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Should California Have Banned Checking Smartphone Maps While Driving?

Noksagt Re:Bad Ruling (433 comments)

Does that map aid in your ability to safely drive your car?

It is a tool that can do this, yes. I am a safer driver because I have the right information in the right amount of time. It informs me in advance where I will have upcoming traffic lights, traffic, road hazards (such as stopped vehicles). It informs me of 1-way roads and advises me on which lane to be in.

And don't try to claim that not getting lost or missing a turn is unsafe and that your cellphone map is helping you to be safe.

Why not? If I can reasonably ignore street names and other bits of information that are not worth me knowing, doesn't that mean I'm able to pay attention to things that are more important? If I can spend less time driving because I get to my destination efficiently, doesn't that mean I'm driving less (and less likely to be involved in an auto accident from that alone)?

Even though IANAL, IMHO that was the intent of the law when it was passed

The congressional record doesn't agree with your reading and the judges that decided this case disagree as well too.

As for eating? If you have to look at your food? Yeah, it's a distraction. But most people don't need to look at their quarter pounder to eat it.

You are taking at least one hand off the wheel. Your concentration is divided between two tasks. And, yes, you will almost certainly glance at what you're eating.

Listening to music? I fail to see how that's a distraction.

Distractions are not only visual. As you point out, sound cues (such as sirens, horns, etc.) are useful too. Hearing sound over another is no different than a "heads up display". Yes, it's illegal to wear headphones in both ears while driving in California. Further, dividing your focus is what is distracting. It doesn't matter whether that is something you're looking at or hearing or tasting or smelling or just thinking about.

about a year and a half ago
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Should California Have Banned Checking Smartphone Maps While Driving?

Noksagt Re:Bad Ruling (433 comments)

No. The judge isn't allowed to consider those other pieces of legislation and non-legislation that you provided.

Not only can he, but he did. See pages 5-6 of the ruling, where the judges state (among other things):

Section 23123 applies only to use of a “wireless telephone” while
driving. Section 23123.5 more broadly applies to use of an “electronic wireless communications device,” which would include a cellphone, but would also apply to other wireless devices used for communication.

The judge then goes on to use the example of a Blackberry when considering devices that "could
not accurately be identified as 'wireless telephones'". This is laughable! We have an anti-texting statute because things like smart phones aren't phones? Well then, my map app is on a "handheld computer" and not a "wireless telephone" so 23123's prohibition on use doesn't apply to me.

The text of the ruling shows a flagrant ignorance for technology.

about a year and a half ago
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Should California Have Banned Checking Smartphone Maps While Driving?

Noksagt Bad Ruling (433 comments)

If the judge's interpretation was the one the legislation intended, why would we have CVC 23123.5, that explicitly forbids texting. Why would the DMV note that it does "not prohibit reading, selecting or entering a phone number, or name" or the CHP advise safe ways to dial? The judge over-stepped in this case & is legislating from the bench.

In 2010, I was written a citation for using my phone when I had passed it to a passenger. I was (rightfully) found not guilty. Because merely "touching" your phone is not using it as a communications device. Nor is the cell phone magically more distracting than other objects in a car.

A stand-alone GPS or a paper map can be at least as distracting, so why is there no provision banning their use? Because, while distracted driving is a problem, navigation aids do more good than harm. It is easier to defend them than eating, applying makeup, listening to music, etc. that we permit.

about a year and a half ago
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BART Keeps Cell Service Despite Protests

Noksagt Yes, demonstrators ARE loony. But so is BART. (196 comments)

Why are people presenting the false dilemma of having either no cellular service or station/service interruptions?

"Protesters" have zero right to vandalize websites or physical property, steal personally identifying information, or cause service disruptions. They should expect to be caught when CCTV and cell records are subpoenaed & should look forward to felony conspiracy charges.

These demonstrators were doubly stupid because they alienated people who agreed with them. The transit union and mayor came out against the cell shutdown, as did many riders. Why infuriate those who agree with you? But just because the messengers are in the wrong does not mean their message is.

BART is not a private company that can do whatever they please. The California Public Utilities Commission regulates BART, and BART is partially funded by taxes. The public (and the transit union) have been supportive of cell phone coverage due to the safety benefits they bring (this was particularly true after people learned of the cell use during 9/11). I'm unconvinced that cell shutdowns disrupt protesters so much that it is worth losing this piece of mind. Any communications disruption has real financial costs & nobody has shown the math that shows those costs were lower than alternative actions that could have been taken.

BART receives $6.7M a year in telecommunications revenue ($2M from cell service). You take that away because you cut service & you have to make it up some how. That'd be a 2% fare hike (not including FCC-imposed penalties or fees for breaching the telecom contracts).

more than 3 years ago
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Zotero Lawsuit Dismissed

Noksagt Sharing ENS Styles (60 comments)

Now it seems they have corrected the license statement to allow such sharing.

Kind of. Their terms of use state:

EndNote includes customization options that licensed individual and institutional customers can use to create new and modify existing EndNote style (.ens), filter (.enf), and connection (.enz) files for their personal use and to share with other licensed EndNote users for use only in conjunction with EndNote.

(emphasis mine). In other words, they claim that you can't use the files that you create using their software in third-party software, such as Zotero. This would be like saying you can't open an MS Word Document in OpenOffice.org Writer.

more than 5 years ago
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(Useful) Stupid Vim Tricks?

Noksagt Re::Sex (702 comments)

:help sex

:Sexplore[!] [dir]... Split&Explore directory of current file *:Sexplore*

e.g. it give you a file exploring pane above the buffer you are currently using.

about 6 years ago
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Thomson Reuters Sues Over Open-Source Endnote-Alike Zotero

Noksagt "But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (181 comments)

I hoped that I kept the article summary relatively free of my personal opinion, which I will indulge in this comment:

Thomson Reuters has too many asshats.

Let us set aside the fact that academic software and those who develop academic software should embrace interoperability and knowledge sharing.

I'll even set aside that, despite the (rewritten) title, Zotero has many fundamental differences from EndNote.

The complaint is, in the words of Bruce D'Arcus, "a nuisance lawsuit designed to intimidate." Zotero's style repository contains no EndNote .ens styles and seems to contain no styles derived from those styles. CSL styles are created manually and through an online style creator. There is no way to get a new CSL style from an .ens file--the Zotero beta had mapped fields internally to allow .ens files to be used independently of CSL (but even this feature has been disabled in the trunk). Zotero thought about copyright issues surrounding this feature and came to the right decision--not to distribute .ens files or .csl files derived from .ens files, but to retain the feature to work with user-provided .ens files (similar to the way OpenOffice.org can open and save MS Office files).

I have decided not to purchase EndNote and I am asking my employer to do the same, unless the suit is dropped. I intend to donate at least as much as an EndNote license costs to George Mason University, the Software Freedom Law Center, the Electronic Frontier Foundation or any other applicable entity that both defends Zotero in this case and solicits donations. (I don't know any organization who has stepped in on this case yet, but I imagine that one of these organizations can provide some sort of legal support in the future.)

I encourage you to stop purchasing Thomson products too. There are plenty of reference managers for all platforms (some proprietary, some free/open source) that you can choose instead, not the least of which is Zotero.

Disclaimer: I am a developer of refbase, a free and open source reference manager that might be seen to compete with Thomson Reuters's EndNoteWeb. I have and continue to use many reference managers. While I have many technical complaints about the EndNote products, they aren't the worst technical products. Thomson may be the worst socially, though--in addition to inane and baseless lawsuits, they are very slow to respond to general feedback.

more than 6 years ago
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Thomson Reuters Sues Over Open-Source Endnote-Alike Zotero

Noksagt Re:LaTeX + BibTeX? (181 comments)

Both EndNote and Zotero can export BibTeX. Zotero can import BibTeX and you can transform BibTeX into a file format that EndNote can import.

Reference management software normally provides more than a single BibTeX file does--it can retrieve citation information in a way that is faster/easier than "wget http://some_publisher/some_journal/some_volume/some_paper/import.bib && cat import.bib >> bibtex_file.bib" (and can convert it if that site has no native BibTeX file. Zotero can index attached PDFs for full-text searching. It has much better support for UTF-8. You can easily give your bibliography to others who don't use BibTeX. You can store your notes and highlights on articles in your database. There are a ton of other features too.

BibTeX is a good (if somewhat dusty) file format that I use often. It is not the sole solution to reference management.

more than 6 years ago
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Thomson Reuters Sues Over Open-Source Endnote-Alike Zotero

Noksagt On donations (181 comments)

That is fair. And my zealousness hasn't made me write a check to the Commonwealth of Virginia. To be honest, I don't know what VA will do with this case or how the trial will work. VA is being sued simply because GMU is a state university. Will they really have a "blank check" (e.g. as many tax-payer funds that are needed) to defend this with any external counsel and experts that they wish to employ?

more than 6 years ago
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Open Source Licenses For Academic Work?

Noksagt I have been there: just use a standard license. (173 comments)

Just pick a standard OSI license, tell people who want to cite it how they can, and trust that it will work out. Don't try to force people to use your software in any peculiar way, even if that way does not seem "evil."

I asked a related question here several years ago. I have completed my schooling and released some open source software, some of which has been used and cited.

Copyright licenses generally protect holders from having others distribute their works in a way that they do not want. They do not place many restrictions on how the legally obtained work can be used. You might be able to use an end user license agreement that attempts to mandate citation & worse restrictions (such as not being able to publish software benchmarks) have certainly been imposed. Some authors even mandate registration before others can receive the source code & can then see who may be using but not citing their software. But I think this may actually be counterproductive & it certainly wouldn't be considered free software.

Academic integrity necessitates describing your work accurately in such a way that others can reproduce it. To do this, others will need to say what software they used to obtain the results they publish & they should choose to cite you. This won't always happen, but it will probably happen more frequently than you or your advisor think. It is certainly valid to write or call other academics who you know use your program and ask that they cite your paper in the future. In extreme situations, you can send a note to the editor of the journal that considers such papers that didn't cite your work & most editors will err on the side of strongly encouraging authors to add a citation.

Most other free/open source software that is used a lot in the sciences does not have a EULA of the type you subscribe, yet many are popular & are cited. They may have a FAQ entry or a mention in their README on what should be cited, but they don't try to make it legally binding.

You should ask yourself why you want to release it as free and open source software. Presumably, you hope that others will use it (obscurity is a worse threat than piracy) & maybe even to help you improve it. You also probably want to obtain some kind of academic prestige (which can come not only in the form of citation, but also from name recognition of both the program and the authors of that software). The best way to get this to happen is to write a solid piece of work that can do something that other works that cost (financially, time invested, and responsibilities involved) the same or less can't do as well and that other people want to do. Use a standard FSF/DFSG/OSI license (such as the GPL) & trust that everything else will work out. Getting quirky will discourage use of your software.

more than 6 years ago

Submissions

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Thomson Reuters (Endnote) Sues Open Source Zotero

Noksagt Noksagt writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Noksagt writes "Thomson Reuters, the owner of the Endnote reference management software, has filed a $10 million lawsuit and a request for injunction against the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia's George Mason University develops Zotero, a free and open source plugin to Mozilla Firefox that researchers may use to manage citations. Thomson alleges that GMU's Center for History and New Media reversed engineered Endnote and that the beta version of Zotero can convert (in violation of the Endnote EULA) the proprietary style files that are used by Endnote to format citations into the open CSL file format."
Link to Original Source
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Noksagt Noksagt writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Noksagt writes "Mozilla has asked Debian GNU/Linux to discontinue using "Mozilla Firefox" as the name for the browser included in Debian due to the way it has been patched. Due to the copyrights on Mozilla logos, some Linux distributions have been excluding the images in favor of the generic image (a blue globe without the orange firefox). However, Mozilla is now demanding that the logo be used with the trdademarked browser name. Debian developers are now considering a namechange again Will it become Iceweasel?"
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Noksagt Noksagt writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Noksagt writes "FreeDOS 1.0 has been released only a little bit later than originally planned. The 1.0 milestone is considered to be "a stable and viable MS-DOS replacement" and features long filename support, HIMEM and EMM386 management, and CD-ROM support."

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