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Comment: Re:new argument to undo copyright extension (Score 1) 57

by Chas (#49178613) Attached to: Has the Supreme Court Made Patent Reform Legislation Unnecessary?

The thing is, the government has an almost unassailable lock on the use of force. Not that ANYONE can't use force. But the government can do it bigger, badder and better than pretty much anyone else.

With that, they can pretty much dictate what your "rights" are and are not.

It's only because the politicians can't guarantee loyalty (and their own security) from their armed forces if given such orders that prevents them from simply dictating that you have no rights and telling the public to go pound sand.

So we get the byzantine crap with our government slowly, but inexorably eroding our rights through legislation and all the "rights" are for rent (not sale, as sale implies a permanent situation) to the highest bidder of the moment.

Comment: Re:There is science here (Score 2) 16

by hey! (#49178195) Attached to: Rosetta Photographs Its Own Shadow On Comet 67P/C-G

Hmmm. While your explanation is unquestionably true, I don't think you quite understood what the poster was asking. His question is, I think, about the sharp shadows behind ridges on the surface, not the shadow of the vehicle itself.

I think his problem is an implicit assumption that if you drew a line from the center of the sun through the spacecraft, it would intersect the surface at a right angle. In that case you wouldn't expect cracks on the surface to display in such relief. However I believe that assumption is faulty, and that the rays of the sun intersect the surface at a considerable angle.

This is not unlike seeing the shadow of a plane you are riding in on the surface of the Earth. Unless you are in the tropics, that shadow won't be directly beneath you. It will be off to one side. It will also be distorted as it is spread out across the non-perpendicular surface, but you won't necessarily notice that because of foreshortening.

Comment: Re:Easier to Analyze or Change == More Maintainabl (Score 2) 164

by hey! (#49177955) Attached to: Study: Refactoring Doesn't Improve Code Quality

I once took over 30,000 lines of code that had been written by a subcontractor and trimmed it to around 4000 LOC. And you better believe it ran faster! Not because refactoring is magic, but because once all the mind-numbing almost-repetition was mucked out you could actually see what the code was doing and notice that a lot of it wasn't really necessary. Ever since then I have always maintained that coders should never ever copy and paste code. I've had people disagree, saying that a little bit of copying and pasting won't hurt, but I say if it's really such a little bit then you shouldn't mind re-typing it. Of course if you do that very soon you start putting more effort into devising ways to stop repeating yourself, which is exactly the point. Repeating yourself should be painful.

That's I think a reliable litmus test for whether you should refactor a piece of software. If it's an area of code that's been receiving a lot of maintenance, and you think you can reduce the size significantly (say by 1/3 or more) without loss of features or generality you should do it. If it's an area of code that's not taking up any maintenance time, or if you're adding speculative features nobody is asked for and the code will get larger or remain the same size, then you should leave it alone. It's almost common sense.

I don't see why anyone would think that refactoring for its own sake would necessarily improve anything. If an automotive engineer on a lark decided to redesign a transmission you wouldn't expect it to get magically better just because he fiddled with it. But if he had a specific and reasonable objective in the redesign that's a different situation. If you have a specific and sensible objective for reorganizing a piece of code, then it's reasonable to consider doing it.

Comment: Necissary, not sufficient. (Score 4, Interesting) 57

by pavon (#49177913) Attached to: Has the Supreme Court Made Patent Reform Legislation Unnecessary?

Granted, the biggest problem with the patent system has been that the criteria for patentability has been so loose, and the recent Supreme Court rulings will certainly do more to fix that root cause than the recent patent reform bills. Hopefully going forward these new rulings will improve the quality of patents approved and upheld in court, which is by far the single most important reform needed in the long run.

But in the meanwhile there are more than 20 years of bad patents that have been granted, and the costs of defending against a patent lawsuit is still far greater than the cost of settling. We need to make it less expensive to challenge existing patents if we don't want them to continue to be a burden for the next 20+ years. That is exactly what the reform bills were about. They were designed to be complementary to the Supreme Court rulings, addressing a different parts of the problem.

Comment: Re:Bad idea (Score 3, Insightful) 513

by Rei (#49176087) Attached to: Snowden Reportedly In Talks To Return To US To Face Trial

The number of grammatical cases is irrelevant. Question: What's the difference between a grammatical case without stem changes and a postposition (opposite of a preposition? Answer: A space.

  That which is challenging, apart from stem changes, is the same thing that is challenging with helper words in general: when to use what with what. Picture a person learning English and trying to remember what to use with what. "I was scolding her.... over it? for it? about it? to it? around it?" "We were unhappy.... over it? for it? about it? to it? around it?" "She was dedicated.... over it? for it? about it? to it? around it?" And so forth. It's the same for people trying to learn which declension case to use in which context. But if the declensions are just suffixes without stem changes, then they're no different from postpositions. And often stem changes where they occur follow pretty predictable rules, often for pronunciation reasons.

Comment: Re:Bad idea (Score 1) 513

by hey! (#49175719) Attached to: Snowden Reportedly In Talks To Return To US To Face Trial

Well, this is the thing about civil disobedience. The classic formula is to keep up awareness of your issue by forcing the government to go through the embarrassing and drawn-out process of prosecuting and punishing you. I'll bet they had to drag Thoreau kicking and screaming out of that Concord jail cell when some joker finally came along and paid his poll tax for him. Holding court for his admirers in the town pokey no doubt suited his purposes nicely.

In that spirit, this announcement is very effective. When was the last headline you read about Edward Snowden? If he comes back for a long and drawn out trial that'll show he's pretty hard core about this civil disobedience thing -- if leaving a cushy, high paying job in Hawaii with his pole-dancing girlfriend to go to fricken' Russia wasn't enough.

It occurs to me, though, that this situation is a lot like what I always say about data management systems: the good ones are easier to replace than the bad ones. Likewise the better governments, the ones with at least some commitment to things like due process, are much easier to face down with civil disobedience than ones where being a political threat gets you a bullet in the head, like Ninoy Aquino or Boris Nemtzov. If Snowden *does* come back, and if he ends up "detained" in limbo somewhere, then it'll be time for everyone to go into the streets and bring the government down.

Comment: Re:Brain drain (Score 1) 167

by hey! (#49175549) Attached to: Marissa Mayer On Turning Around Yahoo

Everyone likes getting paid. And all things being equal, everyone likes getting paid *more*.

But one thing I've noticed is that the people who are most dissatisfied with their current pay also happen to be the most dissatisfied with their working conditions overall, particularly how they feel treated. The feeling seems to be that if they ought to get more pay to put up with this shit.

Now I wouldn't suggest to any employer, particularly in tech, to economize by offering low salaries. You want to attract and retain the best people you can. But this suggests to me that many employers would do themselves a favor by paying a little more attention to worker happiness. If you're paying people approaching (or even more than) $100,000, there's bound to be a lot more cost effective ways to goose worker morale than handing out raises they'll perceive as significant.

But oddly many employers seem to think paying someone's salary is a license for handing out indignities. This doesn't even qualify as penny wise pound foolish.

Comment: Re:What is Parody? (Score 1) 228

by hey! (#49175113) Attached to: Gritty 'Power Rangers' Short Is Not Fair Use

What is gasoline if not a liquid? And what is liquid but a fluid? Therefore I should be able to run my car on hot air. So not all fair use is parody, nor is everything an author has to put up with fair use.

Fan fiction falls into that last category. Some authors encourage it, which is gracious; others are paranoid about it, which is understandable. But ultimately no matter how they feel about fan fiction they're going to have to put up with it. A successful work of fiction fires peoples' imaginations, and in the Internet era that means they're going to share their imaginings with like-minded people. Trying to police fan-fiction in a world where anyone can set up a blog or social media account to share it is like spitting into a hurricane force wind.

But even though a successful author pretty much has to put up with fan fiction whether he likes it or not, it's ridiculous to think that any author is somehow obligated to promote it. That just a fan-fiction author's fantasy. Authors have lives too, and there is not enough hours in the day for an author to police the stuff, much less to negotiate business deals for the people who write it. It's considered bad manners to even ask an author for the name of his literary agent, because an agent is supposed to work for an author, which he won't be able to do if he's swamped with requests from wannabes.

Comment: Re:Cash (Score 1) 124

by pavon (#49174623) Attached to: Will you be using a mobile payment system?

Yeah, but the cash registers don't record anything. That eliminates all the automated tracking of your purchases which is 99% percent of the problem. It is still possible to track what you buy though manual investigation, but that would be true even without the ATM info (security camera correlated with register records, etc).

Comment: Yes? (Score 3, Interesting) 93

First off, TFA is crap.

What SPECIFIC regulations does Tim Hoettges want applied to Google / Facebook? And WHY those specific regulations?

Is Grandma's Facebook page the same as a "blog"? Grandma probably does not run her own webserver. Is she using wordpress.com or something similar? Would they be regulated?

Where are the follow up questions?

Sometimes Google does something that has an adverse effect on a business. So he throws that into the first topic. They are not the same.

Still less than Apple. WHO CARES? But throw that in, too.

"... snoogly-googly ..." Better throw that in, too.

"... known in the SEO industry as the âGoogle Danceâ(TM)*." Think about that. An entire INDUSTRY has popped up because some business are adversely effected by Google changing its algorithms. Bad for A but good for B means A pays C to be placed higher than B. As long as A or B or C are NOT Google, what is the problem?

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