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Comment Oh, Com'on Robin (Score 3, Interesting) 99

The very best thing you could have done with that particular posting of Eric's would have been to ignore it, and run the story about that nice woman without mentioning it. She can stand on her own and nobody but Eric should be held to account for what he said.

Comment Re:The painful truth about freelancing (Score 1) 142

The simple truth is that you need to line up a long term (9-12 month) freelance contract before you quit your day job.

And you've hit on one of my three top reasons why I would find the transition to full-time freelancer to be tricky. (Right after "I prefer the steady income of a salaried job" and "I'm horrible at selling myself.") Right now I freelance in my spare time. I can put in about 10 hours a week freelancing in addition to my full-time job. This gives me enough time to take on one or two clients without overbooking myself (or winding up with no life because I'm working 24 hours a day).

If I were to go full-time freelancer, I'd need more clients, but I can't take on more while also working at my day-job. So I'd need to rely on a greatly reduced income for a few months until I built up enough clients to match my current salary. Of course, this could take months and months during which we'd fall more and more behind financially.

This isn't to say that it couldn't be done. (If I were ever let go from my job and couldn't find a new one right away, full-time freelance might wind up being my new work-situation.) It's just that, at this point in my life, it is an unlikely and very risky path for me to take.

Comment Re:Use computers instead? (Score 1) 188

This is already done when convenient. Software for playing online universally have such things, if only to prevent cheating (Roll20 has a particularly thoroughly-developed hardware-RNG system).

I also have an app on my phone, for whenever a game spontaneously starts. I prefer real dice when possible, just because it can get more tense that way.

Comment Re:This should become public property (Score 1) 117

The judgement effectively put the song in the public domain. If someone else stepped forward today to claim copyright on the song, they would need to prove not only why they should be granted copyright on it, but why they stayed silent so long while Warner/Chappell Music claimed copyright on it. In short, they would have a severe uphill battle to be awarded copyright on Happy Birthday.

Comment Re:Tested in the courts (Score 1) 117

The only problem with this is that the costs for checking the validity of patents would then be put on the companies sued for patent infringement. Small companies might not be able to afford lengthy lawsuits and might just settle with the patent trolls so bad patents would not only continue to be used, but would get "settlement momentum" in their favor.

If patent examiners actually examined patents, the courts would only need to deal with the edge cases and the patent lawsuit costs on businesses would drop. Yes, this might mean more government expenses to hire patent examiners who actually do their jobs, but these costs would spread out across everyone - not just a few companies being sued.

Comment Re:Tested in the courts (Score 1) 117

The USPTO can (and does) award patents for almost anything. The patent examiners aren't experts in every field and if they receive advice that an item, method, or process is unique and non-obvious, they will award a patent.

But a patent is just a pretty piece of paper until you try to enforce it. Only then will the courts actually look at the merit of the patent and declare it enforceable or invalid.

Except the courts tend to start from the position "If the USPTO granted this, it is valid unless proven otherwise." So anyone can patent anything and then the people sued for patent infringement are on the hook to prove the patent isn't valid. This can cost a lot of time and money (not to mention stress of wondering if your entire business will go under because of some stupid patent troll). It can be easier and cost less time/money/stress just to pay the patent troll (especially if you are a small business with a small legal budget).

The USPTO should be the ones initially deciding whether or not a patent is valid. The courts' responsibility should be to catch the few that the USPTO lets through, not to catch all of them and decide which are valid and which aren't. The fact that the USPTO seems to want to punt responsibility for checking the validity of patents onto the courts is one of the major reasons that the patent system is broken.

Comment Re:uh? (Score 2) 142

The key reason why I don't freelance is because I suck at selling myself to new people. Once I am in they tend to love me, but before that I am just like any other smo.

I have this problem too. This is second only to "need a steady source of income" in reasons why I only freelance on the side. I know I'm good at what I do, but when it comes time to sell my talents to others my brain suddenly turns on me and tells me that I know nothing and there are tons of people out there who know more than I do. The latter is true - there's always someone who knows more than you - but just because others know more than me doesn't mean I know nothing. Still, it's hard to battle your own brain.

There's a term for this: Impostor Syndrome. You feel like a fraud who is going to be discovered at any moment - all despite the skills you have or your works being well received. I've heard from many IT professionals who feel this way also.

Comment Re:The painful truth about freelancing (Score 2) 142

A friend of mine who freelances full-time told me I should quit my day job and become a full-time freelancer. And, yes, there is a temptation there because the freelance rates I charge are over 3 times my day job's hourly rate. However, whenever I look into it, I quickly realize how much more I'd need to make just to stay at my current level (once you factor in health care and other benefits I'm currently getting), how much I'd need to work unpaid (to drum up more business), and how much my "salary" would fluctuate month to month. That last one is a deal breaker. I'm supporting my wife and two kids. I can't afford to not know how much I'm going to be making month to month because the work has dried up for a couple of months, but might pick up soon (maybe, perhaps). I need that steady paycheck so I can budget how much we can spend on necessities, how much we can spend on niceties, and how much we can save. I have nothing but respect for those who freelance full-time, but don't listen to anyone who tries to claim that it is easy and 100% guaranteed to make you more money than a full-time job.

Comment Re:15 years old? (Score 1) 415

Hardly. We're playing out your exact scenario right now with refineries going balls out to try and capture profits from cheap oil across the entire world. The end result is our ability to store crude and finished products are the things under most stress. People aren't going and and saying fuck it I'll run the oil generator rather than the solar panels. The retail rate is generally quite fixed and relies very little on the price of oil and far more on the general economy (transport due to people buying things, mining equipment, etc)

A rock store eventually closed down; they were taking too much for granite.