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Comment Re:You can't generalize. (Score 1) 360

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 You can't generalize. (Score 2) 360

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:Inherent contradictions within leftist ideals. (Score 2) 291

Here's what happened in about 150 years under "conservative" US government policies:

Grew from small, isolated, breakaway country to the richest, most powerful country on the planet, with the highest standard of living.

Here's what happened under "liberal" government policies:

  • Declared our independence from Great Britain in the first place.

You have the right to be on Slashdot and argue about which ideology is better because of liberal policies.

Along the way, freed slaves and saw life expectancy become the highest in the world.

Lincoln was most assuredly not conservative. Republican, yes. Conservative, no. His policies resembled those of modern progressives more than modern conservatives, though even that is something of a stretch, because unlike 99% of modern politicians, Lincoln was actually a respectable statesman.

Contrast to what happened in "progressive"/socialist/liberal nations such as Venezuela, Greece, and the Soviet Union.

Progressive != socialist != liberal.

Additionally, Greece's problems stemmed from government overspending without enough taxation to cover the expenses. That's more similar to what Republicans do today than Democrats. And both Venezuela and Russia had problems where a few people at the top of the party essentially lived in luxury while the poor starved, which makes it more like a caste system than true socialism.

Besides, essentially zero modern progressives view socialism as the be-all and end-all of public policy, but rather as a useful tool to use in limited ways for the public good. That's radically different from a country that attempts to use pure socialism as its sole policy (which is exactly as foolish as using pure capitalism as the sole public policy).

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.

Comment Re:Flying under the radar? (Score 1) 50

To the contrary: go big or go home.

As the post from Solandri above points out: small scammers ask for 200 dollars.
Those are easily caught because The Big G probably don't buy small quantities of anything.

But send an invoice for 3 million and... "Hey, I'm not supposed to tell you this but manager X needs this gear for this super-secret, super-important project. You know, he's reporting directly to Sergej and Larry on this one. No red tape, no fuzz. Now do the needful and approve the payment so we both don't get into trouble for delaying this thing any further. I'll tell Eric you saved the day the next time we go golfing."

Etc.

This man obviously knew how to press the right buttons with people. Hall of fame indeed.

Of course, as long as it was working, he couldn't quit.

Comment Re:OP fired because of this article (Score 2) 216

Legally, it's a grey area. If your employment contract has morality clauses, for example, you can be punished for things done outside of work. However, usually that is limited to situations where your contract explicitly states it, which usually happens when working for religious institutions (or, occasionally, schools). You can also be fired for actions that reflect badly on your company, but that assumes that A. people know the author works for that company, and B. they have reason to somehow connect the two. And of course, in at-will states, your employment can be potentially terminated for any reason, though in many, the implied covenant of good faith might give the author grounds to argue that this was without cause, done out of malice arising out of personal embarrassment on the part of the management team.

The bottom line would be that the author should contact a lawyer who regularly deals with employment law in that part of the country, because whether he has a case or not is highly dependent on where the author is located, and I'm pretty sure it won't be open-and-shut no matter where the author lives. However, the fact that the author has not revealed where he works does open the opportunity for the lawyer to point out that bringing this to court will cast their company in a very bad light publicly, whereas an out-of-court settlement for... say ten years' salary will not. Depending on how terrified the company is, such (entirely legal) blackmail might actually be more effective than bringing a suit.

Comment Re:Yes, but... (Score 1) 216

In my experience, what makes it chaotic is the vast expanse of code that you didn't write personally. I've seen big chunks of functionality have to be completely rewritten because even major frameworks from major companies like Apple sometimes have bugs that are showstoppers when used in some way that the original author didn't expect. Most people normally assume that external dependencies already work when estimating, because after all, those are major frameworks written by major companies with testing resources.

Now extend that to code written by random engineers with limited testing resources. Normally, you assume that your internal code works, because after all, people are using it every day. But what happens when there's an edge case you didn't notice? If it isn't a crash, a bug in a suitably complex app often isn't easy to track down, and even when it is a crash, it might be some subtle multithreading race condition that can be utter misery to debug. And the larger the app, the more opportunities for untested code paths to suddenly find themselves on the hot path. This is why estimating is hard; you aren't just estimating how long it will take to get your code working; you're also estimating how long it will take you to fix everybody else's mess.

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