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Comment Re:Where is the service? (Score 1) 133

It would be ride share if his response was "Nah, I was going to Bruno's".

No, it wouldn't -- because YOU are going to Brunos, and so you wouldn't go with him, you'd get your paid service from someone willing to provide it. There are plenty of taxi situations where the driver will tell you "no, I don't go there."

The distinctive element here isn't what doesn't happen; it is what does happen. As I said, I'm not arguing for regulation (nor am I claiming any one way is better than another... that strikes me as highly situational); but in terms of the common element here, it's that (a) transport costs money, (b) you don't have transport, (c) you pay someone to provide it, (d) they do so.

Comment Re:Bottom line: how would a union help me? (Score 1) 467

Physical presence?

Yes. Unless your job requires physical presence, then there is zero cost for a corporation to move it from a union area to a non-union area, or completely offshore, as long as they can find sufficient talent that their cost per unit work is cheaper whereveer they relocate it to. Without a physical presence requirement, there is zero leverage for a strike.

Creativity? Are you fucking kidding me?

No, I'm not. I was part of the 1987 DOL study that resulted in the classification of Software Engineering/Programming as a primarily creative endeavor. Until a skilled practitioner A and skilled practitioner B will tend to come up with the same solution to a given problem more often than not, it is an art as much as it requires a high degree of training and skill.

Why do screen writers maintain their unions? Screen writing is highly creative & it requires even less physical presence than software engineering work.

Predominantly? To keep the available talent pool limited in order to inflate their price through artificial scarcity. Try joining WGAw or WGAe with less than 24 units of writing credit, and try getting employed as a screen writer without being a member of WGAw or WGAe.

But here are some potential benefits to all parties, since you need to be spoon fed:
- Professional trade certifications; most of the certification courses in the past 15 years are completely meaningless or too geared towards specific technologies.

These are useless. They are like an acting degree from a prestigious university: they are worthless compared to a track record as an actor/actress. You can have the best certifications in the industry, but you aren't going to find work if you can't act - or if you do find work, you aren't going to keep it very long, since it was a mistake.

This should include technical management & lead skills for those that are thinking of it.

I'm pretty sure the first is is spelled "M B A", and the second is something you get on merit, rather than because some idiot certified you as having had training in being tech lead. Unless you can do the work, again, the certifications are all BS. Technical fields are all meritocracies, and have zero to do with "time in grade" or other things that typically matter for career tracks in unions.

- Carving out a genuine, non-management professional career track. I'm a reasonably good developer; yet I know I'd be a terrible manager & team lead.

This already exists at successful technical companies; Novell, Apple, IBM, Google, all have this. From personal experience, IBM has had it since the at least the late 1990's. The companies which don't have it are out of business because no one good wants to work there, or they are stagnant in their growth because no one of a higher skill level wants to work there, and they get people who can "get by".

- Genuine, best-of-breed continuing education to keep good software developers *relevant* while filtering out the fads & buzzwords.

I'm going to call BS on this. "Relevant" is recruiter code for "has a resume containing the buzzwords we are looking for this week". You should also be aware that most software engineering reduces to language calculus, and there are only a couple of these that are in common use, and once you've learned the underlying principles devoid of a language binding, the language bindings really don't matter to anyone other than recruiters. A good engineer can pick up enough of a new language to be productive, as long as it matches one of the calculus with which they are already familiar, in a week or less. I don't need some stupid MSCE certification or other BS certification from a certifying authority to make me able to do the job.

OK let me point out something that tends to bug the hell out of me about this particular "benefit": the typical behaviour of a union would be to limit the number of such certifications issued in a given time period to keep the number of people certified for such work smaller than the demand count.

The only thing I can see resulting from this would be increased outsourcing, since there's no leverage for a strike... your entire team goes on strike? Fine, outsource all of the, It's ot like the existing active web pages on your eCommerce site are going to suddenly stop working if the idiots go out on strike, and you can limp along without a revamp to marketings idea of a "new look and feel" until you can get replacements (outsourced or outside union jurisdiction; either works).

- *Encouraging* the idea to employees that the fads & buzzwords are really the least important qualities, compared to the fundamentals. Employers really are overpaying.

I'm going to assume that the first "employees" was intended to be "employers", since employees already know this. Frankly, an employer who doesn't already know this can put up as many billboards as they want on 101 between San Francisco and San Jose, and while they might have people interview with them, especially if they offer over-market benefits and/or salary, they aren't going to get a lot of people working for them. It's pretty easy to see in an interview when the people interviewing you are clueless, and when they are, that's going to be a terrible place to work long term.

Interviews are not unidirectional, as they are in most union shops: they are about the technical employee interviewing the company as much as they are about the company interviewing the technical employee. In a good company, the company is asking if you lied on your resume, and if you have a track record, and if you would be a good team fit, and if you and your prospective manager take an instant dislike to one another or not. In a good employee, the employee is asking if it'd be a good work environment, if they would be a good team fit, if they and their prospective manager take an instant dislike to one another or not, and if the work will be meaningful/fulfilling or bullshit like "we want to build another Zynga!".

- Enforcing maximum working hours to keep good software developers from burning out. Asking developers to work 60-80 hour weeks consistently is a great sign of burn & churn; such places should be called out for it.

This is typically only applicable to startups, where it translates to sweat equity. After that, it's only typical where the work environment is preferable to home anyway, or where the problem set is so compelling you lose track of time. Other than Facebook, where they light a neon sign when they expect their employees to "burn the midnight oil", there's not much in the way of forced hours. At Apple, you'd occasionally get it to meet a product deadline, and mostly if you were the person who broke whatever it was that was in the way of the deadline. At Facebook, it's peer pressure if the light is on; maybe they should be called on it. At Google, it was almost always compelling work. At IBM, it pretty much didn't happen, except with contractors.

I'm still not seeing a benefit, as a technology worker, to joining a union.

The biggest draw I've seen so far is that you could start a Programmers Union and put "P.U." after your name on your business cards, but most places, you can do what you want, within reason, on your business cards anyway (I listed my job title on my Apple business cards as "Conspiracy Theorist" for a couple of years, as an example).

Star Wars Prequels

Disney's Titling Problem With Its Star Wars Movies 279

An anonymous reader writes "When George Lucas produced his Star Wars movies, he subtitled them 'Episode I,' 'Episode IV' etc. But that style will become inappropriate and confusing with Disney producing a new Star Wars movie each year, observes blogger Christopher Knight: 'Those were individual chapters of one story in an epic fantasy setting. And it suffices for that one multi-generational epic on film. Except now, there is the intent to produce several stories in that same setting. And they aren't necessarily going to pertain to the tale of the Skywalker family from Anakin to Luke to whoever it will be in the next trilogy.' Knight's solution is to retroactively amend the titles of Episodes I through IX to reflect it being the Skywalkers' saga, just as Lucas retroactively subtitled the first movie to be Episode IV."

Comment Not an entirely weird idea (Score 1) 147

I doubt Apple or Amazon is specifying how the LEDs are made. This is a weirdness in patent law, in that you can sue the user of patent infringing part, not the manufacturer.

This is not an entirely weird idea. Specifically, if your design incorporates a CDMA part, you will have to pay a patent royalty on the use of CDMA to Qualcomm of $35. The catch is that the royalty is only due on the part if you import it into the U.S. where there is a patent in effect on CDMA, and not due in other markets where there is not a CDMA patent in effect.

So BU may have some standing here, if the off the shelf parts using their technology did not have a license from BU to use the patented technology in the manufacture of those parts; if that's the case, then a royalty must be negotiated for importation of the device manufactured in an area with no patent on the technology into a market where such a patent applies.

This is something of a dirty trick, since often the patent holders will engage in selective enforcement against people with deep pockets. I.e. you can buy the same part yourself from Digikey or other vendors, or from Chinese and Japanese vendors, and have it drop-shipped to you in the U.S., or even have devices built abroad using the part and import it into the U.S., and BU will likely not sue you until you have deep pockets.

One of the failings of patent law is that, unlike trademarks, which have to be rigorously defended for them to remain in force, patents do not require rigorous defense. Likewise, while attempting to treat IP (Intellectual Property) as real property for enforcement purposes, the courts do not recognize the doctrine of adverse use/adverse possession, in which, after a period, if not stopped from use, the user establishes an interest and therefore the owner can not contest it. It's rather like being able to "have your cake and eat it too".

Hopefully there will be some patent reform soon; meanwhile, yes, BU is playing a dirty trick by not going after "first offender first", but they are likely within their rights... ...assuming of course the first principle that the off the shelf parts used in the devices were not manufactured under license of the patent from BU. If that assumption is invalid, then BU is just trolling for a settlement and shouldn't be allowed to get away with it.

Comment TV is overdue for an "Apple-ization" (Score 1) 128

TV is overdue for an "Apple-ization".

If Samsung integrates this before it addresses the EDID negotiation on "inactive" input channels problem that most of their televisions suffer from, then they are just adding widgets to a poorly performing product. I shouldn't have to have an input be the active input before it is willing to negotiate EDID, and the reason Samsung TVs often make poor computer monitors for Samsung computers/laptops is that they won't dod an EDID negotiation on an electrictically active channel which is not selected for input. In other words, Samsung products don't interperate, unless you connect them on the primary input channel, or unless you can select an electrically inactive input channel as the primary before attaching/powering up a device connected to it.

When Apple did the iPhone, it was done with the idea that it would be closed, have a limited set of functionality, and there would not be apps offered on it. Steve was deathly afraid of building another Newton. The reason he wanted it was because he had gone through a lot of cell phones which were no good for making phone calls.

Bringing this philosophy to televisions/LCD displays, it would be more important to make them work as televisions/LCD displays, before you go off and attempt to add programming guides, DVR capability, streaming video capability, and so on.

So I repeat: TV is overdue for an "Apple-ization": it needs to be good at its primary function before people go adding crap to it and "gilding the turd", as Woz would perhaps put it.

Comment Misrepresentation (Score 1) 158

That's kinda the point: depending on the specific circumstance, impersonating someone over the mail could thrust you into a world of shit, so the only safe thing to do is avoid it. Good humor is good, but in this case I find the ensuing hilarity does not justify the risk.

The email was sent to a particular address; it was responded to from the address to which it was sent. The respondent nevery laid claim to "Zynga" anywhere in the response.

If there is any misrepresentation going on, it is misrepresentation of the support contact email address by Zynga. You could also argue "theft of services" by Zynga.

Comment Re:Its stil bonkers. (Score 4, Insightful) 133

If you have 100 four stars you will be kicked out. The system is basically saying you need to give any driver you want to keep five stars, all the time. This makes a 5 point rating system pointless and it might as well be a boolean "Keep? Yes / No" flag that is averaged.

People other than engineers do not do the mathematical reductions like this in their head, and then act accordingly.

Personally, I never thought eBay would go anywhere, since it's not actually an auction; the mathematical reduction is "second lowest bid ceiling plus bid increment", given that you can give a bid ceiling, and it will automatically "bid" for you. But seriously, on the back end you could just insertion sort the bid ceilings, look at the first two in the table, and make the decision on that basis. I thought the OnSale model, in which actual bids were being placed, in a non-automated fashion, was more of a real auction, and that they'd own things.

But I had not taken into account that ordinary people don't do the mathematical reduction, and find the convenience of not having to watch their "bids" of more value than the actual "auctionness" of the auctions.

I imagine they have "proprietary" back end safeguards against things like "perpetually lower-than-5-rating passengers, or some other means of throwing out the outliers so that they can keep their driver pool up, in case that ever became a real issue for their business expansion. I suspect at this point, they'd rather have twice as many drivers that are unhappy about being thrown out of that role than they currently have, as a PAC to be able to have an effective block to counter the taxi interests. So if they don't have the rules behind the curtain, expect the rules in front of the curtain to change soon.

Otherwise, it occurs to me that the taxi lobby could have a few people sign up as 5 day a week riders and perpetually rate the drivers "1" in order to reduce the number of drivers below the level of viability by gaming the published rating system.

Comment Where is the service? (Score 5, Insightful) 133

No, the distinctive thing is that you're paying for a ride. That's a service.

Not saying that the city/state whatever needs to be involved, but I *am* saying that to pretend this isn't a paid service to the rider is disingenuous.

Suppose a taxi driver was thinking of going downtown to Bruno's for a good pizza slice. Turns around, heads down Broadway, there you are, waving your hand. You get in and tell him, Bruno's, please! Did that suddenly turn the taxi ride into not-a-taxi-ride? No, of course not.

Comment Re:Wait, what? (Score 1) 133

From the "become a driver" page: "Drivers are making up to $35/hr + choosing their own hours."

It sounds like a taxi service

Yeah, in which case, it's hard to see how they're NOT directly competing with Taxis.

That gets into an entirely different category -- if it was purely ride-sharing/gas-sharing that's one thing, but this is something else.

Comment Re:And this is why I choose to use Apple... (Score 1) 95

Sometime a little idealism is required.

Oh, I hear you my friend.

Sadly, the major players have no interest in open platforms. So your choices become "live in a cave and stop using technology", "find the middle ground you can live with", or "just use it and stop caring".

Obviously the 1st and 3rd choices suck, and the 2nd one is difficult, and quite possibly a losing battle.

Thee and me tilting at windmills won't change the way most people go about doing this. I'm not saying we should stop trying, but sometimes a little pragmatism can come in handy.

Comment Re:And this is why I choose to use Apple... (Score 1) 95

I'm not addressing other companies here, I'm addressing Apple, and someone (who is probably trolling, but has been modde insightful by the faithful)

Well, let's face it -- this is Slashdot. 30% will hate everything a given company does with no good reason, 30% will love everything a given company does with no good reason, 20% or so use lots of different things but aren't 'faithful' and buy on merit, 26.3% of us will just say "get off my lawn" and bitch about everything, about 42% will buy on the basis of "oooh, shiny", and 100% will piss and moan about the decision making process of other people being horribly flawed, irrational, and untenable.

You'll also find no correlation between how Slashdot does this, and how the rest of the world does since we tend to be polarized to the point of being collective screeching monkeys.

Yes, Apple led the way in terms of providing a closed shop they control. And, yes, as you point out, everyone is trying to do exactly the same thing right now.

I'm jut saying that instead of this pointless pissing contest everytime someone mentions Apple or Microsoft and we divide off into camps of idiots -- go no the assumption they're all greedy bastards who don't give a shit about your security and privacy.

Weigh the technology on how useful it is to you and your needs, balanced with how much you care about various bullshit any of them have done in the past and what you can do to mitigate it.

But don't think any tech company nowadays has your best interests at heart. Me, I'm just as apt to run both my Google Nexus and my iPad in airplane mode most of the time to minimize the stuff it is doing when I'm not looking.

Comment Re:And this is why I choose to use Apple... (Score 2) 95

Apple doesn't care about your security, it cares about your money.

News flash: that's all any of them care about.

Microsoft, Apple, Google, Sony, Netflix, Samsung, Oracle, Nokia, Motorolla ... every single damned one of them (and more) only cares about your money.

They will often sacrifice your security in order to make it easier for them to intrude on your privacy. Or they're so grossly incompetent to implement any actual security as to make it worthless. The only security they'll put effort into is their own DRM.

If you completely trust any of them, you've misplaced your faith. You can trust them to varying degrees as you see fit, but don't think for a minute this is unique to Apple.

None of these companies deserve blanket trust, some deserve some guarded trust where you disable/enable as you need them, and some of them you should probably neither trust nor reward with your money.

But every single damned one of them has one goal, and one goal only -- to maximize profits, and in the process, monetize anything about you they have access to.

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