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GOG Introduces DRM-Free Movie Store

Somebody Is Using My Watermarks? (126 comments)

While they have been true to their word about no DRM, I've always wondered if GOG games (and now movies) have some sort of digital watermark embedded in them so they can track any piracy of their sales back to the source. While this wouldn't be a foolproof method, it probably would catch the more common sort of file-sharing. It doesn't really seem to have any drawbacks for the customer either. If such a watermark does exist, it might make the major studios more willing to consider GOG as a distribution partner.

5 days ago
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New Windows Coming In Late September -- But Which One?

Somebody Is Using My Counterproductive (251 comments)

Microsoft's rush to introduce a new OS every other year or so is a terrible strategy. While I understand the desire to bury the Windows 8 name, that is the only advantage and I'm not sure it is enough to counterbalance the disadvantages.

Microsoft seems to think they need to release a new OS to stay competitive. The thing is, people (with the exception of techies) do not BUY operating systems. They take what is on their computer, be it Windows98 or Windows8. Generally, people do not care about operating systems. Their care that their applications will run, and that their workflow will not be disrupted by a new GUI. Neither of these can be assured if Microsoft keeps pumping out new versions of their OS every few years.

Microsoft has a mistaken belief that they need to reinvent themselves every few years, that it is the chrome that sells their product. They are wrong. It is the 20+ years of backwards compatibility that maintains their dominance on the desktop. Their current strategy is directly threatening their core strength. It may not bring them yearly growth, but when you already have 90% control of the desktop, there really isn't that much to grow into anymore.

Of course, the market /is/ changing. Desktops are no longer the sole computing devices in use by the general public; tablets and smartphones are directly threatening that hegemony. Frequent changes to the core software of the desktop, however, is not going to revitalize the desktop market, however; it will only fragment and weaken it. If sales are declining, it is not because the OS is at fault but because people are buying fewer new computers overall. Microsoft should branch out into new markets with WinRT and WinPhone, sure, but do not do so by cannibalizing their main market.

Microsoft needs to focus on its core strength and not rush new versions to market in vain hopes of recapturing the glory days of the early 2000s. Incremental upgrades, not complete reinventions are the name of the game. Neither end-users nor businesses are clamoring for a Windows 9. Upgrade Windows8 to a usable state (e.g., kill Metro) and then keep it up to date with further upgrades throughout its lifetime. If they keep selling that for ten years they will do fine. Only release a new version of the OS when it is actually necessitated by the technology, not by marketing.

Microsoft, give us a Windows8SE, then live off the OEM sales for five or ten years. Take the time to create a new, stable and well-tested version of Windows instead of rushing into the next Vista or Metro. The users will appreciate having a platform that is not subject to upheaval every other year.

about a week ago
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Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

Somebody Is Using My Re:What's so American (525 comments)

More important than whether a huge corporate site like Google or Netflix can get onto the fast lane(who can afford it as a cost of doing business) is whether smaller users and vendors have that opportunity. If access to the fast lane is only possible by paying large sums of money, then it effectively locks out "the little man" who cannot afford those rates. This effectively changes the Internet from a platform where anybody can put up a site dedicated to his hobby and - if it proves popular - hit it big (sort of like Google started out) to something curated by large corporations, like the rest of the media world. The Internet's great strength is that it gives everybody a voice - and a chance at the brass ring, if that's what they want - and not just those allowed to speak by the media conglomerates.

Without Net Neutrality, the internet would look like CableTV does today: a bunch of channels (websites) run by large corporations, all trending to a common denominatior, with a narrow channel dedicated to "public access" that nobody visits.

about a week ago
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Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released

Somebody Is Using My Re:It all comes down to the OGL (200 comments)

There is no copyright possible on game mechanics, so you can pretty much write your own completely D&D compatible game, with the rules taken straight from D&D (but rephrased, of course, because the actual phrases are copyrighted).

Which, incidentally, has been done for 1st/2nd Edition and, to some degree, with 3rd/3.5th edition.

about two weeks ago
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Your Phone Can Be Snooped On Using Its Gyroscope

Somebody Is Using My Whew! (96 comments)

My phone doesn't have gyroscope, therefore I am safe from people listening in to my conversations.

"Gee boss, we need to spy on this guy! Any ideas how we can do it?
"Well he has a smart phone; maybe we can leverage that to our advantage?"
"Oh, I see what you are getting at; we'll hack the firmware so we can use the oscillations of the GPS to crudely and inaccurately record what he is saying!"
"Actually, I was thinking we might want to use the attached microphone which is, you know, designed to pick up sound..."

about two weeks ago
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Google Expands Safe Browsing To Block Unwanted Downloads

Somebody Is Using My Re:That would include Java then... (106 comments)

On the Windows side, there is one download site that I almost always get my programs from

Since I'm sure others are looking for a trustworthy archive of that sort (I know I am), care to name the one you use?

about three weeks ago
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DARPA Wants To Kill the Password

Somebody Is Using My Re:presumably so... (383 comments)

Also, the various government agencies are increasingly working on gathering and archiving the biometric data of everyone they can. Right now they can collect fingerprints or DNA if you are arrested (and often this information is not purged if you are not convicted); I wouldn't be too surprised if they soon start gathering retina patterns as well. If devices start requiring biometric data over passwords, then the government (and any of their partners, or their employees or anyone who has hacked the database) will have access to anything secured by that data too.

The government can probably get my password too, but at least I can change the password every now and then to make things harder for them. Swapping out my eyeballs doesn't seem as appealing.

about three weeks ago
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CIA Director Brennan Admits He Was Lying: CIA Really Did Spy On Congress

Somebody Is Using My Re:And no one will go to jail - just like bankers! (266 comments)

George W Bush said a lot of things. That doesn't mean what he said was worth listening to.

The attack on the US was not primarily because they "hate our freedoms", although they are radically opposed to many ideals of western culture. Rather, the attack was more motivated by our interference in the Middle East.

If the terrorists were just about "hating freedom", we'd see more attacks on Sweden or Iceland, which share many of the same ideals as the US but are softer targets.

about a month ago
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CIA Director Brennan Admits He Was Lying: CIA Really Did Spy On Congress

Somebody Is Using My Re:Then, Why isn't he being arrested and charged w (266 comments)

Or at the very least fired.

By his own words he has proven himself unfit for that position. Whether or not he has broken laws is for courts to decide and will probably take months - if not years - to play out to its conclusion. But in the mean time, that asshole needs to be removed from his position immediately.

about a month ago
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CIA Director Brennan Admits He Was Lying: CIA Really Did Spy On Congress

Somebody Is Using My Re:And no one will go to jail - just like bankers! (266 comments)

9/11 was the most spectacular win for the authoritarians, because they more or less kicked the foundations out from Western society, and have helped to create the worst form of surveillance state you can imagine.

FTFY

9/11 was a very public strike against the West by the terrorists but it did little to benefit their own goals (in fact, given the increased US involvement and the general unrest in the Middle East it probably pushed back their goals somewhat). We got to the current state of affairs in this country by our own doing, thanks to our own home-grown corruption and power-hungry factions and an apathetic populace.

9/11 may not have been engineered by us, but the people in power certainly took advantage of it when it happened.

about a month ago
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CIA Director Brennan Admits He Was Lying: CIA Really Did Spy On Congress

Somebody Is Using My Re:When will we... (266 comments)

While I agree that it was more than just Berman doing illegal things, I think that by throwing him (and a selection of others) into prison it would send a message to the rest that this sort of activity is not condoned. This will make the rest reconsider taking the same actions.

Right now most people are "just following orders" because there are consequences to not doing so (losing their jobs) and no consequences to disobeying. We need to change that.

So yeah, throw him and his cronies in jail.

about a month ago
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How Gygax Lost Control of TSR and D&D

Somebody Is Using My I still don't get it... (183 comments)

The article says:

"This raised his total holdings to 1,371 shares, which fell just slightly below half (49.6%) of outstanding TSR shares, then numbering 2,761. But the 40 shares owned by Gygax’s son Ernie, when combined with his father’s holdings, secured controlling interest (51.1%) in TSR.

Then there is a bit about the Blume family wanting to sell their shares, Gygax not biting, and Williams et al. purchasing them instead. This suddenly gives them a greater controlling interest in the corporation.

But if Gygax already controlled 51.1%, it doesn't matter how many shares they buy; unless Gygax sold some of his own, they should never have more than 48.9% and thus never have been in a position to oust him.

So this article - and corporate finance - just makes me even more confused.

about a month ago
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UK Computing Student Jailed After Failing To Hand Over Crypto Keys

Somebody Is Using My Re:But it wasn't for "national security" (353 comments)

Except in the UK, you do not have the right to remain silent, or at least, you can remain silent but that may work against you in court.

Wikipedia explains,

"The right to silence was amended in 1984 by allowing adverse inferences to be drawn at a court hearing in cases where a suspect refuses to explain something, and then later produces an explanation. In other words the jury is entitled to infer that the accused fabricated the explanation at a later date, as he refused to provide the explanation during police questioning."

Furthermore, this is nothing new to the UK; there is precedent for being arrested for not providing your password to the police when requested, and the courts supported the action.

about 2 months ago
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Airbus Patents Windowless Cockpit That Would Increase Pilots' Field of View

Somebody Is Using My Missing the point (468 comments)

I'm actually less worried about the view-screen failing than most are; given how robust the systems on these planes are, it is unlikely that is going to be a significant problem. If it gets to the point where the viewscreen itself no longer works, the pilots probably will probably have other much more important problems to deal with, like catastrophic hull damage or engine failure (having said that, I'm all for the addition of a periscope or small viewport that can be used in emergencies).

What does concern me is the image that is going to be projected onto these screens. It is going to be a mixed feed of camera images and sensors into one panoramic display. This raises flags for two reasons. First, cameras have fixed viewing angles, and windows do not. A pilot can lean a bit to the side while looking out a window to see just slightly more to the left or right; he won't be able to do so with a fixed TV image. Secondly, having worked with how computers merge panoramic images, I wonder how much lag there will be between the time the camera SEES its image and the time it actually is displayed on the screen; even a tenth of a second delay could be dangerous. I also wonder what information will be culled because the programs cannot make a seamless match between the different camera images otherwise. Programs that merge images can make some stupid assumptions sometimes and a detail at the border between two or more images is sometimes lost due to the algorithm.

A better initial use for this technology than completely replacing the cockpit windows, I think, would be to replace the PASSENGER windows. Those are far less critical to the plane. Giving each PASSENGER a small OLED screen in place of a window would greatly increase structural integrity and decrease fuel use while also allowing the technology to better mature before replacing the much more important viewports in the cockpit.

about 2 months ago
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Goldman Sachs Demands Google Unsend One of Its E-mails

Somebody Is Using My Re:Minor inconvenience (346 comments)

As disturbing is that the threat of "reputational damage" is enough to get a court on your side.

The United States government should not be helping people or business protect their reputation from their own mistakes. It opens a floodgate to potential abuses. This request should have been laughed out of court. "You screwed up, bub; you deal with the consequences."

I can see this ruling being used as a precedent in many future law cases.

about 2 months ago
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Microsoft Takes Down No-IP.com Domains

Somebody Is Using My Re:Well, fuck you very much (495 comments)

Well, I was lost -- that was everything. ... and that was all because of this horseshit? Guess what... I'm not even *in* the US, so now the US courts think they have jurisdiction over countries? (OK, that's not new)

While I do not agree with the ruling, the comment above is ridiculous. Vitalwerks LLC is an American company, hosted in Reno, Nevada. The US Courts have 100% jurisdiction over it. Just because it does business with international customers in no way makes it exempt from US law.

There are a lot of things to complain about with the United States government overreaching its authority in areas where it should not. This is not one of them.

about 2 months ago
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Swedish Farmers Have Doubts About Climatologists and Climate Change

Somebody Is Using My Re:Weather is NOT climate (567 comments)

The thing is, our civilization has grown based on the climate and ecology we currently have (maybe a little cooler). It is likely the Earth has been warmer before, but if it starts reaching those heights again it is going to cause significant problems for our technological society, especially in the transitional period when weather patterns are disrupted by changing energy levels in the atmosphere. If it gets warmer, large areas may be flooded and ecologies and farming may be affected as well. Empires have collapsed for less, and the loss in human life would be huge.

It is in our interest to minimize our impact on the environment. Even if the overall trend to a warmer climate is natural, our actions - redirecting rivers, chopping down entire forests, pumping megatons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere - are having a definitive effect on the climate. Even if humanity alone isn't responsible, it may be our actions are "the straw that breaks the camel's back", tilting the balance irrevocably towards a less hospitable climate. We might not be able to halt the warming process, but we have the ability to minimize our impact on the climate and hopefully the climate's impact on us.

We have the ability and technology. We just lack the will.

about 2 months ago
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Swedish Farmers Have Doubts About Climatologists and Climate Change

Somebody Is Using My Re:Weather is NOT climate (567 comments)

But apparently you assholes don't care about what you are going to eat while your permafrost thaws.

Oh, they needn't worry about that. When the permafrost thaws, all the sequestered CO2 and methane frozen in the ice and soil is going to release in giant poisonous bubbles and asphyxiate them all. You don't need to eat when aren't even breathing.

(I can't find a link to the article I read that melting permafrost could release its CO2 explosively, poisoning large areas, but here's a link about how much gas is stuck in the ground up north. So even if you don't accept the theory that melting permafrost could result in asphyxiation, it is still something we'd want to avoid)

about 2 months ago
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How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

Somebody Is Using My Re:sensors (196 comments)

Not to mention Apple earphones are also the most fragile. That narrow-gauge white wire may look thin and stylish, but the tiniest of crimps can degrade the sound, and they break very easily. The $10 earphones I use have better sound (not great, but I'm usually listening on the go, and ambient sounds drown out a lot of the harmonics anyway) and don't break after a week's use. It is Apple once again putting form over function.

about 2 months ago
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FAA Bans Delivering Packages With Drones

Somebody Is Using My Re:Amazon should know better (199 comments)

First off, that's the declaration of independence... second, yes, Life is part of that.

Third - and sadly, most forgotten - the Constitution (nor the Declaration of Independence, nor any other documents our government is founded on) does not delineate what our rights are. It states where those "unalienable rights" may be abrogated for the formation of a "more perfect union".

In other words, it is not the Constitution or the government that it founds that gives us the right to free speech, or freedom of religion, or life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or any of those. Our freedom is part and parcel of the human condition. The philosophy espoused by the US Constitution is that we voluntarily sacrifice some of these rights - giving our government the power to suspend some of those natural rights - in order to maintain order.

Why is this important? What is the difference between this philosophy and one where our rights are granted to us by the government? Because the latter puts the power squarely in the hands of the government and it is by their goodwill alone we are allowed our freedoms; the former insists that power remains with the people and it is only by their consent we are governed. It may only be a philisophical distinction but it is an important one and should not be glossed over.

So whenever somebody says "the Constitution does not give us that right", please remind them that is neither in its purpose nor its purview. Just because it is not mentioned does not mean we do not have that freedom; in fact the Tenth Amendment even goes so far as to remind us of this fact.

about 2 months ago

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