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Comment No, the reason is laws. (Score 3, Insightful) 115

There is a reason that American teenagers aren't working in orchards... if growers paid enough to get teens to take the jobs, nobody would be able to afford fruit.

No. The reason is that the laws (child labor, working conditions) make it impossible for them to use teenagers any more.

Meanwhile the illegals can't complain about working conditions - and will work for less than minimum wage in (those occupations where it applies.)

US citizens needn't apply because they can't compete. (Even if they were willing to work for sub-legal prices and/or in sub-legal conditions, the employer can't risk that they might turn around and demand the missing money or compensation for the conditions.) The illegals, meanwhile, can afford to work that cheaply because social programs can pay for much of the support of them and their families - turning programs intended to help the poor into subsidies for their employers.

Meanwhile, the government's non-enforcement of the laws against the illegals working means that, in highly competitive markets (such as construction contracting), employers are left with a Hobson's choice: Use illegal labor and be competitive, or try to use legal labor and go out of business.

Comment Part of why Silicon Valley is in CA (Score 1) 379

Most employment agreements are such that the company owns it even if it is outside of normal hours. So inventions you come up with on your own time are not yours.

And one of the key reasons Silicon Valley grew up in California is a law that, in effect, says:
  - As a matter of the state's compelling interest:
  - If you invent something
  - on your own time and not using company resources
  - and it's not in the company's current or expected immediate future business plan
  - you own it
  - regardless of what your employment contract says
  - and employment contracts have to include a notice of this.

Result: People who invent neat stuff their current company won't be productizing can get get together with a few friends, rent a garage across the street, and build a company to develop the new stuff. So companies bud off new companies, doing somewhat different stuff, like yeast. And the opportunity to get in on the ground floor attracts many other skilled people who might not be as inventive, but still wnt to be some of those "few friends" of the inventors.

Comment Re:Need this refined before I need a knee replacem (Score 1) 50

Sooner or later I will need a knee replacement. It would be nice to have a tissue one instead of metal and plastic.

I could use one now. I tore a meniscus in my knee a couple years ago, and it's healed as much as it will - which isn't enough. Surgery options only involve cutting it out (which leaves the bones rubbing each other) or replacing the whole joint (which is not only inferior but doesn't last as long a my current life expectancy).

Being able to drop in a replacement, grown from a printed scaffold of generic materials seeded with my own induced-pluripotent stem cells, would just fix it. (In fact it should fix it to be as good as it was decades ago, or maybe even better than it ever was.)

Comment Single target. (Score 1) 46

All [no standard] means is that websites will write their own version, some already have.

Indeed.

Also: In the race between weapons and armor, weapons always (eventually) win.

By creating a standard and getting the bulk of the "content providers" to adopt it, the WWWC creates a single big target that leads to breaking MOST of the DRM simultaneously. Meanwhile, content providers are left with the choice of getting behind the big target or being non-standard.

Which is fine: Like WEP, or a locked screen door, DRM won't protect things forever. But, like a "No Trespassing" sign, it DOES indicate INTENT forever. Intent of the content provider to limit access, and intent of the unauthorized content viewer to bypass that limit. That takes the "I didn't mean to do it." defence away, and gets any legal cases down to examining whether the poster of the No Trespassing sign had the right to limit the access and/or the crosser of the boundary had a right to obtain access.

Comment Re:Abolish NASA, and deregulate aerospace. (Score 1) 157

not quite the average toddler's level of understanding.

Project much?

Spoken like one with no clue at all of NASA's decades of hostility to private enterprise in space. Google for "OTRAG" for one example of a potential competitor that they pulled out all the stops to kill off.

-jcr

Comment How it goes wrong:Commodore, A Company on the EdgE (Score 3, Interesting) 85

This one is a great book about the early days of getting computer companies established. The significance of Commodore is often overlooked these days, but at the time they were trouncing the likes of Apple.

Unfortunately, Jack Tramiel never really evolved into a big company player and kept small practices like starving suppliers etc. going. The later nepotism didn't help much either. This is a fascinating book of how a company that should have become what Apple is today, with tech way ahead of its time, fell into ruin. Well worth the read.

Comment Re: How about a 4th option ? (Score 1) 369

You might like to pay attention when the muck spreaders are out - the stuff that they're coating the fields in is not plain old organic dirt (or even soil, which is an incredibly complex substance in its own right). It's not even shit anymore, it's a complex growing medium that's covered by numerous patents.

Comment Re:COBOL isn't hard to learn (Score 2) 369

Given that most of this code was originally targeting systems from the 1960's and 70's, I can't imagine there being an insurmountable number of lines of code

According to Wikipedia, Gartner estimated about 200 billion lines of COBOL code in 1997. To put that in perspective, that's more than the total amount of open source C code tracked by OpenHub.net. Can you imagine persuading someone to rewrite all of that C code in a newer language?

Comment Re:America's Banking System Sucks (Score 2) 48

Ah, is this why all these things keep popping up? I keep thinking "but I can already do that and have been able to for years". Decades in fact (and at this point, for almost a decade on mobile as well).

Genuine point of education for me if people don't mind please - can you not just use your own banking app, or a national standard similar to PAYM? Is it that people are charged for doing that in the US?

Comment COBOL programmers aren't all old (Score 1) 369

There's a COBOL shop in my small town that contracts for corporations and the government. I know several COBOL specialists in their 30s. It's actually an extremely lucrative field to get into these days, with good pay and job security.

Rewriting all that COBOL code in some other language would be bound to cause major problems.

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