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Computer Scientists Ask Supreme Court To Rule APIs Can't Be Copyrighted

Sun Re:A law's bad effects aren't decisive (260 comments)

You have to remember that the protection code has is reduced compared to the protection that other works of art has. The law and precedence (IANAL) acknowledge that there is significant amount of function (i.e. - non-copyrightable) parts to a program.

The question here, as I see it (and, again, IANAL) is whether the function's arrangement and names, which might have some expressive (i.e. - copyrightable) value to begin with, can turn to purely functional by the simple fact that implementing it is essential in order to make things work.

As far as I remember, other laws (including the hated DMCA) has language that suggests it does (allowing reverse engineering for the purpose of interoperability).

Shachar

about two weeks ago
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Codecademy's ReSkillUSA: Gestation Period For New Developers Is 3 Months

Sun Re:This just proves... (173 comments)

What you don't get (possibly because you are not a programmer) is that Ruby-on-Rails-with-XHTML-and-JQuery-NoSQL-Hadoop technology is simplifying programming. Simplify it any more, and you'll likely end up with worse (with both likely over the near future).

Back at the day where the programming language was hard, only people with the knack could do it. Programs still had bugs (and always shall), because programming is a complex task and we did not have the tools to simplify the complexity back then.

And then the demand for programmers sky-rocketed, and people who believed you were right started creating RADs (rapid application development environments). Pretty much all the buzzwords you dumped are in the category. The idea was to create an environment that will simplify the programming process, so that constructing a program be more like plumbing.

Guess what. It still isn't. The only difference is that now there are people doing programming that are not programmers. They are plumbers. The result is what you see. The problem is that, unlike plumbing, people still expect the end result to be anything they like. It is the lack of limitations on the end result that causes the need for understanding what you're doing, not the technology with which you develop.

Shachar

about two weeks ago
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A Mysterious Piece of Russian Space Junk Does Maneuvers

Sun Re:Jeez, just come clean (146 comments)

On reflection, I need to cut down a dimension from my calculation as well.

The minimal and maximal heights can be replaced by the speed (scalar) of the satellite when crossing the equator.

So 5D at most.

Shachar

about three weeks ago
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A Mysterious Piece of Russian Space Junk Does Maneuvers

Sun Re:Jeez, just come clean (146 comments)

GP assumes that the Earth's mass is the Earth's mass (i.e. - an orbital around Earth). I am not aware of any affect the mass of the satellite has on its trajectory, so I'm not sure why you included it.

Which leaves us, in your analysis, three parameters. Vector of position, vector of velocity, and a time scalar. Let's call it a trajectory triplet. This results in 7D trajectory space. Those three are not, however, orthogonal (or even linearly independent).

Just as an isolated example, take a certain satellite triplet. Then take that same satellite's triplet a few seconds later. None of the values of the triplet are the same, and yet it obviously describes the same trajectory.

I am not an astrophysics, so I will not claim absolute knowledge in this field. My limited understanding suggests that all trajectories pass around the equator. Furthermore, for a satellite doing a perfect circle, the speed (scalar) is a direct function of its height. We can, therefor, narrow down the trajectory parameters to:
Height when over the equator
degree of elevation above said height
degree of descent below said height
angle crossing the equator
two phase scalars (one of accounting where above the equator we are talking about, and the other for accounting the possibility of two satellites following each other in the same trajectory).

That's 6 scalars (as opposed to your 2 vectors and two scalars). As far as I can tell (but see disclaimer above), those six are orthogonal. I am not 100% sure the two phases are, indeed, orthogonal, but I am fairly sure you can arbitrarily change any one (or more) of the others and still get a valid and different trajectory.

Still not one dimensional (not sure where that came from), but at least one dimension less than you claimed it was.

Shachar

about three weeks ago
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Smart Meters and New IoT Devices Cause Serious Concern

Sun Re:Consumer education (168 comments)

Please do read George Orwell's 1984. You just described its main features.

Shachar

about three weeks ago
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Smart Meters and New IoT Devices Cause Serious Concern

Sun Re:I would send that TV back (168 comments)

Assuming the click-wrap isn't binding, then I don't see how this can be legal even in one party consent jurisdictions.

Even if the click-wrap is binding, it is only binding to the person who "Agreed" to it. If I'm not allowed to implant a recording device in the room that will listen to your conversations with someone else when I'm not there, I don't see how I have the authority to let someone else do the same.

Of course, IANAL.

Shachar

about three weeks ago
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CHP Officers Steal, Forward Nude Pictures From Arrestee Smartphones

Sun Re: Prison time (275 comments)

As far as I know (IANAL), anyone can bring a civil suit against the police department. A specific cop has pretty much complete immunity from civil suits. The only thing that can touch a specific cop is internal affairs and the DA, as mentioned by GP.

It is true that should a specific cop start causing too much money lost through civil suits, it is likely that he/she will be fired. Again, however, it is up to the department to decide, not an independent jury.

Shachar

about a month ago
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Microsoft Now Makes Money From Surface Line, Q1 Sales Reach Almost $1 Billion

Sun Re: Did they make money on Surface? (117 comments)

If you are totalling the revenue for Surface and subtracting the direct costs for Surface, why would you then include the indirect costs that are by definition not specifically for the Surface?

No, that's not a correct statement. The indirect costs may not be specifically for a specific Surface unit, but the Surface division does have indirect costs that are specifically its own costs. This means that there are, indeed, indirect costs that are specifically Surface's.

The Surface factory pays rent, taxes, electricity and utility. These are all indirect costs, and they are all specifically for Surface.

What's more, the number of units sold is crucial. If you only sold a million units and the gross profit per unit is $5 (and it is, likely, less), then it doesn't take the indirect expenses to be particularly high for the division to be running at a net loss.

Shachar

about a month ago
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The One App You Need On Your Resume If You Want a Job At Google

Sun Re:Statistics (205 comments)

Your comment is definitely part of the 82% rule.

It says that 75.3% of statistics people quote are made up on the spot.

Shachar

about a month ago
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"Double Irish" Tax Loophole Used By US Companies To Be Closed

Sun Re:Transition period? (259 comments)

I didn't say that was okay. I said that was Ireland's rationale.

If memory serves me well, Cayman Islands have a similar shtick. No income tax for either corporations or residents, but lots of taxes on product consumption (customs etc.)

It is the trade offs that countries do to attract the "right" type of economy.

Shachar

about a month ago
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"Double Irish" Tax Loophole Used By US Companies To Be Closed

Sun Re:Transition period? (259 comments)

As far as Ireland is concerned, that is exactly it.

Google, Facebook and Microsoft (to name three, I'm fairly sure there are more) hold huge development and support centers in Ireland. While corporate tax in Ireland is low, income tax is fairly high. The Ireland government isn't losing from this deal.

Shachar

about a month ago
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Microsoft Develops Analog Keyboard For Wearables, Solves Small Display Dilemma

Sun Re:Great (100 comments)

Graffiti is actually patented already, so unless they bought the patent holder, they should not be able to get a patent on this.

FTFY

about a month ago
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Independent Researchers Test Rossi's Alleged Cold Fusion Device For 32 Days

Sun Re:Einstein's Nobel was for Photo-electric effect (986 comments)

To the best of my knowledge, no one has won multiple Nobels in a single field.

Okay, after checking that statement, it is not true. Frederick Sanger has won two Nobel prizes in Chemistry. He won it alone, in 1958, "for his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin", and again in 1980, with Walter Gilbert, "for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids" (source).

It seems to me that the Nobel committee does not like to award the same prize twice. I think, had Frederick done the nucleic research on his own, he would not have won the second one. I think the committee only awarded him the second prize because not doing so would have denied Walter Gilbert the prize (and awarding only Walter a prize for joint work would be strange).

In that respect, Einstein got only one Nobel because he did his research alone.

Shachar

about a month ago
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Google Takes the Fight With Oracle To the Supreme Court

Sun Re:Oracle (146 comments)

The action against Microsoft was based on anti-competitive acts, founded on the assumption (validated by the court) that Microsoft is a monopoly.

This action is based on strict copyright. Oracle is not alleging that Google are trying to harm Java, just that they didn't have the right to do what they did.

Shachar

about a month and a half ago
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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

Sun Re:Unicomp (304 comments)

Upon re-reading, I realize that parent might be joking. Still, it is important to note that Unicomp do, in fact, cater for the Model-M fanatics too.

Shachar

about a month and a half ago
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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

Sun Re:Unicomp (304 comments)

Did you buy the full size or what they call the "space saver"?

I am typing this on the space saver, and I can, indeed, flex it (if I try hard enough) by a few millimeters. For me, the reduced weight is a plus, though.

If you consider that a minus, you should go with the "Classic" version. I doubt you'll see any difference, USB and extra keys aside.

Shachar

about a month and a half ago
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Object Oriented Linux Kernel With C++ Driver Support

Sun Re:Why do people still care about C++ for kernel d (365 comments)

Smart pointers in C++ are rarely larger in size than normal pointers.

std::unique_ptr has the same sizeof of void *. std::shared_ptr has the same sizeof as void *, but adds another allocation. Then again, boost::intrusive_ptr has the same sizeof as void *, does reference counting, does not require virtual functions in the destination class and carries no extra allocations (but does require that the class being indexed be aware it has references).

Shachar

about a month and a half ago
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Object Oriented Linux Kernel With C++ Driver Support

Sun Re:Why do people still care about C++ for kernel d (365 comments)

Yeah, Linus mentioned those too. Where does C++ do hidden heap allocations?

The only example I can think of is when throwing an exception (and see below about that), and even then, the compiler rarely actually performs a heap allocation. Small exception classes are stored in a pre-allocated static buffer.

And if you are talking about library use, then you need to realize two things:
1. STL is the most allocation aware library I have ever seen. With a few C++11 related exceptions, it will always allow you to pick an allocator, and will always avoid allocation where one can be avoided.
2. If you think even that level of care is not enough, then you are free to not use STL. Assuming you are correct, your options are "Don't use STL, implement your own implementation in C++" or "Don't use STL, implement your own in C", and I fail to see how option 2 is preferrable to option 1.

As for the other two, RTTI cost you a few extra bytes per defined class (not instance). You are free to tell your compiler not to generate those if you don't use it (for user space, I rarely bother).

Exceptions are a different story. They get a very bad rap, and it's only partially justified. There are two reasons to not like exceptions for kernel code. The first is that exception use is a fundemental design decision. It is not something that can be slapped on to existing code. To do it properly, you must also have RAII and a good structuring of your code. Since those two are a good idea regardless, most good C++ programmers don't mind, but it's hard to migrate existing code to use it properly.

The other reason exceptions are not liked is because of a design decision made by the C++ committee that exceptions have no runtime cost when an exception is not thrown. This leads to the compiler generating the same code twice, and to a very complicated stack unwind code. I don't think either of these will prevent exceptions from working in the kernel (given the proper adaptations), but I do understand how these cause people to be weary of them.

I do agree with Linus about one thing. C++ is a language that is too complex. This leads to good C++ programmers being a minority among C++ programmers.

Shachar

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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France Bans Pro-Palestinian Demonstrations

Sun Sun writes  |  about 4 months ago

Sun (104778) writes "Citing the violence these demonstrations deteriorate into, the French government has placed a ban on all pro-Palestinian demonstrations. The step is receiving criticism from all sides of this particular conflict.

One has to wonder whether more traditional means of crowd control wouldn't be more appropriate, such as limiting the number of participants or assigning locations not next to Jewish centers."

Link to Original Source
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Israel Channel 10 Report Child Abduction Urban Legand as News

Sun Sun writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Sun writes "Israel's Channel 10 news reported Sunday of an attempted abduction of a 9 years old child was from the Disney World park. The reporter, Sivan Cohen, reports (video in Hebrew in this article) that when the parents found out the child went missing, the turned to park officials who closed down the gates and asked them to look only at the children's shoes. Using the shoes, the child was found in a bathroom with her head shaved and clothes changed. The reporter took the effort to mention this sounds like an urban legand, but it isn't.

Except, of course, it is. Channel 10 took off line all references to the story, and on Monday apologized for the incorrect report. The reporter was suspended, and the official response blamed the "parents" that reported this.

Still, one would hope that with a story that smells so strongly of hoax that a serious news outlet would do some fact checking before reporting."

Link to Original Source
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PrimeSense Opening Up SDK (Works with Kinect)

Sun Sun writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Sun writes "It seems like PrimeSense (the chip producer behind the Kinect) have released an SDK to the general public. Some things, like the drivers, were completely open sourced, while others, like skeleton tracking, user extraction and hand tracking are available free of charge (Windows and Ubuntu 32 and 64 bit). The forum seems to aim at being hardware neutral, but the actual drivers available right now are only for the PrimeSense chip (but do work with the Kinect hardware, which is about 50$ cheaper than the reference implementation they sell on the site). There is also a video of skeleton tracking in action.

Too late to win the original driver bounty, but maybe in time to win some of the later ones."

Link to Original Source
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New copyright law in Israel - mostly good news

Sun Sun writes  |  about 7 years ago

Sun writes "Last Monday the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) passed the new copyright law, scheduled to go into effect in half a year. The previous law was passed in England in 1911, and was enacted in (then Palestine) in 1922.

The bad news:
  • Copyright period was lengthened for photographs was extended to match all other rights. All copyright now lasts life+70 years, except actual recordings which last 50 years.
  • "Making available" was explicitly listed as a protected right. On the flip side, the fact that another country found it necessary to list this right explicitly may aid people defending themselves in the US.
  • Work created for the government is copyrighted, albeit with a shortened copyright period of 50 years.


The good news:
  • No anti-circumvention clauses, and not for lack of trying. The Israeli record federation tried to pass such a law, with a lot of backing from the proprietary software industry. The opponents included the Israeli ISOC chapter, as well as Hamakor (represented, among others, by myself). The most important opponent, however, was the ministry of justice! It is too optimistic to assume we heard the last word on this, but for the moment, Israel is DMCA free.
  • Explicit exclusion from copyright of control over reverse engineering for interoperability and for research purposes. Again, this one had a lot of fighting from the software industry (mostly Microsoft and Retalix), but again common sense prevailed. This time a lot of help was received from the academic community, with several professors stepping forward to state that without ability to reverse engineer, research would come to a halt.
  • Fair use was expanded. The 1911 law had a limited "close" list of what would be considered "fair use". The new law allows the court to expand the list based on economical and other considerations. The list of considerations is, itself, also subject to court discretion and expansion.
  • Transient copies — the specifically excludes transient copies made for the purpose of a legitimate activity from being controlled by the copyright holder. The fact that, in order to run a program, the bits are copied from the hard disk to the RAM can no longer be used in order to control what can be done with a program.


All in all, this is a huge improvement even over the existing law. As someone who was present during some of the deliberations, and actively participated, I can say that I think that the most important law in the Israeli codex is the law that governs how much money a party can receive in campaign contributions. Despite at least three of the last four prime ministers got into hot water over violating this law, the end result is that the Israeli legislator is, for the most part, open to hear what is best for EVERYONE, and does care to do the right thing. Interest groups can still try to present their case in a convincing manner, but the fact that such humble resources, such as a bunch of volunteers from Hamakor and from the academic world, could make a difference is a very encouraging sign."
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Sun Sun writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Sun writes "I have just published a suggestion for a comment mechanism that will, I think, advance us an important step toward stopping comment spam in blogs. Non-spam comments welcome.

In a nutshell, commenters are asked to have their computer solve a cryptographic riddle, thus increasing the cost of posting spam to blogs as comments. The idea is not new, as such. I have seen similar suggestions for email. Unlike email, however, I believe it is feasible for blog comments."
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Sun Sun writes  |  about 8 years ago

Sun writes "This really is from the "unsubstantiated rumours" department.

The Israeli online newspaper "Daily Maily" reports (content in Hebrew) that Information Week reports that Adobe announced it intends to open source ActionScript Virtual Machine, the engine behind Flash Player. According to Daily Maily, it will be integrated into Mozilla as a new open source project called "Tamarin". It is not clear whether this new engine is supposed to serve Flash or JavaScript content, however.

I am sorry about the long list of references, but aside from the link at Daily Maily, I have not managed to pick up a single reference to this piece of news, from either Adobe site or the Mozilla site. Any collaborating evidence would be appreciated."

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