Monthly Archives: April 2006

Distributed computing, capitalist style

Here’s an idea: rather than sending advertisements to user’s computers, why not send scripting code to calculate [the valuable thing, like, I dunno, pi or hacking the encryption on HDDVD or something] and send the results back to your central computer?

Come on, you know you want to. And it’s free!

Handsfree Bluetooth

For those who don’t find mobile phones annoying enough, and don’t find speakerphones annoying enough, there’s now a bunch of Bluetooh Speakerphones on the market, like this one.

Egads.

I understand it’s meant for use in a car, but we all know what they’ll really be used for: “Quick” calls taken in the office, or maybe yammering to your friend on the train about her infectious disease.

A Question on Outsourcing

I think I’m a little stupid.

Given:

  1. Outsourcing is basically an attempt to cut costs by moving work to a lower-wage environment
  2. Management is paid more than the IT staff

What is the logical conclusion?

Alternative fuels don’t solve greenhouse problem

Popular mechanics examines various alternative fuels, but isn’t good at figuring out cause and effect.

Point one:
Global warming is caused by too much greenhouse gases; Burning stuff creates carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Burning stuff causes global warming. Not digging stuff up out of the ground.

Point two:
Hydrogen is easiest to create by passing electricity through water. Electricity is mostly created by burning coal (heating water, turning turbine, yada yada yada). See point one. This has just been pointed out in an Age opinion piece on public transport.

Which is why ethenol, methenol, biodiesel, natural gas, electricity and hydrogen aren’t anti-greenhouse fuels; Solar, wind, hydro, nuclear and geothermal are.

Only electric batteries / hydrogen cells can act as crossover technologies from renewable generation sources to transport. Anything else is going to have water lapping at your front door in a century; but hey, Venice is a romantic city – and wouldn’t it be great if many more of the cities of the world were romantic like Venice?.

Hire IT professionals quickly

IT Manager’s Journal tries to tell IT Managers to hire IT professionals quickly if they want high-caliber IT personnel. High-caliber IT personnel get snapped up quickly, so if you want them (and you do). This article is a sub-point within Joel’s discussion on hiring.

I’ve been there, and seen it. On both sides. One employeer had to wait two years before being able to actually act on their intention to hire me. So my advice goes like this:

Be clear on a start date

Some people will be pleased with 2 weeks, others 2 months; if you can be flexible, all the better. Bad is: “We’ve got to get final budget approval, and then we’ll stagger you in with the others over a six week window.” My response would be: “Fine, but you’re going to start paying me now, right?” That’s not a start date. That’s more like an intention. Which could have the carpet pulled out from underneath it. Why did I just spend two hours in a interview with you?

Hire in small groups

Minimize the number of people you try to hire in one hit – well, at least compress the time between interviews and acceptance. Uncertainty is hard to work with. And if you’re looking to hire twelve people, you’ll want the best 12, and that means interviewing everyone and then ranking them. Actually, perhaps Joel’s approach to interviewing is the right way to ensure you get the number of people you need – he ranks the resumes, does a half-hour+ phone interview and then a face-to-face.

Pay Through the Nose – and be happy about it

High-caliber IT personnel are excellent value, even when they cost twice your average-caliber IT personnel. Study after study has shown it. They get more done, and the stuff they do works better. In fact, I believe it’s an order of magnitude best-to-average, and another order of magnitude averge-to-worst. A hundredfold difference. At twice the price, the best people are a steal. More words from Joel:

In some other industries, cheap is more important than good. Wal*Mart grew to be the biggest corporation on Earth by selling cheap products, not good products. If Wal*Mart tried to sell high quality goods, their costs would go up and their whole cheap advantage would be lost. For example if they tried to sell a tube sock that can withstand the unusual rigors of, say, being washed in a washing machine, they’d have to use all kinds of expensive components, like, say, cotton, and the cost for every single sock would go up.

As an aside, I’ve used Joel’s Guerrilla Guide to Interviewing and found it works fairly well.

What have I missed?

Oi, pirates!

This copy of Windows is not genuine. Cough up, you smegging pirate.Windows XP users in some countries who use Windows Update have got a new tool on their machines: the Windows Genuine Advantage Notification. Basically if it reckons your Windows installation isn’t legit, it’ll pipe up “This copy of Windows is not genuine. You may be a victim of software counterfeiting” on the logon screen, with similar messages appearing as popups at random times.

Could be irritating enough to get people to cough up. I’m sure it won’t be long before it’s hacked into submission, of course. Meanwhile Office is joining in with an Office Genuine Advantage verification being pilotted.

Australian SMS Spam

It seems SMS spammers have chosen a public holiday to launch another SMS spam attack.

The content of the message, from premium SMS number 19996111, goes something like “Free MSG. You have a secret admirer! Reply CHAT To Be Connected! For help call 1300885902. Average msg cost $2.70″. From what I have read you won’t be charged to receive this message but replying will see your bank balance reduced at a rapid rate. To follow what happens with this particular spam and for links on how to report it follow this thread in Whirlpool.

If you recently received a ‘system message’ spam entitled ‘Funny Clip’ you can find information on it at this Whirlpool thread.

Explorer Destroyer

Ed Bott writes about Explorer Destroyer, a programme some Firefox fanatics have dreamed up to try and force people into dumping IE and using Firefox.

I’ll side with Ed on this. To deliberately degrade an IE user’s browsing experience is just the kind of thing FF supporters should be against.

And bear in mind that a significant number of web users aren’t in control of what browser’s on their desktop. They might be home users on a machine set up by a geek who don’t know how to change browsers… they might be corporate users who are using IE because of corporate policy… they might be in a Net cafe.

To my mind it’s just as ratty as, say, MS deciding to release some software for XP only, when there’s no technical reason it can’t run on Windows 2000. Screw the user, it’s all about market share at any cost.

As a contrast, here’s the WordPress mob’s campaign: BrowseHappy.

MySql woes

We’ve got MySql problems here at Geekrant central.

MySQL said: Documentation
#1016 – Can’t open file: ‘wp_comments.MYI’ (errno: 145)

Doesn’t sound good, does it? The ISP is looking into it.

Nothing else seems to be AWOL, but I’ve taken a backup of everything just in case. Wouldn’t you know it, the backup I have of wp_comments isn’t particularly recent. Hopefully the ISP has a newer one, but if not, I’ve grabbed a bunch of comments via Newsgator’s cache. Gawd knows how I’d restore them though.

Update: Fixed. May I just say, the support guys at AussieHQ hosting are deadset legends.