they were aware, and let the line manager handle the day to day stuff.

Comment Re:All I ever needed. (Score 1) 86

Maybe not a useful book on starting a business, but this certainly was one of the most often used books in my collection. Still got a well-worn copy with my dad's annotations in it, sitting on a shelf somewhere. Ah, the days when my electronics projects weren't Arduino + some stuff and software, but all hardware: just a bunch of gates and some special purpose chips. Thanks for bringing up some good memories.

Comment Re:Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure (Score 1) 86

Collections of cautionary tales like that one make excellent books on starting a business. Knowing what not to do is probably the best thing you are going to glean from any book on startups. Don't read stuff like "7 Habits of highly effective people", instead read "10 Amazing ways we continue to f*ck up our careers" (I made that one up).

And speaking of books that focus on successful persons: don't bother. Apple wasn't successful because Steve decided to only wear black turtlenecks. Oracle didn't become the powerhouse it is today because Larry got up at arse o' clock every day and ran 14 furlongs before breakfast. And you're not going to replicate their success by emulating them. Some self-help books can help you become more effective as a person, especially in terms of better managing your time, but they are not going to help super-charge your startup.

There are a few other useful books focusing on success rather than failure, like some already mentioned in this thread. Another one is "Crossing the chasm"; this deals mostly with marketing but has some useful examples in it. By all means read all that stuff, but don't expect it to greatly improve business or even your odds, and certainly don't expect a roadmap towards starting your own business. Look for tips, inspiration, little nuggets of wisdom, useful lessons learned. And that's my advice for reading any book on business, management, or self-improvement.

Comment Re:COBOL isn't hard to learn (Score 5, Interesting) 372

Indeed. If there is a market for COBOL programmers (and it's clear there is), then the obvious solution is for unis and colleges to spit out more COBOL-literate CS graduates. Honestly, if I was ten years younger, I'd probably delve into it myself. It is, after all, just a programming language, and hardly on the same level of trying to learn Sanskrit.

As long as you have a real fall-back so your career doesn't dead end. What can easily happen is that you do X then more of X because it's the only place you get a salary/career development until you've done X so long nobody will really hire you for anything else. I see this with for example some SAP consultants, essentially SAP customers want to hire you for your SAP experience and the rest of the world doesn't care that you have a general IT degree 5 or 10 years ago because your experience is all SAP-specific and they don't run SAP.

Now they're probably safe since that ERP is burrowed so deep into many companies they'll never get out, but for something like COBOL you could end up doing it for some years and then the legacy system is shut down and nobody wants to give you anything but a junior non-COBOL position. That is if they'll even hire you or if they'd rather have a recent college graduate. Or you might have to relocate to find one of those increasingly rare positions that actually value your COBOL experience, which of course only makes it harder at the next crossroads.

If you write cell phone apps as a hobby and can show them a portfolio or something, maybe you'll get away with it. No, you're not a dinosaur who only knows an outdated language and best practices from 50 years ago. Or some other way to be able to transition away from that COBOL career more smoothly. Some of my older colleagues noted that the parking inspector at work used to be COBOL programmer some 20 years ago, they updated their skillset and apparently he didn't.

Comment Re:So what's the issue? (Score 3, Interesting) 214

How about someone in the bank just puts here age in like 10 years younger than she is, what's the big deal if their system thinks he is 106 instead of 116?

Well, the bank is usually allowed to issue IDs that many people who don't have a driver's license and don't want to carry their passport use. Intentionally falsifying records like that is not something I'd do without explicit approval from my boss in writing, because a note is unlikely to prevent such false documents from being issued. And that would probably escalate all the way to legal, who might have to check whatever agreements they have with the government, who will then probably say no. It's just not worth my own skin to be customer friendly.

Comment Re:Yes, inherently unpredictable, needs percentage (Score 1) 222

That's a good method; unlike simply overestimating the task, it allows you to build in some contingency while still start out with a planning that follows the most optimistic path. Hope for the best and plan for the best. Because another truism of software development is that any overestimated task will stretch to fill the allotted time.

Comment Re:Yes, inherently unpredictable, needs percentage (Score 1) 222

*and* some panicky manager started having $deity damned _daily_ meetings about it.

This is my favorite bit when something very unexpected happens and managers make us twice as late by creating a ton of overhead about when/how/why/re-estimating/re-planning and plain old nagging to get it fixed. If what you care about is getting it actually done, let me work. If you need an alternative other than not delivering I can help you find that, but other than that you're not helping. You're slowing us down. This is particular frustrating when you're not 100% assigned to a project, yeah I'm supposed to spend 30% of my time on this... you spent 10% of your time, maybe that made sense to you. But you just spent 33% of your development time on BS, was that worth it? That way we have the same meeting in a few days on how nothing is happening.

Comment Re:Unrealistic for you, maybe (Score 1) 546

Insurance is for accidents, not routine maintenance. Its that way for your car, it should be that way for you too.

Well that would be nice if we could simply swap parts and be back in factory condition. The reality of it is that many of us have or will get problems that sneak up on us like back problems, heart problems, eye problems, bad shoulder, bad hip, cancers and such that come gradually or relapse or are semi-chronic that you can't just trivially cure but do a lot of medication and preventative measures but ultimately you don't really control and the insurance company knows long in advance that you're a hot potato that probably will require expensive treatment in the future. Catastrophic insurance works great for a major trauma like a car crash. It works much less well when they more you'll depend on your insurance in the future, the more the insurance company will want to get rid of you.

Comment Re:Asset forfeiture? (Score 2) 82

Of course, this is the same country that allows asset forfeiture. I'm sure your wallet is guilty of some crime or other...

It doesn't have to be, here's how it goes:

It looks like you're carrying lots of money. Drug dealers carry lots of money. Hence I will confiscate this money as possible drug profits. If you can show a paper trail in court, you can have it back some day. If you can't, tough. If you need the money right now, tough. Oh and there's no presumption of innocence and no free legal aid since it's a civil matter, if you lose as you very well might you'll also lose a ton on lawyer and court costs.

One joint was sufficient to confiscate a sailboat. A cheating husband's wife lost their jointly owned car because he was illegally using it to have sex with prostitutes. People's homes have been confiscated because their kids or tenants have been selling drugs out of their room. Rental companies have lost their property because the people who rented it used it for smuggling, even though the company wasn't even a suspect. Basically you can get robbed without any fourth amendment protection, it's insane.

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