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MA Gov. Wants To Ban Non-Competes; Will It Matter?

Stolpskott Re:Uhm... since when are non-competes a bad thing? (97 comments)

Don't they stop employees from taking any kind of IP and running away with it, which would basically kill the industry?

No, it stops the "competing" company hiring employees of the other company. The standard employee contract in most companies typically includes a clause that everything the employee does on company time and hardware belongs to the company, and that if/when the employee leaves they acknowledge that the IP to all work performed or used by the employee stays with the company and cannot be taken, copied or used by the employee once they leave.

Non-competes limit the free flow of employees (resources, if you like) around the marketplace. If a company feels they need to justify a non-compete by citing IP concerns, then they are being disingenuous. Sorry, I mis-typed there... I meant to type "they are lying through their ass".

about two weeks ago
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A 2560x1440 VR Headset That's Mobile

Stolpskott Re:That's pretty stupid (135 comments)

I was on the fence about buying a DK2, but the Facebook purchase convinced me for sure I should do so - because I want to own and program against a prototype of something that is probably going to deliver.

It's kind of dumb to back up a company that is not only still catching up to DK1, but also lacks the financial resources to even keep up with further Oculus advancement going forward.

There's a reason why Facebook bought Oculus and not one of the other VR wannabes. They are years behind.

As for "interference", what the hell are you talking about? There's been none so far, only speculation - the only known thing about interference is they have said there will be none.

I think the thing that has most people worried about the Facebook purchase of Oculus is the difference in emphasis between the two companies - Oculus are/were looking to bring a reasonably-priced viable VR display to the market. Facebook are a social media powerhouse which makes revenue by monetizing it's users' details for advertising purposes. There is very little obvious synergy there, meaning it is not clear which direction the Facebook-piloted Oculus ship is going to go, but very few business lay down this kind of money and just let things carry on as they are, so there will almost certainly be some form of redirection.

If Oculus had been bought by a VR competitor, the direction would be largely unchanged; if the purchaser was an OS company - Microsoft, for example, the approach would probably be one of monitor-replacement for the Xbox and also for the Windows OS, other buyers with their own agendas, and so on. If the purchaser was Google, the synergies are again less apparent and the deal would probably be greeted with some skepticism laced with hope/expectation for what improvements might come when paired with Google's resources, but the question is - what is Facebook doing at the moment that makes a VR display the last piece of the puzzle for a killer app? VR Social Media? (Would not really work if the interaction is real-time, as all you will see are loads of people with Oculus headsets on. Not very social...)

about two weeks ago
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In the Unverified Digital World, Are Journalists and Bloggers Equal?

Stolpskott Betteridge's Law in effect... (Answer = No) (156 comments)

Journalists (as the world's professional content creators) versus Bloggers (the world's amateur - sometimes very much so - content creators) are similar in the same way that the guy hacking together application code in his bedroom in his spare time is the same as the salaried analyst programmer employed full time to do that.

They both produce content, and the amateur may produce content which would be considered of an acceptable standard by the professional. But the average amateur produces content which is of a much lower standard than the average professional (no, I have no specific citation to prove that, other than my own experience of working with both types on projects).

about a month ago
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The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage

Stolpskott CEOs and lobbyists cannot find engineers? (392 comments)

Granted, the vast majority of CEOs and lobbyists are good at what they do, but their jobs do not involve finding an engineer. The lobbyists do not need engineers, and the CEOs have minions who can find engineers for them. I suspect that the typical CEO thinks that an engineer is a cross between Dilbert, middle management, and a random faceless guy with a pocket full of pens and bad personal hygeine plus the social skills of Sheldon Cooper - "if all those factors are not present, the person is not an engineer, and I am right because I am the CEO".
I would, however, be interested to see how strong the correlation is between people who say that there is a shortage of scientists and engineers, and the groups who are advocating for broader H1B visa use, because I suspect that what the CEOs and lobbyists really mean is not "there is a shortage of trained engineers and scientists", but "there is a shortage of qualified individuals who are willing to work the hours we demand for the wages we are willing to pay".

about a month ago
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The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage

Stolpskott Re:Want to write a kernel ? (392 comments)

Your reply is a little ambiguous .What about programmers who design and code ? .

The coder/designer would be an Analyst/Programmer. However, the title "Engineer" is both a very specific one (referring to someone who maintains and operates an engine), and also a very generic one (a catch-all title for people trained and *hopefully* skilled in the design/construction of various types of machines or structures - Mechanical Engineer, Civil Engineer, Electrical Engineer, and so on).
I would suggest that a programmer or analyst/programmer is a specific class of engineer.

about a month ago
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Blizzard To Sell Level 90 WoW Characters For $60

Stolpskott Pay good money to get there, but be bad at it? (253 comments)

Paying to skip the whole boring leveling process is going to be a wet dream for a lot of impatient wannabes. But from my experience with MMOs based on leveling skills, you pretty much need to go through the leveling process to get to know the class, limitations, effective playstyles, rotations, and so on. Starting at max level is going to mean that you know nothing about the character class, so you will be a waste of a group/raid slot.
Cue lfg messages where the caller asks for members who have not bought their max level character...

about 2 months ago
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How much time do you spend gaming compared to 10 years ago?

Stolpskott Significantly less... but there is a reason (270 comments)

10 years ago, I was on "gardening leave" for 6 months from a job, and once that leave finished, I got a very generous severance package. So for about 9 months in 2004, I was able to do whatever the hell I wanted with my time. Aside from a couple of "walkabout" vacations across Europe and the US, I had no trouble at all spending 12 hours a day playing games. Fun times... grinding toons in my favourite MMO at the time, usually depopulating Nym's Stronghold on Lok looking for a decent set of vibromotors... fun times.

about 2 months ago
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E-Sports Gender Gap: 90+% Male

Stolpskott Me = competitive, women = social? (320 comments)

My first instinct was to think that the competitive nature of e-sports would be more likely to attract men than women, as men are "naturally" more competitive when playing games, while women (in my experience) tend to play games either to socialize or relax. It is a very broad brush to paint the two sexes with, but as we are basically looking at a sub-section of men (those who are interested in playing or watching e-sports) versus an entire gender (women, specifically why are there not more of them playing/watching e-sports) any comparisons are going to be a bit disingenuous.
However, I suspect that a large percentage of people who chose not to declare their gender in the survey are doing so out of a sense of privacy, rather than a desire to hide the "fact" that they are women... unless they are also attending the venue where the survey is taken while wearing androgynous clothing designed to mask their gender, and expect to be pounced on like an antelope surrounded by a pack of hungry lions if there is even a hint of femininity (disturbingly, that is probably not far from the truth in some cases).

about 2 months ago
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YouTube Threatens To Remove Scientist's Account Over AIDS Deniers' DMCA Claims

Stolpskott Re:"educational" is not "fair use" (268 comments)

Educational use is one of the fundamental uses of the Fair Use doctrine, as long as there is no commercial gain derived directly from the application of Fair Use.
Quoting from 17 U.S.C 107:

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. 106 and 17 U.S.C. 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

the nature of the copyrighted work;

the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

So... this use is valid on the grounds that it is criticism (in both of the main definitions of the word), comment, and teaching, if the person applying the Fair Use doctrine is not claiming any direct commercial benefit from the use of said copyrighted information. Unless, of course, the original authors can show that the original work is of a specific nature that would itself invalidate Fair Use; the re-user had included all or the vast majority of the original piece directly in his response; or the re-use substantially affected the commercial value of the original work (probably requires a before/after study of revenue generated from the work to be presented in justification for the copyright claim, not something that can be submitted with a DCMA request).

In this case, both sides will probably feel justified in labeling the other's position as "propaganda", with their own as "education", although it shows the AIDS-deniers' viewpoint and world view as being very narrow, because "any view other than something that completely aligns with mine is incorrect, and worse propaganda, so must be expunged from view so that my Universal Truth can be seen in all its glory"...

about 2 months ago
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HTML5 App For Panasonic TVs Rejected - JQuery Is a "Hack"

Stolpskott Their sandpit, their rules (573 comments)

If you are having problems getting past this one (idiotic) App reviewer, then unless you have already gone through a successful app review process with another reviewer whom you can use for a second opinion or have an escalation point to request an appeal, then you have only two choices that I can see - give up on the idea, or rewrite the app without using jQuery (either by self-coding all of those elements, or taking the bits of jQuery that you need and packaging those separately.

about 3 months ago
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HP To Charge For Service Packs and Firmware For Out-of-Warranty Customers

Stolpskott Re:Devils Advocate (385 comments)

Lets say you sell something you warrant to work for three years. Some four years later, there's some kind of security flaw - why should the company not need some extra funds to develop a fix? To my mind this change is something that will lead to better support for older products, because you can keep on paying and demanding fixes for your payments...

Let's say that I buy a brand new HP product, and then inside of 1 month I notice a bug in the firmware. It doesn't stop the system working, because that server is not hosting anything on its secondary RAID array other than a set of backup disks that I can put on a different controller (i.e. it causes a problem, but I have an easy and 100% effective workaround). However, I report the bug to HP. On that server, I download all available firmware updates and apply them as they are released.
3 years later, that system is out of warranty but I now need to start using that secondary disk array, and HP has now released a firmware patch to fix the bug that I reported when first using the system.
In this case, the "different controller" happened to be a RAID card that had been purchased for a different project which was on-off-on-off- and then finally back on, so we had to purchase another RAID card, which was a smaller expense than swapping out the entire HP server for one with different firmware (the other option we had).

At the time we had this issue, we could just download the patch from HP for our now out-of-warranty system. Under this new policy, we could not have done so.

If companies fix their firmware issues in a timely fashion, my problem does not arise. As it is, I can see a huge demand on Torrent sites for HP firmware updates coming up, or contract network professionals trying to build up firmware libraries through companies that do maintain their HP service agreements.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Do You Do If You're Given a Broken Project?

Stolpskott Step one, do not criticize. Step 2, document. (308 comments)

As you have said that the person who worked on the project before is well liked and respected within the company, while you are the new guy with no good will or social capital built up in the organisation, the last thing you should be doing is forming any kind of criticism of the code or the person who wrote it.
However, if the project is truly "Broken", then the person who worked on it before will not be the untouchable God type. He may be the asshole programmer from Hell who purposefully wrote code that could not be maintained by anyone else, in which case you are his patsy and you are probably on a losing bet, because he is just waiting in the wings to swoop in, pull an all-nighter bashing away at the keyboard to rescue the company from the incompetence of the new guy, all for a measly 50% pay rise... I have seen it happen to a few contractors and it is not pretty.

The "obvious" solution, of course, is to quit and find another gig. However, the next place (or the one after that) will probably have a similar scenario, so the best approach would be to start learning to tackle the problem on this project.

That means that step 1 is to look at where YOU went wrong. By that, I mean that either your initial code analysis was incomplete (you did not check out the code before taking the assignment, or maybe you had no opportunity to check it out), or you started coding before understanding the existing structure (or lack of). Yes, you are under pressure to add value, contribute, justify your existence, and so on... but that will be doubly true next month. If you cannot make the argument in the first week/month that you need to review the existing code before making changes and adding features, then you are not going to be able to make that argument at any point. It takes a particular kind of coder to write updates to existing code without first understanding what the existing stuff does, and that type is rare, especially when dealing with an un-maintainable bird's nest of code.

If the code is already documented, verify that the documentation is accurate. If it is not already documented, then document it. The code may need to be re-factored before you can make any meaningful contribution, but right at the beginning of the project is the only possible window you will have for that kind of analysis.

If your response at this point is "I do not have time to document the code", then my advice would be to leave with your sanity and most of your reputation intact. You have already seen that coding hot, without any insight into what you are working with, causes unexpected and unexplained problems.

about 3 months ago
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Kansas To Nix Expansion of Google Fiber and Municipal Broadband

Stolpskott Re:munis are broke (430 comments)

munis didn't fund wars... nice try though

Maybe not... but spending by Munis is also not responsible for the vast majority of US public debt. As of 2012 (the latest year-end I can find data for without logging into Bloomberg and compiling the data):
US local government debt as a percentage of GDP was around 7-8%.
US state government debt as a percentage of GDP was around 19-20%.
US federal government debt as a percentage of GDP was a touch over 120%.

So, by far the biggest contributor to US public debt is the US Federal Government, and by far the biggest single-ticket item of its expenditure is military spending ($700 Billion per year in direct contract awards), with massive spending on the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The most thorough study that I can find public reference to is by Brown University, which puts the cost of troop deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and logistical support in Pakistan, plus domestic spending on debt interest to service that cost, at something over $6 Trillion so far, and that is only since 2003.
The study itself does not seem to be publicly available on the interwebs - Crawford, Neta and Catherine Lutz. "Economic and Budgetary Costs of the Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan to the United States: A Summary". Costs of War. Brown University.
But you can check out the Wikipedia article to get the basics: Financial cost of the Iraq War

Seeing as the current US Federal Debt burden is somewhere between $17 and $17.5 Trillion, the "non-War" debt burden is still a not-inconsiderable $11 Trillion, but the annual Military Gravy Train in the US dwarfs the rest of the debt components.

about 3 months ago
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Searching For Dark Matter From Deep Under an Italian Mountain

Stolpskott Bring in the IRS... (62 comments)

When the US and Italian police have problems with Mafia dons (all the evidence points to them, but it is very difficult to pin anything on them), the IRS has much more success in getting them on tax evasion.
Give the IRS something to do, and maybe enlist the NSA's help with tapping dark matter's communication channels so that the IRS can figure out where the dark matter is hiding!

about 2 months ago
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Yep, People Are Still Using '123456' and 'Password' As Passwords In 2014

Stolpskott Re:rubber-necker woot-woot (276 comments)

And if they tell you you're going to be safe, more than once, you're going to die.

Even worse, never, ever, agree to wear a red shirt and beam down to a planet with them. You probably have a better chance of survival by playing Russian Roulette with an automatic pistol...

about 3 months ago
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Up To a Quarter of California Smog Comes From China

Stolpskott Re:Basic Math (259 comments)

Ok, so here's what doesn't make sense. If they're saying 25% of the smog came from china, then only 1.3% of the total smog is from goods produced for export to the US. On the other hand, if they're really saying that what they're saying, and 25% of total smog is from US goods, that means 470% of the smog in total is form China.

5. I'm really tired and I missed something. But I don't think I'm that tired.

The article is a bit whiffy when it comes to the figures, but the bit you are missing is that it is not just the smog from goods produced for export to the US that is making its way over to the US. If it was, that would be an interesting irony... I do not think it helps that the article seems to be at the same time trying to discuss the amount of pollution generated by Chinese manufacturing of goods for export to the US, while also discussing the amount of smog "exported" from China to the US. Those things are very easily confused.
So some of the smog generated by China that makes its way over to the US was generated by manufacturing processes for goods not destined for export to the US. :)

about 3 months ago
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Linus Torvalds: Any CLA Is Fundamentally Broken

Stolpskott Re:Spell it out the first time (279 comments)

I was wondering how much Linus knows about Conjugated Linoleic Acids.

Quite a bit, it seems. After all, he has been able to analyse the CLAs produced by several other sources and determined that they are broken. So he must know as much or more about them than the FSF and Apache biochemists who produced the Acids for those organisations... although why the FSF and Apache Foundation would need or want such materials is beyond me...

about 3 months ago
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Blowing Up a Pointless Job Interview

Stolpskott You'll get lots of stupid questions post-interview (692 comments)

First, you would be surprised how inter-connected a lot of these HR departments and technical team are - people moving from one company to another, or simply talking to each other about "asshat" candidates is very common.
I find that is more of a problem in smaller countries and specialized industries, such as the banking sector in Stockholm or Oslo... less of a problem in London or New York.
However, the rule is, as always, keep it professional in the interview. If you get the feeling that the role or the people or the company are not for you, explain to the interviewer calmly and rationally that you are not getting a good feeling about the situation, thank them for their time and wish them luck in filling the position. Then make your way out of the office and be thankful that you have only wasted an hour or two of your time. Certainly, that is not as satisfying as making a snarky comment, but you will find that all the pre-prepared snarky comments you walked in with are not appropriate for the situation, and all of the appropriate snarky comments you can come up with on the spot are insufficiently snarky to correctly encapsulate your sarcasm.

Plus, if you think the interview questions are stupid, wait until you meet the users. Asking stupid questions in the interview is a good way of weeding out the people who will be incapable of suppressing the urge to strangle the third user who asks a mortifyingly stupid question.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Are AdBlock's Days Numbered?

Stolpskott Re:NoScript (731 comments)

Bah, they'll just wrap the content in JavaScript. Wanna use NoScript? Fine, then you don't get to access the content.

If you take the view that the purpose of the website is to promote the company, and the purpose of the Ad is to, err, advertise (either the company, one of their services, or an affiliate), then the Adblock arms race will probably be ultimately won by that company's competitors:

1. Company puts up an ad-laden web site to try and sell/promote their goods/services, and convert viewers into customers.
2. Viewers of the web site use Adblock to cut out the ads.
3. Company uses tech to make ads indistinguishable from content (using scripts, for example).
4. Viewers of the web site start using NoScript or similar tools.
5. Company's web site is no longer viewable to potential customers, so the site viewers are not not converted into customers.
6. Company loses potential customers to competitors.
7. (Competitors) Profit!!!!

ok, it does not always work out that way, but the fundamental truth is that a company exists to make money for the shareholders of said company. They do that by adding value to goods and services that they provide to customers. Nobody is forced to buy from a specific company (exclusive supply contracts or biased tender processes aside), so it is entirely voluntary for a customer to put their money with a particular company.
While a customer may need or think they need a particular item, in a market where there are several potential sources or variants of that item, an individual company needs the customer more than the customer needs that particular company (because the customer can go elsewhere for that item).

Remember business people... "The customer is always right."

about 3 months ago
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Man Shot To Death For Texting During Movie

Stolpskott Re:Double bind (1431 comments)

An armed society is a polite society. When you know someone is probably able to kill you (justified or not), you tend to be much more polite to them. Take away people's ability to restrain rude fucks, and the rude fucks run riot through the life you're trying to live.

An armed society (with concealed carry) is a society in which the individuals fear other individuals because they might be carrying a gun. "This person might be carrying a gun so they can kill me, so I need to fear them."
Fear leads to one of two impulses - fight or flight. Flight, and the guy runs out of the theater. Fight, and the guy pulls his own gun because he feels threatened, and you have another Trayvon Martin incident, but with a few more witnesses and the possibility of a stray shot wounding or killing innocent bystanders.

Politeness comes from mutual respect, not from fear. Respect has nothing to do with guns, but with tolerance and empathy. Both needed to show a bit more tolerance and empathy for the wishes of the other, but neither did so one is now dead and the other will almost certainly spend the rest of their life in prison at the taxpayer's expense. Doesn't exactly sound like a win-win for the "Right to bear arms" lobby.

about 3 months ago

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