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Comments

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US Pushing Local Police To Keep Quiet On Cell-Phone Surveillance Technology

bkr1_2k Re:Stingrays (253 comments)

I don't believe you need a warrant to follow people. These are tracking devices, not tapping devices. There's a huge difference, legally. These are the equivalent of the cops following you everywhere you go, not listening to what you're saying, but just seeing where you're going and who you're associating with when you go out. Now they can just do it electronically.

Whether or not it's acceptable that the police have either capability is another matter altogether.

about a month and a half ago
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The Energy Saved By Ditching DVDs Could Power 200,000 Homes

bkr1_2k Re:Forget about traditional power savings... (339 comments)

This is what causes bridges (and everything else) to fail. Resonating at the harmonic frequency of anything will eventually cause it to fail.

about 2 months ago
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Microsoft Cheaper To Use Than Open Source Software, UK CIO Says

bkr1_2k Re:Lock-in? (589 comments)

Whether or not the help is installed locally or just refers to an online help is usually an install option, in my experience. I haven't installed libreoffice in a long time because I don't like it, personally, but I think it's probably still an option. Maybe not.

If you don't factor in re-training costs, it's never a fair comparison. Training, however, doesn't take millions or even hundreds of thousands, of dollars and once your workforce is trained, new employees can always ask existing employees how to do something. There's a minor productivity hit until people are suitably comfortable/trained but that happens every time a new version of any existing software (MS or other) comes out anyway. It's the cost of doing business.

I think in the long-term, I think open source still wins but you have to roll it out properly and not just expect people to figure it out for themselves. That said, I've seen MS be very supportive and also seen the exact opposite from them. It all depends upon who you have on the other end of your issue and sometimes how much money it means to them.

about 3 months ago
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Microsoft Cheaper To Use Than Open Source Software, UK CIO Says

bkr1_2k Re:Lock-in? (589 comments)

So people don't ever have to report bugs to Microsoft? I think you and I live in different worlds because we report them routinely, to all of our vendors, whether we paid for the software or it was free.

about 3 months ago
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Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner To Code

bkr1_2k Re:no one would HIRE them, either (581 comments)

Then you are going to keep getting overlooked. Save the "lessons learned" for the interview. Keep the resume relevant (current) and one to two pages with only your most recent experiences. When you get the interview, that's when you dazzle them with all the other stuff you actually bring to the table.

about 3 months ago
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Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner To Code

bkr1_2k Re:no one would HIRE them, either (581 comments)

Someone please mod this up. It's not just agism that's keeping people out of the job market.

about 3 months ago
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Drive With Google Glass: Get a Ticket

bkr1_2k Re:Was it turned on??? (638 comments)

You haven't been reading the posts carefully then. There IS a law explicitly forbidding "entertainment" and non-informational displays (information for driving, not other crap) being displayed in front of the rear of the driver's seat. The law also explicitly lists exceptions, to include GPS and video (such as rear view cameras) that enhance the driver's ability to operate safely. Google glass may fall into that category but it very clearly also falls outside of that category.

about 9 months ago
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Drive With Google Glass: Get a Ticket

bkr1_2k Just a hunch... (638 comments)

I can't read the linked article but I'm going to assume that the driver in question wasn't stopped because she was wearing stupid looking glasses. She was probably stopped because she was driving badly and then the police realized (or she told them) she was wearing google glass and cited her appropriately. Really, nothing to see here. Unless she can somehow prove that she was using the glass display as a legitimate HUD for operating the vehicle, she was breaking the intent (if not the letter-which is arguable as well) of the law. Plain and simple.

   

about 9 months ago
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Drive With Google Glass: Get a Ticket

bkr1_2k Re:Not, however, if it's handsfree (638 comments)

And that, my friends, is complete and utter bullshit legal-speak. Sure, it follows the letter of the law, but not the spirit of it. Way to go...

That kind of attitude is why our legal system wastes millions of dollars every year.

about 9 months ago
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Software Brings Eye Contact To Video Chat, With a Little Help From Kinect

bkr1_2k Re:That isn't eye contact (111 comments)

Exactly. People who use video to talk regularly (like me) simply don't care. Like I said, a gimmick.

about a year ago
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Drone Hunters Lining Up and Paying Out In Colorado

bkr1_2k Re:Irony (206 comments)

See my reply to the previous comment. If fishing just for food and nothing more, it would be very very difficult for anything but a massive population to overfish... a population that wouldn't be able to survive on the amount of water available, for example. Could you over fish a small pond? Sure. Maybe even a small lake if you had thousands of people fishing it every day, but there is no evidence anywhere I'm aware that any population of people has ever devastated a fish population just by fishing for their own food. I'll be happy to accept actual research that proves me wrong...

about a year ago
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Drone Hunters Lining Up and Paying Out In Colorado

bkr1_2k Re:Irony (206 comments)

Please show me any documentation that a population of people hunting/fishing for their own food and nothing more has destroyed an animal population. Theoretically it is possible for species that have a long gestation period and low offspring count but evidence that it happens just isn't available. In instances I know of there were several other factors involved, such as disease or introduction of other species (not just humans) that drove animals away or to extinction.

about a year ago
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Man Killed By His Own Radio-Controlled Helicopter In Brooklyn

bkr1_2k Re:Toy? (479 comments)

It is a device whose sole purpose is entertainment. It was not a training tool for his job, it was not a mode of transportation, it was not something he did for a living. It was entertainment. AKA, a toy!

All of the guns I own are toys because I don't use them to hunt for food or for protection. Does that make them less dangerous or less expensive? My snowboards cost me over $1500 (combined) but they're still toys. My bicycles, arguably a form of transportation, are used as toys.

The price of the toy is irrelevant, it's still a toy.

about a year ago
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Man Killed By His Own Radio-Controlled Helicopter In Brooklyn

bkr1_2k Re:OUCH (479 comments)

Holy crap! If I had mod points... you owe me a new monitor and keyboard.

about a year ago
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Drone Hunters Lining Up and Paying Out In Colorado

bkr1_2k Re:Drones vs. Planes (206 comments)

I call bullshit on this AC post. If you're flying UAVs for a living and don't understand the concept of total system expense, you're speaking outside of your pay grade. You've either just started flying UAVs or you are deliberately ignoring a lot of factors that must be considered when discussing cost. Safety to the pilots and ground crew is an obvious factor that you're either overlooking or don't understand. If it's the second, you shouldn't be flying UAVs (which I suspect you're not).

I'll give you the complexity argument but that's the only part of it that you've gotten right. Human cost, be it training, re-training (a new pilot after one dies) ground support and many other issues make manned assets significantly more expensive to operate in a war zone or hostile environments (think storm chasing or fire fighting) than UAVs.

   

about a year ago
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Drone Hunters Lining Up and Paying Out In Colorado

bkr1_2k Re:Irony (206 comments)

People fishing for their OWN food would never make this happen. Overfishing/over hunting is due to sport and due to commercial enterprise. If you only kill what you eat there's no possible way for you to decimate a population as you suggest.

about a year ago
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Schneier: We Need To Relearn How To Accept Risk

bkr1_2k Re:Need for company (478 comments)

So not everybody but the majority of humans within the bell curve are social creatures. What isn't clear is whether or not "needing friends" means actually needing to be in the same meat-space as they are. Lots of people have "friends" they've never met but whom they communicate with over the internet every day. I don't think this is likely to become a "problem" such that it replaces "normal" human interaction.

about a year ago
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Software Brings Eye Contact To Video Chat, With a Little Help From Kinect

bkr1_2k That isn't eye contact (111 comments)

Altering the image doesn't provide eye contact. Eye contact is a palpable connection between two people, not just me staring into the eyes of an image. Unless it communicates the "connection" (for lack of a better word) created when you actually look someone in the eye, it's just a gimmick.

about a year ago
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Mini-Brains Grown In the Lab

bkr1_2k Re:Ethical implications (170 comments)

I think you miss the part where it's unethical to have Slaves, no matter what race/species they are. Or maybe you didn't and you just think it doesn't matter.

about a year ago
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Mini-Brains Grown In the Lab

bkr1_2k Re:Ethical implications (170 comments)

Parents do this with medical care of their children every day, all over the world. If a person "creates" a body-less brain, why wouldn't they have the same rights/responsibilities to treat it as a parent does a child? I make life and death decisions for my children in all medical circumstances. If I chose to have my (hypothetically) ill child to undergo experimental treatment, the child has no choice until they turn 18 years old (in most places). Now, obviously I can't just say "kill the child" after a certain point but I can effectively do the same thing by denying treatment or seeking treatment not proscribed or ineffective treatment.

How and why would a petri-dish brain be any different?

about a year ago

Submissions

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How to Recognize a Good Business Person

bkr1_2k bkr1_2k writes  |  more than 6 years ago

bkr1_2k (237627) writes "A recent Slashdot article implied there was some way to "know a good programmer". I disagree with the premise of the article, but that's not the point of this article. This article was inspired by a response to one of my comments about how to tell a good business person when you're looking at working for a startup or young company.

First, since I'm writing this primarily for Slashdot, my credentials. In short, my credentials are no better than anyone else's. I have worked primarily for large companies. I am an electrical engineer with a background in linguistics prior to my technical career. I have been a program manager on small programs and a technical lead on some of those as well as working very large projects. I have never been a "hiring supervisor" but I have managed people both in the military and out. I have taken some business courses focusing on starting technology businesses and I have started several small companies, the most recent of which has promise if I can keep my team motivated.

So what does it take to recognize a "good" business person? How can you tell if the management can take that floogelbinder and make it the next iPod? What are some key aspects of management that you can tell during an interview that will give you insight whether or not to take the risk and invest your time and your career in this ragtag group of upstarts?

We've all worked for bad managers. Some of us have been lucky enough to work for good managers. That's the first place to start. What are key elements to good management that you can glean from an interviewer? Obviously you can see true communication skills during an interview, but can you see time management? What about delegation of tasking and authority to evenly distribute the work load? Can you see humility and willingness to accept different approaches for problem solving? Can you see real planning and long-range vision? While these are important aspects for a good working environment, they may not be able to tell you whether or not the management team can parlay ideas into successful products, even if you can determine them during the interview process.

A business plan is crucial to successfully getting a startup from idea to reality and it will have several key aspects that you can find out about with some simple questions. If you can get a hold of the full plan for your reading pleasure, do so. That's unlikely so here are the major things to think about in a business plan and some things that will tell you how much thought has gone into the business side of an idea rather than just the technology side of it.

Company focus- does the company have a cohesive vision to guide them through the turmoil of initial startup? Not all companies have a mission statement, and some don't need them, but they are very helpful for providing a direction when things start to flounder, as they always do. How will management refocus attention and re-motivate employees when the going gets tough?

"Milestones"- where is the company with respect to attaining its final objective? Have they reached certain short-term milestones? What are the near-term milestones they have planned for and how are they going to meet them? What are their long-term milestones? IE do they have a 3 month plan, a 6 month plan, a 1 year plan, a 5 year plan? Milestones are technical as well as fiscal but both should be considered when you find out about this. Consider if they can realistically meet technical/marketing/etc goals with the staff they have (or forecast having.) Are they overstaffed because they feel flush with VC and will therefore overrun budget? Does their apparent size or forecast size match up with your technical opinion of what is required?

Products & Services — what is their product? Is it a single idea, or a family of products with room for growth? Is it a piece of equipment for sale or is it software? If it's hardware, what are their plans for full-rate production? If it's a service, have they planned for a reasonable rate of growth? Have they planned for an explosive rate of growth? What about customer support?

Underlying Technology — is it cutting edge or run of the mill? Is there room for growth in the technology? Is there a big competition from similar technology (who wants to say they were on the betamax team?) If there is competition, how do they plan to win? (Remember, Betamax was a better product from a purely technical perspective, so that's not a good enough answer.) Will it have to integrate with other technologies or will it stand on its own? Do any supporting technologies need to be created to make theirs viable?

Market Analysis — similar to the competition of other technology, what is the competition already in the field for their direct technology. (If you're planning a shipping company you need to consider FedEx and UPS etc.) What is their market? Who is the target demographic they are trying to reach and what are their secondary markets? What are the financial numbers they're considering? Eg is the market $100k per year or $100M? Are they saving someone money or expecting to "create" a new market? (Saving someone money is much more likely to be a successful product.)

Business model — Are they planning product sales, licensing, services, or some hybrid of these? Have they considered the pros and cons of each model? What are the pros and cons as they see them? (How do they compare to your idea of what the pros and cons would be?)

Sales & Business Development Plan — how are they going to market the product? Do they have customers already? Do they have a marketing team in place? What is the time frame they expect to meet for each major marketing goal?

Financing Strategy — are they looking for VC, employee "buy-in", angel investors, a little of everything? Have they met with any of these and what is the status of funding? Can you look at their presentation if it's ready?

Risk — what is the risk they are taking? What are the hurdles they've considered in the realm of finance, competition, and market changes (eg home builders in the USA are not building right now) and do they have a plan for dealing with those?

Timeline — what is the schedule they expect to meet for their major milestones both financial and technical?

There are several other key components to a business plan, but these are the most relevant for someone working at a lower management/employee level in a technical position. The goal is to ascertain whether or not the "business" people have actually thought through the process of creating a business or just thought they had a good idea and it would carry them. If they can answer questions about these subjects competently, odds are you've found a team that has the potential to go all the way. It's not a guarantee, but it's a lot more reassuring than those who can't answer them. One final thing to consider is that if they can't answer them, you asking questions along these lines could point them in the right direction. You can tell them to call you when they've made the appropriate plans, or you can possibly help guide the company and secure yourself a bigger piece of the pie when payday comes.

Most of the business plan information listed above comes from the course Fundamentals of Technology Start-Up Ventures from the University of Maryland at College Park and the associated textbook. I would recommend anyone interested in working for a startup take a similar course or at the very least read some books on business plans and technology start-up ventures. That way you'll have more insight into what it takes to making a business successful, or at least understand what you need to consider."

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