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Comment This has been true forever (Score 1) 183

I am an older tech guy. I remember reading a book in the 1970's that had a chapter addressing programmer productivity and studies that had been done. All showed that the best environment for programmers were small offices with doors that closed and phones that could be muted. Many, many studies since then have reconfirmed this but the trend for offices has been open space which is shown to reduce productivity. The reason for the office space trend is, of course cost. Later we came up with the rationale that these open offices helped collaboration. Studies over the last few years show that that isn't true either. Most folks in these environments have their headphones on and people talking are asked to go elsewhere. And, developers tend to collaborate over IM-type products as it allows sharing code and can be persistent so folks who were at some meeting can come back and pick up the thread.

It is like the idea you are more productive when you multi-task. Every single study shows this simply isn't true but folks want to believe it. Myths that make us feel good die hard.

Comment need to update devices and the economics (Score 1) 351

Manufacturers are the root cause and economics are a big issue. If you sell a 40 or 100 dollar IoT device how frequently are you, the manufacturer, going to continue to provide updates and do so proactively? There is no ongoing revenue and only cost for doing that and the money/margins aren't there. Smartphones are not phones but computers that cost $600, yet we see manufacturers stop providing updates in 18-24 months (Apple excepted). Look at routers that are 2 years old or so rarely if ever do we see an update. On our PCs Microsoft provided updates to Windows XP for 7 years and so that is what consumers think is happening but it isn't. if we can't get smartphones updated after 2 years what hope is there of the $99 and $199 IoT devices.

Let's face it, getting manufacturers to provide updates for 5 or 7 years or more isn't going to happen. But it isnt just the device manufacturers. Devices now last a very long time and the economics of updates don't work for the makers. Cisco EOL'ed a perfectly fine firewall I had at our office. The hardware is just fine, I suspect the costs of building and testing new releases and updates for security issues was just too painful. Likely no one wanted to work on the old code, if there was even anyone who knew or understood it. I suspect programmers not wanting to do long term maintenance of old stuff and wanting to move on to the next new thing is part of the problem. Even there is it the device makers fault as well. promotions and high salaries go to the new stuff and maintenance is considered for the "dead enders", and those folks know they'll get laid off and their jobs off shored. So you have to move to the new projects and tech and leave a place that keeps you on maintenance.

And the regulatory/legal situation is also to blame. Read a shrink wrap license or any software license. They all say that the makers aren't responsible for the fact that its software and doesn't really work.

It needs to start with a legal framework gets rid of the shrink wrap licenses and denial of liability, forced arbitration and the like. But then we'd hear complaints about innovation being throttled and excess costs and the like.

But don't expect action from Congress as long as they can pass the buck to the FCC, FTC, CPSC, the companies, the Executive Branch, etc.

Comment Re:A stupid idea made even worse (Score 1) 219

As tech people we tend to focus on the serious technical issues with electronic voting (OPM hack anyone???) when there is a bigger and real world issue - undue influence. When you go to the voting booth no one knows how you really voted. But if there is electronic voting, your boss or your union can set up a bank of systems and "encourage" employees to vote with official watching what they do. Do you want you boss / union boss watching over your shoulder? The real pressure and peer pressure are not to be discounted and is one of the reasons for the voting booths we have today. Political corruptions is easier when the voting process can be corrupted and this makes buying votes pretty easy.

Comment Re:Fantasy sports is like horse race betting (Score 2) 125

That is the key example. In horse race betting:

- bettors look at the stats of the horse in previous races and against various competitors. Just like looking at stats for a QB, running back or wide receiver.
- bettors look at the jockey and their results with different types of horses. similar to checking out the coach or how team mates impact results in football.
- bettors look at the length of race and track conditions and how well a horse did in similar conditions. In football we look at weather, dome or not, on the road or at home.

Football games and results can be impacted by defense and horse races by how other horse block the path of a horse, or who rides the rail and which gate they get. Not perfect but all of the above show that fantasy sports betting and race betting are basically the same, with the fantasy guys doing a lot of marketing to try to create a new reality and promote their business as not being betting. But we all know better. In horse racing if we pick a trifecta based on all of these stats and past results it is *GAMBLING*. Fantasy sports is basically not different. It isn't a game of skill, but is as much a game of chance as horse race betting.

Submission + - Time to move off adblock plus? (

pcause writes: Adblock Plus already lets a lot of ads through its filters if companies pay it. Now it is going to create a body to decide what other ads should get through its filters. The body will have advertisers, publisher and "the public". But since advertisers and publishers created the problem in the first place and given the IAB's various positions on ad blocking, can we expect them to have tight rules to prevent tracking and other abuses? Not a chance. Switch to a better blocker now to show your displeasure with the entire acceptable ads stuff, since it doesn't address the problems. I switched to uBlock when it first came out and it is great.

Comment Silicon Valley likes myth no facts on productivity (Score 3, Insightful) 146

Since the mid 1970's every single study shows that the ideal work environment for programmers is a private office (even a very small one) where they can shut the door and mute a phone. Interruptions are the enemy of software productivity. Despite all the evidence, Silicon Valley pushes the open office concept. The rationale is that this improves collaboration, but studies have shown this is another myth and that collaboration isn't really improved by these office layouts.

We all know the reason for this is to save money on office space. But the real question to ask is given the talent shortage and the need to improve productivity is this a "penny wise pound foolish" approach.

Comment Apps won't use the display as expected (Score 0) 177

If you have an Android phone or tablet and have plugged it into a large monitor you'll find that what you get is exactly what is on your screen magnified. The apps don't see that they can now display more items and things are just large. This is a fault of the Android UI system and not what you'd expect as a Linux or Windows user. Hopefully there is an Android update to fix this (was a problem at 5.0) or Samsung has some way to fix. It might need app changes in which case this device will be not just be huge but will also be hugely disappointing.

Submission + - Windows RT isn't Windows (

pcause writes: I think any developer who looked at Windows 8 and Metro knew that metro isn't Windows at all. Windows RT is the "WIndows for SRM" and it is all Metro and none of Windows. This article discusses that Microsoft's top legal eagle seems to admit this and agree.

Submission + - Pinterest doesn't qualify for DMCA Safe Harbor

pcause writes: There has been a lot of press about Pinterest and copyright infringement. Pinterest says that they are protected by the DMCA Safe Harbor provisions, but is this true? Many point to Youtube, but there is a crucial difference. With Pinterest (and Facebook too) the company's code/servers go and directly get the images off of pages that have copyright notices. There is actual work to find the images and retrieve them but that same work could easily spot the copyright notices and not provide images from copyrighted pages. Youtube received files from users and wasn't involved in actually extracting the files and hence was more like email. They did noting active to obtain the images.

Am I wrong? Isn't it like me being pointed to a copyrighted magazine by someone and cutting out the pictures and using them to publish my own magazine?

Submission + - Tools developers use (

pcause writes: This article on Howtogeek reports the results of a survey by a company called Best Vendor on the tools developers use. Interesting to look at. Hadn't heard of Best Vendor but the Best Vendor site is kind of interesting as well.

Comment Major Flaw in Google TV 2.0 (Score 4, Informative) 107

I saw this demo'ed at CES and Google made a serious mistake in capability. it turns out you can run only a small set of applications available on the market on Google TV 2.0. The reason for the limited selection is that Google TV 2.0 doesn't support touch/multi-touch. I asked the Google TV person why they weren't supporting multi-touch (at least 2 finger touch) from Bluetooth keyboards/keypads that could provide this capability and hence open up pretty much the full market to Google TV 2.0. he said the capability wasn't in the OS/libraries at all because some OEMs - he specifically mentioned Sony - couldn't support it in their devices. What an amazingly stupid decision. Build the capability into the OS and let the manufacturers with half a brain support it. Users will get most of the market apps and developers will have their lives made simpler as opposed to having yet another Android fragmentation issue to deal with. A truly stupid decision.


Submission + - facebook is tracking you when you're logged out (

pcause writes: According to this article and apparently confirmed by a Facebook engineer, even when you are logged out of facebook they are still tracking you. The quoted engineer explains that this tracking is only for security related purposes. Maybe, but the bigger question is does this need to be disclosed and does it violate an implied contract with web users as to what logging out means?

Submission + - Third party cookies and web tracking

pcause writes: Most of the consumer web tracking is done by third party cookies. An ad network or ad targetting service puts cookies on your system to watch where you go and uses this ti figure out what to give you for ads and to build a profile. All of the major browsers have the ability to block third party cookies. The question is why they do't make this the default behavior, as doing so would immediately reduce unwanted tracking, especially if Flash respected this setting.

Submission + - "Do no evil" - but only if it doesn't cost us $$ ( 1

pcause writes: The WSJ reports that Larry Page knew Google was running illegal ads, but went for the money over what was legal and right. From the article — "Larry Page knew what was going on," Peter Neronha, the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney who led the probe, said in an interview. "We know it from the investigation. We simply know it from the documents we reviewed, witnesses that we interviewed, that Larry Page knew what was going on."

Google is as greedy and corrupt as anyone other big company.

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