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Comment: Re:Is there a single field that doesn't? (Score 1) 443

by MSG (#47949833) Attached to: Science Has a Sexual Assault Problem

I seriously doubt that she considered your holding the door open an assult. She probably considered it disrespectful, and unless you are equally likely to hold a door for any person, then it could certainly be considered condescending from a certain point of view.

The issue isn't that intent doesn't matter, it is that intent doesn't matter more than the subjective experience of the second party. Their perception of your actions is equally important to your intent. When you are able to accept other people as equals, and not as subordinates, you'll understand why that's the right way to handle the situation.

Again, that doesn't mean that a complaint is always valid. Mediation is intended to determine both intent and perception, to explain both to each party, and whenever possible, to provide guidelines for everyone to ensure that future interactions don't create further offense.

Comment: Re:Is there a single field that doesn't? (Score 2) 443

by MSG (#47948987) Attached to: Science Has a Sexual Assault Problem

the problem is that it doesnt matter if any harassment or assault happens these days. all there needs to be for sexual assault/harassment is for someone to "feel" abused, intent no longer matters.

You're correct in identifying the standard that is used for sexual harassment. If someone feels harassed, then the issue is treated as harassment. That is not, however, the problem or a problem. It doesn't mean that you'll be fired or even disciplined as a result of the complaint. All it means is that when an employee submits a harassment complaint, that HR treats the complaint seriously and investigates each complaint consistently. If they find that the complaint warrants discipline, then the offending person will be disciplined. Otherwise, there may simply be mediation to remedy the situation.

Your attitude, ganjadude, that treating harassment claims seriously based on the subjective experience of the person making the claim is "the" problem almost certainly indicates that you take criticism poorly. The problem with harassment is that people against whom complaints are made often retaliate against the person making the complaint rather than accepting criticism and working to create an environment where people feel safe.

Comment: Re:Thanks for pointing out the "briefly" part. (Score 1) 461

by MSG (#47317591) Attached to: Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly

We have more than enough people telling us how difficult things are and how we shouldn't try

We also hear more than enough people telling us that the climate will change unless we stop burning fossil fuels. Do you want someone to tell you how to make ongoing burning of fossil fuels "work" too? It won't.

If a lot of people are telling you a thing, you might want to consider that they may be right.

Comment: Contracts (Score 1) 141

by MSG (#46914555) Attached to: Linus Torvalds Receives IEEE Computer Pioneer Award

I was talking to a friend of mine recently about OpenSSL, and the developers' complaint that they aren't receiving financial or development support from some of the companies that use and benefit most from the software. My point of view is that if you, as a developer, need financial or development support from the users of your software, you need to tell them so. If you don't tell them what support you need in exchange, then you aren't going to get it. The best place for the terms of that agreement is your license. If your license demands nothing in return for your software, very often you will receive nothing for your software. While this is an unpopular opinion, I believe it is their own fault, and not the fault of the users of their software, that they aren't getting the support that they need.

I think it's easy to make the argument that Linux is more significant than GNU. Android is a Linux operating system, without GNU. DD-WRT and similar systems are Linux, without GNU. However, I personally think that Linux is less significant than the GPL. The license gave us a means to collaborate, to create open systems, and to get the support that we need for the software that we develop.

Comment: How do you back up Ceph? (Score 2) 18

by MSG (#46880057) Attached to: Red Hat Acquires InkTank, Ceph Maintainers

I saw a talk on Ceph at LISA '13 and it seemed pretty cool, except that afterward I wasn't able to find any documentation specifically about making backups of Ceph object stores.

In general, I think backup infrastructure on Linux isn't great. I'm working to make that better, but generating interest in backup infrastructure is a hard sell. Shameless plug:

Comment: Re:One side of the story (Score 1) 710

by MSG (#46506217) Attached to: Prominent GitHub Engineer Julie Ann Horvath Quits Citing Harrassment

You do not badmouth your former employer, no matter what they did

To quote Chris Rock, "Ain't nobody above an ass whoopin."

It's certainly true that if you publicly air your grievances against a former employer, you'll probably never work there or with those people in the future. However, there is definitely a time when you are certain that you no longer want to work with those people, and a time when it's appropriate to warn the community that they hire from that employment comes with serious issues.

Personally, I think we have just as much responsibility to our community of co-workers as we do to our employer. People who never speak up are abdicating the responsibility that we have to each other.

Comment: Re:"The Last Lone Inventor" by Evan I. Schwartz (Score 1) 406

by MSG (#46484273) Attached to: Apple Demands $40 Per Samsung Phone For 5 Software Patents

I don't think TV would be less patentable with a digital circuit. I am advocating abolishment of software patents. That is, the software itself should not be subject to patent. If I have a general purpose computing device, I should be able to create software for any function that the device is capable of.

Comment: Re:"The Last Lone Inventor" by Evan I. Schwartz (Score 1) 406

by MSG (#46461013) Attached to: Apple Demands $40 Per Samsung Phone For 5 Software Patents

My understanding is that active matrix displays refresh one line at a time, but display the entire image during the scan. In any case, that isn't really the point. The point is that his invention has been fundamental to display technology since the time of the invention. It is an excellent example of technology worthy of patent.

If you have something valuable to contribute, I'd be happy to respond to it.

Comment: "The Last Lone Inventor" by Evan I. Schwartz (Score 5, Insightful) 406

by MSG (#46460127) Attached to: Apple Demands $40 Per Samsung Phone For 5 Software Patents

I finished a book a while ago that I think really illustrates why software patents are objectionable, and what's wrong with the patent system as a whole, today.

The book is "The Last Lone Inventor" by Evan I. Schwartz. It describes the work of Philo T. Farnsworth to create television. During the time that Philo was working on television, many scientists employed by the radio industry were also working to develop usable video transmission technology, with inferior designs. Most of their work involved mechanical television cameras that used spinning wheels. Philo's invention was all electronic. It scanned, transmitted, and displayed a line at a time to create a two dimensional image. This remained the fundamental technology in displays at least until LCD and plasma screens replaced CRT.

Now, while many other patent related problems were well demonstrated by the book, the one most clearly related to software patents pertains to the intent of the patent system. Patents are not, as they are often regarded today, a recognition that an inventor owns his ideas. Ideas are not property, and have never been recognized as such. Patents are a recognition that some inventions rely on information that isn't obvious. Some inventions require the inventors to test and improve their inventions for years before they can be brought to market. Underlying the patent system is the belief that this work will not be done, that inventors will not fund years of experimentation and development, if they don't believe that they'll be able to sell that invention to recover the costs of its development. In a free market, competitors will be able to offer the same invention at a lower cost than its inventor, because the competitors did not have to invest in the development of the invention. Patents attempt to create an incentive to invent by ensuring that inventors who do invest in development are given a limited monopoly on their invention.

However, patents aren't free. It is not enough for the inventor to merely offer his invention to the market to receive patent protection on it. An inventor is also required to completely disclose how the invention works. After the patent period expires, the public must be able to continue using the invention independent of the inventor.

That is the fundamental purpose of the patent system: to benefit the public by providing it with the knowledge required to reproduce the invention. It is the public's benefit, not the inventors, that is the goal of the patent system. The inventor's benefit is simply the means to achieve that goal. The Constitution of the United States reflects this:
To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries

Philo's work was exactly the progress of science that the patent system was intended to promote. His invention required tremendous investment to create. His idea was sound, but a great deal of experimentation was required to create a working device. Other highly skilled scientists were not able to create a working device on their own, or created working devices of significantly lesser quality. The exact properties of the materials and components used in the camera and television set were not previously known, and were discovered through Philo T. Farnsworth's experimentation and development.

The invention of television was worthy of patent protection.

Software development isn't like the invention of television in ANY way.

Software development does involve testing cycles, but otherwise almost never involves the kind of experimentation involved in the invention of television, because the exact properties of computer operations are previously known. Computers perform a limited number of operations, exactly according to a specification, and exactly the same every time. Because the behavior of the system is known in advance, the uncertainty inherent in real world material inventions does not exist in software development.

If you give a computing task to a large number of expert programmers, you will probably get a variety of results, but you also expect a great deal of overlap in those results. Software components frequently independently implement solutions that have previously been patented. When this happens, it is evidence that the patented invention is, in fact, obvious. When this happens, it is evidence that the public did not need the description provided by the patent. The frequency with which this happens is evidence that software patents are not a benefit to the public, and should be abolished. The public has no reason to provide patents when it receives nothing of value in return.

An earlier verdict in Apple's suit against Samsung is an excellent illustration of this flaw. The suit found that Samsung infringed Apple patents that described a) a means of indicating to the user that they were scrolling past the edge of some scrollable surface by "bounce back" scrolling behavior, b) using one finger to scroll and two fingers to zoom, and c) tapping to zoom. If you asked a group of experienced developers how to indicate to a user that they had scrolled too far, snapping back to an edge would almost certainly be one of a handful of other indications. You probably would also get a haptic indication (vibration), an audible indication (beep), and several visual indications such as bouncing back, texture vibrating, edge highlighting, and using a standard background behind the scrollable surface. If you asked experienced developers to allow users to scroll and zoom, likewise, you would find several that suggesting pinch to zoom and touch to scroll. These things don't need to be discovered, they merely need to be implemented.

Granting patents on those methods prohibits competitors from using similar methods, which significantly inhibits progress in the field, contrary to the goals stated in the Constitution of the United States, and does not benefit the public by providing them with information that they would not otherwise have. Software patents should be abolished.

Prediction is very difficult, especially of the future. - Niels Bohr