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Comment: Fair enough, if... (Score 1) 328

by scottme (#49360803) Attached to: Amazon Requires Non-Compete Agreements.. For Warehouse Workers

I can't take any job involving "any product or service sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon (or intended to be sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon in the future)" then I'm absolutely going to need Amazon to keep me fully informed about all their future plans throughout my employment with Amazon.

This would be purely so I can be sure I won't inadvertently engage in any subsequent activity that would fall foul of that non-compete clause.

Heh heh.

Comment: Don't get a new one (Score 4, Interesting) 385

by scottme (#49286607) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Laptop To Support Physics Research?

Thinkpads have always been very Linux-friendly laptops, as well as being well-designed and built, robust, and there are masses of ~3 year old ex-corporate units available via brokers, some in virtually as-new condition, at a small fraction of their original price. I've recently bought two top-condition X220s with 8GB RAM for around £300 each (I'm in UK, I got them from Tier 1 Online) and I expect them to serve me well for at least another 3-4 years. Add an SSD for a welcome performance boost for a modest outlay.

Comment: Meaningless debate (Score 1) 277

by scottme (#49204717) Attached to: Daylight Saving Time Change On Sunday For N. America

Whatever system people use to measure the day, it makes no difference to when the sun rises or sets, or passes its meridian, for that matter. All such schemes are essentially arbitrary, the only important factor being whether a scheme can identify a point in time in some convenient and mutually intelligible way.

Comment: Does MS Office save ODF files okay (Score 1) 40

by scottme (#48616387) Attached to: ODF Support In Google Drive

In a word: no. A colleague who knows I prefer LibreOffice thought he was being helpful by sending me a presentation for review in odp format. He'd created and saved it in Powerpoint.

Guess what? LibreOffice can't make any sense of it. Google Docs can't make any sense of it. But Powerpoint doesn't have a problem with it. If I open it with an archive manager it seems to have the right kind of structure, but the content xml file is so full of boilerplate (font definitions and other crap) that I can't actually find the content. I have to assume the file is some proprietary version of ODP that only Powerpoint understands.

Comment: Re:Legitimate concerns (Score 1) 282

by scottme (#47577055) Attached to: UK Government Report Recommends Ending Online Anonymity

Not for a long time - but I was a teen once, and I know how important others' opinions are to a person at that age. Learning which opinions to value and which to discount is an essential life skill, and acquiring it usually leaves a few scars. Believe me, the desire to insulate the poor darlings from the rough and tumble that develops character isn't going to help them in the long run.

Comment: Re:Still Bad Patents (Score 3, Interesting) 162

by scottme (#45229587) Attached to: Finally, a Bill To End Patent Trolling

That sentiment seems like a combination of communism (inventors' work is not his own, but belongs to the public) and wage slavery (one should not derive more than X dollars wage for Y hours of work instead of the true and unknown market value of the work).

The image people have of the lone inventor, toiling for years against the odds to perfect his concept, is just utterly wrong these days. Most patents are filed on behalf of corporations, and represent the work of teams of salaried employees, who in general will not see much if any direct personal benefit from the invention, beyond the odd bonus, or maybe, if they prove able to repeat the trick, a promotion. Where's your wage slavery now?

It's not communism to assert that a large part of the knowledge and skills that enable a person to come up with a new idea are the end product of centuries of shared human endeavour, and that therefore all ideas ultimately must become public property. What kind of a world would we have if everyone kept all their ideas to themselves, and every human interaction had to be a commercial transaction? Not one I'd want to live in.

You talk of the "true and unknown market value" of a patent -- I'll give you "unknown", for sure, because the state-granted monopoly of a patent exists to guarantee an artifical scarcity of the idea and results in the patent owner being able to extract a much higher "value" from the invention than a free market would provide.

You seem to be arguing on the side of the patent trolls who are the original topic of this discussion. You can't believe it's right that some a**hole, who was probably not even remotely involved in creating the idea, but happens to have acquired the rights to a dubious patent, should be able to live off of license fees and hold to ransom companies which need to make use of the idea to make real products and employ people, robbing them of the ability to make an honest living?

Also, who is going to compensate the inventors whose inventions are not commercially successful -- 90% patents don't make money.

The simple answer is that nobody owes anyone a living, so nobody's going to compensate people who come up with useless inventions. I hope you didn't think I was suggesting that "society" should fund the assorted crackpots and chancers who attempt to game the patent system.

Comment: Re:Still Bad Patents (Score 2) 162

by scottme (#45226473) Attached to: Finally, a Bill To End Patent Trolling

That's like cooking a meal once, and expecting to eat it every day for as long as you live.

Is there anything wrong with that?

Nice work if you can get it, but yes, I think there certainly is something wrong with it. I do absolutely support the idea that inventors, authors, and other "knowledge workers" should be recompensed for the time and effort they put into their inventions. But I don't think it's right that people and corporations should be able, over many many years, to extract an ongoing rental that derives from a wholly artificial scarcity (i.e. from a patent on an idea or process). In my ideal world, there would be some formula to assess what is a reasonable return on a given innovation, and once the inventor has reaped that reward, the invention would pass into the public domain.

Surely the fact that we have endless debates about the rights and wrongs of patents, copyrights, and so on, is an indicator that there is some inherent problem with the way societies currently implement these concepts.

Comment: Re:Still Bad Patents (Score 2) 162

by scottme (#45224219) Attached to: Finally, a Bill To End Patent Trolling

But you (the consumer) reap the benefits of the idea over and over for infinity years, yet want to pay only once. That's like paying once at a restaurant, and eating there for the rest of year without paying.

But the inventor, who had the idea once, should get paid each time anything that uses the idea is manufactured, sold, or consumed? That's like cooking a meal once, and expecting to eat it every day for as long as you live.

Comment: Can't blame Entwhistle for bailing out (Score 1) 214

by scottme (#41952203) Attached to: Director General of BBC Resigns Over "Poor Journalism"

Who needs the kind of shit he's had to take since he stumbled into the job less than two months ago? You'd have to be a pretty hard-assed kind of guy to brazen out the flak that the (print) media have been dishing out against the BBC in general and him in particular. Not that they'd have any kind of agenda in the aftermath of the Leveson inquiry...

The BBC is still the best and least biased source of news in UK, and probably in the English-speaking world. Every other source has manifold compromises because of its ownership, sponsorship, or government influence. OK, a couple of programme editors screwed up; at least they had the freedom to do so.

A language that doesn't affect the way you think about programming is not worth knowing.