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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

Ash Vince Re:Revolt? (704 comments)


The other truth is... the American Revolution wasn't started by a bunch of serfs, it was started by rich land owners who didn't like their deal...

That is the truth about almost any revolution there ever was. In reality any uprising of the masses that did not get organized by some silly or evil group from the top, failed.

It is worth reading some of the sections of Goldstein's book in George Orwell's 1984 regarding this.

He suggests that all revolutions are actually started and driven by the middle classes so it is them who you really need to watch as they who possess the skills like leadership needed to stir the proletariat into action. Thus generally the result of most revolutions is that the old ruling class is destroyed and the middle class replace them, the proletariat however generally stay in the same position apart from a few who are elevated to form the new middle class along with some members of the previous ruling class who didn't put up too much of a fight and went quietly.


Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

Ash Vince Re:Are you kidding (704 comments)

I'm from Europe. I know what it is like if you actually DO have parties with diverging world views. There are countries where you actually have everything from far left to far right to choose from.

And if you look at certain parts of Europe (ie, anywhere not the UK) you have proportional representation where people with politically diverse views actually have to work together to get stuff done. The problem is that makes for a "weak" government because it tends to be more responsive to the public who elected them. Can't have that :)


Mr. Schmidt Goes To Washington: A Look Inside Google's Lobbying Behemoth

Ash Vince Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (113 comments)

It's never been a front for the rich.

Well the like of the Koch brothers have made it so now, but you are obviously too indoctrinated by the US media to realise this. Never mind.


Will This Flying Car Get Crowdfunded?

Ash Vince Re:Gatling guns? (155 comments)

"A failing road car stops on the road. Not always ideal, but generally a controllable event"

Far from ideal, quite often fatal. A failing car on a crowded interstate can result in an accident involving many vehicles with lots of casualties, and this happens shockingly often.

"A failing flying car drops out of the sky."

Unlikely. You have redundant systems, if your main control system fails the backup kicks in, you have 8 engines and still have limited flight abilities even if over half of them fail simultaneously, and even if absolutely everything else fails there is a parachute big enough to bring the entire car down relatively gently.

"Therefore it has to be orders of magnitude more reliable than your typical car."

Yes, that part is correct.

What happens when some terrorist scumbag deliberately crashes it into a heavily populated are laden with gasoline and soap (napalm). Or they go for a very tall building but fill the vehicle with high explosive instead.

Flying cars open up a whole new avenue of terrorist targets as they are far more manoeuvrable then a light aircraft. If they became ubiquitous they also have the problem that it would become commonplace for people to get lost and accidentally fly into restricted airspace so you could not just shoot down anyone that did on sight.

The reality is that flying cars are not ever likely to happen in our lifetimes because it is in governments interest to keep most of us on the ground and only let a small minority fly around. It used to be that costs of manufacture prohibited flying cars but if this price ever comes down then government will just come up with some insane airworthiness test or similar that costs billions to put a vehicle through. Or just keep the pilots licence requirement, not matter how simple that a flying car could actually be made.

I believe the term is "artificial scarcity"

2 days ago

Mr. Schmidt Goes To Washington: A Look Inside Google's Lobbying Behemoth

Ash Vince Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (113 comments)

Well, I see you haven't established that the Koch brothers are actually right wing.

All the Koch brothers care about is making themselves richer and paying less in tax. They mostly donate case to conservative campaigns and think tanks, that counts as right wing in my book.


Also note this bit:

"Charles also organizes twice yearly meetings[20] with Republican donors.[16]"

I would have linked directly the the references above but they are pay walled.

I could not give a crap about the Gmail example, but the fact is that "libertarianism" in the US is just a front, funded by the likes of the Koch brothers (and others) and designed to facilitate a tax regime friendly to the richest 1% of the population. If that does not count as right wing I do not know what does.

2 days ago

Heartbleed OpenSSL Vulnerability: A Technical Remediation

Ash Vince Re:Situation is a Shambles (239 comments)

That sounds like a Mint thing. Seriously, Debian (the great grandparent of Mint) had the patch as fast as anybody. Heck, by the time I logged into my Mac at work, MacPorts had pushed the patch.

I wouldn't make such a sweeping statement about the "situation" when you've hitched your wagon to a project that's pulling from a project that's pulling from a project that's (etc).

Interestingly our Debian servers are completely unaffected by this bug since we use Debian 6 :) Sometimes it pays to be a little behind the times.

about a week ago

Heartbleed OpenSSL Vulnerability: A Technical Remediation

Ash Vince Re:Thank you for the mess (239 comments)

In this case, there was a simple fix, recompiling OpenSSL with the proper flag and going, so letting people know as soon as possible is the best option. Those who are serious about security don't wait for Ubuntu to update their apt servers.

Recompiling something from source is often a complete no-no, not because the sysadmin is unable to, but because he his forbidden from doing so by his corporate overlords. It is trusted binaries (via checksum) from the likes of RedHat or nothing.

about a week ago

OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

Ash Vince Re:Not necessarily hate (1482 comments)

Orthodox Christian theology maintains several points: (1) Homosexuality is a sin, (2) unrepentant sin goes hand-in-hand with alienation from God, and (3) alienation from God leads to both unhappiness in this present life and a missed opportunity for happiness after death.

Orthodox Christianity also forbids things like money lending for a profit (usury), most christians seem to have forgotten about this particular bit of sin though. Modern Christianity is so far away from what Christ actually intended he must be whirling in his grave even if he still has the cross attached.

about two weeks ago

Dropbox's New Policy of Scanning Files For DMCA Issues

Ash Vince Re:Not as bigger deal as it sounds if you RTFA (243 comments)

I don't believe in copyright in its current form or the notion that a person can perform a single work and collect money on it for effectively forever.

I don't believe in endless copyright either but I do believe that in the initial period (say 10 or 20 years) that copyright should be enforceable. The problem I have is with the great many privileged young folk, still living off the back of mum and dad while they are at university advocating the abolition of copyright law just so they can watch some crappy film without paying.

Usually when people carp on about abolishing copyright it is simply because all they do is consume digital content without actually creating any of their own. This makes them net gainers if they never had to pay anything for that which they create.

It's a complete violation of the original and intended notion of copyright. I am the sole source of income for my family which includes a wife, an elementary school student and a young adult in college. I also have a son in the service. I am a wartime veteran and was in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

So you actively fought in a war to support the capitalist way of life (Desert Storm was a war to ensure Saddam did not gain possession of Kuwaiti oil, not about democracy as Kuwait was very far from a democracy to begin with), you are obviously proud of your child doing the same (Afghanistan is also about securing oil supplies) but neglect to understand that a key part of capitalism is that it also applies to digital works as well as physical goods?

Most of the US GDP now comes from the creation of copyrightable works rather than by physical production, without international consensus on copyright the US would be even more bankrupt than it already is as exporting copyrighted digital works is one of the few things that helps the countries balance of payments. Copyright, is a necessary part of capitalism. Without it, the system will fail. This was clearly understood by economists pretty much as soon as the printing press was invented.

Nothing has changed with the advent of the digital world in this regard yet as we still lack the ability to endlessly copy food and shelter which are the greatest human needs. In order to encourage people to enter the creative arts they need to be able to exchange their services for money in order to buy those essentials.

about two weeks ago

Dropbox's New Policy of Scanning Files For DMCA Issues

Ash Vince Re:Not as bigger deal as it sounds if you RTFA (243 comments)

You are trying to equate a work with value. You think it has value simply because great effort was involved. I disagree.

If you should "suffer" it should be because that's what you want to do. And the reward is something you are proud of. If the reward is money, and that is the measure of your pride? Hrm... does anyone need to elaborate more on the folley? Could anyone who measures success in money ever be happy? Is there ever enough money for people who are motivated by it?

Here's a clue: Happiness doesn't come from that. It comes from comfort and peace and an ease from fear and pain... from a lack of suffering. If you SUFFER for happiness, you're doing it wrong.

People always spout stuff like that until they have a family to feed. Once you have no other source of income other than that which you earn by creating stuff you look at the world very differently. In my part of the world you need to earn a very good wage in order to afford enough space for a family with 2 kids, that only comes from earning roughly twice what most people earn or by having a mummy and daddy with lots of cash.

Since I come from a single parent family and my mother has sod all I have to earn every penny I ever expect to need in life for myself. That includes any money to send my kids to college, and hopefully one day for them to be as privileged as you sound.

Your right in that money doesn't buy happiness, but if you have ever tried to live and bring up kids without any and with the bailiffs constantly knocking at your door you realise pretty quick that it can certainly stave off misery.

about two weeks ago

UN Court: Japanese Whaling "Not Scientific"

Ash Vince Re:It all winds up on a dinner table (188 comments)

Nah, more efficient grilling and seasoning techniques.

The Japanese mastered that years ago, you do not get much more efficient cooking than eating it raw :)

about two weeks ago

Dropbox's New Policy of Scanning Files For DMCA Issues

Ash Vince Re:Huh? (243 comments)

What does somebody else's data have to do with your data?

There is no "your" data or "there" data. There is only dropbox data. It seems at the point you upload a file they check it to see if they already have a copy and of they do they just add a pointer to the existing file rather than store a fresh copy.

And what if there is a hash collision?

By the sounds of it they must actually do a direct file compare rather than use a hash. They probably use some kind of hash to narrow down the options of stuff to compare it with but in the fallback case of a hash collision, and both files being exactly the same size they must have to do an exact comparison. That probably does not happen very often though and it sounds like this is process is only done once at the point a file is stored.

about two weeks ago

Dropbox's New Policy of Scanning Files For DMCA Issues

Ash Vince Re:You wanted privacy? (243 comments)

This is news, in the sense that Dropbox now actively crawls your files (DMCA still went about for publicly listed files anyway).

You obviously didn't bother to read the article.

The truth is that they always scan every single file uploaded to make sure they do not already have a copy of that file stored on their network. If they do, they throw your copy in the bin and just add an extra link to that stored copy in your account. That keeps their data usage lower as it means they never store duplicate copies of the same file, even if they are uploaded by completely different people.

So there is no crawling involved, this was done at the point of upload. They found that the same file had already been uploaded by someone else, shared, and that user got the shared copy of that file DMCA'd. Once a file has been DMCA'd in their system it seems it is blocked from being shared so only people uploaded that file also get to download it.

about two weeks ago

Dropbox's New Policy of Scanning Files For DMCA Issues

Ash Vince Not as bigger deal as it sounds if you RTFA (243 comments)

This whole issue can be summarized as:

1) User wants to ignore copyright law and share something they have no legal right to via a public service
2) Public service being used has no idea how many people will want to access the shared resource but they do know it is copyrighted as they auto match everything uploaded so they can avoid keeping to separate copies of identical files and save storage space and had a DMCA take down request for that same file previously.
3) Public service errs on the side of not getting their arse sued off by the various content owner conglomerates legal attack dogs and refuses to allow the file to be shared even though the person who uploaded it can still see it.

All in all seems pretty reasonable. Until copyright law is changed (like that is ever going to happen) dropbox have to follow it to the letter. I suppose they could have avoided the whole thing by storing more data and then not doing the duplicate file scan thing but even that is no guarantee it would prevent them from being sued to oblivion.

The only safe option for them that would also keep things private would be to use encryption keys that were only kept in the client. That way if you needed to share a particular folder you selected to store that under a different encryption key, and gave that key to other person / people who needed to access it.

The big problem with this is that it then becomes more awkward to provide web access to the files. People are comfortable remembering a username and password, they are not so comfortable remembering a bunch of encryption keys. If you store the encryption keys on a server at your end anywhere then you can access the files so you therefore get the legal responsibility to make sure your system is not being used to flout copyright law. The only legal way to run this sort of service and not be liable for it's misuse is to design it in such a way that you cannot see what is being stored at all.

about two weeks ago

Some Mozilla Employees Demand New CEO Step Down

Ash Vince Re:No (824 comments)

Well, employment law prevents discriminatory hiring/firing practices (based on religious and many other factors), and if the guy is qualified for the role, his beliefs and political advocacy are irrelevant, as are those of the employees who disagree with those beliefs. People who preach tolerance need to be tolerant, and if he practices what he preaches in his linked blog post, there shouldn't be a problem.

We've had blacklisting based on political associations before, and I thought we all agreed it's a bad thing?

You would be entirely right were it not for one incredibly important detail: His entire business is based around people working for him for free on an open source product that could be forked. If you are in that position you have to be slightly more concious of how the people you represent feel than if you are actually paying them. Mozilla is basically a charity, not a commercial corporation in the normal profit making, shareholder's holding the real power sense so it is bound by different rules even if it might actually have corporate legal status.

about three weeks ago

Xbox One Reputation System Penalizes Gamers Who Behave Badly

Ash Vince Re:OMG FAG LOL (183 comments)

I'm not too worried about trolls, but I've seen plenty of abuse and accusations of cheating hurled at "skillers", in games like BF4.

Exactly. I get disappointed if I do not get at least one cheating accusation per few hours online play, it means I am having a bad day.

The problem is just the way I play FPS games where I generally charge round the map, taking slightly obscure routes and firing in very short bursts without reloading until I need to (I roughly count the number of shots I fire in my head). This only works because I generally have pretty quick reactions and am good at recognising where enemies are most likely to come from based on sounds, my own team spawn points, and other clues. I generally sidestep around alot too, especially if I hear gunshots close by.

I also take long range pot shots at people where if I see someone on the horizon they get a few rounds fired at them, then I immediately withdraw behind cover and look for a flanking route to that position (usually their team will be close by even if my pot shot killed them). All it takes is a few of those pot shots to actually get a kill halfway across the map and people cry hacker left right and centre.

On top of all this I play as nohax so I get accused a hell of a lot, but I have used this name online for about 10 years now so don't want to change it.

One way to counter this to some degree is to spot-check reports, and apply heavy penalties to players making false accusations.

Interesting idea. I used to be in a clan with a player (here's looking at you "reporter") who would literally fire off hundreds of cheat reports (I have submitted 2 or 3 in my life). Every time he lost a match badly he would end up reporting 2 or 3 players on the other team, and since he was a pathetic camper this happened a lot. The things is I reckon Valve must have just added him to some sort of ignore list or at least weighted his accusations to not mean anything based on the number he submitted. I tried talking to him about this but he really did believe that these players were cheating even though I could kill them just as much as they killed me (he probably thought I was a cheat too).

That is the only way this would work though, if you also included the persons rep as a factor in any up and down votes somehow and included some sort of meta system like slashdot use but I have no idea how this would work in terms of games where you have a ton of angst ridden angry teens playing.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Moving From Tech Support To Development?

Ash Vince Re:corporations (133 comments)

Corporations generally don't give a flip about this situation:

>I could convince a company to hire me based on willingness to learn and improve.

If that's true, what sets you apart from anybody else that is also willing to learn and improve, with a more extensive background that you have?

In my experience having a can-do attitude and a willingness to learn can set you apart in IT. I recently got a job where I think the best thing I did was openly ask the technical lead to mentor me and do my best to convince them that although I may not know much, I am very capable of learning quickly.

There are too many people in our field who are possessed with an obscene level of arrogance and complete lack of social skills. Unlearning those habits is far harder than teaching someone who is bright and passionate how to program, especially if they already have some basic development experience in a language such as Java (btw, I hate Java so I am not a fan but still see lots of value in learning it)

Then you have people who seem to have an in built hatred of change, see the AC post below where some carps on about how awful Agile-Scrum is. This smarts of someone who can't function unless they are given a spec to work from that dictates everything or fellow technical type to explain the problem rather than being able to figure out the business need by actually talking to the non-technical people who will have to use the system. Coming from a support background can be a big advantage as it means you should be used to dealing with non-techies.

Often the people I see who left university with CS degrees and want to be developers have grown so used to being ahead of the curve as the rest of class were way behind them in terms of technical ability. Then they join the wonderful world of work and suddenly find that the people around them are serious professionals who have often spent years honing their craft. They may well also find that at least some of the people on their team expected to mentor them have not academic background in CS and instead chose to study subjects like pure maths that are actually a ton harder than CS.

Nope, in my book being able and willing to learn, adapt and and improve yourself often is the things that sets you apart if you really do examine your own actions from that perspective constantly and also learn to love constructive criticism from anyone and everyone as well.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Moving From Tech Support To Development?

Ash Vince Re:Outsourced to where? (133 comments)

"My eastern European tech-support job will be outsourced in 6 months to a nearby country."

Do you work in eastern Ukraine? I hear a lot of those jobs are soon to be outsourced to nearby Russia.

Nah, the staff are just being redeployed as moving targets :)

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Re-Learning How To Interview As a Developer?

Ash Vince Re: Maybe it's not you (218 comments)

I think the issue though is that if you require a perfect fit, then why continue past the phone screen? You have their resume at that point.

Resume's tell you nothing about fit. They tell you about experience, and give you a starting point but many people confound expectations when it comes to how they work as part of a team.

about three weeks ago

Facebook Introduces Hack: Statically Typed PHP

Ash Vince Re:English? (230 comments)

Also, you must have spent no time using C. In C you know exactly what you're working with. It's a simple model where you're working closer to physical memory. PHP likes to "magic" everything. The only thing C like about it is how you call functions, and even with that, you had to add headers to get any functionality, so you still knew where things were coming from. With PHP you have a vast library of functions on the global scope.

I was referring more to C++ really and the way OO stuff has been bolted on top of an existing language, but your right I haven't used it in years. I moved from C to PHP and was very comfortably straight away due to the familiarity with many of the functions.

With regard to the magic everything most have that has gone from PHP nowadys. The only thing left is it being untyped and that is what Hack is designed to change.

about three weeks ago



Bleszinski: "I'll never make another disc-based game"

Ash Vince Ash Vince writes  |  about 2 months ago

Ash Vince (602485) writes "Ex-Epic design chief Cliff Bleszinski has had it with disc-based games.

In a new interview with Gamasutra, the former Gears of War designer said he wanted to make a PC game in the modern online environment that allows creators to have closer relationships with their players."

Link to Original Source

Save MySQL petition

Ash Vince Ash Vince writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Ash Vince (602485) writes "A petition has been started which aims to try and ensure an open source future for MySQL after the acquisition of SUN by Oracle.

In April 2009, Oracle announced that it had agreed to acquire Sun. Since Sun had acquired MySQL the previous year, this would mean that Oracle, the market leader for closed source databases, would get to own MySQL, the most popular open source database.

If Oracle acquired MySQL on that basis, it would have as much control over MySQL as money can possibly buy over an open source project. In fact, for most open source projects (such as Linux or Apache) there isn't any comparable way for a competitor to buy even one tenth as much influence. But MySQL's success has always depended on the company behind it that develops, sells and promotes it. That company (initially MySQL AB, then Sun) has always owned the important intellectual property rights (IPRs), most notably the trademark, copyright and (so far only for defensive purposes) patents. It has used the IPRs to produce income and has reinvested a large part of those revenues in development, getting not only bigger but also better with time."

Link to Original Source

Subversion for Database Changes

Ash Vince Ash Vince writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Ash Vince (602485) writes "Where I work we have recently moved to subversion to manage our codebase. We have been running it for several months and have now had a number of successful releases of our software using it. As far as source code management it seems to do everything we need but since the application we provide is heavily database reliant we need something to track changes to both table structure and content of certain tables.

Since we cannot be the only people in this situation what solutions have other people come up with to fill this gap. At present we have been using a text file containing the SQL which we then keep in our subversion repository. This just about does what we need but seems a bit messy. Is there a better solution out there?

(In case its relevant we use MySQL as a database server)"



Google Blocks Pings

Ash Vince Ash Vince writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Google are now not responding to pings from the outside world so all of us who ping their servers to check if the internet is up now have to find any something else to ping instead.

Does anyone have any recommendations for a decent site you can ping to see if your local internet connection has crashed?


Slashdot - Are you getting paid to read it?

Ash Vince Ash Vince writes  |  more than 6 years ago

After reading the Media Defender email leak recently it got me wondering as to how many other companies actually pay their employees to read slashdot. In the case of media defender it seems as though they pay staff to read it but probably don't mind them posting the occasional comment as at one point they talk about a comment being friendly and ask if it was one them posting it.

This led me to wonder how many people actually read and post on slashdot through choice nowadays. Now don't get me wrong, this is not one of those moaning posts where people just carp on about dupes and the like, but I am curious as to how many other companies might have people in their public relations departments reading slashdot, digg and other tech sites to keep them appraised of how well received a particular campaign or product is.

We know there was the whole Intel section recently but alot of companies that are currently less well liked here amongst the regular users (I can think of one in Redmond in particular) would not want to draw any attention to their staff involvement, even if it was only supposed to be in an observational capacity. This also assumes that if you paid staff to read slashdot all day they would be able to resist the urge to post the occasional comment.

Then there are all the strangely modded comments. Even if you were only supposed to READ slashdot, if you happened to log in one day and noticed you had some points, would you not be tempted to use them? The more paranoid amongst us might even realise it would be possible to write a script which looked at a number of different slashdot accounts and inspected the HTML after they were logged in and flagged any that did have mod points. And this is assuming the captcha prevents automated account creation and has not been defeated as well.

If I was getting paid to read slashdot, I would not mind spending a few minutes each day signing up a new account. Then at the end of the day the account gets entered into a database and as soon as the random mod points come round, bingo. I would be very surprised if I am the first person to realise how easily this could be achieved.

Some of you regular readers will also remember that someone recently wrote an algorithm to rate how reliable an article on wikipedia is (http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/08/31/0259224&from=rss). So does anyone out there have any ideas how we would do this for slashdot to flag up corporate trolls in a similar way? Then they might me able to read, but any regular posting be counter productive if the site could flag your posts with who was paying you.

On another similar note, could any of the paid readers here tell me how they got into the gig, as I would really like to get paid to sit about and read slashdot too.

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