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Comment The Law's Not On Your Side. Are Your Skillz? (Score 1) 848

Legally...

IANAL etc. but I do see pretty similar happening all the time...

Are you using ideas and concepts you learned at that place of employment? Are you developing software specific to their environment? It sounds a lot like it. If so, they've got a pretty good case that you're using the benefit of their privileged information in order to develop this product and thus, yes, they have a pretty good claim on it.

Also, be careful what you say in massively public stories on very public websites. You say, "The entire source was developed on personal equipment off company hours." You also write, "I have a lot of down time." I'd say, "Which one is it?" but it doesn't matter. You've now publicly said the latter. Even if you meant it in terms of, "I have a lot of down time at home," you didn't say that when announcing it to the world. In a court filing, they'll present it nicely out of context as a clear admission on your part that you used downtime they were paying you for.

You've given enough ammunition, if an employer is sue happy, for them to drag you through the courts long enough to bankrupt you. At the point you can't pay a lawyer to defend another round of investigation and have to settle, they own the idea anyway. Don't make the mistake of thinking courts are about the person in the right winning: most business vs. small individual stuff is about them running up your legal bills until you can't fight back. You will lose.

Pay Grade And Leet Skillz...

If your skills are that wonderful and you can genuinely charge for them at a higher pay grade, why aren't you? If you can do so, leave, collect that higher pay grade, fulfill your belief in people "not getting something for nothing." At the very least, an offer in writing from somewhere else may serve as leverage for your getting the pay grade you clearly feel entitled to.

Unless, of course, you're not that good. Don't worry: a lot of people can do basic enough hacking of code that they can get something sort of working if there are low expectations for it. They make great personal tools but it's also not the level someone'll pay you for as they expect it to work properly, all the time, with all the features they can think of and not just the easy ones. If that's the case, you're not going to get that pay grade you deserve elsewhere and that should tell you something about how much you genuinely deserve it where you are. If that is the case, you're at best going to deliver them some nice hacky tools and you're probably already being compensated for that kind of development. Not stating this is your level, you may well be capable of the former option. But it's always worth taking an honest self assesment before getting entitlement complexes.

Comment Cancer Risk (Score 2) 493

"Lastly, public support for the TSA's use of X-ray body scanners drops dramatically when people realize there is a cancer risk."

The risk is only one in thirty million.

However, the risk of dying on a flight due to terrorist actions is only one in sixty million so, to be fair, the TSA doubles your odds of dying.

Comment NVIDIA's New Outruns Apple's Old (Score 1) 390

NVIDIA's Forthcoming Tegra 3 Outruns Apple's Year Old A5 In First Benchmarks. Technology Continues To Advance

There, I fixed it for you.

The A5 turned up in a production device almost a year ago (March 2011 in the iPad2).

After slipping from August 2011 to October 2011 to an official release of November 9th 2011 the Tegra 3 will finally appear in a device with a predicted launch date of December 7th.

I'm not an Apple fanboy - I'm typing this on a PC with a new nVidia graphics card in it. Still, comparing a mobile chipset that's not yet in production devices to one that was in production devices almost a year ago and getting sensational headlines about it besting the older chip in some tests? Unless it's significantly cheaper, I'd expect any new chipset to win in all tests if it turns up a year later - especially in a world where Apple's iPad3 is likely to up the ante in another three months.

In other news, the Tegra 3 is more powerful than an $8,860,000 1977 Cray 1 and bests it in every performance test.

Comment Light and Tradeoffs (Score 3, Informative) 569

Photography's all about capturing light. The less of it you have, the longer you need to spend capturing it. This leads to blurry images as most things move and your hands will shake too.

You can partially solve this by:

Using more natural light - Shooting outdoors in daylight (can lead to harsh shadows and doesn't really work for your stated goal of shooting friends and family who tend to gather indoors for things like parties)

Supplying more light - using a flash (with the risk of redeye). Redeye is caused by light bouncing off the back of the eye on to the sensor. The closer the flash is to the sensor, the smaller the angles involved and the worse this problem gets. A flash hotshoe lets you move the flash away from the sensor. Also, external flashes tend to be angleable so you can bounce the light off ceilings and walls to get a smoother fill.

Reducing movement - You can put your camera on a tripod but it's a pain to carry around and a lot of compacts don't have mounts. You can also ask your subject to hold the pose but this annoys friends and most people other than trained models can't really do it. You also lose all action/candid shots.

Using a larger sensor - A larger sensor gives you a larger area to collect light.

Giving the light a larger hole to come through - Apperture. The problem is, the wider your apperture, the shorter your depth of field. A lot of compacts abuse apperture to make up for their small sensors but you end up with horribly shallow depths of field.

Amplify the signal - Rather than collect more light, you can amplify what you do get (higher sensitivy - ISO). The problem with this is photons hit relatively randomly with densities based on the light of the image. In large enough numbers (usually due to time), they average out and you get a nice smooth image. In small numbers, they're broadly but not exactly distributed based on the image you expect to capture. Amplify this noisy image and you get a lot of noise in the end result.

A DSLR solves most of these issues by giving you a much larger sensor than compacts use, uses higher quality components like microlenses, has much larger glass for collecting the image, provides a mount point for a better flash and gives you the ability to fine tune everything to get the right combination of tradeoffs for the shot you want. They also tend to come with much better autofocuses so you get the shot you wanted rather than wait for the focus to hunt and give you the shot a second after the action. For that reason, most people will suggest DSLRs - your odds of getting the shots you want are dramatically improved.

However - The best camera you can ever own is the one you have with you. If a DSLR is large enough that you never have it at parties, too expensive to risk at the beach, don't leave in the trunk of the car when out for road trips, it's completely useless except for the couple of times a year you plan a staged shoot.

Many of us with DSLRs realise and accept this so we see it for the tool it is, accept it may get damaged but a damaged and used camera is worth far more than an undamaged and unused one so we get a decent bag, toss it in the trunk, accept the weight of lugging it and all the glass everywhere and always have it with us. If you're like most normal people however, and won't do the above, a DSLR's a very expensive paperweight that's kept safely at home. Keep all of the information from the start of this post in mind and then find the compact with the fewest tradeoffs that's still small enough you'll have it everywhere (smaller size usually means more tradeoffs).

That might mean one of those credit card style totally flat cameras with a folding optic that goes everywhere. That might mean a basic compact with a zoom that comes out of the body. That may mean a larger compact with a larger fixed zoom. Or it may mean a DSLR. The point is, not knowing you and knowing what you will or won't put up with carrying, none of us can tell you what the right camera is for you. The best we can do is give you pointers to what will minimize your frustrations with a camera (namely ability to capture in non ideal light) and then leave you to decide what balance of size vs. tradeoffs is right for you.

Comment Supporting French Music Only? (Score 3, Interesting) 209

The vast majority of music isn't produced in France or in French. Even music consumed in France. The French government have a history of trying to distort this in honor of gallic pride. In 1993, the French passed a law requiring French radio stations to play at least 40% French language music even though listeners didn't want it.

Information on this latest levy is pretty sketchy but it appears to be a tax to fund Centre National de la Musique whose goal appears to be to fund French music production.

So the French are collecting a tax based on the assumption of music piracy - where the majority of piracy is of British or American music - and then, by the looks of things, giving it entirely to the French music industry, not to the artists and labels whose music is actually pirated by French listeners and internet users anyway. Tres Francais.

Comment For Fear Of Godwinning... (Score 5, Interesting) 272

Porn will exist on the internet whether you want it to or not. Using a .xxx TLD makes it that much easier to identify and filter porn if you don't want to see it.

Jewish owned sites will exist on the internet whether you want them to or not. Using a .jew TLD makes it that much easier to identify and filter Jewish sites if you don't want to see them.

Jewish owned businesses will exist in Germany whether you want them to or not. Using a Star of David badge makes it that much easier to identify and filter Jewish businesses if you don't want to use them.

Jewish people will exist in Germany whether you want them to or not. Using a Star of David badge makes it that much easier to identify and filter Jewish people if you don't want to associate with them.

That chain of thought started out as seeming pretty damn reasonable in an era when, not just Germany but the US, the UK, France, Russia, you name it, all regarded Jewish people, particularly Jewish businesses, with suspicion. Why shouldn't people have the right to choose where to do business and avoid those they find morally offensive? It's just a badge, right? How badly could it get misused?

In any environment, singling out a group you regard as morally inferior, forcing them to wear badges is generally a slippery slope.

Mix in the US government's current belief that it has the right to censor websites not just within the US but globally is their registrar is US based. Now what happens when a good [religion of your choice] president gets voted in and, pandering to his voter base, promised to disable .xxx. Now you've not only handed users the ability to easily filter their own content, you've handed politicians from a single nation the ability to globally switch off porn because they feel it's "bad."

How would America's gun lobby react if we ghettoized all gun related websites to .gun or .violence? How would our moral minority respond if we pushed all religious sites over to .religion? Of course, this being the US these days, .muslim would probably be plenty. How would the politicians supporting .xxx respond if all of their campaigning was forced to .politics and a flick of a browser switch could hide their campaigns from people? A lot more people are killed in the name of guns or of religion or of politics, a lot more lives ruined, than porn achieves. Yet the same people who support .xxx would freak over their interests being treated the same way.

Comment Consider Everything (Score 1) 735

Salary is a nice part of your total compensation. You mentioned lack of commute, too.

Regular hours, vacation time, trustworthiness of management (people are jumping to the assumption that you're a sucker for loyalty because they're used to managers having none of their own but you may have just as much of a "sucker" protecting you and that counts for A LOT), stability of the company, potential for growth, potential to avoid getting canned because of things outside your control, atmosphere within the team, pride in the work you do or could do, medical, pension, vacation time all such things are worth considering too. There's even value in the concept of "a change is as good as a rest." I've said it myself, "This may well be a case of the grass is always greener. But, if it takes me a year to realize that, I still spend a year enjoying what feels like greener grass."

That 45 minute commute you avoid doesn't mean anything if your current company is good about sticking to a 9-6 while the new company buys cheap pizza at 8pm each night to keep people working until midnight. The extra 7k might be nice but are you trading it for being the last one in, first one out, the moment something's rocky in the new company?

Or the reverse might be true... That 7k and the 45 minutes of commute may be the least of what you're gaining as you move to a healthier environment, get more vacation time, better benefits, bonuses that actually materialize, etc.

Either way, look at the whole picture. Weigh up which is the right option for you.

If moving is the right option, politely give your notice without burning any bridges. When asked why you're leaving, explain it that dispassionately. It's a business decision, just like they'd make. You're not trying to sabotage them, you're not upset with them, you've simply got an offer that's too good to pass up.

The other advantage of really considering the whole picture is you know what the new job's really worth to you. It's not just that 7k. The commute's worth x to you as well. The other benefits are worth +/-y. It might be that another 3k and a title change are enough to make you stay, it might be that their matching or even doubling that 7k isn't worth it once you factor everything else in. Knowing where you stand, having factored everything in, beforehand, lets you keep everything purely business and non personal.

Comment Working The Numbers Backwards (Score 1) 292

Solar panels on 75% of its stores will produce 20-30% (let's average at 25%) of those stores' electricity needs.This is 70m kWh, equal to the power for 5,400 homes and polution equal to 21,700 metric tons of CO2/4100 cars.

So, they currently produce 4x that across those 75% of their stores plus a third again of that total for their other 25%. So 5 1/3x that figure. Or over 100,000 metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of almost 22,000 cars and draw the power of almost 30,000 homes - over a third of a billion kilowatt hours and about 10% of the total energy a 500 megawatt coal power station can produce.

Even after the savings, they'll be producing 80,000 metric tons of CO2, 15,000 car equivalents and drawing the power of 25,000 homes - over 300,000,000 kilowatt hours.

And all of this excludes the CO2 their truck fleets produce.

It's a nice start but there's a long, long way to go.

Comment Why Do Prices Keep Inflating? (Score 1) 698

in the last decade the price of an average Behind the Ear hearing aid has more than doubled.

A decade ago, a loaf of white bread cost about $0.50, now it costs about $3.00.

A decade ago, a tank of gas cost me $10, now it costs over $40.

I think we've stumbled on to a pattern. Clearly the Illuminati are manipulating bread, gas and hearing aids. If only there was some term for this pattern of "inflating" prices.

Comment Re:Kill All Software Patents (Score 1) 204

[1] Did anybody other than Google put in the effort to create Android [2] and deserve the rewards for doing so?

[1] By definition, yes. Someone spent time and effort creating an idea, a technique, a widget, whatever. If they hadn't, there would have been nothing to patent. That idea/technique/widget was then used by Google who could build Android faster, cheaper, easier, more useful, because they didn't have to both identify the problem and then think of a solution to it themselves. So, yes, someone other than Google put in [some of] the effort to create [some of what became] Android.

Actually, massive numbers of people did but those who invented transistors, windowing, graphics techniques, file systems, core OS concepts, etc. either didn't patent those ideas or invented them long enough ago that they've fallen out of patent protection. That's the nature of every modern OS being built on ~65 years of computing evolution. I'd imagine if you take any modern OS and could somehow magically calculate all the hours of human thought that went in to every technique, every technique that supported another technique and so on, the OS company's investment in that OS is probably far, far below 50%.

[2] That one's much more subjective. Generally speaking, these days, someone at company A invents and patents something. Company B then sees value in company A's patents, customers, reputation, etc. and pays a price to purchase all of that. This means that company B didn't actually invent it themselves but you can argue they paid for that invention and the value that controlling it confers. In the current legal system, yes, that means they deserve to get compensated. But there's always the question of whether current legal systems really represent what's "right," what's "deserved," etc.

Comment Paul Revere - Full History (Score 3, Interesting) 767

Everyone knows Revere from his famous ride. Except, even that, is a historical whitewashing.

Revere was better known at the time for his arrogance and incompetence that led to America's greatest naval disaster until Pearl Harbor: The Penobscot Expedition of 1779.

The British were helping defend colonists who wanted to remain loyal. The Americans couldn't let them secure the area.

The Americans turned up on July 25th with 40 ships, almost 2,000 seamen and marines, 100 artillerymen and 870 militia with the fleet mounting 350 guns. Against them stood 700 men and three sloops mounting 50 guns. The British didn't even have proper defenses: the earthworks had only been built waist high when the Americans turned up.

The Americans artillery under Revere refused to attack without the ships attacking first. The ships refused to attack without the artillery going first. The 870 militia, despite initial successes, then got pinned down without support from their artillery while the British finished building their earthworks.

On August 13th, three weeks later, a six ship British relief force, bringing the British up to 9 ships and around 250 guns to the American 40 ships and 350 guns, arrived. The armed American ships proceeded to flee as fast as they could, leaving the transports to be destroyed. Even then, they didn't get away. Those that weren't destroyed ran aground and were set on fire by their crews.

In the aftermath, the commodore was blamed and stripped of his command. Revere was not officially reprimanded but was so heavily criticized by the other officers for his difficult personality and how his attitude caused much of the defeat that he actually requested his own court marshal to try and clear his name - a request that was denied.

Keep in mind that this was 1779. Revere's reputation wasn't rebuilt until Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Paul Revere's Ride." Longfellow wasn't born until 1807, 28 years after the event. The poem was written in late 1860 and first published in 1861, almost a century later.

So, Palin can claim Revere all she likes. The reality of it is he's a man who died in relative disgrace having, through his incompetence and difficult personality, contributed to the deaths of hundreds of American troops and America's most crushing naval defeat for over 150 years. It was only through historical reconstruction - the writing of a poem a century later and the near total removal of the Penobscot Expedition from US history books - that he gained his fame. If Palin wants to do more of the same, how's that any different?

Comment Availability (Score 4, Insightful) 362

As an Englishman who's spent the last decade in the States...

It has nothing to do with my trying to fit in and everything to do with what I can get for a decent price at a decent quality.

If I'd like Shepherd's Pie, my options are very expensive faux Irish theme pubs or lousy quality from cheap theme pubs that have once seen a picture of what a Shepherd's Pie might look like. If I'd like a proper roast with roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding, I can go to a senior citizen trap and get decent beef, terrible fried potatoes and a look of bewilderment if I mention Yorkshire pudding. If I want a good curry (Partition and its immigrants have made it a staple in England), I can get something dire at the mall, something mediocre in my city (thank you H1Bs) but I have to (and do, regularly) drive 80 miles each way and pay about $50/person to get great baltis, kormas, etc.

Or, if I'd like pizza, I can choose from any of a dozen local pizza joints. If I'd like a burger, I can choose from any of twenty chains plus local specialty places. And Mexican offers me hundreds of hole in the wall places plus at least half a dozen major chains. I can eat at every one of those for well under $10 too.

So, yes, I eat like an American and my waist rapidly started to look like an American's too. It has nothing to do with trying to fit in and everything to do with what's available. Give me a Sainsbury's and a Tesco, a good chippy (no, those things Americans call English pub chips really aren't), a good kebab shop (gyros may start with the same ingredients but are nothing like a British kebab) and a lifetime's supply of Cadbury's, Ginsters, etc. and I'll stay the hell away from American assimilation.

I don't think it's even a national thing. Ask any Californian who'd visited what Mexican food is like in Minnesota (not unlike eating a photograph of a burrito: it looks like one but tastes like cardboard). Ask any Pennsylvanian what a cheesesteak is like in California (for the love of God, why would you put avocado and lettuce in it?). Those people will also assimilate to the good local foods rather than endure the terrible bastardizations of what they love back home. Nothing to do with fitting in, everything to do with availability.

If only there was some common saying about correllation not being equal to causation.

And now you may all proceed with the English food and dentistry jokes. You've been very patient.

Comment Re:Please take jury duty seriously (Score 3, Insightful) 528

Allegations from a woman. Try from a minor.

A neighbor was a teacher and accused of molesting two kids. The cops pulled him out of a classroom and ended his career there and then.

Two different kids? You'd assume he's got to be guilty. Turns out the first kid was told to lie by his mother as revenge over bad grades his brother got. One kid wasn't enough evidence so they arrested another kid for stealing a car and told him they'd drop the charges if he chose to "help us with our inquiries." After being told the first kid's confession, he said, "Yeah, that!" to avoid a criminal record.

Took two years for this to come out. Afterwards, his original school told him there were too many concerned parents who believed there couldn't be smoke without fire and he couldn't return there - and every other school found a justification to not hire.

A pretty much broken man, he was dead five years later, still in his 50s.

Those cops knew they were building a fake second half to their case and deliberately ended his career when they arrested him in front of the kids. Given the ultimate end result, that's one step away from manslaughter to me.

In this society, sex crime allegations destroy lives. A false accusation is, in many ways, just as destructive to a life as the alleged act. False accusers should absolutely face the punishment the falsely accused was threatened with, not a slap on the wrist. Similarly, given the accused may also be the victim of what is essentially a sex related crime, the same anonymity "victims" get should be preserved for the accused until they are found guilty. Sorry if that makes convictions a little bit harder but I'd be interested to see figures for what percentage are only convicted because their alleged crimes were publicized vs. the percentage of falsely accused. Something tells me we'd have less victims this way round.

Comment Your Complex American Laws (Score 1) 528

As a lawful permanent resident but non-citizen, I'm ineligible. Apparently I do not understand your complex American legal system (which is mostly built off my British one minus pesky things like Habeus Corpus when they don't suit politicians).

Part of me wants to be bitter and mock the system. Then I remember how much everyone who is eligible seems to hate it and am grateful for never getting that semi-regular letter.

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