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Comment: Got proof? (Score 3, Interesting) 177

by sjbe (#47917347) Attached to: WSJ Reports Boeing To Beat SpaceX For Manned Taxi To ISS

SpaceX is a young and aggressive company with clear drive and motivation to succeed.

Dive and motivation are necessary but not sufficient. Having those attributes doesn't mean they have a good product or the product with the best price/performance ratio. I have no idea of the relative merits of either company regarding this project but just because SpaceX is the new hotness doesn't mean anything. While I have no affiliation I've actually done some work at Boeing (many years ago) so I have at least a basic understanding of how that company works and what their culture is like. (FYI the part of Boeing I dealt with has a combative work culture I didn't enjoy at all) I'm confident they could offer a technologically competitive product. (economically competitive is less certain) Boeing has been sending up rockets for a long time so they are hardly new to the game.

While they might have been a risky bet because they were new, they would have backed their development record.

Boeing has a much much longer development record. Of course that might also work against Boeing but SpaceX does not have a long track record to go on. I'm as impressed with SpaceX as many others here but if they want to play with the big boys it isn't going to be easy and yes they are high(er) risk in certain ways. This means they need to be clearly better (economically and/or technologically) or they stand a good chance of losing to the "safe bet".

We need competition between these companies and giving SpaceX a chance to shine will make Boeing stop screwing over the U.S.

Umm, this IS the competition between these companies. This one bidding competition isn't the end-all-be-all regardless of which firm wins this contract. Plus you haven't exactly proven the assertion that Boeing is actually engaging in corrupt practices here. While I certainly wouldn't be shocked to hear that they were, that isn't anything close to proof. Absent evidence saying that SpaceX should get the contract because you suspect Boeing (without proof) of corruption is not a strong argument in favor of SpaceX.

Comment: Re:Great idea! Let's alienate Science even more! (Score 1) 866

by DoofusOfDeath (#47909013) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

I think you may be missing my point. Let me illustrate with a scenario:

Doctor: I think you have long cancer.
You: That's an extraordinary claim, I want proof.
Doctor: Sorry, you're not my patient. I don't have time to talk.

Do you ignore what he said because he made an extraordinary claim and wouldn't meet some particular burden of proof?

Comment: Re:Great idea! Let's alienate Science even more! (Score 1) 866

by DoofusOfDeath (#47899665) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

If you claim that the existence of god or gods is a truth, it is incumbent on you to show that it is indeed a truth. Otherwise, you're just blowing smoke. Assertions are simply opinions.

So how does that work then? If you tell me something that's true, but you can't be bothered to try persuading me of it, shall I flatly refuse to believe it? Regardless of the idea's underlying merit? I don't see how that policy is profitable.

Comment: Re:Great idea! Let's alienate Science even more! (Score 1) 866

by DoofusOfDeath (#47899373) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

Those who understand how to correctly apply the scientfic method know that the burden of proof is on the person making the assertion (the alternative hypothesis).

I never really bought into this idea of "burden of proof". It strikes me as a rhetorical / debating tactic, rather than a part of good-faith truth-seeking.

If an assertion is true, then it's true regardless of who in a debate advances it.


US Patent Office Seeking Consultant That Can Stamp Out Fraud By Patent Examiners 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the stamping-out-the-rot dept.
McGruber writes: A month after Slashdot discussed "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.

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 that includes this line: "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 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. 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.

Comment: You are the vendor, not the product (Score 1) 287

by sjbe (#47889015) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

You're not the customer. You're the product.

That's not correct either logically or from an accounting perspective. The opposite of customer is not product. The opposite of customer is vendor. Every transaction has two and only two parties. If you aren't the customer then you are the vendor for that transaction. Unless you plan to go into slavery the product isn't you. The product is data about you. What that makes you is the vendor of the product. Google "buys" this data in exchange for IT services and they then sell the data to advertising customers. In that transaction chain Google buys from you and that is how you appear on Google's financial statements - as a supplier, not a customer.

Comment: Vendor not Customer (Score 1) 287

by sjbe (#47888975) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

The user's relationship with Gmail does involve payment in the form of consideration, and they are customers.

That doesn't make them necessarily a customer for that transaction. As far as Google is concerned they are vendors because Google "pays" users via an in-kind exchange of services for data which they then sell to their customers for cash. In that transaction chain the user is properly considered a vendor to Google and that is how they would show up on Google's financial statements. In that transaction Google would be your customer rather than the other way around.

Comment: You are a vendor in that transaction (Score 1) 287

by sjbe (#47888957) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

Sure they are customers. They are paying with their personal data, which Google hords and then sells to third parties.

That makes you a vendor/supplier rather than a customer. Google "buys" your data with an in-kind exchange for IT services and then they sell it to advertisers. You aren't a customer, you are a vendor in that transaction chain.

Comment: You are a vendor to slashdot (Score 4, Informative) 287

by sjbe (#47888939) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

Of course I'm one of slashdot's customers. Slashdot would be out of business if we (the customers) stopped coming to their website.

I'm an accountant.

Unless you are sending cash to slashdot, your relationship to them is most accurately described as that of a vendor or a supplier if you prefer that term. You provide data to slashdot in exchange for entertainment which is a form of in-kind exchange. Slashdot then uses that data to sell advertising to their paying customers. From an accounting perspective by providing this forum to you, you would be on slashdot's books as either Cost of Goods Sold or more likely some kind of Operating Expense. This effectively makes you a vendor to them, not a customer because they don't sell you anything.

It can get a little murkier if you have a paid subscription but they still advertise to you because then you become both a customer and a vendor. Which you are depends on the transaction in question. Logically it would make sense to have the subscription be treated as a contra-expense because then you don't have to have this dual relationship. But it's more likely that they would book it as income and have the user on the books as both a customer and (indirectly) as a vendor.

Comment: Users are generally vendors not customers (Score 2) 287

by sjbe (#47888829) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

A customer is someone who receives a service from a company, even if the (monetary) price for that service is zero.

That doesn't make you a customer. That makes you a charity recipient.

In any case the general relationship between Google users (as opposed to paying advertising clients) is that the user is properly thought of as a vendor or supplier. We supply data to Google in exchange for in-kind services (email, search etc) which Google then turns into a product which they sell to their paying customers. Customers are people who pay you and vendors are people you pay. Google "pays" users for their data with online services which is a sort of barter really. They then process that data into a product they can sell to their customers which generally are advertisers.

What sometimes confuses people is that Google also sells IT services (like data storage or corporate email) but what that simply means is that someone can be both a vendor and a customer depending on the specific transaction. This is perfectly normal. It's not at all uncommon for companies to sell stuff to each other and have both a vendor relationship and a customer relationship but they can be only one or the other for a given transaction. The key distinction to determine whether they are the vendor or customer is (generally) the direction of the cash flow for the particular transaction in question. In cases in-kind exchanges its a little fuzzier so you have to look at what they do with the item received.

Comment: Re:law enforcement scams (Score 3, Insightful) 461

by DoofusOfDeath (#47885585) Attached to: CBC Warns Canadians of "US Law Enforcement Money Extortion Program"

If Republicans had their way, the government would have no power whatsoever to confiscate anything from you without first convicting you of a crime.

I don't believe this is a partisan issue. It's a matter of good and honest governance, which neither of the two major parties has clealry demonstrated in recent memory.

Comment: Comparing eras (Score 1) 290

by sjbe (#47884543) Attached to: Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

All we need are dissection records or dissection of well-preserved corpses from the era, so as to examine the state of organs.

The few remaining corpses of people 100+ years dead will most likely not give you the information you seek. There simply is not enough material remaining even among that which is well preserved to make authoritative claims regarding entire populations. At best we might get some hints and get some limited insight but there will be pretty sharp limits on making serious comparisons. Furthermore, I don't know how much time you've spend working with medical records but I've spent a lot of time with them in my professional life. Even modern medical records can be pretty bad. Medical records from 100+ years ago are very difficult to glean useful information from in a lot of cases. Not saying it can't be done but our understanding of medicine has advanced rather a lot since then.

Finding the source material is difficult.

That's putting it mildly. It's an interesting project you propose but you seem to be making it sound much easier than it is. That is a very challenging study.

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome. -- Dr. Johnson