Monthly Archives: February 2013

Tom Brady Gives Patriots A Favorable Contract

This story was interesting. Tom Brady gave the New England Patriots a favorable contract extension. By taking a lower salary, he gives the Patriots more cap room to sign other players.

The deal wasn’t completely one-sided. Tom Brady accepted less salary, but a higher amount is guaranteed.

In a salary cap league (NBA, NHL, NFL), when a superstar player signs a huge contract, that gives the team less money to sign other players. Most superstar players say “I want to win!” If winning is their sole concern, they should sign a minimum contract, so their team has cap room to sign other players. If a player worth $20M/year plays for the minimum salary, that gives his team a huge advantage. I’ve never seen a superstar player take a minimum contract, just so his team has cap room to sign other players.

Tom Brady took a lower salary than he might have earned otherwise, so that the Patriots can sign other players. The extension includes more guaranteed money, which is insurance if he gets injured.

Google Play Demands Google+ Account For Reviewing Apps

Google “downgraded” the Google Play store. There used to be a feature where you could leave a review/comment for apps you downloaded. I have my Android phone linked to my gmail account, so they can tell if I downloaded the app.

However, they added a new “feature”. You need a Google+ account to write a review. I’m not creating a Google+ account for a review. My gmail account is good enough.

Actually, Google+ has a “no pseudonyms” rule. If I create a Google+ account with the name “FSK”, they could revoke my whole gmail account for breaking the rules!

Instead of leaving my review on Google Play, I went directly to the developer’s website and left my comment there.

Why must everyone make you create an account, in order to use the full features of their website?

Reader Mail – 02/17/2013 To 02/23/2013

commented on Christopher Dorner - Criminal Or Victim?.
why bring race into it? are you a southern man?

Big Time commented on Python Trademark Foolishness.
There is a true horror story courtesy of the legal system in the United Kingdom.

A university lecturer wrote a book on his own time and on his own equipment.

His employer sued him as they said they owned the copyright for his book.

I can't remember the details as I read about it some years ago. But a court ruled that university lecturers were employed to perform lectures, but the content of what they say belongs to them.

How nasty! You say something and then a nasty clown shakes you down and say they own the copyright of anything you write down, even if they never told you to write a book!

Also, I don't know if it was the same case, but UK courts have ruled the employer only owns the copyright of what they DIRECTLY ORDER.

So the employer does not own everything a person writes before, duration and after their employment if it was not directly ordered.

At the least the UK seems to have sensible copyright law, but only by virtue of case law, not obviously vaguely worded statutory law. Well I don't know. Perhaps the law as written is fine, but it was just a greedy university that decided to swing the lead and be cheeky.

But with people swinging the lead and the high costs of even trivial law cases, it is a mess.

I can see how nasty it gets. You write something on your own time, on your own equipment and even before or after your employment and some nasty piece of work comes along and says "prove you wrote that work before I had a brief word with you down the pub otherwise I will waste 2 years of your life and 1 million pounds of your money with a bogus lawsuit".

The law may be okay. The problem may be with bent lawyers twisting everything and bent clients telling lies and half-truths.

The facts and law are irrelevant. Even if the law is clear and on your side, a clown can waste a lot of your money and time with a bogus legal case.

Credit Rating Agency Problems

I’ve seen a lot of discussion of the credit rating agencies (S&P, Moody’s, Fitch). There are various lawsuits against some of them for their role in the housing bubble and bust.

S&P downgraded the rating of US Treasury debt. Now, S&P is being investigated/prosecuted more harshly than the other credit rating agencies. Is that retaliation for the Treasury debt downgrade?

One issue is freedom of the press. A credit rating agency should be free to say whatever they want.

The problem is caused by current law. Certain investment funds are only allowed to invest in high-rated debt. Insurance corporations are required by law to invest most of their assets in “investment grade” debt; there may be similar restrictions in other areas.

This leads to the obvious problem. If an issuer can get a high rating for its debt, then more people are legally allowed to buy it.

The credit ratings are not impartial 3rd party evaluations. Instead, the debt issuer hires one of the credit rating agencies to rate its debt. If S&P gives a bad rating on one bond, then the bank may choose a different rating agency for the next issue. This leads to the credit rating agencies not competing with each other on price or quality of rating. Instead, they’re competing to see who can bend over backwards the most to give debt a high rating, so that banks will choose them.

Also, there are only 3 big credit rating agencies, forming a cartel. Even if I can rate bond better than the big three, I’m not able to start a new credit rating business.

There is another problem. Credit rating agencies are not liable, if their rating turned out to be wrong. In a really free market, I’m only going to trust a credit rating if it’s backed by a guarantee. The person making a credit rating should also take partial responsibility if there’s a default.

There are lots of problems with the credit rating system. The credit rating agencies are chosen by the bank issuing the debt. They inflate credit ratings, to keep the business coming from banks. The big 3 credit rating agencies form a cartel. The credit ratings are backed by various laws, which provide further incentive to inflate ratings. The credit rating agencies are not liable if their rating is wrong. This is not a “failure of the free market”, because the current system of credit ratings is not a free market.

Gold Should Always Be In Backwardation

This post was missing the point.  The February and April gold futures contracts are in backwardation.  The futures price is less than the spot price.  If you have a gold bar, you can sell it and buy a future.  This locks in a sure profit PROVIDED THE FUTURES MARKET DOES NOT DEFAULT.

As Jon Corzine and MF Global taught us, the “provided the futures market does not default” clause is not an absolute guarantee.  WIth 0% interest rates, the amount of backwardation should equal the default rate.  (The Fed Funds Rate is currently 0%-0.25%.  That is the rate that applies to large financial institutions, who set prices in the futures market.)

MF Global was approximately 40% of all futures market contracts, and MF Global customers lost approximately 40% of their investment.  Approximately 16% of all assets invested in the futures markets were lost.  If the “new normal” is that an MF Global event happens once every 10-20 years, then there should be a default risk of 0.5-1% priced into the futures market.

30-50 years ago, if there was an MF Global default, the other financial institutions would have covered the loss or arranged for a bailout of the customers.  They would be more interested in protecting the integrity of the futures market, than robbing customers.  Knowing that the end is coming, it’s all about maximizing short-term profit, ripping off whoever you can.

Longer-dated futures contracts have more default risk, due to a greater time period until settlement.  Therefore, longer-dated futures contracts should have lower prices than shorter ones.  The “default risk” that should be priced into futures markets is greater than interest rates (0%).

If all traders are rational, futures markets for gold should always be in backwardation.  You’d be an idiot to trade your gold bar for a future, due to the risk of getting Corzined out of your gold.  The arbitrage argument that says “Gold should never be in backwardation!” is false, because the futures market has default risk.

Python Trademark Foolishness

This story was amusing. Someone is claiming to own the trademark to “Python” in Europe, covering all usage of the word “Python” in computers or software.  They are not related to the Python programming language.  If they succeed, it would prevent people from using the word “Python” to refer to the programming language, without permission of that trademark troll.

Obviously, based on merit, the trademark should not succeed.  However, it will be decided by whoever has the better lawyers, rather than based on merit.  Even if the trademark troll fails, he forced people to waste time and money fighting him.

This is the problem with trademarks.  Nobody should own the right to use a specific word or phrase.  It would be offensive to use a name that conflicted with an established business, but it shouldn’t be illegal.  If you picked a confusing name for your business, you would be liable for fraud if you confused your customers.

Intellectual property is not a valid form of property.

Reader Mail – 02/10/2013 To 02/16/2013

Nek commented on node.js Is VB6 - Does node.js Suck?.
>> All these languages are just wrappers for C/C++ libraries and given a marketing name anyway.

I do know the exact part of programming you have been all those 25 years and it's dark down there.

Nek commented on node.js Is VB6 - Does node.js Suck?.

>> I’ll stick with my PHP/LAMP for now. I am open to new things...

Am I the only one to see a bit of contradiction here?

My conclusion was "Node.js is not better than PHP." That isn't the same as "I'm not open to new things."

abc commented on Only Idiots Use Java For High Frequency Trading.
It's too naive to say that high-frequency trading has to be done with a specific language... it depends on what your needs are:

- pure arbitrage strategies: these are often simple and well understood strategies and only the fastest player will win a given opportunity. These solutions are increasingly implemented directly in hardware ( C++ may be lower latency than Java but will stand little chance against pure hardware solutions. Pure hardware strategies can be as fast as single-digit microseconds between receiving a tick and placing an order against it. Downside: high cost, low turnaround time

- complex trading strategies that still require very low latency: these are typically done in c++. Just search the job boards. It may only be 1/2 or 1/3rd as productive as java but the improvement in latency makes it a requirement. And C++ is still way more productive than a hardware solution. I am not sure if it's possible to get C++ into single-digit microseconds but you can probably get pretty close for a very simple trading algo

- and finally you have a whole slew of other types of "higher-frequency" models that are simply less latency sensitive. Perhaps it's mostly using passive orders. Perhaps it's trading with banks instead of open exchanges. Perhaps holding times are measured in minutes instead of seconds or milliseconds. For apps like these, java is a very good choice. But you can't run arbitrage strategies on open exchanges with apps like these, you just can't compete. For for most firms, that's ok. I think a carefully written java app could probably go as low as 50 microseconds for a full round-trip between receiving a tick and placing an order against that tick. Of course, that will be an average of 50 microseconds, but the latency-variance for java tends to be much higher than for compiled languages. Benefits: lower cost, quick turnaround time, easier to develop stable software, etc

So I say: it depends on what your needs are. But most high-frequency firms use C++ as it tends to strike a happy medium between latency and development time

Juan Daugherty commented on Offensive Interview Programming Tests And Assignments.
I too used to take them and stopped a long time ago. It seems to have become a master slave thing where the employer is trying to weed out any but the most abject slaves. Just got an email from one inviting me to spend like 6 or 7 hours in such a process where they were very explicit that there was no compensation and they wanted you to show ... what? I guess it's a split between that and just utter cluelessness of the irrationality of spending that kind of the time, the degraded state of this particular market, class relations generally whatever.

In any case it's not by any means the case that all or even most employers are presenting these and they're certainly the exception for contract work.

Also I think when markets are glutted with labor, this comes back, it seems to be less a few years ago but seeing more now.

For me with an unusual amount of experience, I've found from bitter experience it's utterly futile to humor this. If you have decades of experience and they are testing you it just means they think you're a fraud and it's unlikely you'll change that opinion because even if you pass an objective test, it will be followed by the subjective tech out where they'll "show" you're incompetent. After recently telling an internal recruiter for a silicon valley startup I don't do tests, I relented because he pressed me. After doing well I was flown out there for just such a tech out.

I think almost at any stage if you have a degree, at least a few years of experience, you should reject this, but what will drives it (the rejection of taking tests) is people see it's a waste of time, doing well on the test seldom means you're going to get the job.

Anybody working on a contract basis that wastes like a days labor on this is rapidly going come to the point where they refuse them so it's naturally self limiting to a large extent, forming hard core sweat shops and the like in a certain segment of the industry.

It certainly is a jumping-through-hoops exercise more than evaluating someone's ability. It's "better" to hire someone who's totally desperate for the job.

On the other hand, for one interview a few years ago, the headhunter talked me into doing their (only 2 hour) test, and they did wind up hiring me. I'll do tests, provided it isn't too long.

The other negative of working as a programmer is that your experience has a very short half-life. Most of my experience is in C/C++, and I get zero credit for that experience for interviews for .NET or Java or other languages. Even if I get a couple years of .NET experience, a couple years from now there'll be another new thing. Most experience is transferable to other languages, especially the experience for understanding requirements and working with legacy systems, but I've seen almost no headhunter/HR, recruiter, or hiring manager who understands this.

187um commented on Christopher Dorner - Criminal Or Victim?.
Weeding out a corrupt system. Nothing wrong with that

Dorner isn't going to accomplish much. He's going to get at most a few more people before the police get him.

If everyone who received State abuse retaliated violently, it would rapidly end. If you're the only one doing it, you're throwing your life away for nothing.

In the late 19th century, some anarchists tried assassinating politicians. It didn't work. There's always another State criminal eager for a promotion, so getting rid of some corrupt leaders accomplishes nothing. Also, the media spin led it to create more sympathy for the State. Violence is pointless when you're outnumbered.

I've been unfairly fired plenty of times. I let it go and move on to the next opportunity. Dorner could have gotten a job as a security guard or bodyguard, even though he was unfairly fired from the LAPD.

However, in a non-corrupt system, Dorner probably would have had a successful career as a policeman. His "problem" was that he was honest and intelligent. He was bothered by the bad things policemen are frequently forced to do. The criminals noticed that, and decided to come up with an excuse for firing him. (When policemen are recruited, they are given an intelligence test. If you score too highly, you are rejected!)

d erikson commented on Christopher Dorner - Criminal Or Victim?.

dorner praised obama in his manifesto, then went on a killing spree of white people. a general absence of this fact in the press though. imagine a white man praising mitt romney in a manifesto then killing 3 black people. it would be front & center in boldface type with the biased liberals in the media! the media in this country truly suks!

The bit may not have been in the original manifesto. It might have been edited. The stuff on the assault weapons ban and the shout-out to celebrities may have been added later by someone else. That was already discussed previously in the comments above.

If you ever decide to post a "manifesto", don't do it on a site like Facebook! Do it on your own personal website, so at least it's in Google's cache or the wayback machine! (Facebook is not crawled by Google. Also, Facebook has strict censorship rules.)

Don't trust the mainstream media! If they claim it's an "unedited" copy of Dorner's writing, you can't be sure!

Christopher Dorner is dead. There were a couple of other interesting points, but not enough for a separate post.

The news said "The cabin he was hiding in mysteriously caught fire." Why not say "The police set fire to the cabin!"? Who do they think they're fooling? The police decided to go all Janet Reno Waco on the cabin. Given that he had shot two more policemen, that probably was justified.

That also shows the fallacy of trying to hold off a siege by State police. If necessary, they will gas you, burn down your home, or even bomb you.

Another interesting point is the police bodyguards for Dorner's target list. If a criminal targeted 40 non-policemen, they would not have gotten such protection. In that case, it would have been "Too bad, you're on you're own, we don't have the resources to protect you." Police are the violence arm of the State, and that's why it was so important to protect them.

commented on Nemo Naming Controversy?.
My take on 'freedom of the press,' is it's freedom, period. The Weather Channel is a private company.

Reader Mail – 02/03/2013 To 02/09/2013

Joe commented on Rise Of Legends - No Patch Server! - v2.5 patch.
Does anyone have a new link to the patches. I dug mine out of the closet and need the updates...I just downloaded the 7zip.

yuchmich commented on Rise Of Legends - No Patch Server! - v2.5 patch.

I also would like a link to the patches. Much appreciated.

I see that the link broke. I'll re-upload it here.

Anonymous Coward commented on Dow 14,000 Fallacy.
The theft and oppression will not stop until all the workers of the world unite. Not just against financial theft, but against everything else as well i.e. the loss of proper permanent jobs.

They know how much they can get away with.

Someone needs to create something on the Internet where people can join ranks against the theft and oppression.

thomasblair commented on Christopher Dorner - Criminal Or Victim?.
Unredacted version of his manifesto can be found at and other places. It cuts off in the middle of a statement to Bill Cosby.

How do you know that's a genuine unredacted version?

This was an interesting picture. It's the two women who were shot by police, mistaking them for Dorner.

thomasblair commented on Christopher Dorner - Criminal Or Victim?.

One cannot know for sure, but it does contain all of the officer/suspect names that were redacted out in the copies the MSM has been distributing. It was originally posted on a Facebook page that appears to have since been deleted.

This person claims that the bit about an assault weapons ban was added. I have no idea if it's true. That bit does seem to be written in a different style than the rest of the document. Here's another link on the same subject.

There were a couple of interesting articles on Dorner on the conspiracy reddit. It was interesting to browse.

If I had to make a guess, Dorner is going to hide for a few months, and then strike again once his targets let down their guard.

commented on Christopher Dorner - Criminal Or Victim?.

He is a victim!

Nemo Naming Controversy?

This story was pretty funny. There was a big snowstorm in the Northeast. The Weather Channel is calling it “Nemo”.

What’s the problem?  Meteorologists insist that only hurricanes get names.  It isn’t “scientifically accurate” to name winter storms.

The Weather Channel says that, by naming storms, it’s easier for viewers to follow what is happening.

I agree with the Weather Channel.  If they want to start using a new naming convention, that’s freedom of the press.  It’s easier to follow and remember big storms when they’re named.  It might lead to confusing news coverage, because the Weather Channel is using the new naming convention, but other media sources aren’t.

Amusing Craigslist Ad

I saw a really funny ad on Craigslist. Links on Craigslist expire after a few days, so I’ll copy it here. The experience mentioned (C/C++ or LAMP) matches my own background.

WANTED: Employer (Brooklyn, NY)
Professional Brooklyn man is looking to engage a competent Employer.

Essential Duties
* The Employer provides the Professional with needful and satisfying endeavors designing and building fast, efficient software systems that benefit the Employer, its trading partners, and/or its internal staff.

* Size is not a major concern but must be reasonably well funded.
* Must be able to demonstrate a positive and corroborative workplace.
* Must afford ample opportunities for skill expansion sans pigeonholing.
* Must be amenable to ongoing education, both formal and autodidactic.
* Must facilitate the professional’s growth with the Employer’s organization.
* Must engage the Professional in the organization’s larger goals such that Professional can drive toward them with the Employer.
* Must value and recognize hard work but know how to have fun as well.
* Must be of a multidimensional persuasion, recognizing that the whole is the product of the aggregate of soft- and hard skills and not one to the exclusion of the other.
* Must be honest and ethical.

The ideal candidate will have two or more of the following:
* Offers opportunities to develop cool software systems featuring plenty of UI work, business rules, and backend.
* Will provide opportunity to work on Linux with full LAMP stack and/or C/C++ and/or JavaScript.
* Provides the opportunity to develop graphical animation applications, particularly 3D, with simulated physics, preferably with end user interaction.
* Is committed to finding the right people and then building the product rather than vice versa.
* Values problem solving skills over book smarts.
* Operates in the green energy sector.
* Provides lucrative opportunities to engage new software frameworks such as Cinder or Qt.
* Is focused rather on achievement of Employer’s objectives than on micromanaging or time put in.
* Treats the Professional not as unskilled labor but as one committed to the Employer’s goals.
* Nurtures the Professional, once Employer realizes he is honest, intelligent, hard-working, and valuable, toward his career goals.

All viable candidates will be duly considered. Equal Opportunity Professional (EEP) does not discriminate based on age, gender, creed, sexual orientation, or race.


Serious inquiries only.