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Comment: Re:The essence of enterprise (Score 2) 145

by golodh (#48175369) Attached to: Cisco Exec: Turnover In Engineering No Problem

You argue that "capital" and "labor" are essentially equal to the identity of an enterprise.

I really didn't: when I said "bundle" I left the relative proportions unspecified. But I agree with you in that the relative importance of people's identity varies sharply with the scarcity of people's skills and that depends on the setting.

We agree that in a environment where people do routine work, so many people share the required skill that identity of who provides this skill no longer matters. And that's where vast majority of the working population is employed.

Of course there are settings where individual skills matter to a greater degree. One can think of e.g. professional sportspeople, scientists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, politicians, artists, inventors.

But their numbers are small compared to "ordinary" workers, so that by and large I think the proposition holds. Yes, there are exceptions, but 99% of the working population is rather un-exceptional.

Comment: The essence of enterprise (Score 4, Insightful) 145

by golodh (#48174963) Attached to: Cisco Exec: Turnover In Engineering No Problem
I fear that the negative reactions here indicate (once again) that Slashdot readership consists mainly of techies. And such people often have difficulties understanding understanding how society works (even if they tend to have vocal opinions on any subject that comes along). Let me try to bring some perspective into the discussion.

Lest somebody misunderstand, the very essence of an enterprise (any enterprise) is that it is a bundle of labour and capital whose essential structure and identity is independent of and more persistent than the labour it employs. The identity behind its labour component is no more important than the identity of its capital component.

It is for this reason that any contemporary HR policy is aimed at (and this is important) divorcing the work from specific individuals.

What this means is that all and any employees must (and this is essential) be plug-replaceable as a matter of policy. Those that aren't should either be unique individuals like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, the actual owners of the company, or leaving.

That is one of the drivers (not the only one of course) behind the desire for standardisation of work procedures and documentation of ideas and knowledge.

The result of careful execution of such policy is a situation in which personnel really is replaceable. Even when it concerns 10%-30% of the employees. Which is what we are now seeing illustrated at Cisco.

So there's no need to be surprised. And no need to be disgruntled. It's simply the consequence of a certain feature of our society we collectively decided we want and actively maintain. And it has truly served us well for the past century and a half and its end-result is the envy of our neigbours.

Unfortunately the current economic tide makes the downsides (for such they are) of this state of affairs more visible: i.e. employees are just another commodity and any successful enterprise will treat them as such. . As a result, employees can get a rough deal (if they get any deal at all, i.e. if they are employed). Let's be clear about this: I don't know how to make those downsides go away without wrecking the competitiveness of enterprises. But I suspect it will involve a realignment in the balance of power between labour and capital.

One way of achieving this is through the use of force. Also known as "legislation". Fortunately we have a mechanism in place for effecting change. It's called Politics. But what actual policy should be enacted through Politics? If knew (and could prove it) I'd tell you, but I don't.

One of the problems is the constraints imposed on all of us through competition. I.e. if the policy we adopt is too disadvantagous for enterprises, they will simply take their capital, set up shop elsewhere, and drive the disadvantaged enterprises off the market.

So it's up for debate really, and this isn't a new debate. It's a debate about a basic balance in our society that needs to be realigned from time to time.

Comment: Things to know before you ask ... (Score 5, Informative) 178

by golodh (#48132671) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Florian Mueller About Software Patents and Copyrights
There are a number of relevant things to know about Florian Mueller before you start asking him questions.

Things that people with short memories will have forgotten by now since they happened all of three years ago. Detailed summaries of his doing can still be found on Groklaw though.

You see, mr. Mueller is not just *any* publicist. He's a publicist who is, basically, for hire by large companies to provide a congenial account of their doings and their position. In short: he is a lobbyist. His (former) clients seem to include SCO (the company who tried to claim crippling copyrights on Linux and engaged in an intense campaign of legal blackmail aimed at companies using Linux) and one of his current clients seems to be Oracle (the company that reied to shut down Android by claiming copyright on Java library API's).

As summarised by the following posts:

My only question to him would be: who is on your current client list?

Comment: Re:Only 100 you say? (Score 1) 104

by golodh (#48121055) Attached to: Only 100 Cybercrime Brains Worldwide, Says Europol Boss
Err, sorry, but how would *you* know anything about that?

Did you do any kind of analysis tracing existing malware to point-sources? Or did you see any data on that and did you identify and count those point-sources?

No? Then what is your opinion worth?

You seem to be confusing *operators* (i.e. the ones that actually push the button and run botnets, burglarise computers, and/or spread malware) with *researchers*, *designers* and *programmers* who never hack, but who write (and sell) the tools the operators use.

If you had actually read the article, you would have noticed that it's talking about those tool-makers, not operators. I could very well believe that those toolmakers number only about 100 world-wide.

Comment: Re:Makes Sense (Score 1) 225

by golodh (#48053927) Attached to: Google Threatened With $100M Lawsuit Over Nude Celebrity Photos
You're probably speaking in jest, but unfortunately it's true.

If Google focuses on filtering content rather than providing it then it can certainly comply quicker and more completely with all such take-down orders.

The question of whether Google can " control and censor every last thing" is totally irrelevant, as the suit is addressed to Google on basis of what you can find using Google ... as opposed to what you can find "on the Internet".

It's simply a matter of where you put your priorities. Which in term depends on how reasonable you think the demands to censor search results are.

As noted in earlier posts, techies don't appreciate the extent to which society can suppress behaviour it doesn't want.

Lawsuits like this may well lead to a shift in Google's priorities and a substantial increase in the extent to which it filters search results.

Comment: Shooting the messenger ... (Score 1) 195

by golodh (#48025675) Attached to: CEO of Spyware Maker Arrested For Enabling Stalkers
It's quite OK to mass-produce cellphones that can be tapped and controlled in this way.

But apparently it's not OK to sell software to allow people to use their perfectly ordinary cellphone to pick up other conversations from its vicinity.

How about securing the transmissions of cellphones instead of prosecuting someone for doing the obvious?

Comment: Nostalgic for a nice set of chains, are they? (Score 2) 212

by golodh (#47991509) Attached to: Australian Senate Introduces Laws To Allow Total Internet Surveillance
Or simply an overreaction? I really wonder.

Allowing the security services to *monitor* the whole country looks like a panicky move and leaves the door wide open to abuse.

Curtailing the freedom of speech of journalists and bloggers, as in :

The legislation makes it an offence if a person "discloses information ... [that] relates to a special intelligence operation" and does not state any public interest exemptions, meaning it could apply to anyone including journalists. Those who disclosed such information would face up to 10 years' jail.

veers into police-state territory, given the vague way in which it's phrased. I think that the balance between on the one hand safeguarding the effectiveness of anti-terrorism measures and on preventing miscreants from benefiting from bloggers and journalists and a general gag-order on the other has been upset.

For example reporting on the crackdown of the past few days would probably fall under it. Reporting like the articles that exposed the TSA's practices of make-work and unprofessional conduct could fall under it, if the prosecutors happened to feel like it.

I'm not given to quoting historical figures as a rule, but I'll make an exception now:

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. [Franklin, B. ((11 Nov. 1755) Reply to the Governor] .

Have they really considered the costs and benefits of this little gag-law? Are their "Special Intelligence Operations" that fragile that they come apart when people report about them? I can't imagine it.

Comment: Underthinking the problem ... (Score 1) 138

by golodh (#47954751) Attached to: Star Wars Producers Want a 'DroneShield' To Prevent Leaks On Set
As usual with BillyBob and his "coussins", the other extreme is *under-thinking* the problem.

The problem is to find those drones in the first place, especially if they're coming in low and slow, or high enough to be out of slingshot range.

The "droneshield" thingy seems to tackle the problem by analysing ambient sounds. From the webpage the article refers to:

Drones present many threats to military and homeland security forces and facilities. "Low, Slow, and Small" UAS are a growing threat that legacy CUAS will not detect. DroneShield compliments (sic) radar and RF detection systems against smaller, low signature UAS because acoustic emissions are difficult to conceal or spoof.

So it tells you if it hears a drone buzzing nearby, which is useful, ... but it doesn't (yet) do target-acquisition for BillyBob's anti-drone-slingshot batteries.

Comment: Grow up ... and learn about Engineering (Score 4, Informative) 275

by golodh (#47952327) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Becoming a Complacent Software Developer?
That's my advice. Mainstream engineering isn't about individuals, let alone "stars". It's about reliably delivering commodities, in bulk, standardised, to spec and within budget.

Maintenance programming is an example. Large development projects under the "waterfall" method (often) is an example. Custom-building standard systems is another. In such cases you're better off with predictable but competent standardised performance from a team of 9-5 programmers that with mob of empassioned risk-takers.

This "passion" thing is needed when individual performance counts. As in: when the "old" way of doing things no longer suffices (the old machinery has bogged down and needs to be replaced by something new), or when clear efficiency improvements can be realised (this is common engineering practice), or when there is room to experiment (e.g. in Open Source Software), or when your task is to see how far the envelope can be pushed and to come up with something new (e.g. research).

Of course there's a difference between not keeping up with mainstream engineering (as the opening post suggests) and spending your time "innovating" when there are adequate standard methods available.

Comment: Re:As a private citizen (Score 1) 213

by golodh (#47895821) Attached to: Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)
If you believe that, then any ' citizen" of the "Khalifate" (ISIS), North Korea, Iran, China, Russia, or whoever can make the very same claim with the same amount of justification.

And who's to say they're in the wrong to just install a missile battery in orbit to "reclaim their property" or to extract "reasonable compensation" from returning mining vessels?

Or even to send their own mining vessels (possibly armed) to the very same asteroids that Congress so graciously told you that you can keep the mining proceeds of?

The kind of attitude you display leads straight to armed conflict (if the rewards are high enough). Are you prepared to fight that conflict and hold the rest of us harmless from it, both financially and militarily?

Somehow I doubt that.

And last but not least: how about giving private citizens and private companies the power to mess about with chunks of rock near Earth's orbit? And what if those clowns decide it makes financial sense to install a motor on a really big asteroid and push it into earth orbit (for easier access)? And how about if North Korea or the Khalifate do that?

A little less short-sightedness there please.

Comment: Exactly: it's not about R, it's about statistics (Score 2) 387

by golodh (#47863051) Attached to: Unpopular Programming Languages That Are Still Lucrative
As far as I can see around me, there are not many openings for mere "coders" who just happen to have picked up some training in R.

Most R code does things like model fitting, parameter estimation, data visualisation, data analysis etc.. The code mostly is just a way to capture and operationalise an idea in statistics or data processing. If you can recognise, grasp, and follow through that idea then the code usually starts to make sense pretty quickly.

On the other hand, if you can't, then you'll be hard put to understand the code on its own terms and you really shouldn't try to modify it because you won't know what to look out for.

As I see it, the openings in "R" are for people who are "numerate", know about statistics, data analysis, a little database knowledge and who also happen to know R.

People like that are also likely to be able to work effectively with SAS, SPSS, SQL, Matlab and other high-level programming languages.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken