Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Out of his mind (Score 1) 176

*Attempt* to take ownership of the things you developed on your own time.

IANAL and it may vary by jurisdiction and contract interpretation by the court in question, but they will typically succeed if you willingly signed over your rights to any personal IP when you became employed, and it can be proven the development was done during the time of employment. Some companies are pretty ridiculous about this. The first time I ran into this, funny enough, was in college in the mid-80's when I applied at Radio Shack in the local mall. I don't know if their policy is still the same, but during the interview the store manager asked me what I did for hobbies and such. I told him that I liked to code, had published a couple of articles in programming journals, and tinkered with electronics and EEPROM programming. He immediately told me that if they hired me, I would have to sign over all rights to anything I created or developed on my time. The job was just floor sales, it wasn't even a development gig! Needless to say, I passed.

As for going to another employer, in theory, so long as it is a different (enough) implementation of the same algorithm, intellectual property laws say it is good to go.

Well yes, which is what I basically said in my last paragraph. If you take source code with you, then it's not a substantially different implementation. And just rewritten from scratch is not necessarily enough -- most programmers who've written the same algorithm multiple times can rewrite it from scratch and each iteration will be nearly verbatim. If such code is ever subpoenaed in a legal action and determined to be substantially similar (assuming again we're talking about a significantly unique or complex algorithm, obviously not something simple and widely-known like a quicksort or a Fisher-Yates shuffle), then there could be a liability.

Comment Re:Out of his mind (Score 4, Insightful) 176

So even if he is the original author of the software, (he carries the details and inspiration in his head), and the software came out of his mind, he is still a criminal for telling/selling his idea to someone else.

In some circumstances, absolutely.

Most software developers sign agreements that stipulate that any software or other intellectual property created for the company and on company time belongs to the company, not the developer. Some even go as far as to take ownership of anything you develop *even on your own time.* Many employers will also make you sign a non-compete agreement that basically says when you leave the company, you will not engage in competitive behavior against the company, which could also be construed as developing a similar algorithm for a competitor, at least within a specified period of time.

In my career as a developer I've signed a number of these types of agreements, and just for "ordinary" corporate jobs. Given the highly competitive and secretive financial industry and the money at stake, it wouldn't surprise me if their agreements are far more complex and specific. Especially due to the very high degree of specialization required in financial services programming, particularly in trading software where milliseconds can mean a difference between millions of dollars, they tend to be pretty protective of their IP (and thus why those programmers make hundreds of thousands a year in salary, way beyond your garden-variety corporate developers).

Now of course a developer with a specialized skillset and experience, barring a non-compete agreement or a patent that would specifically prohibit it, could certainly go to work for another company and re-create a similar algorithm from scratch, and it would be very difficult to litigate against as long as it's based upon memory/experience and not by taking the actual source code with him. It would largely hinge on whether the concept was generic or common across the industry, or whether it was a unique and highly-specific concept that had never existed outside the original company, and then suddenly shows up in a pretty obvious way at a competitor which just happened to recently hire your former employee.

Comment Re:I will be closing my BOA account.... (Score 1) 535

Not always, like anything YMMV. It really depends on where you live/work (i.e. the CU's available to you), and what you look for in a bank. For instance, the largest CU around here, and the one partnered with my employer, is well known to have pretty lousy service and extremely vanilla features, like antiquated systems, barely offering online banking, no integration with personal financial software, frequent banking errors that cause embarrassing checkout moments and generate fees that have to be challenged/refunded, no Saturday hours, etc. etc. I know of several people left them for the larger chain banks just to have access to these "convenience" features, even if they pay slightly more in fees or interest.

My bank used to be a hometown bank, which was both good and bad. Customer service was great, but they too lagged far behind in innovation compared to the bigger banks. Several years ago they were acquired by BB&T, which caused me some concern at first since I wasn't sure I would like the big bank changes. However in this case it has been a very positive experience. Service levels remain high, and they've added almost all the missing features that my hometown bank wouldn't/couldn't offer.

As for BOA, I don't think I'd ever willingly bank with them even without knowing this dirt on them. My only experience with them is from a fixed-term line of credit that we've had for years that originated with MBNA, who was subsequently acquired by BOA. Within about a year after the acquisition, with no notice whatsoever, we realized that our credit line was closed to further withdrawals. Despite never missing a payment (in fact the payments are drafted automatically from my bank account), and having no derogatory information on our credit reports, when I called I was told that the majority of acquired open accounts were closed after review, with no other explanation. I could continue paying it off according to the original terms, but we could no longer make use of the line of credit.

Comment Re:Do they not already have restrictions? (Score 1) 478

The Gun Control Act of 1968 specifically made it illegal for minors to possess firearms.

Seriously? You didn't actually fully read and comprehend what you quoted? Oh yeah, this is Slashdot...

  1. This statute concerns handguns. Handguns are not the only firearm type, and this section of code does not address longarms, which minors are allowed to permanently possess, once purchased and provided by an adult who is eligible to purchase them.
  2. Had you finished your quote of paragraph (3)(A) and further, you would note that minors are allowed to "temporarily" possess and use handguns under certain conditions, such as target practice, hunting, instructional courses, and their job, ranching, farming. Also with a written note from their parent that they carry with them at all times.

Comment Re:5 page paper? (Score 1) 539

He's probably confusing "jury" with "grand jury." I suppose it may vary somewhat by state or jurisdiction, but where grand juries still exist, their proceedings are usually secret and their records are sealed. Standard petit (trial) juries can typically talk about the details of their cases once the trial is concluded. Hence the jury interviews you often see following high-profile trials. I suppose a court could, on a case-by-case basis (no pun intended), order a jury to remain tight-lipped, but I'm not sure that it could.

Comment Re:What could possibly go wrong ... (Score 1) 276

No Java GUI application runs "flawlessly" on Linux or OS X because the Java runtime gets a number of things wrong with desktop integration on Linux and OS X.

Again with the presumptuousness. "No" Java GUI application runs flawlessly on Linux or OSX? Really? Perhaps you determine "flawless" as fully integrating as a native app with dbus or COM or whatever. That is not what I look for in a general purpose application, and it has no bearing on a Java app being "flawless" when run between platforms. I'll concede there may be some specific examples where such desktop integration is important to an app, but not in any that I work with. I certainly can't recall any of the dozens of Java apps that I've moved to Linux giving me any problems whatsoever, and that includes GUI apps. I've done much less work on OSX by comparison so my sample size is smaller, but I've still yet to run into any noticeable issues there either.

As one other commenter noted, there are some virtual/niche application areas where Java does not excel, such as certain multimedia or gaming applications. I'm the first to admit that -- I've always been a "right tool for the job" kinda guy. For probably 75+% of applications though, it's a fit and works extremely well. In my line of work, about the only areas I consider Java seriously lacking in is device drivers (obv), COM/DCOM, or other areas that must be specific to a platform. Native code will always have a place, but I've been able to minimize it a great deal since adopting Java. I still write C/C++ and C#, but it probably accounts for less than 10% of code.

BTW, as an anecdote, one of the best open-source DLNA servers for streaming media is PS3 Media Server. Despite initially being targeted for PS3's, I've found it to be the most compliant with a larger number of DLNA renderers, to include my Bravia TVs and LG BR players, than MediaTomb or other big DLNA servers. Configuration is also easier, and auto-transcoding almost "just works" out of the box with very little tweaking required. It's written in Java, btw. ;) Although it does make use of 3rd party libraries such as MPlayer & ffmpeg, it runs on any platform where those libraries are supported (at least Windows, Linux, and OSX). I run it on a Linux box and it pretty much works "flawlessly."

Comment Re:What could possibly go wrong ... (Score 2, Insightful) 276

Only for trivial applications.

You can be utterly 100% certain that a non-trivial application will require re-work to run in a different environment other than what is was coded for.

Umm, your reading comprehension skills are apparently the only thing trivial here.

Did you even attempt to read what I wrote? I specifically described a "non-trivial" application, and could go on to describe dozens more. In fact, I pretty much don't write "trivial applications" these days.

As I and others who have posted here, plus any number of other Java developers, will attest, Java is absolutely portable if you have half a clue as a developer.

It's obvious you either:
(a) have no real experience with Java in the last 6-8 years
(b) have no "non-trivial" programming experience to speak of at all
(c) are a troll

Comment Re:What could possibly go wrong ... (Score 5, Insightful) 276

But Java's cross-platform compatibility has always been a myth.


I've been a Java developer and manager of Java developers for about 10 years now. Before that, 20+ years as C/C++/asm guy across a wide variety of platforms ranging from embedded system to Honeywell/Bull and IBM mainframe and just about every mainstream business platform in between (AS400, VAX/VMS, various Unix flavors, Linux, Windows, Mac, etc.). So application portability is a subject I have a bit of experience with. While in the earliest days of Java portability was more wishful thinking, I can unequivocally say that since, oh, Java 1.4 if not earlier, cross platform portability has been spot on. It just works. I can't even remember the last time I took a Java application I've written to a platform that it didn't work on. Even today I am always mildly surprised to take a fairly complex GUI application I've developed on, say Windows, and drop it on another platform, like Linux or OSX, and watch it run flawlessly. I recently wrote a manufacturing line simulator to use as a test backend for a Java-based shop floor system. This is a multi-threaded GUI app simulating and displaying in real-time movement of product through the line, while interfacing with OPC servers and host applications via message queues and databases. When it was done, I dropped it on an Ubuntu desktop box and aside from the slight differences in the Linux GUI appearance, you wouldn't know which one you were looking at.

The only portability problems I've seen are either from dependency on native JNI code (which is rarely but occasionally necessary) -- and almost all databases these days support pure-Java Type4 drivers without dependency on native clients -- or due to lousy programmers who hardcode platform specific constructs. I have *never* had an issue with filesystem path portability over the hundreds of Java applications I've written or managed in the last decade, because I never assume/hardcode anything specific to the platform I'm developing on. This is a common failure of your typical VB developer that is new to Java -- all they think about is Windows, many have had zero exposure to other environments, so that's all they know. Which is fine I guess if you're a 100% Windows shop or targeting a Windows base, but then I'd certainly question the transition to Java in that case. Regardless, don't blame the language for its misuse by developers -- if so then we could condemn every programming language ever made.

I like Java well enough and am proficient enough with it that even if I were stranded in Windows purgatory forever, I'd still consider using it over .NET even without the portability benefits. I've had the occasion to have to write some C# due to some OPC/DCOM integration code that required it. While there are some things about the .NET platform and languages that I find appealing, there's not enough there to win me over from Java.

Comment Re:Video (Score 2, Informative) 1671

You're incorrect, on several counts:
  • The Geneva Convention does not reference weapons at all. You're probably thinking of the Hague Convention.
  • The Hague Convention was a 19th century agreement, modified slightly at the turn of the century (around 1907-1910), and amended by the Geneva Protocol which specifically referenced chem/bio weapons only. Point being, there is little in the HC regarding modern conventional munitions, and nothing about specific calibers. Other than reference to "dum dum" or notched, flattening rounds, the only vague restriction on anti-personnel munitions is that they not cause "unnecessary suffering." Obviously this is relative, as most would agree that being shot with a standard 5.56mm ball round would cause various degrees of suffering if it did not outright kill. But this was addressed to weapons like WP which are obviously quite ugly in that minimal exposure incurs maximal suffering. But saying that an arbitrary caliber intended to kill the enemy, say 7.62 or .50BMG, is legal against human targets but 30mm isn't, is quite ridiculous. In fact I would argue the opposite, that being shot with a 30mm HE round and killed instantly is far more humane a kill than a 7.62 ball round that causes me to bleed out.
  • Finally, yes, in fact, the M230 30mm chain gun on the Apache is intended for "soft" targets, which in military parlance means people and soft-skinned vehicles (like the van in this video). This has always been the specification for the chaingun and weapons like it, such as the 20mm Bushmaster cannon on the M2 Bradley. For armored targets and reinforced buildings/bunkers, the Apache carries Hellfire missles and 2.75" FFARs.

People often erroneously repeat Geneva Convention myths about weapons of war, I'm not sure why. Some think .50BMG is banned against people as well, but of course it isn't. Nor is the 20mm Bradley cannon. The conventions that are in place regarding munitions do not reference caliber, only type of bullet.

Comment Re:Diploma mills prove the worthlessness of degree (Score 1) 258

It might be illegal to use generalized IQ tests that are not job specific, but it is entirely legal and in fact quite common to issue employment tests on specific job knowledge, particularly in technical fields. We do it all the time, as do several of the recruitment firms we've used. You do have to be meticulous in how you present the questions and score the answers, and our legal dept. makes sure we stay within the rules.

Of course our experience is that the results still have to be cautiously measured and taken in context with the interview and everything else, because some very capable people test very poorly, while some test well but fail miserably at applying that knowledge in a practical scenario. Which is why I always give more credibility to verifiable, real world experience than I do to academic performance.

Case in point: some time ago I was involved in evaluating and hiring candidates for Java development positions. One particular candidate impressed us solely based on the fact he was co-author of a very prominent Java book from a very prominent publisher (all names withheld to protect the guilty), that I happened to have on my bookshelf (and still do). We were pretty much blinded to anything else on his resume (which as I recall was pretty "impressive" as well), and basically hired him on the spot based on that qualification alone. Big mistake. While he could quote chapter and verse, and thus would likely ace any written test, when we put him on a rather large Java project that we hoped would benefit from his experience, he was totally lost. He was separated from the company within a year, but only after taking the project down a couple of dead-end roads and soliciting several of us to contribute to his next book.

Comment Re:Diploma mills prove the worthlessness of degree (Score 1) 258

Blatantly false. Trust me, when you have a stack of resumes, the first thing you do is toss out the simple demographic ones like no degree. Because of HR, there is literally no way Linus could possible be hired as a Linux sysadmin or Linux developer at 99% of companies in the US, unless he has a degree (which luckily for him, he does). Doesn't matter what you write in the experience section, if they toss the resume out because of the education section first. I know I went from unemployable to easy street when I finally got my degree...

NOT blatantly false, at least not everywhere. I work in the IT field, specifically software development and engineering, and 16 years ago I landed my current job with a large corporation -- formerly Fortune 500 before being acquired as a private holding of a corporation with the initials B.H. (run by W.B.) -- with some college but no completed degree, based on a skill-set that I was able to demonstrate. Virtually all of my knowledge was self-taught, and I had already been published twice in programming journals before graduating high school (this 25+ years ago, before the personal computer boom). At the risk of sounding arrogant, when I was in college I knew more practical programming than most of my professors. Boredom with the curriculum, youthful restlessness, and finances drove me from university to the military (in a completely non-IT related field). I kept my skills up as a hobby though, and upon returning to the civilian world managed to land a job with someone whom I had interned with while at college, where he had designed mainframe emulator cards and I had written the firmware assembler code, and now he ran his own business. So the previous relationship did help me there. We contracted engineering work for much of the industry where I now work, and from there I was able to demonstrate my skills to our clients, one of which is my current employer. Today I manage a team of developers in a large corporation, make a very nice salary+bonus+benefits, and have interviewed, worked with, (and in one case, hired & fired) people with advanced degrees that I honestly wondered how they found their way home from work, let alone graduated college and survived up until then in a software development field.

So yes, a CS/MIS degree is one of those door-openers when you have no experience and no personal contacts. If nothing else it proves you can commit to, follow through, and complete a fairly rigid course of study which does demonstrate some degree of maturity and responsibility, I suppose. But to say someone of Linus Torvald's ability couldn't find work without a degree in "99%" of companies in the field is just hyperbolic and untrue. I work closely with our HR department in writing job requirements, and seldom is a degree a requirement -- we typically word our job descriptions as requiring "a BS degree or equivalent experience." This has also been the case with most IT job descriptions I've seen posted to the major job sites. So getting that first job might be a lot tougher sans degree, but once employed you have a much better chance moving forward from there if your experience and performance are up to par and verifiable (and it certainly helps to have personal contacts too).

One conditional point I'll concede in favor of a degree would be for economic conditions like we currently face, where jobs are more scarce and candidates are plenty. Considering the sheer volume and SNR of candidate applications, the degree may well give you a competitive advantage over non-degree holders and thus save your resume from being shuffled to the bottom of the pile (or the bin). But this isn't typically the case, when the job market returns to a quasi-normal state.

Comment Re:Security... (Score 2, Informative) 344

Yes, but think about it this way. Lets say your computer runs at half its speed with an anti-virus.

I wouldn't run any AV that causes my computer run at "half its speed."

I used to be a huge Norton AV hater. But since v2009 they did a major overhaul to their AV engine and now it runs extremely well. 2009 and 2010 consume virtually NO detectable resources, update themselves literally every few minutes, and turn themselves off completely during gaming. Kaspersky 2010 is a bit worse performance-wise, but not terribly so. I've also installed MSE on a few PC's for people and have been impressed with its performance. None of these three slow your PC "by half" and of the three, I'd say Kaspersky is the biggest hog, but still far and away better than the Norton of old. AVG used to be lean and mean until v8 I think, then it bloated up and got slow too. Avira free was decent but the ads were too annoying, as was the mandatory annual registration renewal for it and Avast. I finally decided to pay, and have been quite satisfied.

So based on my experience, for free AV (that doesn't bug you with ads) I'd recommend MSE. If you're willing to pay, Norton 2010. And if you shop around online, you can get some good deals. I got 3 PC's w/ 2 year subscription of Norton Internet Security 2009 (and free upgrade to 2010) for $60, and I've actually found it even cheaper since.

Comment Re:LOL (Score 1) 213

While I gripe about the iPhone's lack of background applications too, in all fairness the specific user experience you describe (switching between apps without losing your state) is entirely doable on an iPhone. It just has be properly developed, and not every app developer is doing so. The iPhone SDK supports complete state saving, and in fact recommends that all developers take advantage of it. So for all appearances it looks like you never exited the first app -- when you leave an app to do something else, then return, the first app is restored with everything exactly as you left it. Some iPhone apps do this well, others not so much, but it's more of an indictment of the developer than the hardware itself. Of course that doesn't work with a few apps, such as those that require a persistent/stateful data connection, but for most consumer oriented apps with stateless network requirements it works very well.

Comment Re:Disappointment of the Palm Pre? (Score 1) 213

Well, as someone who has used both, I'd have to disagree. I've been a PPC/WM user for years, and generally like HTC's products. But after upgrading to the HTC Fuze (Touch Pro) the day they were released last November, I've had enough of them. I've always had to tinker with WM an awful lot to get it working like I want. I've installed a ton of custom ROM's from xda, even played with kitchens and cooking my own, and have developed apps myself for WM.

I broke down and got an iPhone 3GS, and despite not liking a whole lot about Apple except for iPods, I love my iPhone and wish I had ditched WM a long time ago. The user experience is 10x better. HTC's touch interface is an improvement over vanilla WM, but still lags WAAAY behind the iPhone. The screen quality, both visual quality and touch experience, are just way better on the iPhone, despite the Fuze having a higher resolution. Most of the apps you mention, including TomTom, are now available for the iPhone, and honestly, despite being an "app whore," I've found iPhone versions of just about everything I used on WM devices. The only thing missing for me is a JRE, and that's due to Apple's license regarding bytecode interpreters. I'm not interested in jailbreaking, as I had enough with hacking WM. I just want a reliable smartphone that works well out of the box.

The iPhone isn't perfect -- I don't like the fact I can't run background apps, must use a Mac for development, and I really dislike Objective-C -- but overall I'm still happier than I ever was with a Windows Mobile device. In fact, as further testament to how much the iPhone appealed to me: despite being in the cross-platform software development business for decades, I managed to avoid buying a Mac for anything. Within a week of getting my iPhone, I had to order myself a Mac Mini just to have a platform for hacking around on the thing. As even *further* testament, my wife the technophobe has always hated my WM phones but as soon as she saw and tried out my iPhone, she had to have one too. Say what you will about Apple (and I often do), but they know how to nail the user experience better than anything Microsoft does. So while the geek/engineer in me pretty much dislikes Apple, the consumer in me recognizes and understands their market success.

Comment Re:The state is correct (Score 2, Informative) 554

Some of you are treating unemployment benefits like some form of communal welfare, like the regular welfare program. While it is considered a form of social welfare by the strict definition, it is specifically funded by employers as part of payroll taxes. Both Federal and State unemployment taxes are paid by every employer for each full-time employee they have, and act as insurance premiums. Not only that, but to qualify for benefits in the first place, you have to lose your job through no fault of your own. People who get fired for cause have no claim to benefits, even though while employed there were taxes paid on their behalf.

I have no problem with this lawyer drawing benefits, regardless of what her income might have been. And despite the common misconception, not all doctors and lawyers make a killing -- there was an article on CNN just the other day about an MD who makes more selling clothes on eBay ($120K) than their doctor's salary (<$120K), so she quit her doctor job to stay home with her kids and continue the eBay business. That may sound like a lot of money to some of you, but damned if I'd go through medical school, internship, years of residency, continuing education, ever increasing malpractice premiums, etc. for $120K a year.

So, everyone should be entitled to draw the benefits that were paid in on their behalf as long as they're attempting to find work. And in most states I'm aware of (or had unemployment experience in), you're allowed to look for work commensurate with your experience, position, and income levels while drawing your benefits. For example, computer programmers are not expected to choose between unemployment benefits and flipping burgers -- they're allowed to hold out for a similar job in the computer field, as long as they demonstrate that they're actively seeking such work. Along the same lines, in many states, you also draw benefits that are proportional to your former salary (and thus proportional to the taxes paid to fund your benefits), so everyone doesn't draw the same amount.

The trick is, if you do decide to take that McD's job (or mow lawns, or consult, or whatever) to try and get closer to your customary income level, then that constitutes employment and now you've given up your unemployment benefits, and my not be able to re-qualify if you voluntarily cease that employment. So if you intend to draw benefits, don't do ANYTHING that would constitute income, no matter how minor.

Slashdot Top Deals

Work continues in this area. -- DEC's SPR-Answering-Automaton