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Comment Re:Cue the incredulous comments from the Americans (Score 1) 234

In meetings with the Germans they can't understand why no American ever takes more than two weeks of vacation in a row while they routinely take the entire month of August off.

I also work for a multinational corporation.

In the US office, the middle and higher level managers routinely take all of August off. It's the rest of us that have trouble trouble taking even 2 weeks off, Not because management won't approve 2 or more weeks, but because after even a week off, the pile of problems we come back to is very oppressive. After 2 weeks, it's almost not worth having taken the time off.

Comment Re:Cue the incredulous comments from the Americans (Score 1) 234

At the company I work for, the European office has customers that are willing to pay 3 times the prices the US office is able to get from its customers. The European engineering staff is twice the size of ours in the US. Corporate manage seems happy to let the European office have that many engineers, but expects us in the US to handle twice the total workload as the European office.

Comment Re:Managing Expectations (Score 1) 114

For a prototype, we lifted *the customer's own marketing map graphic* and overlaid a colored disk at each location representing current status.

I had similar experiences years ago. This is because most people don't understand the difference between a model and "the real thing" if they can't "see" an obvious difference. Example: A canal lock system. You can build a fully functional model and (almost) no one will mistake that for the finished canal with locks. But a screen on a computer monitor showing a map with blinking dots (and whatever else) looks the same as what the finished application will. All the code "behind" the screen is invisible to them. As far as they are concerned, the screen with the map and blink dots is the application.

Since then, I've done "chalk talk" presentations. Actually, markers on poster-sized sketches.*

Using your example, what I might have done:

  • Plug my laptop into a project or large screen TV/monitor,
  • Go to the client's website and access their marketing map.
  • Right-click-Save Image on the map.
  • Load map image into Inkscape (or Photoshop or Illustrator, if you prefer).
  • Draw colored circles on the map image.

(Alternately, could draw the circles on transparent, plastic "post-it" notes and stick those to the screen.)

My "chalk talk" presentations have been very successful in getting my proposals approved. And there is no misperception that my mock-up is anything other than a mock-up.


* I prepare "foundation" drawings and print them on poster paper. Then during a presentation, I use markers to draw additional details in a way that illustrates how my proposed solution will work.

Comment Re:So many people don't understand tax deductions (Score 2) 399

This only works if you are already itemizing deductions.

If the company gives you the money, then you can only deduct the donation if you itemize deductions.

However, if the company donates the money, then it's not part your taxable income - in other words, it's "pre-deducted".

Another example would be Flexible (Health) Spending Accounts - FSAs:

Normally, you can only deduct health care expenses when you itemize deductions AND only the amount over a certain percentage of your adjusted gross income (AGI).

But, with a FSA, the money is put into an escrow account that you (mostly*) control. AND is deducted from your pay BEFORE taxes, thus reducing your taxable income. Therefore, you are effectively deducting the whole amount, not just the amount over the AGI percentage AND even if you don't itemize deductions.


* Once money is put in the FSA, you can only use it to pay qualified medical expenses AND you loose any remaining amount still in the FSA at the end of the year (though there are certain "grace rules" that might apply).

Comment Re:Wow... (Score 1) 220

How many of YouTube's users are there for music?

Even "non-music" content often has background music.

And, in my experience, they don't care if the music is original. I have licensed recordings I made of music I composed to others for use as background music. Even after being sent signed copies of the license grants, they kept repeating demands for payments from people using my music.

Comment Re:How do you demand honesty (Score 1) 588

Also, if you haven't already point your router to some legit DNS servers. Do not assume your ISP is providing your valid results.

Are you using a resolver that properly implements DNSSEC? Otherwise, you can't be sure your ISP isn't silently redirecting DNS (port 53) requests to it's own DNS servers.

Comment Re:Need to prevent small companies from H1B (Score 1) 400

Also, the programmers were awful: they program to the letter of the spec, and my specs assumed too much a-priori knowledge about coding. I guess that was my fault.

How much is "too much" apriori knowledge?

As more detail is added to specifications, it eventually becomes code itself, reducing the programmer's job to translating that code to whatever language the compiler expects. When you get that far, the spec writer might just as well directly write the compilable code.

Some apriori knowledge is needed to be an effective programmer - even in these days where "generating" code from diagrams is becoming the norm for programmers.

Comment Re:Ignorance abounds (Score 1) 497

Low-skilled investors who reward incompetent technology from dominant, monopolistic companies.

Investors "reward" any business that gives them a return on investment - the bigger and faster, the better. this pushes managers to seek out the cheapest, faster way to get a product into the hands of paying customers. This also pushes them to focus more on adding features than on fixing problems. As long as the product works well enough that customers are buying it. Whether sales slow, increase or stay the same, there is always more pressure to add features to boost sales. When sales cease to increase for too long, ongoing development will be stopped and the money reallocated to other products that are still seeing increasing sales.

Some investors are more patient than others. But, in return for their patience, they expect a higher return on investment. Usually this means more features, not fewer bugs.

Comment Re:Smart move (Score 3, Insightful) 168

I have a phrase, it is quite useful: "Can I get that in Email?" If the answer is "no", then I assume I am free to ignore that request.

... And if they ever try to "Get" you, you play dumb, "I don't recall".

Doesn't matter. The boss can still fire you - or lay you off.

The other thing I find useful is sending an email with a "brief summary" of whatever meeting it was. If they don't respond, then that is tacit acknowledgement the summary is accurate, and it becomes official record. Any non-written "clarification" would be followed up with same.

Still doesn't matter. The boss can still say he followed up in-person or by phone. The lack of a further email summary won't matter to his boss.

The problem is, far too many people find sleazy as an acceptable practice in organizations, and actively participate in the sleaze.


Don't participate and you have nothing to worry about.

Unfortunately, no. Too many people will believe the sleeze-balls.

Comment Re: Oh noes!!!!11111 (Score 1) 647

He's not complaining about choice, but that we're apparently telling women they are making the WRONG CHOICE. And, oddly, blaming the men for making them choose wrong too.

Well, both women and men told my girlfriend (when she was a kid) that STEM subjects were not good career options for girls - unless they planned to become teachers. And a few years ago, our daughter was being the same by most of her teachers - both women and men.

(Both of them replied "BS - I'm going to be an engineer.")

Comment Re:Only Logical (Score 1) 404

My USA counterparts are much more at the office, and producing less work than the continental ones.

I work for a multinational company that has an engineering office in Europe, as well as in the US. although the company HQ and primary engineering office are in the US, i's the European office that defines the "engineering processes" that all of us in product engineering are supposed to follow.

Here's where things get interesting. We (in the US) don't have those. The European engineering office has a larger staff, including "process engineers" who are dedicated to coordinating other engineering activities according to the processes. For a given project, the European office might estimate "1 team year" of effort. Our VP of Engineering sees nothing wrong with this. Yet, the same VP of Engineering has told our (us, in the US) project managers that our same estimate for the same project, is "Too long. I can only budget 6 months." So, we "negotiate" with the project managers, who will ultimately settle for "8 months".

So, we do it. On time, per the negotiated schedule. And with smaller teams. But, we short cut the processes. So the VP of E, when doing reviews of randomly selected projects, will tell us (in the US) "Fantastic results, but you need to do better at following process. And improve your productivity." The people in the European are told "Awesome work!"

Same company. Same VP of Engineering. Different expectations.

Comment Re:Process (Score 1) 146

Another bit - if you're suing someone in court you need a process server to provide papers that the person you are suing was properly served before any legal proceedings can continue. Were these papers forged? If the defendants were fictional, most likely. That goes beyond perjury and veers into fraud.

Presumably, the defendants would have been paid shills, not actually fictitious people.

Of course, it's still fraudulent - even if the content in question really was infringing.

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