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Is Buying an Extended Warranty Ever a Good Idea?

lalena Re:No. (329 comments)

Best Buy used to have a warranty where the paid you back exactly what you paid for the device. So if your brand new original XBox that you paid $300 +tax for broke after 23 months they would give you $300 +tax and you could turn around and buy a brand new one for $200 +tax - since the price dropped by $100 after 2 years. Warranty return was no questions asked return for any reason and get handed a Best Buy gift card right there. How is this not a good deal?

about a year ago
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Bitcoin To Be Regulated Under US Money Laundering Laws

lalena They don't get it (439 comments)

Bit Coin works even if there are no "firms" to issue or exchange. Therefore, there is no one to regulate.

about a year and a half ago
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EFF Proposes a Working Code Requirement For Software Patents

lalena Instead of Patent Reform, Litigation Reform (130 comments)

Everyone has overly complex ideas on how to reform the patent system. Why not simply leave it alone and reform the system that allows people to sue when someone violates their patent.
In step 1 of the defense, the defendant provides prior art, claims of obviousness... to the Patent Office who then determines if the patent is still valid. The Patent Office (who are the experts, not the courts) judge if the patent is still valid based on all evidence.
After that if it still goes to court then loser pays attorney fees. No fees are paid before step 1 - so both sides get to hear the arguments before going to court. Plaintiff doesn't get punished with paying legal fees for simply not being aware of prior art. Defendant doesn't pay legal fees until they lose their appeal with the Patent Office and still decide to continue to fight. If the Patent is stuck down in step 1, then the Patent is void. It does not just apply to this single case.

about a year and a half ago
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EFF Proposes a Working Code Requirement For Software Patents

lalena What about complex software? (130 comments)

Not all software patents cover a couple lines of code. Some represent man-decades of effort. Am I expected to first come up with my idea, then write the software, then apply for a patent and then wait 18 months (time from application to publication) to determine if someone else filed before me and that everything I have done is wasted. Do you really expect me to file the patent when the code is complete - giving someone else who does a half-assed implementation a couple year head start? Or let someone else get the patent when they came up with the same idea the same time as me (5 years ago) but filed 1 day before me. I'm not talking rounded buttons here. Think video compression algorithms, advanced image processing, recognition algorithms...

about a year and a half ago
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Real-Time Cyber-Attack Map

lalena Posting IPs of Security Researcher Virtual Machine (36 comments)

The site displays the source and destination IP of each attack. Doesn't this give the attackers the list of IPs of the Security VMs they should avoid? Maybe they change the IPs regularly?

about 2 years ago
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East Coast vs. West Coast In the Quest For Young Programming Talent

lalena Re:err (235 comments)

Or maybe find a non 20-something that can program Java. They do exist and are more likely to stick around. They might even require less training. From TFA, it sounds like the CIO created his own problems by treating the web/java development team differently:

It's been very mixed because I have two different development teams. I have the core developers, the RPG and LANSA developers, and they have five, 10, 15 years with the company. They are very well entrenched, they understand the music business, they understand the technology, and they understand how we relate to the music business. On the Java side, everyone right now has been here less than a year. We have excessive turnover for my Web-based team. It's a younger workforce. They have different needs, different requirements and different desires than our slightly older workforce. I'm seeing them being much more [transient.] It's much more challenging to get the newer generation of folks interested in trying to understand the business vs. looking only at the technology.

more than 2 years ago
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How Open Source Might Finally Become Mainstream

lalena Answer: They will laugh their ass off. (231 comments)

Question:

FTA: How will officials in Washington react when China's Tencent (with a market capitalization of $42 billion, almost twice that of Yahoo) or Russia's Yandex makes a bid for AOL?

more than 3 years ago
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The Right's War On Net Neutrality

lalena Simple definition for Network Neutrality (945 comments)

Best explanation I ever heard was that without Network Neutrality, our home internet could become just like our mobile internet. It would take a while to get there, but given the limited number of providers in each city it is possible. We really can move backwards. I don't buy the "alternate vendor" argument. Most cities have only 1 or 2 viable options.
You want chat with your internet. That's $5/month. You want email, voice mail, VOIP, games, NFL games, Blockbuster Streaming... That's extra. You want Netflix streaming. You can't have it. We don't have an agreement with them.
Most people talk about Network Neutrality as if it is giving preferential speed to one site over another. It can be much worse. We saw what happened when torrents (legal or illegal) were deemed to cause most of their network load. They tried blocking them. My provider blocks the standard SMTP port just in case my computer is a SPAM BOT. How soon before they deem that streaming movies are responsible for 50% of their bandwidth (and are a direct competitor with their own Cable TV offerings) and they block streaming video to "improve quality" for those poor customers who have their bandwidth unjustly stolen from those few who watch TV shows on their computer.

more than 3 years ago
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Microsoft Patents Shape-Shifting Display

lalena Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (112 comments)

Why UV

Probably because they can alter the LCD screen from R + G + B to a R + G + B + UV - just a 4th wavelength for the monitor to handle - kind of like Sharp's RGBY TVs. Then the visible + UV light emitted by the backlight through the LCD panel is what changes the surface of the monitor. You don't need to run wires to every pixel in the monitor - wires that would be on top of the touchscreen and on top of the LCD panel.

Hiding the wires to control the shape isn't an unsolvable problem. Touchscreen monitors have the same issue. There will be other methods of changing the shape of a display, but this is the method Microsoft came up with - which is why Microsoft got a patent on an obvious feature. The patent is for the method of achieving this feature, not just making a shape shifting display. Tying the shape of the display to the existing video display technologies simplifies some things and has its advantages and is worth a patent.

more than 3 years ago
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Taco Bell Programming

lalena 8 keywords? (394 comments)

So if I limit myself to 8 keywords my code has less defects and is more maintainable?

more than 3 years ago
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Why Microsoft?

lalena 161 comments and counting - Did anyone RTFA (236 comments)

For those wanting to discuss the article instead of Microsoft bashing...
I liked the insight into How to get ahead the best. - Maintaining skills, performing good work, meeting commitments, act on your ideas, no unnecessary gossip...
I would hire this guy if I could based on that one blog post.

more than 3 years ago
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Skyhook Wireless Sues Google Over Anti-Competitive Practices

lalena Re:Fanboys (228 comments)

Of course bigger companies are evil based on this definition. It is hard to be anti-competitive when you have a 5% market share.

more than 3 years ago
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Why Twitter's T.co Is a Game Changer

lalena Shouldn't matter (109 comments)

If t.co is only used on twitter, then it shouldn't provide them any new information. They should already be able to determine what link someone clicked on: shortened or not - their URL service or a competitor. t.co only helps them if people use it outside twitter. If they aren't currently collecting click analytics on Twitter, then that is their own fault. Not a lack of their own URL shortening service.

about 4 years ago
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Tap Tech Brings Touch To Dumb Phones

lalena Re:A boon for the touch phone knock off makers. (70 comments)

Companies (Elo Acustic Pulse Recognition) are already using this technology. They can detect the location of the touch, and they do an OK job with finger drag. They cannot detect when you take your finger off the surface.
If these limitations are OK, they you get a cheap touch screen that lets you use a scratch resistant glass surface.

about 4 years ago
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Leaders Aren't Being Made At Tech Firms

lalena Re:Companies don't care - but good managers should (135 comments)

Followup - Forgot to add the most important part.

You can take work off your manager's plate, but you can't let it impact your main job. You need to get the same amount of work done with the added responsibilities. This is why you need to start small and learn one skill at a time.

about 4 years ago
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Leaders Aren't Being Made At Tech Firms

lalena Companies don't care - but good managers should (135 comments)

I agree. Computer technology changes every 5 years and we are now expected to keep pace with the latest technologies on our own time, I think the same is expected with management skills. In a sense, these skills are easier to develop because the required skills aren't changing as fast.

With the computer skills, I have to learn the new technologies on my own if they aren't being used at work yet. With management/leadership skills (project planning, budgets, IP law...), they are obviously being used at every company and there are more chances to learn (insert bad management joke here).

Most good managers are overworked and there are opportunities for on the job training. Do some research, read some books, and then ask your boss to take one thing off of his plate. Start small and build from there. Note: A bad boss will be unwilling to give up responsibility for fear of you showing him up and taking his job. A good manager/leader will is interested in developing those under him and realizes that you doing a good job reflects well on both of you. A good manager doesn't have to worry about you taking his job. He should be moving up (not sideways) anyway.

Some good places to start training are:
1) Agile development: By definition, SCRUM masters come from the development team, not the business/management team. This is a good intro to management & leadership skills, and the Sprint Demos give you good opportunity to communicate with the business and management teams.
2) Scheduling: In a non agile environment, this means owning the Pert chart. In agile, it might mean helping prioritize the product backlog and contributing to ROM estimates.
3) Customer Satisfaction: Sometimes product maintenance (bug fixes) can involve lots of customer interaction. Making unhappy customers happy is a useful skill that will get you noticed.
4) IP Law: Reviewing existing patents for conflicts is a boring job. Sometimes the legal team creates a huge list of patents where half of them can be dismissed right off the bat. Maybe you can take a first pass at the patent review and just summarize your thoughts in an Excel spreadsheet with High/Medium/Low priorities so that other managers can focus on the high priority ones first. This will give you insight into the whole process and a foot in the door.
5) Interviewing: Any potential candidate should be reviewed by multiple people. Not just the boss. Again, read some books and do some research on good interviewing techniques first. Then see if you can participate in interviewing candidates. This area can be tricky because your interviewing style might conflict with your managers. He may not like your style, but that doesn't mean you are wrong. You will probably handle the interview differently depending on whether you are doing it with your boss or not. I suggest the 5 Why's style here. As a new interviewer, your opinion will matter less. If you use the 5 Why's then you will have much more detailed facts on why the candidate did what he did in a certain situation - your comments will be based less on your opinion and more about what you got the candidate to say. During the candidate review after the interview, someone may bring up a scenario that the candidate discussed and say he did the right thing. You will be able to go 3 levels deeper into the decision process used by the candidate to verify if this is actually true.

These are good places to start. I don't think you will get much finance/budget exposure or deal with any equal opportunity issues if you are not a manager. On the leadership side, there are always changes to exercise your skills as a mentor and leader without having the official title. This is just part of doing your job.

about 4 years ago
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Texas Opens Inquiry Into Google Search Rankings

lalena Never heard about the complaining sites. (178 comments)

From the article:

Harrison said that Abbott has asked Google for information about several companies, including: Foundem, an online shopping comparison site in Britain; SourceTool, which runs an e-commerce site catering to businesses; and MyTriggers, another shopping comparison site

Never heard of any of these sites. I Google shopping comparison, and I get the well known comparison sites I expect to see at the top. I do not get MyTriggers.

So I go to the MyTriggers site itself to check it out. At first, I didn't think they even had merchant site reviews. Then I realized they do, but may of the sites have not been reviewed yet. Only 2 reviews for Target? 12 for Amazon?

Whois search reveals the site was registered in 2005. Not bad, but if they have been around for 5 years I should have heard about them by now. Also, their domain registration reveals that they renew their domain every year. Google gives better ranking to sites that pay for many years at once, since that shows they owners have faith if their company. Basic SEO fail.

Quick investigation reveals that the company also owns ShopBig - one of those penny auction sites. I hate these sites and the way they operate. The MyTriggers site is hardcoded to show a big ad link to ShopBig on every page. Aren't they in fact doing the same thing they accuse Google of. They don't give other penny auction sites a chance to advertise there or appear on their search result rankings.

Let's pick on another site. TFA says that SourceTool is a e-commerce site catering to business, but the title on the home page says "SourceTool - A B2B Search Engine". If I Google B2B Search Engine, they are number 2 in the results. If I Google e-commerce for business they do not appear. The word commerce doesn't appear on their home page. So what are they? SEO Fail.

In the end, the site is a search engine for companies that sell to businesses. Since they have a medical category, and the company I work for is #1 in several categories for medical devices, I decide to see if they are listed. After waiting a full minute for the medical page to load, they are not. They don't even have the proper category for my company. Just to be sure I click on company profiles A-Z to see if I can find my company. It shows all companies starting with the #1. and a button for next page. No simple button to show companies that start with letter X. Do I have to click Next 50 times? They have a search box on this screen, but if I use it I get a 404 error.

I wasn't going to review Foundem at first since they are based in the UK and I don't live there. Google should be smart enough to lower their site on my search simply because that site applies less to me. Still I look anyway. They use the less popular .co.uk domain suffix - Google doesn't like this as much. Also, this time there really aren't any merchant rankings. They do have a Google bash on their home page with a link to SearchNeutrality.org - a site they also own.

I think the real complaint from these companies is the fact that shopping.Google.com results are now always shown on the search results page if Google thinks you are searching for a product - Something Bing did first. This pretty much destroys the business model for many companies. If Google thinks I am trying to purchase something, should they send me to a site that can't sell me the product? Should they send me to another site where I have to do 4 more clicks to get to a list of merchants and prices for the product I am looking for. If Google guesses wrong, should they show me a list of shopping sites on the first page when I really want a product review? I think the way Google handles shopping results is the best way for me, and they are in the business of satisfying my needs. This is still search.

about 4 years ago
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The Best Video Games On Awful Systems

lalena Re:M.U.L.E. (272 comments)

Loved MULE. Of course it wasn't until decades (after reading about strategies on a web site) that I realized that there was a secondary goal of helping the colony thrive. I just loved to bankrupt the other players by flooding the food market so that no one else put money into it, and then starving them off so that they couldn't function.
Come to think of it, I used a similar strategy in Civilization. If the population grew too fast and they became unhappy, I would let they starve to death (which decreased the population below the unhappiness threshold) and then they were happy again. Hmm.

about 4 years ago
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Artificial Life Forms Evolve Basic Memory, Strategy

lalena Re:Err... what's the news? (206 comments)

I read the article wanting to know how the Avida developed memory. Basically, the programmer included an instruction that said "Do what you did last time" It is not evolution if the programmer hands them the ability. Also, when the goal stays in the same location every time, your robots can develop "memory" through the program itself. Ex: To go 2 up & 3 left -> Forward, Forward, Turn Left, Forward, Forward, Forward. No intelligence in the search pattern. This is simply memorizing the location of the goal. I would not call this memory.

I am very interested in this subject and get excited every time Slashdot posts a new story in this topic, but I never see any real advances vs. what I was doing in school 20 years ago. This doesn't mean advances aren't being made, but I think they are now at the level where they don't make simple easy-read stories. Real robots (not simulated ones) getting form point A to B (not just wanting to go from A to B) over rough terrain without help (mars rovers) is much more complicated and a required advance to put this technology into a real application. MIT, NASA, National Labs always seem to have interesting projects going on.

We celebrate these simple outdated advances in AI when we have hundreds of programs out there now capable of playing World of Warcraft without help simply to collect virtual gold to sell for cash.

Another reason I hate these articles is that they don't include any real specifics. You could learn more reading Wikipeida on GA, GP, ANN... It was a video of a Koza project that got me really interested in this topic. Why don't people include something like this in the article. A couple of years ago, I decided to rewrite one of my old projects so that people could easily run it online - Ant Simulator. Watching the system quickly learn or solve a problem is much more satisfying than reading an article written by someone that doesn't actually understand the field.

more than 4 years ago
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Where To Start With DIY Home Security?

lalena Try a real alarm system (825 comments)

This may not apply to the OP (since he is in the apartment), but real Security Systems have more benefits beyond the obvious:

  • A security system will get you an insurance discount. More if it is monitored, but still something if it isn't
  • A security system increases the appraised value of your home. I asked our appraiser and he said a good alarm could add $1000 to the home value in our area. The logic here is that monitoring can be found for much cheaper if the company doesn't install the system - under $10/month. Ex: $100 for the basic install + $40/month for 2 years = $1060. No install + $10/month for 2 years = $240.
  • Security systems can also protect against fire, water damage... If you are not home, the response speed of the fire department will be much faster if they smoke alarm contacts the security company.
  • Full featured security systems (panel, box, battery, door/window sensors, motion detectors, multiple LCD keypads...) from ADT or other major manufacturers can be found online for under $500.

Some may not consider this true DIY, but wiring / installing / programming a fully featured ADT alarm system is not a simple task if you go through the trouble to properly fish all the wires through the walls...
I've done a couple of these systems in homes I've owned and have posted some of the things I have learned on http://structuredhomewiring.com/

more than 4 years ago

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