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Comment Made in China (Score 2, Insightful) 604

Not that this is some kind of deep insight only apparent to me, but it's no coincidence that Dell's reputation as a supplier of a quality product has faded as they've moved more and more of their R&D work overseas (and I use the term R&D loosely here). Back in the 90s when Dell was a quality machine, they had quality people designing them. It was a good job, and everyone I went to school with was excited about the prospect of working there. So, they could pick the best and the brightest. Today, they just pick the cheapest. They know their engineers overseas aren't as good. They just don't care. Dell doesn't even do a lot of their own R&D. They contract a lot of it out to Foxconn. A friend of mine was "sold" to Foxconn when he was due for a promotion. He sits in the exact same cube, but doesn't have access to the Dell gym. He went without software for several weeks because Foxconn didn't get him licenses right away. Turns out the last Dell laptop I bought (Inspiron 1720) wasn't designed by Dell. Someone else did the R&D work (I assume Foxconn), and Dell slapped their name on it. And yes, that model has a quality issue with the GPU detaching from the motherboard. Contrast that with Apple... Yeah, they manufacture stuff overseas. But, as far as I can tell, they still do their R&D work in the US. Most engineers I know would love to work for them. They make a good product. They charge more for it, but people pay it. Maybe Dell should think about that. Bring your R&D back here and start caring about quality from the beginning. If that makes your stuff more expensive, I'd like to think people will be receptive when they know you make a good product. Heck, I even wonder if it would be economical to put manufacturing in a less affluent part of the US (West Texas, deep South, etc). You'd get to market your stuff as made/assembled in the US, you'd save on freight, and you wouldn't have to pay the workers that much (in US terms) to give them a decent standard of living. I'm no bean counter, but I've got to think the tradeoffs there aren't all that crazy.

Comment I'm a therapist and have been doing this already. (Score 1) 187

I work on Icecrown, horde side, as a Tauren, "Cownselor." This is a pretty tough job sometimes. Here's a chat transcript from a couple of nights ago:

To [Stabbz]: Hello, Stabbz. My name is Cownselor. My mother asked me to speak with you about your time in the World of Warcraft.
[Stabbz]: Stabbz is busy fighting against Freya (32%, 22/24 people alive)

Comment Use DITA (Score 4, Informative) 338

Someone mentioned XML/XSL/FO. Don't try to write your content in XSL-FO. You'll hate every minute of it.

I'd look in to using DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture). It's a set of canned XML structures, plus a specification for how to process and customize those structures. It includes tags for stuff like footnotes...I bet it covers a lot of your use cases. There are some good intros to how these XML structures work here:

As DITA is XML, you can convert it to HTML and whatever else you feel like, pretty easily. There's an open-source implementation of the DITA spec called the DITA Open Toolkit ( The DITA Open Toolkit includes stylesheets/scripts to publish HTML and PDF, among other things. PDFs are published via XSL-FO. Just like HTML needs a web browser to render something useful, XSL-FO requires a FO processor to create a PDF. So, in the end you write DITA, XSLT and other scripts transform that DITA to XSL-FO, the a FO processor consumes the XSL-FO and spits out a PDF. The DITA Open Toolkit comes with an open-source FO processor (Apache FOP). FOP doesn't fulfill everyone's needs, but it might work very well for you.

Unfortunately, working with the Open Toolkit and customizing its output can be a bit unwieldy. is a pretty good place to look for help.


Submission + - Pay for your own tea and coffee, IBM tells staff

Stony Stevenson writes: FREE tea and coffee are necessities in an office, but if new cost-cutting measures get the nod at IBM, staff will be paying for their own. IBM worldwide has begun cost cuts that will scrap office amenities such as tea and coffee, and even company-funded home internet access, as the IT services giant battles the effects of the global financial crisis. From May 1, IBM will cease to reimburse internet access for staff working from home. Direct-pay corporate managed and contracted home internet services will also be scrapped.

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