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Percentage of Self-Employed IT Workers Increasing

punker Re:Is that including "contracters"? (138 comments)

I am a self employed contractor, and it's not a matter of being "forced". It's not for everyone, because you have to manage your own accounting and benefits, but you can make it work just as well or better than working for someone else's company. I have a group health plan (my wife also works for our company), 401k, and my annual income is substantially greater than my last W2 job. I get a couple unsolicited contract offers every week, which is what I view as my income security. I'm pretty good at what I do, and even though contractors usually go first when layoffs happen, exceptions are often made for the people who perform well (although it's also a sign to start looking at your other options).

So while that number may include contractors, you should recognize that many contractors were not forced into it.

about 10 months ago
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Unreleased 1963 Beatles Tracks On Sale To Preserve Copyright

punker This is important (230 comments)

It's a good thing they did this. Otherwise, the Beatles would have no incentive to produce new songs.

about a year ago
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Diet Drugs Work: Why Won't Doctors Prescribe Them?

punker Re:before anybody pops pills (670 comments)

Calories in, calories out is true, but the form of the calories is also significant. We are not simple systems. The starch issue is about glycemic response. Essentially, when your body digests starches, it produces insulin. More sugars, more insulin. When the insulin falls off, your body tells you that you're hungry again. It's sort of like a boom/bust cycle, and the result is an urge to overeat because of the hormone response. It's significantly more difficult to maintain proper portions when you're hungry.

about a year ago
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RF Safe-Stop Shuts Down Car Engines With Radio Pulse

punker Re:Pros vs Cons (549 comments)

I think he may have been reappropriating the term "drive by wire". It would not be in reference to the ford "drive by wire" system (electronic control system that appears the same as a traditional mechanical column). More likely meaning that power steering and power breaking require the engine chip to be functioning to operate.

And he is correct that those subsystems cut out with the engine. My vehicle recently had a vacuum leak. The engine stalled out as I was breaking. No power steering, no power breaking. It was not a good situation. The car behind me very nearly plowed into me when the light flipped to green.

about a year ago
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European Health Levels Suddenly Collapsed After 2003 and Nobody Is Sure Why

punker Re:Eastern Europe joined in 2004 (304 comments)

Excellent point. If you change your target population significantly, then comparability goes out the window. I've done alot of health stats work, and that sort of change would probably mean the results were denoted as not comparable. In a related example, I had a heart disease analysis, and we had to break it in two parts because there was a significant change in the way that the diagnosis were recorded around 2005.

Now you could regenerate the pre-2003 numbers including the populations of the soon to join the EU members, and use that for comparison if the data is available. It would show a more accurate relative change.

about a year ago
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OSHA Wants To Post All Workplace Injury Reports Online

punker HIPAA - population size issue (100 comments)

I've done reporting work at a state health department. In general, information was suppressed if it was to small of a population (incident population or rate population). In general, a population under 50 is considered too small to report publicly without exposing protected health information (PHI). With accident records, you population is employees. Suppressing site information may help, but it also reduces the effectiveness. It's also likely that most small businesses would never have a large enough population. Most likely, the results would need to be aggregated over a long period of time. I don't think this works under the law as it currently stands.

1 year,14 days
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USB Implementers Forum Won't Play Nice With Open Hardware

punker Transparency is the problem here (273 comments)

These guys won't be able to pull it off now, but they could form a new corp with a new name, say they want to build usb connected gadgets, get their ID, *AND THEN* start sharing. It would probably help to get a device in the wild first so there isn't some sort of revocation issue.

about a year ago
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Technologies Like Google's Self-Driving Car: Destroying Jobs?

punker Just like airplanes (736 comments)

There are plenty of circumstances where we have machines that are extensively automated and we still have highly trained people operate them. Commercial aircraft have pilots there because there are too many circumstances where a person is going to be best able to make the right decision. Most of the time, these planes are running on autopilot and they do very well. But the circumstances where the autopilot fails (i.e. does the wrong thing) can have catastrophic consequences. So we have multiple pilots there for safety.
Freight trucks are the same way. These machines are require a fair amount of skill to handle troublesome situations. A loaded truck will weight in excess of 45000 lbs. That's more than 20 times the mass of most cars. I do not expect truck drivers to be overly affected by this for quite some time.

about a year ago
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Obamacare Employer Mandate Delayed Until After Congressional Elections

punker Re:Employers already know the loophole (600 comments)

This happened to my girlfriend. They cut all the full time employees to working 25 hours and under. They went on a mass hiring spree to compensate. It's something Walmart has been doing for years and years. The problem is, it's not 2014 yet, so the affordable exchanges are not available to everyone yet. At that point all those people will be able to get health care for basically nothing, as their pay scale will determine how much in assisted aid they get. If they get paid $15k a year pumping gas, their health care will basically be entirely covered. Companies are using this as a method to push expenses from their pocket to the tax payers pocket.

Not that I don't have any problem with this. It's speeding up the process to get everything straight up nationalized. By the end of 2014, I am guessing most of the workforce will be covered by the government. At which point they will just say there is no point in having companies pay for it, and just move everyone to it. Then we can get all the providers under control with cost requirements.

This is actually an interesting observation. I never liked the form of this law. I always thought that the way to improve health care for the working poor was through expansion of medicaid. While I disagree with your perspective on the amount of workforce receiving coverage and overall nationalization, I think you have very astutely recognized how the coverage expansion will work. And I agree that it will be followed up by cost control measures (likely episodic pricing as opposed to a la carte pricing).

about a year ago
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Obamacare Employer Mandate Delayed Until After Congressional Elections

punker Re:Employers already know the loophole (600 comments)

The real problem here is this law was intended to require a benefit (i.e. minimum compensation) for people who do not generally receive it already. So now, not only will they not get insurance, but they're also facing a 25% cut in income.

What percentage of those people voted for the politicians who enacted this law? I bet it's in the high 90's.

Highly unlikely. We never get voter turnout on that scale.

about a year ago
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Obamacare Employer Mandate Delayed Until After Congressional Elections

punker Employers already know the loophole (600 comments)

They don't have to pay the fine, or provide insurance. They just make their employees part timers.

I've seen some anecdotal evidence of this (from waitstaff at a couple different restaurants, security guards at my parking deck, blog posts). Unskilled labor positions (i.e. the people that were targeted to receive this benefit) are just having their hours cut to 30 hours/week because part time employees are not subject to the insurance requirement. With current employment trends, it's easy to hire some extra part timers to fill the gap. It's a non-issue for skilled laborers, because most already receive employer provided insurance.

The real problem here is this law was intended to require a benefit (i.e. minimum compensation) for people who do not generally receive it already. So now, not only will they not get insurance, but they're also facing a 25% cut in income.

about a year ago
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HFT Nothing To Worry About (at Least In Australia)

punker Re:Screw The Big Traders (152 comments)

That's highly inaccurate. The big HFTs no longer make much money, because like most technologies, it has been understood and adopted. Their margins have dramatically receded since the mid-2000's, because all the market-makers (i.e. the bank you place your order through) also have their own high speed machines.
            Now, to the part about giving nothing of social value, well that's not really true (and in this context, social value applies only to stock market participants). What they provide is liquidity. When you place your order, the HFT programs are often buyer that make sure your order clears as you entered it. They do capture a very small amount of bid-ask spread (on the order of .1 cents/share these days), but they aren't taking it from the traders. They are really taking it from the market-maker banks that clear the orders. These banks have always captured the bid-ask spread (the positive difference in price between the seller's price and the buyer's offer). And this is where the positive part of HFT comes in. Spreads used to be fairly large (on the order of 10 cents/share in the late nineties). Now, they are measured in tenths of a cent. So the buyer and seller (i.e. the people in the market) now keep 9.9 cents of the 10 cents they used to lose to the market maker banks, because the HFTs keep spreads tight.

about a year and a half ago
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Supreme Court Decides Your Silence May Be Used Against You

punker Re:wtf (662 comments)

You always have your rights... it's just a question of if and how you exercise them.

The difference here is the guy who went to talk to the police on his own (ie voluntarily) vs being arrested (ie unwillingly).

The court ruled that in the prior, you have to make an affirmative statement as to you exercising your 5a rights.

Still bullshit to me. The fact that not explicitly stating that one is exercising one's rights implicitly means forgoing them? Does this mean that if I don't affirm my right to free speech or a fair trial that I cannot speak freely or will not get a fair trial? From the article:

This seems precisely correct, and this ruling seems very, very wrong. My understanding is that the law requires an "express waiver" for you to forgo any of your constitutionally declared rights, and there is no indication that he signed any such waiver.

about a year and a half ago
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Red Hat Confirms GNOME Classic Mode For RHEL 7

punker Re:Isn't unwillingless to learn a big problem? (192 comments)

I don't think that's it at all. I think Gnome3 has been weighed pretty well on it's merits. Many people consider it unusable. It made me jump ship for Mint (and I've been primarily running RH/Fedora since the mid nineties). I've tried alot of different desktops (Enlightenment, Gnome 1-3, TWM, KDE 1-4, and then some) . I'm not unwilling to change, and I think that's generally true of linux desktop users. We will try new things, and embrace the good ones. We will also harshly reject the bad ones. That's our culture.

And BTW, linux admins all have the same desktop. It's usually black w/ green monospace characters. ;)

about a year and a half ago
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The Days of Cheap, Subsidized Phones May Be Numbered

punker Re: straight talk payback period (329 comments)

I bought my wife an iphone 5 for christmas to use on straight talk. Compared to a $75 per month subsidized plan, the payback period was 14months. There have been some hassles with MMS (which has been a bit of a big deal), and no LTE (yet), but that's fine because it turns the telco into a commodity (which is what we want).

Additionally, if you watch the deal sites, you'll sometimes see 6 month refill cards for $220. That takes the monthly cost down to $36, which is right where I am willing to pay.

about a year and a half ago
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Ron Paul Asks UN For Help Geting Control of RonPaul.com Domain From Fans

punker Re:That mailing list is worth it's weight in gold (611 comments)

How much does an email list weigh? Do you need to print it out to weigh it? Or can you just stick it on a flash drive and weight that? Could dramatically affect the price if weight is the unit of measure.

about 2 years ago
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HR Departments Tell Equifax Your Entire Salary History

punker Re:hipaa violation? (472 comments)

Not True. I worked a contract for a health department, and HIPAA violations cover employers, providers, and insurers/agents. However, the key thing is if it would be considered 'protected health information' (PHI). There is alot of data that is not PHI that can legally be shared. PHI really centers on personally identifiable health information. Insurance status generally falls outside of that.

about 2 years ago
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Interviews: Ask What You Will of Paleontologist Jack Horner

punker You're a paleontologist? (208 comments)

Do you like digging in the dirt, with just a pick and brush?

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Should Developers Install Their Software Themselves?

punker Re:Why not use tools that help do it? (288 comments)

I completely disagree. Developers should absolutely be involved with software installs. Rarely should they have the final say, but both operations and development staff benefit from working together on software installs.

The best example I can give for this is database installs. Working with the operations staff on installs helps developers better understand engine performance. They learn about things like prepared queries, connection pools, what tables remain paged into memory, etc. These are things that help the developers write better code. Similarly, the operations staff can learn what the application focuses are. They can optimize performance through VM provisioning, tablespace layout, memory pool size, etc. They can also understand the usage goals better, which lets them keep developers informed of important changes.

I've been running IT departments for over 10 years, and my experience has shown me that there is a definite benefit to having development and ops work together on installs.

more than 2 years ago

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