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Comment Re:Wait... Who got that other half of the $$$ rais (Score 5, Informative) 32

I spent about fifteen years of my career in the non-profit sector, so I have some perspective on this.

Raising money in a non-profit is just like selling stuff is for a for-profit. Generating gross revenue is relatively easy -- if you spend a lot of money you can rake in a lot of dough. What's a bitch to generate is net profit. In the non-profit sector we don't use the term "profitability" very much, so the metric that's often used to describe financial is "cost to raise a dollar." For typical fundraising activities cost-to-raise-a-dollar runs from 0.25 to 1.5 dollars/dollar.

Take junk mail. The cost to raise a dollar for a well-run direct mail campaign is in the range of $1.25 to $1.50, so if I want to raise $115,000 to spend on other things I have to scale my direct mail campaign to bring inover $258,000 gross. As you can see I chose a net target that was exactly 1/1000 the size of the ALS bucket challenge net, so you can compare the efficiency of the processes readily. The cost to raise a dollar for the ALS bucket challenge is actually better than a well-run direct mail campaign -- $0.91.

And it should be more efficient than direct mail, because direct mail is about the least efficient method there is. The marginal costs are huge because you pay for the names and addresses as well as printing and mailing of each piece, and most of those pieces will end up in the landfill unopened. So if direct mail is so inefficient, why use it? Because the financial inefficiency doesn't matter to the organization doing the fundraising. The end result of my hypothetical direct mail campaign is that my organization has $115,000 it didn't have before. That probably pays for one and half full time staff positions (at the low do-gooder wages we pay) for a year.

So the ALS challenge was in the financial efficiency range of methods normally used by non-profits, albeit a little towards the inefficient end. That doesn't really tell us if the campaign was responsibly run or not; to know that you'd have to look at all the expenses and compare those to costs in other viral Internet fundraising campaigns. But the bottom line is that the ALS association ended up with $115 million it didn't have before.

Can you think of a way of raising $115 million in a few months? I thought not. So presuming the guys who ran the campaign didn't spend the money on hookers and blow, I wouldn't be unduly concerned by a cost-to-raise-a-dollar of $0.91 if I was on the board.

Should donors care that the ALS challenge was a little high on the cost-to-raise-a-dollar metric? Well, I look at it this way. People did it because it was fun and for a good cause, and two years later we can point to concrete and significant scientific results from the money raised. That's not only pretty good, it's pretty damned awesome.

Comment Mask work expires before patent (Score 1) 156

For convenience, I shall quote the relevant part of the statute:

it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided: (1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner

tlhIngan wrote:

That defense doesn't work because you're format-shifting.

The format shifting is "an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine".

Mask works have higher protections

Mask works are covered under chapter 9 of the U.S. copyright statute. And as flink pointed out, protection under chapter 9 subsists until the end of the Gregorian calendar year of first publication plus ten more years (17 USC 904). It's shorter than even a patent.

Comment Re:This is NOT a matter of trademark violation (Score 2) 238

Not necessarily. Take a look at the relevant portion of the Lantham Act. It would have to fit one of the provisions therein. It might make a false suggestion of affiliation, but it's arguable.

15 U.S.C. 1125 - False designations of origin, false descriptions, and dilution forbidden

(a) Civil action

(1) Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services, or any container for goods, uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact, which

(A) is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person, or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods, services, or commercial activities by another person, or

(B) in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin of his or her or another person's goods, services, or commercial activities,

shall be liable in a civil action by any person who believes that he or she is or is likely to be damaged by such act.

Comment Re:anti-science environmentalists (Score 1) 180

Actually, it's thoroughly impossible to tell how the new standards work based upon by the linked articles, but it sounds like in plain language that Florida is using a computer model that could allow more flexibility in discharge permitting. This can lead to better results, whether your definition of better is "more rationally defensible" or "more in line with what my donors want." Determining which way it is better requires review by a competent expert. It might be both.

The real issue here is this phrase from TFA: "one of a kind." That's not so good.

It's important in managing environmental data to do things in the usual way. This is contrary to the way public thinks about new technologies. If there's a new iPhone, you expect it to be better in every way or at least as good. It's not like that with scientific methods; new techniques are proposed because they have certain advantages, obviously. But they always have one big disadvantage: their results are hard to compare with what you already know. You need to do a lot of work to justify doing things a new way, otherwise you can find yourself unable to compare what is happening now to what was happening before.

Fortunately Florida can't do this on its own; it has to get EPA approval. Since this is an administration that is generally favorable to environmental regulation, if they can get this past Obama's EPA that will help give these new methods more credibility.

Comment This is NOT a matter of trademark violation (Score 1) 238

You violate a trademark if you mis-represent a good or service as that of the trademark holder. And it has to be in the same trademark category that they registered. Having a trademark does not grant ownership of a word, and does not prevent anyone else from using that word. Use of a trademark in reporting and normal discussion is not a violation.

Comment First episode free (Score 1) 156

I really wish the Android Play Store had a search option to only show games priced $5 or more, because micro transaction and spam-the-player are dismal experiences.

Would a 1-episode game available without charge on Google Play Store, with additional episodes available for in-app purchase, also be a "dismal experience"?

Comment How many people have that controller? (Score 1) 156

Adding physical buttons to smartphone or tablet is not a problem. I constatnly use my iPega controller

How many other people own that controller or others like it? I haven't seen one third-party controller maker release sales figures, and without them, it becomes hard for a for-profit company to justify developing a game targeted at a particular third-party controller. It's also bulky to carry in a pocket.

I think there is lot of money to make if Nintendo released an attachable controler that hosts the device such as smartphone as its screen with built-in battery. AND also released its vast library of oldschool games on it. They have means to do it via all this virtual console stuff they have on their current systems.

Then why hasn't every third-party developer on the NES and Super NES released iPega editions of its games?

Comment Swipe gestures with your thumbs (Score 1) 156

A smartphone does not beat an Atari 2600, because fundamentally it doesn't have enough buttons.

In theory, a multitouch device can support seven actions per thumb: tap, hold, swipe up, swipe down, swipe left, swipe right, and large swipe. Swipes can be combined diagonally. That already gives you more gestures than a 2600 controller. One might make a platformer by using tap to stop, swipe sideways to go (large swipe to dash), swipe up to jump, and tap with the other thumb to shoot. Do any Android games use a similar control scheme?

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