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Comment Re:I am very skeptical. (Score 1) 100

Unless, of course, the report assumes that anything running Lollipop or older is not recently patched, which seems like a reasonable assumption.

According to Google, 65.9% of users are on Lollipop or older. That means 29% of up-to-date Androids would have to come from 34.1% of users, or that 85% of Marshmallow and Nougat users are fully patched. I'm skeptical.

Also, nearly half of Android users are using an OS at least 2.5 years old. :-/ Compare with 79% of iOS users on a 6 month old OS, and 95% of iOS users on an OS less than 1.5 years old.

Comment People are starting to notice... (Score 4, Insightful) 469

American society has always had the obsession on self-reliance, but I'm glad people are starting to see gig economy jobs for what they are. The question is what we do when the possibilities of realistically supporting yourself evaporate completely, and we go back to a semi-feudal system -- the nobles having all the power and letting the peasants who serve them exist at the bare minimum standard.

For decades in the US, the formula was simple:
- If you're smart, go to college and study anything. A large company will hire you at the entry level and take you through to the end of your career
- If you're semi-skilled, go to trade school, become an apprentice and join a trade union; there will be work until you retire.
- If you're less skilled, go join a union and work in a factory -- same deal, there will always be work.

It seems to me like this is gone, and no one noticed until now, or brushed it off. The modern economy is built around steady paychecks -- people can't buy a house for cash, they have to get a mortgage and pay it off as they earn. Same thing for consumer credit...no one is going to go into debt if they feel they can't pay for it, and debt is what drives the economy to some extent.

Steady paychecks are one of the reasons I've stayed out of the IT contracting world, even though I've been told I'd be excellent at it. It's stressful worrying about your job, or where the money is going to come from, and having to constantly hustle to find new work.

Comment Interesting how few controls there are (Score 5, Interesting) 129

I've worked for big companies most of my career, and regular employees making purchases, signing contracts, etc. takes an act of God. I can't spend $100 on supplies without getting competitive bids. But there are apparently some very stupid people who have full unrestricted access to the bank accounts.

How do people fall for phishing scams anymore? Everyone has to know this by now -- never trust email requesting you to do anything involving linking to a website, sending money, etc. This could have all been resolved by someone calling and asking if they should really pay this $8 million "invoice" with an irreversible wire transfer.

It reminds me of how people were talking about the Podesta email incident as some massively complex hacking job. It wasn't -- they found out he still used Yahoo Mail and phished him. I can't believe that (a) one of the most powerful political operatives in the Clinton campaign uses Yahoo Mail, and (b) that he fell for it.

Comment Good - hope they get what they want (Score 2) 166

I hope the union members get what they want. People are all too willing to give up all of their bargaining power and be at the mercy of employers. I happen to be one of those strange people who would like to see a little more loyalty on the part of both employers and employees. It's not good for either side to have a revolving door - employers lose valuable trained people, employees become modern-day Okies migrating from employer to employer with no consistency in their lives. If you have that loyalty, and a good work environment, and good salary/benefits, then you wouldn't need a union. Unfortunately, we're back on the other side of the pendulum now, and I think it might be time for collective bargaining to make a comeback.

Think about it rationally -- even if you're the l33test, baddest full-stack DevOps Ninja out there, you're still at the mercy of an employer who is actively trying to pay you as little as possible. If you work in Silicon Valley, you're in a salary bubble right now because Apps! Wait until the bubble pops and employers have their pick of 500 DevOps Ninjas, some of whom are willing to work for practically nothing. Or, they have their pick of thousands of H-1B candidates who work for even less, or could just have all the Ninja-ing done in India and pay less than that! And of course, all that savings goes directly into their pockets, increasing the income disparity and making life miserable for everyone except the executives. I don't think there's anything wrong with a union standing up and fighting against the offshoring of their jobs...or look how many IT jobs might have been saved had the H-1B visa been lobbied against. This is what unions do.

Face it, everybody needs a job, and everybody needs a job whose salary keeps up with inflation and lets them earn more as they age. Society is set up around this, and it's not going to change easily. No one is going to buy houses anymore once they see they can't count on their employers to keep them employed. People won't even take out car loans if they don't feel they have income to pay them back. Unless we have a nuclear war and have to rebuild the system with 1% of the population, you're not going to get people to give up using money to transfer value amongst themselves. I think unions and professional organizations are a good limiting factor on the unchecked greed of business owners. No business owner is going to be nice and share their profits equitably among their workers unless something forces them to. A union is an employee's best hope of getting as many table scraps from the executive dining room table as possible -- no one employee, not even a DevOps Ninja, will get the management class to give in to anything they want.

Comment It'll adjust for all but the elite schools (Score 1) 374

When I graduated in 1997, it was still possible to get some sort of non-Starbucks job with a degree in _anything._ A degree in a high demand field got you an even better job, but the compact was there -- if you get into school, study and pay the tuition, you will have steady work you can use to pay for it later. Today, it seems like that's broken for a significant portion of the student population. Entry level jobs are either offshored or automated now, and employers are expecting people to come into jobs 100% trained instead of identifying people with potential and putting in a little finishing work to round off the college education. One example I like to cite a lot is the thousands of "Business" graduates who basically screwed around for 4 years, graduated with 2.x GPAs and still wound up in the belly of some huge corporation doing a middle class job shuffling reports around or being some random "coordinator" or staffing the trade show booth circuit. That still happens -- Accenture and the like depend on a constant stream of 23 year old cannon fodder to shove in front of suckers^Wclients. It just happens way less, and you have to go to an expensive school to get jobs like that.

People just aren't going to pay $500K for a degree that will no longer help them. This figure also doesn't account for the fact that at least some of that price tag will be inflation. The price will adjust to the point where the average person can afford it either through reasonable loans or savings. And many people will still continue to go if that becomes the only way to get any sort of non gig-economy work. I still think college is very good for some people. I know I learned a lot about how to navigate a bureaucracy and get what I needed without complaining incessantly. 18 year old kids also do need an environment to "grow up" in -- you could argue the military would be a good option, but it's not for everyone. People that age need an environment where screw-ups aren't permanent and there's a little bit in the way of support on the way to being an independent adult.

Comment They should unionize or form a not-for-profit Uber (Score 2) 200

I'm a big proponent of unions simply because I can see what happens when business owners are allowed to do whatever they want to their employees. The number of ethical employers that treat their employees well is a tiny fraction of the workforce, and I wouldn't count Uber in this class.

People forget that taxi driver is one of those job of last resort for people who don't have the skills to be in the higher levels of the workforce. I live near NYC and some of the recent immigrant cab drivers I've met have crazy stories of coming here, some as refugees, working 14 hour days, 6 days a week while they're learning English and going to school. No one in IT believes me, but this is just a preview of what's coming for a huge swath of white collar workers who will be wiped out in the next automation wave. Those nice safe jobs new grads get shuffling paperwork at some big company are getting squeezed now, but could just disappear entirely very soon since companies seem to be in a massive optimization drive. The white collar workers of today are going to end up as the Uber drivers of tomorrow as no one wants to hire them for their skills anymore. I say we should try to make our Mad Max style future of fighting for scraps as comfortable as possible now while we still can.

The other thing I could see happening is a drivers' association forming a not for profit that makes their own Uber-style app and charges drivers a reasonable percentage of the fares. It's amazing how much better off everyone is when you take the profit motive out of the equation. Note that I'm not saying "non-profit," because people do need to be paid and it's not a charity -- but a not-for-profit removes the pressure to turn the screws on the employees to the maximum revenue-generating setting. It would be a kind of non-scummy, non-evil Uber and they could even use a similar business model.

Comment Company should have been watching more (Score 2) 63

Even in large companies, many sysadmins have full access to everything, especially those involved in any sort of identity management. In most WIndows environments and projects I've worked on, I've either had or had the ability to gain domain admin access, which is basically as good as having full access. Since we're not licensed professionals, most of us don't learn anything about ethics or the way to responsibly manage your access. I do want to keep my reputation somewhat intact, so whenever I leave an employer or get assigned to another project where I don't need the access, I'm very careful to give it up completely. I take the time to ensure everyone involved knows I've disabled accounts and handed access over to the next person. I've had a couple times where an employer has asked me to come back and help the new guy for a couple hours, and I make sure they create new accounts and remove them immediately. It makes sense -- you wouldn't let an employee you fired keep his badge and keys regardless of the situation.

Of course, this situation sounds like the person was planning from the outset to set up his own backdoor and use it. As much as I hate the idea of malpractice insurance, I think it might be time for something similar in the IT world. Computers and access to them are more important than ever and having someone do something like this can damage a company's results and reputation.

Comment Not paper boarding passes, paper tickets (Score 3, Informative) 92

I work in the airline IT world. "Paper tickets" aren't the paper boarding passes you print out at the kiosk. These are actual tickets issued at travel agents or airport ticket counters, and go back to a time when you could buy a ticket independent of a reservation or seat assignment. In fact, travel agents used to be able to manually hand-write them and the only thing keeping them secure was that ticket stock was controlled. It's similar to buying a train ticket for a commuter railroad from the machine at the station...unless you're reserving a seat, you can exchange it for a seat on whatever train you get on. Same went for paper tickets -- if you had a ticket that said "JFK to LAX" you could go to the airport and check in on any flight if you had an open reservation.

The article mentions that they're doing this to get rid of paper buddy passes, which really are the only paper tickets most domestic airlines deal with these days. It's incredibly rare to process paper tickets for passengers these days.

Comment Re:Restructure gone wrong (Score 1) 299

Oh shit, that gives me PTSD hives. I worked at a startup with a sociopathic CEO who decided to pivot the week after Christmas. We all shuffled into the "living room" part of the office for a mandatory meeting, and he announced the big plan. Then he went around the room, calling out names and giving us our new roles. He didn't call all the names. "And for the rest of you: thank you for your contribution and hard work, but we've had to make some hard decisions and you won't be staying on."

Then - THEN! - the sumbitch called on each freshly-fired person in turn and asked them to talk about what their time with the company had meant to them. There were a few half-choked "I thank you for the opportunity to learn so much..." as the CEO smiled benevolently, pleased at himself for bringing such light into their sad lives.

Gah. I'd still cheerfully throw that guy under a bus. I mean, a literal bus.

Comment Training the robot repairmen? (Score 3, Interesting) 32

I guess I don't see how this will help domestic employment. In my world of IT, the next big thing is cloud/DevOps stuff and managing thousands of servers via automation. IBM barely makes hardware these days -- they do mainframes, storage and POWER systems. The only thing I can think of that would provide immediate military employment is maintaining Watson or whatever, watching over data that requires a security clearance.

IBM is basically rebranding itself as a "cognitive" Accenture/Wipro clone with an AI system, so what will all these graduates of the P-TECH schools actually do? Are they just going to add a few token US employees to their offshore outsourcing operations? Teach them to fly around the country in identical suits giving PowerPoint presentations to executives? I'd love to see domestic job growth in tech, but this seems like a PR stunt.

Comment Re:Entertainment is entertaining (Score 3, Interesting) 299

"He was dumbfounded that I would even suggest such a thing."

I've dealt with this over and over working for large companies. Once a company grows beyond a certain size, the ability to buy anything is paralyzed. I routinely buy stuff like hard disks, USB drives, little peripherals like that out of my own money for that very reason. You can't just go down to NewEgg or Micro Center with your credit card and submit an expense report -- it has to go through purchasing who will spend a week researching the cheapest price or steer the sale to whichever "preferred supplier" bribed them this year.

"Same boss was chatting with me in my office when he suddenly noticed that my desk was bigger than his. "

True story from a friend who worked for a major European airline...this airline actually had a written policy stating what furniture and accoutrements were available to staff at the various levels. There was a team of people that would actually go around and fit offices with the new hard-won accessories when people were promoted, just like getting a new patch on a military uniform. The policy had strict guidelines stating office size, how big the desk was, whether you got an additional chair or cabinet, what grade of carpet you had, at what exact level of service and seniority you got a door, which desk accessories and quality level thereof you were allowed to have, etc. When people end up working for an organization for a long time, stuff like this becomes extremely important...it establishes a clear hierarchy.

Comment Oh, so many stories... (Score 3, Interesting) 299

I've been working for a long time in a highly political private company. I'm extremely lucky that I've been allowed to advance in my career on a technical track, but most people foolishly pick the management path. The actual work we do is really interesting and it's a fun job as long as you don't let the politics get to you, or heaven forbid, get involved in it. If you let it get to you, you're going to be miserable. If you do your work and don't step on any landmines, you're golden. It's not government IT, but the politics are very close -- think appointed VPs who can do no wrong, and whose appointments are basically gifts.

Most of my horror show IT boss stories revolve around people promoted into management positions who have no aptitude for it. I've held supervisory and management positions, and I can tell you first-hand that tech and management are completely orthogonal skill sets. I'm not sure what's different about IT, but it seems like there's just no easy way to retrain people to deal primarily with machines instead of people. Unfortunately, most organizations are built around the assumptions that the only way to advance in your career is to manage those doing actual work, and that everyone actually wants to climb the ladder. I was smart enough to realize that I wouldn't be effective no matter how much retraining I did, and luckily the company was interested in keeping someone with good technical skills as a "lead" without the political crap. I actually think it's for the best, because the company just went through its once-a-decade middle management clean-out. Moral of the story: If you want a job, keep your skills sharp and keep learning.

The other stories involve "white knight" MBAs coming in and managing departments through Excel. I worked at one place where the new CIO came in, and within 2 weeks announced that the entire department was being outsourced after a 6 month transition period. His speech basically amounted to "you're too expensive, capex vs. opex, right-sizing,..." The instant the meeting was over, every single person worth hiring was on the phone pulling the emergency cord, arranging new jobs and quitting (including me...I wasn't going to end up with the Scarlet Letter U (for Unemployed) on my record.) Instant dead-sea effect...the outsourcer ended up sucking at their job, got kicked out and the department was in-house again. Luckily the CIO got fired...that akways drives me nuts when executives keep messing up and end up at another company after getting a huge payout. Why can't we worker bees do that?

Comment Credit stuff is one thing, federated ID is next (Score 3, Informative) 66

If I were a thief, the thing I'd try attacking is the increasing use of federated identity, and hit those targets with everything I had...social engineering, zero-days, finding soft spots where cut-rate consulting firms left the door open, the works. In the new cloudy world of abstracted everything, companies are finding it easier to rely on a few identity providers..."log in using Facebook" and the like. In the Microsoft, Google and Amazon iterations of this (MS account, Azure AD, Google Account, Amazon Identity Management,) companies are using third parties to handle authentication to their resources (at least on the web.) This means that the identities are slowly being consolidated to a few providers on the corporate side. Anyone using Office 365 in an organization likely has their credentials synchronized up to Azure AD, for example, so they can use the web apps like Outlook and Skype.

OAuth and the like set up a very strong environment, but it's still just an identity database under the hood. Even if the provider has no idea what your password is, a hash of it is being stored somewhere...otherwise you wouldn't be able to authenticate. If anyone ever comes up with an easy way to break this, then everyone's going to be in for a round of password changes and free credit monitoring. Getting someone's corporate credentials gives thieves a lot more access than stealing one database.

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