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Comment Re:person to person = best communication method (Score 4, Insightful) 230

Public speaking classes tell you that over 1/2 of the communication between you and an audience is through non verbal cues including tone and body language, mostly body language. Even regular conversations are better in person because your meeting is better conveyed.

I completely agree with that.

If you're job can be done without communication then I can send that job to the cheapest place that can read the directions.

I completely disagree with that.

Communication *is* impaired by a lack of face-to-face contact. This means you need to employ (or train, but that is less reliable) employees that are superb at communication to compensate. Nonetheless, "reading the directions" is probably a very small aspect of most jobs. You need to find the place that produces the most cost effective results and I'm sure that there are many jobs that are ideally suited to telecommuting because you can still communicate when you need to, but you avoid a lot of the frivolous communication you see in office-based environments.

I say that as someone who works from home, and manages employees based in an office and other employees based remotely.

Comment Carrot and Stick (Score 1) 635

My software company sells software in a similar price bracket. We don't bother with hard-core DRM or protection. We aren't aware of any widespread piracy (admittedly that might be an artefact of working in a fairly narrow niche. Most people just wouldn't care to use the software.). We encourage legal licensing through two mechanisms:

1) The stick. We do have a simple licensing system, but it is easy to defeat if you have the desire to do so. Honestly, it is more to act a as reminder to customers that licenses have expired and need renewal or that they've installed it on too many PCs.
2) The carrot. Make it worth the money. The customer gets support from us that is worth the cost of the software. One of our scientists will happily work with you to get results from the software and employing an outside consultant to do that work would definitely cost more.

You could say that our business is customer support, and the software is the hook to bring custom to us. With that mind-set, piracy is mostly irrelevant to us.

Comment Email vs. Phone/IM (Score 1) 601

'If people want to talk to me, they can come and visit me, call or send me a text message

That great if you don't have any other work to do! Email is much less distracting, so doesn't interupt work flow, and can be processed in a batch at convenient times during the day. Phone calls and IM, require an immeiate shift of focus. If my input is really needed for something /now/ then fine, call me. If not, I'd rather you'd not assume that want to be disturbed.

The converse is also true though... if you need my attention urgently and immediately, email is not the best approach as I will make no guarantees to when it will be dealt with. Please don't send an email if you are going to get upset when I haven't responded within any given timespan. You'll probably get confirmation, by email, when I've dealt with it but you'll have to wait until I've finished these annoying phone calls on otherwise non-time-sensitive topics!

Comment Definitions of success. (Score 1) 314

Does a software package need to be "widely used" to be classed as "successful"?

My company, for example, was built around an academic software package. We are nowhere near the league of the Googles or Oracles out there, but we provide a fair number of employees with a good salary. I'd never say our software was widely used as I can count our customer base on the digits of my hands and feet. Our kind of niche market will often use software from academia - because that's the main source of innovation - and the purely commercial argument for developing and validating the software in the first place would be weak.

To answer your question directly, in my field a vanishingly small fraction of academically developed software is ever used outside the research group that produced it. Even in the cases that the software would be more widely applicable, it just isn't shared/sold/licensed more widely. A couple of times, we have tried obtaining commercial rights to software that we thought could be valuable outside academia but we've never managed to negotiate realistic terms with the universities. Either the researchers aren't interested in pursuing this option as there is no personal reward for them, or the I.P. departments get greedy and the royalties they demand just makes the whole idea unviable.

Comment I double-space against my own will. (Score 1) 814

I am firmly in the 2-space crowd... but I am held there against my will. I've tried to reform several times, but I always revert when I stop actively thinking about it.

I learnt the 2-space convention at school, and several years later I realised that a word processor is not a typewriter, and therefore the double spacing is pretty pointless. But now it is too late - I just can't change. This is easily fixed with an auto-correction rule in OpenOffice and friends - but people will still have to endure my double spacing in emails. Sorry.

Comment Computational Chemistry/Molecular Modelling (Score 1) 398

I'm interested in Computational Chemistry/Molecular Modelling with a view to drug design. I don't have anything like the resources available to the big pharma companies, but as it turns out, that doesn't matter in a hobbyist setting. Think of it as a manual equivalent of running the DrugDiscovery@Home or the old Screensaver lifesaver project ( )

All the software you would need can be freely obtained as you aren't doing this commercially, although I try to use as much of my own code as possible, being the geek that I am. There's nothing to prevent people modelling proteins, docking molecules into those proteins, making toxicity predictions, and so on, with open source software and a moderately good PC.

Sure, I'll never be able to run in vitro screening, and I'll definitely never get to the stage of running a clinical trial, but I'm going to have fun at the beginning of the process. If I found myself without a job and with a spare $5-$10 million, then I'd love to take it to the next stage!

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