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Comment Not that anyone will see this, but I'm done here. (Score 5, Insightful) 629

I've been a reader of Slashdot since before they even had user accounts, and if I had felt like making my first comment with an account sooner, would have easily landed a 4-digit UID. I have a couple thousand comments to my name (though not many over the past couple of years), excellent karma, and a long history on this site. I've always been impressed with the commenting/moderation system, which I think remains the site's biggest innovation/strength, and one that I wish more websites would use to get control of their comment sections.

But over the years, I've watched Slashdot become less and less interesting as the quality of stories has gotten lower and lower. But this is the last straw.

Rarely have I seen the commentariat completely united in pointing out that this story was a bad idea:
- It's purely political with zero tech content.
- It's a direct repost from PRNewsWire
- It's all about a pathetic self-selected internet survey
- It comes from a group so political, it might as well be called "Doctors Against Filthy Liberals"

The comments section of Slashdot can be lively and interesting, but only if the editors pick something other than pathetic troll-bait to get the discussion going, and they've fallen down on that job horribly. Rob & co. knew how to get a discussion going; the latest bunch alternate between click-bait and the most abstruse and boring tech stories they can find.

After nearly 20 years with Slashdot, I'm done. I'm deleting the Slashdot feed from my RSS reader, and I guess it'll go on (or not) without me.

Comment False. Google loses money on lots of services. (Score 1) 149

Google has a great number of money-losing products and services. Google Maps is one of them (especially without these ads.) Compared with how much it costs to collect and maintain the mapping data (not to mention the development and infrastructure cost for the application), they most certainly lose money on it. (Google tracks and uses your location to serve you search ads with or without the use of Google Maps if you have an Android phone or use any Google product or browse to any site serving Google ads on your computer.)

Google is making precisely bupkis on self-driving cars, Google Voice, Google Docs (at least the non-commercial version), etc.

Comment You can't have it both ways (Score 1) 380

If you want the ability to re-sell an electronic copy of a work, then you have to accept DRM (and consequences for cracking it.) A physical book (say, a 500-page novel), has built-in "copy protection" in that it is tedious, at best, to make a copy to keep for yourself prior to sale. (And if you do make a complete copy for yourself, it is uncontroversial that this could, in theory, get you in trouble.)

If a publisher can be reasonably assured that the user will not sell a copy while keeping the one they have, then it is reasonable for them to let said sale take place. But without solid DRM, no such assurance exists. I can't blame a publisher for being more than a but upset over an easy market for cheap "used" e-books if there's no DRM.

Comment I'm not seeing it (Score 1) 369

Paraphrasing: "Because kids can't code an OS from scratch after playing around with a computer for an hour, we are teaching them 'all wrong'." Seriously?

Yes, the general public frequently confuses the writing of code with Computer Science, but that does not mean that schools are doing anything "wrong" by starting out with some simple toyboxes for kids to play with.

Comment Right after I buy my laptop fuel cell (Score 1) 151

Color me skeptical, but these "battery breakthrough" stories are the new "laptop fuel cell" stories, which have appeared here since about the first month Slashdot has existed, and always been shipping just a little bit in the future.

When they put them in a shipping product, then I'll pay attention.

Comment Indentation isn't enough for DNA. (Score 1) 385

Well, the thing is, even if we HAD a "DNA Beautifier", which we do not, even neat, organized, DNA is about as useful as handing that Google.com code over to my 96-year-old Grandmother and asking her to interpret exactly, with perfect precision, what even part of it does. We simply do not know enough about protein synthesis for the source code to be of much use at all, and there aren't any obvious efforts on the horizon for great leaps forward in that respect.

Comment Somebody wants to land some grant $$$... (Score 2) 385

Not in five years, maybe not in fifty; this is so absurdly over-optimistic, it's not even funny.


We know SO LITTLE about how genes actually function to produce, well, you, the idea that we can, within five years, figure out which genes are "responsible" for aging and turn them off/around is ridiculous. The amount of feedback looping going on, even if we knew which genes produced which raw proteins, is so twisted that even figuring out the protein synthesis process itself requires super-computers, much less figuring out how all those proteins interact with your body.

We heard all this very same talk when the first Human Genome Project results were released. Please tell me what grand advances that has brought us, other than a few diagnostic tests, and some treatments for a couple rare diseases.

Comment They have some pretty strict limits (Score 1) 60

The patent office has some pretty strict limits as to when they can actually reject a patent. As in, there are specific laws they must follow for something to qualify as "prior art" for a patent rejection, and only specific places the law authorizes them to go. As in, with the silly "Point a Laser Pointer at a Cat" patent... any idiot knows there are approx. 1B videos on YouTube about this. But internet videos aren't on the list. Nor are websites in general, unless said websites have an actual printed publication behind them.

Certainly Internet-based prior art can be used as an effective DEFENSE to a patent lawsuit, and can lead to the patent being revoked, but they cannot be used by the patent examiners in the initial evaluation.

Comment There's gotta be a better way (Score 2) 60

There should be a way to structure the patent laws so you can't sue somebody who bought a patented invention from somebody else. The idea that an end-user is fully liable for the development practices of an upstream company is ridiculous.

I realize such laws would be tricky to craft (an unscrupulous vendor could "buy" IP they don't own from a shell company or patsy), but the current way of doing things is resulting in far too many patent trolls pursuing mid-sized organizations that have enough money to make the suit worth it, but not so much they can actually afford patent litigation.

Maybe craft a law that if you want to go after end-users (instead of the organization carrying out the infringement), your maximum recovery will be a RAND licensing cost, and it better have some relation to how much you paid to develop/acquire the patented invention to begin with.

Comment Hmmm... (Score 1) 96

If they can keep the cost and weight penalty low, this could work. Planes (especially short-haul planes) currently spend a significant percentage of the day loading and unloading. If they can cut that down by simply slotting in pre-loaded passengers and bags, this could speed around turnaround times enough for this to make sense.

Comment Which is why it's a bad idea... (Score 1) 169

Well, it depends on the work I suppose. If you can land a long-term gig as an independent contractor then yes, you can ratchet your rate expectations down a bit. But if the jobs you are taking are piecemeal? Then needing to bill at around triple what you'd earn as a regular full-time employee is about right. Somebody working in fits and starts has to cover:
- Benefits
- Downtime
- Payroll taxes
- Liability Insurance
- Overhead (i.e. travel, legal bills, things an employer might reimburse you for, like your cell phone)
- Non-billable labor (time spent doing all those mundane tasks you would foist off to corporate functions (i.e. billing, accounting, marketing, etc.)

What? You can't get anybody to pay it? Well you are almost certainly earning less than an employee doing the same job would be.

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