* Posts by Eric Olson

347 posts • joined 22 Sep 2007

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Will the MOAB (Mother Of all AdBlockers) finally kill advertising?

Eric Olson

Too much conflation of ads with advertising...

Both the author and the commenters seem to focus a lot of energy on "ads", with only a nominal bone thrown to "native advertising" or what the actual purpose of advertising is: Influence consumer behavior.

On both the web and on TV, ads are despised. They break up the content in such a way that's jarring, either through commercial breaks or poorly designed and executed "inline" copy. You see less worry about ads in print media, or when it's integrated into the content in seamless ways. Think product placement or promoted reviews, articles, etc.

Today there's a flimsy wall separating the ad revenue teams from the content/editorial teams. When they mix, you end up with reviews, interviews, exclusives, and other things that look organic, but really are being done because an advertiser or company offered access to one or more places. In some cases it's outright cash, such as when an actor or producer is doing a publicity tour to promote a new or returning show.

Savvy marketers already know how to influence consumer behavior and do it all the time. Amazon Prime or other subscription programs, loyalty programs, UX, early/first access, etc. all can and are routinely used to guide a person to buy more stuff, recommend to friends/family, upgrade, or shift spending. When the pie only grows so fast and your company is required to increase sales at a higher clip, you have to find untapped consumers (rare) or route existing consumers to you.

The concern raised about ads being blocked is less about catastrophic disruption and more about antiquated ideas on how advertising and marketing actually works today. The reason they still exist on the web is they are cheap and easy to fling, with little attention or expertise being needed to conduct a campaign. Once those are exhausted or revealed to be the wealth transfers from dumb/lazy companies to savvy ones they really are, the web will be a better place for it.

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Democrats draft laws in futile attempt to protect US internet privacy

Eric Olson

Re: So...

Not a lawyer, but based on the typical arguments...

Things get tough when crossing state lines are involved... however, there are ways around it.

Most often, businesses have local affiliates in a state they do business as. These are for numerous business related reasons, but often is required for a regulatory standpoint in the state. So if Comriz & T wants to be an ISP in Minnesota, they need to be mindful of state laws. Otherwise, they will be shut down by state regulators and prevented from operating in the state. That handles 1, 2, and probably 3 in your example.

#3 could also be handled by a state law in Minnesota that makes it illegal for companies in Minnesota to purchase aggregate or individual data from states that make collection illegal (essentially, illegal to use illegal goods). Maybe that one isn't so cut-and-dried.

The Commerce Clause of the US Constitution typically comes into play when state laws attempt to supersede or ignore federal laws that apply to interstate commerce. So when it comes to your 4th example, the state laws would have no impact.

#3 might also be tricky if Minnesota had a law on the books applying to MN companies and used a higher standard to determine what is "illegally collected" data, such as not even allowing opt-in data, or just a blanket prohibition on their use of such data. Those companies might be able to sue the state if they can show that they conduct interstate business or that the data was not illegal where it was collected.

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As Trump signs away Americans' digital privacy, it's time to bring out the BS detector

Eric Olson

Re: Devils advocate (from the right side of the pond)

For the most part, ISPs are bit and cable TV pushers. The reality is that we don't have "clean" ISPs; almost all were born of and subverted a cable (Comcast) or telephone provider (AT&T and Verizon). They used subsidies and legal monopolies provided by the FCC and state laws to string a bunch of copper (and later fiber) across the land, then took the subscription fees and ad dollars to buy out many of the regional providers for a pittance.

OTT providers like Facebook, Google, Netflix, etc., are using that infrastructure to make money, but they also have to make major infrastructure outlays in order to keep up with demand. The barriers to entry are high and require a massive investment. No one in their garage is going to put together a couple of networked boxes and claim measurable market share from any of them.

I frankly don't care if ISPs can aggregate data and sell it... just get rid of the franchise laws that protect them from competition. If a small shop wants to link a neighborhood to a backbone and charge for the privilege, great. Living in a large metro area, I have two options for ISPs, and a single provider of TV. Of course, I could hang a large HD antenna on my roof and stream the rest, but I still have to deal with one of two ISPs, neither of which are known for customer service, or frankly, service.

Make 'em compete. Make 'em fight. Hell, televise their executives beating each other over the head until they go down, alive or dead. Don't really care. Just make them actually have to work and spend money on service, rather than resting on laurels or crying poverty because some popular network is exacting a higher user fee in the next round of negotiation.

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Samsung plans Galaxy Note 7 fire sale

Eric Olson

In all honesty...

I miss my Note 7.

No, not the idea of my pants catching fire while I was on a hyperbolic rant.

But as a phone, it was damn good. It was fast, the screen was great, and I could come home with more than 10% of a charge left. Obviously that last bit was the problem... so it wasn't perfect.

I have the LG V20 now. It's fine. I used my wife's S7. It's fine. The S7 Edge was fine. Everything available at the time was fine. But the Note 7 was good... even great. And some government-bribing idiot (or his underlings) had to try to fuck Fate in the ear by cramming something too big into the intended cavity.

I may never forgive Samsung for ruining a good product with an engineering gaffe that I'm sure will come out in the future as a "We told you not to..." Probably some moronic VP or executive demanded that this whiz-bang cell be put into the Note 7 because the dimensions were just a hair smaller than the battery hollow in the PDF of the technical drawings.

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'Sorry, I've forgotten my decryption password' is contempt of court, pal – US appeal judges

Eric Olson

I guess that means it's time to add a time component to the encryption

No successful logins after X days means the key is destroyed and the data cannot be recovered. Probably defeatable, but it seems like a safe defense if the courts won't recognize it as a viable Fifth Amendment. You can't be held in contempt for something that cannot be resolved; just refuse to comply and wait the required number of days.

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This week's top token gesture: Google Chrome chokes energy-hungry background tabs

Eric Olson

Re: re: this is about extending battery life

We have as much processing power/memory/functionality in our devices as we need. Heck, we have waaay more than we need.

I would challenge this statement on two grounds:

First, it's been shown frequently (see Anandtech's write-ups on various mobile SoCs) that when a task is completed quickly and the SoC allowed to get back to idle, the overall battery consumption is less than on a slower but higher perf/W SoC. I'm sure like everything else, there are diminishing returns, but for now it's still a viable way to reduce power usage in a mobile device.

Second, it's impossible to foresee the next big use case or form factor for mobile devices. Some will only be viable when devices are more potent. Maybe on-the-fly chemical analysis, or modeling of local weather. Crazy stuff, but could be very useful, especially remote or rural areas. Or not. But we don't know until we get there.

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Apple to Europe: It's our job to design Ireland's tax system, not yours

Eric Olson

Re: Fascinating

There's a weirdness to how all countries do their tax structures, be it businesses or personal. The US system is a joke, but the EU system isn't great either, and has numerous loopholes that allow the Apples of the world a chance to avoid billions in taxation.

A better question is what purpose do we expect corporate taxation to serve? Is it a fairness thing? A way to reduce personal income taxes and therefore a political calculation?

This is a serious question, because if we arrive at why?, then we can at least put together a less insane system... maybe.

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FAKE BREWS: America rocked by 'craft beer' scandal allegations

Eric Olson

Re: This story only got written...

Most craft brewers, if doing well enough to make a profit, end up being bought out.

Not sure where you are located, but I can't say this is true in my neck of the woods (the Frozen North, USA). Most of the local and regional craft breweries are both profitable and still locally owned, and the biggest ones have been that way for a decade or more. This is true, from what I gather, of many of the nationally distributed beers that aren't part of AB InBev, Carlsberg, MolsonCoors, etc stables. There are some notable breweries that still trade under a craft-like label but have been owned in whole or part for a number of years by large breweries (Goose Island and Redhook come to mind). But on the whole, craft breweries are still independent.

If you're in doubt, or just are they type of person who refuses to drink a beer produced or owned by the major brands, the Brewers Association can help out. Their 2015 volume list for craft brewers helpfully calls out the brands that won't be making the 2016 list (due in spring 2017) because they no longer meet the criteria for being a craft brewer. And I suppose it may not be perfectly up to date, but it only shows 4 exiting the list for 2016.

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'Treat your developers like creative workers – or watch them leave'

Eric Olson

Re: Seconded

If a BA asked me "why?" too many times I'd consider that they might not have that good a handle on the B part of BA.

The funny thing about being a BA is that we don't often get to spend a lot of time in an area to become SMEs ourselves. One very large company I worked for actually redesigned their analysis and design process with the explicit goal of eliminating the need for BAs to have any kind of knowledge of the business or technology that ran it. They wanted BAs to be mobile and experts in elicitation rather than flow. They wanted BAs to ask why until people went crazy, and even provided training on how to do it.

I'm being a bit glib, but the reality is that in a technology department, an hour of BA time is less than an architect's, and even a quick code change often requires 2-3 hours of time after factoring in Dev, QA, UAT, and such. So if I spend two hours pestering the business and end up coming up with a non-technical solution, or a technical solution that can be implemented more quickly than the original "requirement," I'm doing my job.

Plus, I just don't like people.

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Eric Olson

Seconded

I tell people that as a BA, my job is to pester the hell out of the business by acting like a toddler; just ask "Why?" over and over.

Nothing bothers me more than being handed a "requirement" that says, "I want a new checkbox on this screen that someone has to tick in order to click submit." Besides possibly being bad UX something that isn't typically part of the UI, there is an underlying issue there that isn't being properly voiced. Did Legal come by and say this action requires a second confirmation before it can be completed? Is the Call Center fed up with people calling in to rescind an action they took? Perhaps Operations is tired of some orders being incomplete.

All of these are legitimate business problems and need to be resolved. But the problem more often than not is the person requesting is a SME in that particular flow or function, but doesn't know how it fits in the larger picture. So I sit down with them and figure out what's really going on, what really needs to be resolved, then I get with my developer(s) and we talk about proposed solutions.

To be fair, I've worked with a few Devs who just want to be told what to do. They can't stomach JADs or other solution sessions, don't want to spend time in a meeting with a few other people tossing around ideas, etc. But I've found that even the most adamant "just tell me what to do" Devs like to have input at some point, even if only to say that they think the checkbox should be a radio button, and give a reason or two why.

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What's the difference between you and a sea slug? When it comes to IT security, nothing

Eric Olson
Pint

Re: "engineers need to worry less about attacks, and more that the neurobiology"

you are telling me people in corporate marketing departments are biological?

If Futurama taught me anything about robots, I'd say advertising is entirely devoid of human life; the sector is run of alcohol.

Speaking of which, I need to grab some wholesome nutritious alcohol before I head into the office...

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Eric Olson
Headmaster

Ooo errr

Unless you've got some kinky users who love a good kicking after they behave appropriately, you probably want the white coats to justify positive punishment as a legitimate user management strategy.

</pedant>

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President Donald Trump taken on by unlikely foe: Badass park rangers

Eric Olson

Re: Less than a week in the position...

... if one discounts California, Trump won the popular vote by approximately 1.7 million votes.

And if one discounts the states in which Clinton lost by a similar margin (Trump at 61% or more), it swings back to a +300,000 margin for Clinton. What's your point?

The Electoral College doesn't give bonus points for winning a state by more than a single vote. So the notion that illegal voting would be best served in states that a candidate would already win handily is idiotic. If you want to cast around for phantom anomalous voting, look in the states with razor thin margins where the polling prior to the election indicated a different result... which are the states that Trump won.

But the reality is that there wasn't a conspiracy, there wasn't illegal voting that swung an election, there was none of it. It's a canard clung to by a segment of the population that can't accept that someone might disagree with them. Is it hard to understand that a city with a large number of non-whites, naturalized citizens, and Hollywood types might lean away from Trump or the Republican party? Is there a reason you don't point out that in DC, only 4% of the voters chose Trump?

Let me ask you this question: Do you believe that every citizen that is legally allowed to vote should be able to? Do you believe that every citizen that is legally allowed to vote who wants to vote should be able to? Do you believe that every citizen that is legally allowed to vote who wants to vote should be provided every opportunity to vote?

If so, then you should stop bitching about dead people who aren't cleared from voter rolls (not the same as voting) and start bitching about how states are working hard to ensure that citizens who are legally allowed to vote are being turned away due to the government losing documentation (e.g. birth certificates), making it hard to register to vote, disenfranchising people for life well after they served the rest of their sentence for a crime, and overall trying to make voting more time consuming and expensive to cast a vote. It's the 21st century... why do we insist that each voter only has a single location in which they cast a ballot? This isn't a fucking stone being dropped in a clay jar.

And if you don't think the government has a place ensuring that all citizens legally allowed to vote are able to vote when they can vote, you don't actually give a fuck about vote integrity and fair elections; you only want to wield it as a weapon in an attempt to cling to power. And that behavior is why the US has tried to monitor elections overseas on not locally... it wasn't a problem in the US until someone thought voter restrictions could be used to win elections.

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Eric Olson

Re: Less than a week in the position...

These are also most of the same yahoos that tolerated Bush / Cheney for eight years.

They tolerated him because he was them. His policies would be meek and mild compared to the median Republican Representative today (that's actually quantifiable, assuming you trust that public statements and voting record are viable inputs into the model). Bush was a conservative in a time when conservatives were trying to overcome the "hypocritical adulterer" label that stuck so well to their leadership after the debacle that was the impeachment trial for Clinton and the subsequent outing of skeletons. Bush was also a reliable Republican and hewed to the party platform while communicating in a bumbling style that made it seem like the other end of those planks weren't dangling off a ship in the shark-infested waters near the Cape of Good Hope.

Trump is... not reliable. He's not conservative. He doesn't have a track record. And his public statements range from white nationalist to far-left socialist... just in the last 5 days. Statements from Ryan and McConnell indicate they are policy focused and assuming that Trump will just scrawl a signature on whatever bill comes his way. There is already public dissent in the ranks for Trump's use of Executive Orders in the first 5 days, especially knowing that there is a pliable Congress just itching to tear down anything that might have been constructed during President Obama's term... for reasons that range from legitimate policy disagreements to... well... less kind things.

That Trump is backstopped by a VP that is closer to the median Republican official and has a track record of doing so means that Trump is expendable... assuming that a year of Trump signing those bills doesn't make the GOP think they have control over him.

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Eric Olson

Re: US Constitution 25th Amendment - to remove a President

In which case there is a quicker way to remove him without impeachment - the 25th Amendment

Sounds nice and easy, but even in the 60s (or because it was the 60s) it was assumed a power struggle could ensue. So naturally, Section 4 has a bit more to it:

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

Essentially, if the VP and the Cabinet all decide that Trump is unfit and rat him out to the President pro tempore of the Senate (currently Orrin Hatch of Utah), Trump can fire off a quick note (maybe a tweet?) that he is very fit, maybe more than fit, to continue as President, and he will immediately resume office. If the VP persists, it goes before Congress for a two-thirds vote in both chambers. That would actually be harder than impeachment and a subsequent finding of guilty on one or more charges; the House only needs a majority vote on one charge to forward it on to the Senate for trial, which would still need 2/3rds majority.

The House, being much more unruly and with a wing of Republicans who like to stick it to the party leadership any chance they can, would be unlikely to support removal of Trump. Plus House Democrats might calculate that a President Trump would be more damaging to the Republicans if he remained in office, and that Republicans in disarray would be unable or unwilling to support President Trump's more... unorthodox... policy decisions.

We are stuck with Trump until he's no longer useful for advancing the Republican agenda, or that even in helping with that, his other activities, EO's, public comments, etc., start to erode the public's confidence in the Republican party and their ability to do anything for the public... or Trump starts some kind of war (military, economic, etc.) with his idiotic rants. The danger here is that Republicans still believe they can co-opt office to pass their legislation and policy prescriptions, when the reality is that Trump already did that to them.

The best hosts are the ones who think they are benefiting from the parasite's continued presence.

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Eric Olson

Re: Less than a week in the position...

If you're catching flak, it means you're over the target. If there are not "minor acts of resistance" from the establishment bureaucrats and others, he's not doing what he was elected to do.

Flawed reasoning, and needlessly violent to use a war metaphor. It's even more out-of-place when he wasn't really voted to do anything. He ran on a vague platform and lost, if not for three states where his margin of victory was 80,000 out of nearly 14 million cast. Of course that's the system and therefore he won, but to call it a mandate is a joke (he couldn't even win with a majority in those three states; 48% was the best he could do)

Of course, he was only able to do this against a candidate that had another nation actively working against her and a politically inept FBI Chief who thought it was important to tell Congress a few weeks before the election that they might have a few more emails to review. And then less than two weeks before the end, he meekly sends out a press release saying that nothing new was found, putting the whole thing back in the news again. At the same time, FISA warrants were sought by the very same FBI to investigate member's of Trump's campaign for communications with Russia, but the FBI Chief felt no need to tell Congress or anyone else that. I don't think it was a conspiracy, just a man seeing that it was likely to be a 2017 where he would have both a hostile Congress and hostile White House, and he would lose his job. Instead, Trump "shocked the world" and was elected... in no small part due to the Comey letter that everyone except him knew would be leaked within seconds of it landing on the desk of a Republican.

We're stuck with Trump until he's no longer is useful to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, or he goes so off the deep end that they have no choice but to start impeachment proceedings. They have an ace-in-the-hole in Pence, who's a groomed, established conservative that hits all the right notes without the alt-right connections. Trump is scary right now because Republicans have been trying for eight years to defeat President Obama and failed; Trump won their nomination (though given the other candidates, many would probably have beaten Clinton even more given the revelations) and is the nominal leader of the party. He's trying to make it populist, but much of the party money comes from businesses that thrive on open borders, free trade, and the movement of labor across geopolitical lines. Something will have to give...

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I've got a brand new combine harvester and I'll give you the API key

Eric Olson

@ Dwarf and others

Not sure IoT is a good analogy for tractors, given that most farms I know have no Internet connectivity due to the fact that they are by definition rural places.

I think this comment is a shining example of what people get wrong about farming and the people who farm. It's not malicious, or even an attempt at humor at the expense of others. It's that most people forget two things about agriculture: It's vitally important to more than the city or county it's located in, and it underpins a sprawling, globe-spanning supply chain that literally feeds the world (or damn near all of it). And I suppose there is third thing: much of the world's breadbaskets are located in advanced economies that have resources to throw at enhancing yield.

You want to see the US at it's most protectionist, look at agriculture. And that was before Trump. The country exports entire cargo ships of food each day across the world and can feed itself a dozen times over... yet things like corn, wheat, sugar, and poultry are deeply subsidized or supported by import tariffs. It's kind of crazy politically here each time the omnibus Farm Bill comes up for renewal every few years, and it's one of the few issues that party allegiance takes a backseat to the constituents back home.

So yeah, it doesn't surprise me that John Deere (and probably others) have been sticking tech on tractors and implements well before it was cool or even an infrastructure to do much with it. I had two developers and a QA guy leave my last employer to join a small ag tech company that does SaaS for farm management, and it was quickly growing. I'm sure they aren't the only one.

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UK.gov departments are each clinging on to 100 terabytes of legacy data

Eric Olson

Re: funny

You're assuming that it's in some kind of high-availability storage built for concurrency or I/O, rather than chucked onto old department shares slapped together in the early 2000s, or maybe numerous Outlook archives of departed employees that people can't bring themselves to delete... most of which is likely on tape or, as I alluded to, off-the-shelf HDDs, maybe even in ESD bags after being pulled from the ancient desktop they once were part of. Perhaps even a fancy SMB NAS was thrown into the mix a few years ago. And much of it is probably backups ort is replicated/superseded elsewhere, but no one has the time to figure it out.

That's the thing about the 100 TB figure... it doesn't take a lot of desktops and laptops that were turned in during because of departure, termination, or upgrade to reach it. But with various regulations about data retention, requirements to scrub other types of data before disposal, and just the inertia of government (just like in business), the better assumption is that this is spread across a hundred or more separate storage media, devices, and systems... and the consulting firm probably did the same, grunted out a number, then used a boilerplate conclusion with the subjects changed to match the industry.

You show me a company of more than 20 people that's been around for more than a decade dealing with data, even just emails and a website, and I'll show you where to find the TBs of non-operational or archived data that someone(s) can't let go.

Of course, it is possible that some of these departments do have it on modern storage solutions... but if that was the case, it's likely they aren't suffering from the same issues that the consultant identified in their summary. It's probably reasonably searchable, has sufficient redundancy, and may even have coherent archiving and deletion policies. Then again, I've yet to work for any company that can do this across all levels.

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Eric Olson

Does this feel like a big number to scare people?

Cause it feels like a big number to scare people. 100 TB is all the space! Like... uh... 50 hard drives from Amazon. Bought for $69 a piece. But I swear it's a lot!

C'mon. I know people are programmed from birth to distrust the government (who haven't helped themselves much, regardless of citizenship) and assume the worst... but if they knew what IT policies looked like at "well-run multinationals", they would see things differently. Hell, the small company I'm at has 1TB tables in a MS SQL DB for moderate sized clients. It sure sounds large when you remember ads used to boast about 1GB hard drives, but things have changed since Pentiums ruled the world.

Sure, I'm sure that this legacy data could mostly be jettisoned, but if it's anything like the US, there are retention policies, rules, or laws that dictate what can be done with it or how accessible it should be. The finance world routinely keeps a five to seven year retention policy for audits and the like, not counting the numerous hard drives and email accounts under legal hold due to pending regulatory, civil, or criminal actions being taken.

And am I right in thinking £500M/year isn't actually that much? It sounds like a lot, but here in the US, converted to USD, that would be... 0.03% of the annual budget for the entire government, including Social Security (income for old people) and Medicare (health care for old people).

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Weaky-leaks: Furious fans roast Assange in web interview from hell

Eric Olson

@ AndyS

Here's the thing about " Leaking it to hold the rich & powerful [accountable]"; they don't care. Really, just look at Trump. Even ignoring the salacious rumors in the latest leak, during the election campaign it surfaced he once bragged about his ability to get away with sexual assault, and his response what "locker room talk." He had tax returns leaked that showed he claimed a nearly $1 billion loss in a single year, using accounting tricks that screwed his investors (they took the loss) so that he could use it as a tax dodge for 17 years. In general, he used his money and power to say, "Who the fuck cares what I did?" and the people bought it.

Leaks like Assange publish hurt those very people he claims to be helping. The average person gets run over by the bus each time these leaks happen, because they were on the periphery of the bad behavior, but they don't have the resources to make it go away or continue on, or they lose advocates who help them. Can you really name a rich and powerful person actually harmed by Assange or Snowden's leaks? Forcing them from the public sphere is not harm; those jobs were never about the money, it's the access. And when you go back to a private life, those contacts are still there, able to help you out, or your friends. And even if you lost a lucrative job, you still have all the wealth accumulated over the years.

Clinton wasn't harmed; she lost an election but her public profile is not really any worse... she still received more votes than Trump... 48% to 46%, in fact. But she lost razor thin margins in a few states that tipped the election because of the system in place here. And because of that, we now have a situation where a lot of common people will be hurt by a Trump administration, ironically many of his voters. I mean... it's becoming clear that a sizable number of Republican voters think the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is different from the Obamacare they wanted repealed for the last 6 years.... and get really upset when it's pointed out they are the same thing... or persist in saying they are different.

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Routine jobs vanishing and it's all technology's fault? Hold it there, sport

Eric Olson

Re: Automation has been happening for decades...

Address the skills gap and that group of available workers will shrink quickly.

That will help some people... but the reality also is that across the advanced economies, they've had 30 years to deal with the opening of China, India, and Russia and its former republics. Opening didn't just mean new markets for N. America and European goods, it meant a new workforce. And while supply chain management is a rising star in the "new careers" section in the high school guidance counselor's office, the reality is that much of those supply chains take raw materials from those same nations, ships them to similar nations that have better infrastructure for production, and then ships them locally.

Sure, a lot of it comes back to the US and Europe as cheap electronics (or fancy ones like smartphones), but the reality is that our consuming class is getting smaller due to slowing population growth and waning interest in the latest and greatest. Over in India and China, the new middle class dwarfs what remains in the NA and Europe, even after adjusting for purchasing power.

So it's not just that we have skills gaps, in that we have reduced consumption, less of an income advantage than we once had, and infrastructure that is woefully under maintained and stuck in a 1950s mentality (maybe not so bad in Europe, but it's terrible in the US). If you are looking to start a business today and you want to serve global consumers, maybe it's better to set up shop in Guangzhou or Chennai.

NA and Europe can only continue to compete because of automation, which just makes it harder for the consuming class to shake the funk. And like I said earlier, policy makers had no coherent strategy or vision for handling the displacement of globalization, and still don't. Safety nets might be the only way, if only because most of the big companies that created these globe-spanning supply chains and distant production centers are still based in NA or Europe. I don't have a good answer to how that concentrated wealth is shifted without causing those companies to flee, but something has to be accomplished or there will be some dark times in countries that rely on the people to make choices about their government.

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Eric Olson

Re: Agree completely

Actually, the plumber is probably fine for a while. Same with the welder, the electrician, the carpenter, etc. Those jobs require two things: geographic proximity and non-routine work. Sure, it's easy to produce flat pack for Ikea in a Chinese factory... but to join two complex metal pieces, plan and wire a house, or install cabinets, you need people on-site who can do the work.

The person put out buy automation is the woman who loaded paper for a printing press, or the foundry worker that used to descale the ingots of steel that rolled off the line. Automation can do both of those things today, and the people out of a job likely learned their trade on-the-job rather than through an apprenticeship program or post-secondary education.

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Eric Olson

Automation has been happening for decades...

Watson is just a new version of what has been going on across finance, health care, and other labor-intensive, highly repeatable processes. Even Watson is being deployed to do something that health care in the US mostly automated years ago: claims processing. There is a reason why if you walk into a highly sophisticated insurance company, you will see a handful of people doing claims processing via green screens... they are exception processing the 0.5% or fewer claims that dropped out of automated processing. There is no reason to make a fancy GUI with whiz-bang features when it's used for a fraction of a percent of the daily load.

In 40 years, the US steel industry cut 75% of its workforce, yet didn't reduce output. Hand-fed printing presses were replaced by machine fed ones (which are themselves being cut back due to a reduction in physical newspaper circulation). This is automation; it's not Watson, or apps, or anything like that. It will continue to go on, just now with more complex jobs being offered up to the altar of increased productivity.

What scares me is that the advanced economies never really figured out how to mitigate the impact of free trade and globalization on people who were highly-trained in specific tasks in a factory or production line. Even now we have demagogues pandering to those folks with false, bordering on malicious promises to bring back jobs that will never come back unless those same folks were put into chains and slept in a ditch. The labor costs are too high for products that have too thin of a margin. Even China is too expensive for things like textiles. And while still unable to handle to realities of global trade and cheap labor overseas, politicians are going to successfully address the impacts of continued automation?

26
0

US Supreme Court to hear case that may ruin Lone Star patent trolls

Eric Olson

Re: So if this goes through, everyone has to be sued in their state of incorporation

...nonphysical patents are probably the most trolled patents in litigation today.

It might be today, but patent trolling has been around almost as long as patents. Read up on the Sewing Machine Wars of the 1850s for a good look into the troll that begot all trolls, at least in the patent space. Elias Howe, Jr. kicked off the very first war by patenting existing, but undocumented, technology used in almost every sewing machine produced, then went about suing each and every manufacturer, tying up courts, confounding juries, and leading to the formation of the first patent pool to protect those manufactured from him. Howe didn't even produce sewing machines, or have any intent. He just wanted licensing fees and settlements.

And while here you might only find non-physical patent trolls, they exist in hardware as well as non-computer spaces. Where ever there is a collection of technologies that people assume were patented years ago and are now common knowledge, you'll find some jerk with deep pockets (or a benefactor with deep pockets) willing to find new ways to extort money. It's not limited to the computer industry. And they don't even have to be good patents, just vague enough to put settlement at the forethought of the lawyers or owner who got just got served.

As for defining "long enough", your very definition seems variable and open to modification over time. If a company is sinking $6 billion a year into R&D, they need to be able to tell the shareholders (who might prefer that cash be used for other activities that increase the share price or dividends) the output will provide protection for a finite number of years. As soon as that conversation becomes, "Well, this year it's 7 years, but the USPTO has determined that this sector is up for review next year, so patents might have more or less protection in the coming calendar years," you will have both a revolt and a very definite reexamination of priorities.

0
0
Eric Olson

Re: So if this goes through, everyone has to be sued in their state of incorporation

But software and other nonphysical patents live in a world running at breakneck speed, and this length is now inappropriate.

You could then argue the same for medical patents, mechanical patents, and everything else. The computing era has accelerated everything, not just the software that runs it. By using the "breakneck speed" at which computing changes as a benchmark, how does one measure photolithography? It requires constant evolution to drive down process nodes and is purely mechanical in nature. But it's absolutely vital to the reducing in IC size and pack more into the same sized die to make those nonphysical patents important and useful (another patent requirement kicked to the curb just three years after the original Patent Act). Does that mean it should follow the nonphysical rules as well?

I'm not just pointing out edge cases. Autonomous vehicles are another example. The deep learning portion is nonphysical, but the basis of those various implementations might live on for decades in cars, drones, etc. Should it be granted only transient protection, even if the product line it first appears in will last for 15+ years? What motivation does Google, MIT, Uber, or others have to patent those algorithms and designs if they know protection might only last a short time.

Keep in mind a patent is not exclusivity in that you are the only one who can use it. A patent makes a work both easier to license without secrets being stolen while also making it available for others to examine and improve upon, without having to exhaust resources coming to a similar end. Licensing is cheaper than R&D, or allows R&D to focus on something truly novel instead rehashing the same thing. And while this is less of an issue going forward in a first-to-file system, the old way still incentivized trade secrets that could be kept in a war chest and used against a competitor who had the audacity to patent their work. Then you could claim prior art, have the patent invalidated or transferred to you (still not sure how that actually works), and hamstring them.

0
0
Eric Olson

Re: So if this goes through, everyone has to be sued in their state of incorporation @bombastic bob

A good example (as I understand it) would be something that happened to Harley Davidson back in the early days. They were sued over a clutch design that they never patented. So someone else patented it (Indian motorcycles?), then sued them for infringement, nearly wrecking the company.

That doesn't really make sense, given that until 2013, the US was a first-to-invent regime (one of the last, if not the last). That means that if you had evidence that you had invented the same thing earlier, you could have the patent invalidate (or maybe transferred to you?). Even today, the majority of patents that are still active were filed under the first-to-invent model. The change only impacted patents filed 2013 or later.

The point of a patent is twofold: add knowledge to the public body and allow the inventor a chance to profit or recoup investment for a period of time. As pointed out above, knowledge dies when it's kept hidden for fear of being copied and put out of business. Trade secrets or "special sauce" thinking has kept a lot of discoveries behind closed doors. Many may be similar to other secrets, or the same secret repeated dozens of times. If that is the case, a lot of time, money, and materials were wasted to reinvent the wheel over and over. That also means those brains could have spent the time modifying something else, or even creating a novel way of doing something.

A first-to-file (plus the reduced fees for small and micro inventors) incentivizes people to file for a patent rather than sit on it as insurance or try to hide it while fruitlessly shopping it around. Plus it defuses a number of potential landmines, where you do your homework, find no patent for something, file it, then have ConstructoSoft sue you to invalidate your patent based on "prior art" they found in a dusty technical drawing that was only used once, but might show a similar design.

0
0
Eric Olson

Re: So if this goes through, everyone has to be sued in their state of incorporation

It's worth noting that the original period of copyright and patents were actually reasonable ones.

Patents are limited to 20 years; the original Patent Act limited them to 14 years.

You have a point with copyright, though that was still up to 28 years from the start, and Europe went to lifetime of the creator + 50 years in the mid-1800s. Right now, it's creator's life + 70 years, if we are talking only about single creators.

0
0
Eric Olson

Re: So if this goes through, everyone has to be sued in their state of incorporation

The USPTO appears to have forgotten that patents are supposed to be novel - too often it's a small and obvious incremental improvement.

Actually, novel inventions are quite rare. Even the the first patents issued were improvements upon existing processes. The original Patent Act of 1790 explicitly names "improvement thereon not before known or used". That Act was scrapped in three years because it was found to be too hard to obtain a patent. The new Act went out of its way to remove any notion that the invention or improvement had to be important, just that it was not known to the people granting patents.

The obviousness test wasn't introduced until 1952... many years and hundreds of thousands of patents later. And even then, what does obvious mean? If you are in front of a jury, a small tweak to a manufacturing process might seem novel, but to a process engineer it might have been so sensible that it could be found in dozens or hundreds of other products. How do you evaluate that? (answer: you're screwed now that the US has moved to first-to-file, though maybe you can find some evidence that it was known in the field well before the patent was submitted and get it invalidated)

TL;DR: Stop fetishizing the patent as if it was some holy writ handed down from on high using stone tablets; it's law made by humans that has undergone significant revisions. A patent allows knowledge that would otherwise be locked away a chance to see the light and be used, while enriching the creator or company that has the patent.

0
0

Latest loon for Trump's cabinet: Young-blood-loving, kidney-market advocate Jim O'Neill

Eric Olson

Re: Small Correction

Alternatively, you can look at the "light" regulation of the supplement markets. That is the new quackery, and even assuming that the supplement contains the ingredients it claims to, rather than grass and undeclared allergens, the presumption the FDA is required to take is "safe until people start dying." And even then, it takes a long time for the supplement to be pulled, and it's often "reformulated" and sold to another white label lab to produce.

But sure, O'Neill knows what he's talking about.

4
0
Eric Olson

Re: Small Correction

Except O'Neill made it black and white, and I was responding to your thesis that the larger context of his thought made it less so. But if you want to be pedantic about it, it's pretty binary. Light touch regulation is still regulation, and the government still has a legal obligation to evaluate efficacy and harm. Without getting into the weeds, he also incorrectly states that the Fda doesn't apply a cost benefit analysis to their decision. That is wrong. That is why you see drugs or treatments approved for very narrow cases, including prescriber instructions that indicate other treatments shod be tried first. The drug companies themselves even point them out in their ads (a completely different discussion).

O'Neill is not an expert. His resume regarding medicine is limited to being an underling in the HHS department. Without trolling through public records, his bios don't provide much detail as to what he did, and should probably be taken with truckload of salt.

In short, his comments are the same kind of concern-trolling you find among other "outsiders" who claim they are only coming from a position of love... While hiding a WMD behind their back.

2
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Eric Olson

Re: Small Correction

O'Neill's comments are the same kind of malarkey that non-politicians peddle when they don't understand things. The FDA is bound by law to ensure certain steps are carried out. Regardless of one's personal feelings, the FDA is legally obligated to evaluate new medical technologies (those that are being marketed for the treatment or cure of an accepted medical malady) using generally accepted metrics used by the medical community to evaluate efficacy and harm. The FDA doesn't do this as a CYA play, nor does politics play into their decisions (even during the Bush administration's abstinence is the only acceptable birth control schtick, the FDA approved Plan B as an OTC, albeit still "behind-the-counter".)

What O'Neill's was trying to do with his statement was make an emotional play to other non-experts and politicians that if only the poor, beaten spirit of Liberty was uncaged and allowed to frolic free from government interference, we could have those brave and noble bureaucrats re-homed and the free market unleashed upon the drug market to cure us of all those things that the FDA was law-bound to keep us dying from.

Of course, that the FDA was a direct result of the atrocities that were visited upon the masses by snake oil salesmen and "physicians" looking to make a quick buck by creating elixirs of opium, cocaine, and other addictive or deadly substances is lost on people like him who apparently never bothered to learn why the various government agencies and laws exist in the first place. They just want to watch the world burn and probably assume they'll survive and can pick through the ashes.

17
5

Congrats America, you can now safely slag off who you like online

Eric Olson

Re: Celebrating bipartisanship?

Gridlock is good insofar as...

There are numerous issues with your post, including the reality that some of the worst excesses of government that you seem to complain about came about through razor-thin, single-party votes. The Democrats has a large majority in both the House and Senate in 2010 when the ACA was passed, and moreso, it would have had some kinds of legitimate compromise in it if Republicans had come to the table as invited by President Obama. Instead, it was a bill filled with ideas (many from conservative think-tanks, but that's another story) that were never debated, just stuffed in there.

Supreme Court Justices were nominated on merit, even through the Bush years. I frankly don't care to waste a moment of my time trying to figure out who you find to be radical, and even don't care if we agreed perfectly. They often passed with large majorities, because the Senate took the Advise and Consent clause to mean "provide Advice, then Consent to the President's choice." Other than Bork in the 80s, and Nixon's various attempts to appoint avowed segregationists, Supreme Court nominees outright rejected by the Senate were rare; it was much more common for them to ask to be withdrawn, usually after a skeleton or two were outed.

And term limits fix nothing; they just move the problem down the road, empower the party apparatus even further, and provide outsize influence to outside money because of the need for large sums of cash to advertise when a new face has little name recognition. Guess what the solution is if you don't like an old Senator from Iowa or the philandering Representative from New York? Nothing, unless you want to move there. They don't represent you, period. If their constituents like them enough to keep them around, that's what a representative republic is all about. I don't like a lot of the old Representatives and Senators from a lot of states across party lines, but they aren't my call. I don't live in those districts and states. I can only work in my backyard and keep my nose out of my neighbor's business. And in the end, if you don't like them, dis-empower their party and handlers, not pump those same folks full of steroids by removing the protection of incumbency from a politician who feels safe in their position to reflect their representatives instead of the party boss who put them in place.

And here's a radical idea: Increase the number of Representatives. The number we have now has been fixed since the 1910s, when the country was only a third of today's population (and only 48 states to boot). That also dilutes their individual power and also blunts the influence of cash, because it's easier to connect to 250,000 people than 700,000 or more. And certain media markets would be so expensive it would be prohibitive for anything besides issue ads.

2
1
Eric Olson

Re: Celebrating bipartisanship?

Hear hear! The advance of time and technology should never be acknowledged through updates to law or stature. If it was good enough for Samuel Morse's curt review of a local bed and breakfast, it's bloody well good enough for us!

0
2

Loyalty card? Really? Why data-slurping store cards need a reboot

Eric Olson

Re: Nope

Not all that much to aggregate when you use mainly cash.
Not true, unless you believe that a store doesn't track all items in a purchase regardless of payment type. Not to mention all the metadata, such as store location, time of day, week, and month, etc. Even if you are using only cash, people with similar habits are going to be correlated with you, and your data will be aggregated with there own, if maybe given a little less weight because of the way in which it was matched.

And let's not forget that your bank knows who you are... and even if you are conducting most business in cash, they can still get back to you (or people like you) and offer up products, services, etc. that they think match your profile base on demographics. It might not be as personalized, perhaps... though even today most campaigns are pretty broad-brushed in their approach to "personalization."

0
0
Eric Olson

Re: Nope

No loyalty cards for me.

They can pay ME for access to my shopping habits, however I don't come cheap.

What do you think your bank, the credit card processors, and others who handle your transactions do with your data in aggregate?

Unless you operate with straight cash, the data points your generate are being sold to the highest bidders (every bidder, probably). Even with cash, your tab has a lot of data on it that will be used to give someone else a discount (hrm, lotion and tissues are often purchased together...)

1
0

Elon Musk wants to launch 4,000 satellites and smother globe with net connectivity

Eric Olson

Benefit of the doubt...

Gareth Corfield is trying to write in the style of the fake news sites that created viral articles for the ad money.

And if this was an article about US politics, government, certain subjects about Facebook or Google, Russian hackers, or teens writing fake news stories, the shtick might have worked.

However, as this article is about Elon Musk, a South African who resides in California that made his money off of PayPal and other ventures, the satire (if that's what it is) falls very flat. Instead, as commented upon numerous times, it comes across as an angry person who was slighted by Musk, or maybe was ignored at a recent press conference by Musk or people from Musk's interests.

8
0

China gets mad at Donald Trump, threatens to ruin Apple

Eric Olson

Re: And theres the deficit

There is no value to a lender to encourage a borrower to borrow more. Further borrowing only devalues the existing debt and increases the likelihood of default. I never understood this line of thinking, other than to attribute it vapid talk radio hosts and people trying to sound smart.

Back in the real world, China wants a strong dollar to make Chinese imports to the US cheaper and increasing market share. The US wants a weaker dollar (especially right now) to spur domestic production and export. Only the latter is achieved by increased debt issuance. China bought US debt in order to suppress its own currency, not to encourage further debt issuance by the US.

And as a preemptive strike, a country is not like a household; debt is just one more type of investment that can be made, especially in a low interest rate environment like today. Why do you think Apple, with it's mountains of cash, issued billions in bonds rather than dip into their cash reserves?

3
1
Eric Olson

Re: That's some direct talk

There was a WSJ report the other day (or attributed to the WSJ through a generally reliable reported elsewhere) that Trump and his team were floored by what a President and his staff does, and what is required to fill the jobs to support the White House. Because of this, President Obama will be in an advisory role for the transition.

I don't know what's worse, that Trump was so clueless about the job he campaigned for, or that his team, filled with creatures of Washington and the halls of power, have been throwing stones since the first Clinton presidency without any idea of what they were even throwing at.

26
2
Eric Olson

Re: Trade War - FTFY

Will Trump be able to stimulate American manufacturing to the levels of 40 years ago? I doubt it.^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Not even in an infinite number of concurrent simulations.

There is no going back, regardless of the rhetoric or blustering. There is no earthly reason why anyone would ever produce underwear and shirts in the US, nor the cheap electronics that fill Wal-Mart to bursting. Short of paramilitary forces holding people at gunpoint to produce for pennies a day, there will never be a profit.

Of course, the dirty secret is that in terms of value of goods produced, the US manufacturing sector hasn't looked this good in 15 years; the difference is it's being done through automation or with minimal human interaction. But that's not what The Donald ever meant, and that's definitely not what his supporters heard.

39
2

And for our next trick, says Google while literally wheeling out a humongous tablet ...

Eric Olson

Cue the grumps

Of course, there is truth even in the grumping. My guess is that Google, Microsoft, et al., spend a lot of time in environments that your typical developer could only dream of, if only because many work for banks, insurance companies, and other less hip and more bureaucratic sectors. Even in software firms outside of Silicon Valley (and probably inside, too), the general stickiness of management overhead, whiz-bang initiatives that went nowhere, and cynicism and/or aloofness towards the fresh blood that comes in pervades and beats down the most optimistic of folks.

This board isn't for you.

It was designed for those small firms that have some kind of charismatic founder that hasn't been ground to dust by repeated rounds of VC funding, bludgeoned to death by a rebellious board filled with CEOs and CFOs from more conservative industries, or taken to the cleaners by an ex or three, plus the piece(s) on the side that wanted something to stay quiet. It was designed for the kind of firms in Silicon Valley that MS or Google are likely to visit with their new ideas to prove they are still "hip" and "with it" in the technology space. And it might work in some agencies like marketing, advertising, etc. where you're more likely to find "quirky" leaders who drink a lot, fraternize in disturbing ways, and otherwise serve as reinforcement that they are able to help MS and Google stay relevant.

Perhaps I'm a cynic too, perhaps even though I'm in one of those "fun" firms I find it a little hard to sand off the edges that were honed through years in finance and health care. But I can see some benefits to the board in my current job, if only because I find drawing pictures and diagrams on the fly works a lot better than text-heavy descriptions, and collaborating helps in a space where a bunch of people know a little bit because we're all a new-ish hires and haven't had to venture too far beyond the specific project or team we were hired for.

4
0

HP Ink COO: Sorry not sorry we bricked your otherwise totally fine printer cartridges

Eric Olson

Re: Sorry Mr. Flaxman, but it is MY printer, not yours....

Unpopular Opinion Alert:

Yes, you own the printer: A disposable piece of plastic, copper, and whatever they scraped off the hooves of dairy cows who've stood in wet pastures. It has little actual value, and even less if it doesn't print.

They can design it however they want, up to and including encoding that only accepts their refills. You may not like it, but HP has not a secret of their stance on refilling HP cartridges and third-party cartridges. Their manuals and documentation are quite clear that you are to use an HP replacement. Using a cheaper solution is a risk you take; it's unsupported and there is no promise by HP that it will work in the future. When they do disable it, all those previously purchased black ink cartridges from Bob's Discount HP Shoppe will become useless.

If HP was the only printer game in town, I might be more sympathetic to your plight; without other options, HP would be abusing their market position. But there are numerous other options (named earlier in this thread) that can do the job, and maybe even better. That you choose to stick with HP is an issue you'll have to come to terms with.

2
30

Microsoft: Our AI speech recognition mangles your words the least

Eric Olson

Re: 6.3% eh?

I've had 34 years of development, and I still have a double-digit error rate when dealing with accents outside of my home region, especially those from Deep South of the US, Newfoundland, and much of the non-London portion of England.

And I have better luck with people from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, talking to me through a cell phone in those locations, than whatever the Florida Man has to say.

1
0

Google-funded group mad that US Copyright Office hasn't abolished copyright yet

Eric Olson

Re: Brought to you by Disney....

The Copyright Clause of the US Constitution gave the federal government the legal requirement to make laws that respect creators and their works for a limited period of time. The last piece is important, and as originally enshrined in legislation was 14 years, with the chance to reapply for another 14 years. That was a total of 28 years... probably half a lifetime in those enlightened times.

Europe did their own thing and quickly settled (well, sometime in the late 19th or early 20th) on lifetime of the creator, plus 50 years.

Probably should middle those and call it good. And of course, there's the reality that The Mouse built an empire on public domain works that they only moved to a new medium (animated films and/or television), and then had the gall to turn around and say those works, plus the other somewhat original works, should be protected forever (somewhere 75 and 125 years for "works for hire".)

As far as B+D designs, those are patents (probably). And they have different rules and tend to expire much more quickly. At the same time, patents can be abused in other ways...

0
1
Eric Olson

Brought to you by Disney....

The old "How will my great-grandchildren survive if they can't continue to collect revenue from exclusive licenses of my works?!" argument.

Yes, creators need a chance to recoup investment and make a profit on their works. Why that should be an exclusive monopoly for the life of the creator plus another lifetime is one of the great mysteries.

Computer code and articles aside, protecting any published work for what could very well be 120+ years is just asinine. And of course, the numerous ways in which copyright is circumvented (those of you saying authors are protected have clearly not seen fanfic, or seen it turned into major motion pictures) means that copyright is only valuable to those with deep pockets and lawyers to spare. The rest of us mortals can and will get fucked.

A popular website known for listicles has been repeatedly torched for lifting, wholesale, content from other online sources and repackaging it without attribution, links, or even acknowledging it might have been copied from another location. But the creators, some from other popular sites with their own lawyers, have realized that there isn't a damn thing they can do other than try to round up a posse on Twitter. Because copyright law is broken and is only good for large companies with ravenous lawyers on retainer who can fire off expensive cease and desist letters.

1
1

Robot cars probably won't happen, sniffs US transport chief

Eric Olson

Re: I'm not sure I understand @AMBxx

Absolutely avoidable. And in court, the phrase unavoidable accident would have been used by the pedestrian or their next of kin as a way to shift liability to the driver.

Black ice is created under specific circumstances that can easily be discerned by checking the weather report or a couple of weather sensors. Knowing that, you slow down, increase following distance, and be well-versed in steering into the skid. Of course it might not always work, but you can decrease the chances of being caught out and crashing if you are prepared.

And yes, even the most attentive driver is going to lapse or otherwise take the wrong moment to check their mirrors and find bad things coming at speed when they get back to the road. But it's pretty telling when most insurance statistics show there are repeat offenders, be it due to excessive speeding, repeated instances of inattention, or just bad at driving. Most insurers (in the US) don't even ding you for the first accident anymore if it's been a long time since your last one. And since revoking a license or being uninsurable doesn't stop people from driving, it's safe to say that the best solution is to remove the mouth-breathing meat bag from behind the wheel. Self-driving cars are one way to do this.

0
0
Eric Olson

Re: I'm not sure I understand @AMBxx

The problem with all those scenarios is this: Assuming they would even happen.

Take the example from the article. The likely reason for a situation in which a car is about to plow into a vehicle ahead of it is driver inattention or following too closely for the conditions, speed, etc. A computer doesn't take a "quick sec" to gaze at the phone nestled against their crotch. It doesn't have a BAC of .04 that slows reaction time to require a greater following distance, or causes someone to do stupid shit like tailgate.

Also in the real world, cars going 35 mph stop pretty damn quick once the brake is applied, which is the only scenario in which there is likely to be a group of kids on the side of the road. Once again, the limitation is the meat sack in the driver's seat who was too busy digging for the last fry in the McDonald's bag.

"Unavoidable accident" is just a phrase people use to reduce their liability in court or make their conscience shut up. Kids don't materialize in the road; they came from a yard or park 10 seconds earlier that an attentive driver would have seen and made the appropriate behavior modifications when approaching, like slowing down. The same kind of down-the-street evaluation can be done by a computer, and might even tag squirrels and bunnies if the resolution is good enough.

And as far as mowing down people of the wrong skin color, well, I don't know where you drive, but it's pretty rare for anyone to be in the middle of a lane where I am. With a tiny sample size, it's easy to get skewed numbers.

5
2

NIST spins atomic gyroscope to allow navigation without GPS

Eric Olson

That's a rather accurate scale to weigh out 8 million Rb atoms...

By my reckoning, 8 million Rb atoms weighs ~1.1 x 10^-15 grams... assuming that Rb has a relative atomic mass of ~85 g.

Of course, it's been nearly two decades since I aborted my attempt at a B.A. in Chemistry in favor of Psychology.... so take it with a planet of salt.

Frickin' lasers....

1
0

League of lawsuits: Game developer sues cheat-toting website

Eric Olson

Re: Peru?

Not sure if this is trolling or what, but I would like to point out that regardless of the location of a defendant, if they are engaging with or interfering in the business of the plaintiff, the plaintiff is capable of filing for relief in the home jurisdiction. So if Marvin the Martian is engaging in business practices that interfere with Tom Tucker in Quahog, RI, Tom can sue in whatever court is local to him, and any judgement can be enforced within the borders of that court's power. Sure, Marvin himself might be difficult to get a hold of, but if money flows through the jurisdiction of Tom's court (including banks or corporations), it can be frozen, garnished, etc. Same with non-monetary assets in the jurisdiction. And that's not even getting into any treaties between Mars and Quahog about judgements, extra-territorial powers, etc.

So while Riot might not have reach directly into L#'s finances since they are incorporated in Peru, I'm sure a number of L#'s customers are in the US or use banks that route through US territory, US banks, US corporations, etc. And while not criminal right now, failure to pay judgements can result in arrest, so L#'s officers, owners, etc., run a risk if they travel through the US for any reason, or find themselves in locations that have an extradition treaty to the US...

3
0

Should we teach our kids how to program humanity out of existence?

Eric Olson
Coffee/keyboard

To increase the realism, find a second person to provide a not quite similar set of requirements through a friend who'll act as a business analyst on the project. Then demand that the one robot satisfies both possible users with no trade-offs or compromises. This way, they both can learn the joys of being set up for failure and conflict by indifferent (or malicious) management.

4
0

Score one for the patent trolls: US appeals court says it's OK to shop for patent-friendly judges

Eric Olson

The "losing" side at the appeal court can appeal to the Nine Seniles. The Nine Seniles can pick and chose the cases they take so its not automatic to get a hearing. They do not need an appellate court split to take a case but the case (normally) has to have an appellate decision.

You're right in that it's not needed. However, the Supreme Court does get 7,000 or so appeals each year, hearing arguments in about 80 and issuing rulings without hearings for about 50 more. 130 out of 7,000 means your case must have some serious issues that require attention if there is no split among the Appeals Courts. Since the Appeals Court with jurisdiction over Patent cases relied on their own interpretation of precedent and legislative acts, the only route to change is getting Congress to change the rules of jurisdiction.

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