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Comment: Re:Exactly (Score 2) 106

by tburkhol (#48866215) Attached to: Gender and Tenure Diversity In GitHub Teams Relate To Higher Productivity

This, and studies like it, are used to impose diversity on groups that would otherwise not have it, whether by intentional exclusion or by unintentional "doesn't fit the organizational culture." It's not surprising to me that groups which are spontaneously diverse are productive, and I'm perfectly happy to go with the 'open minds accept diverse solutions and diverse people' argument. The question that interests me is whether you can impose social diversity on a group, force them to open their minds, and subsequently become more productive.

I can certainly see where putting a person of color, or a woman, in a group of racist, misogynist bigots would disrupt their happy groupthink and break up their productivity. Regardless of whether that productivity started out a little lower than an equivalent group of non bigots.

Comment: Re:building municipal broadband is prohibited (Score 1) 159

by tburkhol (#48855187) Attached to: A State-By-State Guide To Restrictive Community Broadband Laws

Its called the "commerce clause" and even "originalist" extraordinaire Anton Scalia has no problems with that (see his concurrence in Gonzales vs Rauch).

People buying their internet from a local municipal broadband service is about as far from "interstate" as you can get.

I didn't realize local, municipal broadband networks typically forbid out-of-state packet transmission. No wonder everyone hates them: it would absolutely suck to have some local-only network come in and block my access to actual inter-state and inter-national network access.

If they really are doing that, they should probably come up with a different description of their network: it's certainly not "internet." Maybe "cripplenet" or "inbrednet."

Comment: Re:What does it mean? (Score 2) 159

by tburkhol (#48855137) Attached to: A State-By-State Guide To Restrictive Community Broadband Laws

82% of households have access to two or more broadband providers:

This describes a pretty bogus form of "competition." This statistics means that 82% of households can choose between 4Mbps AT&T/DSL over twisted copper and 20 MBps Comcast/TW over coax. That's an extremely limited form of competition, similar to claiming that Tyson Chicken competes with Midwest Beef, or that Audi competes with Peterbilt.

There are limited regions where you can choose between multiple DSL providers (although this will usually require that you pay AT&T for dial tone and either AT&T or a second company for DSL). There are no regions where you can choose between coax providers.

Comment: Re:Abroad? (Score 2) 190

by tburkhol (#48855091) Attached to: Japanese Nobel Laureate Blasts His Country's Treatment of Inventors

I'm a bit confused. US law assigns no rights at all to inventors. How exactly is going abroad going to benefit Japanese inventors? Which countries are they supposed to go to?

In the US, you have some power to negotiate with your employer, or to choose among employers based on their patent assignment/reward policy. If you think your work is going to be very lucrative, you can ask for a share of the commercialization value.

Article 35 more or less does what a lot of people here are asking for: it requires companies to compensate the people actually responsible for an invention. The problem is that one has no idea whether an invention will actually be commercially successful or not, so Article 35 resulted in a standardized practice of paying inventors a fixed bonus (~$10,000) for an invention, regardless of whether that invention was worth $1,000 or $100,000,000.

Comment: Re:Hang on WTF? (Score 3, Insightful) 190

by tburkhol (#48855051) Attached to: Japanese Nobel Laureate Blasts His Country's Treatment of Inventors

It seems to me only logical that the entity that commissioned the work, invested the resources and made it happen ie the company should own the patent.

What you're proposing sounds like zero incentive to invent while being employed. Doesn't make much sense psychologically.

The guy was paid to invent stuff. It's not like he was a cashier or even a QA engineer who just happened across LED technology in his spare time. His employer gave him a salary, a staff, and a bunch of fancy equipment to play with, and (presumably) instructions somewhere between "make something cool" and "make us a blue LED." If he hadn't invented anything, he would (again, presumably) have been fired for failure.

Certainly, a rational company should offer some reward to their successful R&D teams. Some kind of bonus equivalent to what the executive team gets for profitable years. Failing to offer any kind of success incentive is going to encourage the better employees to leave (as happened in this case), and hurt long-term competitiveness.

The question is whether you want the government to mandate what share of an invention the responsible human gets and how to share that out across multiple involved parties. eg: presumably the project manager gets a share, but what about the guy running the chemistry lab that prepared the AlGaN? What about the tech who pipetted compound A into container B as instructed? Or the guy washing glassware? Should it be the same share for a guy who refines the blue LED as for a guy who bundles a flashlight in a key fob? Japan's article 35 seems to be just such a law.

Comment: Re:If you want personal patent... (Score 1) 190

by tburkhol (#48854983) Attached to: Japanese Nobel Laureate Blasts His Country's Treatment of Inventors

I own your invention because if I didn't pay you to clean the toilets, you would be out in the streets. My warm building was a resource you used. You are okay with that argument?

Kind of a ridiculous argument. Cleaning toilets is not an explicitly creative job function

If your employer pays you to develop a blue LED, then they should own the rights to the thing you develop. I have no idea what the structure is in Japan, but in the US, employment contracts are generally quite clear on that. That contract may stipulate some share of royalties, but is more likely direct, royalty-free assignment. In fact, if "develop a blue LED" includes developing or improving a silicon doping process, or results in a turquoise LED instead, your employer will own that process and LED, too.

If your employer pays you to clean toilets, and you figure out that you can jam a toilet brush in a PVC pipe and not have to bend over so far, it'll be a lot harder for them to claim rights. Especially because your employment contract probably won't say anything about intellectual property.

Comment: Re:Understand your rights!! (Score 1) 291

by tburkhol (#48844153) Attached to: Innocent Adults Are Easy To Convince They Committed a Serious Crime

I have noticed that on a lot of TV police programs, the cops start interrogating the suspect and he doesn't exercise his right to be silent. They treat it as if it's an intellectual game and the suspect has to convince the cops of his innocence. It's like TV cop programs are propaganda for the cops to convince people that the "right thing" to do is to convince the cop that you're innocent.

This is exactly it. People learn an awful lot about how to behave in unfamiliar situations from stories they've heard (fact or fiction), and we hear a lot of criminal investigation stories. Those have a long history of being pro-police propaganda: partly because they need to cooperation of police consultants; partly because most people want to see 'bad guys' punished and to believe that the police never get the wrong guy. The stories are driven by dialog, so if all you have is an interrogator and a guy refusing to speak, viewers change the channel.

You can't learn law by watching TV any more than you can learn brain surgery. The world does not work like Dragnet, CSI or Law and Order.

Comment: Re:Bribocracy (Score 4, Interesting) 482

by tburkhol (#48818363) Attached to: IEEE: New H-1B Bill Will "Help Destroy" US Tech Workforce

How much effort does it take to do some research and verify whether a 10 second political ad is truthful?

In politics, "truth" is very flexible. For example, it is true that the Obama administration has reduced the number of annual drone strikes by 80% (over the past five years, in Yemen). It is also true that the Obama administration has increased the number of annual drone strikes by tenfold (over GWB). Likewise, Obama has both increased deficit spending by $1.3T, and reduced deficit spending by $1.2T (although even these numbers are suspect, depending whether you consider 2008 spending to be "Bush's budget" or "Obama's budget." This is one of the reasons you'll hear a lot of percentages and deltas in political ads - they can avoid telling you the denominator or reference point. They can choose a reference that makes their point, regardless of whether that reference is reasonable or relevant, and technically be truthful.

This is the reason no one believes a politician, unless he's saying something they already thought was true.

Comment: Re:Umm, no. (Score 1) 187

That's the power of the new mathematical language, and that's also the reason that the old results, while mildly amusing to read about, are not important milestones for modern mathematics.

You need to be careful to distinguish between "inventing" and "popularizing." Developments in the renaissance, and particularly the printing press, made it much easier to communicate ideas of all sorts, but that doesn't mean I'm going to credit Gutenberg as the father of mathematics. Your "New" mathematical language is an extension of all the old mathematical languages, invented by people who had learned the mathematics of the day. If it really is easy to discover the old, solved problems in that "new" language, it is because those solutions were embodied in the creation of that language. If you think notions like the existence of Zero are not important to math, then you have a naive understanding.

If you want to talk about the clear expression of specific ideas, I will refer you to Hooke's Law of elasticity, as he expressed it, ca. 1650: ceiiinosssttuv.

Comment: Re:Vague article (Score 1) 319

by tburkhol (#48777741) Attached to: MI5 Chief Seeks New Powers After Paris Magazine Attack

That's exactly the problem, they shouldn't be monitoring tens of millions in the first place because there aren't tens of millions that are a threat. My point exactly was that they only need to monitor the few hundred or few thousand that match real actual threat criteria.

Really? Because your point seemed to be that they were already monitoring the perpetrators of these crimes, rather closely, and still failed to prevent them. The US no-fly list, for example, is supposed to be around 20,000 - that seems like a pretty manageable planet-wide number. I get that you are not arguing for expanding existing surveillance, but your original argument seemed to be more along the lines of "Lock up for life anyone with a criminal record and extremist sympathies." That is a recipe for witch hunts.

Comment: Re:No matter how much power we gave them ... (Score 1) 319

by tburkhol (#48777613) Attached to: MI5 Chief Seeks New Powers After Paris Magazine Attack

BTW, the vast majority of the victims of radical islam are themselves muslims. Maybe it is time for muslims to stand up and say, no, peeps, contrary to what political correctness suggest, we actually do have a problem in our religion, and here in the west it is actually possible to do something about it.

This sounds rather like asking all Christians to stand up and accept blame for the abortion clinic bombers and the systematic sexual abuse perpetrated by FLDS. Westerners seem very capable of recognizing that the existence of Christian Crazies does not mean Christianity is crazy; why is it so hard to accept that the existence of Islamic Crazies does not make Islam crazy?

Comment: Re:Perfect? Really? (Score 1) 340

by tburkhol (#48773877) Attached to: Researchers "Solve" Texas Hold'Em, Create Perfect Robotic Player

So are you saying that a bot that ONLY looks at the visible cards and not at the actions of the other players, will beat human players? Because that's what you seem to be saying and it goes against everything I know about poker (which is, admittedely, not that much).

Yes, that's what they're saying, with the special caveats that you have to be willing to play an infinite number of hands, and you have to play with fixed wagers. You have to play enough hands that "luck" averages out, and you can't let your opponent have the advantage of making small bets on unfavorable hands. Strategy is basically going to be bet the maximum when odds favor you; fold when odds oppose you.

Presumably, the clever thing they've done is to abstract opponent behavior (or to assume that the opponent plays a similarly, statistically perfect game) in order to weight the draw probabilities by payout values. This robot would not be fun to play against: you would know from the very first wager (or possibly the wager after the flop) exactly what all subsequent wagers would be. ie, if it plays a hand, it bets the max and raises the max at every opportunity. It would completely ignore your behavior.

Comment: Re:new goals (Score 1) 148

by tburkhol (#48758127) Attached to: Tips For Securing Your Secure Shell

The goal shouldn't be to prevent your files from being seen by the NSA -- it should be to prevent your files from being seen by ANYONE.

That is the goal. Just up until a year ago, you could mostly make the assumption that you were not being targeted by the NSA. Because the NSA has rather vastly more resources available that anyone else, securing yourself against the NSA used to be an extra level of expense that might be omitted with little extra risk. "Everyone" was really "everyone smaller than the NSA or other state actor." Now that we know the NSA is actually snooping each of us all the time, it's appropriate to use them as the limiting example of "everyone."

Comment: Re:No we shouldnt (Score 2) 287

by tburkhol (#48745399) Attached to: Should We Be Content With Our Paltry Space Program?

What has Sergei Brin or Elon Musk ever done for me? Or, for that matter, anyone other than their shareholders and employees?

There's an awful lot of economic activity in Silicon Valley. That economic activity feeds everyone from Google employees to coffee shop barristas and grocery store clerks. The taxes paid by Google, their employees, and the supporting economic activity support city, state, and federal government functions that benefit you. Vibrant economic activity provides social stability that benefits you.

It's sad that the only benefit you seem to recognize is a personal check.

Comment: Re:No we shouldnt (Score 2) 287

by tburkhol (#48744631) Attached to: Should We Be Content With Our Paltry Space Program?

How will that materially affect you, other than hurt your ego?

The US enjoys its current leadership position in the world, and its current high quality of life largely as a consequence of its technological superiority between 1950 and 1990. That superiority brought some exceptionally bright and talented people from all over the world to US schools and to the US market, and those people helped to fuel US dominance. Its "ego" is a consequence, not a cause of that condition. So, looking up to an Indian moonbase or a Chinese Mars base would encourage those talented innovators to see China and India, rather than the US or Europe, as the places where cool stuff can be developed. It will encourage the next Elon Musk or Sergei Brin to move not to the US, but to China.

There just aren't enough smart people in the US (or in any other country for that matter) to maintain dominance. If a country can't poach the smartest people from other countries, then it's going to decline. Government policies hostile to the advancement of science and technology make it harder to recruit those scientists and engineers.

"How to make a million dollars: First, get a million dollars." -- Steve Martin