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+ - US Patent Office seeking consultant that can stamp-out fraud by patent examiners->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "A month after Slashdot reported Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office (http://news.slashdot.org/story/14/08/11/1519201/every-day-is-goof-off-at-work-day-at-the-us-patent-and-trademark-office), the USPTO issued a statement that it is “committed to taking any measures necessary” to stop employees who review patents from lying about their hours and getting overtime pay and bonuses for work they didn’t do. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/09/13/patent-office-to-hire-outside-consultant-to-review-telework-program/)

USPTO officials also told congressional investigators that they are seeking an outside consulting firm to advise them on how managers can improve their monitoring of more than 8,000 patent examiners.

The Patent Examiners union responded to the original Washington Post report with a statement (http://popa.org/2523/) that includes these lines:

To claim that the USPTO has “thousands” of examiners not doing their work is simply ridiculous on its face. It represents poor journalistic rigor on the part of a well-respected newspaper like the Washington Post. If “thousands” of USPTO employees were not doing their work, it would be impossible for this agency to be producing the best performance in recent memory and, perhaps, in its entire 224 year history.

In related news, USPTO Commissioner Deborah Cohn (http://www.uspto.gov/about/bios/cohn_bio.jsp) has announced plans to resign just months after a watchdog agency revealed that she had pressured staffers to hire the live-in boyfriend of an immediate family member over other, better-qualified applicants. (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/sep/8/patent-office-head-step-down-amid-nepotism-charge/) An agency spokesman declined to say whether Cohn's decision to resign was tied to the nepotism probe. The live-in-boyfriend was among more than 700 people applying for the job, but he failed to qualify as one of the 250 candidates to advance to the first round of screening. When he finished 75th out of 76 applicants in the final round of screening, Cohn "intervened and created an additional position specifically for the applicant," wrote Inspector General Todd Zinser in a statement on the matter."
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Comment: Re:So what exactly is the market here. (Score 1) 729

by McGruber (#47866745) Attached to: Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

A gigantic set of the population is no longer even used to the concept of wearing a watch, because they have their phone. This device doesn't replace their phone. What exactly is the reason to have this as well, as opposed to pulling your phone out of your pocket?

You're thinking about it wrong: People wear watches because they are in fashion, not because wearing a watch is a necessary thing to do.

I noticed that they showed several different styles of watches -- that means every fashionista will have to buy several. Ker-ching $$$$$$

Comment: Re:...like dash cams. (Score 1) 455

by McGruber (#47771231) Attached to: Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

How to let officers pee without also letting them turn off cameras at every "inconvenient" time presents a challenge...

I don't see why it would necessary to turn the camera off when using the restroom -- the camera is looking forward, not downward, so it would be recording a close-up view of the top of the urinal.

+ - Amazon sold fewer Fire phones than Jack White sold VINYL records->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "Marketwatch reports that Amazon likely had sold fewer than 35,000 Amazon Fire phones in the device's first 25 days on the market. In comparison, American musician Jack White sold 40,000 copies of his Lazaretto album on VINYL in the first week after its release in June.

Amazon's Fire phone made up just 0.02% of market share in July, according to online ads network Chitika, which analyzed tens of millions of smartphone-based online ad impressions generated within the Chitika ad network from July 25, the day the Fire was launched, through Aug. 14. When comparing that against recent data from comScore, which put total U.S. smartphone penetration at 173 million people in June, Fire sales would not have exceeded 35,000 in its first three weeks, assuming U.S. smartphone penetration remained relatively flat month-over-month.

"While the Fire Phone was listed atop Amazon's Best Seller list for several days in early August, North American usage of the device has grown only incrementally, rather than exponentially," Chitika said in a report."

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+ - The comfy part of long-haul jetliners that you never get to ride in->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "Interior design publication Core77 has an article about Crew Rest Compartments (CRCs) (http://www.core77.com/blog/interiorexhibition_design/the_part_of_the_plane_you_never_get_to_see_what_do_cabin_crews_chillaxation_spots_look_like_27476.asp) installed in long-haul jetliners. These CRC accommodations include the 8 Best Beds on a Boeing 777, a pimpish loft space nestled above the passenger compartment on the Boeing 787, and bunkbeds stacked 3-high on the Airbus A380.

A pilot commented that the CRCs are not as glamorous as they look: "You generally enter a very dark claustrophobic space with your phone light not to disturb anyone. You're surrounded by all the most synthetic materials of the planet, overheated (25 to 30 c), very smelly (shoes, BO, bad breath etc...) and if you are in the tail noisy and shaky! Lol. But guess what you still sleep as you are exhausted!""

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Comment: Re:Accuse me a being materialistic whore but... (Score 1) 136

I'm not having a serious problem with this.

Did you know that Politics and Prose is the best independent bookstore in Washington and, IMHO, one of the best bookstores in the country? The Politics and Prose wikipedia page says it original co-owners "became known as literary tastemakers."

Consider that as you re-read the example I choose for the summary:

At Politics and Prose, the traditional [AMAZON BUY IT NOW] version — featuring the iconic eyes floating on a blue background — sold better than the DiCaprio [AMAZON BUY IT NOW] cover.

Do you see the problem now?

I'll end with a shout-out to the NPR program On The Media - I look forward to hearing OTM cover this issue!

(This post not edited by Brooke.)

Comment: Georgia customers billed for it since 2009 (Score 4, Interesting) 142

by McGruber (#47685895) Attached to: Delays For SC Nuclear Plant Put Pressure On the Industry
Since 2009, Georgia electric customers have been paying a "Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery” fee to fund the building of the Plant Vogle reactors. This tax currently adds 7.6% to a customer's electric monthly bill.

Here is an October 2013 article about a protest against the tax: Georgia Power Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery Tariff Excites Local Protest

And here's an organization that is protesting the tax: STOPCWIP.COM, which is short for STOP Construction Work In Progress

They point out that the Nuke owners are guaranteed a 11.5% return no matter how late the plant is:

In 2009, the Georgia General Assembly passed “Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act,” making it legal for Georgia electric utilities to charge customers in advance to construct the nuclear reactors. The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) subsequently approved Georgia Power and other owners of Plant Vogtle to charge the CWIP tax which will be collected during the whole construction period, no matter how long it will take, and allow Georgia Power and the other Vogtle owners a guaranteed profit with a protected return on investment of 11.15%.

+ - Pwned by Jeff Bezos,Washington Post embeds Amazon Buy It Now buttons midsentence

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "Reading a story (http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/what-divisive-charlie-and-the-chocolate-factory-cover-says-about-books-and-readers/2014/08/15/23163b8a-219a-11e4-86ca-6f03cbd15c1a_story.html) in the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post, I saw that the paper had begun embedding Amazon Buy-It-Now links in the middle of story sentences. One such sentence read:

Depp can confirm this: At Politics and Prose, the traditional [BUY IT NOW] version — featuring the iconic eyes floating on a blue background — sold better than the DiCaprio [BUY IT NOW] cover.

The change follows the July news of much larger than expected losses at Amazon and a 10-percent decline in the Amazon's stock value. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/07/24/amazon-sales-soar-but-losses-are-the-biggest-since-2012/)

In related news, the Post reports that the literary executor of George Orwell’s estate has accused Amazon.com of Doublespeak. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/orwell-rep-accuses-amazon-of-doublespeak/2014/08/14/ecda1252-23c5-11e4-8b10-7db129976abb_story.html)"

Comment: Re:Where do I sign up? (Score 1) 327

Seriously? You're posting this here without telling me how I can get this job?

Sorry about that - you apply for federal jobs at USA Jobs Website

There are not any patent examiner openings posted right now, but here are some current IT openings at the Patent Office:

IT Acquisitions Specialist - DE

IT Specialist (APPSW) - Software Developer - DE

Systems Development Lead - IT Specialist (SYSANALYSIS/APPSW) - DE

+ - Everyday is Goof Off at Work Day at the US Patent & Trademark Office-> 1

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "An internal investigation by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office found that some of its 8,300 patent examiners repeatedly lied about the hours they were putting in and many were receiving bonuses for work they did not do. While half of the USPTO's Patent Examiners work from home full time, oversight of the telework program — and of examiners based at the Alexandria headquarters — was “completely ineffective,” investigators concluded.

The internal investigation also unearthed another widespread problem. More than 70 percent of the 80 managers interviewed also told investigators that a “significant” number of examiners did not work for long periods, then rushed to get their reviews done at the end of each quarter. Supervisors told the review team that the practice “negatively affects” the quality of the work. “Our quality standards are low,” one supervisor told the investigators. “We are looking for work that meets minimal requirements.”

Patent examiners review applications and grant patents on inventions that are new and unique. They are experts in their fields, often with master’s and doctoral degrees. They earn at the top of federal pay scale, with the highest taking home $148,000 a year."

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+ - Cringley: IBM not a viable company, propping itself up by trippling its debt->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "Robert X. Cringely has a new ebook out, titled "The Decline and Fall of IBM" (http://www.cringely.com/2014/06/04/decline-fall-ibm/). Cringely believes that IBM is in deep trouble and has been since before the Great Recession of 2008. He also says that the company has probably been doomed since 2010.

On Sunday, Cringley was interviewed on the nationally syndicated talkradio program Moneytalk. Program host Bob Brinker (http://bobbrinker.com/) pointed out that Warren Buffett bought almost $11 billion worth of IBM common stock, then asked Cringley "what did he miss?" Cringley answered that IBM is in a downward spiral because it is focused on maintaining and increasing earnings per share (EPS). IBM is borrowing money to buy back shares, propping up EPS but adding debt. IBM's debt has tripled in the last 5 years.

Cringley also told Brinker that IBM has gone from hardware sales to selling services but they have poor customer retention, having lost the state of Texas and The Walt Disney Company. Their sales culture tends to bid low to win the contract and then extract more dollars by selling extra services. IBM also lost a contract with the CIA to Amazon. A person who called-in to the program pointed out that IBM lost its leadership in product development, lost sales of its core products to Fortune 500 companies, and its software business is eroding because of open source applications. Cringely concurred with the caller and told him "you made my point."(http://honeysbobbrinkerbeehivebuzz3.blogspot.com/)"

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+ - Australia rebooting search for MH370, the missing Malaysian Airlines 777-200ER->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "The Wall Street Journal reports that two months after pausing its search for the missing Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777-200ER, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is ready to reboot its search. The ATSB is poised to select among bids from the world's most-advanced deep-water specialists, including offshore oil-and-gas companies, maritime research institutions and treasure hunters eager to use their technologies and experience to solve the Flight 370 riddle—and potentially raise their own profiles in the process. The ATSB is expected to choose one or more of the bidders over the next several weeks before relaunching the search with $56 million in funding in late August.

With no hard evidence of where the plane went down, the search will test the recovery industry's abilities like nothing before. In June, Australian authorities shifted the search zone for a third time—by about 600 miles to the southwest—after reanalyzing satellite transmissions. Even then, they said it was impossible to know whether the fresh search area would prove correct."

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Comment: Re:Earthshaking (Score 2) 124

It's an electrical problem in a single building.

Actually, the complex is four separate builidings connected in a U-shape; the tallest is 24 stories. The complex has its own entry on skyscraperpage.com and is also described in this 6-page PDF by Trane, the air-conditioning company. That PDF includes this description of the buildings in the complex and how it is all designed for 24/7 operation:

The facility, named for the former U.S. Senator from Georgia, is one the largest federal office buildings on the East Coast. It encompasses 1.87 million square feet of space. The structure straddles a busy downtown street. The building is also located atop an underground train tunnel of the Atlanta transit system, MARTA. The building units include the remodeled 1924 department store, Rich's, which was a downtown Atlanta landmark and an Atlanta institution.

Now this renovated six-story building and its beloved clock are a visual cornerstone for the center. Other elements are a 10-story mid-rise section, an eight-story bridge, six stories over Forsyth Street and a 24-story high-rise tower. Adjacent to the building is a 10-story parking garage. Construction of the building was a joint urban redevelopment enterprise of the City of Atlanta and the Federal Government. The design architect for the facility was the California firm of Kohn, Peterson, Fox and Associates. Newcomb & Boyd, a large Atlanta firm, was chosen as the project engineer.

Designed For 24-Hour Operation Southeastern Facility Management, Inc., is contracted by GSA to operate this facility. The system was designed for 24-hour seven days a week operation to accommodate the mission of the various agencies housed in the facility. One or more of the 1,310-ton chillers were to operate, depending on the building load, between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. After 6:00 p.m., the 400-ton chiller was to carry all computer rooms and miscellaneous building loads. As a consequence, the facility designers and engineers needed to plan for continuous occupancy. Atlanta has significant cooling loads for much of the year and high humidity as well. The goal of the HVAC system design was to assure complete comfort in the building around the clock, year-round. To achieve this, significant emphasis was placed on humidity control with a central chilled water plant, air handlers for each area and a zone- controlled VAV air delivery system. Building designers also recognized that an important part of the office environment is acoustic performance. For this reason, rigorous sound level standards were set for occupied areas throughout the facility. The air conditioning system efficiency was extremely important due to the 24/7 operation.

+ - Bad "Buss Duct" causes week-long closure of 5,000 employee Federal Complex->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber (1417641) writes "In Atlanta, an electrical problem in a "Buss Duct" has caused the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center to be closed for at least a week (http://www.ajc.com/news/news/nunn-federal-building-expected-to-reopen-monday/ngnSZ/). 5,000 federal employees work at the center.

While many might view this as another example of The Infrastructure Crisis (http://www.asce.org/Content.aspx?id=25562) in the USA, it might actually be another example of mismanagement at the complex's landord, the General Service Administration (GSA). The GSA has had many scandals [http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20120416/DEPARTMENTS07/204160301/GSA-scandal-Heavy-fallout-expected] and has been the subject of several Congresssional Hearings, including an August 1, 2012 hearing titled "GSA: A Review of Agency Mismanagement and Wasteful Spending — Part 2" (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-112hhrg75419/html/CHRG-112hhrg75419.htm). That hearing followed an $823,000 GSA employee conference in Las Vegas and a one-day-long $250,000 GSA employee conference in Crystal City, Virginia (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/aug/1/gsa-scandal-widens-dozens-conferences-investigated/?page=all)

The closed Atlanta complex is named for Samuel Augustus "Sam" Nunn, Jr., who served for 24 years as a United States Senator from Georgia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Nunn). His daughter is the current Democratic Party nominee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Nunn) for a Georgia Senate seat."

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