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Comment: Compare to airlines (Score 3, Interesting) 352

by beinsvein (#43469423) Attached to: Why Self-Driving Cars Are Still a Long Way Down the Road

Airlines are liable for around $175000 for each passenger death, set by IATA. A similar figure could and should be set by law for autonomous vehichles. So you do the math and find that per car, with a reasonably safe driving system, that's no big deal, whether it's covered by your car insurance or the manufacturer's liability.

Comment: Mainstream vs niche (Score 2) 95

by beinsvein (#42679149) Attached to: Open Source Software Licenses Versus Business Models
The examples in the article are pieces of software that are distributed in the hundreds of millions of copies. Things might look different if you produce software that is even slightly specialized. It's no cheaper to make special-purpose software, but your customer base shrinks exponentially with the degree of specialization.

Comment: Silence thy neighbour's phone (Score 1) 251

by beinsvein (#42586257) Attached to: Microsoft Patents Tech That Would Silence Your Phone For You
So this is an idea: When you set your phone to "stealth", it will start broadcasting, maybe once per minute, some kind of bluetooth or wifi message that urges neighboring phones to go into stealth mode automatically. If the other phones pick up enough of these requests and are so configured, they will comply. Phones going into stealth mode automatically don't retransmit the request. It only works when you have a large number of phones in a small area, which also happens to be when it needs to work. Possibility of abuse, some.

Comment: Sure it does (Score 3, Insightful) 776

by beinsvein (#42544703) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are Timed Coding Tests Valuable?
If a job requires a skill that is easy to test, it should be obvious that you want to test it. Programming is such a skill. Sure there are tasks within programming that can't be tested in 45 minutes, but there are also tasks that can. I'd feel I knew more about a programmer's skills having seen a couple dozen lines of code she's written than for instance hearing her last employer's opinion, which may be biased by all sorts of interests, or reading the list of projects she'd worked on, where you don't know how she contributed. College grades in programming courses might provide the same kind of information, but courses may not be standardized and the candidate might have developed her skills since college.

Comment: Re:This is a bit misleading... (Score 1) 79

by beinsvein (#42377085) Attached to: DARPA Wants Wireless Devices That Can Blast Through the Noise

The stuff about "disaster relief" is entirely bogus. They are asking people to work on an entirely military application for very little gain...

Granted, the pay is measly but the result could be used anywhere, not just in military applications. DARPA challenges generally let the participants keep their ipr, so if someone comes up with something good, expect civilian benefits. Noisy transmission channels is not a uniquely military problem.

Comment: Similar to phone directories (Score 2) 76

by beinsvein (#41726481) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Both Mirror and Protect Crowdsourced Data?
I've been working with phone directories for a few decades, where many companies are in basically the same position that you are - making a living from public information. Most data is collected from phone companies that dump their customer databases to the phone directory companies. This process and the associated tariffs are regulated by law. This data must be processed and cleaned up before it is passed on. Then there are data consumers - in the old days these were people reading the phone books. These days, data consumers are people browsing the web and all sorts of web apps that connect to the phone book through one of several apis. Most telephone directory companies provide search apis for their databases - usually not for free. Everything is a one-way street, of course. Information flows downstream, money goes upstream. No phone directory company that I know of will voluntarily mirror their database to anyone. Search APIs, yes. Mirrors, no. Phone directories are sometimes distributed to consumers and businesses on cd/dvd, but never without at least an attempt at scrambling and restricting its usage. You could probably make a business for a while selling an open, mirrored copy of your database. People will pay for subscriptions. The problem is, any one of your customers could choose become your competitor at any time. The more successful you are the more likely someone is to do that. Maybe you can protect yourself legally, but most people prefer to lock their door even in jurisdictions where trespassing is forbidden. Competition in your area would be nice for everyone else, your customers as well as your competitors, so as a member of "everyone else" I should say go for it. But you're no dummy. You got your company name posted on slashdot after all!

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