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Slashback: ICANN, OLPC, Agile, Yahoo, BayStar

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the maze-of-twisty-items-all-different dept.

84

Slashback tonight brings some clarifications and updates to previous Slashdot stories, including: Spamhaus case tests ICANN; Getting your own OLPC (CM1) computer; Followup Agile commentary from Steve Yegge; Yahoo's time capsule permit revoked by Mexico; and Microsoft denies BayStar connection. Read on for details.

Spamhaus case tests ICANN. narramissic writes, "The U.S. court decision against the anti-spam black-lister Spamhaus Project Ltd. may trigger a 'constitutional crisis' for the Internet, say Internet experts. At issue is whether the U.S. court has jurisdiction over the U.K.-based project. Observers worry that any attempt by U.S. courts to exert control over ICANN could be bad for the Internet. 'It's a delicate time for ICANN right now,' said David McGuire, director of communications with the Center for Democracy and Technology... 'If a court were to order ICANN to remove a domain name, we think that would be a bad precedent because making ICANN a tool of the U.S. legal system in matters such as these would sidetrack ICANN from its very important duties.'"

Time is running out for OLPC sign-up. smilindog2000 writes, "Mike Liveright made news when he pledged, 'I will purchase the $100 laptop at $300 but only if 100,000 others will too.' The deadline for his challenge is October 31, and so far, only 3,330 of us have signed up. Surely, thousands of us Slashdotters would contribute $300 out of generosity. However, I'll do it for the rare privilege of owning an original edition One Laptop Per Child machine. Do other Slashdotters want one of these beasties as badly as me? My inner child has fallen in love."

More Agile commentary from Yegge. tmortn writes, "A couple of weeks ago Steve Yegge posted a harsh critique of Agile Methodologies that enjoyed a pretty spirited debate here on Slashdot and a few other sites. Recently he posted a followup to the mounds of return fire to his rant against Agile methodologies."

Yahoo's time capsule permit revoked by Mexico. prostoalex writes, "Yahoo's time capsule project has been jeopardized by the Mexican government, who revoked the permit given to Yahoo! previously. 'We did have the permit, but Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) told us Monday night that it could not be done,' Manuel Mazzanti, head of marketing at Yahoo Mexico, said on Wednesday. An INAH spokesman said the Yahoo event posed technical and operational problems that might damage Teotihuacan. 'We are the guardians of the heritage of Mexico,' the spokesman said."

Microsoft denies BayStar connection. walterbyrd writes to point out an InfoWorld article reporting that Microsoft has denied any financial connection to BayStar, the company that bankrolled SCO's anti-open source lawsuit.

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I'll buy a $100 laptop for $100 (0)

zulux (112259) | more than 7 years ago | (#16416493)

If you all have too much money - I'll sell you my $16,000 Saturn for $42,000.

Sure! (1)

jrobinson5 (974354) | more than 7 years ago | (#16416531)

Yes, but you have to use the remaining money to purchase 2 cars for people in 3rd world countries. (just completing the analogy)

Re:I'll buy a $100 laptop for $100 (1)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 7 years ago | (#16416923)

There's really no point calling it the $100 laptop unless it retails for $100.

I wouldn't sell Saturn if I were you, I think it's going to become valuable real estate in the coming years. :)

It doesn't matter - the OLPC people have already said they WILL NOT SELL THEM TO YOU, regardless of how many people sign up for this petition. That's probably the reason nobody's signed up, perhaps?

Folks say a lot of things, times change. [youtube.com]

Re:I'll buy a $100 laptop for $100 (2, Funny)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 7 years ago | (#16417067)

"I wouldn't sell Saturn if I were you, I think it's going to become valuable real estate in the coming years. :)"

That's what they said about Pluto.

Re:I'll buy a $100 laptop for $100 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16418099)

Your offer seems to be predicated on the idea that there is a Saturn worth sixteen thousand dollars.

Re:I'll buy a $100 laptop for $100 (1)

Fei_Id (937827) | more than 7 years ago | (#16419221)

Sadly, there's no such thing as a $16,000 saturn as they lose half their value when driven off the lot (they are among the worst in a company with already poor resale value - GM). I think the only exception is the Saturn Sky... (or should I say Opel Speedster)

You've got to be kidding (1)

Neotrantor (597070) | more than 7 years ago | (#16416569)

People in the US actually desire to consume one of these laptops? Do they not realize it's for poor kids? If one of my friends said that in my presence I'd smack them in the face like the mindless animal they are.

Re:You've got to be kidding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16417011)

Yeah, who'd want something useful and cheap, eh? I bet you hate folks importing games too, you loopy mushroom, you.

I'm not surprised (2, Interesting)

Punto (100573) | more than 7 years ago | (#16416621)

I wouldn't pay $300 for the CM1 (I don't have that much disposable income), but it's interesting to at least see how many people would.. For this kind of deal (buy one for you, X for the starving children in Uganda) to work massively, we need to figure out what we can do in the 'real world' with the machine. Sure, I'd get one just because it's cool, as soon as I can afford it ($200 would be all right), but what could a 'real person' do with it, say in a office, sitting next to the desktop computer?
Since OLPC is doing their best to prevent anyone from answering this question, it's up to the ~3000 'early adopters' to figure it out.

Re:I'm not surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16416803)

It doesn't matter - the OLPC people have already said they WILL NOT SELL THEM TO YOU, regardless of how many people sign up for this petition. That's probably the reason nobody's signed up, perhaps?

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16418711)

. . .the OLPC people have already said they WILL NOT SELL THEM TO YOU, regardless of how many people sign up for this petition.

Just find a Libyan kid and offer him twenty five bucks and a Coke.

KFG

Re:I'm not surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16423935)

"Just find a Libyan kid and offer him twenty five bucks and a Coke."

Look up how Libya treats people that cross their policies.

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16424731)

Who said that the kid wasn't a 19 year old Libyian police rookie, and instead of 25 bucks you offered him a 1 oz. gold coin instead (something almost always fungable, regardless of the politcal situation).

Besides, I do envision that these are going to show up on eBay very shortly anyway, likely to be offered by corrupt government officials realizing that people in the USA are willing to pay as much as $500 each for one of these things. Even $200 would be doubling their investment, assuming they didn't simply steal them directly from a government wherehouse without even having to pay for them.

I don't see how the OLPC folks are going to be able to keep this from happening at all, unless they open up and kill the market in the USA and EU with cheap computers as well.

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16425809)

Libya, Uganda, Mississippi; it doesnt matter which underpriviledged culture.

Give some trinket to a kid who needs food and if there's a rich guy around who wants the trinket, the rich guy is going to get it; at considerably less than market value.

The essential problem with this project is that it is not a technological one. Once these things hit the streets, well, they're on the streets and subject to the laws of the street.

Do the OLPC people have any idea what the laws of the street in Uganda or Mississippi are? The evidence is only anecdotal and suggestive, but it suggests that they do not.

KFG

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

arpad1 (458649) | more than 7 years ago | (#16424673)

Just find a Libyan kid and offer him twenty five bucks and a Coke.

Just find a Libyan government official and offer him twenty-five bucks and a Coke and you'll get a pallet-load of OLPCs.

Re:I'm not surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16425161)

This is true, I just did it.

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

paskie (539112) | more than 7 years ago | (#16416931)

I think the main point is that you don't have to worry about batteries going low; also it should be pretty resistent. So you can take it for a few-days trip to the mountains and read a book on it under a tree. Take the wifi into an account, you meet with a friend and can trivially exchange photos from your mountain trip with him or whatever, without being in reach of internet connection. It's not gonna be super-duper multimedia manager notebook but that doesn't mean it's not gonna be extremely practical, perhaps more than the super-duper multimedia manager notebook since for once you actually do something innovative instead of just cranking up the processor speed, amount of RAM and amount of buzzwords.

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 7 years ago | (#16416935)

How about paying $300, and donating 3 with some sort of tax credit/deduction available (is the org a 501(c)(3)?) ? I'd be up for that.

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16424583)

Have you read the on-line petition? That is exactly what was proposed with the idea, that you would get one computer and the other two would go to some deserving 3rd world country.

Apparently the OLPC folks aren't even interested, even if the supposed 100,000 people do sign up. Besides, there are legal restrictions based on the component contracts by the OLPC group that simply prohibit their sale to 1st world nations like the USA or EU countries. Stupid but true.

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 7 years ago | (#16424695)

I read the petition. I said I'd be willing to donate the $300 and have ALL 3 computers go to the 3rd world.

Re:I'm not surprised (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16417117)

I'm not surprised either: 100,000 is an overestimate.

That doesn't sound like a lot compared to world population, but it actually is in terms of niche: Consider that only 30,000 copies is considered good sales for a computer book. Consider that Starbucks are 'everywhere' with only 12,000 shops.

Yeah, only 30,000 for computer books; I was amazed when my publisher said that too. But consider the combined population of the US, UK, and Canada is 390,000,000 and divide by 30k - that's one book for every 13,000 people.

You're really just not going to get 100,000 CM1 enthusiasts willing to take part in this.

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#16419879)

buy one for you, X for the starving children in Uganda

Somehow I'd prefer to just give the starving children in Uganda food then a computer.

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

acsinc (741167) | more than 7 years ago | (#16427253)

That kinda like giving a man a fish instead of teaching him to fish. Perhaps with a computers they can educate themselves and create businesses. As long as they don't learn to phish.

Microsoft has no financial link with Baystar (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16416697)

After all, a verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on.

need domestic (US) OLPC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16416751)

We need to be able to purchase OLPC in the US. $200 would not be too bad with the balance being used for R&D. I signed the pledge, but doubted he would get the number of sigs.

I would love to see the OLPC adopted by my states Virginia and Florida. However, both are currently red states and pretend to have enough money for expensive computer projects running almost exclusively on Windows.

Re:need domestic (US) OLPC (1)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 7 years ago | (#16421261)

I think there is a real need for these machines right here in the US. My daughter is in 1st grade, and this looks like a better machine than anything else out there for her. This computer would allow her to carry fewer books, and to start learning more computer skills.

I think the real reason these machines aren't available in the developed world is Microsoft. They demand their $70 for each MACHINE sold, even if it ships Linux (at least the use to). Selling a $150 laptop for kids WITHOUT Windows is too threatening. No proper Microsoft partner, like Dell or HP, would dare PO M$.

Re:need domestic (US) OLPC (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16424785)

I signed the petition knowing that I would love to get some of these things for my kids as well. I highly doubt that I will be able to get one, however, except off of eBay from some corrupt Libyian government official trying to make a little extra money.

Or perhaps that is how Libya is going to be able to afford it in the first place?

Mexico is right (0, Flamebait)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 7 years ago | (#16416847)

Yahoo has no respect for anything, they are purvayors of spam and trashy advertyising (too many pr0nbots in chatrooms to sneak in under the radar so yahoo either controls/owns them or is payed off to allow them), thats all we need is for extraterrestrials getting the first impressions of earthlings from the likes of a trashy cyber ghetto named Yahoo...

wrong section (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16416989)

I have slashback/backslash whatever filtered out so it wasnt put in the right section. This isnt the first time its happened either I've noticed even the mods cant remember the name of it either, they have often missnamed it also.

Re:wrong section (1)

PygmySurfer (442860) | more than 7 years ago | (#16418723)

Indeed, it appears to have been filed under the Developers section.

ICANN has "important duties"? No way. (4, Informative)

karl.auerbach (157250) | more than 7 years ago | (#16417197)

There is an urban legend that ICANN has something to do with keeping the internet running.

That's not true. ICANN imposes business, economic, and legal policies (largely trademark friendly ones) onto the net, but ICANN does very little that has any contact with the actual ability of DNS servers to transform DNS query packets into DNS reply packets.

If ICANN were to vanish in a poof of green (money colored) smoke, it would be hard to say whether anybody except the trademark lawyers would notice.

On the other hand, a lot of people do believe that ICANN is some sort of FEMA protecting the upper tier of DNS from some kind of internet Katrina. ICANN has abrogated any such protective duties.

Come to think of it, yes, ICANN is the FEMA of the internet - and just like FEMA it will let us down when things technically wobble.

Re:ICANN has "important duties"? No way. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16418167)

You are quite wrong.

Back in 1999 I spent quite some time doing work at ICANN's office in Marina Del Ray. At lunch, I'd sit next to the computer that hosted the Authoritative Root (A Root). At the time, it was the only one.

The A Root was where your DNS would go to find out where to get the listing for any other top level domains. I can't tell you how badly I wanted to stick one of my 0wned by CdC (Cult of Dead Cow) stickers on it. I figured that would get me kicked out, and in a lot of trouble, so I never did it even though I had a few in my briefcase. Even used to read 2600 magazine when I went out to lunch.

So, ICANN does have a fair amount of control in these matters. They hold the key to where you go for your tld info.

Re:ICANN has "important duties"? No way. (1)

Chaos1 (466833) | more than 7 years ago | (#16418689)

What do you CDC stickers and reading of 2600 have to do with ICANN and their usefulness?

Re:ICANN has "important duties"? No way. (1)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 7 years ago | (#16419467)

You are quite wrong.
Pardon me, but you do realize that you are replying to someone who was a board member for ICANN, don't you? I think he has far more insight into the working policies and procedures of ICANN than some anonymous guy who wanted to put stickers on a server.

Re:ICANN has "important duties"? No way. (3, Informative)

karl.auerbach (157250) | more than 7 years ago | (#16422053)

Well, it's hard to believe you.

For one thing, the A root server isn't at ICANN, it's at Verisign, in Virginia.

Secondly, the L root server, which is claimined by ICANN is actually part of IANA and is one server out of about 130 root servers, so it's hardly singularly important.

And the L root server itself is not in Marina del Rey.

Attention, metamoderators (2, Informative)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#16418339)

Thank you for clicking "See Context".

If you're looking at the "troll" moderation, please look up Mr. Auerbach and notice that he was on the board of ICANN. Definitely knows whereof he speaks.

maybe itll be able to.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16417395)

play quake1? im sure the starving children in zimbabgeria would just love to frag one another.... send it off with some good old Q1 and an older copy of Gamespy...

It's Not a Bomb -- It's a Device That Explodes (2, Insightful)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#16417689)

MS's denials remind me of the above quote from a French diplomat defending that country's nuclear tests about a decade ago.

In some ways, I'd consider MS's actions WRT Baystar even worse than just bankrolling the investment -- They convinced Baystar that they'd be backing up the investment then, once baystar committed their money, MS goes -- Oops! just kidding you. We really can't cover your back for you!.

It should also be noted that the same consultant who charged SCO for arranging the Baystar 'investment' also took a similar cut for MS's supposed license buy and for the same reason -- that it was an infusion of cash (as oppopsed to a legitimate license upgrade).

Re:It's Not a Bomb -- It's a Device That Explodes (1)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 7 years ago | (#16419447)

Why do you assume that this investor is telling the truth and MS is lying? Is it just because you have a negative view of MS? People lie all the time when that kind of money is on the line.

When this guy was funding SCO he/baystar were viewed in a horribly unfavorable light on this website. To say people here thought he was being dishonest would be an understatement. But now he makes a claim that he had a vague oral promise from someone at MS that can never be confirmed and all of a sudden its taken as unquestionable truth. I mean does it really seem likely that he would just blow millions of dollars based on some vaugely worded conversation with an MS exec? Shouldnt we at least acknowledge the possibility that MS is telling the truth and this guy is lying?

I think there are a lot of people here who want to believe in an evil conspiracy in Redmond to destroy open source. MS may promote their products aggresively through sales, marketing, bundling, and even closed standards. But these conspiracy theories seem a little unlikely to me, its as though people will latch onto any theory that incriminates Microsoft.

Re:It's Not a Bomb -- It's a Device That Explodes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16419577)

When the case goes to trial, expect IBM to call the unnamed exec at MS who made the alleged promise (and who no longer works for MS) to the stand. We'll have a clearer picture then.

What raises a red flag for me is that their denial is so couched in double-speak -- i.e., they could have said:

"MS had no talks with Baystar about giving money to SCO, and none of our execs were ever told to initiate such discussions."

Instead they said:

"Microsoft has no financial relationship with BayStar and never agreed to guarantee any of BayStar's $50 million investment in SCO,"

Of course they have "no financial relationship with Baystar and never agreed to guarantee ..." - that would happen only if MS signed a contract/agreement with Baystar.

For now, on the basis of MS's past misdeeds, I cannot think of them as being not guilty. And yes, if I was eligible I'd recluse myself from jury duty on any case involving MS.

Re:It's Not a Bomb -- It's a Device That Explodes (2, Insightful)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#16420057)

Nobody is denying that MS convinced Baystar to invest money in SCO. The story is that MS convinced baystar to invest with vague indications that their ass would be covered then backed out and walked away when the money was in. If MS could have denied ever talking Baystar into their investment, they have every reason to do so. Instead they simply emphasize baystar's claim that they never made any solid promise in their convincing and they never covered Baystar's ass.

When listening to diplomats (and PR people are the corporate version of diplomats), you must pay as much attention to what unexpectantly isn't said as what is.

Re:It's Not a Bomb -- It's a Device That Explodes (1)

KwKSilver (857599) | more than 7 years ago | (#16421621)

Why do you assume that this investor is telling the truth and MS is lying? Is it just because you have a negative view of MS?


Most people assume MS is lying because they have a long and storied history of lying.

People lie all the time when that kind of money is on the line.


Given that, who has more money on the line with everthing the do/say/plan/release than MS? Because this can, in theory, get them back on the hotseat with the anti-trust settlement overseers (Fat chance-no matter how guilty they might be found to be!), it is even more in their interest to lie--assuming, of course, that you are correct about lying when money is on the line. Have a nice day.

not much meat (1)

Peter La Casse (3992) | more than 7 years ago | (#16417795)

When I read blog entries like Yegge's I keep hoping to find good, solid criticism instead of a bunch of disjointed fallacies. "Agile" wasn't even defined, and when he talked about processes that do work, he specifically mentioned "lightweight". Well, guess what the main point of so-called "Agile" methodologies is? Being lightweight.

This entry seems to boil down to "Agile hasn't been scientifically proven to be superior, so it's not." That's not very good reasoning; in the absence of any process being scientifically proven to be superior, experience is the next best thing, and it seems pretty obvious that the central Agile themes of "don't do this too much" and "don't do that too much" are pretty good advice. (What constitutes "too much", according to what I've read, depends on your situation.)

I don't advocate a specific Agile methodology, but I do prefer lightweight processes, short time scales and "best practices", which seems to put me on the agile side of the fence. If there's something wrong with a specific agile methodology, or with all agile methodologies, I want to know about it so that I can avoid it.

The comment from Yegge's first blog entry about agile programming that I most hoped he would respond to said this: "What specific parts of the Agile Manifesto do you disagree with?"

Re:not much meat (1)

WebfishUK (249858) | more than 7 years ago | (#16421047)

Yes I agree. An interesting read but I found his reasoning a little confused. He appeared to be arguing in favour of 'true' agility (little 'a' for agile and all that). However, he then went on to demand things like 'you can't have deadlines'. I thought the point of an agile system was to be able to work within a variety of constraints which may be outside of your control. A deadline is something you, and your development model, may have to deal with.

As others pointed out on his blog, Google is a company which currently has the luxury of defining it's own business environment something which most other companies are unable to do.

Re:not much meat (1)

Raenex (947668) | more than 7 years ago | (#16426365)

There was an interesting reply from a fellow Googler on the latest blog. I wish I could link to it, but I don't see any way, so I'll just repost it here:

Patrick said...

I'm a tech lead on a project at Google. We very recently started using Scrum to see whether we could get better at producing more of what our customers wanted faster. I was the one who sold management on the idea; it didn't come from above, so don't blame them. So far this is working pretty well.

I understand that this is a personal blog, and Steve's giving his opinion. Still, it bothers me because it gives what seems like a pretty inaccurate view of Google and what little I know about agile development (sorry, I don't think it merits a capital 'A'; it seems faintly ludicrous to me; maybe that's the sort of thing that bothers him too).

As far as Google: there's been a lot of talk here about the "Google way", which sounds a heck of a lot like "Google methodology" to me. If there is one, I don't know what it is, and I've been working here almost three years. Different groups use different approaches -- some are design top-heavy, some are totally XP (though they are the minority), and some just lump new functionality in until they decide it's done. Groups do what works for them, and nobody much seems to mind.

My point is: "Google" does not mean "doesn't do agile." It doesn't mean anything remotely like that. We have an "intergrouplet" (a semi-formal organization of engineers supporting an aspect of engineering life, like documentation or the build system) devoted to agile, and upper management (who are not stupid people) supports the spread of agile ideas. So yes, we do agile at Google, big A and little a.

I spent a lot of time talking to people in that intergrouplet before we started trying Scrum. The attitude I got was, "Well, here's what the books say, here's what we've tried, and here's what seems to work pretty well for us." Which is what I wanted to know. I'm not interested getting a certification; I'm interested in making my group happier and more productive, and if there's an idea that will help me do that, I'll try it. Many of the agile ideas seem to fall in that category. We're trying a few now, and if they work out we'll try more later. If not, we'll drop them. Maybe that means we're not really doing official Scrum; but if it works, who cares?

What bothered me in these posts was the idea that anybody who used agile was either a gullible mark, or an unscrupulous consultant, or both. I'm not a consultant, and I don't think I'm that gullible. When I first saw Steve's post on "Good Agile, Bad Agile," I thought, great, here's somebody who's opinions I respect, and I'm going to learn something. What I got seemed like pretty wild, unsubstantiated ranting about why agile is bad, without reference to any specifics, or any discussion of particular agile ideas he didn't like. The one specific I do remember him disliking was pair programming, but the argument seemed to be, "Pair programming sounds stupid to me; therefore, it is stupid." I'd be very happy to hear why it's not a good idea, or anecdotal evidence about how it failed, but that's not the kind of thing that's going to convince me of anything other than his strong personal dislike of pair programming, the same way that some people don't like science fiction or folk rock.

(I really wish, by the way, that Steve had described what experience he had with agile development; he said he'd tried it, but not what actually happened. Did he have to do daily standup meetings? Did his group do pair programming? Did they have regular meetings with the customers? Why didn't it work? That's a post I very badly want to read.)

I was depressed and frustrated by these posts, because they're getting a lot of play, and the lesson people I talk to seem to be getting isn't, "It's okay to say no to Agile," but "Agile is stupid, so don't waste your time learning about it, and if you use any agile methods, you're stupid." I bet that Steve is a very good engineer, and I'm ready to be convinced, but I need more than that to do it.

It occurs to me that maybe the point wasn't that agile development ideas are stupid, but that people have a tendency to turn ideas into religions, and while some agile ideas might be (and, I think, are) healthy for software engineering, the Church of Agile Development isn't. That's an idea I completely agree with.

What better jurisdiction for ICANN? (2, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#16417809)

If an American one is "bad", can anyone name a better one?

A European country's? Where denying Holocaust and/or Turkey's genocide of Armenians is illegal? Chinese? Nigerian?

Re:What better jurisdiction for ICANN? (1)

clem (5683) | more than 7 years ago | (#16418777)

How about Sealand [sealandgov.org] ?

Re:What better jurisdiction for ICANN? (1)

ErikTheRed (162431) | more than 7 years ago | (#16419347)

How about Sealand [sealandgov.org] ?
You mean this [wikinews.org] Sealand?

/me stifles a giggle and tries to hide the matches.

Re:What better jurisdiction for ICANN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16419119)

The obvious solution is to remove the root domain from national jurisdiction altogether, either by transferring it to an existing international institution such as the ITU, or by creating a separate institution.

In the latter case, it would probably be simpler to set it up in a country with a history of hosting such institutions, e.g. Switzerland or The Netherlands, as their legal systems have ample precedent regarding sovereign immunity for such organisations.

If you want the organisation to remain based in the US, it would be simpler to bring it under the ITU. As a UN body, it would already by covered by existing treaties and legislation, whereas a new free-standing organisation would probably require new legislation.

Re:What better jurisdiction for ICANN? (1)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 7 years ago | (#16419921)

Easy. No one country should hold domain. It can still physically reside in the US, but make it part of the UN. And before you scoff, the ITU and WHO are both UN organisations, and I don't hear too many complaints about the UN regulation of the international phone system or their handling of international disease prevention.

Frankly, I'm much more scared about censorship of non-US based websites due to political and/or judicial pressure from the US on ICANN and its US-based registrars* than I am of some coalition in the UN getting a resolution passed to censor the 'net. Spamhaus is just one example of what I've been expecting ever since the blocking of XXX domains by the US government, and the way verisign has run the .com domain system like it's own fiefdom.

*speaking of which, why is .com still treated as US property subject to US courts? If we're going to treat .com domains as 'property' based on trademarks, then it should be legally bound to the base of the company that owns it, not the company that just provides the DNS entries. .com domains are international global domains for world commerce. If it was .co.us, I'd bow to US jurisidiction, but spamhaus are a UK company with no US holdings. The only reason this US court has any power at all is because the US government refuses to do the right thing and convert a world network into a world system, instead of a US owned system that the rest of us are only 'allowed' to play on at the US government and courts whim.

Re:What better jurisdiction for ICANN? (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 7 years ago | (#16425867)

Easy. No one country should hold domain. It can still physically reside in the US, but make it part of the UN. And before you scoff, the ITU and WHO are both UN organisations, and I don't hear too many complaints about the UN regulation of the international phone system or their handling of international disease prevention.

I haven't either, but then I don't pay much attention to those orgainizations.

WIPO is also part of the UN, and I *have* heard lots of complaints about them. I'd also think they'd be a better indicator of what UN handling of domain names would be like, particularly since the reasons for wanting to regulate domain names are some of the same reasons that WIPO exists.

Re:What better jurisdiction for ICANN? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#16429941)

and I don't hear too many complaints about the UN regulation of the international phone system

Oh yeah? What do you know about telephony, exactly? How about:

  1. To this day countries have different-sized country-codes, area codes, and phone-numbers.
  2. The emergency phone-number(s) is/are different everywhere.
  3. The collect-calling arrangments are pitiful.

  4. There are several different "touch-tone" standards in the world (different tones produced by the same buttons) — including variations in the most dominant one.
  5. There are also big differences in how BUSY and RINGBACK sound in different parts of the world (both, different tones and different intervals).

The 1-4 above problems affect mostly the phone-related software and the "wet-ware", which tries to use the telephone. You would've mentioned them, if you weren't trying to white-wash the "international phone system" for the sake of argument. The 5-6 are even heavier charges, although unnoticable to the end-user. They all make telephony a lot more complicated (and thus expensive), than it needs to be.

[...] or their handling of international disease prevention.

Really? I guess, you have not heard of things like "mad cow", "bird flu", and "polio comeback", have you?

Frankly, I'm much more scared about censorship of non-US based websites due to political and/or judicial pressure from the US on ICANN and its US-based registrars*

Just as frankly, you are a fool, if you are afraid of US more than you are of UN...

Re:What better jurisdiction for ICANN? (1)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 7 years ago | (#16431293)

Of course, the fact that different telephony standards have evolved in the world in different ways long before the ITU became involved couldn't possibly account for regional differences. And that the UN has very little power to compel business or governments to completely alter their phone systems wouldn't limit their ability to change things inside the national countries. So you want the ITU and UN to have lots more power over national governments to allow them to fix these problems.

Just as frankly, you are a fool, if you are afraid of US more than you are of UN...

Guess not.

Really? I guess, you have not heard of things like "mad cow", "bird flu", and "polio comeback", have you?

mad cow comes from feeding dead animals back to herbivores as a cheap source of protein. Nope, corporate farming wasn't responsible for that, it was the WHO! Bird flu. Hmm, a diseas spread by migratory birds, that's heavily investigated and local governments assisted by the WHO to try and prevent spreading further. Gotta hate that UN. Polio is coming back in the poor areas because governments aren't vaccinating, despite help to do so from the WHO. Yes, that's the UN's fault.

On the other hand we have a country that's invaded two countries recently, one on a very limited pretext, killing tens of thousands of civilians, and is sitting on the most expensive military in the world, with many many nuclear weapons, has an electoral system that's a joke throughout the world, and has courts that don't seem to care that the defendant is from another country. Yeah, the UN is far more scary than that. Thanks for the gratuitous insult by the way, that REALLY sells your argument.

Re:What better jurisdiction for ICANN? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#16448379)

Of course, the fact that different telephony standards have evolved in the world in different ways long before the ITU became involved couldn't possibly account for world's oldest international organization.regional differences.

You really have to dig deeper into your ignorance, don't you? ITU [wikipedia.org] , for your information, is the world's oldest international organization...

So you want the ITU and UN to have lots more power over national governments to allow them to fix these problems.

That's a different subject. My point was and remains, ITU has failed on numerous counts, of which you are now aware (although you claimed initially to have never heard "too many complaints"). Whatever its reasons for failure, UN's control over Internet will be no different and thus also a failure.

mad cow comes from feeding dead animals back to herbivores as a cheap source of protein. Nope, corporate farming wasn't responsible for that, it was the WHO! Bird flu. Hmm, a diseas spread by migratory birds, that's heavily investigated and local governments assisted by the WHO to try and prevent spreading further. Gotta hate that UN. Polio is coming back in the poor areas because governments aren't vaccinating, despite help to do so from the WHO. Yes, that's the UN's fault.

You claimed initially, that there are no complains about UN's "handling of international disease prevention". I listed a few, of which you must've heard. WHO may have done a lot of things to stop the diseases, but they continue to spread, thus their work is faulty (not sure, where that "hate" is coming from, though)...

Your explanations and justifications for their failures may have some merit, but failures they remain, and that is the point. ITU and WHO may be staffed with wonderful people, but the UN's entire framework is awful and nothing new should be made its responsibility, unless there is absolutely no one else to do it. US has been managing Internet for a while, and it certainly works better than telephones...

On the other hand we have a country that's invaded [...]

Yada-yada. Don't change the topic.

and has courts that don't seem to care that the defendant is from another country

Finally back to topic, even if still in the wrong. Courts in most countries would accept a local party's claim against a foreign party. Most certainly -- and rightly so...

Re:What better jurisdiction for ICANN? (1)

abhikhurana (325468) | more than 7 years ago | (#16421295)

Ever heard of United Nations? They even have courts you know.

Re:What better jurisdiction for ICANN? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#16428355)

Ever heard of United Nations? They even have courts you know.

I have heard of them... It is a place, where China and Russia each have powers equal to America's. It is not an organization, to which America (or, seriously, any other decent nation) should want the power to migrate from the USA.

Re:What better jurisdiction for ICANN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16423095)

The "Nothing" jurisdiction -- where information is so-well distributed that no power than supress it.

Spin Doctors in action (1)

lxt518052 (720422) | more than 7 years ago | (#16428687)

The fact no country's leagal system is perfect doesn't mean we have to accept the US as the world's supreme court. The US has demonstrated numerous times that it cares very little about people in other countries other than its own interest. Afghanistan, Iraq and Kyoto Protocol are just recent examples.

Some might say that's what the adminstrative branch has done. According to the US Constitution, jurisdiction is an independent branch. True, but only to the extent that the president allows it. Guantanamo Detainees, anyone?

Re:Spin Doctors in action (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430039)

The fact no country's legal system is perfect doesn't mean we have to accept the US as the world's supreme court.

That is not the subject here. The subject is America's jurisdiction over ICANN. "Perfection" was not the subject either. Nor was the "legal system", really, but rather the laws governing freedom of expressions and such.

Your self-declared "spin doctoring" did not work.

Re:Spin Doctors in action (1)

lxt518052 (720422) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430843)

"The US jurisdiction over ICANN" is challenged here because of the e360 v Spamhaus case. As other posts have already pointed out, UN is more suitable to be the governing body of ICANN, just as it's the governing body of WHO and ITU. Therefore, your argument that no country's jurisdiction is better than the US is in itself MISLEADING, as we all know, the UN is not a country. I might have been wrong in calling you a spin doctor because you could be unconciously misleading the topic. But again, substitute the true subject with a fake one is what spin doctors usually do.

Microsoft did not really deny (5, Interesting)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 7 years ago | (#16417909)

"Microsoft has no financial relationship with BayStar and never agreed to guarantee any of BayStar's $50 million investment in SCO"

Note the word has and the the absence of the word had, and the presence of the word financial. They don't really deny having had a past financial relationship with BayStar and nor do they deny having a current non-financial relationship.

These are weasel words. They could have said "Microsoft did not encourage BayStar to purchase equity in the SCO Group", but they didn't.

Re:Microsoft did not really deny (1)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 7 years ago | (#16419391)

That sounds like a pretty clearcut denial of the allegation that was made against them on slashdot the other day to me.

Did you actually read the entire statement that microsoft put out before accusing them of using "weasel words" or just that one quote from the article that was linked? (I suspect that you did not, but if you did I would be interested in seeing the full statement myself) If you only read that one quote and used it for the basis of your claim that they are sneaking away from saying something you arent really being very fair.

Re:Microsoft did not really deny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16419633)

No, it is not a clear cut denial. If the accusation had been that MS paid Baystar $50 million to give to SCO, then their statement would be a clear cut denial. The accusation is that some MS exec had talks with Baystar about guaranteess for Baystar's investment in SCO etc..

Let us see how far you are willing to spin this.

Re:Microsoft did not really deny (1)

quincunx55555 (969721) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430701)

In unrelated news, Microsoft claims, "I did not have sex with that woman"; then proceeded to attempt to verify the definition of "that".

Yegge missed a critical strengthening point (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16417937)

It isn't just that people mistake correlation for causation. It isn't just that the odds say that some people will succeed when trying a new thing and therefore get convinced that the new thing is better.

The bigger problem is the Hawthorne effect - if a group of people knows that their performance is being studied as part of an experiment, there is a temporary lift in performance. The result is that when you try any new methodology out, you're likely to have a success with your pilot group regardless of the merits of the methodology being tested. This compounds the whole mistaking correlation for causation thing.

In another random note, my favorite "correlation isn't causation" is the observation that among schoolchildren, height and spelling ability are strongly correlated. Tall children spell better. The effect is very easy to demonstrate.

But don't draw any conclusions from this about tall people being better spellers. The real explanation is that taller children tend to be older, and older children tend to spell better than young ones. :-)

Re:Yegge missed a critical strengthening point (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 7 years ago | (#16421361)

'The result is that when you try any new methodology out, you're likely to have a success with your pilot group regardless of the merits of the methodology being tested.'

The pilot project for XP (Chrysler's Comprehensive Compensation (C3) project) was not a success.

Re:Yegge missed a critical strengthening point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430595)

Everyone gets unlucky.

Your odds are particularly bad if you suck. :-)

Yahoo! damage to Mexican relics (2, Informative)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 7 years ago | (#16418405)

It's kind of amusing that the Mexican institute is so up in arms when it put in a lights for a laser-light show on the large pyramid at Chichen Itza.

-l

Re:Yahoo! damage to Mexican relics (2, Funny)

Chaos1 (466833) | more than 7 years ago | (#16418727)

Well of course, they're the guardians of the heritage of Mexico. Their Lightshows are an exact historical re-enactment of the Mayan 'Super-Ultimate Lazer Lightshow and Human Sacrifice', minus the human sacrifice that is.

"minus the human sacrifice" (1)

dp_wiz (954921) | more than 7 years ago | (#16420263)

That's the problem. It is actually a same case like in "Mozilla VS Debian". They should do sacrifices (approve patches) too for a permission to conduct a Super-Ultimate Lazer Lightshow (use firefox brand).

Re:"minus the human sacrifice" (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 7 years ago | (#16424649)

Firefox v Iceweasel: Final Showdown

Saturday & Saturday: 9pm 10pm 11pm
Monday - Friday: 9pm

OLPC smells fishy to me (2, Insightful)

crucini (98210) | more than 7 years ago | (#16418443)

I hate to rain on the love parade, but this OLPC/CHM1 thing sets off many alarm bells.
Condescension sucks: Why does the OLPC need a special user interface ("Sugar")? Designing down to kids is a recipe for crap, as well as a refuge for the incompetent. Remember Logo? Well the guy behind Logo, Seymour Papert, is part of this project [laptop.org] .

Dogfood gap:Torvalds uses Linux. Gates uses Windows. Jobs uses MacOS. Is Negroponte going to use the OLPC? Of course he'll play with one, but for real work - no way.
From the FAQ [laptop.org] :
Why not a desktop computer, or even better a recycled desktop machine? ... Kids in the developing world need the newest technology, especially really rugged hardware and innovative software.

Why? Why do they need "the newest technology"? And if they do, shouldn't we admit that the newest technology is a Windows PC, not some oddball "educational computer"? The 400MHz CPU and 128M RAM are not in line with the newest technology.
Again, from the FAQ:
Finally, regarding recycled machines: if we estimate 100 million available used desktops, and each one requires only one hour of human attention to refurbish, reload, and handle, that is forty-five thousand work years. Thus, while we definitely encourage the recycling of used computers, it is not the solution for One Laptop per Child.
So you're going to manufacture and handle the OLPC in less than one hour? Or maybe 100 million is the wrong number to start with. The question should be, which is more expensive, making an OLPC or refurbishing a normal computer.

Looks like the tech version of "Live Aid".

I remember Logo (2, Insightful)

flieghund (31725) | more than 7 years ago | (#16419971)

Designing down to kids is a recipe for crap, as well as a refuge for the incompetent.

I have no idea where you get the OLPC is "designing down to kids." Maybe it is for children who grow up with iPods, XBoxen, broadband Internet access and plasma TVs. Keep in mind who this product is being designed for though. (Hint: It isn't the kids at Beverly Hills High.) Most of the target audience doesn't even have reliable electrical utility service -- hence the hand-crank to generate power -- let alone access to all of the high-tech resources and modern conveniences that you and I take for granted.

Remember Logo?

I do remember Logo [wikipedia.org] ! My first exposure to it was in the second grade. We actually had a real "turtle," wired to a computer, that would move around on the floor and draw out our programs (after testing them on the computer, of course). Logo taught me a lot about the geometric principles of distance and direction half a decade before they got around to teaching it in school.

My second exposure to Logo was in the seventh grade. Only the on-screen turtle this time around, but now I was exploring complex trigonometric relationships three years before I would actually take a trigonometry course. I also programmed a simplistic question-and-response interface to draw complex objects based on user input. The latter project certainly illustrated the relative limitations of Logo as a programming language, but I was really more interested in the geometric features anyway.

Crap on Logo if you want, but it is an excellent entry-level programming language for young people.

Well the guy behind Logo, Seymour Papert, is part of this project.

Good! Then there's a chance that these things will actually be usable by the users for which they're intended. I suppose we could hand them laptops with CLI Debian and say "go for it," but what use is that? Most of these kids can barely read -- one of the forces driving this projet is that there is a critical shortage of qualified teachers in these un(der)developed areas, hence the OLPC needs to be a surrogate teacher. Think more "Sesame Street," with Count von Count [wikipedia.org] counting to eight ('cause that's how many fingers he has! And look! There's Big Bird! Isn't learning fun?), and less differential equations in calculus (extremely powerful stuff to be sure, but also totally overwelming for someone who is just learning how to add integers).

Re:I remember Logo (1)

crucini (98210) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436023)

I have no idea where you get the OLPC is "designing down to kids." Maybe it is for children who grow up with iPods, XBoxen, broadband Internet access and plasma TVs.

That's not it. Your Sesame Street quote is close, though. I never liked that show - I could sense its condescension even when I was in the age bracket. Want the best tool for word processing, spreadsheets, etc? It's a Windows laptop. Want the best tool for learning to program? It's a C64 or Apple IIe or any leading micro of the era. (I bring in this ancient stuff to point out that it's not about horsepower - it's about design intent and focus.) In both cases, the creators were striving to be the best against tough competition.

This OLPC is not really trying to be the best - it's trying to get acceptance where there's no competition. It's designing down to kids because it needs its own "Sugar" UI - you think between Windows, MacOSX and Linux we don't already have fierce competition for good UIs? Do you think "Sugar" will take away some marketshare from Windows Vista or KDE?

I've learned to detect and loathe the foul scent of condescending "educational" foo, whether it's books, software of whatever.

Re:OLPC smells fishy to me (1)

Bazzargh (39195) | more than 7 years ago | (#16420893)

So you're going to manufacture and handle the OLPC in less than one hour?

He said refurbishmed PCs require, for the sake of argument, "one hour of human attention to refurbish, reload, and handle". A new PC may take more than an hour to manufacture in total, but component assembly on a production line is the true comparison. Dell, for example, make 650 PCs/hour per production line, which works out somewhere like 10-20 custom PCs per hour per worker. So yes, they're going to manufacture it in less than an hour. Way, way less.

Full disclosure: I've signed up.

Re:OLPC smells fishy to me (1)

crucini (98210) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435779)

First, these numbers stink. Yes, I searched, and found them in news stories. But there's no point in arguing that. When Dell "makes" a computer, they just plug together components that took much greater time to produce. So the assembly time at Dell is irrelevant.

What matters is overall cost. The math which Negroponte uses to dismiss recycled computers is clearly self-serving and fabricated. (I'm not saying recycled is the way to go.) Which points to my larger suspicion that this entire project is just an exercise in ego gratification. By the way, the OLPC will also require "handling".

In any event, I can't really fault your decision to sign up for one. Irrelevant thought it may be to the needs of the third world, the OLPC might be a better direction for first-worlders than the current fragile, low-battery-life machines.

Re:OLPC smells fishy to me (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16424417)

I have been a long and outstanding critic of the OLPC program for many, many reasons. I feel that the OLPC is going to be a flash in the pan and will die a very quick death shortly.

That said, I think the basic idea of trying to provide a very simple and common portable PC platform that embodies through hardware what the open source movement offers through software is an idea whose idea has come, and it will be an experiment repeated several times in several different manners. Most PC hardware is not near a commodity status anyway, so trying to put stuff like this together isn't going to be all that difficult. Negroponte and others have set up a pattern than can then be followed, and what currently exists as the OLPC can be held up to demonstrate that the basic concept is sound, even if the approach that the OLPC group is using is flawed.

My major criticisms about the OLPC folks is that they are making far too many compromises over the short term, like selling only to certified by the United Nations 3rd world countries (they won't even sell to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which has offered to buy them and is the location for much of the effort), or completely refusing to sell them to individuals. But that isn't all, as they are also making deals with component manufacturers to fit this supposed business model, on the weird assumption that selling these computers to Nigeria is not going to make these components be in competition with similar components offered to consumers in San Jose, California. That and some very weird non-standard changes to network topology and wireless communications.

I just hope that the government of Lybia doesn't decide to do an act of war against the USA due to these laptops being screwed up when support for them is dropped due to the break-up of the OLPC group. Or that the OLPC group changes its ways and "sees the light" to stop these practices that are just shooting themselves in the feet.

Re:OLPC smells fishy to me (1)

crucini (98210) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436279)

I agree with most of your points. A stable, rugged, commoditized, low-power notebook platform would be awesome. But could we ever enjoy cheap prices on this platform if it wasn't supported by the quantities of the mass market?

As for Libya, I think people in the third world are quite cynical, and in fact better equipped to size up this project than most slashdotters. They are used to seeing government fads come and go. When you live under a Quadaffi, the green computers are just one of his eccentricities.

I was describing the OLPC to two Indian co-workers (A neutral presentation, with no sarcasm, I swear) - and they were incredulous. They explained that in poor parts of India, the OLPCs would be immediately sold to some trader.

I notice that Thailand is one of the seven countries which which OLPC has held initial discussions. In Thailand, Islamic militants have been killing two people per day on average, frequently targeting teachers. They object to secular education. When teachers fled, the government has tried sending in soldiers to teach.

I'm not sure how a teacher-beheading terrorist would react to a classroom full of lime-green notebooks. Maybe they could be programmed with a hotkey that displays "Allah Akhbar", thus avoiding the headsman's axe.

Re:OLPC smells fishy to me (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16451767)

A stable, rugged, commoditized, low-power notebook platform would be awesome. But could we ever enjoy cheap prices on this platform if it wasn't supported by the quantities of the mass market?


I would argue that this is exactly the problem with the OLPC proposal. They ought to be taking advantage of the "mass market" and become a market unto themselves, where economies of scale coming straight from the sales of these computers to 1st world counties could be folded into purchasing components for these 3rd world nations. Even do a "charity" bit to say that profits are going to be used to help fund some of the computers sent to poorer countries.

The main purpose of this is in fact to help reduce the potential for corruption, simply because re-selling these things in the international market isn't going to be profitable unless you are doing wholesale theft. As it stands now, while theft is one way to make money off of these computers, corrupt education officials can also get into the act if for no other reason than to help increase their budgets through sources other than from taxes. That is always appealing to any government bureaucrat, regardless of what country you are from.

Basically, I don't see any legitimate way that these computers are going to be kept off of eBay as soon as they get into the hands of these bureaucrats, and it would be better if these profits realized by say Libyian officials diverting a few computers to get their wife some nice stuff would be better obtained directly by the OLPC project instead killing any potential market that these corrupt officials would have. Instead, a situation of artificial scarcity has been created, and the demand, including even a set price well above what these laptops are being sold for, has been established and is documentable by the on-line petition. Any economist with half a brain is going to tell you that this situation is going to be met and dealt with in one way or another. Legal steps to stop it are just going to make the situation and corruption worse, not better.

As far as what to do with religious fanatics of any flavor who try to impose their world views on mass populations, I think that situation will eventually take care of itself and burn out as well. But unfortunately before this current fanaticism is completely dealt with, more deaths even on a large scale will happen. It would indeed be sad that the OLPC project had to somehow become a part of that whole issue as well.

Re:OLPC smells fishy to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16452507)

Why OLPC vs. Recycled Gray-box?

consisent platform: every machine is "the same", this makes a more dynamic environment for learning and teaching. The cream-users will rise to the top and expand the software to do new things, but basically, it will still be usefull as a tool.

power: low power vs. high power. Your monitor / old box uses TONNES of watts compared to what is a per-capita usage in these places.

weight: shipping all these old CRTs and boxes is a massive effort, complicated and expensive. The alternative? a single truck carrying 300 OLPC in a village and they are 'delivered and unpacked' in a single swoop.

logistics of recycled machines is very daunting.

Re: Baystar (1)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 7 years ago | (#16418721)

Denying any financial connection is not the same as denying any connection at all.

ICANN is a slashback? (1)

benplaut (993145) | more than 7 years ago | (#16419625)

Wasn't that yesterday, or the day before?

Microsoft's denial.. (1)

jspectre (102549) | more than 7 years ago | (#16421603)

And we expected them to admit it? Come on..

Classic example of deniability... (1)

hpa (7948) | more than 7 years ago | (#16424361)

Crooked politicians and businessmen are very aware of the concept of deniability. It's the art of structuring a deal so that if it blows up in your face you can deny that it ever existed, without flat-out lying.

As Mr. Goldfarb of Baystar has declared under oath [groklaw.net] , Microsoft did encourage them to do this, and implied that they would cover the loss, if there was one, but would (of course) not sign a paper. Mr. Goldfarb, fairly reasonably, interpreted that as they didn't want a paper trail, but when the *** hit the fan, Microsoft instead renegged on the whole thing, leaving Baystar with a $37 million dollar tab.

This, if anything, should be a lesson to anyone else who is willing to let Microsoft use them as a sock puppet. It's also worth noting that Mr. Goldfarb produced his declaration voluntarily. Hell hath no fury...
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