Stories by Mary Brandel

  • Vendor disk failure rates: Myth or metric?

    The statistics of mean time between failures (MTBF) and average failure rate (AFR) have gotten lots of attention lately in the storage world, especially with the release of three much-discussed studies devoted to the topic in the last year. And for good reason: Vendor-stated MTBFs have risen into the 1 million-to-1.5 million-hour range, equaling 114 to 170 years, a lifespan that no one is seeing in the real world.

  • Rock star coders

    "You sound great singing in the shower, but there's a rock star inside you!" So read the first line of a job posting placed by Viget Labs in December, in its attempt to fill a junior-level position for a Ruby on Rails "would-be rock star programmer."

  • Should your company 'crowdsource' its next project?

    When Constellation Energy Group's commodities group needed a new system recently, it considered the usual sources of labor: internal staff, a consultant, a contractor, offshore programmers or a mix of all four. Instead, it turned to a somewhat less traditional technique: Ask programmers from all over the world to compete with each other to write the best code for the system. When all is said and done, hundreds of programmers will labor over a system that, in the end, will represent the work of less than 100 developers, whose code will be hand-selected by Constellation and TopCoder, the company that is managing the competition.

  • The eight most dangerous consumer technologies

    High-tech consumer products and services of all kinds are making their way into the workplace. They include everything from smartphones, voice over IP systems and flash memory sticks to virtual online worlds.

  • The top 10 dead (or dying) computer skills

    Those in search of eternal life need look no further than the computer industry. Here, last gasps are rarely taken, as aging systems crank away in back rooms across the U.S., not unlike 1970s reruns on Nickelodeon's TV Land. So while it may not be exactly easy for Novell NetWare engineers and OS/2 administrators to find employers who require their services, it's very difficult to declare these skills -- or any computer skill, really -- dead.