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GOG.com To Add Linux Support

Halo1 Re:Kudos to them, but... (55 comments)

They also distribute (and hence support) quite a few Windows games with a Wine wrapper for Mac OS X.

about a month ago

RMS On Why Free Software Is More Important Now Than Ever Before

Halo1 Re:Goes too far (319 comments)

How about demand scarcity verses supply scarcity? The classic argument is that proprietary software uses artificial scarcity to maintain high prices. To fund the development of software with limited demand projected prices must be set high enough to justify the cost of building it.

True the bits don't cost anything and copying is unlimited but resources to develop don't become unlimited as well.

That's correct. Therefore a funding model for software without introducing artificial scarcity relies, as I see it, on directly funding those development resources. E.g., I've been working on the Free Pascal Compiler (FPC) as a hobby project since 1997, but the last couple of years I've been approached by several companies to implement certain features and extensions to it, and I've done so from time to time on a self-employed basis. Another funding model that's been making inroads lately is crowdfunding.

Note that I'm not saying that these models are easier than one whereby you introduce artificial scarcity, especially if you have a general end-user or business application as opposed to a fairly niche developer tool like FPC. More scarcity at a similar level of demand = more income, that's an economic given. However, as a result I don't think there is anything wrong with the statement that selling proprietary software licenses is an economic model based on introducing artificial scarcity (maybe as a proxy for a real scarcity, but possibly in a way that values this first scarcity higher than its "intrinsic worth" -- similarly to how monopolies result in higher prices).

about 7 months ago

RMS On Why Free Software Is More Important Now Than Ever Before

Halo1 Re:Goes too far (319 comments)

Every time I read an RMS opinion, it seems to start at a good position and consistently attempts to be more and more idealistic to the point that he seems to be arguing a strawman.

RMS definitely is radical, but I've never known him to use strawman arguments.

I know he defines Malware differently from the common way (he considers DRM as malware, for example),

I guess he's also talking about backdoors for law enforcement (aka "legal interception") and other purposes.

but democratic values are less likely to be transmitted if I use Office? Proprietary developers want to punish students? I guess he means the corporations

His explanation indicates why he does mean proprietary developers rather than just corporations: e.g. in the US definition of core democratic values, there are aspects like personal freedom (e.g., modifying software) and the common good (e.g., sharing things with others). Note that he's not arguing here that it should be illegal for others to write proprietary software, i.e., he's not arguing to impinge on other people's liberty.

- and again, they don't generally give their source for modification, so they might be preventing students from modifying other people's work. Is that punishing them?

It limits the possibilities for expressing their creativity. Schools should be places where encouraging creativity is one of the highest valued goals. I know that is generally not the case right now (amazing video, btw), but this is a (small) way in which the situation can be improved.

I won't even claim to understand what the social mission of schools are supposed to be - prepare students for functioning in society?

I'm obviously not RMS, but I'd argue they should be prepared for functioning in society, for critically thinking about that same society (and anything else), and for contributing to a society that they consider to be better than what it is today.

Prepare them for jobs? Prepare them for college? Prepare them to develop free software?

I'd say: prepare them to become the best they can be. That can include a particular kind of job, being an artist, college (about which you can have very similar discussions as about school), developing free software or any combination of the above and many more things.

Prepare them for ignoring copyrights?

Now that last part is a great a strawman on your part: encouraging students to use Free Software, which they can share and modify freely according to the copyright license terms of that same software, is by no means the same as preparing them for ignoring copyright. It mainly teaches them that there are also alternatives to software whose business model depends on artificial scarcity. They will get to know MS Office and other popular products anyway, and if you can work with OpenOffice or LibreOffice, the jump isn't that great in any case. Maybe one of the primary things schools should teach are transferable skills (of which creative thinking is probably the "übervariant").

about 7 months ago

Why iOS 7 Is Making Some Users Feel 'Sick'

Halo1 Re:On the plus side... (261 comments)

Probably because of Apple's extremely annoying policy that you cannot downgrade iOS anymore a couple of days after they release a new version. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SHSH_Blob for more details. The ability to downgrade to iOS 6.1.3/6.1.4 was disabled around 22 September.

Since iOS 7 was only released recently, there are probably still quite a few devices with iOS 6.1.3/6.1.4 in the channel, and that person probably got such a device in exchange for his iOS 7 "upgraded" one.

about 7 months ago

First Ever Public Tasting of Lab-Grown Cultured Beef Burger

Halo1 Re:Zealouts and Luddites (303 comments)

2. Modified organisms have a significant survival disadvantage because the seed companies breed them so that they can't breed successive generations.

That is incorrect. The so-called terminator genes were never commercialised because of vehement opposition by many different groups. Breeding successive generations is only stopped by patent lawsuits.

I've discovered over the years that most people that are anti-GM take that stance because it was the politically correct thing to do. Once they start to examine the facts their opposition typically drops as unfounded.

You might want to look at your own facts.

about 8 months ago

Lawmakers Who Upheld NSA Phone Spying Received Double the Defense Industry Cash

Halo1 Re:*Sigh* (284 comments)

but it seems much more sane to me than allowing politicians to be legally bought.

Sanity in politics? Be still, my heart.

I realise that being cynical is so much easier: no chance to be disappointed, easy to look down on other people, feel smug about your oh so original snarky comments. However, you'll never achieve anything of worth (unless you only think in terms of monetary outcomes) on the given subject with that attitude.

I was involved in the fight against the fight against the software patent directive in the EU, and the only reason basically a bunch of students won the fight about that particular directive against a multimillion euro campaign by the giants of the electronics and software industry was that we weren't aware in advance that we couldn't win and that we didn't already "know" that all (or even most) politicians are useful idiots that only care about their image and paycheck, and instead kept bombarding them with facts and academic studies (even organising a couple of conferences ourselves). And having gone through the entire process and a few ones later too (some of which we lost), I still don't "know" that all/most politics is a sham.

I stand by my point (yes, the AC was me too) that politics without legalised bribery is far more sane.

about 9 months ago

Edward Snowden is ...

Halo1 Re:Wrong by law (601 comments)

He is merely wrong by law, not by morality. If I might remind the slashdot crowd: authority is doing what you are told, regardless of what is right; morality is doing what is right, regardless of what you are told.

Being an independent thinker, I side with morality, and therefore he is a hero.

To quote the excellent Rap News 19: Whistleblower:

Some praise these acts as heroic, worthy of mimicking
Others condemn them as illegal and prohibited
But, can't both be equally applicative?

To be good humans we're sometimes
called upon to be bad citizens.
Some nations were even born by
breaking laws of the tyrannous.

Do you support heroes from days of yore
who in order to cause reforms disobeyed the law?
Then what about those in the present
who heed the same call?

about 10 months ago

Fairphone project crowdfunding initial production run

Halo1 Correction for the last link (1 comments)

The last link should point to the actual candid interview.

And there's a "to" too many in the second sentence: "they aim to to demonstrate "

about a year ago

Nathan Myhrvold Live Q&A

Halo1 Legal certainty for software developers (51 comments)

How do you suggest an independent or freelance software developer would ensure that the code (s)he writes does not infringe on any patent? Or more generally: how do you see a solution for the legal uncertainty caused by software patents for software developers? (any software developers really, since it's not like large companies check for infringements -- after all, it opens them up to treble damages for willful infringement in case they considered a patent and wrongfully concluded it didn't apply).

In case you would want to answer that this applies to any branch of industry, does that mean that you do not believe that independent software development should continue to thrive? Most other branches of industry require huge capital investments, but software development is one of the few high tech fields where an individual has no need for anything beyond a computer and an internet connection to run a successful business -- as long as (s)he is not confronted by threats of patent infringement.

1 year,14 days

Nathan Myhrvold Live Q&A

Halo1 Make polluters pay (51 comments)

What would your opinion be on a system whereby patent applicants would have to pledge a certain amount of money (possibly via escrow) that is paid out to anyone (either the patent office or a third party) that finds prior art that invalidates the patent? The amount of money would rise as more and/or broader claims are added to the patent application.

Right now, potential victims of invalid patents have to choose between ignoring the patent and hoping they'll never get sued/threatened, or preemptively have to spend (less than in case it would come to a court case) time and money on finding evidence to invalidate patents that should not be or have been granted in the first place. It's a lose/lose situation.

1 year,14 days

USPTO Asks For Input On Software Patents

Halo1 Re:Questionable summary (209 comments)

Good thing "software patents" don't actually claim software per se but rather methods of programming or using physical computing devices.

Yes, because that makes all the difference. After all, almost nobody would ever think of running software on a computer. Instead, they generally prefer to interpret it in their head, or execute it using a pen and paper.

There is no practical limitation by claiming software as executed by a computer vs software per se, other than possibly in terms of direct vs contributory infringement (and even that has been covered by claiming software stored on a carrier). Hence, for all practical intents and purposes, they are in fact claiming software per se.

It's like arguing that mental processes as such should not be patentable, but mental processes performed using pen and paper or using a chemical device colloquially known as "the human brain" should be claimable, because then they are no longer abstract and are actually performed using physical, real world means and hence improvements can result in better resource usage.

about a year ago

USPTO Asks For Input On Software Patents

Halo1 Re:show us one good software patent (209 comments)

There is no "the MP3 audio encoding format" patent. MP3 is (was) covered by several patents. At least one of its base patents is however ridiculously broad. I haven't looked at the others, but it would surprise me if they would be that much more specific or better.

about a year ago

Russia, China, and Others Seek Greater Control Over Internet

Halo1 Re:Looks perfectly in line with the ITU (174 comments)

The key to "spreading Democracy" is establishing the Rule of Law.

You're seriously arguing that the foundation of George W. Bush' Iraq war was even remotely related to "establishing the Rule of Law"?

As for your examples: all they show is that governments can (try to) abuse their powers. There's nothing fundamental about social or economic justice in your examples. Or are you going to claim that warrantless wiretapping is also related to social and economic justice?

And of course the world is larger than the US. At least in my country several social and economic justice measures are fully entrenched in the law and compatible with our constitution (including abortion).

about a year ago

Russia, China, and Others Seek Greater Control Over Internet

Halo1 Re:Looks perfectly in line with the ITU (174 comments)

Seems like my browser decided to log me out. So, again, logged in this time:

"Social and Economic Justice" = Totalitarianism in a nutshell.

I completely disagree with that statement, although it can be perfectly abused for that purpose of course. Then again, so can "spreading democracy".

about a year ago

Russia, China, and Others Seek Greater Control Over Internet

Halo1 Looks perfectly in line with the ITU (174 comments)

From the official speech delivered by the ITU's secretary-general at the first Plenary of World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai last week:

We have the power to create a brave new world, where social and economic justice prevails – together.

And no, that quote is not taken out of context.

about a year ago

USPTO Head: Current Patent Litigation Is 'Reasonable'

Halo1 Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (153 comments)

>Actually, one of the most comprehensive studies on that topic [mises.org] (Fritz Machlup, An Economic Review of the Patent System) concluded more or less the opposite:

Really? You're citing a study from 1958??

Sure. It still often cited in academic works even today. You may have noticed I also cited other, more recent studies. Here's a couple more I collected during the EU software patents directive process.

More background noise...

Yes, la la la la I can't hear you really works well...

Seriously, how many people posting here even read Kappos's original remarks (see link above)?

Might also want to read the posting below from someone who was actually there.

about a year ago

USPTO Head: Current Patent Litigation Is 'Reasonable'

Halo1 Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (153 comments)

On the other hand, the Patent system works well when viewed in its historical context. They have been a net benefit for innovation.

Actually, one of the most comprehensive studies on that topic (Fritz Machlup, An Economic Review of the Patent System) concluded more or less the opposite:

If one does not know whether a system "as a whole" (in contrast to certain features of it) is good or bad, the safest "policy conclusion" is to "muddle through" - either with it, if one has long lived with it, or without it, if one has lived without it. If we did not have a patent system, it would be irresponsible, on the basis of our present knowledge of its economic consequences, to recommend instituting one. But since we have had a patent system for a long time, it would be irresponsible, on the basis of our present knowledge, to recommend abolishing it. This last statement refers to a country such as the United States of America - not to a small country and not to a predominantly nonindustrial country, where a different weight of argument might well suggest another conclusion.

Similarly, the FTC Innovation report from 2003 was also far from unequivocally positive about patents, especially in the hardware/software fields. Or Jim Bessen's research, as presented (twice) at an FFII conference in 2004.

For example, there are many fewer patents lawsuits regarding Smart Phones than there were in the time the original telephone was invented.

That does not exemplify how patents have supposedly been a net benefit for innovation. Additionally, you are wrongly paraphrasing the article you refer to below. It only says that nowadays, per filed patent there are fewer lawsuits than there were in the days of the fixed telephone. From that it concludes that there is no problem with the volume of patent lawsuits.

I would argue that the reason for this is that patents are used in a very different way today compared to how they were used back then (there were much less large companies back then amassing patent war chests just for defensive purposes). Arguably, the standards for patentability were also higher back then, which means that actually going to court rather than only looking for the players you can convince to settle out of course was a much less risky business.

While I appreciate that shooting the messenger by itself is not a very strong argument, that's an opinion piece by "the vice president and head of strategic acquisitions at Intellectual Ventures". That's patent troll central. Suing companies, or threatening to sue them, based on all kinds of patents is their bread and butter.

Moving on to substance, he's most definitely wrong when he claims that "Every major technological and industrial breakthrough in U.S. history [..] has been accompanied by exactly the same surge in patenting, patent trading, and patent litigation that we see today in the smartphone business". Do you remember the massive patent wars from the eighties and nineties that came with the personal computer revolution? No? Me neither. There were a few lawsuits (e.g. Stac vs Microsoft), but there most definitely was no surge like what we see today.

What we need is general legal reform so that disputes can be decided simply and inexpensively without Lawyers getting all the goodies.

There is absolutely no indication that we need patents and the related dispute settlement overhead at all in the ICT industry. My favourite quote is still the one from Robert Barr before the FTC in 2003, as Vice President and Worldwide Patent Counsel of CISCO:

My observation is that patents have not been a positive force in stimulating innovation at Cisco. Competition has been the motivator; bringing new products to market in a timely manner is critical. Everything we have done to create new products would have been done even if we could not obtain patents on the innovations and inventions contained in these products. I know this because no one has ever asked me ‘can we patent this?’ before deciding whether to invest time and resources into product development.

about a year ago

Good Old Games Adds Mac OS X Support

Halo1 Re:This is news? (124 comments)

Small company starts selling old mass-market Mac games which you couldn't otherwise buy any more.

No, they start selling old mass-market DOS games now also packages with DOSBox for Mac, rather than only with DOSBox for Windows (or with ScummVM for Mac, or with Wine, or in very few cases a native Mac port -- but the last category aren't really old games until now).

about a year and a half ago

Good Old Games Adds Mac OS X Support

Halo1 Re:Bundle (124 comments)

Have those games been updated to run on 10.8?

In general, the games never ran and never will run directly under any version of Mac OS X (or even "classic" Mac OS), and hence do not have to be updated. The currently released games fall into four categories:

  • They are DOS/Windows games, but are supported by ScummVM. The GOG installer will install ScummVM to run them. Before you yell "those are not native Mac ports!", keep in mind that those games were originally basically a lot of sound, graphics and a script, bundled with a DOS-based script interpreter. ScummVM is a modern replacement for those script interpreters (it's also used on the Windows for most of those games).
  • They are other DOS games. These are packaged so they run under DOSBox. These are obviously not native Mac ports either, but they're handled exactly the same by GOG on Windows. It's the same principle as using a Super Nintendo emulator to run old SNES games.
  • They are Windows games. I'm only aware of The Witcher and King's Bounty being in this situation. The Witcher is based on Wine, I don't know about King's Bounty but I guess it's the same (but it may also be a native Mac port). In this case it's mostly a matter of not being able to play the games at all, or playing them under Wine. Your call.
  • They are dual Mac/Windows releases. I'm only aware of The Witcher 2 being in this situation.

That said: ScummVM, DOSBox and Wine all work under 10.8. Since they are emulation layers to some extent, chances are actually higher that they will keep working with future Mac OS X releases (or at least can be fairly easily updated) than with so-called native ports. At least every boxed Mac game I ever bought is gathering dust (from Lemmings for System 7 to Deus Ex and No One Lives Forever for Mac OS X/PowerPC) (*) (**), while I can still play every single DOS/Windows game I ever bought thanks to DOSBox and Wine.

Since The Witcher 2 was only just released, I think it's a good bet that it will run under 10.8. Also, like the other person said, the Interplay promo does not include any of the Mac-ified games. All DOSBox-based ones are trivial to get running though, and the Windows ones generally aren't that hard either (I've been buying and playing gog.com games on my Mac for several years now).

(*) ok, one exception: Space Quest IV for Mac, which is supported by ScummVM...
(**) I know about Sheepshaver, but it wasn't been very stable when I tried it

about a year and a half ago



Chevron gets 9 years worth of activists' internet metadata

Halo1 Halo1 writes  |  about 9 months ago

Halo1 (136547) writes "A US Federal judge has ruled that Microsoft must provide Chevron with IP usage records and identity information for email accounts owned by more than 100 environmental activists, journalists and attorneys. Chevron ask for this information in an attempt to prove that it fell victim to a conspiracy when it was convicted to pay $18 billion for dumping 18.5 billion gallons of oil waste in the Ecuadorean Amazon. Opponents, such as the EFF and ERI, criticise that this could allow Chevron to determine the countries, states, cities or even buildings where the account-holders were checking their email, so as to 'infer the movements of the users over the relevant period'."

Fairphone project crowdfunding initial production run

Halo1 Halo1 writes  |  about a year ago

Halo1 (136547) writes "The Fairphone project has designed an GSM/WCDMA Android-based smartphone (specs) and associated production process for which they need 5000 pre-orders at 385 euro a piece (incl. VAT) to go into production by September. While they openly admit that not every single component or part of the process is completely "fair", by making every step of the production transparent and improving several of them they aim to to demonstrate and facilitate improved product life cycles. Examples include sourcing a number of their raw materials conflict-free (tin, coltan; working on gold), having subcontractors pay workers a living wage, and contributing part of the proceeds to e-waste recycling facilitator Closing the Loop. The user also gets a "fair" deal: the device can be rooted, it has dual sim support, and they're working with Ubuntu and Firefox OS communities to offer alternative OS choices. The main downside is that pre-orders are limited to EU citizens. The deadline for pre-ordering is 14 June and they're currently at 52% of their target goal (if it is not reached, pre-orders will be refunded). Dutch-speaking readers may also be interested in a candid interview with the head of the project and a Dutch diplomat involved in the organisation and certification of conflict-free mining operations in the DR Congo."

European Commission paints itself in ACTA corner

Halo1 Halo1 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Halo1 (136547) writes "Last week, the European Commission published a rebuttal to an extensive and strongly condemning opinion document about ACTA by prominent European Academics. Ante Wessels from the FFII went through the Commission's reply and discovered that after correcting the mistakes they made, they actually confirm the opinion they were trying to refute. The Commission primarily appears to suffer from a lack of reading comprehension, amnesia regarding what it said earlier, and not being fully aware of its competences."
Link to Original Source

iPhone SDK Agreement Shuts Out HyperCard Clone

Halo1 Halo1 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Halo1 writes "Demonstrating it's not just about Flash, Apple has officially rejected for the first time another alternative iPhone development environment following its controversial iPhone SDK Agreement changes. Even though RunRev proposed to retool its HyperCard-style development environment to directly expose all of the iPhone OS' APIs, Steve Jobs still rejected their proposal. The strength of RunRev's business case, with a large scale iPad deployment project in education hinging on the availability of their tool, does not bode well for projects that have less commercial clout. Salient point: at last February's shareholders' meeting, Jobs went on the record saying that something like HyperCard on the iPad would be great "but someone would have to create it"."
Link to Original Source

Halo1 Halo1 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Jonas Maebe writes "Someone thought up another way to profiteer from the software patent system: when a security hole is discovered, they'll try to patent the fix in order to collect money when the affected vendors close the hole in their product.. The company in question is not shy about its intentions: Intellectual Weapons will only consider vulnerabilities in high profile products from vendors with deep pockets. Let's be thankful for yet another way software patents are used to promote science and the useful arts."
Link to Original Source


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