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  Saturday, February 1, 2003

The value of networking, redux

In Job Search, Warm and Fuzzy Beats Online and All-Business. Young people, it seems, tend to place great faith in their Internet skills and lack familiarity with the personal approach that many employers are seeking. By Melinda Ligos. [New York Times: Technology]

Yow, does this sound familiar. One of the toughest skills for me to develop over the last few years has been an unnatural affinity for chat. I'm your basic introvert, not at all gregarious. I'd just as soon be sitting here in front of the computer. Public speaking terrifies me, talking to strangers is frightening. When entering an unfamiliar situation, I generally feel that I don't belong. But when I started a new career a few years back, I soon discovered the value of networking, and started sticking my neck out. I volunteered with the local National Writers Union group, then with the Silicon Valley STC chapter. Now several hundred people know who I am, and I'm counting on that to help land a job the next time I need one.

8:55:33 PM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

Big surprise

A year after declaring a company-wide focus on making its software secure, Micro$oft has failed. They can't even keep their own servers patched. Now what?

7:07:56 PM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

Intuit hears the buzz

Intuit Scrambles to Ease TurboTax Woes

Intuit's attempt to cram a copy-protection scheme down its users throats is backfiring. Now, it's not that I want to share my copy of TurboTax with all my friends and rob Intuit of revenue. It's just that installing resource-demanding background software and tying my use of their program to one computer--that's not cool. I used TurboTax for two years after becoming a Quicken user, but this year Intuit lost my support and I'm using TaxCut this year.

7:04:25 PM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

Space program prognosis?

Dan Gillmor thinks that "Space is humanity's destiny, if it has one. We are an exploring, expansionist race. We must go on. . . It has never been more critical, given the terrestrial threats, to get the species off the planet and to find new resources for those who remain."

Shuttle Astronauts, RIP; Space Program, Too?. Michael Anderson. David Brown. Kalpana Chawla. Laurel Clark. Rick Husband. William McCool. Ilan Ramon. We can feel little but... [Dan Gillmor's eJournal]

While Dan is right on most of the time, he's off mark here. I've never believed that our future is moving the human species off this planet. This is our home, and our goal should be to learn to live within its limits, not to use it up and move on.

Which is not to say that space exploration should end. Just that space exploration can be accomplished more safely and more cost-effectively with satellites, probes, and robots. We don't need to risk more humans doing it.

Another perspective:

A Program Troubled From Start. The space shuttle program has almost always been plagued by design failures, cost overruns, delays and mismanagement. By Robert D. Mcfadden. [New York Times: NYT HomePage]

2:10:43 PM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

Shuttle links:

8:50:02 AM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

Shuttle program ends

The U.S. space shuttle program came to an end early this morning as the shuttle Columbia broke up over Texas on approach to landing. The program, which should have been terminated with the loss of the shuttle Challenger in 1986, was granted an extra 17 years of life by an ignorant Congress and an incompetent NASA.

Most space scientists will acknowledge that the shuttle missions returned little or no scientific knowledge that could not be derived from satellites and robots. There is no overwhelming reason to put human beings up there except publicity and and PR for the space program.

The last mission for the shuttle fleet must be to retrieve the crew now on the space station, bring them home, and mothball the space station and the shuttle fleet. Return the millions of dollars to the federal budget, where it can put to better use.

Don't get me wrong; I'm sorry that seven astronauts are dead. They knew the risks, perhaps better than anyone else. They knew the tight parameters required to re-enter the earth's atmosphere and land safely. If you've seen the movie Apollo 13, you'll remember the discussion. And measure, for a moment, seven dead astronauts against the likely death toll from a war in Iraq.

Richard Feynman said in his minority report to the Challenger investigation:

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled."

8:18:14 AM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

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