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Comment Re:The way you ask it? Yes. (Score 1) 362

I can turn the question around: If you hire me to do some work in your house, would you be ok if I cleaned the next doors swimming pool during that time?

And the answer is: it depends.

If i hired you to do some DIY work on my house and i was paying you for the job, you said the job would be complete in X days / by X date, and your activities on the side didn't impede your ability to meet that deadline then sure, i wouldn't care.

If i was paying you by the hour then i would generally expect not to pay you for the hours you were doing something else, but if you billed 8 hours a day, spent 4 hours in the morning working, went to do something else for 4 hours then came back and did another 4 i'd have no problem with it... Similarly if you billed 8 hours a day but worked 6 hours some days and 10 on other days, if it averaged out to around the rate i was paying i'd have no problem.
Also if you were unable to do any work for some reason outside of your control (eg you're waiting for materials and cannot do anything until they arrive) i'd have no problem with you doing something else rather than just sitting around doing nothing.

There's a lot to be said for flexibility, providing it cuts both ways.

Comment Re:Not automatically (Score 1) 362

In the UK it's actually much harder to fire someone than in the US, due to the various employment laws, although employees need to be aware of the law and stand up for their rights.
In the US you can generally fire someone at any time for any reason... In the UK you have to have a justifiable reason, and except in cases of gross misconduct you have to have given the employee both verbal and written warnings as well as having given them a chance to improve (ie in the case of incompetence).

Comment Re:It's not called office hours for nothing (Score 1) 362

The employment agreement does not imply that you will be given increased compensation for doing more work...

On the other hand, if you are paid the same as your peers then it's reasonable to perform a similar level of work. If you are more skilled than your peers then you should either be able to complete the same amount of work to the same standard in less time than they do and have some free time, or you should be paid more if you're completing more work in the same time.

If the employee in question is performing to a similar level as his peers on a similar salary, and he's not doing anything which damages the company or his colleagues then there's no justification to fire him as he's every bit as useful to the company as his colleagues.

Comment Re:This is seriously up to for debate..? (Score 1) 362

A lot of companies expect you to do more than Y hours for no extra $X...

There has to be give and take... I'm expected to do 40 hours a week, sometimes i do 30 and sometimes i do 50, my boss is fine with this so long as the work gets done and he's happy that if work needs to be done outside of normal hours he can ask me to do it. Similarly, i'm happy that i can take a morning off or a long lunch to do my own thing sometimes. It balances out, the work gets done and the staff are happier and more flexible.

On the other hand i worked for a previous company that demanded i sit in the office even if i wasn't working, keep to strict lunchtimes, never be late arriving but often be late leaving, they frequently demanded that i work extra hours for no extra pay, often tried to contact me when i took pre-arranged holiday, or expected me to spend a lot of time travelling to other locations for work. It was all take and no give on their part, so i started working to rule (arrive on time, leave on time, ignore emails/calls out of hours etc), looking for another job and fairly quickly quit that job and moved on.

Comment Re:OMG (Score 1) 362

I've actually been in several jobs like that, the boss asks me how long i need for a particular project, i quote a time i think will be reasonable with a little margin for error and he then proceeds to give me twice as much time as i asked for...
My quotes were honest, if i said i needed a week i would actually be done within a week, and i never got any complaints that the work was not completed to a sufficient standard. What am i supposed to do with the extra time?

Comment Re:You can't generalize. (Score 1) 362

It does *sound* a bit sociopathic, doesn't it? But sociopathy is a pathological disregard for the rights of others. While deception is often used to violate someone's rights, but it can *also* be used to protect someone's rights.

For example if I knew an employee was embezzling money, I don't have to tell him I know. I can deceive him into thinking I'm not on to him until I gather enough proof or discover who his accomplices are. This is deceptive, but not a violation of his rights.

Comment Re:You were hired to work for THEM (Score 1) 362

But to flip that in reverse, outside of working hours is YOUR time, and yet many companies expect people to work more than their contracted hours sometimes...

If a company wants to be strict with hours, then the employee should be too... If they want to be flexible, then the employee can be flexible too but you can't have it both ways.

Comment You can't generalize. (Score 2) 362

Anyone who works on unauthorized personal projects should certainly expect to be subject to firing. But as a supervisor I would make the decision to fire based on what is best for my employer. That depends on a lot of things.

I don't believe in automatic zero tolerance responses. The question for me is whether the company better off booting this guy or disciplining him. Note this intrinsically unfair. Alice is a whiz who gets all of her work done on time and to top quality standards. Bob is a mediocre performer who is easily replaced. So Alice gets a strong talking to and Bob gets the heave-ho, which is unfair to Bob because Alice did exactly the same thing.

But there's a kind of meta-fairness to it. Stray off the straight and narrow and you subject yourself to arbitrary, self-interested reactions.

Now as to Alice, I would (a) remind her that anything she creates on company time belongs to the company (even if we're doing open source -- we get to choose whether the thing is distributed) and (b) that any revenue she derives from it rightly belongs to the company. But again there's no general rule other than maximize the interests of the company. I'll probably insist she shut down the project immediately and turn everything over to the company, but not necessarily. I might choose to turn a blind eye. Or maybe even turn a blind eye until Alice delivers on her big project, then fire her and sue her for the side project revenues if I thought we didn't need her any longer. If loyalty is a two-way street, so is betrayal.

Sure, you may rationalize working on a side project as somehow justified by the fact your employer doesn't pay you what you're really worth, but the grown-up response to that is to find a better job; if you can't, by definition in a market economy you are getting paid at least what you're worth. If you decide to proceed by duplicity, you can't expect kindness or understanding unless you can compel it.

Comment Re:60Ghz (Score 1) 136

I agree it sounds impractical. So I looked at the patent -- which not being a radio engineer it's perfectly safe for me to do (n.b. -- it's always dangerous to look at what might be bullshit patents in your field because you open yourself up to increased damages for using common sense). But I was a ham radio operator when I was a kid so I do know the lingo.

There are a number of problems with broadcasting power, starting with the fact that it's inefficient to saturate ambient space with enough radiation to be usefully harvested. But that's not what they're proposing. 802.11 ad operates in the extreme microwave range -- about 5cm wavelength aka the "V" band. This band is also unregulated so you can try weird things in it. What they propose is to use an array of antennas to create a steerable beam -- like a phased array radar. This would confine the power to a specific plane so that you wouldn't have to saturate all of ambient space with power. The beam steering would be done "dynamically", which I take to mean it would figure out how to maximize signal strength with some kind of stochastic algorithm. So it might not work if you are unicycling around the room.

And because the wavelength is so short an antenna array would be relatively compact.

Even so, it doesn't sound that practical. It's bound to be limited to line of sight, for example: the V band does not penetrate walls or the human body at all, in contrast with the S band that conventional wifi operates on. I can certainly imagine applications for it, but making it practical for charging your phone is apt to be very expensive. You'd have surround yourself with V band antenna arrays.

By the way, reading this patent reminds me of why I hate reading patents. They're infuriatingly vague in order to make the claims as broad as possible, and yet are cluttered with inanely obvious details ("the radio receiver can include active and passive components") and irrelevancies (the device may include a touch screen). I think the purpose may be that someone trying to figure out whether the vague language applies to a cell phone will think, "I don't know WTF this is claiming, but look this phone *does* have a touch screen." It just shows how broken our patent system is.

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