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Cisco Exec: Turnover In Engineering No Problem

golodh Re:The essence of enterprise (148 comments)

You argue that "capital" and "labor" are essentially equal to the identity of an enterprise.

I really didn't: when I said "bundle" I left the relative proportions unspecified. But I agree with you in that the relative importance of people's identity varies sharply with the scarcity of people's skills and that depends on the setting.

We agree that in a environment where people do routine work, so many people share the required skill that identity of who provides this skill no longer matters. And that's where vast majority of the working population is employed.

Of course there are settings where individual skills matter to a greater degree. One can think of e.g. professional sportspeople, scientists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, politicians, artists, inventors.

But their numbers are small compared to "ordinary" workers, so that by and large I think the proposition holds. Yes, there are exceptions, but 99% of the working population is rather un-exceptional.

3 days ago
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Cisco Exec: Turnover In Engineering No Problem

golodh The essence of enterprise (148 comments)

I fear that the negative reactions here indicate (once again) that Slashdot readership consists mainly of techies. And such people often have difficulties understanding understanding how society works (even if they tend to have vocal opinions on any subject that comes along). Let me try to bring some perspective into the discussion.

Lest somebody misunderstand, the very essence of an enterprise (any enterprise) is that it is a bundle of labour and capital whose essential structure and identity is independent of and more persistent than the labour it employs. The identity behind its labour component is no more important than the identity of its capital component.

It is for this reason that any contemporary HR policy is aimed at (and this is important) divorcing the work from specific individuals.

What this means is that all and any employees must (and this is essential) be plug-replaceable as a matter of policy. Those that aren't should either be unique individuals like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, the actual owners of the company, or leaving.

That is one of the drivers (not the only one of course) behind the desire for standardisation of work procedures and documentation of ideas and knowledge.

The result of careful execution of such policy is a situation in which personnel really is replaceable. Even when it concerns 10%-30% of the employees. Which is what we are now seeing illustrated at Cisco.

So there's no need to be surprised. And no need to be disgruntled. It's simply the consequence of a certain feature of our society we collectively decided we want and actively maintain. And it has truly served us well for the past century and a half and its end-result is the envy of our neigbours.

Unfortunately the current economic tide makes the downsides (for such they are) of this state of affairs more visible: i.e. employees are just another commodity and any successful enterprise will treat them as such. . As a result, employees can get a rough deal (if they get any deal at all, i.e. if they are employed). Let's be clear about this: I don't know how to make those downsides go away without wrecking the competitiveness of enterprises. But I suspect it will involve a realignment in the balance of power between labour and capital.

One way of achieving this is through the use of force. Also known as "legislation". Fortunately we have a mechanism in place for effecting change. It's called Politics. But what actual policy should be enacted through Politics? If knew (and could prove it) I'd tell you, but I don't.

One of the problems is the constraints imposed on all of us through competition. I.e. if the policy we adopt is too disadvantagous for enterprises, they will simply take their capital, set up shop elsewhere, and drive the disadvantaged enterprises off the market.

So it's up for debate really, and this isn't a new debate. It's a debate about a basic balance in our society that needs to be realigned from time to time.

3 days ago
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Interviews: Ask Florian Mueller About Software Patents and Copyrights

golodh Things to know before you ask ... (182 comments)

There are a number of relevant things to know about Florian Mueller before you start asking him questions.

Things that people with short memories will have forgotten by now since they happened all of three years ago. Detailed summaries of his doing can still be found on Groklaw though.

You see, mr. Mueller is not just *any* publicist. He's a publicist who is, basically, for hire by large companies to provide a congenial account of their doings and their position. In short: he is a lobbyist. His (former) clients seem to include SCO (the company who tried to claim crippling copyrights on Linux and engaged in an intense campaign of legal blackmail aimed at companies using Linux) and one of his current clients seems to be Oracle (the company that reied to shut down Android by claiming copyright on Java library API's).

As summarised by the following posts:

http://www.groklaw.net/article...

http://www.dailytech.com/Top+A...

http://techrights.org/2010/08/...

My only question to him would be: who is on your current client list?

about a week ago
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Independent Researchers Test Rossi's Alleged Cold Fusion Device For 32 Days

golodh Read the paper instead of Slashdot comments (975 comments)

That's the only suggestion I can give really.

Based on the paper, I'd say this thing is genuine, even if we don't understand how it works yet.

about a week ago
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Only 100 Cybercrime Brains Worldwide, Says Europol Boss

golodh Re:Only 100 you say? (104 comments)

Err, sorry, but how would *you* know anything about that?

Did you do any kind of analysis tracing existing malware to point-sources? Or did you see any data on that and did you identify and count those point-sources?

No? Then what is your opinion worth?

You seem to be confusing *operators* (i.e. the ones that actually push the button and run botnets, burglarise computers, and/or spread malware) with *researchers*, *designers* and *programmers* who never hack, but who write (and sell) the tools the operators use.

If you had actually read the article, you would have noticed that it's talking about those tool-makers, not operators. I could very well believe that those toolmakers number only about 100 world-wide.

about two weeks ago
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Google Threatened With $100M Lawsuit Over Nude Celebrity Photos

golodh Re:Makes Sense (225 comments)

You're probably speaking in jest, but unfortunately it's true.

If Google focuses on filtering content rather than providing it then it can certainly comply quicker and more completely with all such take-down orders.

The question of whether Google can " control and censor every last thing" is totally irrelevant, as the suit is addressed to Google on basis of what you can find using Google ... as opposed to what you can find "on the Internet".

It's simply a matter of where you put your priorities. Which in term depends on how reasonable you think the demands to censor search results are.

As noted in earlier posts, techies don't appreciate the extent to which society can suppress behaviour it doesn't want.

Lawsuits like this may well lead to a shift in Google's priorities and a substantial increase in the extent to which it filters search results.

about three weeks ago
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CEO of Spyware Maker Arrested For Enabling Stalkers

golodh Shooting the messenger ... (195 comments)

It's quite OK to mass-produce cellphones that can be tapped and controlled in this way.

But apparently it's not OK to sell software to allow people to use their perfectly ordinary cellphone to pick up other conversations from its vicinity.

How about securing the transmissions of cellphones instead of prosecuting someone for doing the obvious?

about three weeks ago
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Japan's Mt. Ontake Erupts, Stranding Hundreds of Hikers

golodh Re:Quick ... whom can we sue? (41 comments)

Nah, no worries: the idea wasn't going to make money anyway so there's no harm in publishing it.

about three weeks ago
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Japan's Mt. Ontake Erupts, Stranding Hundreds of Hikers

golodh Quick ... whom can we sue? (41 comments)

Oh ... sorry. It's in Japan, so we probably don't have the legal facilities we need for remunerative legal action.

Ah well, we'll just have to work it into the next free-trade treaty then.

about three weeks ago
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Australian Senate Introduces Laws To Allow Total Internet Surveillance

golodh Nostalgic for a nice set of chains, are they? (212 comments)

Or simply an overreaction? I really wonder.

Allowing the security services to *monitor* the whole country looks like a panicky move and leaves the door wide open to abuse.

Curtailing the freedom of speech of journalists and bloggers, as in :

The legislation makes it an offence if a person "discloses information ... [that] relates to a special intelligence operation" and does not state any public interest exemptions, meaning it could apply to anyone including journalists. Those who disclosed such information would face up to 10 years' jail.

veers into police-state territory, given the vague way in which it's phrased. I think that the balance between on the one hand safeguarding the effectiveness of anti-terrorism measures and on preventing miscreants from benefiting from bloggers and journalists and a general gag-order on the other has been upset.

For example reporting on the crackdown of the past few days would probably fall under it. Reporting like the articles that exposed the TSA's practices of make-work and unprofessional conduct could fall under it, if the prosecutors happened to feel like it.

I'm not given to quoting historical figures as a rule, but I'll make an exception now:

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. [Franklin, B. ((11 Nov. 1755) Reply to the Governor] .

Have they really considered the costs and benefits of this little gag-law? Are their "Special Intelligence Operations" that fragile that they come apart when people report about them? I can't imagine it.

about a month ago
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Star Wars Producers Want a 'DroneShield' To Prevent Leaks On Set

golodh Underthinking the problem ... (138 comments)

As usual with BillyBob and his "coussins", the other extreme is *under-thinking* the problem.

The problem is to find those drones in the first place, especially if they're coming in low and slow, or high enough to be out of slingshot range.

The "droneshield" thingy seems to tackle the problem by analysing ambient sounds. From the webpage the article refers to:

Drones present many threats to military and homeland security forces and facilities. "Low, Slow, and Small" UAS are a growing threat that legacy CUAS will not detect. DroneShield compliments (sic) radar and RF detection systems against smaller, low signature UAS because acoustic emissions are difficult to conceal or spoof.

So it tells you if it hears a drone buzzing nearby, which is useful, ... but it doesn't (yet) do target-acquisition for BillyBob's anti-drone-slingshot batteries.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Becoming a Complacent Software Developer?

golodh Grow up ... and learn about Engineering (275 comments)

That's my advice. Mainstream engineering isn't about individuals, let alone "stars". It's about reliably delivering commodities, in bulk, standardised, to spec and within budget.

Maintenance programming is an example. Large development projects under the "waterfall" method (often) is an example. Custom-building standard systems is another. In such cases you're better off with predictable but competent standardised performance from a team of 9-5 programmers that with mob of empassioned risk-takers.

This "passion" thing is needed when individual performance counts. As in: when the "old" way of doing things no longer suffices (the old machinery has bogged down and needs to be replaced by something new), or when clear efficiency improvements can be realised (this is common engineering practice), or when there is room to experiment (e.g. in Open Source Software), or when your task is to see how far the envelope can be pushed and to come up with something new (e.g. research).

Of course there's a difference between not keeping up with mainstream engineering (as the opening post suggests) and spending your time "innovating" when there are adequate standard methods available.

about a month ago
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Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

golodh Re:As a private citizen (213 comments)

If you believe that, then any ' citizen" of the "Khalifate" (ISIS), North Korea, Iran, China, Russia, or whoever can make the very same claim with the same amount of justification.

And who's to say they're in the wrong to just install a missile battery in orbit to "reclaim their property" or to extract "reasonable compensation" from returning mining vessels?

Or even to send their own mining vessels (possibly armed) to the very same asteroids that Congress so graciously told you that you can keep the mining proceeds of?

The kind of attitude you display leads straight to armed conflict (if the rewards are high enough). Are you prepared to fight that conflict and hold the rest of us harmless from it, both financially and militarily?

Somehow I doubt that.

And last but not least: how about giving private citizens and private companies the power to mess about with chunks of rock near Earth's orbit? And what if those clowns decide it makes financial sense to install a motor on a really big asteroid and push it into earth orbit (for easier access)? And how about if North Korea or the Khalifate do that?

A little less short-sightedness there please.

about a month ago
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Unpopular Programming Languages That Are Still Lucrative

golodh Exactly: it's not about R, it's about statistics (387 comments)

As far as I can see around me, there are not many openings for mere "coders" who just happen to have picked up some training in R.

Most R code does things like model fitting, parameter estimation, data visualisation, data analysis etc.. The code mostly is just a way to capture and operationalise an idea in statistics or data processing. If you can recognise, grasp, and follow through that idea then the code usually starts to make sense pretty quickly.

On the other hand, if you can't, then you'll be hard put to understand the code on its own terms and you really shouldn't try to modify it because you won't know what to look out for.

As I see it, the openings in "R" are for people who are "numerate", know about statistics, data analysis, a little database knowledge and who also happen to know R.

People like that are also likely to be able to work effectively with SAS, SPSS, SQL, Matlab and other high-level programming languages.

about a month and a half ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

golodh Lets use Anthropo-sedatives instead .. (819 comments)

I'm just waiting for a response to your suggestion from one of the more cost-cutting carries along the following lines: "Dear Daniel Ravennest, having studied you proposal with the utmost attention, we failed to note any innovative elements in it.

We would like to point out that your suggestion has already been implemented in the form of business class or first class travel.

Rather than complicating matters by offering a more heterogeneous product palette, we are currently researching a range of options which we consider to be both more realistic and more closely aligned with our mission and our strategic objectives.

One such programme, which we propose to field-test within the next three months, consists of administering sedatives and muscle relaxants (provided free of charge during the initial testing phase) to all economy passengers around 30 minutes before boarding. This courtesy relaxant will be individually dosed to wear off within hours of touchdown.

We believe that this will both eliminate disorderly conduct, increase security, reduce catering demands, and prevent injuries on the flight."

about a month and a half ago
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Uber Now Blocked All Over Germany

golodh Apparently regulation is "socialist" (312 comments)

As far as I know (it's mentioned in the original article), German law demands things like adequate insurance cover, driver's health certificates and high vehicle maintenance standards. Sounds reasonable huh?

This applies for all taxicab companies, no matter their size. What Uber is doing is to make an end-run around those laws by offering taxicab rides from drivers who *don't* meet those requirements. Makes it easy to undercut people who do abide by the law eh? Sounds like unfair competition to me.

So how the hell is enforcing such laws "Socialist"?

And whoever decided this Anonymous Coward's drive-by comment qualifies as "insightful"?

about a month and a half ago
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U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

golodh I'd really think about this before I'd like ... (643 comments)

Taken at face value there's a lot to be said for having police officers wear camera's.

They're Officers of the Law after all, so it's only right and proper that everyone goes *on record* each and every time they appear within a police officer's sight, yes?

Only ... what about a guarantee that we can have free access to the (unedited !) footage in case of a dispute? It doesn't say so anywhere, so it's not guaranteed.

And what about retention times of that footage? Will footage of person X being drunk and disorderly as a teen suddenly surface when said person runs for public office fifteen years later? Or footage showing him/her in a brawl? Or footage of them being less than civil when receiving a traffic citation? Or answering the door at 11 PM after a complaint about noise? Or kissing someone outside a disco? And err might their religious beliefs, political affiliation, race, ZIP code, or sexual inclination perhaps affect the probability of that happening?

And what's to stop police officers from automatically evaluating the tapes afterwards record everyone's faces, ID everyone in sight, and store contact reports on every single member of the public they meet? It's a logical next step, right? And it's bound to please Homeland Security into the bargain. So how would you like it if police departments everywhere could save a bundle by getting federal subsidies on body camera's in exchange for footage and contact reports?

And what about members of the public? Doesn't this mean they're at liberty to film each and every encounter involving a police officer too, e..g. wearing Google Glass'es? Think police departments will be happy about that? And what about wearing Google Glass all the time when you go outside? There's bound to be interest in all that footage from someone ... so you can perhaps make it pay for itself.

Secondly ... what about sound? Supposing the officer (or member of the public) said something really, really offensive that the camera didn't catch. And then you pound on the footage of what ensues. Nice way to introduce bias, no?

Thirdly ... how will police officers like it when they're on the monitor every minute of their shift? It's great when you want to find cause to fire someone and are looking for a suitable pretext. Just have someone sift through all the footage of a month, find the one or two instances said person goofs off, and take a "principled stance" condemning those particular instances and you're done.

All reasonable and obvious considerations I'd like to see addressed before I'd start "liking" a gizmo like this.

about 2 months ago
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Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

golodh History irrelevant? (826 comments)

Not if you're responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of large production systems.

about 2 months ago
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Amazon's eBook Math

golodh No better moustrap at all ... (306 comments)

Let's not delude ourselves here: Amazon isn't "building a better mousetrap" at all and nobody needs Amazon to sell e-books.

What's happening Instead is that Amazon is using its marketing clout and its "brand recognition" to carve out a monopoly for itself.

Face it: anyone who can set up a website can sell e-books. You don't need a warehouse, you don't need fulfillment services. You just need a web-server and an e-shop.

You also need customers however, and that's where Amazon's added value is. It has a big catalog of paper books and lots of customers who'll turn to Amazon *first* if they're looking for a book. Any book. And yes, that makes it easier to sell e-books too.

In all other respects Amazon's added value is practically zero here, and it takes a lot of chutzpah to propose to charge 30% of the book price for that.

What Amazon noticed however is that *their* turnover is highly price-elastic and that they're well positioned to make money at high turnover rates. Needless to say that their turnover is an *aggregate* of sales of lots and lots of different titles. That doesn't mean that each separate title has the same price elasticity, or that its profit is maximised by adopting their uniform price.

Amazon simply wishes to grow its business by throttling direct sales and specialised retail channels and would like more or less uniform prices (like any other supermarket).

Nothing wrong with that of course, but it's 100% self-serving.

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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The dangers of DiHydrogenMOnoxide (DHMO)

golodh golodh writes  |  about 6 years ago

golodh (893453) writes "DiHydrogenMOnoxide (DHMO) is a sadly underreported chemical which nonetheless, on an annual basis, claims thousands of casualties world-wide. Despite incontrovertible evidence on this score, leading politicians drag their feet when it comes to regulation or banning of this substance. In spite of a direct query for information, the EPA refused to deny the existence of a coverup.

A few facts:

* DHMO contributes to global warming and the "Greenhouse Effect", and is one of the so-called "greenhouse gases."

* DHMO is an "enabling component" of acid rain — in the absence of sufficient quantities of DHMO, acid rain is not a problem.

* DHMO is a causative agent in most instances of soil erosion — sufficiently high levels of DHMO exacerbate the negative effects of soil erosion.

* DHMO is present in high levels nearly every creek, stream, pond, river, lake and reservoir in the U.S. and around the world.

* Measurable levels of DHMO have been verified in ice samples taken from both the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps.

* Recent massive DHMO exposures have lead to the loss of life and destruction of property in California, the Mid-West, the Philippines, and a number of islands in the Caribbean, to name just a few.

* Research has shown that significant levels of DHMO were found in the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 which killed 230,000 in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and elsewhere, making it the deadliest tsunami in recorded history.

* It is widely believed that the levee failures, flooding and the widespread destruction resulting from Hurricane Katrina along the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005 were caused or exacerbated by excessive DHMO levels found in the Gulf of Mexico, along with other contributing factors.



For more information, see: http://www.dhmo.org/"

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