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Comment Often deliberately (Score 1) 139

I switched off Comcast a few months ago to a regional ISP that's deploying fiber-to-the-premises all over the place. Their current offering in my neighborhood is FTTN, which is basically fiber to a box near my house, then DSL from that box to my living room. I have two DSL lines bonded for a 50Mbps down, ~8Mbps up connection (that is, faster than Comcast in uploads) for about a third what I was paying Comcast. That's to tide us over until the ISP gets around to replacing that last mile, which they've actually been doing and not continually deferring to some distant future.

Don't cry for me and my DSL connection. Our download speed is theoretically slower, but in practice it's just as fast, utterly uncapped, and far cheaper. I somehow think we'll scrape by.

Comment I'm for regulation in this arena. (Score 1) 441

I know, we're all supposed to be Libertarian free market people on Slashdot, but in this case the tax makes sense. Since Uber and others refuse to be regulated like a taxi service, and are providing the same service cab companies are, this is the penalty for doing business. The thing that regulated cab companies bring to the table is the fact that, in large cities, they provide part of the public transportation system. An Uber driver can choose whether or not to take someone to a sketchy neighborhood at 3 AM, while a regulated cab company can't. In New York, the medallion system prevents traffic nightmares by controlling the number of cabs that can work in Manhattan. Imagine Manhattan rush hour traffic with an extra 50,000 cabs on the road on top of all the private cars, buses, etc. Taxi regulations ensure that cabs are at least inspected once in a while, while Uber has no such requirement other than the driver's personal inspection -- but they don't check that.

I say Uber should just bite the bullet and become a regulated taxi service in the areas they want to do business in. I know disruption and "X on your phone" is all the rage, but think about the taxi drivers themselves. Driving a cab is pretty much a job of last resort for some people. Do you really want to take away yet another way for people to make money in this gig economy?

Comment OMG, I just woke up in 1999! (Score 1) 85

If this isn't an indicator of the top of the Second Dotcom Bubble, I don't know what is.

I'm old enough to remember the first one. Since I'm a systems guy and not a developer, my side of the house had "MCSE Bootcamps." I worked for a consulting company at the time, so I got sent to one. These were some really interesting operations; some people were clearly there to cram for the exams but had real world experience, and others were basically off the street with zero idea what was going on. The second batch had just heard there was a lot of money to be made in computers...lots of former truck drivers, plumbers, etc. Lots of these places had similar business models to ITT Tech, U of Phoenix, etc. in that they would take people's federal trade readjustment (re-training) benefits or veterans' education benefits and return a dubious education.

So, now that we have the cloud doing the infrastructure for most of these startups, the thing they need is a stream of cheap web framework monkeys. Coder bootcamp will certainly give them that...but they'll only be able to copy-paste stuff from one of the millions of JavaScript front-ends.

Comment Re:Microsoft's underestimating their legacy base (Score 1) 392

"Cumulative updates might help with this - because the bugfix will be incorporated into the next month's cumulative update meaning getting the bugfixed version will be straightforward."

The problem comes not from the cumulative bug fixes, but the applications that, for one reason or another, rely on the buggy behavior. Concrete example - Microsoft has for some time now made IE updates cumulative for the very same reasons they're citing here -- better testing, etc. Since then, I have had more than one incident where I have had to hold back that month's IE updates to machines running some crappy web app until our devs or the vendor got around to fixing the problem. It's not the entire user base in most of these cases, but enough to be a concern. Same goes for .NET -- breaking changes in LOB apps that can't be worked around cheaply.

The other problem is that MIcrosoft's fixes have been of pretty poor quality lately. Having to apply one rollup that fixes 10 vulnerabilities, one of which breaks a line of business application, means that update doesn't get applied and leaves the 9 other holes unpatched. Same goes if the update kills the whole machine. Anyone responsible for thousands of desktops/laptops just won't roll something like that out and hope it works.

When you go to cumulative patching that includes feature changes, the OS becomes a moving target instead of a stable development target. Microsoft has a long term stable branch for Windows 10 for just this reason. (I'll bet that's the workaround -- just upgrade your "free with purchase" Windows 7 Pro license to a permanent subscription to Windows 10 Enterprise.)

Comment Microsoft's underestimating their legacy base (Score 5, Interesting) 392

Appy app apps guy is right - the future in everyone's mind is Apps, not some LUDDITE desktop application or "pre-App web app" -- but I think Microsoft is really dismissing how much legacy code is out there and is broken by various updates. I do systems integration work with an end user desktop focus, and there are _so many_ crappy IE-only, ActiveX or Java applet or Flash or Shockwave (!) monstrosities lurking in corporate IT shops everywhere. Most of it isn't even in-house developed - it was written by really expensive consultants who want another few million to modernize it.

It will be very interesting to see how they pull this off - whether there will be an exception for Enterprise, etc.

Comment Re:In before... (Score 1) 148

Also, as a server admin, having IPv6 open increases your traffic, not because more people are visiting but because a lot of bot nets are scanning IPv6 looking for vulnerabilities.

I'm very skeptical of this. What's the Venn diagram of "people who know what IPv6 is" and "people who think you can scan IPv6 space before the heat death of the universe"?

Comment I had fun with this (Score 5, Interesting) 104

I answered one of those calls that was spoofing an area code where I still have lots of friends. When I realized what it was about, I started asking questions about how it worked, what they did, etc. The guy said they had arrangements with Google to promote pages and it was guaranteed.

He asked what kind of business I have. "Oh, I work for Google. By the way, we both know this is bullshit, right?" "Oh, no no no sir! It is not bullshit! It is real!" "Well, thanks for all your company information. I'll give it to my boss this morning and you'll be out of work." "Oh, no no no! There is no need to be doing that!" You could hear his butt pucker from over the phone.

I don't work for Google, but he didn't either so I don't feel bad.

Comment How to advocate for desktop dev in a phone world? (Score 4, Insightful) 505

One of the problems with anything desktop-related is the fact that it's all getting drowned out by people beating the phone-and-tablet drum. Developers are cargo-culting the mobile design paradigm, even on applications that are aimed at desktop users. I do systems integration work with a focus on end user computing, so I see lots of user-facing software from many vendors. I swear that the big offshore code shops have all just started using the same "touch-first" AngularJS user interface framework and swap in company logos when they build a new web front end for something.

I'm a big desktop fan - and a big terminal/command line fan. People laugh at me for using Midnight Commander for file operations on my various computers...but it's way faster than navigating a GUI or the command line if you know what you're doing! The problem is that the desktop and even the laptop form factor isn't the default anymore for most people. They've become almost a niche now, even in businesses. Most people want the Surface-style convertible tablets now where I work, and I've still got my boring ThinkPad collection.

I'm also a cross-platform kind of guy, but I find myself on Windows machines most of the time. Microsoft actually did the right thing with Windows 10, walking back some of the 8.x "touch-only, tablet-only" craziness. It's not Windows 7, but in my mind it's a good compromise between the two worlds. If most people are mashing the screens on their Surface, you can't get away with Windows 7-sized user interface elements. I wish they'd let people theme Windows 10, but that's a different story. On the Linux side, I do wonder if having several choices for desktop environments, all with extremely different ecosystems, is the right thing. It's nice to have a million ways to do things, but Apple was able to do a decent UI on top of UNIX that hides everything UNIXy about MacOS until the user gets down into the details. The fragmentation of the Linux desktop is one of the things slowing adoption. Some of the more modern Linux desktop environments have gotten more love recently, and are a better choice for the new user. But, just like CDE on the old UNIX platforms, I'm sure KDE will be kicking around for ages. Just like me and my Midnight Commander...

Comment Re:Maybe that explains all the poaching (Score 1) 109

Everyone's work situation is different. Some people want fixed, regular hours with well-defined time off. Some people just seem to want to be exploited to the maximum extent possible. Others have requirements that fit neither extreme.

For example, one of the reasons I work where I do now is the flexibility. I have 2 little kids, one of which is going into kindergarten this fall. My wife has a job that absolutely demands "butt in seat time" and a horrible commute. I make less than I could be making, but I can disappear when I need to and just do the work later on in the day. One very popular option I could see for people that work and have kids is work structured so that at least one parent can be home when the kid gets home from school and when it's time to leave for school, yet both parents still work. My job's not flexible enough to swing that, but I would certainly give up some pay for that flexibility.

I think employers in the long run will see that being flexible lets them keep a higher-quality work force. I've been looking into working in the state university system, since I would then have a 3-minute commute instead of a 25-minute one. Jobs just aren't available because once people get in, they stay. You have to wait until someone literally retires, partially because it's really hard to hire people, but partially because of long service. Several staff members I know have confirmed this, and a huge reason is flexibility...they certainly don't get paid market rates. You're working for the state and have to deal with bureaucracy, but academic jobs give people the freedom that some like more than money.

Comment Re:Look at that shift (Score 3, Interesting) 109

This is what I think too. I have always worked in "normal" environments, but there are plenty of stories about people in tech companies getting worked 90+ hours a week simply because that's the culture. Microsoft in the early 90s was like this, every dotbomb SV startup in the late 90s too -- and it's getting repeated for this current tech bubble.

I think part of it is companies self-selecting people who will put up with no life and love the idea of an "all inclusive" workplace. Not surprisingly, growing up and having real-life responsibilities like a family aren't compatible with this lifestyle long-term. Google provides 3 meals a day, concierge service, beanbag chairs...everything a recent grad needs to continue the college lifestyle. Amazon probably wants to try expanding out of the monoculture they have and see what happens when they don't burn people out. Might just be the effect of a mature company - Microsoft is still famously all-inclusive, but people have the option of going home at a reasonable time. They operate more on the academic model than the sweatshop model.

The problem is going to come when the MBAs and management consultants pick up on this and pervert it into "oh look, Millennials don't want stable jobs. They prefer to string together 4 part-time gigs to get through life." Then it just becomes an excuse to hire part-timers exclusively.

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