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Magical Thinking Is Good For You

SanityInAnarchy Re:Confusing symptom with cause? (467 comments)

This isn't what I was disputing. I was disputing the claim that paranoia is good for you, therefore religion is good for you.

more than 2 years ago

Magical Thinking Is Good For You

SanityInAnarchy Confusing symptom with cause? (467 comments)

What I'm hearing is "Paranoia is good for you, and magical thinking is a symptom of paranoia." But then, the magical thinking itself isn't good for you, but a symptom of paranoia. If you can be sufficiently paranoid without having weird beliefs other than the paranoia itself, you should be able to get all the benefits without all the bullshit.

Even this is a stronger statement than the article claims -- it's saying paranoia was *once* good for you. It seems very possible that this whole mechanism of religion, ultimately founded on paraonia, may be a vestigial construct.

more than 2 years ago

Technical Details Behind the LAN-Party Optimized House

SanityInAnarchy Re:How well does that perform? (123 comments)

Why not?

Modern games aren't bottlenecked at the disk. Even if they were, the bottleneck then becomes the network, since it's been read from disk into RAM at this point. But try it -- next time you fire up a modern game, when it's attempting to load a level, watch the hard drive light. Usually it flickers from time to time. Then fire up Defrag or something, which you *know* will generate a lot of disk activity, and compare.

And that's just loading. Once it's loaded, it's in RAM. The disk is just a nice big place to dump savegames and screenshots.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn this is partly because of consoles. There just isn't that much guaranteed bandwidth from those optical disks -- certainly not more than there is over a Gigabit network.

more than 3 years ago

The Condescending UI

SanityInAnarchy Some good points were made... (980 comments)

...but it very quickly becomes reactionary. For example:

Like the ubiquitous drop shadow. "Did you know that *this* window is on top of *this* window?" it whispers to me, endlessly.

This is actually useful. Compare to, say, window borders. "Did you know the stuff over *here* is in *this* window, and the stuff over *there* is in *that* window?" People can, and do, get by with window managers which draw smaller borders (one pixel around the edge with a few-pixel-thick bar at the bottom, say), or even none at all.

The point of drop shadows isn't that you're some little baby who might forget, but that it's actually helpful to realize, at a subconscious level, which window is on top of which, and where the boundaries are. It's optimizing for how your brain works, so you can be *faster.* Many of these effects can be turned off, even on OS X, but the drop shadow is one of a few which don't realistically obstruct you (it's dimming a few pixels out of a gigantic display; I have room to spare), and do actually make you faster.

I use a commandline, and I hate wizards as much as this guy does, but this could be such a better article without its get-off-my-lawn stubborn-ness.

more than 3 years ago

Are You Better At Math Than a 4th (or 10th) Grader?

SanityInAnarchy Re:Summary is a little misleading (845 comments)

From TFA:

"I help oversee an organization with 22,000 employees and a $3 billion operations and capital budget, and am able to make sense of complex data related to those responsibilities."

And he couldn't answer a single question right. How much do they learn between eighth and tenth grade? Is it actually likely that the eighth-grade one is something we should all expect to get perfect on in less time than it takes to write a post about, but the tenth-grade one is so hard that a reasonable person couldn't be expected to get a single question right?

My guess is tat this guy is not able to make sense of complex data. You are

more than 3 years ago

$350 Hardware Cracks HDMI Copy Protection

SanityInAnarchy HDCP, not HDMI (161 comments)

Even the summary gets this right.

This is about HDCP, which exists on both HDMI and DVI. I wouldn't be surprised to find something similar on DisplayPort.

This is not about HDMI, which can deliver an unencrypted video signal, just as DVI can.

Honestly, this makes about as much sense as saying "Reverse engineers crack ethernet copy protection" when talking about Ubisoft's DRM.

more than 3 years ago

Google Upgrades WebP To Challenge PNG Image Format

SanityInAnarchy Re:NIH (249 comments)

most sites won't bother with multiple image compression formats,

Really? I'd think sites would enjoy a 50% reduction in bandwidth in supported browsers, even if they don't get it for IE.

more than 3 years ago

Researchers Locate Flaw In Bitcoin Protocol

SanityInAnarchy I think it'd be depressing. (191 comments)

I mean, I'd love to be working on this stuff, but Microsoft so rarely does anything with it other than hold onto it in case they might someday do something with it.

I'd much rather work for a company which does less cool things which actually stand a chance of either making it to market or being released as open source.

more than 3 years ago

No Charges For Child-Whipping Judge Caught On YouTube

SanityInAnarchy Re:Child? (948 comments)

it isn't child abuse unless it leaves a mark.

You know what doesn't leave a mark? Waterboarding.

If there are physical marks on your body, yeah, that's a sign of abuse of some sort -- though you still want to make sure it looks like actual abuse, and not some normal bumps and scrapes.

But if that's the metric, abusers will find a way to inflict maximum pain without leaving a mark.

My parents would beat the shit out of me if I ever stepped out of line and I still didn't turn into a sociopath.

I hope you're not implying that this makes your abuse ok. I mean, great, you've moved past it, but just because someone else was less abused than you doesn't mean it's not abuse.

It teaches the child that there are consequences to his actions.

There are ways to do this without laying a finger on them. "Grounding" is the traditional one. Or confiscating the stuff they care about -- I was a geek, so to discipline me, they'd take my computer.

If the child really has nothing they value that you can take, that says something about you as a parent -- why don't they value anything you have the authority to take away? Have you not given them things they'd be attached to?

And if you don't know what's going to work well, then you really ought to spend more time with your kid.

What's more, physical violence doesn't necessarily teach them that there are consequences to their actions -- after all, no one ever hurts you in their presence. No, maybe it teaches them that might makes right -- that when they're big enough, they can get their way by telling you what to do, and beating you if you don't do it. It may be that you're not in their life when they realize this, but someone else is...

Everyone needs to stop pushing their values on other people and telling them how to raise their kids.

That's not what this is about.

If you're right and this isn't abuse, then you're right, and that applies to everything I just said. I'll gladly tell people how I think they should raise their kids, but I won't try to enact legislation to enforce that.

But if it is abuse, that's a category of things we do interfere, and I hope you agree that this is a Good Thing.

more than 3 years ago

Theologian Attempts Censorship After Losing Public Debate

SanityInAnarchy Re:Fundies just can't stand the heat (943 comments)

Given that everyone can see that the sun gives us light, and
if man were to invent a creation story it would be most natural to create the sun first.

Nope, everyone can see that the sun is very bright and exists in the day. It's not immediately obvious that it's the only source of light -- in fact, the entire sky is lit up by the sun. So if man were to invent a creation story, he might imagine first that there was a light sky and a dark sky, and that the sun and stars were added afterwards.

It is somewhat poetic that this lines up with our current understanding of the Big Bang. The first thing that emerges from the Big Bang is raw energy, which could be thought of as light (though I'm not sure whether it actually is), and that light is how we know it happened (cosmic background radiation -- EM waves, like light, but in a different spectrum). But this seems like blind luck, honestly. Had the story said that the Sun and the stars were created, and then light, this would be almost as consistent with how we understand the universe (though the Sun wasn't among the first stars created).

Given that it would require a deity to create light, then give it a direction, then give it a source, and
such an order of events would be necessary for stars to be visible in a young universe.

We currently know ways of creating light which do not require a deity -- just flip a light switch. Isn't it reasonable to suppose that, even in a young universe, light could be created in a way which we don't currently understand, but does not require a deity?

And all of this does nothing to explain the concepts of day and night existing before the Sun. It's not just light. It's God calling the light Day and dividing it from Night.

more than 3 years ago

Theologian Attempts Censorship After Losing Public Debate

SanityInAnarchy Re:Fundies just can't stand the heat (943 comments)

The six thousand year number isn't really in there. People made it up by adding together ages of biblical figures. If you read a economics textbook in a similiar screwed way you could get the idea that ice on the beach is likely $100.

What, exactly, is screwed up about that? Are you suggesting that some of these biblical figures never existed, or that the lineage given is incorrect? These present similar problems.

But "Euclid's Elements" sucks as a math textbook, too. But that doesn't mean it is wrong.

Interesting you should mention that. Didn't Euclid have a ton of incorrect proofs of correct intuitions? But we know they are correct because we went back and actually proved them correct, which means there's now a body of literature which is superior to that of Euclid.

Various schools of theology give different answers to that question. You can hear their arguments and decide for yourself if they convince you or not.

I've heard several arguments, none convincing. The best is that we can examine the Biblical text carefully and find that there are things which are meant literally and things which are meant figuratively -- for example, if I talk about the sun rising tomorrow, of course we both know that I actually mean what appears to be the sun rising, but is actually the sun becoming visible as the earth rotates.

The problem is that there doesn't seem to be consensus about which parts are literal and which parts are allegorical.

more than 3 years ago

10k Raspberry Pi Units Available In December

SanityInAnarchy Re:Obligatory question (123 comments)

How the fuck was it easier to write a comment than to fucking Google it? And how is there always some asshat who does this every single story?

more than 3 years ago

Theologian Attempts Censorship After Losing Public Debate

SanityInAnarchy Re:Fundies just can't stand the heat (943 comments)

If you find a error in a textbook, would that cause you to loose all trust in its whole content?

Well, if the 'six thousand year' part is correct, then it's off by a factor of almost a million. If I found an economics textbook which claimed that the median annual income in the US was just under five cents, I'd get a new economics textbook, yeah. Kind of an important number to get right, and kind of a ludicrous amount to be off by.

Also: The hebrew word used for day in the genesis story can be translated to both "day" and "time span".

Night and day are made in one time span. The Sun is made in a later time span. The order is completely off, both in the multiple genesis stories, and with regard to what we know about the universe.

Is that even a error or isn't it just a completely wrong way to understand a biblical text? Most of time literal interpretation seems to completely miss the point.

If I can't interpret my economics textbook literally, it sucks as a textbook.

If it's not supposed to be a hard science textbook, but if it's meant to be read as poetry and metaphor, then how do I know what's true and what's not? Maybe Jesus didn't literally exist. Maybe he was a metaphor for generosity, self-sacrifice, death, and renewal. Though if he's supposed to be about sacrifice, sorry, Prometheus has him beat.

more than 3 years ago

The White House Responds To We the People Petition

SanityInAnarchy Re:Answers actually quite revealing (920 comments)

That you have an Office for Faith-Based Partnerships is telling. Church and State are hardly separate when they are in a partnership.

There's more to it than that. This asshat is a minister. He got a fucking minister to respond from the fucking white house to a petition for increased separation of church and state.

Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation - context matters.

He's quoting Obama here. Frankly, I would think Obama would agree that there is a difference between a mention in public and the mandatory pledge of allegiance requiring children to pledge allegiance to one nation under God.

Reading the rest of it is just getting creepier by the minute:

These phrases represent the important role religion plays in American public life...

The role religion plays in American life is that America is considered to be one nation under God? I mean, that pretty much directly contradicts the other Obama quote he mentions:

We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers.

Right. As such, why the fuck would you have us pledge allegiance to the Christian God (or, if you like, the Jewish God) while ignoring the rights of children of other faiths or of no faith to not pledge to a being they don't believe in?

We're proud of that heritage...

The heritage of the McCarthy era? Are you sure?

Holy shit. This guy -- either Joshua DuBois, or Obama if he agrees with this shit -- needs to be out on his ass tomorrow. Those are not the words of a free country. Those are the words of a theocracy, complete with this doublespeak:

Our nation's Bill of Rights guarantees not only that the government cannot establish an official religion, but also guarantees citizens' rights to practice the religion of their choosing or no religion at all.

Except, of course, when swearing in to testify, when paying with cash, or when going to school. Then, you're free to practice any monotheistic religion that happens to be compatible with "One nation under God," or "In God we trust."

If he actually believes the first part of his letter, he needs to read some history, and then he needs to go talk to Obama about how "E Pluribus Unum" would be a better and more traditional national motto to put on our currency, and how we really shouldn't have a pledge of allegiance in the first place.

more than 3 years ago

Web Apps Language Opa Gets a Web-Based IDE

SanityInAnarchy Re:Why not JavaScript? (83 comments)

JavaScript can handle Erlang-esque messaging, it just gets ugly with having to use callbacks and closures for everything. There are projects which fix this without building a whole new language.

What does static type analysis have to do with anything?

more than 3 years ago

Web Apps Language Opa Gets a Web-Based IDE

SanityInAnarchy Why not JavaScript? (83 comments)

I get the conceptual framework of deploying a single "binary" to everything.

Here's what I don't get: Why invent a new language, bound to a framework and to a specific target application, rather than adapting an existing language to the task? What can I do with Opa that I can't with JavaScript?

more than 3 years ago

The Kindle is Getting Support For HTML5

SanityInAnarchy Re:Real SWF - HTML5 Converter (123 comments)

Macromedia/Adobe got/gets designers, and too many people don't realise that.

Even assuming this is entirely correct, Adobe is planning to produce authoring tools for HTML5 directly. As for existing content...

You may not be interested in it, but there are some gems buried in NewGrounds along with all the crap.

NewGrounds is hardly the reason Flash won't die. If it was just Newgrounds, well, hey, there are some gems buried in platform-specific native game binaries -- and not all of these are Windows, mind you, there are some real gems which ran on Mac OS 9. It's an issue, but it's not a point against moving forward to a viable replacement -- especially something like HTML, which is going to be a hello f a lot more future-proof than Flash.

Flash will die, and this kind of creative content will die with it until a new challenger appears; or more likely, Flash will just refuse to dies, and the geek elite just won't understand why.

So, of this, option one is a lot more likely. Flash refuses to die right now largely because of video, and it's being steadily replaced there. There are a few niche places where Flash can still do things HTML5 can't -- right now, audio strikes me as most likely, and even that is being addressed -- but it will eventually die.

In the mean time...

None of the other solutions are accessible to designer types the way Flash is.

If you're more than a one-man Newgrounds operation, it doesn't actually matter that much. You know what designers are good at? Designing. There's a reason Flash has a reputation for being slow and buggy as hell, a constant CPU drain, etc. Some of this is Flash's own fault, I'm sure, and I can back this up by comparing YouTube's performance with Flash versus any native player on the same video file. Most of it is enabling designers to attempt to program, with similar results to enabling executives to attempt to program in Excel.

The same tools will eventually come to HTML5, and I'm alright with that. Please don't take this as an elitist stance of, "Leave programming to the professionals." All I'm saying is that if the existing stuff isn't accessible to you, some of that is because it's overly complex, but a lot of it is because you aren't a programmer. There's no reason you couldn't be, and many designers do make that leap (or simply team up with a programmer). But you do have to invest some time in learning something about how computers actually think.

To put it another way, I don't think I would be taken seriously if I attempted to do serious design work with MS Paint. There are tools which let me easily throw together a comic, but I don't think this compares with this or this. These aren't the best examples of either, but honestly, if the ragecomics went up in smoke, I really couldn't care. That's kind of how I feel about Flash, especially when it's used by designers.

If you're neither willing to learn some real programming or work with a real programmer, then I'm not sure I will miss the loss of your content. If you are willing to do either, then I have to imagine that Flash vs HTML5 isn't a huge issue.

more than 3 years ago

Richard Stallman's Dissenting View of Steve Jobs

SanityInAnarchy Re:Stallman and FOSS (1452 comments)

And let's put emotions aside.


Well, not entirely. I've noticed your signature for awhile, and I agree wholeheartedly with that! Planning to do something like that the next time I build a website myself.

There are no absolutes when it comes to good and bad, it is all dependent on your point of view.

Maybe. I agree, but a moral objectivist would disagree.

However, a battered wife *is* a bad thing, and by this I mean that it is universally recognized as being a bad thing.

Well, not universally, but...

I am talking about western culture (say, north america and western Europe) which is the only culture I really know.

Mostly. There are certainly subcultures who disagree, but I would agree with your premise, and I'd even apply it beyond that -- while it is not recognized by most islamic countries as a bad thing, I would argue that it is still a bad thing there.

So, a battered wife could be made to believe she deserves what she gets. This is for me nothing else than a form of indoctrination, much like you can make people believe it's a good idea to hijack a plane and crash it into a tower. I don't know how it works...

As an armchair psychologist, I'd guess Stockholm syndrome at least, probably coupled with low self-esteem. Even when they get out of these relationships, these women will internalize the abuse to the point that they will subconsciously seek out abusers, and end up in another abusive relationship. At least, that's my best guess as to why battered wives tend to go from one abusive relationship to the next, while there are many women who will never be abused at all.

Note that I'm not trying to place the blame with the victim here. I'm only pointing out that this cycle exists, and that if she wants to break the cycle, it's not enough to divorce the abuser, or even to jail him. (Of course, the ideal solution is for the abuser to stop abusing...)

Buying a phone with a walled-garden type app store *is not* considered to be a bad thing by most people.

I think the point you continue to miss here is that the analogy is not that it is bad for a person to buy a phone. To stretch the analogy further, that would be blaming the victim. It is not the wife's fault she got hurt, even if she "should've known" that the husband was going to hurt her.

Your point is a good one, but you probably want to word it like this:

Selling a phone with a walled-garden type app store *is not* considered to be a bad thing by most people.

Still, that's a weaker point, because I do consider it to be a bad thing, and I'm not the only one. I can also offer an actual argument for this, and I think it's a good argument. I certainly wouldn't argue that it should be a legal matter -- Apple should be allowed to sell iPhones -- I just think they are morally wrong to do so.

One reason I think this is that it is Apple's goal -- they've made no secret of this -- to expand this model everywhere they can. Macs now include an App Store, though they also allow (for now) traditional apps to be installed by third parties. The iPad was an entry into the tablet space, which was previously occupied mostly by machines running a full desktop version of Windows.

And because they do so well with this model, others follow suit. The next version of desktop Windows will include a mode with an exclusive app store. It's really looking like, in the very near future, general-purpose computers on which I can download an app from anywhere (or program my own) will be expensive hobbyist items, and the computers everyone uses every day will only be able to run approved apps.

And even by explaining to people what exactly happens into the App Store (namely the approval process and the mandatory status of said process in order to get into the store), you'll realize that many people find that as being an *interesting* thing. Something of value.

Try also explaining to them that such apps are often heavily censored -- that there are legitimate apps and games that people have wanted to use, which Apple has blocked, or which phone manufacturers have blocked. That the approval process is fundamentally broken, even for apps that do meet approval. That an app may have a serious bug or security vulnerability, and you might bother the developer for months without a real response, and the poor developer patched it five minutes after you told them about it, but it has to get through Apple's approval process before it gets to you.

That a developer might spend months or years of their life developing an app, only to have it rejected because Apple changed the rules, and it's not an easy fix for them, because Apple has decided that they may not use the same programming language! They have no option but to rewrite it from the ground up in an approved language, assuming Apple doesn't change the approved list again.

I'm not making this up. All of these things have happened, though Apple has eased back on some of them.

Finally, explain to them that there exist devices which have an app store with an approval process, but which allow you to, occasionally, bypass that process. Devices which give them choice. Most people like that idea, though of course, they'll care more about whether it runs Angry Birds...

And I'm not making this up, either. I've actually explained all of the above to non-technical people, and very few of them have told me that they still think the App Store is a good thing. The most memorable one was, in fact, likely trolling me.

Indeed, I consider the walled-garden app store a service with added value over the Google app store where anyone with a PC and 30 minutes to waste can write a piece of crap and get it into the store.

That is a problem, but it's a solvable problem. Having an app store be properly curated is not a bad thing. Having it be mandatory, is.

So in my view, this is why you fail in your analogy, because you're trying to generalize the fact that Apple's walled garden is a bad thing - by comparing it to something universally bad -, when it is not.

I think the good point hiding in here is that the wife in question is someone we would pretty much universally classify as a victim, and the action as a personal harm. My objections to the App Store are less about what it does to individual people (such as developers) and more about what it does, or is attempting to do, to the software world as a whole.

So, I still maintain that the App Store is universally bad, but it is not that sort of direct, personal harm.

And you're right, it is disputed. If it wasn't disputed, we wouldn't be having this conversation. But when I describe an action as wrong, I don't think that whether it actually is or is not wrong is determined by what most people think.

The problem is that the relation to your phone is not abusive. At least, it's not perceived to be an abusive relationship by an overwhelming majority of the people out there.

This is where I suppose I was taking poetic license with the analogy. A phone restricts you, and an abusive husband causes real harm to you. I think the disconnect is less the difference between the restrictions and the real harm, but that most people don't even see the restrictions for what they are, in that they don't see what a phone could be. In that way, they strike me as similar to (warning: inappropriate analogy ahead) women in countries ruled by Shariah law, who don't see what a free life could look like.

But... whoops... now I've compared an oligarchy of cell phone manufacturers to a theocratic totalitarian government. Maybe I should be BadAnalogyGuy.

I think we understand each other a bit better now, and I think I'm probably done with this conversation (partly because, if we're keeping score, you won!) -- so, maybe we can find some common ground in the browser wars? I just launched this list because I couldn't find anything similar (and then immediately found something similar)...

more than 3 years ago

OS X Notifier App Growl Goes Closed Source

SanityInAnarchy Re:New name... (270 comments)

Think of it like LibreOffice. Maybe the version of OpenOffice I had worked "perfectly", but better to switch to LibreOffice than to either deliberately disable autoupdate, or to get updates Oracle has poisoned.

more than 3 years ago

OS X Notifier App Growl Goes Closed Source

SanityInAnarchy New name... (270 comments)


But yes, this is the appropriate response. There apparently is a community who is willing to continue distributing patches. Growl is also useless without applications which use it -- I can't exactly see anyone paying for a notification service without apps, nor can I see an app developer deliberately requiring a proprietary notification service if an open one is available.

more than 3 years ago



Online banking that doesn't suck?

SanityInAnarchy SanityInAnarchy writes  |  more than 5 years ago

SanityInAnarchy writes "My current bank uses yet more wish-it-was-twofactor security — neglecting EV certs and same-domain SSL for a pile of security questions. At this point, PayPal is both more secure (everything is https://www.paypal.com/) and more convenient.

There have to be some banks that get this right — using a physical token (instead of my mother's maiden name), pervasive SSL, and allowing the browser's back button to work. Which ones do Slashdotters use? Preferably something in the US, with US currency..."

SanityInAnarchy SanityInAnarchy writes  |  more than 7 years ago

SanityInAnarchy writes "We all remember Steve Jobs' blog entry calling for a world without DRM. DefectiveByDesign is sending him an open letter suggesting that he show us how serious he is. From the article:

You can set the ethical example and be the first "major" to drop DRM, by freeing independent artists.... You can set the example in the arena of video and movies. Disney can be the first "major" to drop DRM. You have the direct power to do this.
You can sign the letter as a petition. Their goal is 1000 signatures by April 1."



Where is there decent Internet?

SanityInAnarchy SanityInAnarchy writes  |  more than 5 years ago

A few of you have often noticed my signature, in which I mentioned that my current ISP offers 100 mbit fiber-to-the-home for $65/mo, no installation fee. Recently, I've discovered that while they do not filter, they do have a 20 gig/mo cap, alongside a vague policy about "more than five hours of video per week".

Of course, they sell a TV service, also. I would bet that is where this limit is coming from -- to prevent YouTube, Netflix, etc, from competing with Lisco TV.

Being unemployed, and as this is a small town, I would not mind relocating to find a job. The question is, where to? Is there anywhere which has similarly priced Internet, unthrottled, and uncapped -- or at least, with a significantly higher cap? (Alright, there's Japan. Anywhere in the US?)


Open letter to EA (and other publishers)

SanityInAnarchy SanityInAnarchy writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Obligatory, pre-emptive MFD strip -- I know it's unlikely anyone from EA will read this. But I'm not the only one, I hope.

I live in a small town, with low cost of living. I'm single. I make a reasonable wage, so I have a ton of disposable income.

I'm a computer professional and enthusiast. I tend to spend a decent amount on hardware, and I do game. I also tend to download custom mods and such, even toy with level design from time to time -- in other words, I take full advantage of the fact that I'm on a PC, and not a console.

Now, I could tolerate most games being Windows only -- I don't have to like it, but I tolerate it. After all, I can always put it in a virtual machine, and even if I'm running it on the bare metal for performance, I don't game 100% of the time, and I generally don't do anything else when I'm gaming.

You have lost me as a customer because of DRM.

I'm not just talking about Spore.

I'm not fanatical about this. I happily buy Valve games over Steam, play them on Windows, and spend money to do so. I'll jump on anything decent coming through Penny Arcade's Greenhouse project. I play an MMO -- that means I pay a monthly fee, I have to use their software, and they can pretty much terminate my account whenever they want.

I want to give you money.

Here's what you did, in response to Spore -- and in your next game, apparently, not in Spore itself:

  - You upped the number of allowed installations from three to five. Some of us have more than five reinstalls per month.

  - You removed the need for the game to stay online -- that's only needed during activation. I'm sure some users are grateful -- but these users likely see it as exactly as small a gesture as increasing the number of installs. Why force them to be online in the first place?

  - You removed the CD copy protection. I haven't bought a game in years that used CD copy protection. What took you so long?

Here's what else is still a problem, for me:

  - Blacklisted programs. Daemon Tools, among other things -- it has legitimate uses other than piracy. I should be able to run whatever software I want on my machine -- it's mine, after all.

  - Reputation. SecuROM is widely known as the worst, and it isn't getting better. Many people report that it has trashed their system. Why should I trust it this time?

The freedom to do what I want, how I want, without having to solder things, is why I'm a PC gamer in the first place. DRM, by its very nature, limits that.

That's the damage. Here's the impact:

Your DRM, in the long run, does nothing to secure your product. Spore is one of the most widely pirated games ever, despite everything you did to inconvenience legitimate users. A skilled cracker can defeat all of these measures relatively quickly -- sometimes before the game is even released.

And that's the choice it has come to.

I want to play Mirror's Edge, badly. If there's ever a version of it for the PC, I've got money in hand to buy it, and a new computer, and a controller if needed -- I'm not sure how well the unique movement would map to a mouse, but maybe it will.

If Mirror's Edge comes, say, as a Steam game -- not like Bioshock, but actually just a Steam game, with no additional protection -- I'd buy it in a heartbeat. On opening day. Make it DRM-free, and I'll consider preordering.

If it comes with anywhere near the level of DRM you're currently requiring for Spore, even this "relaxed" version, I will head over to the nearest torrent site and download a copy. I have plenty of money to spend, yes, but not plenty of time to waste proving that I own something.

And I am not the only one who feels this way. Keep in mind: An unprecedented number of people gave Spore a low rating on Amazon because of its DRM. An unprecedented number of people have pirated Spore, mostly via torrent. Coincidence?


Of Saphir and Whorf

SanityInAnarchy SanityInAnarchy writes  |  more than 6 years ago

I think I finally "get" Web 2.0.

It occurred to me when I started talking about The Cloud -- both loving the idea, and hating myself for using such an obvious buzzword. But I think I get it now.

It's about language.

Read 1984. And read about the Saphir-Whorf hypothesis. Maybe you'll see it, too -- our use of language has a profound impact on how we see the world.

There was a great story about how, when Europeans first came to America, some of the natives actually couldn't see the ships, because it was like nothing they'd ever seen before. They didn't have a word, or a frame of reference, for the huge cloud-like things they saw on the horizon -- so they just didn't see them.

I kind of doubt that story is true, but I do think it applies. How long did dynamic websites exist, with the ability for users to alter content, and no one "got it", until we started calling it "Web 2.0"? How long did virtualization exist -- how long did CPU-power-on-demand services exist -- and, while there was some buzz about virtualization, no one really got it until we started calling it The Cloud.

This isn't new -- it's existed, really, as long as abstract concepts have existed, because language is the medium through which we understand and communicate abstract concepts. For an obvious-example, take "Pro-Choice" vs "Abortionist" (or "Baby-Killer!"), and "Pro-Life" vs "Anti-Abortionist" (or "Woman-Hater!"). Quite often, people make the mistake of using the opposition's language in their argument, trying to show its flaws, but really, that only strengthens their argument. Who really wants to argue against choice, or life?

It's not always a good thing, and we should not always embrace new language. But neither should we be so quick to dismiss it as a "buzzword" -- after all, the Internet itself is perhaps the godfather of the modern buzzword. What we're really talking about is just another network -- which is really just a bunch of computers with wires running between them -- but now that we know it's something called "The Internet", our view changes, and it really becomes a world-changing phenomenon.

Understand: Not just appears to be, or appears to become. A random network of computers cannot change the world. The Internet can and has.

I now understand why RMS and friends insist on calling it "GNU/Linux", though I still don't agree with it. But you see... RMS understands the power of language.

(Edit: This could probably be applied to Memetic Engineering, if we ever implement that concept. The Anti-Meme would have to be very clearly defined in language for it to work.)



SanityInAnarchy SanityInAnarchy writes  |  more than 6 years ago

I occasionally read the Bible. Never all at once, just interesting pieces with which to frighten door-to-door evangelists. I love finding little pieces with which to end a conversation, and put the believer completely on the defensive -- "Seriously, you believe in stoning rape victims? For being raped? Jesus says you have to..."

I've got a brand new one, though, to end conversations about the importance of religion, or the definition of religion. I'm talking, of course, about Scientology.

Well, that or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or the Invisible Pink Unicorn, but reductio ad absurdum works so much better when you can actually point to said absurdity in the real world. There is actually a large and vocal group out there which believes an evil emperor named Xenu sent aliens called Thetans to earth on DC-8s (which fly through space), and then nuked them in volcanoes.

Note to religious people: Yes, I do think it's stupid of you to believe in religion. Understand two things:

First, it doesn't mean I think you're stupid. Smart people do stupid things.

Second, I won't attack you for it. I'm a bit trigger-happy with my atheism, but still, if you don't bring it up, I won't. It's a bit like homosexuality -- I really don't care what you do in bed (or elsewhere), or who you do it with. It only becomes a problem if you start hitting on me -- or evangelizing to me.


My signature

SanityInAnarchy SanityInAnarchy writes  |  about 7 years ago

For awhile, I've had this signature:

DRM? Trusted Computing? Fine, but not with my code.

I do start to feel like a hypocrite looking at that. After all, I'm now working as an HD-DVD developer, making quite a bit of money, enjoying what I do, and not at all close to wanting to quit in outrage about the DRM.

But while I don't have to deal with DRM every day, I do have to deal with it often enough. While I have not personally written any code that does DRM, all my code will eventually be DRM'd on-disc, and one of my co-workers has, in fact, written some utilities to manage AACS stuff.

And, in general, I still feel that DRM is useless and should not be done, but I also have seen it done in ways that aren't really that bad, and even seen some things which benefit the consumer. Steam, for example, allows me to download the same game (unless it's Bioshock) anywhere I want to, anytime, so long as I remember my password and only log in at one place at a time. (So that's one download and/or game being played at a time.)

Steam is actually an example of "not that bad", as everything they do which benefits the consumer, they could've done without DRM. No, an example of something which benefits the consumer are the "music rental" services. After you get to a certain amount of music, it just makes more sense, financially, to simply rent your music rather than buy it. If the service goes away, and the DRM isn't cracked, then yes, you lose a bunch of music -- so you join another service and download the same music again.

I prefer to own my music, but I'm a bit of a fanatic.

So, while most days I'd rather see DRM go away forever, this signature is starting to be a bit hypocritical. After all, DRM is being done with my code, and most of what I write is not GPL'd.

So why do I have it?

Simple: Since I started using this signature, I've seen almost none of the retarded arguments against GPLv3 -- the arguments which talk about the GPL being used to attack DRM, that it's overstepping its bounds as a software license and attacking hardware... Whatever.

Because this statement makes all of those arguments go away. Licensing software under the GPLv3 is not directly attacking DRM, it's not even saying that you hate DRM and want to abolish it. It's simply saying that you may not use it with this code.

People point to the TiVo as an example -- shouldn't I want to license my software such that people can make cool stuff like the TiVo? Well, why should I, unless I'm getting a cut? It's simple: TiVo can either have my code for free, on my terms, or they can go somewhere else. There's plenty of GPLv2 or even BSD-licensed stuff they could have for free, or they could buy some commercial software -- maybe even from me.

I don't see that as inconsistent with what I do for a living, but this whole essay doesn't exactly fit in a signature. So I am posting a consistent position here:

I don't like DRM, and I don't like closed software that I don't have access to. Therefore, software which I release for free will have no part in this. If you're willing to pay me a living wage to develop software, I will develop pretty much whatever you want, so long as it's not wholly unethical (I won't write Lotus Notes for your Killbot). But if I release something as free and open, it's probably because I intend for it to stay that way.

So, if you have a problem with me using the GPLv3, either hire me or use somebody else's code.


Good ISPs?

SanityInAnarchy SanityInAnarchy writes  |  more than 7 years ago

I live in a small town in Iowa. An ISP here is offering fiber to the home for $60/mo, free installation. That's 100 mbits, and they do support net neutrality -- meaning that if they can't build enough bandwidth to support everyone on YouTube (or BitTorrent), they'll simply move to a metered model, but apparently they don't have to yet.

We spend enough time talking about the ISPs we hate -- which ones do we love? Anywhere else with fast, cheap, neutral Internet?


Cheap hardware for home/theater automation?

SanityInAnarchy SanityInAnarchy writes  |  more than 7 years ago I've got a server in my house, which always stays on. I can use cron and WakeOnLAN to wake my desktop, and with a bit of hacking, I can probably feed KOrganizer reminders from my desktop into the server's cron, and set my desktop to do something once booted, such as play some loud music. The one missing component is speakers -- how can I turn them on programmatically? (Thinking programmable power strip here.) Even better, are there some cheap, decent-sounding speakers I could get which can be entirely software-controlled, including volume and forceably switching to speakers, even if I leave my headphones plugged in?


Memetic Engineering

SanityInAnarchy SanityInAnarchy writes  |  more than 8 years ago

I've heard quite a bit about frightening memes lately, particularly neo-conservative astroturfing. It's become pervasive enough that Occam's Razor tells me that it can't be wholly astroturf, it must be a successful meme.

I think of myself as mostly immune to memes. By that I mean, it takes more than a catchy slogan or a bit of thought to make me adopt a meme. I'm immune to advertising, peer pressure, etc. And of course I realize it's impossible to be completely immune and still remain human and relevant.

And yet, far too many people aren't even close. I have a good friend who is one of the smartest people I know, and yet he has at least a couple of memes he's accepted and never questioned thoroughly. He thinks very well about them, too, builds on them, and his beliefs are self-consistent, but choosing that memeplex over another is, as Spock would put it, "not logical."

What we need is a powerful immunizing meme. A meme that is more than a fad, that is potent enough to spread as easily as MySpace or emo/anti-emo, but which carries a payload that immunizes against other, similar memes. A meme that tells you to stand up and think for yourself, and to fight for your beliefs, never relax and stop caring.

With people actually thinking for themselves, it should be much easier to accomplish most political goals I share with most people reading this. For instance, a demand for verified voting would be much easier with people actually thinking -- we know they at least claim to care about democracy. Ditto to a boycott of high def media (DRM), a mass exodus from Windows where possible, or voting for the candidate who's actually an honest man, instead of the one who has the most corporations to finance his campaign.

In fact, I think much of my political beliefs can be distilled to a simple and effective meme, but I'm thinking of this like democracy. The original reasons for any democracy could've been solved with a monarchy -- with the American Revolution, we could've done away with the tea tax, stamp act, etc, and still made George Washington King, instead of President. But we chose democracy to make it last, based on the theory (if I may theorize) that if the new government had a flaw, or developed one, democracy would correct it without the need for another revolution.

Same for memes -- if we, as a species, can become fundamentally resistant to being so easily subverted by advertising, politics, astroturfing, and dishonest memes, and develop a habit of thinking for ourselves, and questioning our every assumption, then we get an automatic benefit: If any aspect of our government or society has a flaw, we will correct it, without the need for a massive grassroots, campaign, mememetic engineering, whatever. If the flaw is as blindingly obvious as, say, Diebold, then we will independantly and automatically reject it, Stand-Alone Complex style.

Oh, it won't eliminate the need for these things. People do disagree, so we will need to construct memes or campaigns for, say, Linux vs Windows. Some of you will be on one side, some on another side, each calling the other a fanboy, and that's ok. But I would much prefer an intelligent dialogue than the willful ignorance of the majority.

That is the ultimate goal here: Eliminate ignorant apathy. By the time young John Doe buys his first gas-guzzler, he should be making a definite statement that he doesn't care about the environment. He should not simply buy it by default because he didn't know about hybrid cars. By the time Jane Doe buys her first Dell, she should either be making the statement "I like/need Windows and don't mind supporting MS" or "This is the best value I can get for this kind of hardware." She should not be buying it by default, because Dell advertising has given her a subconscious assumption of "computer==dell". Nothing done by default, or if you do, make sure it's consciously by default: I got the default Ramen because it's not worth my time to choose Ramen flavors, when they taste so much alike.

Comments! I want to know if this can work!


State of the Slashdotter

SanityInAnarchy SanityInAnarchy writes  |  more than 8 years ago

I haven't been here since the beginning, but at 1060 comments, it's really time for me to explore a bit more about Slashdot, such as the social networking bit.

Looking over my own stats, I only have one friend, and I can't remember when I added them. I've also got no foes. I guess I never thought it was worth it to add trolls to that list.

I do have the Profanity Blacklist as a freak, and have for a long time -- what a fucking surprise, that!

What seemed weird to me was, I have no other freaks, and I do have five fans. Seems odd -- either I've been doing pretty well, or I've just kept my head down. I know others have a long list of freaks. I've been looking at that list to try and find some insight as to why these people picked me, and whether I should add them.

There's a very large part of me that wants to ignore the whole thing, and call it something only MySpacers would do, but looking through some of these people, I do find interesting discussions I'd have missed otherwise. I guess it's something to do when I feel like reading Slashdot, but there've been no updates.

Woah. Maybe I'm an addict.

Anyway, no particular point to this exercise, but I've left comments enabled. Drop me a note. And no, this will not be a weblog, but until I decide to get something like that set up, I may as well post Slashdot-related rantings on Slashdot.

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