* Posts by Eric Olson

250 posts • joined 22 Sep 2007

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Amazon cloud to BEND TIME, exist in own time zone for 24 hours

Eric Olson
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Re: What is so sacred about 9,192,631,770?

The idea is to stop using physical items that can chance shape, size, density, etc. and have to be adjusted for the ambient conditions at the time of measurement. Seconds used to be defined as a 1/86,400th of a mean solar day. But of course, the Earth is very much a physical item that changes based on ambient. Notice the use of "mean" in the old definition of second. More importantly, with a slowing rotation, anything that uses second as a unit will change over time. That means that you would have to constantly update measurements of fundamental phenomena, like the speed of light. Today it might be 299,792,458 meters/second, but using an Earth-derived second means it might be 299,792,458.5 meters/second in a couple years. Defining seconds by the number of vibrations of a Cesium atom means it's tied to a fundamental property of nature, though one that can be still influenced by external forces, like local gravity.

Even today the margin of error for an atomic clock is enough to add uncertainty to the true speed of light, and we have other. Adding a leap second for the sake of coordinating time is purely for those of us Earth-bound souls. And since most of us only measure time down to the second (with some people going to ms), that resolution is good enough. But perhaps we need to stop thinking about time from an earth-derived value.

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Never trust a developer who says 'I can fix this in a few minutes'

Eric Olson
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Re: Project manager?

Which estimate are you talking about? The one which the senior-level leaders who haven't actually coded in years came up with? Or the one that the mid-level architects came up with when pressured to confirm that high-level estimate, despite knowing that the requirements had already changed enough to render it useless? Or perhaps the actual poor saps tasked with delivering the pig's breakfast. I find that it's the estimate that the last group comes up with is the most accurate, though the most ignored one of the lot.

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Polygraph.com owner pleads guilty to helping others beat lie detector

Eric Olson
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Re: interesting justice

The two positions in question were for the Department of Homeland Security and the Border Patrol. Both are law enforcement positions. Interfering with the police in any way, directly or indirectly, can be considered obstruction of justice. That's where the charge comes from, and the charge is in federal court since both are federal positions and because he crossed state lines to commit them.

I misspoke in that the first undercover story was an already hired airport inspector (not an LEO in any way, shape, or form) being investigated for letting a friend through with contraband. So that would be an actual crime, though again, it never actually happened meaning there was no actual investigation being obstructed. It sure could be used as evidence for a search warrant to get actual records or access to actual cases where he tried to help someone fool the machine.

The second one, however, is not because it's an LEO, but because the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has allowed the Border Patrol to flag some of their positions as being subject to deeper "suitability determinations" (their own description) that can include polygraph tests. The fact that it was an LEO made the position more likely to be subject to such checking, but there are other positions within the OPM's purview that can be subject to these requirements and have nothing to do with being an LEO or even working with them.

My point is that as no actual crime or application was being investigated so no actual crime by Mr. Williams was committed. Unlike a sting operation where a perp is caught handing over a brick of cocaine or illegal weapons, the possession of which is a crime, this is a man who is trying to help someone impede something that doesn't exist. This should be a basis for further investigation, including wire taps and account monitoring, while they either wait for an actual situation where he's trying to help someone evade criminal charges or mislead an investigation or they can go through his history and tie him to someone they already investigated and charged or let go.

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Eric Olson
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Re: interesting justice

It's an interesting concept, because if these undercover agents didn't actually commit the crimes they admitted to, how can the guy be charged with obstruction?

The official indictment indicates that there are two counts of mail fraud (pretty much any criminal use of the USPS is considered mail fraud... it's a nice two-for-one in many cases) and then three counts of witness tampering, which seem to be convincing the people who claimed to have committed crimes to try to convince the Federal Government they did not commit crimes.

Seems off. While I have no doubt that actively working to help someone fraudulently obtain employment, government or otherwise, is at least grounds for a civil case, if not criminal depending on the means, I get a little bothered that he's being charged with obstructing justice for imaginary crimes. Based on the wording in the indictment, the act of doing a background check and polygraph is considered an "investigation" of the candidate, meaning that trying to hinder law enforcement's ability to investigate is obstruction... but again... no actual crime was committed and this should have been enough to at least get a search warrant to find real people he helped.

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CSI GALAXY: Cause of death = STRANGULATION

Eric Olson
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Re: Not dead yet

And here I thought the closest star was visible whenever my part of the earth was facing it.. assuming there weren't any clouds in the way.

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You have the right to be forgotten 41.3 per cent of the time says Google

Eric Olson
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Re: Much as I dislike Google...

Frankly, I think Google should not only be free to ignore "right to forget" requests from politicians, but they should also then promote them up the rankings so that anytime someone searches for that politician, all that's seen are references to the shady and unethical behavior they've been accused of or prosecuted for.

Same goes for those running for office the first time, since each filing period will see a spike in wannabe politicians trying to memory hole all the homophobic, racist, radical, etc. things they did before they wanted to be on the government payroll.

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That DRM support in Firefox you never asked for? It's here

Eric Olson
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Re: DRM - Wont be getting my cash. @Stuart Longland

One last thing, because I think it gets lost when people talk about "ownership" of something. If you buy a book, you don't own the content. You own an authorized copy of an author's work, nothing more. If the author republishes the book in a different format, with better pictures, prettier font, sloppy prose tightened, you don't get it for free. You have to trundle out to your local bookstore or point your FOSS-compliant browser to a purveyor of choice and pay for the new version. The author, being the actual owner of that content, can change, modify, delete, add, or just completely re-write it whenever they want, and if you would like to have that new version, you will pay for it. (See Lucas, George)

I would like to point out that while you're welcome today to do your second-hand shopping for something, don't pretend for a moment it benefits the author or content creator in any tangible way. There are no resale royalties, and while it might drive a sale to a new copy if you run your local second-hand shop out of copies and someone really wants to get the author's new book, the more likely result is that said person will wander over to another second-hand shop, check out a library sale, or go online to the many second-hand stores. None of this actually benefits a content creator, so at no point can you actually say you are supporting them.

Maybe instead of whining about how you are being forced to fork over cash for something you can't transfer ownership for, maybe you should be asking how you can make sure content continues to be created for you to enjoy. DRM might not be the best way to do it (again, it's just a mechanism to enforce the EULA or Ts&Cs), but then you need to think long and hard about how you satisfy these two requirements from a creator's standpoint:

1) Ensure fair compensation

2) Ensure work is not stolen and reproduced without permission or license, especially if it reduces or prevents point 1

Failure to do that, and your creators will become real amateurs or hobbyists who only have the passion but not the time to create high-quality work. Or it will mean that such pursuits would again revert back to the modern landed gentry who can afford to be idle while pursing some sort of project with little to no financial gain.

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Eric Olson
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Re: Barriers to purchase @ Eric Olson

Nielsen's method is a combination of boxes, surveys, and reports from content providers. They also can figure out how many people are watching in a time-shifted manner. Is it perfect? No.

But the numbers aren't what matters, it's the behavior of the consumer. Those watching TV will have a certain engagement and conversion rate, modeled over decades and actually compared to consumer habits. The internet provides very little of that, for a number of reasons.

For one, the population of those who stream television through a service tend to be younger, more tech savvy individuals. They also are ad-adverse and will likely leave the room to grab something for that 30 second spot. Or YouTube often offers a "skip" button 5-10 seconds in. In general, your count of eyeballs online is likely to be over-inflated and have a much lower conversion rate. What's the point of having perfect numbers when you can't actually see how many people are watching the ad.

TV is usually more communal, and even now is a center of a home where 2 or more people will gather. Short of a handful of HTPCs that are setup by tech geeks, most internet content is streamed to a device that is watched by one person. So even if you can exactly say that 2.5 million views of that show were done online, you have to assume it's only 2.5 million (or less) viewers. For tradition delivery, 2.5 million households (views) on a Tuesday night could be 5 million or even 7.5 million people, and you can survey that information easily. More importantly, a much larger number of them are used to being swayed by ads and accept it, increasing engagement and conversion rates.

Finally, if you are seeing ads that are not applicable to you, it's probably because you are watching something outside your demographic. If you are in the US and watch CBS during primetime, you will see a lot of things that skew old and "comfortable". That's CBS's core demographic, the silver-haired Boomers who like shows that are procedural acronyms. Watch Mad Men on AMC, and you'll see a lot of luxury car ads and upscale beverages, because the demo that watches are younger, affluent, and more likely to drink alcohol that looks expensive, but not be learned enough to know what good alcohol is (that last bit is editorializing on my part, but I digress).

The point is that the internet, specifically streamed TV and movie content, is a very new ballgame. The models are incomplete, the numbers are suspect, and the viewers are less likely to engage with the ads in the first place. So not only can free-to-air TV do things that internet-streamed TV cannot do, it's cheaper, more targeted, and more likely to have a better return on investment. This could change in the next 10 years, but I think (hope) there are more profound content delivery changes on the horizon that will make this conversation moot.

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Eric Olson
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Re: DRM - Wont be getting my cash. @Stuart Longland

Again you are proving my point. The concept of copying an item is illegal in most parts of the world. The US Supreme Court indicated that a person could record a program from the TV onto a VHS and review it for personal use only. A later act made analog audio recording to audio media legal, but clearly stated that digital recordings could only be made with specific, authorized technology. This is not MP3s or hard drives or other any other place we consider housing recordings of digital audio, which is why the RIAA and MPAA was able to do what they did.

If your issue is that you are not allowed to legally copy your media or items to a backup, that is something you take up with your representative or government. Until then, you can not only expect more DRM with limiting licenses, but it will continue to be a profitable venture for companies, especially the one that doesn't screw up implementation and makes it seamless or painless to an end customer.

You should also realize that you and many of the other anti-DRM folks here are outliers: Your general consumer will happily buy a song, album, or movie off of iTunes. The impact of those who choose not to use media that has DRM attached to it is small and shrinking. The days of Securom hosing an entire system of the Sony rootkit are long past and most implementations are invisible.

I get that you don't like it. But as a content creator, hanging around other content creators, and doing content creation for revenue, the last thing I want is my work being passed around like some illicit copy of Juggs at the schoolyard because some kind stole it from Dad's stash. I believe that my work deserves compensation, and if that means it needs to be locked down so that only those who would have never purchased it in the first place are the ones who steal it, fine. But if I just throw out a copy of my work with no security, then it's on me when it gets stolen. It's no different from leaving for work each day with the garage wide open and the doors unlocked. It might take a while for people to take my lawn mower, but one day, someone is going to and my neighbors will yell at me for having long grass.

If it was just a hobby and not something that I derived much revenue from, or I supported myself through eyeballs and other forms of ad revenue, then I might not care so much. But that's not the case. And nor is it for my wife who composes. Our work is our product, and we will protect it as we see fit in a way that doesn't alienate our customers. Since the reality is that those who oppose DRM are often the same folks who go to great lengths to take things apart so they can do it their way, they aren't so much a target demographic as a demographic of no consequence. The impact to my bottom line is minimal and I can make sure that my customers actually are getting a product they enjoy rather than kowtowing to the radicals who demand everything for free, right now, and more to come tomorrow for the same price.

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Eric Olson
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Re: Barriers to purchase

Whats the difference to shoehorning 30 second ads into the streamed show? Why can free to air tv do it but online can't?

In reality online can do more and do it better. You can build up viewer profiles and targeted advertising and select the ads on a per instance version. No more ads that don't apply to you.

Youtube does it now.

It's about conversion rate. An ad on a network is target to a demographic that has grown up with television and are used to learning about, hearing about, and making decisions because of the ads one sees in between scenes or acts in a show. Additionally in the US, a 30 minute block typically has 20-24 minutes of content, the rest being held over for ads and some network stuff. So the math is easy: Buy a 30 second spot during the commercial break, where the risks are known and you have decades old models that tell you what to expect, or bid fiercely for on 2 or 3 30 second spots on a 20 minute show streamed over the internet to a generation that is already bucking the traditional model and has grown used to time-shifted viewing and other tricks to cut down on time wasted watching ads. Oh, and your models don't have any kind of handle on what the conversion rate is, how it will drive sales, and what your return might be.

If you want ad-free viewing, you pay for it. Otherwise, how does a show like Mad Men or Walking Dead make money? A tip jar? A hat? Creators, even if distributors and publishers are removed, need to sell their creation to make money. No one does it for free and if you expect otherwise, you have more than a few screws that need tightening.

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Eric Olson
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Re: DRM - Wont be getting my cash.

Four points:

- I've lived in the same house for over 30 years, if it hasn't burned down yet, it's unlikely to without some help.

The fact you haven't lost anything to a fire yet should be considered good luck, not proof that it will never happen. But as I pointed out, it's not just fire. Animals, water, children, or just plain wear and tear will render the book useless, just like other forms of physical media.

- If my media is irretrievably lost, then in all probability I can buy replacement copies from the second-hand stores, which is where much of it came from in the first place.

You could do that, but more salient to my point, it's not free. You have to pay for the replacement of the item, not just go and download a new copy using your existing license.

- If my media is lost, then in all probability, so is the computer that has the DRM key authorising my use of cloud-stored media. So this DRM thing is no better than the situation I have now.

That's merely a technical problem, and one that's been generally solved by associating DRM with an account as opposed to a single machine. So unless you lose access to all of your accounts, the probability of losing access to the content is slim to nil.

- If the media does outlive me, it can be passed on to someone else. Try doing that with your iTunes collection.

Well, as someone else pointed out, handing Stuart Longland Jr. your VHS, vinyl, or DOS-formatted floppy collection is probably less than useful. Either the format is such that they can no longer play it, or it's been superseded by a newer version. That old comedy album from 1965 might not have been reprinted in CD form because, well, no one liked it, so barring sentimental value, it's unlikely to have much value to whoever you passed it on to.

Additionally, your are incorrectly blaming DRM for what is really a licensing issue, something that is wholly separate though often conflated. If the EULA allows unlimited copying for personal use, or is amended to allow you to transfer ownership to another person, then it's no different than your collection of the 1970s greatest hits on vinyl. But that is something you, as a purchaser of the items, need to consider when laying out your cash.

Overall, my point is that physical media, and any goods for that matter are rights-managed. Whether through existing law, the complications in copying, a finite lifespan, etc. nothing you buy has any guarantee of lasting more than its warranty period and there is no license allowing you to get a replacement if its lost or damaged. Sure, that old wardrobe you have in the corner of the master bedroom might be 200 years old, but the moment it's gone, it's not like you can immediately get a new one for no cost. You'll either need to scour antique stores for it, or pay through the nose from an auction house or collector.

The sooner we stop assuming that DRM is some new invention designed to screw customers out of money and realize it's just a new application of existing limitations, the better we can manage our expectation and push for change or dumping of ineffective or poorly-executed DRM, and maybe start on the real issue, the EULA.

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Eric Olson
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Re: DRM - Wont be getting my cash.

What happens when your house burns down and some of your books are out-of-print? If your CDs get scratched or mangled beyond playable? Or if the media is just fragile and eventually wears out (a la vinyl and magnetic tape)?

The tangible world isn't infinite, so I don't understand why we think the digital world should be. Perhaps it's that idealized world where knowledge is never lost and always available, regardless of the age, format, content, etc. But that's not how the world works. The Great Library was burned down and lost to time, thousands of books and manuscripts that we know to have existed, the knowledge of which is only known because they were referenced in surviving works. There are numerous musical recordings we don't have, either because they existed only in an oral tradition or because they predated recording. And even recorded works have been lost due to degradation of the media.

I'm still not a fan of DRM, but its more for where it can go wrong as opposed to some philosophical opposition. DRM can fail or malfunction, locking out a customer who has purchased access to content. But at least there, in theory, there is recourse and you can get access restored. A CD was its own DRM (and just as illegal to circumvent through copying, whether people cared or not), and if it failed, your only recourse was to buy a new copy. Same with a book. You can't legally copy a book (though many have tried), and if it was destroyed, lost, damaged, eaten by a dog, covered in blood, etc., you couldn't bring the remains back to a bookstore and ask for a new copy for free. You could get a new copy, but for the price of the original, or you could look around for a used copy.

So some of your points are valid: It can fail, it can be a hassle, it can be poorly implemented, and if the unlock is remote, then a server failure, local internet failure, or the folding of the shop can render content unplayable. But those are technical failures with technical solutions; they can be overcome. The other sins you lay at the feet of DRM are not a DRM problem; they are a commerce problem. And will continue to be, even if creators sell direct to customers.

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Why OH WHY is economics so bleedin' awful, then?

Eric Olson
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Re: Sitting Ducks @Dan Paul

Did they personally tell you this, or was that rumor? Did you actually verify they received such a benefit? Last I checked in the US, there is no such thing as free housing. You can sign up for a waiting list, assuming you can actually find one that's open, to get Section 8 housing, but that still requires that you pay a portion of the rent. And many people have been on Section 8 housing assistance waiting lists for over a year. And the "free cash" has always been a small amount, such that a single parent with one child with a low income receives around $400 a month. And there are work or retraining requirements to continue the benefits. And if they are minors themselves, they generally have to continue living with their parents, or a legal guardian, and still remain in school to get the benefit, and the benefit goes to their parents or caretaker.

In short, your anecdote doesn't pass the smell test from a US standpoint. You have an incorrect memory of the events, were mislead about what exactly happened to them, or are misrepresenting what actually happened. I applaud your attempt to lend plausibility to the story by making it seem like you were actually there, but it's not any less asinine than Reagan's oft-repeated claims about those strapping young bucks. That, or you are referring to a time many years ago when it was hard to verify identify and fraud could happen with only a few aliases. But that's called criminal behavior and is prosecuted as such, and happens as much as other sensational crimes that cause plenty of tittering at media outlets of ill-repute. There are plenty more cases of elder abuse and identity theft to defraud Medicare and Medicaid, perpetrated by white collar crooks looks to make a quick buck, or the hucksters selling snake oil because the law of the land allows anyone to sell a pill as a "supplement" and sell it through Dr. Oz and his ilk. The volume and cost to the country dwarf any of the costs we could recover by going after mythical welfare queens.

But hey, don't let that dissuade you from your crusade.

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Eric Olson
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Re: Sitting Ducks @Dan Paul

You'll find that your "welfare queen" is a political straw(wo)man that is used to rile folks like you up. Congratulations, you've fallen for the ruse, hook, line, and sinker.

And as a sworn officer of the morality cops, I'm sure this next piece of information won't sway you a bit, as it contradicts your carefully constructed view of the world.

Families that receive cash benefits instead of vouchers or other restricted-use benefits have better outcomes for their children (http://www.nber.org/papers/w21101)

From the paper's abstract:

Our findings suggest that additional income may improve outcomes through both mechanisms: some benefit income is spent on direct education and health inputs, while some is spent on everyday items likely to improve the general conditions children face. Additionally, some families reduce spending on risky behavior items

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Eric Olson
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Re: Sitting Ducks

* Cash payments increase the welfare of recipients to a greater degree than do transfers-in-kind of equal cash value. (84 per cent)

What recipients? Not those who spend it on fags-and-booze, nor their children. And that's precisely where the worst social problems lie.

It starts with people whining about sin spending, and then you have presidential candidates talking about "strapping young bucks [minority men]" using welfare to buy T-Bone steaks (Reagan, 1976). If there ever was a slippery slope that existed in the real world, it's the insidious myth of welfare cheats/queens. These people rarely exist.

Yet because of this pernicious talking point, we have states passing restrictions on how cash-like benefits can be used, like no seafood (sounds good when it's lobster, not so good when it also prevents buying a tin of tuna), no spices or herbs (favor is only for those who earn it), or nuts (because good health is also something you have to earn). And even if we applied rules that restricted it to healthy items, that definition 15 years ago would have excluded butter, eggs, dairy with fat, and many vegetable oils while providing "healthful" alternatives like partially hydrogenated oils (margarine), fruit juices, and "fortified" cereals like Frosted Mini Wheats. Never mind that today, those "healthy" items all have a growing list of ills associated to them while the demonized items of the 90s are turning out to be a lot healthier than originally thought.

As someone who seems to be concerned with the removal of the free market from things, by advocating the picking of winners and losers in the food world by the government, or more specifically, the morality police, you screw the rest of us who aren't getting benefits. There are enough welfare dollars there to sway manufacturers and producers in a direction that may be proven wrong in another 15 years. Worst of all, the benefit of being able to pivot with the market is removed because laws take forever to change and the morality police are not exactly known for being receptive to ideas that challenge or refute their world-views.

As Mr. Worstall talked about a few weeks back, scrap welfare and this hand-wringing over the morality of certain items and just give a minimum basic income to everyone. That way, I can tell you and all those morality cops to stop policing the lives of others because you think they are deficient or incapable of living without someone over their shoulder telling them how they are failing. The fact that you have a job does not give you some kind of superiority or moral high ground; it just means you have a job (which many people on welfare have, it just doesn't provide enough)

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Eric Olson
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Sensible words from Mr. Worstall

I'm curious to see if we'll see less Left/Right BS and more "If this is the stated goal, here's what the research says we should do."

Before this, I often read pieces from Mr. Worstall that started the other way, "Here's the right thing to do; the goals are inconsequential," which is where you start to get into trouble and have 200+ comment sections arguing about subjective concepts like fairness or talk about the silliness of emotional debates. A society may not actually be interested in maximizing output or economic growth if it means degradation of the environment, extreme income inequality, etc. A decision to trade some economic growth for social security, universal health care, or other expensive government service that requires a higher level of taxation is perfectly acceptable.

I applaud the recognition that of all the social sciences, economics is the least scientific or social. It's a lot of cultural or cognitive biases that get rolled into a single model or paper that outlines exactly why one person thinks the best way to explain an economy is to examine the entrails of a recently slaughtered pig.

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US Congress promises death to patent trolls in bipartisan law scribbling

Eric Olson
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Re: USPTO revamping

These days, most patent applications come from business and researching institutions (generally universities and labs). The cost of filing for a patent for those bigger companies are small.

AIA did create the "micro entity" to reduce fees by upwards of 75%. I didn't go into it in my original post, but it's a person (almost always) who is named on fewer than four applications and does not have a gross income in excess of 3 times the median household income (so that would be $155,000 or less right now). This is for the true (some say mythical?) garage or shed inventor and to get those InventHelp like companies out of the business because the fee reverts to normal if the inventor is required to transfer the patent to another entity that does not meet those criteria.

There already existed a "small entity" that covered individuals and small institutions where fees were reduced by up to 50%, so AIA just created an even cheaper tier.

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Eric Olson
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Re: Does nothing...

Every time the country encounters an upheaval due to technological innovation, bad patents get awarded. It takes time for examiners to understand the new technology, courts to sift through the competing patents, and for the process to play out.

Case in point: The sewing machine.

Many different models using patented technologies, or broadly-worded patents that could apply to any number of implementations. Hell, there were even a prominent "rights holders" at the time who did not and had no interest in making sewing machines, just profiting off lawsuits against companies, retailers, and consumers who purchased sewing machines that contained technology that might have been covered by a patent in their portfolio. Take a look at Elias Howe Jr. if you want to see Patent Troll Prime, though at least he did invent something at one point. Back then, the proper epithet was "patent shark".

At roughly the same time, the 1850s saw an anti-patent movement that almost got the whole patent system dismantled in Britain and Prussia, while the Netherlands and Switzerland actually stopped issuing patents for decades.. They did not get much traction in the USA, however.

My point is that none of this is new and is in fact what happens when a new field of R&D emerges and the race to file begins. Here is an interesting academic look at the 19th century patent wars.

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Eric Olson
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Re: USPTO revamping

Guess who's responsible for the USPTO's budget...

The people filing the patents are responsible. All fees collected are used by the USPTO to pay for administrative costs and a reserve fund. They do not rely on Congress for funding, nor do they have to divert their funding to the general fund to see it come back (thought they do have to ask permission to use it...). It is a self-funded governmental office.

Of course, being self-funding is not the same as self-organizing or autonomy. For many years, the USPTO was limited in how much it could increase fees or how it could tier them. With the America Invents Act, they were provided authority to adjust fees as necessary to reflect the aggregate costs associated with their mission, with the added authority to adjust the fee schedule based on the size of the patent submitter. With those changes, the USPTO has been able to hire more examiners and reduce backlog.

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This is Spartan? No, it's Microsoft Edge, Son of Internet Explorer

Eric Olson
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Re: Close, but still no cigar

From the Windows standpoint, it's easy: Yet another carrot to get you to move to Windows 10. They're already offering it free to folks who have Win 7 - 8.1 for a year after release (or so they are claiming on their website). Why keep developing for two generations of the OS when you know it will be deprecated soon enough? I mean, aside from business who took years to migrate off of WinXP, and Win2000 before that. Even free licenese aren't going to be enough, though I'm sure that's part of the carrot as well.

As for the non-Windows OSes.... well, I would guess it's because the truth is that even with the steps forward taken by both OS X and the various Linux distros, they are still a small minority of computers in use today. Looking around, there aren't many good estimates of OS usage, but for March 2015, Wikimedia's requests show 79% of non-mobile OSes are some variant of Windows. In fact, WinXP was only slightly less common than all OS X 10.X versions (8.67% vs.10.8%). Even with an generous assumption of error, you can't really say that in the non-mobile arena there is much value to Microsoft to port their browser to Linux or Mac.

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Why recruiters are looking beyond IT's traditional talent pool

Eric Olson
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I am quite lazy... and hate to consider myself clever, though I've fooled enough people to get where I am today. The lazy is mostly because I don't want to do anything more than necessary to get the job done and happily delegate to others who can do it more quickly than I.

Kidding aside, I was a friggin' psychology major who liked statistics and figuring out how groups interacted and collided (none of that abnormal psych, please). Little did I know that when married with my DIY attitude towards my computer and a possibly unhealthy compulsion to learn a little bit about everything, I would be someone who could BS my way through a room while I frantically used my down time to actually learn the stuff I pretended I knew something about.

I hate being in the dark about something, and that was recently reinforced when I moved to a new company in a new field to continue on as a BA, and I knew nothing about how anything worked, either operationally or technologically. Drove me absolutely mad. But I was able to flub my way though and my deep-seated obsession with learning new things brings me to a point 6 months later where I no longer pretend I know things, I actually do. My PM might not like the way I do things (not enough documented milestones and project plans), but it seems my developers, Product Owner, stakeholders, and SQA folks take the time to point out how much better things are with me around. I love it and hate it, all at the same time... mostly because in addition to my inability to not want to learn, it's hard for me to fathom why others don't take the time to understand things.

So yeah, I'm tooting my own horn... but at the same time, I expect others to do the same and am constantly disappointed when they don't.

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Eric Olson
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Devil

Re: Respect

No-one ever seems to tell them when its appropriate to switch off the BCS borg programming and talk to a stakeholder like a human being.

And this, folks, is why I and other BAs have jobs. Too many business folks got tired of dealing with developers and software architects who talked way above and then down to the managers, directors, and executives.

I'm a closet techie myself, but I got a liberal arts degree in the early part of this century, worked in retail, customer service, helpdesk, and finally, analyst. My skill-set is wide but not deep, and a newly minted CS major could probably put together a small database with stored procedures and automated reporting in the time it takes me to get Visual Studio up and running. But I can relate to, understand, and if necessary, cajole and forcibly extract from, the business folks who make the money that pays for the IT department's salary. After that, I can understand what the needs are yet have enough knowledge about the underlying infrastructure to know how to translate, represent, and direct.

I envision a day where my role disappears in a cloud of smoke as either business users have to become savvy enough to at least communicate effectively to developers or there are developers who've ascended to levels in a business where they have to learn how to speak to others without falling back on system diagrams or flowcharts representing behind-the-scenes processes, ETLs, algorithms, etc.

But until that day comes, I'll continue to rake in the sweet, sweet cash.

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Eric Olson
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Coat

@mad physicist Fiona

All because the IT whizzes had decided that the notices literally every ten feet along the wall (Fire wall - do not penetrate) didn't apply to them.

Maybe they thought it would be a good pen test?

Thankyouandgoodnight!

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Eric Olson
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@Ivan 4

A Business Analyst might be necessary in developing financial services software but is useless for industrial control software.

Hey! We BAs can also do health care, testing services, and retail software, as well. Give us some credit.

Having worked in my college summers in manufacturing and a brother who is a EE/Comp.Eng and works on control panels for a variety of applications, I have no desire to ever step into a role that requires me to do that kind of work for industrial machines. Something about hearing my brother recount a project he was handed where he was asked to maintain and enhance thousands or millions of lines of undocumented spaghetti code in machine language gives me nightmares.

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Facebook fiddles with News Feed algo. Brace yourself for CONTENTGEDDON

Eric Olson
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Most Recent still exists on the mobile app (Android, at least). You just need to tap the hamburger icon, to the right of the globe icon, the scroll down to find Most Recent. It's not perfect mind you.

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Eric Olson
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WTF?

Call me crazy...

But the article read like it was written by my formerly tech-savvy uncle, who declared that BBS was good enough for him so it should be good enough for everyone. I realize the intent was humor with a side of snark, but it just came across as jaded, bitter, and fearful of change.

We know what Facebook is about. No new ground is being broken (journalistic or otherwise) by reiterating that it they track how what their users are doing. It also is disingenuous as all commercial (and many non-commercial) websites conduct user interaction tracking to some degree and leverage it for redesign or content presentation, including The Register.

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Trading Standards pokes Amazon over 'libellous' review

Eric Olson
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Re: Perhaps

Having been at a company that used auto dialers, the act of answering the phone was enough to drop the call to an agent. This service would do the same thing. Unless they are using a VoIP system that provides no way for an agent to access a number pad, my guess is that either the message about *5 is being cut off and not heard, or you've got some pretty honest salespeople over there. Those services were offered here in the States years ago, and they mostly died an ignoble death as they were not all that effective.

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Eric Olson
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Re: Perhaps

If emergency services is calling using an unknown number, they will be prompted to press *5 to get through. That extra step could be serious, especially if a time ever comes where robocalls for a general alert are ever required for safety and security. But even without it, the extra step is a possible failure point that could prevent the number holder from being reached.

And even if it was a cold call, the extra step of pressing *5 only assures that a human is on the line who won't be stymied by it. The service being provided is pretty gimmicky and relies on honest humans, a quality you won't often find in telephonic sales.

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Comcast, Time Warner Cable in crunch talks with FCC, DoJ over $42bn mega-merger

Eric Olson
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Re: And 2x bad == ?

I'm sure the robotic help would be better and more expensive than the poor folks they hire to be abused in the Philippines or Malaysia. The flowcharts they hand out have every termination point except "Resolved to Customer Satisfaction."

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Eric Olson
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Re: More sourceless rumors

A week ago the rumor was that approval was imminent.

I can't say I've heard that one before. If there was a rumor approval was imminent, it would have rocked the internet, as many technology companies, media outlets, and other players with a stake have been against it from the start.

However, if you can provide a reputable outlet that published an article that substantiates your claim, I'm willing to accept that at least one person seemed to think this was going to happen at one point.

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Streaming tears of laughter as Jay-Z (Tidal) waves goodbye to $56m

Eric Olson
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Sales Tax vs. VAT

While it is true that there is a wide variety of sales taxes throughout the States, more often than not services are excluded from being taxed. Again, this varies by jurisdiction but it's pretty common to go to the mechanic, for example, and get an invoice that lists the parts and services, with the parts section containing a tax line while seeing none in the services section. So here in the States, I would expect to see a monthly charge on my credit card of $19.99... assuming I ever suffered some kind of traumatic brain injury to left me legally fit to handle my own affairs while being completely bereft of sense.

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You want disruption? Try this: Uber office raided again, staff cuffed

Eric Olson
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Re: Benefit of the Guilds

You'll find that taxis are strictly licensed mainly for safety and honesty - there are still plenty of fake taxi companies at work in London that will rip off tourists. If you take a ride in an unlicensed and uninsured taxi you will receive very little compensation for injury. Uber et al are trying to jump on their bandwagon not a legal one.

You can set standards without unduly constraining market participants who follow the rules. What's happening here in the US is that a lot of places have established taxi operators who bid on a limited number of medallions, badges, licenses, etc, with the entire "fee" going into the city's coffers.

Rather than let the established market participants play in a walled garden, free from competition, it seems easier to require that anyone operating as a car-for-hire must carry commercial insurance of a certain amount and leave it to the insurance carriers to require a certain level of proof before they extend a policy. If you want to operate a car-for-hire service where you provide the cars (as many cab companies do today, though often on lease or for a fee), then the carrier should insure the business owner and require them to check, certify, maintain, and validate the drivers. If Uber or any other peer-to-peer service wants to play, they should make the Ts & Cs clear for both sides that insurance is required and that the transaction is between the driver and the passenger.

In some cases, there is something to be said for giving market participants enough rope to hang themselves with...

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Premera healthcare: US govt security audit gave hacked biz thumbs up

Eric Olson
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Re: Lax US Security Rules????

HIPAA was updated with the ACA (I think) to extend the same protections on physical data to electronic health records. How every company implements those requirements, or if they've decided that a claim filed through a provider portal should have the same level of security as one sent via fax probably varies much more than necessary. To me, it's logical that an electronic claim is protected the same way a paper claim is, especially since even before electronic claims became a thing, those paper claims were often entered into some green-text "UI" that used keystrokes and Function keys to navigate (I noticed those still existed in 2014).

The reality is that the OPM's audit was likely more concerned about the protection of the federal employees then the overall security of the system. And as many federal contracts demand security that is in excess of the legal requirements, companies often maintain separate datastores, user tables, and even applications to deal with those requirements. One the other side, non-governmental clients worry about things like the company logo is scaling properly, the exact color hex codes are used for the portal, and that their employees are being served an HR-approved message on some tertiary screen that is only accessed during 0.1% of all portal sessions, likely the HR bod worried about the messaging.

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Eric Olson
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Re: Bah!

HIPAA covers how Protected Health Information that is identifiable can be accessed be people. Because of changes to technology in the last 20 years, the enforcement of HIPAA has been extended to include information security.

Having working in healthcare previously, I can attest to the rectal probing that an audit should bring when done with actual compliance in mind. Generally, even automated or transactional accesses to PHI was logged and justified. Since it extended to automated processes, just having a generic "SysUser" account for any and all applications that might access the data was not cool, so a unique identifier was required.

We were often asked to "Give me all you've got," by incoming systems and we had to get them to outline the exact data they needed, what it was needed for, and what, if any, was going to persist in their system. Even if they persisted none of it, however, there was a conversation way above my pay grade that often resulted in a much reduced field count and/or without any kind of the forbidden identifiers.

I'd heard that others around us were similar, though that might have been because healthcare is a rather important field in my geographical location, so there is a lot of poaching... err, cross-pollination of ideas, so it wouldn't surprise me to learn that through sheer luck, the healthcare companies in my neck of the woods are a bit stronger... but I'll probably see a local company hacked in tomorrow's paper just to make an idiot of me.

As far as the "seal of approval" from the OPM, I think they only are really concerned about the security of federal employee data... and it wouldn't surprise me if such data was kept sequestered from the other information to please government auditors. Where I was, the PHI of Medicare, Medicaid, Military, and Federal Employees were kept separate from other clients and had tighter control as the government had standards in excess of what was required by law, while the other clients were more concerned about NDAs, IP, and trade secrets (which they often considered things like benefits to be). So at Premera, don't be surprised if few, if any, people associated to a federal contract were compromised.

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FCC takes three-month pause to consider massive telecoms mergers

Eric Olson
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So TWC and Comcast are last-mile providers...

But they wield out-sized power as they are some of the few providers who can attach that last-mile to the network or a backbone.

They own the cooper or fiber in the ground that goes to homes and businesses. However, that copper and fiber weren't placed for internet; they were done so for cable TV. And because of all the M&A activity in the 90s when being a regional cable TV provider was good money (assisted by legislation they and their predecessors crafted in the late 70's to protect their networks), they had near national infrastructure in place to convert the signal from TV-only to the 1's and 0's we depend on for cat pictures.

Nothing wrong with that, except those pesky cable TV laws that prevented them from being competed against in cities. Those laws made it legal (read: mandatory) for cities to offer franchise agreements giving the likes of Comcast exclusive access to the residents. Now we are in a state where one provider (maybe two in a large city) provides cable internet. The same happened in the DSL space (different means), so now most cities are left with this for internet: One cable and one DSL.

That's it. Sure, TV can also be grabbed from satellite, both DirecTV and Dish, but they don't offer internet (and often bundle with DSL providers who haven't done an IPTV). For me, it's Comcast and CenturyLink, the Tweedledee and Tweedledum of monopolistic internet providers. The only plus side to the proposed TWC and Comcast merger is that I'm in one of the few areas they have already offered to spin off and sell to another company... so maybe I'll not have my name changed to offensive words when I call to complain yet again about channels not coming through, poor bandwidth, and the fact that HBO Go can't be used on the PS4 or Amazon Fire because Comcast is the only provider that refuses to allow their customer accounts the ability to activate it.

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This ISN'T Net Neutrality. This is Net Google. This is Net Netflix – the FCC's new masters

Eric Olson
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Re: First part was better.

After reading both parts, I can't help but wonder if this was a long-winded way of saying, "We don't know what it means, but we need to figure out who to blame in case it goes downhill fast."

I get the Google hate, but it also seems to be a repeat of the anti-Microsoft rantings from the 90s: Deserved, but way more smoke than fire. Yes, Google is a terrible, horrible company that had the gall to claim "Don't be evil" as their governance motto back in the 00's. For that alone, they should be summarily dismissed as a company worth doing any business with and ideally placed in a stockade so we can throw rotten produce at them.

However, the real world will continue on and the populace will find other boogeymen to blame for the speed of their connection, the dropping of phone calls, etc. It might move upstream to the backbone providers. And hey, nothing here seems to indicate that companies can't enter into some kind of data-metering circumvention deals like T-Mobile and Spotify, which is just another way of providing some kind of preferential treatment to certain providers. How long until we see a Netflix/Verizon agreement or ESPN/AT&T?

My point is that there is a lot of ink being spilled here going on about the soon-to-come internet-destruction caused by Google, Netflix, Facebook, etc., without a lot of consideration to why we've reached this point and how exactly the market has failed. Are the FCC rules similar to using a sledgehammer when a tack hammer will work? Maybe. But that is the reality of a process where people can do more than just vote with their dollars. When the dollars don't seem to sway the market, or the market has created artificial constraints that keep too many dollars from leaving, people are going to start agitating for reform from the government, good or bad.

We won't know what will happen until it happens. It might be good, it might be bad. It might balance out to be a different feeling of vague ickiness, much like the way it is today. We don't know what we don't know, and historical precedence is not actually helpful as it just proves that point. However, it's easier to kick out an incumbent when their services are interchangeable with another (MySpace to Facebook) than when the incumbent owns the last-mile *and* has the ability to throttle, charge, meter, change, etc. the terms of that last mile on a whim without being afraid of being swapped out for another provider.

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A Brit in California moves to the Lone Star State – just swerve the TexMex grub

Eric Olson
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As a resident of the frozen wasteland up north...

I can understand the fear of snow and sub-0C temps for 3-6 months a year, but as I'm sure Texas residents would concur, even the slightest hint of water freezing causes them to hunker down like Armageddon is about to hit (never mind the Rapture-lusting contingent). And it's not like Texas doesn't get cold itself, and being a state with little to do in the winter months while not getting cold enough to support winter sports like skiing, I've heard some pretty miserable stories about December through February down there. At least up here on the other end of I-35, we have other things to do and the infrastructure to handle it.

Also, the further north you go, you get away from some of those weird Bible Belt situations... though you do get dangerously close to Canada.

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US watchdog: Anthem snubbed our security audits before and after enormous hack attack

Eric Olson
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It depends on the arraignment. For many large employers who offer insurance, they actually just hire an insurance company to pay claims and curate a provider network. It's called self-insured and usually has other provisions like stop-loss insurance and things like that. The assets themselves (premiums from the paycheck and a set-aside by the company) are placed in a trust that is legally separate from the company. So if the company goes down, those assets are not up for grabs by creditors. How it's handled... I'm not sure. Never been part of that, though I assume that as long as the company is being restructured, they still have to use the trust to pay claims.

But in that case, the large employer just had a Third-Party Administrator expose your employees (or more importantly, the VIPs of the company like the CEO and executives), meaning that you should be able to sue that TPAs pants off for breach of contract as well as take your business to a (hopefully) less porous TPA, resulting in only minimal disruption to your employees (really, the VIPs) health care.

It would likely hurt those who are fully insured (group-rate insurance) because the bankruptcy would likely result in a suspension of service. However in those cases, what would likely happen is that it would a restructure, not liquidation... and it would result in many debt-holders (like providers who submitted claims as part of their contract) getting only a percentage of the amount due. Health care then wouldn't stop either, and many of the group rate insurance and individual insurance groups would go to another insurer.

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Eric Olson
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Funny story, but many insurers do these days. The HIPAA law actually does make insurers both responsible for and liable for data breaches when it concerns Protected Individual Information and Protected Health Information, the latter bringing steeper fines and cease-and-desist notices when you screw up.

More importantly, those that deal with the federal government often are held to standards that probably would result in most clients being laughed out of the building. This is even more true when it's dealing with Medicare or veteran's benefits. I'm not saying that other insurers would pass a typical pen test, but the fact Anthem outright refused to cooperate with an audit that other providers of benefits for the federal government submitted to speaks volumes about the company's attitude towards security.

Frankly, the sooner that such breaches result in massive financial loss and wholesale bankruptcy of a company or corporation, the better. Teach the survivors a lesson on why spending money on security is actually important. Until a company is run out on a rail, it will get lip service, then buried under dozens of other projects which of an ROI that can be measured in profits or potential daily fines (the only thing I ever saw get the attention of those writing CBAs for compliance work).

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FCC says cities should be free to run decent ISPs. And Republicans can't stand it

Eric Olson
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Heavily regulated... maybe. Enforced only when people get sick or die.

Also adding to the confusion/gaps is that the USDA handles most animal-sourced products, assuming they aren't processed into additional products for consumer sale while the FDA actually is responsible for most other agricultural products like crops, in addition to most of the processed food on the shelf. And yes, there are gaps. Lots of them. Did I mention that any product from overseas is supposed to be checked by the FDA, meat and everything else?

It's a mess and one of the absolute failings of the nation. Lots of laws and rules on the books; most of them are rarely enforced (USDA grading is voluntary and the organic label is something pawned off on non-profit and for-profit groups adhering to USDA rules, which can and do include items that most people would not consider organic, like many pesticides that have been around for decades).

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Eric Olson
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Re: Infrastructure

Given than the regulations came well after the creation of those utilities, I don't think your point comes to play here. There are plenty of deregulated states in the US, and they have higher consumer costs. Additionally, the illusion of competition is just that; Texas is deregulated, but because the "incumbent company" built the lines and still owns them, that means other electrical providers only have to "rent" the lines, yet somehow even without the maintenance costs associated, they are providing power at a more expensive charge than others. As everyone requires power to function in today's economy, to be the "cheapest" option just means you raise your rates more slowly than the other guys. Unlike optional goods and services, you can't really price a consumer out of your product because they will always want it.

So now Texas enjoys the illusion of choice, pays higher rates than many other consumers in the country, and doesn't have any more reliable or useful of an electrical grid that a regulated state.

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Eric Olson
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Re: Infrastructure

That may be true in other parts of the world, but in the United States, much of the infrastructure that delivers electricity, natural gas, telephony, and cable, along with most rail lines and even some roads and freeways is in fact private property.

In the case of electricity and telephony, they are underpinned by generous public tax dollar support in addition to the fees paid by subscribers. And just like cable, electricity and gas comes from a single providers. In a state like my own, we have Centerpoint Energy for natural gas and Xcel Energy for electricity. They are publicly traded companies that pay dividends, just like Target or Walmart. The difference for them is that they are forced to have rate increases reviewed by a public commission, mostly because they are true monopolies. They are allowed to temporarily charge a rate increase while approval is pending, meaning they get an interest-free loan in the case of the increase being rejected or pared back and they have to send out refunds to customers.

It's all very strange here, often because of this almost allergic reaction to the idea that governments should be doing anything at all, oftentimes on the grounds that government is not responsive to market forces, wastes money, yadda yadda yadda. Never mind that a company in a monopoly position has the exact same drawbacks as cited by the opponents of government. They also have the added bonus that they don't have to worry about being thrown out of office by upset citizens through a voting process. That's why government intervention exists; short of fraud or other criminal behavior (which these days only results in a few fines that are a fraction of the illicit profits), there is no other mechanism to make a monopoly responsive to the market. Threat of citizen revolt through government action is the only thing that could possibly work, and even that is a minor threat at best.

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Elon Musk plans to plonk urban Hyperloop subsonic tube on California

Eric Olson
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Re: @Arnaut the less (Is this intended to be a permanent fixture?)

Technically Amazon doesn't turn a profit either, but it's still seen as a world-striding giant.

More importantly, Tesla is profitable when you reduce their R&D spend by half. Since they have $1.9 billion in cash on hand by using debt issuance during low-interest rate periods, there is no valid reason they should not be spending $464 million on R&D when they are trying to break into new markets and create new, more mainstream products. For 2014, their net loss was $294 million, all while increasing their cash and equivalents by $1.1 billion. Outstanding debt was half of the revenue from 2014, which is a very manageable level for a growing company

You don't have to turn a profit as long as you have access to capital and/or continue spending on R&D in ways that result in investment returns greater than sitting on it. It's not only a common theme among companies for decades, it's the preferred method of business growth. Profits are useful only insomuch as you are able to use them to grow your business, pay dividends, or purchase competitors or enter new markets.

Apple actually is a prime example of a company that is too profitable and making poor business decisions by sitting on a 12-figure cash hoard (and adding to it with bond issuance). There are only so many responsible things that Apple could do with it's cash, but the fact that they keep adding to the hoard purposefully rather than holding even shows they have no business plan besides doing what they are already doing. If they were a smaller company, a competitor or company keen on entering that market would buy them out with little effort. Apple's #1 valuation makes them too big too gobble up, but it still makes shareholders nervous when cash piles keep growing.

If you are a privately held company, profits are great; though even then it can be troublesome because profits can be subject to taxation at a greater rate then if the money was invested or reclassified as payroll and/or asset purchases. So while you are technically right that Tesla is not profitable, it's because of business decisions made to grow revenue, increase market share, enter new markets, and create new products.

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Amazon tries to patent 3D printers on trucks

Eric Olson
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Re: How on Earth is this patentable?

Actually, this wouldn't be much different than patenting the cotton gin with a feed mechinism on the front. Same basic design, just slightly modified.

Like it or not, but the patent process was explicitly designed to allow for incremental or additive changes to existing technology. That includes something as simple as adding an electric motor to a technology previously powered with a hand crank. Seems dumb, but when the US codified patent law back in the 1800s, the idea was that a person who improves an existing process, regardless of how minor, they get an exclusivity window on that particular improvement.. assuming they were the first to idea and could prove it if someone else filed first.

That's how software patents snuck in to the process. They were "improvements" on existing process. No one realized at the time that the sound they heard after approving it was the squeaky hinge on Pandora's Box. Maybe this will be rejected, maybe it will be pre-empted by prior art. But you can't patent what you don't file, so that's what they have to do.

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STOP! Pebble Time: New color watch clocks up $5m on Kickstarter

Eric Olson
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Re: Why are established companies allowed on Kickstarter?

Like clockwork, this complaint comes up with any Kickstarter. Be it from a company who has another product out there, an artist who wants to support a side project, or some other "how dare they!" group.

Here's the reality: Kickstarter was never solely for charity cases who were reduced to Oliver levels of begging for more gruel. It has always been for-profit. In fact, I believe Kickstarter strictly forbids any kind of non-profit or charitable projects; there are other sites for that.

Kickstarter is in the business of helping people or companies get the word out for a risky or unlikely-to-find-traditional-funding project that will almost certainly be commercial in nature. Yes, it can help struggling artists find their money muse, but almost all the success stories on Kickstarter that create eye-watering figures come from people who are or were established players. Reading through the most-funded list will quickly reveal a pattern: People or companies who knew what they were doing.

The problem with bank or VC funding is that they want a huge possible market, even if it never materializes. VCs take it a bit further and also demand a share in the profits and/or company that comes from it. And if they get the vast percentage of the company, they can quickly and easily force the inventor or project team out the door the moment things turn from dicey to profitable. Kickstarter gets around this by explicitly stating that backers only get what is outlined in the rewards and are not entitled to any share of the profits, revenue, company, etc.

So while it might offend your sensibilities, there are tens of thousands of people who want a specific product, but that's not enough to make someone stand-up and take notice at the bank. A yawn and a kick in the ass is all you would get from them; this way, that extremely small number of people will be the market, and if things go really well, you might be able to sell a million.

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£100 MILLION poured down drain on failed UK.gov IT projects - in just ONE YEAR

Eric Olson
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Re: As a new start up...

You won't. The dirty secret is that any good government project manager, contract expert, or other team member will be quickly identified and plucked from the ranks to better pay in the private world. In exchange for that, their intimate knowledge of the process is used to ensure that the hiring contractor knows exactly how to tick all the right boxes for the next RFP that comes out.

The game isn't rigged, it's just set up in such a way that only the big boys and their former government employees can even get a seat at the table, let alone have a chance at winning the bid.

And you probably don't want to think about how those RFPs are created in the first place when the government often has to go to consultants to put them together...

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Eric Olson
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Re: Better than expected

When you're one dude in a garage or basement trying to market a successful project, your margin for error (waste) is slim to nil.

When you are a company that has billions in annual revenue, dropping 100 million on IT projects and have only 1 million be written off would not only be an unqualified success, but it would probably lead to a doubling of that write off through bonuses and parties, reduced through clever accounting shifts use of the tax code, then talked about like a Nessie sighting for years to come.

The point is that when you have a lot of balls in the air, one or two will invariable hit the ground. IT projects are notoriously difficult to assess ROI on, so companies often are reduced to broad brush strokes by evaluating it all in aggregate and simply comparing the costs to the revenue generated. A few failed projects won't matter as long as something else delivered. It's cynical, but it's also reality.

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Eric Olson
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So is it better to cut losses after £100m...

Or double down in hopes of "getting to done" in the next year?

It sounds like the commentards here are adherents to the sunk cost fallacy.

That or like most hit pieces, the Taxpayer's Alliance would have also been happy to take a hatchet to the government for continuing to work those projects.

Consider the source.

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Ex-NASA boffin dreams of PREDATOR-ish tech in humble microwaves

Eric Olson
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Re: Not so bad

Actually, there are a number of foods that cook ideally in a microwave precisely because of the efficient heat it can generate in specific foods. Popcorn is a prime example of this, as you can take a small amount, put it in a paper bag without any oil or butter, fold over the top, then staple (yes staple) it shut on either side of the fold. 2 minutes later, perfect popcorn. It sure beats the hot fat over a flame method in both time and clean-up.

Many vegetables are the same way. One of my favorite tricks is asparagus spears, sprinkled with salt, wrapped in a damp paper towel, wrapped in plastic wrap, then cooked for a couple of minutes. The water steams the spears in no time while preserving the texture and bring green color. Same can be done with other fresh veggies like green beans and snap peas. In fact, the new steaming bags for frozen veggies operate on the same principle.

Anytime the goal is to cook something with a high water content, the microwave is your best friend. Plus it's one less burner or pot that you have to use while cooking up the rest of dinner.

TL;DR - A bad craftsman always blames his tools.

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Skin colour's irrelevant. Just hire competent folk on their merits, FFS

Eric Olson
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Re: Question for you, Tim...

Sounds like you need to start hiring the HR staff on merit. The rest will follow.

Short of rewiring the human brain, that won't help. The problem isn't "We want the best", the issue is that we equate "the best" with "people who are just like me." For example, even if you were to wash away the demographics until it was time to do the actual interviews (a separate kettle of fish), there are so many other proxies that can be used (and are today). The university one received a degree from will quickly (and correctly) provide one with a high level of certainty as to the various boxes a person may or may not tick.

That's not something you can solve through market forces or wishful thinking, which is what Tim seems to be proposing. Frankly, this smacks of, "I see too many issues and my ideology gets in the way of coming up with a solution, so I'm going to shut my eyes really tight and think of rainbows and kittens and butterflies."

The question remains: How does Tim (or anyone else) propose that the best be hired regardless of the things that keep being from being hired today, even if they are the best?

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