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Comment Re:Single Point of Failure (Score 1) 123

We had that exact discussion actually, and the crux of the matter was, "what's easier to find: someone who knows C# and SQL or someone who knows the internals of your off-the-shelf ERP system?" The fact is, even if you can find the latter, you probably can't afford them. Plus, the more reasonably priced your off-the-shelf system is, the more likely it is to die an untimely death (or have the parent company bought out) and force you into an expensive upgrade anyway. There are no perfect decisions here, but mostly what scares managers is this: if I use SAP and it fails it's not my fault, but if I decide to do a custom ERP system (in C#, Java, whatever) then if it fails it's definitely *my* fault, even if the custom solution is better for the company overall. There's an old saying, "nobody ever got fired for spec'ing IBM."

Comment Re:Simple answer. Dont use SAP. (Score 1) 123

Not quite right... it's that businesses keep changing their mind about how to do things, and those changes are actually often for good reasons. Often they discover there's a flaw in the way they're doing it, and maybe even a flaw in the way the whole industry is doing it, and they need to change. Our system allows the flexibility of change, which means the flexibility to improve. An off-the-shelf system discourages change, which also discourages improvement.

Comment "Sexism is a ... problem in Silicon Valley" (Score 1) 906

At first we kept hearing that sexism is a major problem in "STEM" and many of us were like, "what"? I mean sure, we're seeing skewed employment numbers, so we start to talk about things like what motivates people to get into STEM, and we point out that there weren't that many females enrolling in STEM programs at universities, and so on, but at least we seemed to be having a good discussion around this, focused on what would motivate young women to actually consider STEM careers. But then we kept hearing, "no, you don't get it, if a woman goes to a computer security conference she's getting groped every night, and all these startups with young guys working in them are harassing women who work there day-in and day-out." Like... "what"?

Those of us living outside of Silicon Valley just seemed to wonder what the heck was going on. We keep hearing this refrain about sexism in tech, and how blatant this harassment is, and honestly it's hard to believe in something you don't see. Many people like me in STEM fields just work at regular companies that make widgets or whatever, and we work in offices with other professionals, and this kind of stuff isn't tolerated. To be fair, there is still harassment going on, but it's going to be at the same level as the whole populace. It's not like a group of 3 IT guys in a small company are going to be ordering hookers on the company credit card or something.

So I'm glad this article says "Sexism is a well-documented problem in Silicon Valley" instead of saying it's well documented in STEM or Tech, because honestly it's not helping to get women into STEM careers *out here in the rest of the world* when you make it sound like they'd be crazy to go into these fields.

Comment Re:Simple answer. Dont use SAP. (Score 4, Insightful) 123

All ERP systems (like SAP) are sold the same way: people in suits who don't know much about the internal workings of the actual software sit in boardrooms with executives and show them powerpoint slides of the reports that their ERP system will provide them, and none of the executives worry about the fact that (a) the software is expensive to install and even more expensive to customize - with consultants bringing in up to $200 per hour sometimes, (b) you have to adapt your business processes to the ERP system, not the other way around, unless you want to spend even more $$$, (c) any customization you do make has a good chance of being broken when you upgrade to the new version, (d) the extra data entry work that has to be done to actually get real data into the system to generate those reports probably costs more than any savings you'll realize as a result of having all that data.

I maintain an in-house ERP system written in C# running on SQL server for a small business of about 150 employees, but we're growing fast. I only spend about half my time on the development and tweaking of this system, so the only thing it costs is two VMs and half my salary. (Note that this is separate from the accounting system). There's absolutely zero licensing costs. The software is tailored to the way we do business, not the other way around. It collects data directly from the diverse manufacturing machines on the plant floor through interfaces that I can write, control, and maintain, and it does this without any manual data entry on the part of the users. Its unit test coverage is over 90%, so we can push out changes and updates without fear of breaking existing features, and I can respond to new feature requests sometimes within hours or even minutes. It tracks employee time, project management, design, purchasing, production, inventory, shipping, maintenance and costing all in a single integrated place.

Companies buy off-the-shelf ERP systems so they don't have to manage people like me, but they really end up paying through the nose for it.

Comment Re:Why don't they create textbooks (Score 1) 68

The $0.12 on the dollar may have been the case back when you still had to find a major publisher and do a full first run, but now that we have "print on demand" publishers, you can get a nice big thick book published, they'll sell it directly to the public through online bookstores, or you can order a bulk printing, and the higher you price your book, the more of the percentage you get to keep for yourself.

Comment Re:Why don't they create textbooks (Score 2, Informative) 68

The printing cost isn't what makes textbooks expensive - they're expensive because the person who writes them is typically the one teaching the course, and he can *make* his students purchase them. There are always cheaper textbooks available that they could choose. When you price a book at $9, almost all of that goes to the publisher, but if you price it at $90, more than half goes to the author (source: I looked into publishing a book on a technical topic). Textbooks are an income generator for professors.

Comment Not equivalent (Score 1) 150

Squirrels are an event that you can plan for - it happens all the time and it's a calculated cost. They're not intelligent actors trying to sabotage your system, they're just varmints doing what they do. Someone probing and making a list of the vulnerabilities of your system so they can perform a massive across-the-board outage of your infrastructure is a completely different thing. When a squirrel takes out a transformer it only affects a local area and for a short duration of time. Since it happens all the time the utilities are used to it and are good at locating and repairing the damage. Someone messing with the infrastructure internally is going to be pretty much unprecedented and could be difficult to figure out and fix.

Comment Doesn't work (Score 1) 71

I've spent my career in automation. The general rule is that automating the first 80% tends to be straightforward and a good return on investment, but that last 20% is harder to get a return on investment. There are only a couple fabled "lights out" factories, and having spent my career in automation, I've yet to actually see any video from inside these places. Mostly I believe they're a myth.

Comment Re:Baby brain (Score 1) 280

We've had 3 and none of them "slept through the night" until about 8 months, at least. Please note that there's a bit of misconception about what "sleep through the night means", so by that I mean 5 hours straight. That seems to be what people mean around here when they say that. Now I do have friends whose kids slept through the night from the moment they brought them home from the hospital. I also have friends whose kids cried all the time if you put them down for 2 minutes and wouldn't sleep for more than an hour at a time for over a year. They had another kid that slept normally. Checked all the usual suspects like allergies, lactose intolerance, rashes, etc., and couldn't find a reason. The answer the doctors give is "colic", which just means "cries a lot".

It's pretty easy to think you're doing something right, and then you have another kid and realize you were just lucky. That's basically what happened with us - 2nd kid out of 3 was a bad sleeper.

Comment Re: Baby brain (Score 1) 280

The US is odd in having a woman return to work after 6 weeks. In Canada (where we are) there's 13 weeks that the mother gets plus another 39 weeks that either the mother or father can take (for a total of 52 weeks). In France it's more like 2 years, I think. You have to wonder though, if you have more than one kid and you space them 2.5 years apart, then that 1.5 years she's back at work in between, according to this article, her brain hasn't returned to "normal".

Comment Re:Baby brain (Score 1) 280

While I generally agree that it's worth it (for me) in the long run, do you understand that posts like this make some parents, who are really struggling, feel worse about themselves because they feel like there's something "wrong" with them? I'm not saying your perspective is wrong. I'm saying that (a) you need to appreciate that not everyone's doing as well as you, and (b) there are lots of people saying how great being a parent is just to "fit in" or get likes on Facebook ("I'm just so blessed to have such a wonderful family... look at my beautiful wonderful family everyone!"). Many of those same people are actually having a really hard time and they're afraid to say something about it.

Comment Re:Baby brain (Score 1) 280

"But well-balanced, emotionally developed adults know better."

Two things - first, in our case we're both professionals and used to being good communicators under pressure, and we both *sometimes* get to the point where we say something we regret (or should regret). It's a lot of stress. Secondly, the whole point of this story is that this kind of stuff messes with you, and even messes with your brain. Having kids may make you less of an "emotionally developed adult." Knowing better is different from actually being better when you're in an emotional state, sleep deprived, and stressed out.

There's this reality show called "The Amazing Race." Teams of two people race around the world for prizes. Typically these teams are siblings, spouses, parent/children or significant others. Sometimes when you're watching you wonder, "Why are you two together? Do you even like each other?" The fact is, when you take two people and put them under a lot of stress it puts a lot of strain on the relationship.

Comment Baby brain (Score 5, Insightful) 280

All the moms around here call it "baby brain." The memory thing that most moms (and dads) experience just has to be sleep deprivation. When I did basic training they cut us back to 5 hours of sleep a night for weeks, but that was to show us that we could still function on that little sleep. When I became a father, I was getting two sessions of about 2 to 2.5 hours of sleep per night, for months. The latter was definitely much worse and affects everything - mood, work, and relationships. The mom also has (a) many more social pressures to be the "perfect" mom - (thanks Facebook), (b) tons of weird hormone changes going on, (c) physical trauma from the birth, (d) a weird combination of stress and mind numbing boredom, and (e) whatever this "baby brain" thing is. It absolutely sucks for her (and sometimes seems to manifest as anger), so she's going to take all that shit out on someone, and as the father you're the only one that's handy, so you get to grin and bear it. Over the course of several years things do improve a lot. It never goes back to the way things were though - sometimes too many things get said, too much animosity and frustration build up. People can hold grudges for a long time.

Nobody can really be prepared for being a parent. Even if you're told all the stuff to expect, it doesn't sink in until you're actually in the situation, and at that point there's nothing you can do but take a deep breath and do your best.

Comment Re:Of Course (Score 4, Insightful) 434

The only argument that can support a hate speech law is one that blocks "incitement of violence" similar to the idea that shouting fire in a crowded theater is an action you took to harm people, not expressing an idea. If the law blocks someone from saying "I hate Christian/Muslim people" then the law is wrong and over-reaching - that should be covered under freedom of speech and freedom of expression. If the law stops you from saying, "Join with me! Let's go round up Christians/Muslims and string them up!" then the law is reasonable and justified.

The fact is that an ad company isn't a government organization and can make whatever rules about content that they want. It doesn't make or enforce laws. If they want to use a "3rd party" blah blah blah, then that's their choice.

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