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Comment: Animals can't hold copyrights (Score 2) 335

by jambarama (#36744446) Attached to: Can a Monkey Get a Copyright & Issue a Takedown?
Same issue as painting elephants. This has been discussed in copyright literature (PDF warning). Internally, the copyright office excluded works produced by animals, as well as works produced entirely by "mechanical processes or random selection without any contribution by a human author."

The U.S. Supreme Court's general rule that a copyrightable work's âoeauthor is the party who actually creates the work, that is, the person who translates an idea into a fixed, tangible expression entitled to copyright protection." ... Broad and traditional notions of copyright authorship assumed the answer to that question was limited to human creators. But no definition of "author" appears in the copyright statute. Neither does the Constitution's reference to authors mandate that they be human.

From a theoretical perspective, the question often comes down to creativity - can animals be creative? Animal research tends to suggest that animals CAN be creative, to the same extent as humans. The issues are similar with computer generated "expression" - can a computer be creative? Should randomness be considered creativity?

However you come out on those questions, courts have decided, based on a policy choice favoring humans, to exclude animal authorship. Which makes some sense, since an elephant doesn't have capacity to enforce its rights (you could have a guardian do it, but we don't allow animal guardians to sue vets for malpractice, so it is hard to see why this would be different).

With elephant paintings, the copyright is typically in the name of the zoo, or whoever enabled the elephant to make the painting (e.g. selected colors, brush type, canvas type for the animal). In the case of a monkey who took a picture, probably the zoo or the camera owner.

Comment: Re:You're approaching it all wrong. (Score 1) 619

by jambarama (#36384310) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Other People's Email?
The disclaimer is unenforceable, they can't make you delete the email or do anything at all. Law firms add it so as not to waive attorney-client privilege if they send you any privileged information by mistake. With the disclaimer, if you get something by accident, it can't come in as evidence to trial. Without the disclaimer, they lose the privilege as to that material because they shared it with a 3rd party. IANAL (yet).

Comment: Reddit Comments (Score 1) 732

by jambarama (#35632476) Attached to: Friends Don't Let Geek Friends Work In Finance
The reddit comments on this article were really good.

Finance pays extremely well. Why make $100,000 at Google when you can make $300,000 at Goldman Sachs? But here's the thing: revenue per employee at Goldman is $1.1 million. At Google it's $1.2 million. At Apple it's $1.3 million. Divide net income by revenue and you get a similar margin for all three businesses.

This all suggests that tech companies can, and perhaps should, be salary-competitive with finance for engineering-heavy jobs.

But big tech companies like Google aren't hurting for talent. Plenty of bright young computer scientists would far rather than work at Google than on Wall Street, even with a lower salary, simply because they consider it more interesting and fun. It's startups that are being drained of talent by finance, and that's what the author of the article is concerned about.

Shouldn't google at least have far more non-salary related costs than Goldman?

According to Wikipedia, Google's profit margin last year was 29 percent ($8.5B profit on $29.3B revenue) and Goldman's was 21 percent ($8.4B profit on $39.1B revenue). You're probably right that Google has more non-payroll costs, but at least last year, Google had a much bigger slice of its money left after all costs, payroll and otherwise.

They could be salary-competitive with Goldman and still have a >20 percent overall profit margin. The reason they just pocket the money instead is that even with their meager-compared-to-finance salaries, they still basically have their pick of the finest employees. I think they simply don't feel that finance is stealing all that many good candidates. But if Google et al start to have a measurable "Shit all the people we want are ditching us for Wall Street" problem, you can expect to see their engineering salaries go way up.

Like most, this article attacks investment banks in the wrong way. Investment banking is not quantitative finance. It's core business is M&A, underwriting and asset management.

Keeping engineers out of finance is good for both parties IMO. Engineers and mathematics majors became "must haves" for financial firms beginning in the 70's and 80's, but really seemed to hit full throttle in the 90's, with the emergence of hedge funds, such as LTCM. Many hedge funds and I-banks saw arbitrage opportunities and needed quant guys to come in and build models to exploit these quickly, especially due to the rapid technology shift and speed.

Engineers and mathematicians don't really understand some of the key issues with finance and their models never are able to properly measure risk or build the proper safety nets against things that happened in the Wall St. collapse of '08, the Asian Crisis of '97, Russian Crisis of '98, etc.

I agree with the author to the point that engineers are best served in other industries. But, I also feel it would benefit the banks, as well.

You can't blame someone for taking the sure bet, especially when they're so burdened with debt. Crippling student loans are issue number one to address if new graduates are to be persuaded to be entrepreneurs instead of I-bankers.

Besides, there are way more PhDs in physics and math than there are professorships; the fact that financial firms hire them is actually a gain in their case, because otherwise you'd have a bunch of really bright people doing data entry or teaching high school, and not using any of their trained skills.

I'm just quoting, don't give me karma, give it to the reddit posters.

Comment: Re:Legality? (Score 4, Informative) 513

by jambarama (#35532232) Attached to: AT&T Cracking Down On Unofficial iPhone Tethering
Yep, you're missing the incredibly 1-sided contracts users sign to access any cell networks. Here are some relevant gems from the AT&T contract:

We may, at our discretion, suspend your account if we believe your data usage is excessive, unusual or is better suited to another rate plan.

Furthermore, plans (unless specifically designated for tethering usage) cannot be used for any applications that tether the device (through use of, including without limitation, connection kits, other phone/smartphone to computer accessories, BLUETOOTH\® or any other wireless technology) to Personal Computers (including without limitation, laptops), or other equipment for any purpose.

Accordingly, AT&T reserves the right to (i) deny, disconnect, modify and/or terminate Service, without notice, to anyone it believes is using the Service in any manner prohibited or whose usage adversely impacts its wireless network or service levels or hinders access to its wireless network...

Tethering without a tethering plan breaches your contract, so they can refuse to provide service, request you pay more for your plan, or do about anything.

Comment: Re:A Closed Model Can Only Take You So Far (Score 2) 500

by jambarama (#35056058) Attached to: Netgear CEO Says Jobs's Ego Will Bite Apple

Oh how I wish I could have the iPod hardware with an open source program in Linux to put music on it ... unfortunately Apple does not want this.

You can. I know, the software that interfaces with iPods on linux are all something of a kludge, and Apple occasionally breaks compatibility and jerks you around. But you can run open software on your iPod and make it really easy. After screwing around with iPod loaders for years, I switched to rockbox and never looked back.

Comment: Content Mills & Bad Metrics (Score 5, Insightful) 270

by jambarama (#34958844) Attached to: Google Fires Back About Search Engine Spam
In the last few years, I've found search results have been dominated more and more by content mills like associated content, ehow, hubpages, about, and others; or some low quality Q&A page, like yahoo answers. The pages are hastily written and edited, and low content. The articles are also typically written by someone without any relevant knowledge or experience - so the information is common knowledge or wrong.

If google's metrics say quality is up, but their users think quality is down, then google's metrics need to be revised to match user experience more closely. I've started using duck duck go because they block content mills, and thus I think their results are as good or better than google, even without the complicated algorithms and all the data google has accumulated.

Comment: Re:What about domain squatting (Score 1) 174

by jambarama (#34958178) Attached to: RIAA Threatens ICANN Over Music-Themed gTLD Standards
Thanks to the UDRP and ACPA, that isn't really a problem.

ICANN's UDRP simply requires a showing that the domain name is confusing similar (or identical) to a third party's mark, the registrant has no legitimate interests in the name, and the name is being used in bad faith. There is a lot that goes into showing & rebutting these steps, but that's the gist. UDRP isn't the law of a single country, so it governs disputes covering most TLD (it is mandatory by contract). The remedy is transferal of domain, no damages. It is low cost and quick.

Before the UDRP was released, congress got impatient and passed 15 U.S.C. 1125 (ACPA). It is a new subsection of the trademark statute (originally Lanham act) and imposes liability on a person who registers, traffics in, or uses a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to a distinctive mark (or dilutes a famous mark), and has a bad-faith intent to profit from the domain name. Again there is a lot that goes into showing or disproving these elements, but that's the gist. Like UDRP, it only covers domain names, not usernames [e.g. twitter "united air" account] or sublevel domains. Unlike UDRP, ACPA requires taking someone to court, costs a fortune, takes forever to resolve, and damages are available.

Comment: Re:Come on Sony! (Score 1) 508

by jambarama (#34848966) Attached to: Sony Files Lawsuit Against PS3 Hacker GeoHot

a federal judge has already opened the door saying jailbreaking an iPhone to get additional functionality (not piracy) is legal.

Actually, this was the library of congress granting a 3 year exemption to the DMCA as allowed by the DMCA. AFAIK all court cases over the DMCA have been unfavorable to modders and hackers.

Comment: Confirmation Bias? (Score 1) 437

by jambarama (#34700066) Attached to: Cheaters Exposed Analyzing Statistical Anomalies

Since Caveon Test Security . . . began working for the state of Mississippi in 2006, cheating has declined about 70 percent.

How can anyone possibly know this? If they're detecting 70% less cheating, how do they know it is because students are cheating less rather than cheating in less detectable ways? The company methods aren't published or peer reviewed, and the graphs on the website are post-hoc graphs from excel (rather than whatever they use to data crunch - R, SAS, etc). As pointed out in the article, the company says nothing of type 1 (false positive) or type 2 (false negative) error rates. If students study together and have similar answers, particularly if the test is open book, how likely are they to be flagged as cheaters?

I'd love a silver bullet to stop cheating, but I'd like it to be something we can all agree is a good check. More fundamentally, multiple choice tests are a lousy way to test anything but recall - they're just not capable of testing real learning: comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, or evaluation. Maybe we ought to move towards other types of tests, less vulnerable to hidden cheating.

Comment: Re:Bored, busy, or hipster (Score 1) 385

by jambarama (#34455314) Attached to: How much TV do you watch in a week, on average?
I expect this comment will be a little unpopular, but this is my experience, YMMV.

I don't miss TV at all. I see it as means to get wasted in a purely intellectual fashion. Dumbs you down, wastes your time and is generally the least preferable entertainment method out there.

I hear a lot from internet types. They think reading articles on reddit is better than TV because it is intellectually stimulating, less passive, etc. A kind of "no-TV hipster." But days or hours later, internet junkies remember virtually none of what they've read, and when they do, they have no idea where it came from or how reliable the source was. If you watch internet junkies on computers they're in the same kind of brainless trance as a TV watcher - they'll keep browsing long after they should have gone to bed, they'll keep flipping through pages looking for entertainment like TV watchers through channels, their eyes are just as glazed over as a TV junkie.

I happen to prefer the internet to TV, but I don't see it browsing the web any different than TV unless I'm actively looking for specific information - they're both just different ways to entertain yourself. Multitasking is just as bad for your attention and retention as TV. I've found the only way to avoid becoming intellectually wasted while reading on the internet is to take notes, synthesize & summarize what you're reading, or just read a book. Mere participation or "social networking" with real people isn't enough.

An authority is a person who can tell you more about something than you really care to know.

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