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Comment Re:Whatever they feel like (Score 1) 349

SO MANY problems I have seen when devs have admin rights on their boxes! If you want more reliable software, I think the first step is to make the devs run under the same OS permissions as the users. As far as selecting your own tools, I can't comment on that. Maybe the company is multi-platform. Myself, there are my preferred editors and such that I want, but that's no big deal.

Comment Re:Exactly that (Score 1) 349

It wasn't my best job, but a very enjoyable one when I was just starting out let me work 10am to 7pm. No rush hour traffic, two hours every night undisturbed, and usually no problems with crowds when I went out for lunch. Sheer bliss. But the company promoted idiots and allowed nepotistic hiring practices, so I left and continued my career elsewhere.

Comment Re:Entertainment is entertaining (Score 1) 300

I worked for an org and was issued a purchase card, it was a credit card from a bank that I could use on trips, etc. Except all purchases had to be put on a req and approved in advance. So what it did was de-centralize the purchasing department, to no benefit of the people throughout the org. There was no such thing as petty cash, and if you bought something out of pocket that you needed without the p-card approval, odds of getting reimbursed were not high. So if you needed to outfit an office, you'd go to Staples and write down the catalog number and price for everything, then plug it in to a Word document, print it on the correct color paper (automatic rejection if on the wrong color paper) and run it up the chain. For a very long time I have made it a personal standard of buying almost all of my own supplies and taking them with me when I leave to avoid shite like this.

A friend in the same org went to spend several hundred dollars on a load of paper (she ran the print shop). When the credit card statement arrived for the purchase, all hell broke loose because there had been an error in calculating tax on one side or the other (vendor was in a different state) and there was a sub-ten cent difference between the PO and the actual purchase.

Comment Re:Okay (Score 1) 300

I had a boss who would schedule meetings at 4:30 when I left at 5, or at 8am when that was the time that I typically arrived, and the first thing that I did every morning was to check the health of all of my database servers, which took some time. I found a very simple solution: in Outlook, create a daily meeting from 8-9am and from 4-5pm, and mark it private. Boss goes to schedule a meeting at an inappropriate time, and so sad -- I'm not available. It was never a problem for me in the future.

It doesn't help against bosses that walk in, but in this case he was sort of in another part of the building and didn't come in to programmer space routinely. He once came in during lunch, when I was working (I prefer late lunches) and started talking about incredibly strange things, ruining my workflow. Then he starts giving me ration of shit about Mac computers. My MacBook Pro was on the desktop, I used it as a music player. Finally I turned to it, ran uptime, and said to him: 'You're right, Bob. Mac's are total shit. Mine's only been up for 49 days without a reboot.' He left without saying another word.

Comment Re:Too many stories (Score 1) 300

Yep. First thing that I did when I started that job was disable all the backup agents, and things improved tremendously, not to mention saving a lot of dollars from the annual licensing. I would probably trust Redgate's backup solution, but in no job have I ever had the budget for third-party tools of any sort. I wrote tons of code for monitoring and managing my servers in Perl and T-SQL, one of these days I'll start seeing about doing them in Powershell, I just haven't gotten to it yet.

Comment Re:Too many stories (Score 1) 300

Oh, I certainly know what happened next! Spanning was never a good idea, but sometimes it was the only tool that we had.

The funny thing was that when I was at #1, they had two Wang mini-computers. And no power protection. We'd get summer monsoon rains, and there was invariably power interruptions, and invariably some board or another in the Wangs had blown up. I had mega-UPS backup on my 3Com LAN long before the Wangs had protection. One day I was walking in to the building and the Finance manager jumped me: "The LAN is down!" The 3Com servers were on the first floor, the actual computer room was on the 4th, which was where my office was. I walk in and look at the servers, and they appear happy. I connect through a console computer next to the servers, and everything seems fine, but no one is signed on. I go up to my office, and I can't connect. I go in to the computer room. My hub (didn't have switches, those were too expensive!) was located on top of its UPS underneath a modem rack for the Wangs. A storm had hit the previous night, and the operators had started switching off the modems. And continued down and powered off my hub for the 3Com network. Powered it back on, and all was well.

I remember once, over a holiday weekend, they shut down the power to the building for maintenance. They didn't tell me, so I didn't power down the LAN. Finance manager arrives early Monday: power is still out. But the UPS system for the 3Com servers are beeping away 'Excuse me, but you're on battery power!' and the servers were happily ticking away, though no one else had power to their computers in order to connect. All weekend long they'd kept the servers up. As I recall, it was a pair of 1500 or 3000 watt systems. Gorgeous, and weighed a tonne.

Comment Re:CEO modified database without telling anyone (Score 1) 300

I had a guy 'who knew databases' change a primary key field from character to numeric, because all the data in it was numbers. The data also had leading zeroes. And it broke the relationship to all the child tables, which he hadn't changed, which had leading zeroes. All of a sudden 'lots of records are missing!'

It was easy enough to fix, but it took some time to figure out what he did. Naturally he didn't mention the change that he'd done.

Comment Too many stories (Score 1) 300

For one of them I got a t-shirt from Shark Tank! But I'm not going to write about that one, it'd take too long.

Boss 1 (very early '90s): we're holding a rare all-hands meeting on a Thursday or Friday (small dept, 8 people or so, tops), and I'm starting a two week vacation that weekend. Whole purpose of the meeting was for Boss to say that when I get back from vacation, I'll no longer be the LAN admin, I'm going to work with Bob doing COBOL programming, and Dave is going to take over as LAN admin for Finance. I came within an inch of saying 'Fuck you, Larry, I quit. I'll be in tomorrow to clean out my desk.' Larry hadn't said a word to me in advance about this change, never a whisper of it. While I could do COBOL, I much preferred doing FoxPro and managing the LAN. And I knew Dave couldn't handle doing everything for Finance. Over my vacation I thought about it and I decided to wait it out. I started showing Dave everything that I did for Finance, and he was quickly lost. Nothing further was discussed, nothing changed, and I never wrote a line of code with Bob. And people in Finance wept when I left because they knew they were now at the tender mercies of Larry.

Boss 2, which predated Larry. I had been hired (mid '80s) to create a merge document in a word processing package for creating retirement plan contracts. Awesome job, got me out of a lousy job. Eventually that job transitioned to running the billing system, maintaining the PCs, etc. It then evolved to create a reporting system in dBase III for the canned accounting package to produce better and prettier reports. My boss, the office manager, hired her husband to come in as Senior IT, and he clearly had little knowledge of micros. Eventually my boss told me that I was being put back in to doing word processing, which led me to find another job. One of the programs that I'd written was for producing 1099 forms as they were required whenever a pension plan did a distribution. Okidata Microline 93 printer, continuous form feed of multi-part pre-printed forms, dBase III (boss's hubby wouldn't let me use FoxPro because 'I might get hit by a bus'), and some very specific formatting code like microline advance to make the database info line up with the pre-printed form. In the code were comments that said "DO NOT ADJUST THE CODE IN THIS BLOCK OR YOU'LL BREAK THE FORMATTING!" You couldn't miss it. He touched the code, apparently didn't have a backup, broke the code, and they were never able to print the forms again.

Boss 3 (actually management above my boss was the problem): Working at a school, appeared to be a good job, I'd spent over two years developing a very nice database system for them. It was complete, worked great, just needed final deployment. Costs for software and hardware had already been paid. Everyone there is on an annual contract: all teachers, all staff. Then the administration decided not to renew my contract. Zero complaints about my work, excellent reviews, never called in to an office to discuss something bad that I'd done, and the project was complete. The project was never deployed: complete waste of time and money. At least I got to mothball it so that it could be brought back with a few weeks work if a more intelligent type of administrator is found (highly unlikely). They later told my boss that I had been hired on a temporary basis for the project. Funny how the fact that it was a temporary role was never mentioned in my interview. Or on-boarding process. Or annual review. Or contract renewal. Or to either of my bosses (the one who hired me retired a year later).

Boss 4. Working for a moderately-sized city. The storage admin, who 'knew all', didn't want me backing up the ERP system (180 gig or so a that time, growing at about 5% per month) using SQL Server's transaction log and database backups. He said the SAN backups would capture it all. Finally a meeting was called with Boss, SAN admin, and me. I lost, and I turned off SQL Server backups on that instance as instructed. Later, after I was gone, the IT manager (or maybe HR, they were a bunch of 'special' people) decided they didn't need a DBA and would let a vendor monitor their databases. On a different database that came along after I'd left, with billable data, they didn't notice that the backups had stopped working. They didn't notice that the database consistency checks had started reporting corruption in the database. And then the SAN developed a glitch that caused occasional drives to drop out. Eventually one of those drops hit the database being monitored by the vendor, and it blew sky high. And it was unrecoverable because of the failed backups and corruption. They found a restorable copy, but it was a couple of months old, so they lost lots of billable information that could not be recreated. No, they don't need a DBA! As far as I know, no one was disciplined for losing that data.

Boss 5. Working for a major city. Classic case of 'Take credit for everything good that IT does, blame everyone when something bad happens.' After I left, I found out that IT was becoming a hell hole because of her. Eventually she was told by the city manager: 'Resign or face prosecution.' Apparently she'd screwed over one of her underlings over FMLA and had exposed the city to tremendous liability. She quit.

Comment Re:Uh...yeah! (Score 1) 391

American politics are so horribly distorted and exclusionary, look at the inability for the majority party in Congress to try to work with the minority party (over the last 20 years, not just right now). I haven't come up with what I think is a good unofficial motto for the Dems, maybe they're too internally divided for one. As a gross oversimplification, I think the Repubs ignore the social cost of a lot of the things they do, the Dems ignore the fiscal costs. What I find interesting is that the Republicans always claim to be the fiscally conservative party, yet since Reagan the deficit and debt has always ballooned during their reigns. Yes it grew under Obama, but it was slowing and he had two unpaid for wars to manage plus a recession to fight. He was far from perfect, but at least he tried to pay for the things he did. And now under the current regime's proclaimed plans we don't know what's going to happen: either the deficit and debt will explode again, or the federal government will be gutted and thousands of people will become unemployed, there's not much in the way of alternatives.

My wife and I constantly discuss/argue about the two-party system, I think it's impossible for two parties to adequately represent a nation's interest, my wife thinks that more parties would just add more chaos to the system. I keep thinking about the saying that Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. Maybe we need a new form of government, and we just don't know what it should look like yet. Maybe part of the problem is too many gross oversimplifications, like my unofficial motto of the RNC. I think the only certainty is that we all operate, form opinions, and make decisions from imperfect information.

I really need to get breakfast made and get away from the news and read my morning comics.

Comment Re:Uh...yeah! (Score 1) 391

I agree and disagree with you whether money is an infinite resource. While money is just bits in a computer, it still requires some resource to back it up. That used to be gold, and I cannot imagine the disruption that would happen if we actually tried to go back to the gold standard! There comes a point when money is like thermodynamics. For example, the housing bubble could not grow infinitely and had to burst, or go through an adjustment. In that case, it was a massive collapse because of systemic fraud that was largely ignored. Neither can the stock market grow infinitely. Money becomes a zero-sum game: as the ultra-rich hoard more and more, there's less and less for the middle and lower class, which I think will ultimately result in a collapse of services for the ultra-rich. The funny thing is that most of the ultra-rich inherited their money and didn't do much to expand it, they're living off interest and earnings.

Consider it another way: manufacturing costs. Many countries outsourced manufacturing and other jobs to China. Their economies started rising, and now those jobs are getting more expensive, so manufacturers are looking for other inexpensive places to manufacture. When manufacturing leaves those countries that have gotten more expensive, the jobs went away and the economy probably found itself on a bit of a see-saw. China retained the tech capability and is using it to improve its own economy and become self-boosting. Other countries may not be able to maintain an industrial base like China did when western industry pulls out for cheaper pools. Eventually every country will have raised wages for their poorest, but this paradigm is also becoming distorted by the increased adoption of robotics. There's still cheap manufacturing for some jobs, like textiles and clothing assembly that are best done by hand, and robots still need supervision and maintenance.

I'm not expressing this as well as I should, my brain hasn't fully spun up this morning and I haven't taken any courses in macro- or micro-economics. Money is a mutually agreed upon fiction, but there has to be some reality behind it. Artificially adding more to the supply just punts the ball down the road and makes the inevitable readjustment all the worse. I've heard, but don't know the numbers behind it, that right now wealth inequity is greater than it was during the French Revolution, I'm curious how it compares to the Great Depression of the early 20th century.

Comment Re:Uh...yeah! (Score 2) 391

Though I could save money by getting my prescription meds via mail, I buy them locally because that's local taxes and supporting local jobs. And when our pharmacy plan calls to tell me how much I could save, I tell them that and it usually leaves the person on the other end of the line silent.

Then don't bitch about the costs of health care when you go out of your way to buy more expensive medicines. This is the reason so many insurance companies are switching away from copays and straight to deductibles.

Excuse me, but at what point did I "bitch about the costs of health care"? I made a comment that I willingly pay more for meds locally than buying them through the mail, I don't see a complaint in what I said. Having said that, I do spend a lot on health care and pharmacy as I have an immune disorder that is very expensive to treat and keep me alive. I don't like the fact that it seems like my monthly OTC meds get more expensive every time that I pick them up, but I didn't bitch about it. I recognize that my meds will get more expensive over time and that those costs support jobs for the pharmacy insurance company that gives me theoretical price breaks. I'm OK with companies making profit, but not when it's mainly to go for an executive to get a new boat. I don't have to increase their profits by getting my meds mail order at the cost of jobs that are local to my economy.

I hadn't heard about a switch from copays to straight deductibles, thank you for that information. That could be pretty painful for my wife and I until my annual is met, which, depending on how much the annual cap is, could be 4-5 months. We'd probably have to front-load a slush fund to have a pre-allocated cash surplus for the start of a new plan year.

Comment Re:Uh...yeah! (Score 4, Insightful) 391

I've been saying for a few years that the unofficial motto of the Republican Party is "I've got mine, screw you" and this just perpetuates that even though this is driven more by the on-going reality series, Wall Street and the Quest for Quarterly Profits. Though I could save money by getting my prescription meds via mail, I buy them locally because that's local taxes and supporting local jobs. And when our pharmacy plan calls to tell me how much I could save, I tell them that and it usually leaves the person on the other end of the line silent.

I don't understand how people can think that money is an infinite resource. It has to be backed by something tangible, and when you remove wages from the local economy like this then you weaken the local economy. The middle class is on life support, and that seems to be what the RNC and Wall Street want. There's a story of Henry Ford showing a UAW president a robotic assembly line, bragging about the robots never strike, never ask for a raise, don't take time off sick, can work 24 hours a day. The UAW president replied "But how many cars do these robots buy?"

Personally I think morality left business when the personnel office became 'Human Resources'. When you devalue a person to a slot that can be filled by any number of interchangeable people, then morality and ethics are out the window.

Comment Re:What's with this fixation? (Score 1) 328

The thing that I particularly love about this is the irony that it's Disney, the company being sued by workers for outsourcing its IT department to India and sacking all of its local IT workforce. So go right ahead and learn to code under the Disney IT directive, kids -- you're never going to code for them! You might stand and let people on to rides for $10 an hour, but you're not going to code for them.

No, not everyone should be programmers. I have no problem with exposing everyone to code, you never know when someone might be incredibly gifted and they just needed that exposure. All I needed was to be shown that KSR-33 teletype with the dial-up acoustic coupler modem back in '74 and I was hooked. I didn't know a thing about code at that time, but I learned pretty quick. Give kids a class every other year that also helps them with critical thinking, and maybe there's a chance we can improve the state of computer security and reduce the amount of Nigerian Prince fraud that goes on over time. It requires curiosity, drive, and a certain mind set to be a coder, and not everyone is cut out for it. I've seen amazing coders, I've seen horrible coders, and personally I think I'd rather see fewer of the latter than more of the former.

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