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No, You Can't Seize Country TLDs, US Court Rules

Hans Adler Re:THEN... (120 comments)

Excellent point. It seems unlikely to me that this decision survives the next round, since that would probably imply a reversal on the current jurisdiction around second-level domain names.

Maybe the decision was *designed* to be reverted by a higher court. At least in Germany, it is an open secret that courts sometimes write their decisions intentionally so that they will be overturned - either because they don't want to take responsibility for the correct decision or because the professional judge must write the rationale for a decision in which he was overruled by lay judges. In the present situation, maybe it's a trick for making sure certain arguments cannot be heard in the higher instance?

about two weeks ago
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What Happens When Nobody Proofreads an Academic Paper

Hans Adler Re:MS Office Incompatibility (170 comments)

That makes sense, and we have *sometimes* done something like it.

about two weeks ago
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What Happens When Nobody Proofreads an Academic Paper

Hans Adler Re:MS Office Incompatibility (170 comments)

Not necessarily. In my cooperations with others we never hid comments to co-authors in LaTeX comments. Otherweise, co-authors who work on a printed copy first would have seen them too late or not at all.

about two weeks ago
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Lennart Poettering: Open Source Community "Quite a Sick Place To Be In"

Hans Adler Re:Systemd (993 comments)

The parts of the internet where I spend most of my online time aren't half as bad as what you describe. But those bad parts definitely exist, and when we are talking real-life consequences such as hiring hitmen this is the only thing that matters. I am not at all surprised by what Poettering is complaining about. It's just the logical next step after doxing, calling employers and swatting.

How far someone will go is determined to a large extent by the attitudes of their peers. Many will always go with the average opinion, some will always be a little more moderate, and some will always make sure to be the most extreme person in the room. Once several people of the latter type meet online, it gets dangerous because this results in a one-upmanship competition not unlike that 'game' where two stolen cars race towards a frontal crash and the first driver to brake or turn aside 'loses'. Come to think of it, the idiots playing this 'game' are also on the internet, which should explain a lot.

about 2 months ago
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Lennart Poettering: Open Source Community "Quite a Sick Place To Be In"

Hans Adler Re:Systemd AND PULSE AUDIO (993 comments)

So you are now admitting that what you claimed is wrong. *Of course* you can get a ticket for driving in the left lane for no reason at all. It's the same everywhere here in Europe, but people here actually stick to this rule, most of the time. As my ex-wife told me after half a year in Oregon, this is not at all the case there. I guess this is somehow related to everyone with a pulse being able to get a driver's licence. In Germany, like in most European countries, there is always a very real chance of not passing. At the time when most of my classmates turned 18 and took driving lessons, several of them failed on their first attempt. Typical problems were failing the theory exam, not properly starting the car on a rising slope, taking "turn right at the next chance" more seriously than a one-way sign, and following a lorry at a traffic light that turned red - or might have done so - while obscured by the lorry.

In other news: Believe it or not, you can get a life sentence for walking on the side-walk. (If you shoot someone dead while doing so.)

about 2 months ago
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Passport Database Outage Leaves Thousands Stranded

Hans Adler Re:Change management fail (162 comments)

The problem is that that's often not how they think. In some cultures you only ask a yes or no question in order to hear a yes answer, no matter what. You think you are enquiring for information. The poor Elbonian you are talking to may be totally stressed out because he thinks you are telling them that you are very angry about him because you lost face before your superior due to his poor performance. And that, even though nobody knows or can know how to do things better, you now have to report back to that superior, untruthfully (as everybody including the superior knows), that the Elbonian will solve the problem. You just need a yes from the Elbonian, so it can travel up the chain of command. The Elbonian just needs to confirm that he is doing that impossible thing that nobody has ever heard of, and everything will be fine for a while.

If, instead, you wanted him to try to actually do this, then you would - in the mind of the Elbonian - ask very differently.

Now of course you can try to find Elbonians who know how to communicate with Americans. Just don't be surprised if it's hard, and maybe impossible at the price you are willing to pay.

about 4 months ago
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Passport Database Outage Leaves Thousands Stranded

Hans Adler Re:Change management fail (162 comments)

I don't think it's so hard. Extreme example:

"Some of our computers are more important for our business than the others. For example, every hour that kremvax is not running costs us roughly half a million dollars because people worldwide then buy somewhere else.

It often happens that new firmware from the vendor does not work properly. So suppose you make a firmware update on kremvax, reboot it, and it does not start. What will you do in that case?" ...

"That's probably the best thing you can do in this situation, though I would ask you to also ... so that ... . Unfortunately, if this happens, it can take days to resolve the situation. Two days at half a million dollars each, that would make, um, ... How much is that, help me out please..." ...

"Yes, exactly, 24 million. That's why our last system administrator was always very scared. He wouldn't have lost his job if this happened once, but some people would have been very angry. So he was always reading those books about anticipatory system administration [I just made this term up; use a proper, searchable technical term if there is one] to minimize the danger. He always came up with new tricks. For example, there is this server called deepthought that is not doing anything really important most of the time. We call this a development server. Now when he wanted to do a firmwareupdate, what do you think: which of the servers did he do first, kremvax or deepthought?"

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Is Running Mission-Critical Servers Without a Firewall Common?

Hans Adler Re:Its Fine. - not (348 comments)

Sorry if this is a stupid question - I may just be out of touch with what firewalls can do nowadays. How would the firewall know whether it is dealing with sqlserver.exe on port 40264 or some other program? If it's not running on the same computer? I can imagine that some expensive solutions can do this, but I would be surprised to learn that a stock OpenBSD, say, can do it.

about 4 months ago
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Study: People Would Rather Be Shocked Than Be Alone With Their Thoughts

Hans Adler "Most people" or "most US college students today"? (333 comments)

As usual, the abstract draws a general conclusion. Due to the paywall I can't check it, but presumably, as usual, they didn't actually test a wide variety of people from all sorts of international cultures. To judge from their results, I guess they didn't test primarily Tibetan monks.

I am not surprised that the likely demographic of the tests, when you deprive them of their cellphones and don't give them anything else to do, turn to autoaggressive behaviour. Over the past year I have experienced how students at a German school behave nowadays if they have to hand in their cellphones, and how the behaviour improves if they are allowed to keep and use them or if they have a PC with internet connection.

about 5 months ago
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LinkedIn Spam Lawsuit Can Continue

Hans Adler Re:PCworld doesn't honor unsubscribes (50 comments)

Look at my post "My experience with LinkedIn spam" for a method that worked with LinkedIn for me. I sent those emails to privacy at linkedin.com. Of course your request may be considered less explosive if it's not related to a mentally unstable person with a history of making threats. (Potential for really bad publicity.) Maybe you can make up for this by asking a targeted question that shows you mean business. E.g. with a German company I would ask for the data protection officer's direct contact address and a company address suitable for a summons.

I have read that in some companies directly mailing someone high up in the hierarchy also works wonders. I guess they don't like losing plausible deniability concerning knowledge of what their underlings are up to.

about 5 months ago
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LinkedIn Spam Lawsuit Can Continue

Hans Adler My experience with LinkedIn spam (50 comments)

I once got LinkedIn invitations in the name of a American who was totally unknown to me. When it finally occurred to me to search my correspondence for his name, I learned that this was a banned Wikipedia editor who had written one email to my professional email address to advertise his evidently psychosis-induced website. I had never answered.

Here is my complete correspondence with LinkedIn after I found this out.

----- My first email to LinkedIn ----- Mon, 23 May 2011 08:37:04 UTC

It is an impertinence to send "invitations" to people who are not even
using your service, based on email address books of your users. It is
almost criminal to repeat them periodically and not to include the
usual spam opt-out links with these unsolicited messages.

I keep getting such reminders "from" a person who I do not know and
who was banned from Wikipedia for stalking and making threats.

You *will* add the following email addresses to your "do not contact"
list. Your confirmation that you have done so will be the last
communication that I will receive from your servers.

[my 2 email addresses deleted]

----- My second email to LinkedIn ----- Tue, 24 May 2011 10:58:27 UTC

May I ask you to confirm that you have received the message below and
that it will be handled. I am somewhat reluctant to go public with
this incident.

[quotation of my first email deleted]

----- First email from LinkedIn to me ----- Tue, 24 May 2011 11:03:21 UTC

We’ve received your message and we’re working to get you an answer. If you have a Premium account or you’re a LinkedIn Ads customer, we strive to reply within 24 hours. For all other members, we do our best to respond within 48 hoursbut at times we do see delays. We’ll get back to you soon!

[quotation of my *second* email deleted; I never received such a confirmation for my first email, even though this one looks like an auto-response]

----- Second email from LinkedIn to me ----- Wed, 25 May 2011 15:40:33 UTC [55 hours after my first email]

Hi Hans,

Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention.

Per your request, the email addresses provided have been added to our "do not contact" list. You will no longer receive any email from LinkedIn or our members on these email addresses. If you decide at a later date that you want to set up a LinkedIn account, you will need to first contact us to have your email addresses removed from the “do not contact” list.

If you have further questions, please feel free to reply to this message.

[some first name deleted]
LinkedIn Customer Service

about 5 months ago
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"Smart" Gun Seller Gets the Wrong Kind of Online Attention

Hans Adler Re:Gun nuts (1374 comments)

Well, I have never been robbed at gunpoint and the only people I know who were, are friends who live on a different continent. (It happened in Columbia.) In fact, the only guns I have ever consciously seen outside the media were *always* held by uniformed police or soldiers. And most of these were not even in the countries where I have lived for longer (Germany, Austria, UK), where you see very few soldiers and to the extent that the police are wearing arms these are generally quite unobtrusive and extremely rarely used. No, most of these were in Columbia and in Israel. (I have never been in the US.)

In most of Europe, when you are dealing with violent crime, the thought of firearms usually does not even arise because they are so rare. Criminals have knives, people who want to be prepared for a criminal attack have pepper spray. This works because neither side has an expectation that the other side has, let alone will use, a firearm.

The total number of people shot dead by the German police since 1978 is less than 500. That's less than 15 per year and would correspond to 60 per year in the US, after adjusting for the higher population. (The number of shots fired by police on people was about five times the number of people shot dead, corresponding to 300 such shots per year in the US.) The situation in most other European countries is quite similar due to the relatively strict gun laws. Not just in the UK, where most police officers are completely unarmed.

about 7 months ago
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"Smart" Gun Seller Gets the Wrong Kind of Online Attention

Hans Adler Re:Gun nuts (1374 comments)

The 2nd amendment is very explicit that it's about *collective* self defense, not *individual* self defense. Here is how it must have worked: People had guns on their farms and were well trained with them because they were using them all the time. In cases of armed conflict (with England or France, say, or with those pesky people who had older claims to the continent, or with a bunch of unhappy slaves), these well trained civilians formed militias that were more efficient than they would have been if they had had no guns at home.

about 7 months ago
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"Smart" Gun Seller Gets the Wrong Kind of Online Attention

Hans Adler Re:Gun nuts (1374 comments)

Your hypothetical example *would* in fact set implicit bounds on the constitutional right to keep and read books. An absolute right to keep and read books would simply leave that justification out. But with it, it is clear that the state is prevented from restricting this right only in so far as democracy could be affected.

Under an absolute right to keep and read books, books detailing state secrets, how-to literature on serious criminality and hard pornography (to give only some examples) would be constitutionally protected. But they are generally not necessary or even helpful for a working democracy, and so - due to the justification part of your right to keep and bear books - a simple law on the federal, state or local level could restrict them, as long as it is specific enough and maybe has a few necessary exceptions.

Similarly, the US constitution only protects the right to keep and bear arms to the extent that it is beneficial for well regulated militias. Given the very limited number of occasions for unorganized shooting practice in downtown Chicago or New York City, it is perfectly reasonable to have strong restrictions there. These restrictions are not going to affect the fighting power of the National Guard at all.

Here is another example:

A well trained army, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and drive Cars, shall not be infringed.

This would not imply that people can drive while drunk or without a license, that they can drive where they want or as fast as they want (I am actually writing this from my home country, where people *are* allowed to drive as fast as they want on a large part of the motorway system), that children can drive, or that someone's driving privileges cannot be suspended. It just means that everything is organised so that normal people normally have no trouble buying cars, getting the necessary permits, and finding roads where they are allowed to drive.

However, this example shows that even without the prefixed justification such a right always comes with implicit restrictions. Even under an amendment to the effect, "The right of the people to keep and drive cars shall not be infringed", you would still not be allowed to drive drunk, without a license, or off-road on public land.

about 7 months ago
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UN Court: Japanese Whaling "Not Scientific"

Hans Adler Background (188 comments)

I have said it before, but I think it's worth repeating:

When it comes to exploiting (other) natural resources in a high seas region it's important to prove that you have been economically active there for a long time, and still are. The whaling is an investment. This investment requires that the programme is pretty openly non-scientific. Just 'scientific' enough so a sufficient number of other countries in the International Whaling Commission can be convinced to allow it, where necessary through a bribe. But no more so, because at some point later Japan will have to prove that it was an economic activity, not research.

about 8 months ago
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Hungarian Law Says Photogs Must Ask Permission To Take Pictures

Hans Adler Re:The country is already out of step with Europe (149 comments)

I was asked for sources on the pogromes against gypsies, and it was questioned that the ruling party was involved. As this was only from memory, here is what I found out with a quick search.

Apparently, the worst incident so far was the one in Gyöngyöspata, a village with 2500 inhabitants and a Jobbik mayor. Jobbik is fascist party comparable to the Greek party Golden Dawn. It does not seem to have been in any government coalition. However, the incident in Gyöngyöspata was so serious that it reflects very badly indeed on the government for not preventing it or at least ending it swiftly. Here is what happened.

In March/April 2011, the leader of a local right-wing militia invited neo-nazis from around the country to his estate for military exercises. In the sequel, local gypsies were terrorised by uniformed nazis for several weeks. In the end, the Hungarian Red Cross chartered several busses and evacuated 300 women and children.

So for several reasons it wasn't precise to say the ruling party (Fidesz) openly supports pogroms. Jobbik is quite open about it but has 'only' little over 10% of votes nationally and has never been the ruling party. And Fidesz doesn't support the pogroms openly but only through selective action. This may, however, be due in part to a large percentage of Jobbik supporters in government institutions such as the police.

Regarding the desire to annex parts of neighbouring countries: The reactions here speak for themselves. *Of course* these were once Hungarian. And before that they belonged to another country which also left its traces in the languages represented in the region. It's like that everyhwere in Europe. The Alsace region of France was once German, and the old people there (as well as some of the young ones) speak a German dialect. (And the trains still run on the right-hand side as in Germany, not on the left-hand side as in France.) Yet nobody in Germany wants to annex it. Nowadays. That's what the EU is all about.

about 8 months ago
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Hungarian Law Says Photogs Must Ask Permission To Take Pictures

Hans Adler The country is already out of step with Europe (149 comments)

Hungary was deprived of an important step in the development of today's Europe: fascism. And they insist on catching up without any shortcuts. Unfortunately I am not joking. As the current government wants Hungary to leave the European Union anyway, they are shamelessly breaking all of its principles. Apparently this is only going to end after the Hungarians have spectacularly lost a war right in the heart of Europe.

Being homeless is now officially a crime. The ruling party quite openly supports pogroms against gypsies. Hungary is quite open about wanting to annex all Hungarian-speaking regions of neighbouring countries. (Ethnic Hungarians in those countries can already obtain Hungarian passports.) The media is censored to such a degree that when the current law came into effect, lots of journalists had to look for a job immediately as they were left with a choice between creeping up the government's posteriors or facing draconian punishment. Even citizens from other European countries cannot by land in Hungary. Austrian farmers who already own land in Hungary are punished when they cross the border in a tractor to cultivate it. When the Swiss Franc rose a lot, causing problems for enormous numbers of Hungarians (and Hungarian institutions) that idiotically had taken Swiss loans because of the low nominal interest rates, Hungary *unilaterally* decided that they only have to pay back these loans to the amount owed theoretically if the exchange rate had been constant. In other words, the Hungarian government unilaterally partially dispossessed the banks of an EFTA country.

The new photography law is just another in a series of rubber laws that criminalise almost everything so that they can be applied selectively to members of the opposition and other likely targets.

about 8 months ago
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Gov't Puts Witness On No Fly List, Then Denies Having Done So

Hans Adler Re:No popcorn yet (462 comments)

I almost agree. But there is the little detail that she probably doesn't have too many airlines to choose from and this one will likely put her on its own blacklist if she does this.

about a year ago
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Australian University Unveils New Carbon-Trapping Bricks

Hans Adler I think I know what this is about. (142 comments)

The article says they have spent 6 years researching the technology. 6 years ago is also when German researchers published their discovery: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrothermal_carbonization (The German version of the Wikipedia article is much more informative.)

As far as I know, it started with a researcher wondering how exactly the Earth produced coal and oil and discovering that for almost a century nobody had done any new experiments. So he did some, adding some of today's knowledge.

It turns out that if you put water and basically arbitrary organic waste (wood, grass cuttings, leaves, entire weeds, whatever) into a pressure cooker, add some citric acid as a catalyser and then heat it to 200 degrees Celsius, then you get an exothermic reaction which makes the stuff keep that temperature without further input of energy. Provided you are not using an ordinary pressure cooker (which will explode) but some special thingy.

You stop the reaction after 8-12 hours and filtrate the water to get the product. Depending on the precise time you stop, you can create topsoil, oil, brown coal or low-quality stone coal. While the method doesn't seem to produce any excess heat, you can theoretically make an industrialised country CO2 neutral by treating all of its green waste that way and storing the resulting low-quality coal underground, e.g. in an old coal mine.

about a year ago
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Man Campaigns For Addition of 'Th' Key To Keyboard

Hans Adler It was the Germans' fault. (258 comments)

As Gutenberg was German, the first printing presses only had letters as required for German. Discarding the umlauts from the printing presses imported from Germany was easy, but creating new letter types for eth and thorn was tricky. An initial workaround for eth was to use y because in certain handwritings the two looked similar. Later they used th for both eth and thorn.

about a year ago

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