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Comment Re:What is it with these public-private partnershi (Score 5, Insightful) 73

The short answer is that the times have changed from back when government-funded applied research was a primary source of startup innovations. The reality is that small companies move faster and are more able to adjust to surprises in an agile manner than the Government. Now the tables have turned and the Government needs mechanisms to find new things because it's certainly not inventing them all in-house.

Speaking as one of the other members of the population, I have a few mixed feelings about the government using public funds for equity buys. Conversely, if that mechanism allows the USG to more rapidly gain access to novel inventions than they have and those inventions optimize the Government's performance, it's a drop in the bucket and probably saving the taxpayers a bundle.

If you find Google Earth useful, thank In-Q-Tel. When the startup that produced that technology was financed, only realtors in California had ever heard of it.

(Yes, I'm a little biased. I have been a part of some public-private partnerships that have performed well.)

Comment Re:Markets aren't any good at prediction (Score 2) 185

Don't forget the Community Reinvestment Act (a.k.a. "nevermind those underwriting standards").

Markets aren't good at prediction, any more than anything else is. What they are excellent at (and in fact the best tool known to man) is identifying a legitimate price between buyers of a particular product at a particular point in time.

Comment Where you are matters in terms of what to expect. (Score 1) 467

I have dealt with this over the years in different ways. There are some U.S. states that pretty much explicitly pre-empt any assertion that what you do on your own time belongs to an employer. You might sign this away by contract, but enforceability is not consistent everywhere. I'm not a lawyer, but I've had to negotiate quite a few IP agreements.

This is more relevant at initial hiring, but even the large stodgy shops will usually have employees declare existing intellectual property in which you have patent filings, etc. If you have a project going on or are a submitter to an open source project, declare that up front.

Reasonable firms won't prevent you from working on things on your own time and with your own equipment (that's another key factor). I do realize that means there are quite a few unreasonable employers out there.

I don't recommend subterfuge, unless you've consulted with an attorney first. If your project is not directly related to your employer's business, be up front with them, and also be prepared to explain how the good will that is generated from your other activities helps or can help you with your job. For example, if you work on an open source project and get to "network" with competent, helpful people who know stuff about things that make your company go, be sure to point that out. Obviously, I'm not suggesting that you say you'll shop your hard technical problems to the Internet for free technical assistance, but every other profession has societies of people who occasionally provide ideas or insight for problem solving. This is the same thing.

Comment Re:What a lame racist (Score 1) 395

I'm the first to admit that the FCCs speech rules are somewhat opaque and seemingly capricious, but this is incorrect. There have been exceptions for news coverage even in the case of outright cursing, not to mention racial slurs.

what is true is that when people howl about the use of provocative words *even in context*, the FCC receives a pile of complaints and is then forced to "look into the matter." Given that loss of licensure is a business-killer, station and network managers are gun shy and terrified of offending an unpredictable regulator.

Comment Re:Oh the humanity... (Score 1) 137

I don't have any animosity against either Apple or Google, but Android reminds me of Linux in the early days. The open source model does NOT axiomatically mean that all bugs for all use cases (e.g. Enterprise, consumer) are mitigated in a timely fashion, just as is true with single vendor proprietary software.

Speaking personally, the Android IP stack is still immature and the VPN support is a bit of a train wreck. I wouldn't call it "enterprise grade" at its present level of reliability abd interoperability with other products.

That's not a scathing indictment - merely an observation about current issue lists and limitations. It is however, a credible response to "Why wouldn't everyone just use Android?"

Comment It's all about human factors (Score 5, Informative) 137

Speaking as a former Mac developer and someone currently having to work with Android network stacks, WebOS seems to have thought more about human factors in a coherent way than either iOS or Android.

One word: Notifications. The notifications system in WebOS is the epitome of "considerate." Whether it's of users' time or attention or screen real estate, they have created a UI that very capably tells the user when something important happens, and gets out of the way while discreetly leaving a telltale that there's something to acknowledge. The notifications systems on both iOS and Android are clunky by comparison.

Apple traditionally spends a lot of time thinking about human factors, but compared to their almost religious fervor for human interface guideline compliance in the pre-OSX era, these days they're on a fast track to MS Windows-level UI inconsistency. Well, perhaps not quite that fragmented, but it is what it is.

Android vendors have approached this by grafting on their own proprietary chrome, but some of those are better than others.

I invite anyone who really cares about intuitive usability to try out WebOS. Even on a first generation Palm Pre, it's noteworthy.

From a hacking and customization perspective, I have yet to see a system as friendly as WebOS. Palm and HP have taken their sweet time with some of the SDK/PDK releases, but they've also done things to make it about as easy for developers as one can imagine. Having a full IDE running in a web browser is both a neat hack and rather convenient. Pretty much everything other than time-critical code is in Javascript.

That openness does not come without some potential downsides. While I love that I can customize my phone by tweaking a line of Javascript, I can't help but feel a nagging concern that there are security implications inherent in some of the choices Palm/HP made. It remains to be seen how pervasive those might be, but I'm remaining wary. It won't stop me from using the handset (yet), as I have yet to find anything else as friendly, open, and customizable.

Comment He has what it takes (Score 2) 41

I think Jeff will do well, and told him as much. He's walking into an inherently political environment, and he has demonstrated his ability to be diplomatic in groups of mixed stakeholders. Perhaps more importantly, he isn't beholden to any one particular vendor, regulator or constituency, which is important if you ever have to make difficult decisions in the public eye.

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