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Comment In reply to many of the comments and OP (Score 1) 513

While it is true that government databases identifying the DNA of every citizen would reduce crime and increase convictions, it also means a great many other things. Here are two of them.

1.) Police would get very lazy very quickly. DNA would be used as the "de-facto" proof of guilt, in spite of the fact that DNA is shed by everyone all the time. An ex boyfriend gets accused of rape and since his DNA is there he's automatically guilty. A store gets robbed and the man who hasn't bathed in a week gets charged because his DNA is the "most prevalent" around the register. He probably should have used Dial.

2.) Just because our government is mostly benign now doesn't mean it will always be that way. When social and economic upheaval occurs a great many things can change. Imagine, if you will, a government run by neo Nazis. Suddenly they have DNA proof of, not only the Semitic groups, but all of their offshoot genetic cousins as well. Or perhaps someone develops a gene targeted disease and gets their hands on the government database. for my closing, one word: Gattica.

As to the man accused of rape in the Netherlands, I am curious if he was just trying to play innocent, trying to turn himself in, had forgotten about the rape, didn't think of the incident as rape at all, or if he is innocent and somehow got his DNA involved through some other means than direct collection from the victim. After all, it does seem a bit moronic to give one's DNA if one has committed rape (or any other crime) and hasn't been caught.

Comment *Sigh* (Score 1) 208

After reading a few dozen comments I am at least relieved to see that the number of people with no concept of how the patent system works are in the minority. In a perhaps vain act of charity I will offer up this tiny bit of essential knowledge to that minority in the hope that one or two will read it and gain some understanding of this (and other) patent issues plaguing innovators.

Patents are granted by people. People make mistakes. People can be bought. The granting of a patent does not in any way make the patent holder right, it merely grants them a legal basis on which to approach a court with a complaint.

Trials like the one being discussed here are most often the very first significant examination of the validity of a patent by others outside of the patent office. The rulings of the court are seldom challenged twice and they can have extensive and lasting repercussions on innovation around the world. Any hint of impartiality by the jury must be investigated since the entire industry can be affected by the decision. When making decisions that affect entire economies one cannot afford to simply assume anything.

This does not even touch on the issue that even a patent that has never had a win in court can be used to extort money from small companies. One can afford to run an entire law firm just on the income from businesses that have more to lose from paying for a legal defense than from paying off their accuser.

Comment No more Chrome for me... (Score 1) 68

I never understood why Google Chrome chose to actually compile flash into their engine... until my Mac OSX 10.5 laptop was "depricated". Now it makes sense. There is a lot of money to be had forcing users to upgrade their OS because none of the software works any longer.

Firefox and Safari work fine and I'm able to download Flash updates, but Chrome no longer works without bugging me to death about Flash being too old. I literally have no choice but to manually enable each and every page every time one loads. As a Software Engineer I know there is no technical reason for this. As a business owner I know that there is almost no direct cost associated with allowing a user to use the external system flash instead of a compiled-in flash. In fact, the cost of ensuring successful build and delivery would be considerably higher when one must ship with a third-party product accounted for and shipped together with a binary distribution. Thus the only remaining reason is to help Apple convince users to upgrade.

I have a good bit more evidence that Google plays dirty against consumers, but I used to figure that it was just an inevitable symptom of becoming a big successful corporation and that at least their technology wouldn't suffer for it. I'm no longer convinced this is true.

Comment I'm going through this now. (Score 1) 948

I have been a software engineer for more than 12 years and a developer for more than 18. I have had jobs writing c/c++ (MSVC, Borland C++ Builder and gcc), Java & J2EE (J2SE RMI to Weblogic + Portal to Apache + Tomcat + JBoss), Perl (Catalyst + Mason) and Python (TurboGears 2.0 + SQLAlchemy). My resume reads like a pro athlete's scoresheet with well over twenty full lifecycle projects under my belt in all of my proficient languages.

All of that, and the simple fact is that it HURTS my job search instead of helping it. My varied career has lead to long term exposure to a language and some related frameworks which was then mostly forgotten as I picked up a new language and framework. I have no trouble at all taking programming challenges even if they are timed provided I have access to google or some API documentation but I simply don't remember the little nuances of any language I'm not currently working on.

This hurts me when some recruiter throws a timed competency test at me that reads exactly like a SCJP exam and expects me to remember the names of specific classes or language rules. Give me a couple of days, perhaps a week of working in the language on a practical project and I'd pick it all back up, but trying to sort it all on a per-question basis with less than 3 minutes to do it in and I choke.

Development is about learning algorithms and techniques, not APIs. Experienced developers know many ways of collecting, retrieving, updating and deleting data, breaking down complex problems into logical steps and then using experience to reduce the number of steps, reduce the number of times the required number of steps must be taken and breaking linear problems down into distributed tasks. A specialist in a given language is capable of coding faster in any given language than a generalist like myself, but then they only know techniques specific to their language of choice which reduces their ability to choose from multiple approaches to real-world problems. In addition, every problem is solved in terms of their language of experience rather than by pulling from the techniques discovered and improved upon by developers in multiple languages, apis and frameworks.

Hiring managers and other developers know this.

Recruiters and HR representatives don't.

Now if only a good business person could figure out how to code a business process that bypasses the filtering process put in place by non-technical recruiters so that hiring managers get presented with the best candidate for the position they need filled instead of the people who the recruiters think has the best chance of making them a pile of money.

For anyone who made it this far and is still reading: my personal technique for getting through this is to self-create projects in any and all languages and frameworks for which I expect to be interviewed and then just start coding the project. This generally means that I spend about a month looking for work while working 60-80 hours per week for free. The upshot is that I get an offer 9/10 interviews.

Comment Re:FizzBuzz (Score 1) 948

Way way way easier than 95% of my tests...
Pythonish pseudo code solution:
foreach ndex (limit):
    if not (ndex%3):
        if not (ndex%5):
            print "FizzBuzz, "
        else:
            print "Fizz, "
    elif not (ndex%5):
        print "Buzz, "
    else:
        printf "%d", ndex

The one I just did went like this:

Write a function that given a string of digits and a target value, prints where to put +'s and *'s between the digits so they combine exactly to the target value. Note there may be more than one answer, it doesn't matter which one you print.
Examples:
"1231231234",11353 -> "12*3+1+23*123*4"
"3456237490",1185 -> "3*4*56+2+3*7+490"
"3456237490",9191 -> "no solution"

This was the first of two questions, the second was a volume fill problem using string representation of graphical tiles as input and a printed matrix as a result to stdout. The test had to be taken with ANSI c using only STL. The test was timed and preferred candidates needed to present their coded solution and compiled example within 3 hours. Maximum time limit was 8 hours.

Comment I can't support the OP... (Score 1) 290

The original idea of copyright was, if I am not mistaken (and of course IANAL), was extended to physical objects after the infringement against Elijah McCoy. I know there is debate about this, and that's fine since the story provides a suitable analogy and that is all I'm going for. Also, please excuse my interchangeable use of patent/copyright. While I understand that copyright is generally for media and patent is for physical inventions, I am also under the distinct impression that either can be applied to any original invention, physical or media, given the proper conditions. Once again, IANAL so forgive my inevitable ignorance of the finer points to be considered along those lines.

The phrase "The real McCoy" is believed by many to have originated with his device for lubricating the wheel/break/drive-shafts of locomotive machine parts. The device was hugely popular but, like any good inventor, Elijah wanted to make it rich, so he charged a rather hefty price for his contraption. Very quickly, his fledgling company noticed similar devices attached to locomotives operating across the country. Many of them were substandard and some were even being returned to his company with complaints and demands for repair. The resulting legal battles are reported to have significantly strengthened copyright/patent law.

Disregarding the inevitable deluge of corrections I am bound to get for my summarized narrative of Elijah McCoy and his invention, my point here is that he created a MECHANICAL device that performed a function as-yet unrealized by any other manufacturer. His idea was good, and should have resulted in wealth for him but he had to depend on copyright to protect his invention. The copies were original works, crafted with iron or steel purchased from the market. They doubtless only looked at his design before making their duplicates.

They were only stealing his idea. That's the WHOLE POINT of copyright and patent... Protecting the RIGHT TO COPY.

I do not support the OP. You were trying to make money off someone else's idea. Invent a derivative work and I would support you all the way, but you're just a cheap hack attempting to siphon money away from someone else.

Comment You people are angering me... (Score 1) 436

Not because you are wrong, but because you are so correct. We are software engineers, developers, networking specialists and system administrators. We know the businesses we work for far better than the fat lazy salary guzzling managers we are abused by. We understand politics with no trouble since we spend most of our lives doing our best to avoid the politics of our respective offices.

There is more than enough talent here to force those attacking the middle class to step back and listen. Instead of whining about getting screwed out of the just compensation we have earned, why aren't any of you proposing a way to fight back?

Comment Re:Yeah, orbit! (Score 1) 279

I'm replying to the first response here, but this applies to about 3 or 4 posts below as well...

(Note: I'm not especially knowledgeable about current spaceflight technology. I read a lot on digg/popular mechanics/NASA news and make some attempts at keeping up with current technology, but I'm by no means an expert. If I said anything that is completely wrong, please just let me know and link me to the correction :-) )

You guys watch WAY too much star trek and star wars. We are nowhere remotely close (either in NASA or anywhere else) to a feasible transport mechanism capable of industrializing space, much less planetoids. Consider the following points:

1.) Space elevators for Earth and her Moon as well one for any planetoids or moon one wishes to mine. Rail launch systems are almost certainly too energy consumptive and the fuel requirements for interception and deceleration would negate the profits of recovery.
2.) Travel time from the Earth to Mars is too long for regular human flight. This means that cargo would have to be "shot at" the earth and the accuracy requirements would challenge our best procedures. We would also be required to expend most if not all volatiles we could mine in space just getting the materials back home. You can also scratch that idea of a "Mars vacation" right there. No matter how rich a person is, taking two years off to visit mars is a rather long vacation.
3.) How do we get very heavy things from space to earth? Dropping large rocks on the earth is a risky business. Even if you could devise a safe landing point for the objects that wouldn't kick up tons of debris into the atmosphere, every single earth friendly organization in the world would have a fit about all of the stuff left in the atmosphere by transit. If you packaged the materials to be delivered to reduce this, you have just created a huge expense for yourself in carting the stuff up to space.
4.) Propulsion systems capable of reaching mars by tiny unmanned spacecraft are grossly expensive to build and largely untested due to the very few times we have sent things to mars. Manned propulsion systems have never been tested. The only realistic assertion is that we do not yet have any propulsion system that is a viable candidate for the industrialization of our solar system.

NASA's role is largely experimental. There simply isn't any viable way for corporations to justify the incredibly massive budgets required for any project in space with the single possible exception of a space elevator. I sincerely believe that if anyone is willing to invest a trillion or so in the project, it would (eventually) pay off since it would be the delivery system of choice for nearly everything we want to put into space.

Comment Re:Indexing is not a crime (Score 5, Insightful) 76

wait... wat?

"found guilty of indexing"!?!?

wtf does that mean exactly? Guilty of writing a program to search data? Guilty of writing a program to search data and then letting others view the results?

The only way that the MPAA/RIAA even know what is out there is by doing the same thing, the only difference being they aren't providing a service, they are angry about what they found.

What we find ourselves faced with is the guilt or innocence of someone writing software and then *giving away the software and/or the results of the software*. If indexing is a crime, then it is only a very very small step to say that writing software that gives others access to "features" of their hardware that the manufacturer doesn't want to give access to is illegal. After all, without VLC and mplayer it would be pretty easy for Quicktime/iTunes and Microsoft Media player to lock down the watching of illegal movies and listening of illegal music.

Keep walking down that path, and soon we loose all our digital freedoms...

Comment I disagree with Calif, but... (Score 2, Interesting) 167

I have real issue with the federal circuit courts having any say whatever in what California can or cannot ban for sale in their own state. The distribution of authority in the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC of the United States has been shifting with ever increasing momentum to the federal level.

I think california is full of insane pollitics, but isn't that their right as a state under the constitution? I don't like my local and regional policies being dictated by californian pollitics and in order to preserve the rights of my own state I am willing to let california have their rights.

-SL

Comment officially one of the 'screwed' (Score 1) 122

I registered skyleach.com in the 90s (forget the exact year now) but when I tried to move it to a cheaper registrar my transfer was denied and my domain was locked. Of course, since it had some decent traffic, espcially surrounding anything conerning battletech, it was purchased out from under me. A squatter has been sitting on it since.

The practice is anticompetative and dishonest and should be stepped on, HARD.

-SL

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