Sunday, July 28, 2013

Businessweek's Geekiest Article Ever

BusinessWeek writes about the application of D&D to designing user experiences for websites. I just love the taking of something that would seem completely unrelated and applying it to a problem.

The Bogus High-Tech Worker Shortage

PBS Newshour's blog has a guest column on an issue that really bugs me. The executives of tech companies gripe about how few workers they have who meet their needs. Do they really? How exacting are the job descriptions they use? Do the people they bring in using H1-B visas really meet those requirements or are they just useful in that they'll do anything to keep those visas including working absolutely insane hours, having no family or social life and never even thinking about asking for a raise? After all, if you hire an American they might do something entirely unreasonable like taking time off, expecting reasonable compensation given their expertise or some other shocking and completely unacceptable behavior for an employee. I've read articles about this issue online at sites like ComputerWorld, CIO and others and have seen IT professionals in the comments section mention that they don't recommend to their own children that they consider IT as a career. If you want students to consider STEM careers, do something about what's happening to the employees in STEM fields.

So Much for Sunshine

Brendan Greeley at BusinessWeek writes about Congress's really classified work, giving a whole new meaning to "I've Got a Secret". Apparently the big favors some legislators would like to do for their friends and big contributors should be something that none of the voters should be able to find out about.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

RealClearPolitics forgets a major factor in article on female GOP candidates for President

RealClearPolitics has a speculative article on the GOP's problem fielding female candidates but misses a huge point that also affects their male candidates. The reporters point out that current GOP women who hold office in blue leaning states are quite successful. But they fail to mention that to make it as a nominee for President from the Republican Party these women from blue or purple states would have to veer far to the right, abandoning much of what made them popular enough in their home states to win and what they need to avoid alienating a lot of independents and moderate Republicans in the general election. But the GOP base currently still seems convinced that they lost to Obama because they weren't conservative enough. Personally I think that's still a recipe for continuing failure.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

British conservative politicians can have awful ideas too

The UK's Prime Minister, David Cameron, a Tory, has proposed sweeping new rules to crack down on pornography online. I agree with this writer from Popular Science who thinks it's a bad idea. It's overly broad, based on some really bad assumptions and most likely fated to not end well. Assuming this does make it through their legislative process the question becomes one of whether or not the next government would have the courage to repeal it, IMO.

Russia - Not a good place to do business

Vladimir Putin's allies prove that successful businesses depend on the rule of law. Businesses should realize this by now yet they tend to ignore it in their desire to expand in countries that just aren't there yet, like Russia and China. India is a red tape nightmare that makes the worst of U.S. bureaucracy seem like a dream of efficiency. Yet the pundits of the business world extoll the virtues of emerging markets like they are all equal in opportunity.

STEM education and STEM jobs aren't a silver bullet for U.S. unemployment

Computerworld writes about some of the facts concerning tech jobs. While software jobs and some other math related professions are doing OK they're not really booming. But engineering jobs in the more technical areas of the profession like electronics engineering are declining. Even the status of jobs in chemistry isn't as rosy as a general push for STEM education would seem to make it. Remember that the government is cutting back on funding for scientific research and most modern corporations are doing the same. Something that has the greatest potential to provide for our future well-being is being slowly strangled in the name of short term gain.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The German Green Lantern

So this morning I thought I'd watch a nice animated full length feature from DC, "Green Lantern: First Flight" on Amazon. The movie starts and something just doesn't sound right. It wasn't in English. After about 30 seconds I recognized the language as German. How they did this one I don't know but it was a first and it still hasn't been fixed.

Self-Regulation as Scam: The Aluminum 'Merry-Go-Round' | The Business Desk with Paul Solman | PBS NewsHour | PBS

Some merry-go-rounds are bad things. The constant motion of people between government and the private sector companies they'd been involved with is one of them. I wonder if it could be made a crime for someone formerly in the government who uses their knowledge from their government employment to help their current employers dodge regulations?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, wants to ban oral sex.

Amanda Marcotte at Slate lets us know how Ken Cuccinelli is fighting hard to do the right thing. Well, that is, if you think pushing hard for a law that outlaws common sexual practices of consenting adults is the right thing. Of course he says that this is for the sake of the children but no sane people are buying into that one. How's that rebranding of the GOP going?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

DVDs and Blu-Rays will still be relevant for a while yet

This columnist for Forbes understands that but still misses one of the biggest reasons why. He addresses the fact that if you're picky about picture or sound quality streaming isn't going to provide the absolute best experience. He brings up other facts but misses one of the absolute biggest obstacles in the real world to media streaming taking over the U.S. market.

Our pathetic broadband quality is a major barrier not only to streaming taking over the media market but to fully utilizing the potential of high speed internet for education, remote medicine and other benefits we probably just haven't thought of yet. There are areas inside major metropolitan areas where you can't get broadband, believe it or not. I work for a small chain of funeral homes and cemeteries. They have a location in Leavenworth Kansas. It's a town with a bit over 35,000 people in it and considered to be part of the greater KC metropolitan area. To this day I haven't been able to get useful broadband at that location. Then you work your way "down" to smaller cities and towns and rural areas and it only gets worse. If you can find it, decent bandwidth is expensive most of the time.

Netflix and its gaming cousin, GameFly, are a much more reasonable answer for millions of Americans when they want to watch movies, television series or play video games and will probably be staying that way for years to come.

Why Frank Herbert's 'Dune' Still Matters : The New Yorker

A New Yorker columnist gives his take on the ongoing relevance of Dune. I find myself curious as to how he defines a "true fandom", which is what he thinks Dune lacks. Is it people in costumes? Is it conventions dedicated to it alone? Many books are extremely popular among science fiction fans that don't have those things and Dune is certainly considered among the absolute best the field has ever produced.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Some of the reporting on Snowden's leaks just isn't accurate

Edward Snowden is still on the run and still in the news. There's been a lot written about his claims, starting with The Guardian and the Washington Post. But as usual once you get into even mildly technical issues these organizations just can't seem to get it right. More technically inclined news organizations like CNet point out the technical errors. What's sad is that it wasn't even very technical. Maybe it was just shoddy reporting with no real fact checking.