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jeffiekins Free

Recent Comments

  1. about 9 hours ago on Doonesbury

    When people allow a free market to be “unfettered” (especially when it is paired with easy access to legislation for corporations), society as a whole will suffer, increasingly.

    It is no wonder that social unrest has grown, pretty much in lockstep with the unfettering of the free market, which simply gives the wealthy more and more ways to transfer wealth from the poor to themselves. From BLM to stay-at-home to SJP to whoever will be in the news next month, the bulk of the people at protests are usually more “just protesting” than advocating for the specific cause for which they are showing up. A recent study found that most of the people who showed up for a BLM protest also showed up for a pandemic stay-at-home protest!! It’s pure social unrest; you have an alternative explanation?

    Please note that I am not advocating transferring wealth from the wealthy to the poor: if the U.S. simply dismantled all the systems that transfer wealth the other way (even if they kept state-run lotteries), that would probably be unnecessary.

  2. about 9 hours ago on Doonesbury

    > Isn’t this how the unfettered market is supposed to work? Supply and demand determine price, and when a monopoly interferes with that mechanism buyers look for alternatives and new sellers, attracted by those profits, enter the market.

    Except that the patent (and other) laws have been bent to the will of the monopolists, who discovered that money for lobbying is extremely well-spent. Even John Adams believed a Capitalist system needed to be well-regulated to function for the benefit of society, and ours has become remarkably dysregulated, in all manner of ways.

    An acquaintance of mine ran a company, and at one point, “needed” a law changed, so he hired a lobbyist, “bought” a congressman and got his law. He told me he wasn’t surprised he was able to do it easily, but he was shocked by how cheap it was. Big corporations almost invariably find that their “return on lobbying” is just astronomical: you can give lobbyists $200k to get a law passed that will net you hundreds of millions: that’s a 100,000% ROI. Real examples of this abound, sometimes with numbers even more extreme.

  3. about 9 hours ago on Pearls Before Swine

    This is basically why Hollywood has such an aversion to producing comedies now: the “foreign” revenue is much scarcer than for movies where you blow stuff up and/or beat people up.

  4. about 9 hours ago on Overboard

    I respectfully request you take a look at my reply to saltylife16, above.

  5. about 10 hours ago on Overboard

    > The enjoyment of escaping reality.

    I very much enjoy escaping into the comic world. Then some goober complains that Louie wouldn’t be able to float because the average density of a dog exceeds the average density of air.

    I was trying to point out that there are plenty of things in that world that aren’t logical (like every comic), so complaining about something that’s not logical is (…wait for it…) not logical.

  6. about 10 hours ago on Doonesbury

    A surprising amount of commercial software, even in the 21st century, is spaghetti code. But I’ve found, especially with the rise of Java and particularly the Spring framework proliferating in corporate settings, that ravioli code is more of an issue.

    “Ravioli code” is when your codebase consists of thousands of tiny methods (or functions), maybe 1-10 lines each, that each only do one very specific thing. On the one hand, you can tell almost at a glance that the function itself is correct, but on the other, it can take a lot of work to figure out what actually happens when the program runs, and whether the function is being called at the right time or in the right situation, because the logical connections between parts of the program are so obscure, and there’s just so much code to wade through for even the smallest action.

  7. about 11 hours ago on Doonesbury

    Excellent analogy. Generally, I find creating software is more like building a house than doing anything else.

    Let me take another whack at it: unfinished software is, generally, worthless. But sometimes, in there, you can find an idea that is worth something. Often that idea is an algorithm: a way to figure something out that your people didn’t think of, typically, something like 20 lines of code, but potentially worth a lot to another company in a similar business.

    Here’s an example: a new airline is developing their own routing and scheduling software. The airline collapses before the software is completed. Another airline might be interested to see if they came up with a better way to schedule crews or equipment, or minimizing weather disruptions, or reducing maintenance costs by positioning planes at airports where maintenance costs were lower at the right time, or integrating weather forecasts with fuel requirements, or any of the other optimization opportunities available in that industry.

    Though they will never be able to use that software, there might be an idea (or even a snippet of code) that they could incorporate into their own software. Considering that a single experienced software engineer, even in a smaller city outside of California, will cost at least $200k per year (“fully loaded”, as they say), paying $25k for a single helpful idea starts to look like not a bad deal at all. And who knows? Maybe there will be two ideas.

  8. 1 day ago on Overboard

    I think there is entirely too much application of logic to a comic about pirates who fight with swords, have cell phones and fridges, and can communicate with a variety of animals, including a dog who can fly when intoxicated by an aroma.

  9. 1 day ago on Doonesbury

    First off, generally, code is worthless unless it’s for a product with an established customer base. And even then, it’s going to take more work than the acquirer expects to maintain and/or enhance. I’ve seen this many times, and it never fails to surprise people. Once you start trying to do something with code, it’s never as nice to work with as it seemed when you just looked at it. And even if you knew it was a mess, it’s always more of a mess than you thought. Alex is probably on to something with the idea that a competitor might be able to glean a clever algorithm (maybe 20 lines out of 100,000 or 1,000,000) or two that make it worth the price, but other than that, it’s extremely close to worthless.

    In those days, software patenting wasn’t such a thing; these days, most software companies probably have a handful of indefensible/undefendable but revenue-generating patents associated with their code. (Software patenting is a terrible idea, was never a good idea, and its effects on society and the tech industry keep getting worse.)

  10. 1 day ago on Doonesbury

    The 3 comments above are all 100% right: it’s easy for a company founder/funder who doesn’t really understand the technology to drop many millions into an effort that was doomed from the outset because they used a foundation technology that was unsuited to their problem, or they started with a wrong assumption or two, or they just made a bad design choice during the first week, that it didn’t become clear (to them) for some months how limiting the consequences of that choice would be.

    The vast majority of CEOs of tech companies (of all sizes) are not competent to evaluate the work being done by their engineering staff, and have to rely, to a degree you might not believe, on luck to get someone who’s up to the job to run it. Conversely, many start-up Chief Technology Officers aren’t capable of bringing something half as ambitious (as what their company is attempting) to fruition, and don’t even know enough to realize they’re over their head. These are usually the origins of the stories of 100-hour weeks, as the engineers frantically try to make something enough like a silk purse that their stock options won’t be worthless. And again, there’s a huge amount of luck involved in getting engineers who are up to the task. It’s a lot more of a lottery than anyone involved in the process would admit.