20 Jan 2020

feedSlashdot

Do Engineering Managers Need To Be 'Technical'?

Will Larson has been an engineering leader at Digg, Uber, and Stripe, and last May published the book An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management. Recently he wrote a thoughtful essay asking, "Do engineering managers need to be technical?" exploring the industry's current thinking and arriving at a surprisingly thoughtful conclusion: Around 2010, with Google ascendant, product managers were finding more and more doors closed to them if they didn't have a computer science degree. If this policy worked for Google, it would work at least as well for your virality-driven, mobile-first social network for cats... [N]ow the vast majority of engineering managers come from software-engineering backgrounds. This is true both at the market-elected collection of technology companies known as FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) and at the latest crop of technology IPOs, like Fastly, Lyft, and Slack. While engineering management has not prioritized its own measurement, there is evidence that expert leadership works in some fields... If this is the case, modern technology companies are already well along the right path. This is where the story gets a bit odd. If we know that managers with technical skills outperform others, and we're already hiring managers with backgrounds as software engineers, why are we still worrying whether they're technical? If these folks have proven themselves as practitioners within their fields, what is there left to debate? This is an awkward inconsistency. The most likely explanation is that "being technical" has lost whatever definition it once had... It's uncomfortable to recognize that a distinction I relied upon so heavily for so long no longer means anything to me, but comfort has never been a good reason to get into management. With the term "not technical" unusable, I instead focus on the details. Is there a kind of technology that a given person is not familiar with? Were they uncomfortable, or did they lack confidence when describing a solution? Would I care about them knowing this detail if I didn't personally know it? Given their role in and relation to the project, was the project's success dependent on them knowing these details...? Looking forward to the next 30 years of management trends, only a few things seem certain: Managers should be technical, and the definition of technical will continue to change.

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20 Jan 2020 1:04am GMT

19 Jan 2020

feedSlashdot

71-Year-Old William Gibson Explores 'Existing Level of Weirdness' For New Dystopian SciFi Novel

71-year-old science fiction author William Gibson coined the word "cyberspace" in his 1984 novel Neuromancer. 36 years later he's back with an even more dystopian future in his new novel Agency. But in a surprisingly candid interview in the Daily Beast, Gibson says he prefers watching emerging new technologies first because "To use it is to be changed by it; you're not the same person." "I'm not someone who works from assumptions about where technology might be going. My method of writing is exploratory about that." That's certainly the case with Agency, Gibson's latest, a densely structured, complexly plotted novel that takes place in two separate time frames, which he refers to as "stubs," and has as one of its central characters an AI named Eunice, who is one part uploaded human consciousness and another part specialized military machine intelligence. In one stub it's 2017, a woman is in the White House, and Brexit never happened. But the threat of nuclear war nonetheless hovers over a conflict in the Middle East. In the other stub, it's 22nd century London after "the jackpot," a grim timeline of disasters that has reduced the Earth's population by 80 percent and left Britain to be ruled by "the klept," which Gibson describes as a "hereditary authoritarian government, [with its] roots in organized crime." Given these scenarios, it's no surprise to discover that the 71-year-old Gibson's latest work was heavily influenced by the 2016 election and the ascendancy of Donald Trump to the presidency. "The book I had been imagining had been a kind of a romp," says the U.S.-born Gibson down the phone line from his long-time home in Vancouver, B.C. "But then the election happened, and I thought, 'Uh-oh, my whole sense of the present is 24 hours out of date, and that's enough to make the book I've been working on kind of meaningless.' It took me a long time [to re-think and re-write the book], and I thought the weirdness factor of reality, finding some balance -- what can I do with the existing level of weirdness, and that level kept going up. I wanted to write a book that current events wouldn't have left by the time it got out, and I think Agency works...." "It's an interesting time for science fiction now," says Gibson, "because there are people writing contemporary fiction who are effectively writing science fiction, because the world they live in has become science fiction. Writing a contemporary novel today that doesn't involve concepts that wouldn't have been seen in science fiction 20 years ago is impossible. Unless it's an Amish novel." The Washington Post calls Gibson's new novel "engaging, thought-provoking and delightful," while the senior editor at Medium's tech site One Zero says it's the first time Gibson "has taken direct aim at Silicon Valley, at the industry and culture that has reorganized the world -- with some of his ideas propelling it." "The result is a blend of speculation and satire that any self-respecting denizen of the digital world should spend some time with." And they're also publishing an exclusive excerpt from the novel.

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19 Jan 2020 11:42pm GMT

127 Tesla Owners Complain The Cars Accelerate On Their Own

An anonymous reader quotes the Associated Press: The U.S. government's auto safety agency is looking into allegations that all three of Tesla's electric vehicle models can suddenly accelerate on their own. Brian Sparks of Berkeley, California, petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asking for an investigation. An agency document shows 127 owner complaints to the government that include 110 crashes and 52 injuries. The agency said it will look into allegations that cover about 500,000 Tesla vehicles including Model 3, Model S and Model X vehicles from the 2013 through 2019 model years. The agency's investigations office will evaluate the petition and decide if it should open a formal probe... Frank Borris, a former head of safety defect investigations for NHTSA, said the number of complaints cited in the petition is unusual and warrants further investigation. "The sheer number of complaints would certainly catch my eye," said Borris, who now runs an auto safety consulting business. Tesla owners communicate with other owners on Internet forums and social media, and that could influence the number of complaints, he said. He said the timing of the petition is good, because the agency needs to do a "deeper dive" into Tesla safety. Some of the unintended acceleration complaints, which have yet to be verified by NHTSA, allege that the cars' electronics malfunctioned. CNBC points out that Brian Sparks, the man asking for the investigation, "is currently shorting Tesla stock, but has hedged his bets and been long shares of Tesla in the past."

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19 Jan 2020 10:34pm GMT

feedArs Technica

Tremors turns 30, the most perfect B movie creature feature ever made

The film faltered at the box office but amassed a huge cult following over the years.

19 Jan 2020 6:08pm GMT

SpaceX successfully completes its Dragon abort test [Updated]

The capsule successfully separated and splashed down gently into the Atlantic.

19 Jan 2020 4:07pm GMT

Apple TV+: Can it be saved before everyone’s free trials run out?

Apple's salvo launched months ahead of other upstarts. Why does it already seem behind?

19 Jan 2020 3:00pm GMT

19 Jan 2018

feedEcoGeek

A series of other thoughts about NAIAS 2018

Let's start out with my in-the-moment string of notes during the Press Preview at this year's NAIAS (Detroit Auto Show). This covers the main ideas about this year's program at the time. I'll add a few more comments and expanded thoughts at the end. Not sure if it's an actual color trend, but there's a […]

19 Jan 2018 5:32am GMT

10 Jan 2017

feedEcoGeek

The Surprising Green Lining at 2017 NAIAS

For an EcoGeek, there were many surprises at the 2017 edition of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). We've been watching the emphasis on green cars decline for a number of years. Some of that is in the mainstreaming of more efficient vehicles, with increased fuel efficiency standards, greater numbers of hybrid vehicles, and […]

10 Jan 2017 2:42pm GMT

19 Oct 2016

feedThe Register - Software: Operating Systems

Who killed Cyanogen?

Well, it's hanging on in there, but why didn't it conquer the world?

Analysis Does European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager's team pay close attention to the tech news? If not, perhaps they should.…

19 Oct 2016 10:24am GMT

17 Oct 2016

feedThe Register - Software: Operating Systems

Bits of Google's dead Project Ara modular mobe live on in Linux 4.9

Linus Torvalds teaches devs a lesson with early rc1 release

Google may have killed off its modular smartphone Project Ara idea, but some of the code that would have made it happen looks like coming to the Linux Kernel.…

17 Oct 2016 6:58am GMT

BART barfs, racers crash, and other classic BSODs

Your weekly Windows entertainment large and small

This week's worldwide BSOD roundup starts with what looks to your writer like a virtualisation launch bug. Submitter Alexander tells us it came from Peterborough Station, in Cambridgeshire.…

17 Oct 2016 6:28am GMT

31 Mar 2016

feedEcoGeek

Flow Batteries for Household Power Storage

Residential power storage options are starting to get more competitive with a flow battery being introduced to the market in Australia. Flow batteries have been something we've looked at for grid-scale storage, and the research into the technology has been making advances. But it has been primarily a utility-scale technology. However, the technology has been […]

31 Mar 2016 5:45pm GMT

10 Nov 2011

feedLifehacker

Today’s Lifehacker Workout: The Deck of Cards [Video]

Click here to read Today’s Lifehacker Workout: The Deck of Cards

It's Wednesday, which means another Deck of Cards workout, the fun yet challenging segment of our group exercise program, The Lifehacker Workout. More »


10 Nov 2011 1:15am GMT

iPad Home Screens, Remote Troubleshooting, and Gmail Tasks [From The Tips Box]

Click here to read iPad Home Screens, Remote Troubleshooting, and Gmail Tasks

Readers offer their best tips for previewing your iPad home screen from another app, troubleshooting your friends and family's computers from far away, and accessing Google Tasks in the new Gmail layout. More »


10 Nov 2011 1:00am GMT

Facebook Brings Back the Old "Most Recent" News Feed Option (But It's Kind of Hidden) [Updates]

Click here to read Facebook Brings Back the Old "Most Recent" News Feed Option (But It's Kind of Hidden)

Facebook recently changed its layout, no longer allowing you to choose between "top stories" and "most recent" stories. Due to user outcry, however, they announced today that they'll be changing it back, though you might not notice it at first. Here's how it works. More »


10 Nov 2011 12:30am GMT

09 Nov 2011

feedOSNews

Barnes & Noble Asks DoJ to Investigate Microsoft's Patent Trolling

To anyone who has been reading anything on the web over the past few months, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Barnes & Noble is currently embroiled in a patent lawsuit started by Microsoft, after the bookseller/tablet maker refused to pay protection money to Redmond. Barnes & Noble has now openly said what we already knew, and has filed an official complaint at the US Department of Justice: Microsoft is engaging in anticompetitive practices.

09 Nov 2011 4:13pm GMT

Adobe: HTML5 > Mobile Flash

"Sources close to Adobe that have been briefed on the company's future development plans have revealed this forthcoming announcement to ZDNet: Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores. We will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations.. . ."

09 Nov 2011 6:34am GMT

08 Nov 2011

feedOSNews

Fedora 16 Released

"The following are major features for Fedora 16: enhanced cloud support including Aeolus Conductor, Condor Cloud, HekaFS, OpenStack and pacemaker-cloud; KDE Plasma workspaces 4.7; GNOME 3.2; a number of core system improvements including GRUB 2 and the removal of HAL; an updated libvirtd, trusted boot, guest inspection, virtual lock manager and a pvops based kernel for Xen all improve virtualization support."

08 Nov 2011 10:45pm GMT

06 Nov 2011

feedPlanet Arch Linux

Tyrs a Microblogging Client based on Ncurses

Tyrs is a microblogging client, supporting Twitter and Status.net (identi.ca), it's based on console using the NCurses module from Python. The release of the 0.5.0 version is a good excuse to introduce Tyrs. Tyrs aims to get a good interaction with a fairly intuitive interface that can provide support ncurses. Tyrs tries also not to [...]

06 Nov 2011 9:43pm GMT

05 Nov 2011

feedPlanet Arch Linux

Pulling strings

After one year of managing a network of 10 servers with Cfengine I'm currently building two clusters of 50 servers with Puppet (which I'm using for the first time), and have various notes to share. With my experience I had a feeling Cfengine just isn't right for this project, and didn't consider it seriously. These servers are all running Debian GNU/Linux and Puppet felt natural because of the good Debian integration, and the number of users whom also produced a lot of resources. Chef was out of the picture soon because of the scary architecture; CouchDB, Solr and RabbitMQ... coming from Cfengine this seemed like a bad joke. You probably need to hire a Ruby developer when it breaks. Puppet is somewhat better in this regard.

Puppet master needs Ruby, and has a built-in file server using WEBrick. My first disappointment with Puppet was WEBrick. Though PuppetLabs claim you can scale it up to 20 servers, that proved way off, the built-in server has problems serving as little as 5 agents/servers, and you get to see many dropped connections and failed catalog transfers. I was forced to switch to Mongrel and Nginx as frontend very early in the project, on both clusters. This method works much better (even though Apache+Passenger is the recommended method now from PuppetLabs), and it's not a huge complication compared to WEBrick (and Cfengine which doesn't make you jump through any hoops). Part of the reason for this failure is my pull interval, which is 5 minutes with a random sleep time of up to 3 minutes to avoid harmonics (which is still a high occurrence with these intervals and WEBrick fails miserably). In production a customer can not wait on 30/45 minute pull intervals to get his IP address whitelisted for a service, or some other mundane task, it must happen within 10 minutes... but I'll come to these kind of unrealistic ideas a little later.

Unlike the Cfengine article I have no bootstrapping notes, and no code/modules to share. By default the fresh started puppet agent will look for a host called "puppet" and pull in what ever you defined to bootstrap servers in your manifests. As for modules, I wrote a ton of code and though I'd like to share it, my employer owns it. But unlike Cfengine v3 there's a lot of resources out there for Puppet which can teach you everything you need to know, so I don't feel obligated to even ask.

Interesting enough, published modules would not help you get your job done. You will have to write your own, and your team members will have to learn how to use your modules, which also means writing a lot of documentation. Maybe my biggest disappointment is getting disillusioned by most Puppet advocates and DevOps prophets. I found articles and modules most of them write, and experiences they share have nothing to do with the real world. It's like they host servers in a magical land where everything is done in one way and all servers are identical. Hosting big websites and their apps is a much, much different affair.

Every customer does things differently, and I had to write custom modules for each of them. Just between these two clusters a module managing Apache is different, and you can abstract your code a lot but you reach a point where you simply can't push it any more. Or if you can, you create a mess that is unusable by your team members, and I'm trying to make their jobs better not make them miserable. One customer uses an Isilon NAS, the other has a content distribution network, one uses Nginx as a frontend, other has chrooted web servers, one writes logs to a NFS, other to a Syslog cluster... Now imagine this on a scale with 2,000 customers and 3 times the servers and most of the published infrastructure design guidelines become laughable. Instead you find your self implementing custom solutions, and inventing your own rules, best that you can...

I'm ultimately here to tell you that the projects are in a better state then they would be with the usual cluster management policy. My best moment was an e-mail from a team member saying "I read the code, I now understand it [Puppet]. This is fucking awesome!". I knew at that moment I managed to build something good (or good enough), despite the shortcomings I found, and with nothing more than using PuppetLabs resources. Actually, that is not completely honest. Because I did buy and read the book Pro Puppet which contains an excellent chapter on using Git for collaboration on modules between sysadmins and developers, with proper implementation of development, testing and production (Puppet)environments.

05 Nov 2011 11:17pm GMT

Jshon

Creating json is now ten times easier.

05 Nov 2011 3:10am GMT

01 Jan 2009

feedLinux.com :: Features

A new year, a new Linux.com

Many of you have commented that our NewsVac section hasn't been refreshed since the middle of last month. Others have noticed that our story volume has dropped off. Changes are coming to Linux.com, and until they arrive, you won't see any new stories on the site.

01 Jan 2009 2:00pm GMT

31 Dec 2008

feedLinux.com :: Features

Android-powered G1 phone is an enticing platform for app developers

The free and open source software community has been waiting for the G1 cell phone since it was first announced in July. Source code for Google's Android mobile platform has been available, but the G1 marks its commercial debut. It's clearly a good device, but is it what Linux boosters and FOSS advocates have long been anticipating?

31 Dec 2008 2:00pm GMT

30 Dec 2008

feedLinux.com :: Features

Municipalities open their GIS systems to citizens

Many public administrations already use open source Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to let citizens look at public geographic data trough dedicated Web sites. Others use the same software to partially open the data gathering process: they let citizens directly add geographic information to the official, high-quality GIS databases by drawing or clicking on digital maps.

30 Dec 2008 2:00pm GMT