* Posts by Jeff from California

18 posts • joined 20 Feb 2011

GitLab can proclaim diversity all it likes, but it seems to have a real problem keeping women on staff or in management

Jeff from California

The Mad Hatter Rule applies far too often these days, yes?

<blockquote>Pointing at the company's January 29 blog post about Comparably's 125-person survey, GitLab's spokesperson added, "Diversity and inclusion is a core GitLab value. We strive to foster an environment where everyone can thrive and we are proud to be recognized recently for these efforts."


I'm interpreting this as "What we say three times is true, dammit", and filtering accordingly.

College PRIMOS prankster wreaks havoc with sysadmin manuals

Jeff from California

Excessively trusting system, that was

I have fond memories of PRIMOS, as our school had a Prime 650 with a roomful of terminals back around 1980. The manuals were freely available on a rack in the terminal room. Perusing them, I discovered that what we now would call the root-level password was a) hard-coded and b) published in said manuals.

I understand that later versions of PRIMOS repaired those defects, but at the time, it was mind-blowing. Here's a roomful of kids, split between the I-gotta-get-through-this and I'm-in-a-candy-store crowds, and the keys to the safe were in full public view. "The honor system stretched beyond its limits", one of the pranksters called it.

Microsoft boasted it had rebuilt Skype 'from the ground up'. Instead, it should have buried it

Jeff from California

Re: Market research

Change the rubber mallet to a ball peen hammer and I'm with you.

And I'm a developer.

Jeff from California

Clearly well advanced in Stage 4.

My first civilian boss used to preach that there were five stages to business development:

1. Idea-driven;

2. Engineering-driven;

3. Sales-driven;

4. Marketing-driven;

5. Chapter 7.

Folklore reportedly had it that a sixth stage existed, between 4 and 5 on the above list, but nobody had managed to hit it yet.

There were reasons several industrial giants put valiant effort into remaining at Stage 3. When sales drives the company, you're very attentive to your actual, paying customers and what they want and think. Once you fall across the chasm into Stage 4, you become hostage to your own navel-gazing propaganda telling you what your future customers ought to want. Your existing customers; you know, the folks with money they want to give you? They're the ones who see your big ¡Sal si puedes! sign and take it to heart.

Marissa! Mayer! out! as! Yahoo!-Verizon! closes!

Jeff from California

Vahoozon First

What's on second, and third base, I Don't Know.

Abbott & Costello would have been better co-CEOs for the last ten years of Vahoozon's demise, come to think of it.

Apple to automatically cram macOS Sierra into Macs – 'cos that worked well for Windows 10

Jeff from California

macOS is very different than OS X. Oops.

I'm Chief Engineer of a Web dev shop that do a lot of Ruby and Elixir development; we're almost exclusively a Mac shop. In the last year, we've brought up Docker as a core piece of our technology stacks. We're not, as an organisation, progress-hostile; in fact, I've lost jobs, plural, before for being too far in the opposite direction.

Sierra is the first Mac OS upgrade *since Puma* (10.1; 2001) that the shop I worked for at the time hasn't been standardised on across the board within a fortnight of GM release. We don't anticipate moving to Sierra before what will probably be the 10.12.2 timeframe.

A small number of teething problems on a new release are unavoidable, but Sierra has been extreme in the number, severity, and breadth of problems reported through the channels I follow. The number of reports of Macs becoming partially or completely unusable after the update dwarfs anything I have seen before, probably collectively. Apple have had issues before; have had OS updates that just didn't seem worthwhile (we skipped Mavericks and went directly from Mountain Lion to Yosemite); and so on. Never in our experience, however, have Apple dropped the ball so spectacularly while clearly believing they had dropped a mic instead.

The market is ripe for true disruption. Many Mac shops are sticking with Apple but gnashing their teeth and looking about anxiously while doing so. Windows is almost mind-blowingly better than it was 5-10 years ago, but it still seems to lack the consistency and unobtrusiveness that have been traditional hallmarks of the Mac. No other OS besides OS X/macOS and Windows exists that has anything resembling the end-user-friendly interface, business-friendly licensing and support, and third-party application support of those two systems. (The Year of the Linux Desktop was circa 2003; it's gone off in a radically different, more successful direction since then.) Apple are focussed on their iOS platform (their current herd of cash cows) and simply haven't paid the same attention to Macs as in years past; witness the all-but-official demise of the Mac Pro and Mac mini.

There's nothing else out there for us, or for lots of other shops. Some say "Apple shouldn't take us (Mac users) for granted as much as they are now". Others say "Never ascribe to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence"; Tim Cook and Jony Ive are brilliant in the supporting roles they held for years, but their unfettered leadership is proving a problem for the platform.

Where do we go?

Machismo is ruining the tech industry for all of us. Equally

Jeff from California

Re: Is this getting worse with time

Part of the reason for that is that, compared to when we got into the field (1970s for me), there are so few older guys (or women) in the industry now.

In any proper engineering discipline, experience is valued, and one does not attain "senior" or "principal" levels without decades (usually quite plural) of experience. For software, I've seen adverts for "senior software 'engineers'" asking for as little as 1-1/2 years of experience, and I saw a "chief 'engineer'" advert last week, for an established firm, that was asking for a piddly four years of experience.

In four years, from what I've seen, people usually get to the point where they begin to understand what the important questions are. It takes quite a while beyond that for anyone to be able to evaluate competing answers, and that's if they're disciplined about learning (which too few of us are). Admit it: how much of what you pick up is I-need-this-next-week-for-the-project-I'm-on, and how much is I-don't-know-when-I'm-going-to-need-this-but-it-could-come-in-handy? Technicians focus on the former; engineers mix in the latter.

The predictable result of that is that nobody "has time" to learn from their or others' less-than-successful experiences, which means that nobody HAS experience in the traditional sense — you just manage to guess right enough for two or three years and then go into management, or leave.

Is that any way to run anything that fancies itself a profession?

Jeff from California

Re: Oh look

I'm always amused by how posts like this bring out the most insecure guys possible, who are so blinded by the Denning-Kruger effect that anything that potentially increases the number of people in tech is, by their definition, an existential threat.

When I first got into coding, in the 1970s, I grew to believe that we were 30 or 40 years away from software becoming a true engineering discipline, analogous to civil, aeronautic, or chemical engineering. It's presumed sentients like Bahboh here that remind me that we'll ALWAYS be "30 to 40 years away".

Here in the Democratic People's Republic of Singapore, (differing from "…of Korea" primarily by the presence of MASSIVE foreign investment), startups routinely die for lack of available talent. Four years ago when I was staffing up my most recent one here, I'd have given my eyeteeth for qualified people, male, female, or other. I've also had the opportunity here to see first-hand how the reinforcement of cultural divisions actively hinders a society from progressing.

The Martian: Matt Damon sciences the sh*t out of the red planet

Jeff from California

Not love, but *tolerance*.

As Watney makes abundantly clear, and with excruciatingly excellent justification, he views disco as being better than having nothing resembling music at all. Given the circumstances, a position which I can understand without necessarily agreeing. :)

US space programme in shock metric conversion

Jeff from California

Re: Six tenths of a kilometre?

Do you really want to listen to an announcer that talks fast enough to give accurate position fixes on an object moving that fast?

Jeff from California

That depends.

Which 'football' are we referring to; real football or the American spectacle of the same name?

Ah. You said 'field'. Everybody knows football is played on a 'pitch'. That resolves that confusion. Carry on…

Jeff from California
Paris Hilton

Re: Broken

It doesn't make sense from a practical standpoint — but then, the reason 'Murricans still use Imperial weights and measures has nothing to do with practicality and everything to do with emotional symbolism.

By pig-headedly sticking to Imperial units, and forcing all the companies that want to sell their products both in central North America and the Free(r) World to spend Saganesque billions of dollars in redundancy (labelling, packaging, inventory management and so on), 'Murricans are doing their considerable best to ensure that their products have a hard time being sold outside their borders, accelerating the out-of-control trade imbalance and hastening the demise of what once was the United States of America as a meaningful player in world trade. Maybe when world trade moves away from the US dollar as the global reserve currency, people will finally begin to understand how badly they've been screwed and why; my guess is they'll keep on lapping up the corporate propaganda that's replaced American news reporting and continue to blame every imaginable outside influence that scapegoats them having to take actual responsibility for and control of what in living memory was our country.

Things are going to keep accelerating downhill, and this is a poster-child-level reason for "why".

Paris for her corporately-groomed, information-free symbolism of what's wrong with America.

Jeff from California

Re: Good luck with that

Mage, they've spent the last almost 40 years dismantling what had been one of the finest education systems in human history and replacing it with creationism, gossip, No Child Left Behind, and the Kardashians. (You may quibble about which of the four is more devastating to young intellects.)

As an American, I would be very surprised if there was any large-scale social, political or philosophical leadership coming out of the midsection of the North American continent for some years, if not decades. We're falling into the abyss of our very own Cultural Revolution, and we haven't yet even conceived of a 'bottom', let alone come within a parsec of hitting it. Things will get unfathomably worse before they start getting better, which is one reason why I'm no longer physically there.

Malware burrows deep into computer BIOS to escape AV

Jeff from California
Big Brother

Hmmm… have you ever thought…

that that "who needs computers, anyway" idea fits in awfully well with the know-nothing-or-even-less attitude being pushed as a replacement for intelligent discourse and debate these days in what used to be the United States? Wouldn't surprise me at all to read some future historian in a few decades paint a convincing case that the Kochs or other corporate minders of the "Tea Party" useful idiots were heavily invested in this sort of thing.

Microsoft patent points to Skype snooping

Jeff from California

There hasn't BEEN a democratic government…

…in the US, in the sense that the high-school textbooks indoctrinate subjects to believe since at least 1974, and you can make an excellent case for 23 December 1913.

Back when the world was a collection of agrarian/subsistence economies that were each effectively governed locally, people could do something about that.

But concentration of power and wealth scaled a LOT faster than accountability or education, and that was pretty much the end of such charmingly quaint notions as "democracy" or "rule of law".

Jeff from California

Law of averages meets "maintaining appearances"

And good luck getting a tech this week if you're a GS-14 or below, by the way…unless you're in a corporate-welfare-oriented DoD or security-theatre role, of course

What sealed Nokia's fate?

Jeff from California

What kind of idiot?

What you're describing is known as the Osborne Effect (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osborne_effect). I had direct personal experience with the original... and now feel like a pole is being stuck backwards up the posterior of all (former) friends of Nokia.

Unprecedented domain seizure shutters 84,000 sites

Jeff from California
Black Helicopters

When megaphones and keyboards are banned…

…they can pry mine out of my cold, dead fingers. Though I expect they'll more likely use black Suburbans than black helicopters.


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