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Comment Re:Funny (Score 5, Insightful) 82

Patents are definitely a big problem for start-ups. When you are big enough to have a Legal Department with an Intellectual Property specialist or three, you can maybe deal with all the patent trolls out there not to mention the few legitimate patents that may challenge your product.

But for the rest of us, it's an almost insurmountable challenge. Once when I was trying to develop a voicemail contraction (yeah this was sort of pre-cell phone and pre-Google Voice and all that nice stuff we have today) for small offices, I was astounded by the kinds of patents out there. Some guy patented a "method to push a button to record a voice". Someone else patented a "method to store voice recordings in digital format in computer memory". Was I as a one person start-up going to have to find a way around ridiculously obvious patents like this?

So if someone big comes along and offers you a million or two for your baby company, it's going to be awfully tempting. Then again, as I recall, Microsoft offered the Netscape guys about $20 million for their browser back in the early Web days. They politely declined and went on to be worth hundreds of millions. It's a tough call to make, but you do have to be a bit of a gambler if you want to really make it big.

Comment Elizabeth Warren had the right idea. (Score 1, Interesting) 622

She registered herself as a minority, which under Virginia's system would guarantee that her children got special treatment on "standardized" tests. Although, what kind of minority are Cherokee? Would they be filed under disadvantaged, or under superior? Given their genetic similarity and shared ancestry with Asians (probably Mongolians and central Asians, but in S. America more aboriginal Asians from Indonesia and Malaysia) they would be classified as superior, hence their scores would be curved down.

It boggles the mind. Virginia must be run by true idiots, to think they could get away with this.

Comment Re:Great news (Score 1) 467

Shoot from the hip much? There's centuries of oil and gas locked in shale, at current use rates.

It's quite likely that alternatives like solar will improve to the point where they displace coal and gas on the electric side.

Probably, transportation will become more efficient with hybrid engines taking the lead.

Wind energy still has lots of potential. Nuclear technology has improved enormously since the 1970s.

By 2100, it's highly unlikely we'll still be using significant fossil fuels. That is a safe enough prediction. But today, and for the next 20-30 years, we will be relying on fossil fuels, and a lot of it is going to be from shale (and tar sands). Get used to it.

Comment Re:If there was a Bad at Math Map... (Score 1, Insightful) 1163

A couple of observations:

Southerners are over-represented in the military (in fact, "red" counties all over the nation would tend to be over-represented), and there are a lot of military bases and installations around the South and Southwest. If the money-in versus money-out formula takes into account military spending, then this should be factored out. Military service is giving, not taking. Bases create jobs, but they are a component of national defense, not some sort of charity.

Memo to the winners: be gracious in victory even if those who lose are not gracious in defeat. You're not 5-year-olds, are you?

It ought to be acceptable to register dissatisfaction with the election results in this free country of ours. When Bush was designated the victor in 2000, many Democrats spent the next four years saying "the President Select" and "Bush stole the election" and all sorts of nasty things. Yet, when the NYT and Tribute did a recount in Florida in two different ways, they still found for Bush no matter how charitable they were to the ambiguous ballots. Bush won, yet a good chunk of the electorate refused to accept it. Of course, then 9/11 happened and the country had to pull together and put this behind us, at least for a short while.

This is not a football game. It's a referendum on the future of our country. If 48% of the people were so dissatisfied with the incumbent's performance that they registered a protest vote against him, then the winning party should take heed and be prepared to compromise. It's not about winning one lousy election; it's about leading a huge country and making decisions that will affect the entire world. It can't be all-or-nothing, folks. That goes for both sides.

Secession is scary. It may be laughable to some of you--listen to those dumbass hicks clinging to their guns and religion and yada yada yada. But the more you talk that way, the worse the situation will get, until one day we may actually be faced with millions of people who no longer accept or respect the authority of the elected national government. We don't want it to get to that point. The way to avoid this is to work with the opposition and hammer out compromises. The Democrats failed to compromise from 2008-2010, feeling they didn't need to, and in 2010 they reaped the results.

The important thing isn't that Romney lost, but that he came that close to winning. He took 24 states, in some cases by a 2-to-1 margin. Admittedly, he was perceived as a relatively weak and flawed candidate, personally disliked by large swaths of the electorate (fairly or unfairly). Just imagine if he hadn't uttered the 47% remark; that one gaffe might have cost him 100,000 votes in a state like Ohio where Obama won literally by 104,000. The point is, Obama does not have a strong mandate and would do well to incorporate some of the moderate and conservative fiscal ideas into his policies going forward.

Comment Great news (Score 1) 467

Lots for Americans to celebrate here:

Anything that helps to wean us off Middle Eastern, North African, and Venezuelan oil is a good thing. War, support for nasty dictatorships, terrorism, patrolling the Persian Gulf: it all goes away, or becomes someone else's problem.

Natural gas is a much cleaner way to generate electricity than coal.

Jobs, and lots of them.

Cheap gas = more local chemical and plastics plants, which depend on the stuff.

Energy exports help our balance of trade.

It helps prove that private sector ingenuity and enterprise are still a good thing. The government has had little or nothing to do with this, other than throw obstacles in their path.

There's no proven ecological harm from fracking, and if there will be, solutions can surely be found. For example, tainted water supplies can be prevented by keeping the wells correctly sealed.

Comment Why OpenOffice? (Score 2) 71

Maybe this is a dumb question, but why do we still have the split between Open* and Libre*? Now that OpenOffice has been handed off from Oracle to Apache Foundation, isn't it equally open source again? So ideally, the best ideas of both packages should be merged into one product and then the top talent can be applied to improving it.

I notice LibreOffice is also talking about an online version. To me, this seems like a lot of redundant effort.

Comment He's probably right. (Score 5, Interesting) 881

But winning the battle won't win the war. Mr. Obama will be weakened by the divisive campaign; the electorate is bitterly split, and he will find Congress harder to work with. The members of Congress will be acutely aware that 48 or 49% of the popular vote went to his opponent (and he may even lose the popular vote). They will be less willing to go out on a limb to support his policies unless they are from strongly pro-Obama districts, and the average district will be closer to a 49-51 split.

This year's elections reflect a very divided country that is uncertain how to proceed. As the wars wind down, the economy will be the foremost topic on most people's minds, and Mr. Obama has only a minority of the people's support on economic issues. Probably, we will have four years of deadlock and uncertainty followed by the 2016 presidential elections which will either vindicate Mr. Obama's big government approach, or relegate him to the history books.

Just my humble opinions :)

I hope that everyone votes tomorrow, regardless of your choice. The best possible outcome is that everyone votes; that way, the elections more fully reflect the will of the people, so that we can put this nastiness behind us, let bygones be bygones, and move on. Democracy -- gotta love it! The worst possible form of government, except for all the other forms of government (Winston Churchill).

Comment We don't need any more of those. (Score 3, Insightful) 70

It was perhaps great for life back in the old days a couple billion years ago. But it wouldn't be very good for us today. Can we not have any more mass extinction events, please?

Anyway, we're doing a pretty fair job of causing our own mass extinction. Nuclear war, tailored viruses, nano-machines run amock, artificial intelligence that wants us gone. Yup, lots of chances to do ourselves in and give the Earth a chance to start over.

Comment Re:So fucking what? (Score 2) 349

I agree. Blackberries are good handsets. No longer state of the art, and they can't play Temple Run (as far as I know :), but I have found them to be superior to Android phones when it comes to doing the basics like making phone calls, taking simple notes, and the like. They're closer to the Palm Pilot PDA approach than are touch-screen smartphones, and they are just made for doing simple PDA tasks very quickly and effortlessly. And it's worth noting that they had NFC in their handsets a couple of years before it became common with Android, and Apple still doesn't offer it (my company writes NFC apps, so we're painfully aware of these things).

We have a bunch of really dated old Blackberries in the lab at work, and I think I'm going to just take one and get it out at the next meeting with vendors, just to see how they react. Actually, a friend pulled out her Nokia candy-bar phone last night at a club, and it just brought back warm memories. You could drop the things and abuse them, and they just worked. Easy peasy. Try handing an elderly relative your Android phone to make a call. I generally just dial the number for them, simpler than explaining how to "bring up the phone app and tap on the left tab" etc.

Comment What about my car? (Score 4, Funny) 116

Maybe if this is successful, Nasa can spin off the technology to earth-bound vehicles as well. I would love to have some robot wander by from time to time and refuel or service my car overnight! You could even have robotic landscapers and robotic Christmas decoration putter-uppers. Really, the possibilities are endless. And, of course, a commercial success with this would help pay for more space exploration.

Comment Re:Should rename these Darwin Viruses (Score 4, Insightful) 129

You still have to deal with typo squatters. If you type instead of or some such you may end up at a phony website designed to phish you.

Fortunately, it seems that the big players have grabbed most of the common typos like, and so forth. But out of millions of sites, there's bound to be plenty of opportunities for a determined script kiddie.

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