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Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

McGruber Re:Hmmmmm. Interesting decision history... (279 comments)

Why would an employer want to turn down a self-motivated candidate that spent his weekends reading documentation with a portfolio full of projects for a fresh out of college kid who spent his weekends getting drunk with a small portfolio of school projects?

The employer will turn down the self-motivated candidate whenever the employer needs a new drinking buddy.

5 days ago
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Man Caught Trying To Sell Plans For New Aircraft Carrier

McGruber Aircraft Carriers are already Obsolete (388 comments)

The summary missed the most damning part of the article:

After a clandestine meeting at a Hampton park, FBI agents say engineer Mostafa Ahmed Awwad provided four computer-aided design drawings of the Ford and described where to strike the vessel with a missile to sink it.

about two weeks ago
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Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Considering US Presidential Run

McGruber Re:Um, what? (433 comments)

Megalomaniac fuck-ups never realize that they are the problem.

I wish I had submitted my story with that as its headline!

about three weeks ago
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Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Considering US Presidential Run

McGruber A millionaire who won't pay back her loans (433 comments)

Carly Fiorina still has not paid off the loans her 2010 campaign took out, despite having a net worth of $30 million to $120 million according to campaign paperwork she filed in 2009. From the WP article:

The organization, Carly for California, still owed vendors nearly $500,000 as of the end of September, according to Federal Election Commission filings. The committee’s outstanding debts included more than $80,000 to strategist Martin Wilson and his former firm; $43,000 owed to D.C. law firm Patton Boggs, where campaign counsel Benjamin Ginsberg worked at the time; $36,000 to fundraiser Renee Croce; $5,000 to press aide Jennifer Kerns; and $7,500 to political director Jeff Corless.

The Fiorina campaign also owed $30,000 to Joe Shumate, a storied political strategist in California who served as Fiorina’s senior adviser and died one month before Election Day in 2010.

Fiorina “hasn’t really communicated with anybody in 18 months about how she intends to deal with the campaign debt,” said Wilson, now a vice president at the California Chamber of Commerce. “Hopefully, if she gets more serious about running for another office, she’ll revisit the issue and get some of those bills paid off.”

about three weeks ago
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Microsoft Releases Out-of-Band Security Patch For Windows

McGruber Re:So... (178 comments)

Now Microsoft trying to be more open. Should we be a bit more welcoming to Microsoft?

Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.

What you view as "trying to be more open" strikes me as being "Embrace".

about a month ago
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Uber Threatens To Do 'Opposition Research' On Journalists

McGruber Uber is a Pump-n-Dump scheme (299 comments)

Uber is a Pump and Dump (on the Chumps) stock scheme.

Last week, Uber put out a press release that said they were valued at $30 billion. Several media outlets published articles with that $30 billion number; here's an example: According to various sources, Uber is about to go for another financing round with the intention to raise an additional $2 billion

In a new round of funding, Uber is likely to raise another $2 billion in addition to the $1.6 billion it has raised to date. The new round will value the San Francisco-based ride-sharing service at a whopping $30 billion, up from its $18.2 billion valuation from the last round of funding.

Think about that $30 billion "valuation" for a moment, and compare it to the valuations of other transportation companies. Norfolk Southern railroad has a market cap of just over $35 billion, while Delta Airlines has a market cap of just over $36 billion.

Uber is a mobile app. Does anyone here think that app is really worth 85% of a railroad that *owns* 21,500 route miles of fiber optic right-of-way (with railroad tracks on top) in 22 eastern states? Does anyone really think a ride sharing app is really worth 84% of an airline that operates 5,400 flights daily over an international network that includes 333 destinations in 64 countries on six continents... and has its own mobile apps?

about a month ago
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Coding Bootcamps Presented As "College Alternative"

McGruber Re:Web 2.0 (226 comments)

- Plenty of wacky revenue-free, shaky business model companies generating huge VC investments and crazy valuations

During the dotcom bubble, because I was reading fuckedcompany.com each today. That site did an amazing job of documenting the stupid business models in vogue back then.

Is there a site today that is documenting the current bubble? My guess is if there is, it's either a reddit forum or a twitter feed.

about a month ago
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Big Talk About Small Samples

McGruber Re:Wikipedia (246 comments)

I think you just raised the bar on this "hate on bennett" thing. Hope it doesn't escalate from there...

Douglas Held -- not me -- added the line to wikipedia. I merely saw the sentence when I googled to find out who the heck this Bennett guy is.

about a month ago
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Home Depot Says Hackers Grabbed 53 Million Email Addresses

McGruber Home Depot's Apology Email to Customers (99 comments)

Home Depot sent this email out to its customers:

Dear Valued Customer,

The Home Depot has discovered that a file containing your email address may have been taken during the payment card breach we announced in September. The file contained email addresses, but it did not contain passwords, payment card information, or other sensitive personal information. We apologize for this incident and for the inconvenience and frustration this may cause you.

In all likelihood this event will not impact you, but we recommend that you be on the alert for phony emails requesting personal or sensitive information. If you have any questions or would like additional information on how to protect yourself from email scams, please visit our website or call 1-800-HOMEDEPOT.

Again, we apologize for the frustration and inconvenience this incident may have caused. Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

The Home Depot

I was struck by how the letter did not say anything about what HD has done to ensure that something like this will not happen again to them.

about a month and a half ago
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Interviews: Ask Robert Ballard About Ocean Exploration

McGruber Malaysia Airlines (MH) Flight #93 (40 comments)

Would you explain how easy or hard the search for Malaysia Airlines (MH) #93 must be?

about a month and a half ago
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Will the Google Car Turn Out To Be the Apple Newton of Automobiles?

McGruber Re:How hard is it to recognize a stoplight? (287 comments)

I imagine that the hard part would be recognizing every traffic signal when the signals are dark (power is out).

about 2 months ago
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Tesla Announces Dual Motors, 'Autopilot' For the Model S

McGruber Re:Awesome (283 comments)

I save more than $10k a year even with those payments. How would that make me financially irresponsible?

If you are a US worker making $80k, you can put $17,500 a year into your 401K and another $5,500 into a Roth IRA..... so your saving $10k/year is less than 1/2 the money you could be putting into your retirement accounts for the year.

If you are over age 50, you could be putting in $23,500 (401K) and $6,500 (Roth IRA)..... so your saving $10k/year would be only a third of what you could be saving, in your retirement account alone.

about 2 months ago
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Home Depot Says Breach Affected 56 Million Cards

McGruber Court Testimony described HD's developers workdays (80 comments)

When I watched Justin Ross Harris' Preliminary Hearing, I was stunned by how little work Home Depot's developers seem to do.

Harris worked for Home Depot's ".com business" per a quote from the Home Depot Corporate Communications Manager in this CNN article. The Preliminary Hearing did an amazing job of describing his typical workday: After watching cartoons with his child, then taking him out for breakfast, Harris eventually arrived at his office at about 10 AM. About 90 minutes later, he went out for a long lunch, with a carload of coworkers. After eating, the group stopped at a store to puchase some items. After lunch, Harris is at his desk for a few hours, but then he was out the door at 4 PM, off to watch a movie with some of his coworkers.

The hearing documented that he put in, at most, about five hours of work. During those five hours, he was IMing women on dating sites and also IMing a couple coworkers about a small startup/consulting business they had.

about 3 months ago
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Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

McGruber Re:So what exactly is the market here. (730 comments)

A gigantic set of the population is no longer even used to the concept of wearing a watch, because they have their phone. This device doesn't replace their phone. What exactly is the reason to have this as well, as opposed to pulling your phone out of your pocket?

You're thinking about it wrong: People wear watches because they are in fashion, not because wearing a watch is a necessary thing to do.

I noticed that they showed several different styles of watches -- that means every fashionista will have to buy several. Ker-ching $$$$$$

about 3 months ago
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Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

McGruber Re:...like dash cams. (455 comments)

How to let officers pee without also letting them turn off cameras at every "inconvenient" time presents a challenge...

I don't see why it would necessary to turn the camera off when using the restroom -- the camera is looking forward, not downward, so it would be recording a close-up view of the top of the urinal.

about 4 months ago
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Bezos-Owned Washington Post Embeds Amazon Buy-It-Now Buttons Mid-sentence

McGruber Re:Accuse me a being materialistic whore but... (136 comments)

I'm not having a serious problem with this.

Did you know that Politics and Prose is the best independent bookstore in Washington and, IMHO, one of the best bookstores in the country? The Politics and Prose wikipedia page says it original co-owners "became known as literary tastemakers."

Consider that as you re-read the example I choose for the summary:

At Politics and Prose, the traditional [AMAZON BUY IT NOW] version — featuring the iconic eyes floating on a blue background — sold better than the DiCaprio [AMAZON BUY IT NOW] cover.

Do you see the problem now?

I'll end with a shout-out to the NPR program On The Media - I look forward to hearing OTM cover this issue!

(This post not edited by Brooke.)

about 4 months ago
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Delays For SC Nuclear Plant Put Pressure On the Industry

McGruber Georgia customers billed for it since 2009 (142 comments)

Since 2009, Georgia electric customers have been paying a "Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery” fee to fund the building of the Plant Vogle reactors. This tax currently adds 7.6% to a customer's electric monthly bill.

Here is an October 2013 article about a protest against the tax: Georgia Power Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery Tariff Excites Local Protest

And here's an organization that is protesting the tax: STOPCWIP.COM, which is short for STOP Construction Work In Progress

They point out that the Nuke owners are guaranteed a 11.5% return no matter how late the plant is:

In 2009, the Georgia General Assembly passed “Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act,” making it legal for Georgia electric utilities to charge customers in advance to construct the nuclear reactors. The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) subsequently approved Georgia Power and other owners of Plant Vogtle to charge the CWIP tax which will be collected during the whole construction period, no matter how long it will take, and allow Georgia Power and the other Vogtle owners a guaranteed profit with a protected return on investment of 11.15%.

about 4 months ago
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Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office

McGruber Re:Where do I sign up? (327 comments)

Seriously? You're posting this here without telling me how I can get this job?

Sorry about that - you apply for federal jobs at USA Jobs Website

There are not any patent examiner openings posted right now, but here are some current IT openings at the Patent Office:

IT Acquisitions Specialist - DE

IT Specialist (APPSW) - Software Developer - DE

Systems Development Lead - IT Specialist (SYSANALYSIS/APPSW) - DE

about 4 months ago
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Bad "Buss Duct" Causes Week-long Closure of 5,000 Employee Federal Complex

McGruber Re:Earthshaking (124 comments)

It's an electrical problem in a single building.

Actually, the complex is four separate builidings connected in a U-shape; the tallest is 24 stories. The complex has its own entry on skyscraperpage.com and is also described in this 6-page PDF by Trane, the air-conditioning company. That PDF includes this description of the buildings in the complex and how it is all designed for 24/7 operation:

The facility, named for the former U.S. Senator from Georgia, is one the largest federal office buildings on the East Coast. It encompasses 1.87 million square feet of space. The structure straddles a busy downtown street. The building is also located atop an underground train tunnel of the Atlanta transit system, MARTA. The building units include the remodeled 1924 department store, Rich's, which was a downtown Atlanta landmark and an Atlanta institution.

Now this renovated six-story building and its beloved clock are a visual cornerstone for the center. Other elements are a 10-story mid-rise section, an eight-story bridge, six stories over Forsyth Street and a 24-story high-rise tower. Adjacent to the building is a 10-story parking garage. Construction of the building was a joint urban redevelopment enterprise of the City of Atlanta and the Federal Government. The design architect for the facility was the California firm of Kohn, Peterson, Fox and Associates. Newcomb & Boyd, a large Atlanta firm, was chosen as the project engineer.

Designed For 24-Hour Operation Southeastern Facility Management, Inc., is contracted by GSA to operate this facility. The system was designed for 24-hour seven days a week operation to accommodate the mission of the various agencies housed in the facility. One or more of the 1,310-ton chillers were to operate, depending on the building load, between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. After 6:00 p.m., the 400-ton chiller was to carry all computer rooms and miscellaneous building loads. As a consequence, the facility designers and engineers needed to plan for continuous occupancy. Atlanta has significant cooling loads for much of the year and high humidity as well. The goal of the HVAC system design was to assure complete comfort in the building around the clock, year-round. To achieve this, significant emphasis was placed on humidity control with a central chilled water plant, air handlers for each area and a zone- controlled VAV air delivery system. Building designers also recognized that an important part of the office environment is acoustic performance. For this reason, rigorous sound level standards were set for occupied areas throughout the facility. The air conditioning system efficiency was extremely important due to the 24/7 operation.

about 5 months ago

Submissions

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Comedian saying 'Google it' caused Bill Cosby's downfall

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about three weeks ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "The Saporta Report's Tom Baxter describes (http://saportareport.com/blog/2014/11/in-cosbys-downfall-a-glimpse-of-googles-awesome-power/) how the staggering power of the search engine is responsible for the overdue implosion of comedian William Henry "Bill" Cosby, Jr's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Cosby) career.

The allegations against Cosby have been public since 2005 (http://www.vulture.com/2014/09/timeline-of-the-abuse-charges-against-cosby.html), when 13 Jane Doe victims testified on behalf of Andrea Constrand. However,

"it was not until someone made a cell phone video of a standup routine which a young comedian named Hannibal Buress had been doing for several weeks, that the story ignited. There was nothing new in what he said — there have even been previous comedy routines about the rape allegations — except this: “You leave here and google ‘Bill Cosby rape.’ It’s not funny. That s*** has more results than ‘Hannibal Buress.’”

Somebody put the clip up on a Philadelphia magazine’s website, and a lot of people did what Buress suggested. In a cosmic piece of bad timing, Cosby’s website put up a meme generator, which allowed readers to write a headline on a picture of the star and post it on social media sites. That helped fan the now-flickering flame, which gained force as one after another woman came forward to accuse him.

Baxter also posits that "it's inevitable that there will be efforts to control access to the scattered bits of information that could create a media fire, as well as malicious attempts to strike matches.""
Link to Original Source

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Carly Fiorina considering run for US President (Seriously!)

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about a month ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "Fired HP CEO (http://it.slashdot.org/story/05/02/09/1352218/hp-ceo-carly-fiorina-to-step-down) and failed Republican Senate candidate ((http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2010/11/fiorina-concedes-defeat-in-senate-race-.html) Carly Fiorina "is actively exploring a 2016 presidential run. Fiorina has been talking privately with potential donors, recruiting campaign staffers, courting grass-roots activists in early caucus and primary states and planning trips to Iowa and New Hampshire starting next week." (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/carly-fiorina-actively-explores-2016-presidential-run-but-faces-gop-critics/2014/11/25/b317b1a2-74b3-11e4-bd1b-03009bd3e984_story.html)"
Link to Original Source
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Apple cannot fire Woz because he is still reporting to Steve Jobs

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about a month ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "Last week, Steve Wozniak (http://www.woz.org/) spoke at an "Internet Summit" in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina.

During his remarks, Woz said that reports of him him "hating Apple" have been taken out of context: "I am an employee of Apple still. I want to be the only person who has been on the paycheck every single day since day one of the company. I don't think they can fire me."

Woz also explained that company paperwork says that he is stil reporting to Steve Jobs. "I said, 'oh, well, at least I can't get fired,'" he said. That's good because, earlier in the month, Woz responded to a hardware bug report (http://www.willegal.net/blog/?p=6023) regarding the original Apple-I.

There was no word on if Apple has tried to confisciate his red stapler."

Link to Original Source
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Ken Ham's Ark torpedoed with charges of religious discrimination

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about 2 months ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "Back on February 4, "Science Guy" Bill Nye debated Creationist Kenneth Alfred "Ken" Ham (http://science.slashdot.org/story/14/02/04/1731233/watch-bill-nye-and-ken-ham-clash-over-creationism-live). That high-profile debate helped boost support for Ham's $73 Million "Ark Encounter" project, allowing Ham to announce on February 25 that a municipal bond offering had raised enough money to begin construction. Nye said he was “heartbroken and sickened for the Commonwealth of Kentucky” after learning that the project would move forward. Nye said the ark would eventually draw more attention to the beliefs of Ham’s ministry, which preaches that the Bible’s creation story is a true account, and as a result, “voters and taxpayers in Kentucky will eventually see that this is not in their best interest.” (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/28/creation-museum-kentucky-noahs-ark-museum-ken-ham)

In July, the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority unanimously approved $18.25 million worth of tax incentives to keep the ark park afloat. The funds are from a state program that allows eligible tourism attractions a rebate of as much as 25 percent of the investment in the project. (http://www.kentucky.com/2014/07/29/3356998_noahs-ark-theme-park-gets-preliminary.html) Since then, the Ark Park's employment application has became public:

Nestled among the requirements for all job applicants were three troubling obligatory documents: “Salvation testimony,” “Creation belief statement,” and a “Confirmation of your agreement with the AiG statement of faith.” (AiG is Answers in Genesis, Ham’s ministry and Ark Encounter’s parent company.)

That caused the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet to halt its issuance of tax incentives for the ark park. Bob Stewart, secretary of the cabinet, wrote to Ham that “the Commonwealth does not provide incentives to any company that discriminates on the basis of religion and we will not make any exception for Ark Encounter, LLC.” Before funding could proceed, Stewart explained, “the Commonwealth must have the express written assurance from Ark Encounter, LLC that it will not discriminate in any way on the basis of religion in hiring.” (http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/politics/2014/10/07/ark-park-hiring-issue-jeopardizes-tax-incentives/16854657/)

The ark park has not yet sunk. It is "still pending before the authority" and a date has not yet been set for the meeting where final approval will be considered."

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Steve Ballmer gets Billion-Dollar Tax Write-Off for being Basketball Baron

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about 2 months ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "According to a report published by The Financial Times (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/67215cd2-5d00-11e4-9753-00144feabdc0.html), ex-Microsoft CEO Billionaire Steve Ballmer will be able to write about a Billion dollars of his Basketball Team's purchase price off from the taxable income he makes over the next 15 years:

"Under an exception in US law, buyers of sports franchises can use an accounting treatment known as goodwill against their other taxable income. This feature is commonly used by tax specialists to structure deals for sports teams. Goodwill is the difference between the purchase price of an asset and the actual cash and other fixed assets belonging to the team."

NBC Los Angeles has a non-paywalled summary here: www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Report-Steve-Ballmer-Could-Claim-1B-in-Tax-Write-Offs-For-Buying-Clippers-280466752.html?die/.betadiediediedie"
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No Charges filed after SWAT team throws grenade into Baby Bou Bou's crib.

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about 2 months ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "Another new low for police state America: a grand jury in Habersham County, Georgia has declined to indict any of the officers involved in a botched SWAT team drug raid that permanently disfigured 19-month-old Bounkham “Baby Bou Bou” Phonesavanh (http://www.ajc.com/news/news/breaking-news/no-charges-for-officers-in-botched-drug-raid-that-/nhc2N/).

When the SWAT team raided Baby Bou Bou's parents home at 3 a.m. on May 28, they lobbed a flash-bang grenade into the house. That grenade landed in the crib where little Bou Bou was sleeping. It exploded, tearing open the boy’s face, severing his nose and severely burning his face and chest (http://www.wnd.com/2014/10/no-charges-in-sloppy-swat-raid-that-maimed-baby/). The SWAT team searched inside the house, but failed to find either guns or drugs. Wanis Thonetheva, who didn’t even live at the house, was arrested later that day without incident and charged only with possession of methamphetamine.

The Habersham County, Georgia Government refuses to pay Baby Bou Bou's medical bills, which now total more than $800,000 (http://www.accessnorthga.com/detail.php?n=279243)."

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US Transportation Dept. considering license plate readers for "traffic safety"

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about 3 months ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "The John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, a unique federal agency that is part of the US Department of Transportation (http://www.volpe.dot.gov/), is conducting market research on using automated license plate readers (ALPRs) as a potential countermeasure to improve traffic safety.

According to USDOT Solicitation Notice DTRT5714SS00007 that is posted on FedBizOpps (https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=2df765acc2f0788ae1bc40ff0d70fe30&tab=core&_cview=0)

The Notice says "While ALPRs are deployed for a variety of purposes (i.e., homeland security, locating and recovering stolen vehicles, etc.), the purpose of this study is to focus on the use of ALPRs for traffic safety purposes. Within traffic safety, the emphasis will be on license offenses, including revoked, suspended, or restricted licenses; however, the study should reveal whether ALPRs are being used for any other type of traffic safety function (e.g., speed enforcement).""

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USPTO says fraud by patent examiners will be met with 'disciplinary action'

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about 3 months ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "After Slashdot reported "Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office" (http://news.slashdot.org/story/14/08/11/1519201/every-day-is-goof-off-at-work-day-at-the-us-patent-and-trademark-office), US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) Deputy Director Michelle K. Lee left a morale-boosting voicemail to all USPTO employees. She told them "All of your efforts are critical to creating new jobs and growing businesses" and affirmed her support for a telework program she said made the agency a “sought-after place to work.”

Six weeks later --and umpteen media reports about patent examiners lying about their hours (http://yro.slashdot.org/story/14/09/13/2146240/us-patent-office-seeking-consultant-that-can-stamp-out-fraud-by-patent-examiners)-- Deputy Director Lee has done an about face. In an email sent to thousands of employees, Lee wrote “Simply put fraudulent time and attendance recording is unacceptable and must be met with appropriate disciplinary action." Her message then cited a number of steps the USPTO is taking to address the an internal USPTO investigation that determined patent examiners repeatedly lied about their hours and received bonuses for work they didn’t do. (www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/09/20/patent-official-says-fraudulent-time-is-unacceptable-and-will-be-met-with-disciplinary-action/)

Deputy Director Lee is the USPTO's defactor leader because the USPTO lacks a permanent director."

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Duo driving across the US in a Tesla Model S

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about 3 months ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "Lita Elbertson and Michael Fritts have spent the last few weeks driving across the country in a Tesla Model S. According to the Durango, Colorado Herald newspaper, (http://durangoherald.com/article/20140914/NEWS01/140919759/0/FRONTPAGE/On-an-electric-road-trip) the duo are apparently the first to attempt to drive across America in a vehicle using no gas.

As of Sunday, the duo and their Model S had visited 40 states. They are following a Supercharger network – a map that shows all the Tesla charging stations nationwide – and were disappointed that Durango, Colorado did not have a Tesla station. Maybe they rode the steam train (http://www.durangotrain.com/) while waiting for a charge?

In May, Fritz took his Tesla on a solo drive from New York City to Miami and back, making the trip in 58 hours and 15 minutes (http://www.wktv.com/news/local/Local-man-drives-to-Miami-and-back-with-no-money-no-gas-258220901.html)."

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US Patent Office seeking consultant that can stamp-out fraud by patent examiners

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about 3 months ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "A month after Slashdot reported Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office (http://news.slashdot.org/story/14/08/11/1519201/every-day-is-goof-off-at-work-day-at-the-us-patent-and-trademark-office), the USPTO issued a statement that it is “committed to taking any measures necessary” to stop employees who review patents from lying about their hours and getting overtime pay and bonuses for work they didn’t do. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/09/13/patent-office-to-hire-outside-consultant-to-review-telework-program/)

USPTO officials also told congressional investigators that they are seeking an outside consulting firm to advise them on how managers can improve their monitoring of more than 8,000 patent examiners.

The Patent Examiners union responded to the original Washington Post report with a statement (http://popa.org/2523/) that includes these lines:

To claim that the USPTO has “thousands” of examiners not doing their work is simply ridiculous on its face. It represents poor journalistic rigor on the part of a well-respected newspaper like the Washington Post. If “thousands” of USPTO employees were not doing their work, it would be impossible for this agency to be producing the best performance in recent memory and, perhaps, in its entire 224 year history.

In related news, USPTO Commissioner Deborah Cohn (http://www.uspto.gov/about/bios/cohn_bio.jsp) has announced plans to resign just months after a watchdog agency revealed that she had pressured staffers to hire the live-in boyfriend of an immediate family member over other, better-qualified applicants. (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/sep/8/patent-office-head-step-down-amid-nepotism-charge/) An agency spokesman declined to say whether Cohn's decision to resign was tied to the nepotism probe. The live-in-boyfriend was among more than 700 people applying for the job, but he failed to qualify as one of the 250 candidates to advance to the first round of screening. When he finished 75th out of 76 applicants in the final round of screening, Cohn "intervened and created an additional position specifically for the applicant," wrote Inspector General Todd Zinser in a statement on the matter."
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Amazon sold fewer Fire phones than Jack White sold VINYL records

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about 4 months ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "Marketwatch reports that Amazon likely had sold fewer than 35,000 Amazon Fire phones in the device's first 25 days on the market. In comparison, American musician Jack White sold 40,000 copies of his Lazaretto album on VINYL in the first week after its release in June.

Amazon's Fire phone made up just 0.02% of market share in July, according to online ads network Chitika, which analyzed tens of millions of smartphone-based online ad impressions generated within the Chitika ad network from July 25, the day the Fire was launched, through Aug. 14. When comparing that against recent data from comScore, which put total U.S. smartphone penetration at 173 million people in June, Fire sales would not have exceeded 35,000 in its first three weeks, assuming U.S. smartphone penetration remained relatively flat month-over-month.

"While the Fire Phone was listed atop Amazon's Best Seller list for several days in early August, North American usage of the device has grown only incrementally, rather than exponentially," Chitika said in a report."

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The comfy part of long-haul jetliners that you never get to ride in

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about 4 months ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "Interior design publication Core77 has an article about Crew Rest Compartments (CRCs) (http://www.core77.com/blog/interiorexhibition_design/the_part_of_the_plane_you_never_get_to_see_what_do_cabin_crews_chillaxation_spots_look_like_27476.asp) installed in long-haul jetliners. These CRC accommodations include the 8 Best Beds on a Boeing 777, a pimpish loft space nestled above the passenger compartment on the Boeing 787, and bunkbeds stacked 3-high on the Airbus A380.

A pilot commented that the CRCs are not as glamorous as they look: "You generally enter a very dark claustrophobic space with your phone light not to disturb anyone. You're surrounded by all the most synthetic materials of the planet, overheated (25 to 30 c), very smelly (shoes, BO, bad breath etc...) and if you are in the tail noisy and shaky! Lol. But guess what you still sleep as you are exhausted!""

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Pwned by Jeff Bezos,Washington Post embeds Amazon Buy It Now buttons midsentence

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about 4 months ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "Reading a story (http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/what-divisive-charlie-and-the-chocolate-factory-cover-says-about-books-and-readers/2014/08/15/23163b8a-219a-11e4-86ca-6f03cbd15c1a_story.html) in the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post, I saw that the paper had begun embedding Amazon Buy-It-Now links in the middle of story sentences. One such sentence read:

Depp can confirm this: At Politics and Prose, the traditional [BUY IT NOW] version — featuring the iconic eyes floating on a blue background — sold better than the DiCaprio [BUY IT NOW] cover.

The change follows the July news of much larger than expected losses at Amazon and a 10-percent decline in the Amazon's stock value. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/07/24/amazon-sales-soar-but-losses-are-the-biggest-since-2012/)

In related news, the Post reports that the literary executor of George Orwell’s estate has accused Amazon.com of Doublespeak. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/orwell-rep-accuses-amazon-of-doublespeak/2014/08/14/ecda1252-23c5-11e4-8b10-7db129976abb_story.html)"
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Everyday is Goof Off at Work Day at the US Patent & Trademark Office

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about 4 months ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "An internal investigation by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office found that some of its 8,300 patent examiners repeatedly lied about the hours they were putting in and many were receiving bonuses for work they did not do. While half of the USPTO's Patent Examiners work from home full time, oversight of the telework program — and of examiners based at the Alexandria headquarters — was “completely ineffective,” investigators concluded.

The internal investigation also unearthed another widespread problem. More than 70 percent of the 80 managers interviewed also told investigators that a “significant” number of examiners did not work for long periods, then rushed to get their reviews done at the end of each quarter. Supervisors told the review team that the practice “negatively affects” the quality of the work. “Our quality standards are low,” one supervisor told the investigators. “We are looking for work that meets minimal requirements.”

Patent examiners review applications and grant patents on inventions that are new and unique. They are experts in their fields, often with master’s and doctoral degrees. They earn at the top of federal pay scale, with the highest taking home $148,000 a year."

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Cringley: IBM not a viable company, propping itself up by trippling its debt

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about 5 months ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "Robert X. Cringely has a new ebook out, titled "The Decline and Fall of IBM" (http://www.cringely.com/2014/06/04/decline-fall-ibm/). Cringely believes that IBM is in deep trouble and has been since before the Great Recession of 2008. He also says that the company has probably been doomed since 2010.

On Sunday, Cringley was interviewed on the nationally syndicated talkradio program Moneytalk. Program host Bob Brinker (http://bobbrinker.com/) pointed out that Warren Buffett bought almost $11 billion worth of IBM common stock, then asked Cringley "what did he miss?" Cringley answered that IBM is in a downward spiral because it is focused on maintaining and increasing earnings per share (EPS). IBM is borrowing money to buy back shares, propping up EPS but adding debt. IBM's debt has tripled in the last 5 years.

Cringley also told Brinker that IBM has gone from hardware sales to selling services but they have poor customer retention, having lost the state of Texas and The Walt Disney Company. Their sales culture tends to bid low to win the contract and then extract more dollars by selling extra services. IBM also lost a contract with the CIA to Amazon. A person who called-in to the program pointed out that IBM lost its leadership in product development, lost sales of its core products to Fortune 500 companies, and its software business is eroding because of open source applications. Cringely concurred with the caller and told him "you made my point."(http://honeysbobbrinkerbeehivebuzz3.blogspot.com/)"

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Australia rebooting search for MH370, the missing Malaysian Airlines 777-200ER

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about 5 months ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "The Wall Street Journal reports that two months after pausing its search for the missing Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777-200ER, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is ready to reboot its search. The ATSB is poised to select among bids from the world's most-advanced deep-water specialists, including offshore oil-and-gas companies, maritime research institutions and treasure hunters eager to use their technologies and experience to solve the Flight 370 riddle—and potentially raise their own profiles in the process. The ATSB is expected to choose one or more of the bidders over the next several weeks before relaunching the search with $56 million in funding in late August.

With no hard evidence of where the plane went down, the search will test the recovery industry's abilities like nothing before. In June, Australian authorities shifted the search zone for a third time—by about 600 miles to the southwest—after reanalyzing satellite transmissions. Even then, they said it was impossible to know whether the fresh search area would prove correct."

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Bad "Buss Duct" causes week-long closure of 5,000 employee Federal Complex

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about 5 months ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "In Atlanta, an electrical problem in a "Buss Duct" has caused the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center to be closed for at least a week (http://www.ajc.com/news/news/nunn-federal-building-expected-to-reopen-monday/ngnSZ/). 5,000 federal employees work at the center.

While many might view this as another example of The Infrastructure Crisis (http://www.asce.org/Content.aspx?id=25562) in the USA, it might actually be another example of mismanagement at the complex's landord, the General Service Administration (GSA). The GSA has had many scandals [http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20120416/DEPARTMENTS07/204160301/GSA-scandal-Heavy-fallout-expected] and has been the subject of several Congresssional Hearings, including an August 1, 2012 hearing titled "GSA: A Review of Agency Mismanagement and Wasteful Spending — Part 2" (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-112hhrg75419/html/CHRG-112hhrg75419.htm). That hearing followed an $823,000 GSA employee conference in Las Vegas and a one-day-long $250,000 GSA employee conference in Crystal City, Virginia (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/aug/1/gsa-scandal-widens-dozens-conferences-investigated/?page=all)

The closed Atlanta complex is named for Samuel Augustus "Sam" Nunn, Jr., who served for 24 years as a United States Senator from Georgia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Nunn). His daughter is the current Democratic Party nominee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Nunn) for a Georgia Senate seat."

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India building Highest Railway Bridge in the World

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about 5 months ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "Up in the Mimalayas, Indian engineers have restarted work on the world's highest railway bridge. When completed in 2016, the arch-shaped steel structure will be 359 metres (1,177 feet) high — 35 metres (115 feet) taller than the Eiffel Tower!

The bridge is part of the Jammu Udhampur Srinagar Baramulla Railway Link
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashmir_Railway), a railway line being built to connect the state of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country. When completed, the route will shorten the travel time from Baramulla to Jammu to six-and-a-half hours, almost half the time it currently takes."

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Uber Driver flees taxi police with passengers aboard

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about 5 months ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "The Washington Post has the news that a Uber driver fled from police with passenger Ryan Simonetti aboard:

As they approached their Uber car, they spotted a D.C. taxi inspector talking to the driver.

Simonetti got into the front seat, and his colleagues got into the back seat. The inspector walked away. Thinking back, Simonetti suspects the inspector was going to check the documents the Uber driver had handed to him. Then, the Uber driver started driving down the street. The inspector turned his lights on and started to follow.

“That cop’s following you. What’s going on?” Simonetti said he asked the driver. He said the driver told him not to worry. “Oh no, he’s not a real cop,” the Uber driver replied. Simonetti said the driver then told them: “I’m sorry, we’re going to have to run this red light.”

The Uber driver then headed for the 9th Street tunnel, got on I-395 and proceeded to race down the highway going “well above the speed limit,” Simonetti said.

The taxi inspector followed.“It was like an episode of ‘Cops,’” Simonetti said.

A spokesman for Uber said the driver in question is no longer with the company."
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Senator Al Franken accuses AT+T of 'skirting' net neutrality rules

McGruber McGruber writes  |  about 5 months ago

McGruber (1417641) writes "In a letter to the U.S. Federal Communication Commission and the Department of Justice, Senator Al Franken warned that letting AT&T acquire Direct TV could turn AT&T into a gatekeeper to the mobile Internet. Franken also complained that AT&T took inappropriate steps to block Internet applications like Google Voice and Skype: "AT&T has a history of skirting the spirit, and perhaps the letter" of the government's rules on net neutrality, Franken wrote."
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