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Comment [insert unacceptable vernacular here] (Score 3, Insightful) 110

So, against all tradition here, I R'd the FA, and saw the photos posted. My first reaction on seeing those data wall examples was "good gawd, some moron took the overly-simplistic KPI dashboard so common in the corporate environment and decided to put it in use in early grade school." The data behind this tool may be more meaningful - which is a completely separate debate, in regards to the efficacy of standardized testing, etc. - but if the usage of this tool is shaming, then it's going to do more harm than good. Word-of-mouth comparisons of GPA and such were harsh enough in high school, but putting this right up there for a five-year-old (and all his classmates) to see is just going to make the kids on the lower rungs see it as defining and thus leading it to become self-fulfilling. Some will withdraw, others will become frustrated and lash out, and all of it will fail to be helpful.

This is dumb.

Comment Re:As a USA consumer (Score 1) 75

Seconded. I thought very hard about buying a launch phone, despite being averse to bleeding-edge purchases or otherwise being an early adopter. All the phones in my household are unlocked quad-band Nokia models that are getting a little long in the tooth, and I was disappointed with the direction Elop took the company. My hope was definitely rekindled with Jolla, and I'll be anxious to see what rolls out for the US market.

Comment Ten years; big shifts in my employer (Score 1) 177

I've been in this specific industry (a narrow niche area of specialty chemicals) for sixteen years now, and have been with my current employer for ten years. During my first few years here, the company's summer picnic included a guessing contest around the question of the average age of the employees working at HQ. At that time, it was an astounding 62 - many, many employees across most departments dated back to the earlier family-owned days of the company, and little hiring had been done in many years.

Several years later, with multiple corporate restructurings, internal mergers and reorganizations (we're on our fifth re-org in five years), remote site closures and consolidations, etc., we've seen waves of people leaving. Some have retired, some were fired or golden-parachuted out, and some refused to move to HQ when their office was closed but their function was still needed. (One fellow in R&D actually worked there until his death from cancer, at age 75.) There have been lots of new hires, many of them young adults not long out of school, with the result being that in less than a decade and still not yet forty I now find myself slightly past the middle in terms of seniority. The average age of an employee at HQ is now 35, which has made for a dramatic change in culture and attitude around the office. The people calling the shots are still all highly senior, with nearly every one of them a 30+ year employee or a member of their age group (hired away from elsewhere), so there's a fairly large disconnect between them and the rank-and-file. That, unfortunately, is leading to a lot of our issues in the marketplace the last year or so. :/

Comment Re:Missing option (Score 1) 532

I read that entire article. That made me angrier than I've been in some while, I'll admit, as well as made me realize my choice of "evil" in the poll wasn't nearly far off the mark, in terms of cynicism. The bald-faced lies and absolute greed inherent in this whole system are appalling.

Comment Re:Who are the real "Drug Cartel" ? (Score 1) 253

You are basically getting mad at Bayer because people prefer Bayer asprin over generic?

Indeed. Not to take sides in the GP's debate with another poster, but that particular example serves only to really demonstrate that people are susceptible to marketing efforts with years of momentum and plenty of money behind them. It doesn't follow that oligopoly power is preserving Bayer's financial benefits from producing aspirin - given that making aspirin is simple enough that we did it in sufficient yields and purity in high school chemistry experiments, anyone sufficiently capitalized can get in on this action.

Comment Re:The two I legally need to have to go about my d (Score 1) 380

Tell that to the thousands of people who are shot by robbers because they refused to hand over their wallet.

Anecdotal, and doesn't address the question of the number, but there have been a number of stories in the Milwaukee paper the last year or so about robberies where the stuff got handed over and the thug shot the victim anyway. Take that for what it's worth in the context of this discussion.

Comment Re:Stronger, lighter cars? (Score 1) 144

I think some people would prefer a broken arm over a totalled car.

Give me the completely-trashed car over an injury any day; anybody who prefers the broken arm either hasn't considered or isn't aware of the long-term impact to their body and its functionality, resiliency, etc. I'd rather not have the loss of structural integrity of the bone, joint and/or muscle damage, possible need for physical therapy to regain strength and loss of range of motion, and all that.

Comment Re:Clamshells are on their way out (Score 4, Informative) 398

I've worked with companies that are trying to drive a paper-based alternative to plastic clamshells, and while there's a modicum of market activity there, none of these packagers has yet to see the take-off they'd like. One of the challenges is that a paper-based package is going to require an adhesive system of some sort that provides the package as a ready-to-seal unit into which the widget-maker can drop his widget, without buying a lot of additional materials and equipment (such as adhesive and an application system).

Want to make a self-sealing cardboard package? You could use a pressure-sensitive adhesive that would stick two flaps of cardboard together when the package is folded shut, but then you've got to have release liner covering the adhesive, or the adhesive film will end up bonded to whatever else it touches and/or pick up dirt and become useless in the shipping and handling portions of its pre-packaging life. (Think of the types of closure you see on a UPS "Red" overnight shipping box or envelope.)

Another option is using a cohesive-type of product, where both sides are coated with an adhesive that sticks to itself but not to much else. These are great, except the bulk of them are made of natural rubber and have a very limited shelf-life before they "deaden" up and simply won't seal any longer. That makes it a definite possibility that your 10,000 purchased packaging units will really only allow you to use 3,000 of them to package your widgets before the packages stop sealing, within literally a month or two after they were created and sold to you.

I'm not saying it can't be done - just that I've been watching the attempts to replace clamshells go on for years, and I've had a front-row seat to watch some of the limitations of the potential replacements.

Comment Consumer preference won't drive change here. (Score 2) 398

Plastic clamshell packaging has always been a nightmare from an end-consumer's perspective, and yes, there's lip-service paid to changing things in the words of major retailers and consumer goods distributors, but it's not likely to change because of "wrap rage." Clamshell packaging is adored by the retail industry for a handful of reasons:

A.) Product visibility: transparent plastic packaging that hugs the product, displays it prominently, and can showcase it visibly with flashy liners and inserts is just loved by marketing departments. Using corrugated boxes, trays, or cartons just isn't sexy if you're pushing a mostly-commoditized consumer good.

B.) Tamper evidence and loss prevention: opening boxes is easy. Opening a clamshell is difficult and noticeable, particularly if you're an unscrupulous retail employee trying to get the widget out of the package and into your pockets without the embedded loss-prevention device (RFID, etc.) coming with it.

C.) Cost of packaging: getting something into paper or corrugated boxes and cartons is a slow and expensive process, in terms of unit throughput, materials, and equipment/process complexity. Mechanical fastening (staples, etc.) is slow, adhesive application systems aren't cheap and aren't much faster, and self-seal packaging comes with a host of other issues that contribute to waste and cost. By comparison, a clamshell packaging process can be quick, with a minimum of material and significantly less scrap.

Until boxes are cheaper and faster - until the cost per unit in time, money, materials, and processing is lower using paper packaging than clamshells - those nasty, finger-slicing hunks of PVC, PET, and polycarbonate aren't going anywhere.

Comment Re:STFU and give us free music (Score 2) 567

If I can't make money off of the music I create, it will continue to be made only in the spare time I have. I will produce it slowly and sparingly.

For a non-musician example, I'll hold up Pete Abrams, creator and author of "Sluggy Freelance". (I have to imagine plenty of people here are familiar with his work.) Faced with the challenge of supporting himself and his young family several years ago while still trying to do the work he loved (and that was in quite a bit of demand from his fans), Pete mustered up a patronage-style program along with a renewed marketing effort on his merchandise. He made it quite plain that if things didn't change with the money coming in from "Sluggy," he wouldn't be able to keep it up as his primary occupation - meaning the fans would have to deal with significantly less output or possibly the folding of the entire effort.

The fanbase responded accordingly - many of them, faced with the extinction of something that was of value to them (a creative work they enjoyed), decided to pay more than the "minimum market value" by "subscribing" to his "Defenders of the Nifty" group, often giving more than the minimum requested donation. Many others went on merchandise purchasing sprees, and picked up lots of stuffed toys, books, and t-shirts.

In the vast and nebulous world of entertainment delivered via tubes of ones and zeroes, I believe the bulk of people are likely to keep consuming for free or for the occasional minimum purchase price. For the career independent artist (in just about any medium) to succeed in the future, though, there will have to be a class of patron-level fans who make more than an iTunes track purchase now and then - people who recognize that if they want their favorite artists to keep making art, those artists are going to need support.

Comment Re:Sure, but (Score 1) 229

That's why states have things called Use Tax, which is to cover things like mail-order and online. You are supposed to claim those purchases on your income tax forms at the state level, and then pay the appropriate tax. No one does it though, and that's why states are trying to find ways to get their lost revenue.

See, there's a part of that statement - assuming it's true, and I have no reason to doubt it - regarding people failing to pay use taxes that makes no sense to me. I suppose if one strongly disagrees with the tax for specific reasons, perhaps they view non-payment as their form of protest. I think the bulk of people who fail to pay use tax, though, are simply engaged in a combination of intellectual laziness and plain ol' selfish dishonesty. As I see it, if there's not a philosophical objection to paying that tax, then it should be paid as part of one's fair share for supporting the state's infrastructure and needs.

I pay use tax. I have for years. Initially, I just ball-parked an estimate of how much I'd spent, but with my current tracking and record-keeping I know to the penny what I spent on out-of-state purchases, and even manage to exempt the amount spent on taxes collected in other states (for non-mail-order items). Even if someone isn't as analretentive about their records as I am, it's easy enough to say "I spent about $1000 this year on mail-order goodies, so that's the figure I'll use."

And let's be honest - someone who can afford to spend a thousand bucks a year on mail-order stuff (gifts, clothes, DVDs, books, appliances, hardware, etc.) can afford the fifty or one-hundred in taxes that a 5-10% use tax rate would indicate they owe.

Comment What happens when the answer is "mu?" (Score 2) 504

I find myself curious as to what these (current or prospective) employers do with candidates who, assuming they meet all other criteria for the job, don't have social media accounts? That's one I haven't seen addressed in the various articles that have discussed this topic in recent weeks.

Comment Lots of anecdotal evidence coming, I'm sure. (Score 4, Interesting) 403

Since everyone's going to chime in with their perspective from experience, I'll add mine. I've had several managers in the course of my career, at multiple companies and on both sides of the gender fence. I've also needed different levels and styles of management at different points in my career, and have experienced both "good" and "bad" bosses along the way.

Early on, when I was more likely to need guidance and suggestions (in learning time management and prioritization, communications skills, etc.), I found much better and more involved management from the women than the men. The women were more likely to take the time to observe and try to understand where the deficiencies were, and to advise me in a non-confrontational way about how to proceed and what to learn from the situation.

As I grew in my abilities and my confidence, though, I was more likely to run into conflicts and differences with some of those same women managers. Communication was less direct than it needed to be, personality differences became more of an issue than they were with male managers, and occasionally, problems would escalate to a passive-aggressive undermining. Conversely, men in management seemed more likely to recognize and acknowledge my increasing competence, and when corrective communication was needed it was short, direct, and efficient.

Don't underestimate the effect of corporate culture, though, on management styles - my opinion is that bad management is caused by culture as much as culture is an effect of bad management. I think it's very much a chicken-and-egg thing, in that regard, but there's definitely an influence at play.

In the years since I've entered management, I've swapped back and forth between two upper managers (depending upon company re-orgs), both of whom have decided that the best way to manage me is to leave me the hell alone. My current boss has told me that, as far as he's concerned, my department is a black box - resources go in, profit comes out, it all runs seamlessly and quietly, and that's all he needs to know. :)

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