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Mr. Schmidt Goes To Washington: A Look Inside Google's Lobbying Behemoth

alvinrod Re:Not a good sign... (115 comments)

To some degree it may become a requirement if your competition is willing to spend money lobbying. At that point it may become the case where not investing a certain amount of money to represent your interests will result in the government passing laws that will hurt your business at the expense of a competitor or another industry.

As an analogy, if there are no criminals it is not necessary to spend much money on security. However, if security is generally weak, it may encourage criminal activity. At some point it becomes less costly to spend money on some amount of security to prevent criminal activity. Eventually it reaches an equilibrium where spending more money on security will not provide a similar reduction in cost due to losses from criminal activity and criminal activity will become risky enough that fewer people view criminal enterprises as profitable. It's a little fuzzy as the parties involved don't always have perfect information and external factors will have some influence on the system, but on the whole it tends towards an equilibrium.

Like almost anything else in life, if some action is more efficient or profitable than the alternatives, people will gravitate towards doing it. The real question is whether there is an alternative form of governance that results in some net increase in overall efficiency such that there is less overall money being tied up in lobbying without an increase in negative outcomes for the involved parties for investing in other endeavors. Until we can answer yes to that question and validate it such that we can be quite sure of the answer (not to mention being able to develop a means of smoothly transferring to such a system) what we have now is probably more efficient than most other systems given the existing constraints.

Lobbying could certainly be made more transparent, but it beats some of the outright bribery and corruption that goes on in other countries. It might not be ideal, but it's probably a little bit closer to it.

4 days ago

Ask Slashdot: Online, Free Equivalent To a CompSci BS?

alvinrod Re:You have all the education you need, don't both (197 comments)

It really depends on what is meant by computer science. A lot of CS degrees today contain a lot more software engineering and general programming than they do theory. A person can take a lot of more traditional CS classes (e.g. compiler theory, cryptography, automata, algorithm analysis, etc.) which are are fairly heavily math based, and probably learn a lot, but they won't necessarily help with programming ability or the kinds of things that are more generally useful today.

If someone just wants to build websites using some framework or some casual programming, odds are they won't need to know a lot of those things. I think that if you're going to be a professional software developer, those types of courses can open you up to new ways of thinking and problem solving that will be valuable.

To me there are really three different areas: computer science, which is mostly math and theory; programming, which is translating algorithms into code; and software engineering, which encompasses the entire software lifecycle and managing it. A software professional probably wants some knowledge of all three areas, but it's likely that they'll tend to specialize in one particular area.

about a month ago

Yik Yak, After Complaints From Schools, Suspends Its Service In Chicago

alvinrod Re:Help, I'm being harrassed on an app on my phone (167 comments)

What I don't get is that with this app there's actual evidence of the bullying that teachers can address. Sure it's "anonymous" but how much does anyone want to bet that there's enough information available that it wouldn't be too difficult to determine who was sending the messages?

I suppose it's just easier for them to sweep the problem under the rug rather than actually bothering to deal with it.

about a month ago

Apple's Hiring Spree of Biosensor Experts Continues As iWatch Team Grows

alvinrod Re:Privacy regulations (62 comments)

This assumes that they will actually store any of it on their servers. It wouldn't surprise me if the information stayed only on the device or your computer if you wanted to sync with it. If it were Google making this device one would probably assume that, yes, they would be collecting the data and analyzing it in order to sell advertisements, but Apple generally seems content to no bother with your data as they seem content to make their money selling people $100 worth of parts and components for $300.

about 2 months ago

Music Industry Is Keeping Streaming Services Unprofitable

alvinrod Re:Cut Out The Middle Men (118 comments)

The problem with an association is once you get a group of established players forming an association they'll have little incentive to let new streaming companies join since it can only hurt the existing players, at which point we're back to square one with having multiple entities to deal with in order to get the music out. The other potential problem is that having a single association to deal with creates a monopsony which hurts the artists ability to get fair value for their work. Any new bands are probably going to get really bad deals as they can either put up with breadcrumbs or not have any of their music available on any of the member streaming services. Even established acts might have problems if there's no competitive pressure.

Personally I don't think it's an issue. There aren't that many different streaming sites out there right now and you'd think that most would want to make it as easy as possible to get new groups signed up. If an artist's manager can't handle dealing with this, what value are they actually providing to earn their pay? Smaller acts are probably used to dealing with dozens of different people when setting up gigs at various venues so I would imagine that anyone with half a brain could come to terms with a streaming site if they wanted to put a bit of effort in to do so.

about 2 months ago

Australia OKs Dumping Dredge Waste In Barrier Reef

alvinrod Re:By reef... (277 comments)

According to the government's own environmental impact report there isn't any anticipated impact. From the report:

Impact of dredging at the new berth will be very limited as the volume to be dredged is very small, and the duration of work (two weeks) is minimal. Studies at the proposed offshore disposal site also reveal that past disposal has had no discernible long term effects. No significant level of contaminants has been found in the dredging areas, from coal or other material spillage, and dredge spoil is therefore considered suitable for unconfined ocean disposal. Coastal processes do not contribute to silting of the berths or the approach channel.

It sounds like this isn't the first time they've dumped there and that those prior events have not had any noticeable negative effects and that they've tested what's going to be dumped there to ensure that there aren't any contaminants. It's starting to appear as though this is just a lot of environmentalists throwing a fit for no good reason.

about 2 months ago

Google's Motorola Adventure: Stinging Defeat, Or Semi-Victory?

alvinrod Re:The numbers (139 comments)

You should also include the ~$1B loss that Google incurred as operating expenses while owning the company. It's still worth taking a loss on the sale in my opinion and that patents that they acquired may well be worth even more than the loss. Motorola was going to continue bleeding money and placed Google in an uncomfortable position with the other hardware manufacturers.

about 3 months ago

Nissan Unveils 88 Pound 400-HP Race Car Engine

alvinrod Re:What? (239 comments)

It could be 40 kg, which converts to ~88.18 lbs. However, the author of the article may have just rounded it to down.

Or the more likely explanation is that it's just some arbitrary weight that happens to be close to 88 lbs. or 40 kg.

about 3 months ago

Google and Samsung Sign Global Patent Deal

alvinrod Re:Also blocks startups. (64 comments)

They were used to file a suit against Apple, not against claims made in an Apple filed suit. Defensively would be showing that they now had patents which covered their method for accomplishing those things which Apple accused them of infringing. Don't mistake deflecting a blow from throwing one of your own.

about 3 months ago

How Farming Reshaped Our Genomes

alvinrod Re:Inability to digest milk (144 comments)

The composition of the milks are different. Cow milk contains more protein in general, and some proteins that are not found in human milk. Some people are unable to process those proteins. Also, intolerance to milk of any kind generally occurs later in life. If an individual were not able to digest it in infancy they would die and their genes would not be passed on. Perhaps with modern medical science, they would live, but this would not have been the case thousands of years ago.

about 3 months ago

Google and Samsung Sign Global Patent Deal

alvinrod Re:Also blocks startups. (64 comments)

They haven't done it directly as far as I'm aware, but they've essentially done so by proxy. I think they're the only company that's figured out that they won't make any money even if they do successfully sue someone as the lawyers will eat away most of whatever award they would receive and the case would still be tied up in appeals for years and years to eat away whatever's left.

about 3 months ago

Google Faces Off Against Intellectual Ventures In Landmark Patent Trial

alvinrod Re:Massively useless article (53 comments)

Speaking of things which lack substance, your post is a prime offender. You make claims without support, which in this case turn out to be false as I was able to do some quick searching and found some the patents in question: # 6,557,054 and # 6,658,464. I was also able to locate the actual document filed with the court that lists the other four patents.

You're certainly entitled to your own opinions about the patent system, and while I'm sure I probably would agree with you on several points, your post is nothing more than a lazy attempt at preaching to the crowd that is wrought with inaccuracies or outright falsehoods. The OP is right that the linked article isn't very good and leaves out a lot of important information that would be useful to readers. It didn't take more than 10 minutes to dig up this information, so I question why the author of the actual article couldn't be bothered to find out this information.

Personally I doubt that these will hold up. I haven't specifically gone over all of the claims, but the abstracts make it appear as though there's likely prior art. One of the patents in question seems like little more than a description of a screen.

about 3 months ago

In Letter To 20 Automakers, Senator Demands Answers On Cybersecurity

alvinrod Tell him to pound sand (80 comments)

I'd tell him to pound sand until he can provide some answers about privacy protections and safeguards preventing the government from illegally spying on its citizens.

about 4 months ago

The Brains of Men and Women Are 'Wired Differently'

alvinrod Re:What about gays and lesbians? (509 comments)

I was also interested and did a quick Google search and found a few different results:

Male-to-Female Transsexuals Have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus

White matter microstructure in female to male transsexuals before cross-sex hormonal treatment. A diffusion tensor imaging study.

It seems as though there are some differences in the brain for transgendered individuals in that areas of their brain are more similar to the gender that they think they are rather than the brain of the gender that typically corresponds with their biological sex. It also appears (at least from these studies) that hormone therapy is not responsible for those changes. There isn't anything to suggest what causes this to occur, so it could be biological or social, but I doubt it would be largely due to social causes as that would seem to imply that people could become far more intelligent simply by acting like a genius. At the same time, I don't think it's genetic (or entirely so) either as it intuitively seems as though being transgendered probably produces a less fit individual as I can't imagine having to cope with your brain telling you that you're in the wrong body for your whole life making life easier, especially if everyone else treats you as though you're insane.

Simon LeVay also published some similar research about 20 years ago that examined differences in the brains of homosexual and heterosexual men, so some of that research might also provide some insight into what might cause the observed differences.

about 4 months ago

Why You Shouldn't Buy a UHD 4K TV This Year

alvinrod Re:Why You Shouldn't Buy a UHD 4K TV This Year (271 comments)

Replying to fix mod. This is a fairly spot on assessment. If 4K weren't 2 syllables I imagine that they would be using something else as well.

about 5 months ago

Samsung Ordered To Pay Apple $290M In Patent Case

alvinrod Re:Have you noticed? (219 comments)

They're not, but when there are an ever increasing number of patents to comb through, it becomes impossible to determine if there are any out there that you violate. Add in a number of inane patents like "X, but on a computer!" and it just becomes cheaper to deal with the legal consequences after the fact. Whether a person thinks software should be able to be patented at all, I think everyone can agree that the system as it is needs an overall.

about 5 months ago

Soylent: No Food For 30 Days

alvinrod Re:Soyent Beige (440 comments)

Although a sample size of one doesn't make for a good study, some of the results that this person has seen can help us gain a better understanding about the product. For example, is it typical that a person consuming 2400 calories will lose weight, even though their body only needs about 75% of that to maintain its weight? That might indicate that the Soylent is not being digested well or that it's have some other effects on the body.

At least this person took the time to document their experience. It's certainly added more to human knowledge than a snarky internet comment.

about 5 months ago

Scientist Seeks Investment For "Alcohol Substitute"

alvinrod Re:Already Exists (328 comments)

A high dose of anything will cause negative effects, if not death. You can even kill yourself from drinking too much water. The problem with some drugs is that the lethal dose isn't too far off from the common dose to experience the effect. Things like alcohol and GHB fall into that category, where the lethal dose is less than an order of magnitude than the effective dose, which make them somewhat dangerous.

about 5 months ago

Microsoft Makes an Astonishing $2 Billion Per Year From Android Patent Royalties

alvinrod Re:Gates was on the right track.. (304 comments)

Hey, if you can't beat 'em, joi^H^H^H sue 'em.

Seriously though, the system needs to be changed. When the only way to play the game involves suing everyone else, there's obviously something wrong that needs fixing. Unfortunately, there're so many other things in this country that are screwed up, that it's hard to put patent reform before fixing health care, ending spying on citizens, stopping discrimination based on orientation, reducing our involvement in foreign conflicts, and a long list of other issues. Then again, perhaps the patent system isn't something that's become so heavily partisan that there's no way to pass legislation related to it.

about 5 months ago


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