Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:It's nobody's fault and everybody's fault. (Score 1) 1032

Well said! A bit of a long read, but you summarize the feedback loop scenario perfectly. When you look at what is actually needed to gain an education vs. what is currently built into colleges it's a glaring divide. Most of what you actually need for an education can be listed as: a teacher, books, a classroom, and a computer. None of which should add up to 40k/year.

Comment My opinion (Score 1) 510

On the potential sex crime front. You need to consider two things, the potential misconduct happened a long time ago. That makes gathering evidence hard and when it comes to criminal courts an accusation is not enough to charge anyone. You need solid evidence. No prosecutor is going to file charges without believing they have at least some chance of winning in court. At least no sane prosecutor.

There may also be a statute of limitations at play. I have no idea what that length of time may be. But, many crimes cannot be prosecuted after enough time has gone by.

Just because you haven't seen charges yet doesn't mean that you won't at some point. It could take time to build a case.

Also, different crimes are tried in different courts and have potentially different prosecutors. Financial crimes that involve banks I think almost always go directly to federal courts. Sexual misconduct/molestation would likely be a county or state court unless inter-state travel or use of a national park or federal lands were involved in which case it would elevate to a federal crime.

Take what I say with a grain of salt. I learned most of my legalese from the internet...

Comment Be honest (Score 1) 583

We're all going to screw up at some point. If you are honest and forthright about your mistakes it tends to go over a lot better than when you try to hide them and it comes out later. I'm not saying you have to shout to everyone everything you've done wrong. But, if you hit the wrong button and cause lost productivity or take down a system you can aide in getting things put to rights a lot more by being honest than by trying to cover your tracks. And, you'll gain trust when you're honest about such things.

I've seen people who try to hide their mistakes, they tend to not last long around here once their behavior becomes known.

Also, if you don't understand something just say so and ask for clarification/help. The worst thing you can do on a project is say "yes" and walk away scared and not sure you know how to do it. Ultimately someone will be depending on your work, and when you don't deliver it can impact not just you but your coworkers. If you don't understand how to fill out a document, file a request, write a piece of code, etc... say so! Ask for guidance or an example. I assume when I delegate work that you know what to do, and I also assume that if you don't know you'll ask me for help.

Comment Re:Managers (Score 2) 583

Never threaten to leave to get something. All you do is sow distrust, and once you've lost trust you're in a bad situation. The best thing to do is be clear and politic in your discussion with your manager and explain to them why you are upset and what you believe should be done to rectify the situation. Let them infer that you might leave if they don't remedy the situation. If they are smart and value you, they will do what they can to rectify the matter. If they are not smart, or do not value you then nothing will change and you know where you stand. Which is to say that you can stay and show that they can run roughshod over you, or you can leave and explain politely as you leave why you left. The people who threaten may make short term gains, but ultimately they will find themselves painted into a corner. You can only threaten to leave so many times before they will simply say "fine, leave." Because in the meantime they will have positioned themselves to be able to get along fine without you despite what you think.

Comment Re:Girls, girls, girls... (Score 1) 333

That may happen too, but my dad experienced first hand bullying from at least some of the women in the nursing department. Not sure the exact reason for it, but it was primarily from the older nurses in "Charge" positions. He was the only full time male nurse in the hospital, the others were either CNA's or floaters who worked part-time. But, there were at least two older nurses who constantly bullied my dad around and made his life hell. My mom, who was also a nurse at the same hospital, actually came home in tears sometimes from what the bullies were putting my dad through. Dad being a marine (won't say former, once a marine always a marine) hid it most of the time.

Comment Reports should only exist to solve problems (Score 1) 179

Reports should only exist to solve problems. And, when the problems go away so should the reports.

Why are reports typically created? Usually in my experience it's because you need to get a handle on the performance of something. Or you have identified a problem that you need so solve.

If you want to get a handle on the performance of something then you should run the report as long as it takes to get a handle on it. If it's not a problem, then stop the reporting.

If you have identified a problem, then by all means create a report to measure the problem and set a criteria for what you would consider to be "bad" and "good". Once you get the problem in hand and move your measure from bad to good and can keep it at good the problem will likely be gone. At which point your report is really doing no good anymore. If you're concerned about the problem coming up again set up some sort of threshold alert to warn you and stash that report away in your archives.

If a report outlives the problem it was intended to help solve institutional momentum will keep that report going forever. No one will remember why metric X was generated or why it was considered "bad" back in 2007 when that value got too high. The underlying technology or processes may have changed completely in the meantime and metric X may be meaningless, but someone who is ill informed will keep looking at it and trying to drive meaningless work off of it. The healthiest thing a company can do is to define a lifetime for their reports and re-evaluate whether those reports should continue at the end of the lifetime. If you do determine it should keep continuing define a new lifetime and re-evaluate it at the end of that lifetime again.

Comment Re:Sanity check (Score 2) 197

I personally account for:
- One person cell phone
- One work issued cell phone
- One medical device that has a cellular connection to a service provider
- One security system that has a mobile module in it
- Two kindles, one 2nd generation, and one DX both of which connect via cellular

So right there I account for six "subscriptions."

Comment No thank you (Score 1) 765

You can keep your "smart firearms" to yourself. People who argue that "smart" firearms will keep them out of the hands of criminals obviously have never dismantled a firearm before. The main elements that make a firearm are the barrel, the chamber, and the firing pin. You load a shell into the chamber, the firing pin strikes the shell igniting the primer and powder, and the bullet is expelled from the shell into the barrel and outward.

Safeties on firearms typically disable the ability to pull the trigger or to allow the mechanism to engage the firing pin. All a "smart firearm" can do is to build some complex mechanism that acts as one of these safeties. If I were to open up a firearm for maintenance I could easily remove the "smart" portion of the firearm and replace it with some normal "dumb" components. Which thanks to 3D printing and relatively cheap machining equipment could be produced at home. Criminals will still steal weapons, they will pay someone some money to disable the smart portion, and they will continue on their way.
Here are some other problems I see with a "smart firearm."
- Batteries, ok, now I need to change the batteries in my firearms before I can use them
- Fingerprint scanners are useless in states that have cold weather, ever hear of gloves?
- Fingerprint scanners are also useless in most cases if your hands are too dry from things like woodworking, or a number of other hands on trades
- RF Bracelets? Umm... ever hear of RF jammers? If I'm a criminal and I want to rob people all I have to do is get an RF jammer that works on the approved frequencies and I suddenly render all firearms (except my own hacked one) useless. (If you want to point out that such jammers would be illegal I'll point you back to the fact that criminals don't follow the law.) And, I guarantee you the police will demand they can jam the frequency so the tech will be out there and it won't stay in police hands.

Comment Re:We aren't all born with it (Score 1) 247

You nailed it spot on. There were always a few students back in college who "got it." But, the vast majority of the students I helped in the lab struggled with the concepts. I even knew a fair number of students who had tinkered with computers for years before showing up in my labs and they were still clueless once we hit anything that took abstract thinking, which was pretty much the first class. I know I was one of those annoying people who seemed to get it right away, but part of that was simply because I was a TA and the constant reiteration of concepts as I was helping students constantly pounded home the concepts for me. However even that background didn't prepare me for working in the real world, I had to learn and even re-learn a lot of concepts once I started working professionally. Which might surprise some of my lab partners from college.

There's nothing in her experience that I would call as truly being unique to her. She's just voicing self doubt and complaining about how hard it was to find her way into a specific field. Everyone feels self doubt at some point. But, she attributes that self doubt and inability to find opportunities to her gender.

Very few people I know in IT started out saying I want to be X and then found a college program to study that, and then immediately found a job doing that. Most people's careers are simply defined by the opportunities they are lucky enough to find when they are looking for a position. If you graduated with a CS degree but could only find DBA positions, you probably became a DBA. If all you could find was support, you're probably still working in support. If you found a position that involved coding, there's a good possibility that you're still doing coding. The folks that I know who work in security usually stumbled into the field because they were working on something security related for a project and made the right contacts to follow through.

Comment Would you... (Score 1) 249

Would you put someone in charge of finance who didn't have a background in finance or accounting?
Would you put someone in charge of a legal department who was not a lawyer?

I'm guessing the answer in both cases would be no. These are specialist areas that require specialized knowledge to ensure that the organizations are working correctly and effectively. Information Technology is also a specialist area and should really be treated in the same mode as a finance or legal department. Leadership within a specialist department should be representative of the core competency of that department. We certainly need people to help manage the money and people, and there are many other roles within a large IT organization that don't need to be technical. But, when it comes to making good decisions about technology you really need people with a technical background.

Comment Integrity Hotline (Score 4, Interesting) 310

If you're working for a Fortune 500 company there likely will be some form of internal integrity hotline. I know my own corporation has one. Document your concerns and contact them. I recently had to report a concern raised about one of the major offshore contractors we use to our integrity hotline and it was actually a very good experience from my side. After submitting the issue it took a few days but an investigator from our legal department contacted me and we had a phone conversation, and then I forwarded him some additional details I had held back from the initial correspondence. I did that mostly to protect an individual from the contractor who brought the concerns to my attention.

I would make sure that the correspondence you send to your legal department includes copies of some of the email chains you have with your managers, peers, etc... raising the concerns. Be sure to specify any regulations you suspect are being violated. If the legal team determines there is concern you can bet that change will happen. If they determine otherwise, then you've done your due diligence and reported it within the means your company gives for you to report it.

Comment VB6 (Score 1) 254

Pretty sure these were features of VB6. I remember hacking out code, using the immediate window to trace values, setting break points, stepping through the code, modifying in the middle of execution, and then resuming execution. The language itself may have had a lot of issues and performance issues, but the IDE and development environment had some very nice features.

Comment Re:Some Rambling Commentary (Score 3, Insightful) 489

We are definitely enriched by the arts. However there is a surplus of people going into these areas and a deficit of jobs. I see this quite frequently since one of my hobbies is working with community theatre groups. I see a lot of folks who got theatre, music, or other arts related majors in college (quite frequently at private colleges...) and then complain that they can't find a job. Note, I live in the Minneapolis area and we have a very large theatre community here, even with all the professional theatres we have here we cannot support the numbers of people who graduate every year looking to make theatre their career.

I would argue that most of these individuals would've been better off having obtained a major in some other field and done theatre as a minor or second major. Personally I majored in computer science. I have a stable profitable career, and I'm still able to partake in the arts and contribute to the arts.

The same can also be said for elementary education majors here in MN. We probably have per capita one of the highest rates of people with elementary education degrees. To the point where most of them are not working in education. Probably only half of the people I know who went to college for elementary education are actually working in that field. Did they learn something valuable? Sure. Could they have potentially learned something else and had an easier time getting a career in another field? Definitely.

I think the original commenter was simply trying to point out this fact. We do a very poor job of guiding teenagers moving from high school to either the real world or college. And, there are some fields which are simply over-saturated and it'll be hard to get a job in.

Comment It's ok on occasion (Score 1) 455

I have to say I have severely mixed feelings on working from home. It's definitely nice on occasion, but as I see more and more of my coworkers working remotely and we're forced to use more workers in India it creates an environment where the entire feeling of teamwork is breaking down. Plus as an engineer I feel my single best tool for communicating many technical issues and designs is a marker board. Which cannot be used remotely. Even the engineers I have "locally" tend to be very green and need a lot of guidance, trying to lead them remotely just gives me a headache and things take far longer than they should.

Slashdot Top Deals

Every little picofarad has a nanohenry all its own. -- Don Vonada