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Comment Re:It's not driven by real estate prices (Score 1) 484

I work for a small start-up. We have something like 2,500 square feet of office space, including private offices for most of six people there. We also have no servers (everything is cloud-based) and everyone uses a notebook, wifi, and cell/cordless phones. What tends to happen is that 2/3rd of the floorspace is empty at any given time. We all tend to congregate in the centrally-located conference room. If people need to make a private call or really concentrate on something, they'll steal away to an office and then return later.

This behavior isn't dictated by management, it just happens. I've found out that if I sit in my office for most of the day, I feel out of the loop (even with constant email exchanges). There are some downsides to being constantly plugged-in to everything like that, but overall, I feel it's a net-positive. A great amount of collaboration just emerges.
Hardware Hacking

Building a Telegraph Using Only Stone Age Materials 238

MMBK writes "It's the ultimate salvagepunk experiment, building a telegraph out of things found in the woods. From the article: 'During the summer of 2009, artist Jamie O’Shea of the organization Substitute Materials set out to test whether or not electronic communication could have been built at any time in history with the proper knowledge, and with only tools and materials found in the wilderness of New Jersey.'"

Comment Re:Open your wallets (Score 3, Insightful) 327

I'm sure there's more to the story than that. Did the musician assign the copyright of his songs to a recording company? If so, then I'm sure he was monetarily compensated for doing so when he signed that agreement and understood that they were no longer "his" songs. And did the ASCAP have some sort of agreement with the bar that the owners were to ensure that no unauthorized performances were conducted?

I'm not saying that these terms weren't laughably restrictive and counter to free culture. But the situation likely boils down a contract dispute--one that was entered into freely by all parties involved. If that's the case, there's enough blame to be spread around for agreeing to such terms. The ASCAP would not have had standing to sue if some random songwriter was performing in some random bar.

Comment Re:NGC Culture (Score 3, Informative) 168

See, government contracting works like this. You create a company, hire some folk to work on a contract. Whatever their salary is, you charge the government +50% or more, so essentially the government is not only flat out paying your salary but also the company for your services. If the contract ends, so does your job as the company may not want to charge overhead. In contrast to other business sectors, employment typically isn't grounded so harshly on the existence of a contract, which is where cost of business and business management can keep workers afloat even during down times (think department store).

I do a lot of business with both the federal gov't and private sector businesses on IT projects. You've over-simplified things to the point of painting an inaccurate picture. Federal contracting is extremely complex and there are myriad types of contracts that can be awarded, each with different terms. It sounds like what you're describing is a labor-hour contract. The contractor bills the gov't for the "fully burdened cost" of putting a warm butt in a seat. This includes the worker's salary, overhead, G&A (general & administrative), and profit. All together, it's typically a lot more than a 50% markup of the staff's straight salary.

Unlike most private sector contracts, when doing a fully burdened labor hour contract with the feds, the contractor will spell out exactly what their profit margin is. Generally this is only 6-10%, which is considerably lower than the private sector. Despite what everyone thinks, doing business with the gov't isn't all that lucrative. It's an extremely competitive market in which the bottom-line cost is almost always the most important factor. Contracting officers are even prohibited by law to give preferential treatment to companies that have previously done a great job.

I can't really comment on forced furloughs, because I'm not familiar with how Northrup operates. But just because they do "government contracts" doesn't necessarily mean they can afford to keep highly-skilled staff on the payroll until they find a new project for them. Federal contracts can really help with sales revenue because they can be large awards and the government *always* pays. However, the trade off is all the red tape (which increases G&A costs) and the low profit margins. Next time you hear about Company X getting a $10M contract, don't just roll your eyes. Get a hold of their proposal and the contract and see what their actual profit is on the contract. Both documents are public property and available upon request from the federal contracting officer that made the award. (Defense related contracts might need to be pried from gov't with a FOIA request though)

Comment Re:It's a nice framework (Score 1) 110

Python and Ruby are in no way similar, other than the fact that they're both open-source OOP languages. They have completely opposing design philosophies: Python's "one right way to do it" vs. Ruby's "give the developer enough rope to hang himself."

Comment Re:Politics aside, wtf is wrong with Google? (Score 1) 650

No. The start of the "Tea Party" occurred during the grassroots movement to get Ron Paul the '08 Republican nomination for president. It grew out of the series of "money bombs" that were organized for his campaign. Fox News then hijacked the concept after the election because it was an existing vehicle of disaffected voters. Nowadays, the "Tea Party" has no coherent platform, it's just a bunch of soundbites used to whip the throng of useful idiots into a froth. And it has no actual leadership because everyone is too busy knifing each other in the back, trying to make themselves relevant in the current power vacuum of the Republican party.

Comment Re:How is this legal? (Score 4, Interesting) 757

So you take them to small claims court, where in many jurisdictions lawyers are not permitted. Motorola will have to send a corporate officer to represent the company. A much more likely outcome is that they'll settle with you prior to the hearing. All it takes is a few people to do this, and then blog about it and/or post info on social networking sites. Suddenly, Motorola is facing hundreds of small claims suits. They're still likely to settle them all out of court for the cost of the phone, but perhaps the next time they make a phone someone in the initial design meeting says "Ya know, the fuse function really seemed to piss off a lot of people, people who are now likely buying phones from our competitors. Maybe we shouldn't take that route again."

Comment Re:Industry self-regulation in action (Score 1) 353

+5 Insightful? The world does not exist in black and white. You know those chip fabs that Intel and AMD uses to make the processor in your computer? They typically cost anywhere from $1-4 billion dollars to build. Some things simply cannot be accomplished by small businesses and require the resources of large corporations.
Image

Police Investigating Virtual Furniture Theft 103

krou writes "Finnish police are involved in the investigation of up to 400 cases of theft from virtual world Habbo Hotel, with some users reporting the loss of up to €1000 of virtual furniture and other items. Users were targeted using a phishing scam that used fake webpages to capture usernames and passwords. There is no mention as to whether or not the thieves made off with the bath towels, gowns, shampoo bottles, and soaps."

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