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Best Buy Follows Yahoo in Banning Remote Work

Saxophonist Re:This is worse than it sounds (317 comments)

Perhaps not, in aggregate. Never having been to Toronto, I cannot speak to such a comparison.

However, Best Buy HQ is not in downtown Minneapolis. If it were, the transit situation would be markedly better. It is in a first-ring south suburb called Richfield, right off I-494 and I-35W. Some recent upgrades to I-35W have helped some, but 494 is regularly at a standstill.

I doubt this one action by one company will change too many transportation policies in the immediate area. Nevertheless, the dearth of effective public transit along the 494 corridor has been a longstanding problem.

about a year and a half ago

Best Buy Follows Yahoo in Banning Remote Work

Saxophonist Re:This is worse than it sounds (317 comments)

I don't know for sure. They have positions (typically through contracting agencies) for developers constantly. I don't know what their projects actually are, though obviously they do have an online presence.

Further, this policy obviously affects workers outside IT. I don't know how many of those individuals were working remotely.

about a year and a half ago

Best Buy Follows Yahoo in Banning Remote Work

Saxophonist This is worse than it sounds (317 comments)

Best Buy headquarters is in one of the areas of the Twin Cities metro with the worst traffic congestion already, and it is not well-served by public transit. Public policy in Minnesota is starting to tend toward encouraging more remote work and/or flexibility because the cost of maintaining and upgrading roads and transit is becoming unaffordable. I don't know about other areas of employment, but competent programmers are not usually having trouble finding work in the Twin Cities metro. Granted, many of Best Buy's developers are contractors anyway.

This move is likely just to drive away people with other options, and with a company that's already a sinking ship, it's certainly going the wrong direction.

about a year and a half ago

Mayer Terminates Yahoo's Remote Employee Policy

Saxophonist Re:At you desk! (524 comments)

Statute, not just case law, says that computer programmers are (almost always) exempt employees. Because laws are not required to be sensible, you may note that the pay requirements to qualify for exemption are vastly different depending whether the programmer is paid hourly or salary. Hourly, the minimum pay for exemption is $27.63 per hour. For salary, the minimum pay is far less, specifically $455 per week ($11.38/hour assuming a forty-hour workweek).

This is, of course, federal statute in the United States, and individual states may have different laws.


about a year and a half ago

O'Reilly Discounts Every eBook By 50%

Saxophonist Re:big data / machine learning (108 comments)

I'm not saying it's definitely what you want, but:

That page was advertised on the front page of the site. Maybe these books are too basic; as you said, you don't need a quick review of data structures in R. But, they do at least have something.

I agree, though: I can't get very excited about e-book deals when I'm not sure of a topic in which one would be compelling anymore.

about 2 years ago

Senate Bill Rewrite Lets Feds Read Your E-mail Without Warrants

Saxophonist Re:Slashdot has a credibility problem (403 comments)

TFA seems to get a lot wrong, as is common for articles about legislation or litigation. I couldn't find the actual bill text, and I would like to read it. Any help here? More specifically, the two references to the bill that I saw appear wrong:

  • There was this link, which goes to a Senate bill without a number. I don't even know whether it is the current version of the bill. I don't know the bill number to which to refer when contacting my Senators, since the bill number is blank. And this is going to vote next week?
  • There is mention of H.R. 2471. But, that is a House bill, and it does not appear relevant to this discussion at all.

Any help here?

about 2 years ago

A Free Internet, If You Can Keep It

Saxophonist Re:Actually read the bills (102 comments)

In this case, to me, the bills just look ineptly written. That's to be expected, in a way; writing bills is not especially easy, and it usually takes a collaboration of people to look at all the possibilities and get it right. Unfortunately, sometimes that collaboration introduces corruption into the bill as well, since certain legislators will work for special interests. I don't think these bills are any different from others in this way.

I don't know how federal bills get written. In my state, where I ran for legislature this year (and lost, but it was a good showing in a district that heavily favors the other major party), there is a legislative office with lawyers on staff who write all the actual bills.

A wiki approach might be good. On the other hand, imagine what would happen to your open-source software project if everyone could contribute, nothing was explicitly vetted, there was no ability to fork, and the result really mattered and was difficult to change. Congress would, of course, vet the bill by voting on it if they chose to do so. Groups write model legislation all the time. Maybe this is something that the EFF could do? Another posted suggested having EFF look at these bills, which could be a good starting point.

about 2 years ago

A Free Internet, If You Can Keep It

Saxophonist Actually read the bills (102 comments)

I took a look at both bills. I'm not optimistic.

I would need to dig more into the ECPA 2.0 bill, but there are, at a minimum, some technical problems with the bill's language. The purpose seems to be to abolish GPS tracking, but the language is weasel-y, and it needs to clarify some points such as interaction with state laws.

The Global Free Internet Act appears to do nothing useful. It would create a task force ripe for regulatory capture, and it would probably result in less accountability than having groups continue to lobby Congress. Also, some of the factual statements about the Internet are incorrect, especially when making assumptions about the Internet's "original purpose."

I'm not saying that we couldn't have quality legislation in these areas, but the proposed bills are lacking.

about 2 years ago

Japan Getting Real-Time Phone Call Translator App

Saxophonist Re:Star Trek (113 comments)

Shaka, when the walls fell.

about 2 years ago

How a 3-Year-Old Can Open a Gun Safe

Saxophonist TSA airline guidelines (646 comments)

Remember the Stack-On press release that touted the fact that their containers met “TSA airline guidelines” as if this endorsement is added evidence of the security of their products? We tested these containers, and the reality is they can be opened in a variety of ways including with a tiny piece of brass by a three year old.

That pretty much says it all right there. The TSA approves something because it can be opened by a three-year-old, meaning their own employees might have a 50/50 shot at it.

more than 2 years ago

Geeks In the Public Forum?

Saxophonist Re:my take (326 comments)


I say that because I'm about to seek my party's nomination for state Senate. I'm not truly going public yet because the meeting that will allow my endorsement is not until June 7, and there are certain legal restrictions on what I can do before I file paperwork and the like. It appears that the incumbent would otherwise be running unopposed, and I cannot in good conscience let that happen.

Congratulations to you on your time in office and on your life moving forward!

more than 2 years ago

Surviving the Cashless Cataclysm

Saxophonist Re:Secure = Traceable (463 comments)

You do realize that all military defendants facing court martial get military counsel for free, right? They can pay for civilian counsel at their own expense and keep their military counsel as well. (See The Military View section mid-page.)

more than 2 years ago

SFPD Breathalyzer Mistake Puts Hundreds of DUI Convictions In Doubt

Saxophonist Re:Good (498 comments)

Certain areas of Texas, however, have likewise not been without controversy regarding the accuracy of their tests.

more than 2 years ago

GitHub Hacked

Saxophonist Re:Nice hacker (202 comments)

I've barely worked with Rails, but from what you're describing, isn't this bug somewhat like the security problems with register_globals in PHP, which started defaulting to "off" almost a decade ago?

Everything old is new again...

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Dividing Digital Assets In Divorce?

Saxophonist Re:Blegh (458 comments)

Iowa has this issue, and it's actually a little worse than that there, as there is no way to "quit-claim" a car.

This came up in my divorce, actually. She was getting a car that had both our names on it. Iowa law says that the owner of a vehicle is liable for whatever happens with it (which, of course, is what liability insurance addresses). By the time the divorce was actually finalized, I had been living in another state for almost a year. I was attempting to follow the decree and sign over title to the car, except that Iowa has no mechanism for doing so. The new owner has to complete his or her part of the process, and let's just say that cooperation had been an issue near the end.

Now, she should have been able just to take the decree and the title to the county administration office and get the title transferred, since the decree said it could be used in place of a signature in order to carry out its requirements (a decree is a court order, of course, so it has a judge's signature on it). But, I just have to hope she actually did this.

When I tried to get car insurance for myself in my new state of residence, I was wondering why the rates were so much higher than I was paying in Iowa. I found out when I got a call from the insurer I eventually used to go through my driving record, etc. It turns out that she had two accidents in that car between when I filed for divorce and when the divorce was finalized that she never told me about, which is a big problem since legally, I was liable. She still had insurance, apparently, which is good, but the accidents were initially making my insurance go up since they were recorded as being in my vehicle. The insurance agent had that corrected, and my rate went down.

more than 2 years ago

RIAA Chief Whines That SOPA Opponents Were "Unfair"

Saxophonist Re:What a load of poo nuggets! (525 comments)

In Minnesota, both Democratic Senators publicly supported PIPA, while my Republican Representative opposed SOPA (though only after getting a lot of constituent contact about it -- I'd guess he barely knows what the Internet is, much less how SOPA would have affected it). With that backdrop, I attended my Democratic precinct caucus last night and proposed as a resolution:

WHEREAS all persons have a right to freedom of speech and to the exchange of information and ideas,
WHEREAS the technologies that comprise the Internet need to be designed for efficiency and ease of use, using principles that must be free of compromise due to technologically ignorant legislation, and
WHEREAS major stakeholders in intellectual property are already fully capable of funding their own legal actions to protect the broad intellectual property rights granted under U.S. law,
We should not enact laws similar to the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) or the Protect IP Act (S. 968) that engage in prior restraint of speech, impose ineffective yet burdensome restrictions on technology providers, and deny due process of law by restricting access to websites not yet proven to be acting illegally.

I live in a rural area, and no one in the room likely had any real idea what the technological considerations were. I didn't think I did a great job of explaining the issues, but by using an analogy of DNS to a phone book and by naming who was behind the bills, I persuaded the caucus to pass the resolution unanimously.

We'll see if this resolution makes it up the chain, but I think even this anecdote shows that regular people who want to hear what you have to say can understand the issues and decide accordingly.

more than 2 years ago

What's the Damage? Measuring fsck Under XFS and Ext4 On Big Storage

Saxophonist Re:linux is fail (196 comments)

No, you're thinking of ReiserFS.

more than 2 years ago

Silverlight 5 Released

Saxophonist Re:Anyone uses Silverlight? (107 comments)

It did no good, of course, but I wrote an e-mail to the State of Minnesota complaining about the Minnesota Revenue "Where's My Refund" site. I can't think of any legitimate reason for a site like this to use Silverlight (or Flash or any other plugin). Here was my message:

Do you offer a non-Silverlight version of the income tax refund status application? It does not seem to work with a recent stable version of Moonlight, though I have tried little to try to make it work.

Further, why would Silverlight be of any benefit for such a (relatively) simple application? I deal with ASP.NET for a living, and I can't imagine any serious consideration of Silverlight for a public application like this one. Unless there are some requirements of which I am unaware, a simple ASP.NET application would more than suffice (because your site is already .NET-based).

Of course, there is little that can be done now, but perhaps next year...

Here was the ridiculous response:

Good Morning, There is no other version offered at this time. I do not know why this version was chosen.

Thank you for using our website.

<name omitted to protect the stupid>

<name omitted to protect the stupid, again, since it was here twice>
Minnesota Department of Revenue
Individual Income Tax Division

This was in 2010, and of course, the same application is still in place.

more than 2 years ago

Upcoming Changes To 'Ask Slashdot'

Saxophonist Re:I'm Skeptical Of The Usefulness (230 comments)

Voting is a different matter, and usually stray downvotes get canceled out. I have not had moderator issues with StackOverflow itself, and I continue to use it quite actively. Rather, the issues I have seen are with

more than 2 years ago

Upcoming Changes To 'Ask Slashdot'

Saxophonist Re:Raise the Caps on Moderation. (230 comments)

Along with your idea, perhaps all users above a certain Karma can mod those questions from a separate mod limit (maybe three points per question)? Just a thought.

more than 2 years ago



Did Microsoft alter Windows sales figures?

Saxophonist Saxophonist writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Saxophonist (937341) writes "InformationWeek claims to have analyzed Microsoft's most recent Form 10-Q and observed that a reported increase in earnings for the Windows unit may be due to accounting trickery rather than actual sales growth. Microsoft apparently increased its reported revenues for its Windows, Server & Tools, and Office units at least partly through shifting revenues from other units. While there may be nothing "to suggest the company's revisions violate any accounting rules," the actual growth in Windows sales was likely nowhere near the high double-digit percentage growth claimed. InformationWeek speculates that revenues from Xbox and Surface may have been among the revenues shifted to the other divisions."
Link to Original Source

Cell Phone Encryption Exploit Demonstrated

Saxophonist Saxophonist writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Saxophonist (937341) writes "Two individuals presenting at the Black Hat security conference in Washington, D.C., demonstrated an efficient way to break the encryption on cellular telephone signals that use the GSM protocol. David Hulton and Steve Muller claim that one such method can be done in about half an hour with $1,000 worth of hardware. They plan to release that method for free, but they have another, faster method that they plan to sell for $200,000 to $500,000. They claim that this faster method can decrypt a signal in about thirty seconds."

Saxophonist Saxophonist writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Saxophonist (937341) writes "Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, spoke yesterday at the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board symposium yesterday. He explained why people with technical knowledge need to educate their governments regarding technology issues. "The average person in government is not of the age of people who are using all this stuff," Schmidt said. "There is a generational gap, and it's very, very real." The full story can be found here."


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