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The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees

slinches Re:Time for a UNION! (261 comments)

Employers:
- Do not hire a person until existing employees are nearly 100% overbooked. No training or ramp-up time in the schedule.
- Want to hire the cheapest person who can barely get the job done
- Do not want to spend money on training or other activities that might increase employee value on the market (even though, in my opinion, that shoudln't be true)
- Do not significantly value sub E-level employees as investments, but rather fungible commodities to broker
- Vastly prefer to lay off people in position who have become expensive and hire H1Bs to replace them to cut payroll costs, essentially creating a glut of people with the same skillset.

But that would cost money and none of those things have (easily measurable) returns to justify the investment. Although, that really means that we have to get smarter about how we estimate cost avoidance and the value of missed opportunities.

Employees, particularly in Tech:
- Tend to focus on job skills over job experience. Skills can be taught to any college hire, and ARE taught in low-cost regions, but tend not to be taught in western schools. Think languages (C), tools, mechanics. Things if you have the proper background and education you can pick up in a month or two. For any non-trivial job however, this is nearly worthless.
- Misapprehend "experience". Experience is not, or should not entirely be how long you've done a particular task. Most tasks can be mastered in well under 5 years. Experience is how many problems you've worked on and solved in your life. It's one thing to learn a solution (i.e. school), it's another thing to learn a problem. The more you've seen and internalized, the better you will be. Instead we interview for how well so-and-so knows how to write python, or how long as he been a python-engineer. Useless. I want to hear what projects he worked on, what solutions he considered and rejected, etc. I don't care what language he did them in, or if he was a cardboard-box folder for 5 years and has the audacity to apply to a plastic tub sealer position without any industry experience!

The employee focus on skills is a direct result of HR keyword filters. A well written resume that details an applicant's exceptional capability and experience will be round filed before a human ever sees it if it doesn't have the right words/phrases.

I don't have a solution for any of this. It's a difficult problem and the tools we've created to address it have already exceeded their usefulness. We need a ground up rethink of how to train, hire and keep valuable employees. Until that happens, we'll all have to just do our best to understand the limitations of the current system and work around them.

3 days ago
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Bill Gates Endorses Water From Human Waste

slinches Re:A pretty low bar (245 comments)

I may be mistaken but I think it's probably water that's from a spring on a mountain. You see ... snow runoff will seep into the sides of mountains, travel a ways through the porous rock and then spring out of the ground at a lower elevation. I know it seems unbelievable, but it's true.

about three weeks ago
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Gun Rights Hacktivists To Fab 3D-Printed Guns At State Capitol

slinches Re:Huh? (573 comments)

The counter-argument to this is that if it is illegal to carry a gun on school campuses, then you must either pay for an armed officer to be on site at all times or accept that a shooter will have several minutes to carry out an attack while the police are on their way.

about three weeks ago
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Happy Public Domain Day: Works That Copyright Extension Stole From Us In 2015

slinches Re:Would someone please explain ... (328 comments)

That same freedom is available to both with the same restrictions. Either license the use of the patented/copyrighted item or find another way to accomplish the same goal.

The biggest differences in that regard seem to be that it may be somewhat easier to work around copyright due to the flexibility of human communication. But there's also a much larger corpus of work to search through to ensure anything you create isn't infringing.

about three weeks ago
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Happy Public Domain Day: Works That Copyright Extension Stole From Us In 2015

slinches Re:Would someone please explain ... (328 comments)

How are they radically different, then? Are they not both a limited monopoly grant on the reproduction of specific implementations of ideas and derivative works thereof?

about three weeks ago
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Happy Public Domain Day: Works That Copyright Extension Stole From Us In 2015

slinches Re:Would someone please explain ... (328 comments)

I guess if you're not willing to actually discuss the issue, we can just agree to disagree without actually understanding each other's arguments. Though that's a rather disappointing outcome.

about three weeks ago
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Happy Public Domain Day: Works That Copyright Extension Stole From Us In 2015

slinches Re:Would someone please explain ... (328 comments)

How so? I obviously disagree on that point, so could you explain your reasoning in more detail? What parts of the laws are so fundamentally different that any comparison is inapplicable?

If there is an obvious difference that I'm not aware of, I could try to come up with a similar argument with copyright directly. I'm just more familiar with the patent side of IP law, so that came to me more naturally.

about three weeks ago
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Google Fiber's Latest FCC Filing: Comcast's Nightmare Come To Life

slinches Re:Comcast's Nightmare?? (221 comments)

Thanks for that insightful comment, Dick.

I guess we should make sure to append "in the USA" to every sentence for the sake of clarity. We wouldn't want people coming to a US site to discuss news about the opinions of a US corporation on potential policies of a US government agency to get confused about it being relevant only to those in the USA.

Also, I'm really glad the English language only uses literal interpretations and never relies on context to alter the meaning of words. That could be very confusing.

about three weeks ago
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Happy Public Domain Day: Works That Copyright Extension Stole From Us In 2015

slinches Re:Would someone please explain ... (328 comments)

Why? Both cover the specific implementations of ideas and the effort required to work around either is nontrivial. I don't see a compelling reason to dismiss the analogy out of hand.

about three weeks ago
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Happy Public Domain Day: Works That Copyright Extension Stole From Us In 2015

slinches Re:Would someone please explain ... (328 comments)

The "hysteria" is about a perpetual monopoly on our cultural history. If every piece of art created in our lifetimes is locked down, then we don't have the freedom to create anything new. Everything we do is built upon the ideas of the prior generations that we are exposed to through our culture.

Ultimately, infinite term IP ownership is unsustainable. Our technological and cultural development will stall. Imagine if someone (ie a corporation or estate) still held the patent on the transistor or the lever. Those companies would control the markets for basically every electrical or mechanical device. Do you think we'd even be able to have this discussion? And why wouldn't the same effect occur with copyright once there's nothing left in the public domain to draw from?

about three weeks ago
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Happy Public Domain Day: Works That Copyright Extension Stole From Us In 2015

slinches Re:Copyright reform. (328 comments)

Hmm... that is a tough one. Maybe you could print and sell new copies? If it's not worth enough to the copyright owner to make a work available to the public, then why not allow it to fall into the public domain after a decade? Maybe someone else will be able to find a way to bring it back to life and extract additional value rather than letting it sit there and fade into obscurity.

about three weeks ago
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MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin

slinches Re:Sexual Harassment shouldn't cost us knowledge (416 comments)

Deleting all of Cosby's TV shows and movies would still be wrong as they are a part of our cultural history.

No one is doing that though, there is a difference between no longer promoting something and erasing it from history.

Actually, there isn't in the case of copyrighted works. If the rights holder stops selling and promoting something without re-licensing it for public use, then it is dead and nobody else can legally acquire a copy. This is one of the reasons there should be a requirement in copyright law that the work must be made available or the holder loses their exclusive rights to it.

To stretch the Cosby link further, you might (quite reasonably) think things Cosby did in the past are funny and even have value beyond pure humour, as social commentary etc. If that were the case and you know someone who had been abused by Cosby, would you choose to put a Cosby video on for them and expect them to find it an enjoyable experience?

That is the situation MIT is in. They aren't just dealing with 'theoretical' students who might somehow be deprived of some value that only those videos can impart. They are dealing with real students actually effected by the situation at hand.

If you wouldn't knowingly ask someone you care about to be entertained by someone who had abused them, why would you expect MIT to ask someone to be educated by someone who harassed them?

I wouldn't ask them to watch something from their abuser, but that isn't what's happening here. No one is being forced to watch anything. They're not even being asked to. Worst case is if one of Cosby's victims happened across a rerun of his, they quickly change the channel. The MIT lectures are even less likely to be seen accidentally and the professor's name is clearly listed on it. Are you suggesting that the right thing to do is to eliminate every reference to a person just so that a few people who were hurt won't occasionally stumble across a reminder that their abuser exists? If so, where do you draw the line there? The MIT professor only violated sexual harassment rules and as far as I have seen isn't even charged with a crime. Is that really enough to warrant erasure of his work? What about a high school bully? Are they so tainted that they should never be allowed to participate in our culture again?

about a month and a half ago
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MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin

slinches Re:Just wondering... (416 comments)

The best thing MIT could do is release the lectures for free (i.e. remove a profit motive from themselves), eliminate their name being used in association with it, and step back. That's reasonable. Trashing the whole thing is silly.

Maybe there needs to be a creative commons license that expressly forbids attribution, just for this circumstance. I suggest calling it CC-CYA

about a month and a half ago
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MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin

slinches Re:Sexual Harassment shouldn't cost us knowledge (416 comments)

Nope, still no challenge there. Deleting all of Cosby's TV shows and movies would still be wrong as they are a part of our cultural history. If the content owners want to distance themselves from Cosby's now severely tarnished image, then they should make a public statement that they do not want any further association and then sell the rights to his work or release it to the public domain.

If the norm throughout time was to erase someone from history because they did something terrible once, we would never have been able to progress to the level where we could even have this discussion. Everything we do is built upon a foundation of knowledge provided by those that came before us and if we start pulling out the bricks which were laid by those we see as evil, the whole thing will come crashing down. We have a responsibility to keep growing and strengthening that foundation for future generations to build upon, which is far more important than a vain effort to erase the mistake of associating yourself with that evil person.

about a month and a half ago
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Website Peeps Into 73,000 Unsecured Security Cameras Via Default Passwords

slinches Re:People buy stuff without understanding is... (321 comments)

That's a valid option as well as long as you're aware of the consequences and that you're choosing it. Life is full of trade-offs. The real mistake is not understanding the choices you're making.

about 3 months ago
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Website Peeps Into 73,000 Unsecured Security Cameras Via Default Passwords

slinches Re:People buy stuff without understanding is... (321 comments)

There's an easy solution to that problem. Don't fix it and tell her why.

Seriously, if someone isn't willing to learn and use the most basic of computer hygiene practices, they will eventually fall prey to malware and will almost certainly lose data to hardware failure at some point. And if you're the administrator of the computer when that happens, it'll be your fault for not protecting them (at least in their eyes).

You could also try explaining it as a car analogy: e.g. "You wouldn't just hop in your car and start driving without learning the rules of the road, would you?"

about 3 months ago
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Ebola Nose Spray Vaccine Protects Monkeys

slinches Re:Technicalities (198 comments)

Wow, it's up to 200% effective!?!?!?!?!

about 3 months ago
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Verizon Injects Unique IDs Into HTTP Traffic

slinches Re:Is there a way to prevent this? (206 comments)

That's the problem with monopolies (natural or otherwise). Still, there is an option to sign up for just the phone plans without wireless data and use wired or satellite ISPs for internet access.

You could also go the route of circumventing the problem (using the methods others have already suggested) with a bit of added effort/cost, but in that case there's no disincentive to help persuade Verizon to stop the program.

about 3 months ago
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Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

slinches Re:Let me get this right (839 comments)

How does inflation fund government services to the general populace?

Inflation allows the government to borrow at net interest rates near zero or lower. As long as inflation is higher than the interest rate on the loan, the interest costs are offset by paying the loan back in devalued currency.

about 3 months ago

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