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Comment It's called "sales engineering" (Score 1) 331

The solution is not to turn your consultants in to sales people, or to attempt to coerce them into becoming an extension of sales.

As others have pointed out, this is how it works everywhere in the industry.

If you are a product company, and you have a consulting staff, you don't "pollute" them by having them also overtly serve the sales organization, you use them as your "feet on the ground" to gather intel about what is going on inside the customer account and to help you figure out how to best align your (sales) goals with what the customer is doing. A good sales person does not ask the people in the field to compromise themselves as trusted advisors to the customer, but they will try to figure out what is going on in the account in order to make the best pitch to the customer.


What makes this sound like it won't be so easy for the OP is that he claims to work for an "IT consulting firm" not a product company. If you have a sales staff, like it or not, you're working a product company.


US Justice Dept. Investigates IT Hiring Practices 223

Zecheus writes "The Wall Street Journal (no paywall on this story) reports that the Justice Department is 'stepping up' an investigation of hiring practices of US technology firms, such as Google, Intel, IBM, and Apple. From the article: 'The inquiry is focused on whether companies, particularly in the technology sector, have agreed not to recruit each other's employees in ways that violate antitrust law. Specifically, the probe is looking into whether the companies' hiring practices are costing skilled computer engineers and other workers opportunities to change jobs for higher pay or better benefits.'"

Submission + - Mom busted for "stealing" son's Facebook account (

NeoBeans writes: An Arkansas teen has filed a harassment complaint against his mother for getting in to his Facebook account and posting stories on his wall and engaging in communication with him and his friends which included embarrassing stories about the teen. What makes this story interesting is not the complaint itself, but how the teen characterizes his mother's actions...

In his handwritten complaint to prosecutors, Lane New asked that his mother have no contact with him and wrote, "Denise first hacked my Facebook and changed my password. She also changed the password to my e-mail so I could not change it. She posted things that involve slander and personal facts about my life." Denise New acknowledged changing both passwords to keep her son from getting access to his Facebook page. She denied hacking into the account.

However, it appears no real "hacking" was involved...

"He left it logged in on my computer," she said. "It's not like I stole his laptop."

Is this a case of a careless user getting what they deserve because they remained logged in on a machine others had access to, or is this a case of harassment?

Comment Re:Amazing (Score 1) 134

WindBourne said,
"As such we NEED multiple architectures ... "

      I agree with you. Yet it takes a look at history to see how we got here.

"The above will prevent Congress from doing what it is doing AND will prevent an accident in a rocket from shutting down the entire space program."

Your point here escapes me. Congress controls spending; that's in the Constitution. How could we prevent Congress from doing anything? Recently, Bush's space policy (go back to the Moon, etc) was a good one. However, Congress did not fund it. While I see you faulting "neo-cons", the truth is that the bean counters at OMB (Office of Management & Budget) have control. When the Republicans were in office, no funding. Now the Democrats are in office. No funding.

Obama has had a year to express interest in the space program, or even allocate keep-the-workforce-alive funding.

You wrote, "Nixon killed Skylab because he did not fund NASA properly for building the Shuttle after shutting down Apollo in 1970."

        I came across a detailed and well written history of the Space Shuttle. It's a detailed history of the winding down of Apollo, the effort to fund a Mars mission, a space station, and many different incarnations of the Shuttle. The OMB constantly shows up in these decisions. I highly recommend this history.

  You can find it at:

As an example, here is a quote from that history concerning Nixon's decision to approve the Shuttle:

"Why, finally, did Nixon decide to build the Shuttle? One must not underestimate the tendency of the federal government to look after its own; few major Washington programs reach an end, to vanish into the night. Nixon had no wish to shut down piloted space flight; he wanted to keep it alive. He also was concerned over aerospace employment. Yet he could have addressed such issues with nothing more than Big Gemini riding atop a Titan III-M, to fly occasionally and show the flag.

The key to the Shuttle was its well-founded prospect of low cost and routine operation. This promise did not rest on the cost-benefit studies of Mathematica, which the Flax Committee largely refuted and the OMB rejected out of hand. Rather, it rested on technical developments: automated onboard checkout, reusable thermal protection, rocket engines with long life. No OMB internal memo or White House report ever denied this promise; only experience would do that, years later. The Shuttle thus could find its way to approval, within a nation and government that remained willing to embrace the new."


David Small

Comment Re: So what? Okay, here's "what". (Score 1) 496

... The discussion is wobbling around Microsoft's coders and tools and why machine code isn't necessary anymore ...

      And here we were just discussing yet-another-chip-bug in an Intel chip which affects, as they say, 'three guesses and two don't count', yes, a Microsoft product. (Remember? Something about timer interrupts which can get stepped on by other timers, hanging the system. It's a known bug. In fact, there's 69 pages of known bugs in the i7 chip "errata" sheet.)

          I would (gently) ask this: Which programmer is more likely to make the mistake of relying on this timer:

Programmer A, who learned C++ in college and is wizard at high level abstraction, or,

Programmer B, who has gone down to the bare metal and programmed chips?

Who is more likely to actually read the errata sheet that says, 'Don't use this frickin' timer'?

          My answer is that people who have read chip datasheets (and errata sheets!) before are far more likely to read them again before trying to use that (broken) timer on the i7 chip.

          Something else which really troubles me is how hard this bug may have been to find. Windows crashed? And the processor hung, not "leaving any tracks" in memory? I will just mention that this has happened to me a time or two (*cough, cough*). Just realizing it was a seperate and new bug was probably awful.

          Now imagine you're the poor slob at Redmond who has to fix this! You're told: "Windows Server crashes. Fix it." What are you gonna do? If you don't have an in-circuit emulator that can "watch" the crash, you are in for some real debugging hell. I've been there.

          Someone had to fix this problem and make a "hot patch". What language do you think they used, APL?

          Someone still has to read the datasheets that chip manufacturers put out, in particular the North/Southbridge chipsets. The Linux people are getting really good at it.

          People overclock RAM. They have to understand enough about SDRAM to do that. That's machine level clock-cycle stuff. They also overclock CPU's and use amazing cooling systems (anyone for liquid nitrogen?).

          Back When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth and I was in college, I was told that assembly was on its way out and a High Level Language, PASCAL, was going to be the standard. This was 1976-1980.

          It's been awhile since I've even seen a PASCAL compiler, but the Visual C debugger shows me RAM, disassembly of opcodes, and all the Intel registers step-by-step ... and man, does it ever help to know what the hell each assembly instruction does.

          There's a time and place for high level abstraction. And there's a time and place for talking to the chips. I suspect that people's opinions about this are something like the C "brace wars" (the "proper" placement of "{}".)

          Enjoy --

          Dave Small

Comment Re:Isn't it really a bug in Windows Server? (Score 1) 154

      Tom, you might want to look over the
"Intel (r) Core (tm) i7-900 Desktop Processor Extreme Edition Series and Intel (r) Core (tm) i7-900 Desktop Processor Series".

      It has around 69 pages of ... well, I'll let Microsoft say it ... the processors "may contain design defects or errors known as errata..."

      It's dated November 2009.

      Here's a URL:

          Thanks, Dave

Comment Re:and NASA (Score 1) 165

Rather than "hate" or "like" NASA, there's a very well written history of how Apollo was compromised (Apollo 18-20 were cancelled), and how the Shuttle ended up with solid rocket boosters, at: .

It boils down to: This was what NASA could do with the money given them by the OMB (Office of Management and Budget).

I found this process to be quite interesting.

From a historical point of view, history seems to be repeating itself. Another "outside" committee has looked into NASA's plans and other options. The committee has priced the options for lowest possible, plod along, and even (remarkably) do something worthwhile.

I assume "lowest possible" will be picked.

I recommend the above hyperlink to anyone.



Comment Re:Did someone say "programmable platforms"? (Score 1) 580

...quote from parent

"However, in these modern times with object-oriented multithreaded programming, BASIC is kind of a throwback, don't you think?"...

          I would say that different computer languages tend to have different strengths. People are different and they naturally gravitate to different languages, over the dead bodies of their teachers, but it remains true. Knowing several computer languages never hurt anyone. And I'll happily mention that BASIC really does have some strengths. No, I don't think Linux should be written in BASIC. But --

          I've found over time, that for me, BASIC can be really quite useful for whomping up little things, utilities that I need "Right Now, Just This Second". The syntax is friendly and easygoing, and it doesn't throw "avalanche fits". And if I mess up a line and something is wrong, figuring out what's wrong is not an exercise in puzzle solving, (not that I'm referring to "Macho C Coding" or anything [dark muttering] ).

          Basic's fast enough for a lot of things. And I should mention that XBASIC, over at Sourceforge, has an astonishing, superb compiler that makes very, very fast 80x86 code indeed. If you'd like a pleasant surprise, give it a try.

        I would say there's a place for BASIC. Don't underestimate the people how many people really like it. Possibly we should be dragging them, kicking, screaming, their fingernails digging into the wood, into C++ classes.

        But possibly BASIC is all they have time to learn, and all they really -want- to learn, about computers. They may be heathens, but they are also programmers.

        These are just my thoughts. Feel free to disagree with me; I welcome thoughts. I clearly learn the most from people who disagree with me!


        David Small
davetracer at-sign aol DOT com


Comment Re:Typeset but not printed (Score 1) 271

I've had technical books published by various publishing houses.

What troubles me these days is seeing other author's books being scanned in and put up for download as PDF's up on the Net.

I have no problem with open-source programming if the programmer wants to.

      But I think most programmers would be rather annoyed to find their source code published to the Net without their permission, and without any attempt to get their permission.

Authors feel the same way. Writing a book is generally a hell of a lot of work.

    -- thanks,

      Dave Small


Submission + - Pakistan Uses Google Earth For Military Targeting 1

NeoBeans writes: According to this article in the New York Times about the recent "improvements" in military strikes by the Pakistani military included dropping Google Earth as part of their target planning.

...the air force has shifted from using Google Earth to more sophisticated images from spy planes and other surveillance aircraft, and has increased its use of laser-guided bombs.

And no, you can't really find Osama Bin Laden using Google Maps either.

Comment A lot of zeros (Score 2, Insightful) 575

To me this seems a pretty easy answer once you look at the raw numbers. shows that when one atom of U-235, once fissioned, releases 202.5 MeV of heat. That's 202,500,000 electron volts, a.k.a., one huge amount of energy.

An atom of carbon when burned (C + 2 Ox->COx2) releases a few electron volts of energy and gives us carbon dioxide, which is said to be a "greenhouse gas". (I'm not debating that point).

Let's just do it with money, okay?

Hold an atom of carbon in one hand. Hold an atom of uranium in the other hand. The carbon's worth a few dollars. The uranium's worth Two Hundred Million Dollars. Which one do you pick? If you pick uranium, you just hit the Lotto Jackpot!

Bear in mind that you have to get enough of either to meet the energy needs of the country, and it's very hard to get enough coal, and much easier, by a factor of two hundred million, to get uranium.

      Jimmy Carter made the unfortunate decision (funny how those words appear next to his name) not to include used fuel rods in reprocessing. There's a lot of energy there awaiting.

I think what we ought to do as a country is swallow some pride, go to France, which gets about 80% of its energy from nuclear, and say, "Obviously you have a well debugged design. Help! Show us how to do it!" The French do it right. You know how useful debugged code is.


        Dave Small

Comment Re:The IP is a lot like a license plate (Score 1) 436

If all they have is a picture of your
license plate, that doesn't prove you were
driving. We should use this ruling as precedent
to get out of automated tickets when there is
no clear picture of your face.

In places where photo enforcement is used, the laws are generally adjusted to implicate the person who registers the vehicle, and the license plate does tie directly to the vehicle registration. Your crime is not "running a red light", it is "allowing your vehicle to be used by some unknown person to run a red light". If your car was stolen, you can defend yourself using the police report to that effect. Otherwise you are SOL.

Comment Re:bogus rationalizations (Score 1) 199

This is terribly sad.

This is the end of Manned Space Flight for the United States.

If you, or your children, want to see the launch of a manned American bird, you'd better do it immediately, in the remainder of 2009 or 2010. You have nine Shuttle launches left.

NASA has been promised funding sufficient for nine more Shuttle missions to finish the ISS, and that is all. (2009 & 2010). This is essentially funding for the coffin and headstone.

One year from now, we will be back to 1957. The Russians will still have their heavy-lift rockets and Soyuz capsules, and we won't have anything. We'll have to beg/buy rides from Russia to get to the ISS. Should the Russians decide they're not in the mood, they can easily say: "And what are you going to do about it?".

The Russians do not have a good "Partners in Space" history. Remember when the ISS was very nearly lost to [Russian] computer problems, the Russians were swift to blame the Americans for "bad power". When the Soyuz's explosive bolts failed, the Russians blamed the ISS for mysterious "plasma discharges" that, somehow (don't ask me how) damaged explosive bolts.

Now NASA is trying to build its "Ares-1" rocket. Two stages. Its lower stage is a Shuttle SRB (Solid Rocket Booster) with an extra solid segment, which means higher pressures, more joints, and this time the vibration is directly transmitted to the backs of the crew.

(I wish someone would tell me why we're not just using the Saturn V main booster technology for the first stage. It has the advantage of being repeatedly tested and it works. Is it just too easy or something?)

It's revealing to see what former NASA officials say when they are not muzzled anymore:

        Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin said in a recent speech the projected funding shortfalls threaten America's leadership in manned space flight.

        "In a democracy, the proper purpose of the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) is not to find a way to create a Potemkin Village at NASA. It is not to create the appearance of having a real space program without having to pay for it. It is not to specify to NASA how much money shall be allocated for human lunar return by 2020. The proper purpose of the OMB is to work with NASA, as a partner in good government, to craft carefully vetted estimates of what is required to achieve national policy goals. The judgment as to whether the stated goals are too costly, or not, is one to be made by the nation's elected leadership, not career civil service staff.

        No one can wrest leadership in space from the United States. We're that good. But we can certainly cede it, and that is the path we are on."

Something like the Ares-1 design has happened before; see the history of the Space Shuttle:

You will find that what Congress/OMB and Obama are doing ia just about precisely what Congress/BoB and Nixon did.

Funding was cut right through the fat, muscle, and into the bone, and the only way NASA could figure out to launch anything was using solid rocket boosters (SRB's), which add significant vibration and which cannot be throttled, or switched off and reignited. Many engineers left NASA when the decision to use SRB's came down.

A stunning quote from one Douglas Cookie, 'Associate Administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA HQ', is:

      [Cooke] said the biggest single reason he has favored Ares 1 over competing designs is _crew safety_.

      "That's in part due to the Ares 1 first stage, an extended five-segment shuttle booster. Two four-segment boosters are used for every shuttle flight and in 125 missions to date - 250 booster flights - only one booster has ever failed, the one that doomed Challenger.

        "I personally believe the risk is lower for the crew on this vehicle and that to me is the bigger of the discriminators," Cooke said.

          I have news for Mr. Cooke. Many SRB's showed blow-by through the O-rings. Some came within a few seconds of a loss of vehicle. This showed something was very wrong, but NASA began to literally "normal-ize" it; since nothing awful happened, blow-by began to be considered "normal", or at least, "tolerable". The Morton Thiokol engineers were worried sick about it. NASA got "Go Fever" with the Challenger launch and there was enough blow-by to damage the vehicle, and good-bye. And, actually, the two SRB's survived the loss of the Challenger and had to be destroyed by the range safety officer, so he's wrong twice.

      NASA also continued to see damage to the heat shield tiles, and again, "normal-ized" it, until a hit on the leading edge of a wing killed Columbia. NASA engineers were concerned about possible damage and asked for photographs to be taken, possibly from DoD sources, but NASA management ... could that have been Mr. Cooke? ... turned them down.

          Finally, now it's coming out that the Ares SRB has big vibration problems. Quote, "NASA admitted that this problem is very severe, rating it four out of five on a risk scale". I wonder if Mr. Cooke was aware of this when he said that "crew safety" was his primary concern.

          I think Mr. Cooke ought to be put onboard one of the early Ares test flights, with all sorts of sensors wired up to him, to see the effect on humans of severe vibration. (There is no need for brain wave sensors, as there are none present.)

          I was born in 1958, as was NASA. I remember that "Star Trek" was on TV when we were launching Gemini and beginning to test Apollo.

          Stripping NASA of $3 billion so that it can be given to political groups, for example, to jigger the 2010 Census, is in several ways a terrible waste of needed money. This is short sightedness at its worst.


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