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Comment Re:I'm not surprised. (Score 1) 881

Extreme examples like this are more likely to occur in places like Silicon Valley, where the competitive culture and veiled acquisitiveness drive people crazy in interesting ways.

Local culture (or lack thereof) and demographic isolation. Finance, the c-suite, and maybe in some rural areas. I confess some surprise that these pockets of primitive behavior still exist to the probable extent that they do. Though there's the flip side of frivolous, exaggerated or false complaints that can turn corporate culture into baby food.

Comment Re:Myopia... (Score 1) 357

Like if they were doing Google's self-driving car project they'd spent tons of time on an overarching architecture concept that'd essentially say sensors -> analysis -> decision -> execution -> feedback and spend six months and 100 pages to say it

I've seen this. The theory is that with a sufficiently detailed specification the code essentially writes itself (so specification gets most of the budget). Of course those writing specifications typically have little or ancient experience writing code and upper management can't see why that would be a problem, even after schedules and budget aren't met.

Comment Re:which is why everyone can't be a programmer (Score 2) 357

...brute force coding. There's no innovation involved.

I disagree. You can always innovate to make yourself (typically your code) more productive and efficient. For a lot of brute force tasks you've not really succeeded until you've made yourself redundant. Theoretically the savings this generates gets recognized and you get promoted/assigned more innovative tasks.

Comment Re:Lack of talent my ass!!! (Score 1) 318

Outsourcing comes and goes in cycles.

I've seen this firsthand. It started with the idea the companies should focus on core competencies and outsource everything else to 'experts'. IT was one of the first things to go because it was relatively new compared to accounting and HR, and theoretically more easily split off. The reality was that IT was no longer part of the corporate team, if you will, and their goals, such as keeping support costs to a minimum, while keeping everyone's management happy would piss off the customer's end users to a point to where it (over)flowed back uphill. A new company might be tried, then rinse and repeat. Meanwhile some selected IT services were brought back in-house on each iteration.

Comment Re:the NSA should put him on the payroll (Score 2) 156

exploit bureaucratic inertia and dysfunction

I think it's more a question of trust. If you've worked on classified programs you know there's a trade-off between security practices and getting the job done in a sensible fashion. Part of obtaining a clearance depends on assessments of character. Of course mistakes will be made. Given the number of clearances and issues one might think the bureaucrats are actually doing a decent job.

Submission + - Iridium flares phasing out (skyandtelescope.com)

g01d4 writes:

Reflective surfaces of other satellites occasionally catch the Sun and temporarily brighten by several magnitudes as they glide across the sky, but there's nothing like the flare produced by an Iridium satellite. Each of the approximately 66 Iridiums in orbit have three door-sized aluminum antennae treated with highly reflective, silver-coated Teflon for temperature control. When the angle between observer and satellite is just right, sunlight reflecting off an antenna can cause the satellite to surge from invisibility up to magnitude –8.5 in a matter of seconds.

The existing constellation of satellites is being replaced with newer models with less reflecting antenna. A few older models might be left in parking orbits but in a few years the flares will mostly be a thing of the past.

Several years ago the Smithsonian had an Iridium conveniently hanging such that you could create your own flare with your camera's flash. Anyone else do that?

Comment Re:I still don't get it. (Score 1) 128

you will find that ransomware doesn't actually fall under this definition

Only under strict-common law. If you read further down:

Most jurisdictions have statutes governing extortion that broaden the common-law definition. Under such statutes, any person who takes money or property from another by means of illegal compulsion may be guilty of the offense. When used in this sense, extortion is synonymous with blackmail, which is extortion by a private person.

Comment Hard to believe (Score 1) 258

he wanted to avoid having to later repurchase books purged from the shelf

I volunteer at our local library's used bookstore where some of our donations are withdrawals. I guess the obvious question is why would they be repurchased if they weren't circulating in the first place? What's also left out of TFS is that library circulation is often used as a metric for a branch's success, as market share is for internet startups (that don't necessarily generate profit). The excuse looks more like a fig leaf to promote the branch supervisor.

TFS does touch upon a more general discussion about what books the local branch should stock, or whether there even should be local branches in the day of Amazon and Netflix. Gaming circulation certainly doesn't help the cause for keeping local branches.

Finally, low circulation doesn't (or shouldn't) automatically point to withdrawal and books are withdrawn if they become 'damaged'. Typically issues develop with the bindings as book drops literally are, and they ain't a binding them like they used to. One of our group used to repair bindings to keep the books in circulation longer.

Comment Re:Are you kidding? (Score 3, Insightful) 207

who gives a flying...

People who really care about typography or the presentation of their content.

my manual typewriter only had quotes in one direction

Indeed. Though typical typewriters weren't intended to generate content for mass consumption. Back in the day personal computers were supposed to change that by enabling desktop publication. (Recall the Mac/PC is Not a Typewriter books by Robin Williams.) However as the media for consuming written content migrated from paper to screen, things got a lot more complicated and in some ways a step back is taken here and there. Eliminating curly braces might be one of those small steps back.

Comment Re:Question (Score 2) 146

Until a few years ago we used MS DOS 7.1 to host (alas no longer supported) software for pointing and tracking at our observatory. While we migrated to Windows based software, and from stepper to brushless DC servo motors, I've held onto the DOS system to upgrade an even older non-computer controlled telescope mount. The software's actually pretty good for for it does, with a decent UI and nice functionality (e.g. RS232 hooks to outside control, non-sidereal tracking capability). The software relies on an ISA digital I/O board to talk to the stepper motors. While I've not tried FreeDOS it's nice to know there's potentially another option.

Comment Re:Reagan Air Traffic Controllers Strike again.... (Score 1) 858

Trump is fucking civilian

Trump is the president elect working on his transition. Unless his request can be shown to be unduly burdensome he should be given the courtesy of a reply. I'm no fan of Trump but fuck the DoE bureaucrats for hiding behind "respect[ing] the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees" and playing into his hand. Trump has the right to turn it into his own Travelgate if he wishes.

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