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Comment Everything old is new again (Score 1) 108

Centuries ago, "free" laborors (not slaves or similarly "bound") were paid daily.

Even today, street-corner "day laborers" who aren't working through an agency typically get paid daily.

Most real-world independent contractors negotiate their own pay schedules with their clients. Just go to Craigslist's "gigs" or similar areas and you will see what I mean.

The difference with the modern "app-driven gig economy" is that 1) there are middle-men, and 2) enough people don't mind waiting to be paid that middle-men who delay payments are still very successful.

Comment Use a fake blur (Score 1) 139

Either mask the face/license plate/whatever entirely or replace it with a "fake blur" that was made from another image.

For license plates, use a sample plate like ABC-123 to generate the blurred image.

Faces will be a little harder to do: Either 1) you will only have a few "sample faces" and things will look creepy even if you use the best-matching sample, 2) you will have a few thousand and you will, in effect, leak information, or 3) you will be in between and it will look creepy and leak information.

Perhaps just masking the face altogether will be the best option.

Comment LTR isn't all that long (Score 5, Insightful) 99

Looking at the still-supported LTR kernels, even the oldest one isn't all that old.

For network-connected embedded systems (routers, network-connected printers, IoT, etc.), I would want a kernel that had security-but-patch-maintenance for at least the useful life of the hardware itself - 5-10 years in most cases, longer in some cases like cars, refrigerators, etc.

Perhaps we need a "Very long term release" with an expectation of least 10 years of security fixes, at least for the architecture-independent systems and for a short list of "VLTS-supported" architectures and devices that are in common use in embedded systems.

As someone pointed out already, at least with Linux the source code is available. On the other hand, Microsoft does give 10 years of support for Windows 7/8/8.1 and for the "Long term service branch" mode of Windows 10.

Comment Make some IoT makers get an engineering seal (Score 2) 57

Some things can hurt people or destroy property if they don't work right.

Maybe it's time to have the makers of HVAC systems and other things that could injure or kill if they become zombies get an engineer to sign off on all designs - including software design - before they are allowed to sell the equipment for its intended purpose, at least if the end user isn't an expert (e.g. thermostats designed for residential or small-office use where they aren't under constant monitoring by HVAC professionals). This would force the engineer to either prove to his own satisfaction that hardware and software, as a system, was safe or design the hardware so that no matter what happened, fatalities would not result (e.g. have a hardware limits on home thermostats, so someone remotely cranking things up to 100F or down to 40F wouldn't kill anyone in the room).

Now, I'm not calling for "locked down firmware" although that would be one way of dealing with the issue. Instead, I'm calling for firmware that is vetted by an engineer and which can only be updated either by an "authorized update" (e.g. signed binary or better yet, signed binary and a temporary "updates allowed=YES" button being pressed on the device) or by a hobbyist making a visible and permanent change to the hardware, such as blowing a fuse or cutting a trace on the motherboard. Failures by devices that had been put into "hobbyist mode" would not be the fault of the engineer unless it could be proven that the firmware was not at fault (e.g. engineers would still be liable for design flaws that would affect non-tampered-with systems, such as a failure in the hardware-limits of the thermostat example above).

Comment Product recall? (Score 1) 57

Except for devices where the buyer WANTS this open - say, for use in a honeypot - I would consider this a design defect. Depending on the device, this could cause death.

The feds (in the USA) are probably going to turn the "voluntary" recall of the Samsung Galaxy 7 phone into a "mandatory" recall.

I would recommend they seriously consider doing the same for any device that has security hole like this that can't be fixed by end users, especially for devices that are designed to be used by non-experts.

Comment Computer, what's the answer to my homework? (Score 1) 76

Computer, write me a term paper.

Computer, get Jennie to like me.

etc. etc.

My high school math teacher did it right: She let us use a non-programmable scientific calculator but only AFTER we proved we knew how to do do trig and logarithms by hand. Yes, we had to learn some formulas to estimate them and we had to memorize the "easy" ones like sine(30 degrees). We also had to learn to use log tables. No, we didn't have to learn to use a slide-rule, I was a decade or two too late for that.

Comment I would like this for "neuro-typical" people too (Score 2) 226

I would love to "try out" new employers for a couple of weeks before committing, without having to through a more formal temp-to-hire or contract-to-hire arrangement.

Granted, this probably won't work for most people who already have jobs, but it would be very good for new-college hires, independent contractors looking to get back into W2 work, and people who are unemployed or who have been told they will be laid off and whose employers are willing to let them take vacation or go on unpaid leave. It might work for some professionals who are looking for a career change and who have vacation to burn.

Now for the nitty gritty:

I would expect to be paid and a weekly cash stipend of at least minimum wage plus enough to cover taxes for that period of time. If I was hired on permanently, I would expect to be paid my full salary retroactively. If I was out of the area, I would expect to be given per-diem to cover hotel, transportation, and food expenses during that time. If the work I did during that two weeks was something that would have cost the company more than it was paying me (including the per-diem costs) if it were done by an employee or outside contractor, I would expect to be paid accordingly. In other words, if they were using the time to get to know me and for me to get to know them, then minimum wage + expenses and taxes is fine, but if they were using it as a source of real labor, then I would expect to be paid real-labor wages.

Comment Re:Exploited? (Score 1) 226

Exploitation, and the fact that it creates pressure on others to do likewise. [emphasis added]

Bingo on the "likewise."

I don't see allowing people who WANT to work late to do so as exploitation as long as people are paid based on overall productivity (yes, I know that "measuring productivity" can be gamed but that's another issue). If you are working 80 hour weeks and producing twice as much useful goods or services as your peers, your annual paycheck should be about twice as much.*

If you are a super-genius and are able to work 20 hours a week and have double the annual productivity as your 40-hour-a-week peers, you should also be paid twice as much.

But neither case should be used as a finger-pointing to say or imply that "your fellow employee Joe works 80 hours a week, if you can't then you will be rated as below-par on your performance review."

On the other hand, it is perfectly reasonable to say "For whatever reason - either smarts or hard work or both - Joe is twice as productive as you, so he will be paid more and he will likely be promoted faster than you will." If this type of pressure seems unfair, well, it is but that's tough, [my country] is supposed to be a free country and employers should be allowed to reward talent and hard work. The same is true for most countries that are mostly-democratic, mostly-capitalist (no large country is completely democratic or completely capitalist).

*Now, of course there should be extra "sacrifice time" pay if you are required or requested to be available during non-business hours or if you are pressured to meet deadlines that simply cannot be met in a normal work-week, but that's another issue.


"Exploitation" - and I use the quotations deliberately - works both ways:

Many years ago I knew a genius programmer (R.La...., if you are reading this, hello) who was not autistic.

He did a full week of work in half the time.

He chose to use the rest of the time on tasks that weren't in line with management expectations, so he missed out on what could've been a fast promotion path. He eventually left the company and found a career path that presumably worked out better for him. I would argue that he "exploited" his job so he could have about 4 hours a day in a nice office environment with good Internet connectivity to do what he wanted to do, regardless if it lined up with his boss's expectations (note: as far as I know, he never did anything that HURT his boss, his department, or his employer - he just seemed "unproductive" to the department during those hours). The company wisely kept him on the payroll until he eventually left on his own (at least that's what it looked like from where I stood - I don't know if he got any pressure to quit) - as far as I was concerned, he was worth his paycheck the same as everyone else (he was also a friend, but that's not relevant here).

By the way, I've worked jobs that I loved that paid by the hour and frankly, it stunk when it was Friday evening and I was "in the groove" and my boss sent me home for the week because HIS boss didn't want to pay me for more than 40 hours that week. Yes, weekends are nice but so is solving problems when you are "in the groove" or having that "zen moment." That is one reason why I think non-exempt professionals who get paid more than a certain amount should be allowed to work 80 hours every 2 weeks or 160 hours every 4 weeks before mandatory time-and-a-half kicks in.

Comment Efficiency argument (Score 1) 99

I've seen a lot of arguments from audiophiles that amount to "I like the sound of tubes and neither solid-state analog nor digital can give me what I want."

This is of course mathematically bogus, so I assume they mean either that their ears are so good that good-enough solid-state equipment is either too expensive or not is not commercially available.

I think yours is the first time I've seen someone advocate for tubes based on electrical efficiency. It's an interesting argument, but with electricity running well under $0.20/kW-hour in much of the United States, it's not really a compelling economic argument. You may have an argument for issues related to heat-dissipation and the size of any backup batteries your sound system is connected to, but for most people in a home environment, neither will be a serious issue.

Comment Re:Tubes? (Score 1) 99

Yes, like vacuum tubes, and yes, I was poking fun at audiophiles who insist on tubes because they supposedly have a "sound" that solid-state can't perfectly emulate.

Even where they are *technically* correct, the fact is that I've never heard of anyone whose ear is good enough that a sufficiently-well-designed (and costly) solid-state system can't emulate the sound of a tube system well enough to fool them in a blind test.

Having said that, there's a lot of sound equipment out there - both digital and analog - which is good enough for the average consumer ear but not good enough for the 0.001% of people with "perfect" hearing. For those people, analog systems may be the *cheaper* solution but they are not the only solution.

There is one place where digital has analog (tubes and solid state) beat hands-down: Consistency. A purely-analog system has many points where the signal can change in an undetectable/not-completely-correctable way due to environmental conditions (yes, I know about analog feedback and its ability to provide SOME correction). Depending on the hardware, changes in temperature and other factors can lead to non-corrected differences in what the human ear hears. With a system that is digital "end to end" except at the microphone pick-up and the speaker/earphone output (which pick up or produce air vibrations and are inherently analog) there are only two places for non-correctable errors: the mic input and the line leading to the A/D converter and the speaker output and the line leading from the D/A converter. Good engineering and quality manufacturing (and the $$$ that it takes to make this happen) can make the errors at these points good enough that they won't affect what you hear.

Now, digital isn't perfect: There are environmental conditions that can overwhelm even digital's ability to correct in real-time. If a mouse chews through your cables and they can't carry the high-frequency signal, then you will have heavy data loss and will suffer a "cliff effect" and likely won't hear anything resembling what you want to hear coming out of your speakers. Either that, or you will likely suffer some data loss but it will be completely corrected and you won't notice it. There is some small chance that you will be "on the edge of the cliff" and hear the sound you want with some noise or drop-outs.

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