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Labor Department To Destroy H-1B Records

NimbleSquirrel Plausible deniability (190 comments)

The answer to this is easy: plausible deniability. If the records are only temporary, and get expunged after 5 years, then the US government suddenly have an out for bad press over a long history of abuses of that H1B program that have gone unchecked. Instead of changing policy, fixing the program, and investigating historical abuses by various (mostly tech) companies, it is easier to rewrite histrory.

The answer will now be: 'Oh... we can't possibly investigate company X for H1B visa abuses. The records were temporary and no longer exist. Since the records no longer exist, we cannot possibly comment. To the best of our knowledge, the H1B program works.'

about 2 months ago
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DMCA Claim Over GPL Non-Compliance Shuts Off Minecraft Plug-Ins

NimbleSquirrel There is a lot to this but Wolvereness isn't wrong (354 comments)

People are acting as if Wesley Wolfe (Wolvereness) is trying to claim ownership of Minecraft server code. I don't know him, but that is not his intent from what I've seen. It is simply to have his code removed from a project with a clear conflict of interest over licensing. From what I have seen, it has been a case of: 'remove my code from the project OR opensource the Minecraft server code'.

The fact that this brings to light that Bukkit is no longer eligible to use its codebase because it's in violation of its own license is just a bonus.

Unfortunately Spigot is suffering from a side-effect of this claim. It was built off the Bukkit source code, so if Wolvereness were to leave his code in that project, without a DMCA claim, it would dilute his legal position against Mojang.

Here are the facts as I see them:
1. Bukkit is an open source project, licensed under the GPL.
2. Many developers, including Wolfe, contribute code to the project under the GPL terms. The developers retain copyright over their contributions.
3. The Minecraft server was reverse engineered (apparently in violation of Minecraft's EULA) and the resulting decompiled/de-obfuscated code initially included in the CraftBukkit project.
4. Projects like Bukkit, Forge and Spigot add considerable value to Minecraft, but are not (initially) controlled by Mojang.
5. Mojang surreptitiously acquires the Bukkit project by hiring a number of the project's key developers. While the hiring of the developers is made public, the acquisition of the project is not.
6. The developers Mojang hire work on Bukkit-Minecraft "intergration". Bukkit features get added to Minecraft's server, and proprietary Minecraft server code gets incorporated into Bukkit/CraftBukkit.
7. Community developers continue to contribute to Bukkit, under the GPL, thinking they are working for an independent project.
8. Bukkit/CraftBukkit is distributed during this time, under the (L)GPL, including the proprietary code. This is a violation of the (L)GPL.
9. Mojang changes EULA to prevent 'pay to win' servers, and asserts Bukkit is subject to that EULA too.
10. The majority of developers vote to discontinue the project. Mojang steps in publicly to say that they can't do that and they have owned the project for two years.
11. Mojang asserts control over the entire project, including contributions from community.
12. Wolvereness DMCAs the project, for the removal of his code.
13. Mojang claim they added no code to the project, yet the project had been distributed for two years including Minecraft server code while the project was supposedly in Mojang's ownership. Mojang have been aware of licensing issues since 2011, but have done nothing to remove their proprietary code from a GPLed project in the time since they acquired it. Licensing of the project has not changed.

It seems that there are only four possibilities: Mojang kills Bukkit and walks away; Mojang rewrites Bukkit to remove/rewrite code from outside contributors and closes source; Mojang caves and opensources Minecraft server code; Mojang takes Wolfe to court to determine outcome (which could take years of appeals).

about 3 months ago
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Face Masks Provide Chinese With False Hope Against Pollution

NimbleSquirrel What does the author know about N95 masks? (156 comments)

As someone who has worked in an industrial environment, and who has had to wear respirators and other PPE, I can say that N95 respirators do not need to be 'professionally fitted'. They do need to fit just right, but the users themselves can do that. Yes, they can be uncomfortable if you've never worn a mask before, but once you are used to them you can wear them all day (as many many workers do everyday).

While the author focusses on fitting, he completely ignores the other issue with N95 masks: there are many different types that are designed to filter different things. There are different masks for dusts and particles, nuisance odours, welding fumes, acid gasses, organic vapors and biologicals. The author ignores that people will need to know what type of respirator they need as buying the wrong type will make it far less effective. Not all N95 respirators are the same. For a sutiation like this, a dust and particle filter with nuisance level acid gas (NOx, SO2, etc) would be better, but unlikely to be found at many hardware stores.

What people don't seem to realise is that the gasses that make up smog (CO, NOx, SO2, ozone, organic compounds) can be just as damaging, if not more, than the dust and particulates. Even N95 masks only filter out nuisance levels of these.

about 10 months ago
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Apple Shows Off New iOS 7, Mac OS X At WWDC

NimbleSquirrel Re:I fail to see the 'Pro' in this Mac Pro. (607 comments)

Sure, not many professionals upgrade their CPU, but RAM and GPUs on the other hand do get upgraded. Only four RAM slots doesn't leave much room for upgrade, and the GPUs in this thing are on customised and proprietary boards. I can't imagine Apple keeping up with the GPU upgrade cycle in producing these boards. Of course it all comes down to what you are doing on this system at a professional level. In my opinion, Apple's shift to an almost completely proprietary design is a bad thing.

As for Apple owning Thunderbolt: they do, in conjunction with Intel (and I never stated they owned it outright). They own enough patents on the technology that you can't make a Thunderbolt-based product without paying some money to Apple.

about a year and a half ago
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Apple Shows Off New iOS 7, Mac OS X At WWDC

NimbleSquirrel Re:I fail to see the 'Pro' in this Mac Pro. (607 comments)

Yes, Intel orginally developed Thunderbolt (then codenamed LightPeak), but then they approached Apple with it. Apple and Intel have technically collaborated on Thunderbolt. Unsurprisingly, Apple now have quite a number of patents on Thunderbolt technology (and I'd speculate even more on Thunderbolt 2). Yes, the connector may be royalty free, but what is inside it isn't: Thunderbolt uses active cables.

So, while Intel did create the original tech behind Thunderbolt, it isn't solely owned by them anymore. If you want to make Thunderbolt-based kit, you will need to pay the tax to Intel *and* Apple.

The point I was trying to make is that Apple have a distinct financial interest in killing PCIe and replacing it with Thunderbolt / Thunderbolt 2.

about a year and a half ago
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Apple Shows Off New iOS 7, Mac OS X At WWDC

NimbleSquirrel I fail to see the 'Pro' in this Mac Pro. (607 comments)

Sorry, but there is nothing professional about the new Mac Pro. It is Eye Candy; nothing more. Its proprietary layout means that there is very little that will be upgradeable (save for maxing out its measly four RAM slots, or swapping out the SSD). CPU not fast enough anymore? Graphics cards out-of-date? Sorry, time to buy a new Mac Pro. But of course that is what Apple want. Heaven forbid that someone would actually want to upgrade their CPU or change to the latest generation GPU.

What is really anti-Professional about the Mac Pro? Dumping Internal storage bays and PCIe slots moving everything to external interfaces. SSDs have their place and so too do spinning disks. I could choose what I wanted, but with this new Mac Pro I have no choice. I would now have to have a stack of external drives sitting at my workstation. It won't look so pretty then.

On top of that, plenty of companies have invested in PCIe-based hardware (Audio DAW cards and HD-SDI interface cards are just two examples of many). Companies who have invested heavily in such hardware are now SOL. What will they do? Buy an overpriced Mac Pro and reinvest in all new Thunderbolt-based hardware (that most likely doesn't exist yet given the slow uptake of Thunderbolt), or switch to PC based hardware?

I have to look at the reason for the redesign, and it is very easy to see: Apple (and Intel) own Thunderbolt. They make a cut of every Thunderbolt device sold. Of course, they are going to push Thunderbolt over everything else. Did Apple actually listen to what their professional clients need?

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do When Another Dev Steals Your Work and Adds Their Name?

NimbleSquirrel You may have a claim of Author's Rights (480 comments)

Others have correctly pointed out that you were most likely in a situation of work-for-hire and do not have a copyright claim to the work. However you may have a claim under Author's Rights (also referred to as Moral Rights). Author's Rights are separate and distinct from Copyright, and cannot be transferred. It doesn't grant you that much, but (amongst other things) it does grant you the right to be named as author (or co-author) in a work.

Your best course of action to to write the client a friendly letter or email (I'd lean towards letter in a situation like this), relay your situation to them, and inform them that you wish to be named as author (or co-author) in the work. Be clear you are not claiming any kind of copyright! You also may wish to point out that the other developer is incorrectly claiming copyright, when that belongs to the client. Just be careful of not making this an attack on the other developer. You just want some way of having your work recognised. If you do send a letter, be sure to get a notarized copy before you send it, in case you have to escalate things.

If you do need to take it further, then I'd suggest to just cut your losses and walk away. The other developer claiming your work as theirs is Libel: it has already harmed your reputation. It will be expensive, and chances are you wouldn't get enough to cover your expenses (not to mention the damage it would do to your reputation even if you are right).

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Ad-Hoc Wireless Mesh Network For Emergency Vehicles?

NimbleSquirrel How is this going to be more useful? (200 comments)

What exactly do you need this system for? Seriously, if you are needing internet access to save people, there is something wrong. Sure, there may be a situation where an Incident Commander may need to look up something like an MSDS on a hazardous material, but in that situation a tablet with 3G access is all you need.

If you're wanting this for comms, then you really need to think again. For Emergency Services, any comms system need to be robust (ie. not built on cheap consumer grade hardware), reliable (ie. able to work when parts of the system fail, and it must be easy to fix or replace) but most importantly it need to be able to work with the systems of other Emergency Services. If you go ahead and do your own thing, it could potentially cripple your response capability. If your Fire Department was first to attend a Mass Casualy Incident, would you be absolutely sure that your system, built on 'cheap wireless routers', would be 100% effective? Would you be prepared to stake your life, the lives of other firefighters, and the lives of multiple casualties on this system working? If the answer is not an absolute yes, then walk away now.

Don't get me wrong, it is a cool idea, but it is not something that you or your Volunteer Fire Department should be looking into as a deployed solution. You cannot go from "hey, this sounds cool" to putting it into operational situations without doing some serious research and development as well as thorough testing. This may seem over the top, but this is for an Emergency Service: people's lives will depend on this.

more than 2 years ago
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Topher Grace Screens Star Wars Prequel Re-edit

NimbleSquirrel There is a way he could show his work legally. (192 comments)

All he has to do is publish his EDL (edit decision list) and just state his exact source material (in a commercially available form, of course).

As the editor, the EDL is Topher Grace's copyrighted work, and as the EDL doesn't actually contain any of the content of the movies there is no way Lucas et al. could claim copyright infringement.

It is then the fans who can rip the content from the sources and use the EDL to assemble their own copy of the fan edit.

By stating the source material in a commercially available form, he isn't inducing the fans to commit copyright infringement, so they can't really get him for anythng.

more than 2 years ago
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Nuclear Truckers Haul Warheads Across US

NimbleSquirrel Loophole around non-proliferation treaties... (461 comments)

I heard about this some years ago, and the reason was rather sinister.
The way I heard it is that nuclear non-proliferation treaties that the US has signed to limit the number of warheads in its arsenal. However warheads in transit do not count towards this total, and in the interests of security the US is not obliged to reveal how many warheads it has in transit at any one time or where they are going. By keeping a percentage of it arsenal perpetually driving around the US, the US government can effectively sidestep nuclear warhead limits imposed by non-proliferation treaties.

more than 2 years ago
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Protecting Your Tablet From a Fall From Space

NimbleSquirrel What they don't show you... (130 comments)

What they don't show you is the all of other iPads they did this to that didn't survive the fall. How many takes was it until they got the money shot?

more than 2 years ago
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Siri Gives Apple Two Year Advantage Over Android

NimbleSquirrel Siri is 'the next big thing'? (800 comments)

Seriously, Apple seems to be grasping at straws for any edge over Android phones. I'm not going to make comparisons between Siri and Google Voice Search, as plenty of others are doing that. What I will say is that Siri (and other voice command systems) are gimmicks at best. Unless their entire client base is visually impaired, I doubt that it will see any serious day-to-day use once the novelty has worn off. Texting and twitter are growing because people aren't talking into their phones. What makes Apple think that Siri will change that trend?

more than 3 years ago
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Australian Court Blocks Sales of Samsung Galaxy Tablet

NimbleSquirrel Re:This may not be so good for Apple... (158 comments)

1) F/RAND doesn't mean free. Apple effectively wants to pay nothing, and Samsung aren't willing to roll over. Nokia had the same issue and Apple settled with them before anything could be established in case law (for which no details have been made public - which has lead some to believe that Apple would have lost). Samsung have entered into patent cross-licensing arrangements with other manufacturers who license their patents. Samsung are claiming (amongst other things) that such cross-licensing deals are an established norm and can be considered both Fair and Reasonable in the industry.

2) Apple haven't brought licenses from Samsung. Just because their suppliers may have a license to produce components that are subject to those patents, doesn't automatically mean that that license carries on to Apple. It depends on the terms of the license the component manufacturers have. Samsung claim that Infineon didn't have any license, so if Apple used Infineon 3G chips how can they have a license?

Given that Apple have known about GSM/3G patents since before they released the first iPhone, yet continue to release products without sorting this license issue out doesn't give them as much of a leg to stand on as people think they do.

more than 3 years ago
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Australian Court Blocks Sales of Samsung Galaxy Tablet

NimbleSquirrel This may not be so good for Apple... (158 comments)

This could potentially work against Apple if Samsung go after the iPhone 4S on Oz. Precedent has been set, and it would be quite difficult for Apple to argue that an injunction shouldn't block the iPhone4S if Samsung decide to assert their hardware patents.

more than 3 years ago
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Samsung May Try To Block Next iPhone In Europe Too

NimbleSquirrel Re:The cliche practically coined for this occasion (271 comments)

But to Apple, the iPhone5 represets a massive part of their total product line. If the iPhone5 were to be blocked, it would be a huge financial hit for them and would deeply affect their share price. The fact that Apple does not pay dividends on their shares means that their share price is somewhat more volatile than shares in other companies (who do pay dividends).

By contrast, Samsung's product lineup is massive, and the Galaxy line (S, S2, Tabs) only represent a small part. If they are blocked, it would still be a financial hit, but not as massive as Apple's would be.

more than 3 years ago
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Ubisoft Brings Back Always-Connected DRM For Driver: San Francisco

NimbleSquirrel Simple solution (261 comments)

Don't buy their games.

They come out with the most amazing game in the world, but if they insist on doing this, they won't be seeing any of my money.

Seriously, they wonder why people pirate their games. Yes, there are people wanting it for free, but there is a growing number of people who pirate it just to get away from the DRM.

more than 3 years ago
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Australian-Built Hoverbike Prepares For Takeoff

NimbleSquirrel An Ozzie attempt to cash in on Kiwi success? (200 comments)

It seems like the Hoverbike seems to be a lame attempt to cash in on the success of the Martin Jetpack.

To me, the Hoverbike looks like a deathtrap: the pilot is sitting above the lift propellers and with a centre of gravity higher than the centre of lift and no apparent method for lateral stabilization it will tip over the moment the pilot leans to far to one side. In their FAQ, they attempt to brush off the stability issue by talking about fixed-wing aircraft: aircraft that don't hover and that have a large tailplane for lateral stability. Also, saying that the aircraft is safer because the pilot can leap off and use their own parachute just seems wrong to me.

more than 3 years ago
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Algorithm Glitch Voids Outcome of US Green Card Lottery

NimbleSquirrel Random selection? (131 comments)

So, what they're saying is that the numbers didn't appear random enough to them. Maybe it selected a few too many undesirables for their liking. Sometimes random numbers can appear not to be random. That's the problem with randomness, you can never be sure.

Instead they are saying that:
"A new selection process will be conducted based on the original entries for the 2012 program."

I'm willing to bet that new selection process certainly won't be random.

more than 3 years ago
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Algorithm Glitch Voids Outcome of US Green Card Lottery

NimbleSquirrel Re:It's real? (131 comments)

Yes, there is a lottery.

But in order to enter, you have to apply and meet certain qualifying criteria.

Even if you win a lottery place, you don't automatically get a visa.

Instead you win an invitation to apply for a visa. Even then you can get turned down.
I'm fairly sure, but if you get turned down the lottery win just disappears: it doesn't mean that someone else then gets a chance.

more than 3 years ago

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