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Comment On Yesterday's Medical Data Topic with Mark Cuban (Score 1) 96

This is interesting, given a conversation between Mark Cuban and some doctors/researchers yesterday:

Cuban was advocating for regular baseline lab tests so that doctors would have a trend analysis available to them when he gets sick. He got pretty thoroughly attacked, by Forbes:

My opinion was that Forbes misrepresented things, but, related to this Slashdot post, it seems there's an interesting resistance to this sort of data-driven-diagnoses. Forbes would argue that lots of tests will lead to a false positive; I would argue that the more data the more you can become confident of the difference between a false positive and a real one -- seems like basic statistics to me, but we need to get the research and the doctors on board with a more data driven approach, rather than the kneejerk approach used in diagnoses now.

Comment Re:Parody (Score 1) 255

I don't think this is true. There's no requirement that the parody or satire adhere to specific conventions; what people find funny or ironic could be debated, I suppose, if someone wanted to push the legal boundaries, but just because you don't consider being "serious yet thought-provoking" capable of ALSO being satire doesn't mean you're legally correct.

"Tongue-in-cheek" humor goes out of its way to appear serious, but is intentionally satirical. I think this could easily classify. In fact, the reference to the Power Rangers is what pushes it over the line for me. I see only two reasons to use the Rangers imagery -- a non-satirical reason which would imply that the producers really believed they were generating a standalone, serious piece of work that borrowed from the Power Rangers' mythology... or a satirical reason where the producers believed that making a high-production-value version of a campy old action TV show was so ironic as to be funny, both to themselves enough to create it, and to the internet enough to appreciate it (and I'd have hoped, to the original Power Rangers as a parodical homage).

I would choose to believe the latter, and I would argue that even if you believe the former, as you seem to, there's enough of an argument to qualify for satire exceptions to copyright.

Comment Re: Not the fault of science (Score 1) 958

This may be a valid point if you weren't being an jerk and hiding behind an AC post to ask it. I have a whole rant about who should and shouldn't be considered a scientist, and it's really a spectrum, not a binary thing, complicated by things like specialties and whatnot. I don't wear a lab coat, sorry, but yes, I have nice degrees with "science" in them and some credentials to back it up. If you were to rank everyone by their job and their credentials on how "sciency" they are, I wouldn't be anywhere near the top, but I think if there were a line in the sand, I'd make the cut.

Of course, "we" in the sense I used it could also comprise everyone who wants to convince people to put more faith in science than in whatever else they make decisions by, at least on these wide consensus issues.

And, once again, I've responded to an anonymous troll. *sigh*... no more internet for me today. Back to vacation.

Comment Re:Not the fault of science (Score 5, Insightful) 958

It was absolutely the best science that the 1970s had to offer. The fact that it turned out to be wrong was due to a large number of factors, but not that it wasn't "science". One good article of many is:, which references a lot of large controlled scientific studies that, yes, had issues, but were still the best of the time. There were ALSO studies that came to other conclusions, but remember that there are real studies by real scientists (by any useful definition) that come to all sorts of wrong conclusions. There will always be someone to say "told you so", no matter how ludicrous their position seemed by the majority at the time -- even if the majority includes most of the scientists; if those scientists are later wrong.

People equate science with truth, and that's simply wrong. Science is a process, a mechanism to expand our knowledge, but it's fallible, and rarely results in absolute truths. As the linked Scott Adams article says, Science is about nudging us towards improvement, and I agree. The public face of science is, unfortunately at times, journalism, government and other, equally human equally (if not more) fallible entities -- but those people did listen to scientists; they didn't just make stuff up (most of the time).

Science has an image problem, though, and it IS self-inflicted. We're coming across as arrogant to the scientifically illiterate, rather than nurturing, and it's turning people away. We label people "deniers" when they're genuinely curious, and they get defensive, and it's all downhill. We get combative and then pretend that it was someone else's misunderstanding when our consensus is wrong. Science is the right approach, but when it loses a popularity contest, particularly in a democracy, it's can get pretty bleak for a while. There's no reason that needs to happen, but denying the problem isn't the answer. We should embrace the dialogue that Adams is a part of here.

Comment Re: Dupe (Score 3) 840

I love my 2002 WRX but it is ridiculously more difficult to repair than my 1965 Ford. I just rebuilt the ford carburetor; there's hardly anything even similar that I can do that's nearly as simple to improve performance of the WRX computerized fuel injection system (beyond replacing spark plugs, hoses, and simple parts that are common to both generations of automobile -- headlights fall into that category I think; they're a bad benchmark for overall repair effort). I LOVE the car, don't get me wrong, but ease of repair is not a key selling point. In exchange, of course, we get much better gas mileage, performance, comfort, and safety to name a few -- I'm fine with the tradeoff, but it is real.

The counterpoint I have to the main article is that while people may not walk around with the ability to repair things, they do walk around with access to an insane amount of information to help them along. The number of youtube videos, bits of advice from message boards, and random web articles are really what keeps my Ford humming (and to a lesser extent the WRX), not to mention access to cheap parts shipped immediately. I think this generation will manage.

Comment A complete response would take too much space... (Score 1) 147

This is a wildly nontrivial question. Volumes are written about building data warehouses, and there's a lot to consider. In a large complicated environment, you could spend weeks doing comparisons (some people spend years, but that seems extreme); and some of the decisions are worth weighing.

The first question is what capability are you looking for -- why are you sure one of these vendors is correct, and have you truly explored your options? If you want a place to capture and gather lots of near-real-time sensor data, then Hadoop might be good, if you want a more traditional Kimball or Inmon style warehouse for a small or mid size amount of data, then Microsoft, Oracle, Teradata, IBM, MySQL, and others have decades of experience that is, in fact, useful. But that's just a single-source vendor, and your question is focused on database vendors. Asking what "capability" you need includes ETL, Reporting, Meta Data, Master Data, Data Quality, User Interaction, Training, Methodology... if you're going to in-house all of that, or spread those things to multiple vendors then your answers will be different.

All of those lead to follow-on questions. Where does cost play a role? Watch your up front costs vs long-term TCO. Do you have a development team with any expertise that may make it easier to in-house decisions and developments for one platform over another? Is your corporate buy-in strong so you can weather people second-guessing your decision? There are technical issues, personnel issues, cost issues...

The first ANSWER is really that any vendor will work, and every vendor will have different headaches. Older vendors have very specific ways of doing things, but that can make developers less expensive and more uniformly capable (although you'll always find extremes). Asking several Oracle DBAs to question each other and report back on each other's competencies is rather easy. With newer capabilities like Amazon, Google, and other cloud-big-data vendors, the landscape is newer, people are using different approaches (each of which may be valid), and it's not clear which are going to survive long enough to have the richest eco systems. But again, these systems came into being for a reason -- Hadoop and NoSQL databases can perform better and more cheaply than older databases in raw throughput, or unstructured data, or other areas but they sacrifice different things -- ACID compliance, strong typing or data models, or what have you.

Some of it just depends on taste. Some people avoid a single provider "lock-in" and pick and choose different ETL tools (see Informatica), Reporting Tools (Cognos, Microstrategy, Tableau, Jasper, Pentaho), and other tools (Talend DQ/MDM comes to mind... there are many), while some people prefer single vendors due to massive integration (particularly Microsoft if you're a Windows farm). If you're Gmail based, then Google's apps have good integration; if you have an Oracle ERP then several tools speak nice to it.

I'm generalizing a lot of examples that don't always apply, to keep things shortish, but the bottom line is that every option has strengths and weaknesses. I wish it were easier.

Comment Re:Inventor here... (Score 1) 224

Nice to have a first-hand opinion. Thanks Yaz. Someone else mentioned the corporate holding aspect, but then pointed out that they'd see it as deceitful if they found out a job applicant was sole owner of a company that held their IP, although the licensing benefits of that approach seem to make it worthwhile.

Would I be right in assuming that the patents on your resume make you feel MORE marketable, rather than less? Some people have mentioned that it could lead employers to fear conflicts of interest and that is an aspect I hadn't considered.

Thanks, Yaz.

Comment Re:Not on my watch (Score 1) 224

Hell, if I found out you owned the holding company with the patent, I'd probably not hire you for the same reason.

Precisely one of my concerns and similar to the sentiment others have issued merely for having an industry patent, much less a holding company. I'm not trying to be dishonest, and frankly I wouldn't have minded if more people recommended granting a limited non-exclusive license to an employer; really I was hoping that a few inventions would look good on a resume. I'm rather taken aback by the number of people that actually perceive it as a negative. Thanks for the feedback; I don't want a holding company be a negative any more than some IP. More to consider, thank you.

Comment Re:Be careful of the Employment Agreement... (Score 1) 224

"in recognition of the compensation being offered and accepted by Employee, Employee hereby assigns to Employer any and all intellectual property rights which Employee currently possesses, or may come into Employee's possession during the term of employment by Employer."

That's brutal. I will absolutely look for that; thank you for that perspective and your input.

Comment Re:Are you patenting software? (Score 1) 224

Yes, IP is meant to be wider... In point of fact, I used IP, even knowing that people like Stallman disagree with the term, because I didn't want the question to be bogged down by patent rhetoric. Obviously I failed. While my primary situation is patent related, I hoped the question would apply to any pre-existing IP that is somehow encumbered... one example -- I have a large photo portfolio; if I go to work for someone, and they're aware of my existing body of work, and they want to use a piece I have for a project, is this something I should have already addressed at the job interview?

Comment Re:Are you patenting software? (Score 2) 224

I think we're in agreement on how the world _should_ be, but maybe we don't agree on how to operate in the world the way it is. I definitely considered the patents software oriented, so if I came across as playing coy there, that was shadowing a much deeper discussion that I didn't want to get into. I think there are shades of grey even there... I'm very happy with the recent court opinions striking down software implementations of things that were derived from non-software ideas. Doing something on a computer that used to be done without one should not be patent-able at ALL. For other, truly "novel" inventions (and I realize there's always contention there), I tend to follow the EFF's guidance. Their current recommendations -- their 7 steps -- don't get rid of software patents entirely. They limit their duration, which I'd surely agree with, and require more specificity, which again i agree with.

But you're accusing me of being "antisocial" (I'd think bringing this up on Slashdot is the opposite of anti-social; that's certainly my intent), and "wrong", while I honestly do struggle with the issue, as I think many people do. The EFF and FSF don't seem to fully agree on how a software inventor should handle this. I hold both groups in high regard, but there is certainly not unanimous consent in the slashdot crowd). I'm familiar with the register allocation history (maybe not as much as some). I had closer contact with the photo-mosaic patents that were at issue some years ago, and I always find the codec IP issues (MP3, H.264, GIF, etc.) fascinating and troublesome. In fact, I worried over the use of "IP" in the original post, due to Stallman's position on the phrase (and in retrospect probably used the term too much).

I intend to focus on these issues, and I certainly don't want to be accused down the road of being similar to any of the debacles you cited. I'll let my actions speak for themselves as time unfolds. I'm optimistic that there's a "right" way to behave, within the current system, that is ethical while still affording the protections that patents are idealistically designed for (even if reality is not ideal). Maybe we disagree on those details. In any case my reason for posting this question to slashdot was different and, importantly, time sensitive, so I'm going to stop veering off topic (I felt your post was nice enough to deserve a response).

I do appreciate the even-handed and non-trolling response, and the advice on estate planning; I have a nice flowchart in my will; I'll make sure to add the legal assets to it, and yes, donating them to someone like the EFF is the path I'd like to take -- hopefully it won't matter by then. Thanks!

Comment Re:lawyer up (Score 1) 224

Dizzying, but thanks (and thanks to parent post). Undoubtedly the lawyers are helpful and yes, I'm talking to legal counsel. I do still see some useful non-legal advice here, however. I'm interested in how many people say they would not hire someone with patents because they worried they had a hidden agenda or were more motivated to leave the company, and it's also relieving to see the number of people who recommend complete up-front disclosure.


Comment Re:Are you patenting software? (Score 4, Informative) 224

No, I didn't patent those ideas, the links were examples; but I completely agree that the patent system is failing, and I pointed that out. The question is how to deal with it. I think it's a valid approach to continue to patent ideas until the issue is fixed because the mixed-bag approach is very difficult.

The EFF agrees at least that the situation is not black and white... from their site: "While [abandoning patents is] compelling, there are risks to this strong approach. Every piece of software released to the world without legal protections may leave open a door for someone else to attempt to patent the same technology (and may leave its creators more open to legal threats without a patent to wield defensively)." (

I am genuinely not trying to get rich (well, not through patent evil or trolling), or to be exploitative, and while I don't want to contribute to the problem, I don't want to be a victim of it. Anyway, I appreciate the comments, but again I was trying to shy the focus away from software patents... much ink has already been spilled on that topic. Assuming the patents were one that met your complete approval, would you feel differently?

Comment Re:What "de-facto license"? (Score 1) 224

The situation that worries me is that, while working for them, they'll ask me to solve the problem that the patent solves, which seems likely since I keep working in the same industry. I mean, say you invent something that makes cars a tiny fraction more fuel efficient; enough that it's useful but not so much that you can quit your job to market it. Then, you start working for a company who asks you to make their cars more fuel efficient. The patented ideas are relevant to my job; it's a small but useful aspect of what I do, and it would be reasonable to encounter the same problem that I've already solved.

Most of the time that's what an employer looks for -- someone with experience solving the sorts of problems you'll encounter working for them. Right? So when they ask you to make their cars more fuel efficient, what do you say then? That conversation changes a lot based on whether you talked about the patent when you were hired. But that's how I expect the two will intersect... the IP is related to my industry and it will likely be related to the job. Employers have an assumption (thus the de-facto) that something you know how to do is something you can do for your job. Violating copyright or someone ELSE's patent is clearly not covered... but using your own IP seems more grey to me.

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