NYC Loses Appeal To Ban Large Sugary Drinks
Reminds me of San Angeles circa 2032
Majority of Young American Adults Think Astrology Is a Science
I was going to say young people confuse the two as well, not because they don’t know about astrology but because spelling skills are dwindling.
NASA Now Accepting Applications From Companies That Want To Mine the Moon
The Moon Treaty (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Treaty) is only signed by 15 members of the United Nations, and by none of the countries which engage in manned space flight. So doesn’t have any legal force.
EU Copyright Reform: Your Input Is Needed!
There is no explicit mention of a copyright in the document itself, but the authors have posted this on their home page:
Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of course we are hungry for publicity, so we would be pleased if you avoided plagiarism and gave us credit for what we have written. We encourage you not to impose copyright restrictions on your "derivative" works, but we won't try to stop you. For the legally or statist minded, you can consider yourself subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License.
What computing device do you use most while on vacation?
If I stay at home, it's definitely my desktop. When traveling, it's divided fairly evenly between my smartphone, tablet, and possibly laptop.
Ask Slashdot: Speeding Up Personal Anti-Spam Filters?
I've used bmf via procmail on my ISP shell account for years, and it was extremely reliable and accurate. As an added bonus, it automatically forwarded spam to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When my ISP discontinued the use of procmail filters, I moved it to my home computer and configured two filters in Evolution: the first one to auto-remove mail marked by my ISP as suspected spam, and the next to pipe the mail through bmf and remove it if it tested positive for spam. When I say "auto-remove", I mean it's moved to a spam folder where I can double-check it in case false positives get through.
How Do You Backup Your Data?
Hardly. I started using LTO tapes just a few years ago, taking my cue from our backup systems at the office. I have 12TB of media that I rotate between home and an off-site storage facility. A lot of my data is irreplaceable. Plus I'm a data pack rat. ;-)
Ask Slashdot: How To Become Informed In Judicial Elections?
I go to http://www.smartvoter.org/ for almost all of my candidate research. You can't see a judge's prior rulings from there, but at least some of them post their priorities. If a candidate doesn't submit a profile to their database, I usually ignore them come election day.
Ask Slashdot: Where To Report Script Kiddies and Other System Attacks?
I watch my daily security logs from time to time, but the only remote login attempts I see are my own. I can attribute this to several layers of security:
- I'm using a dynamic IP address.
- Access to my home network is gated through my router. Any incoming SSH connection is directed to a specific IP address on the inside, which is only configured when my computer happens to be running Linux.
- ACL's on the router prohibit SSH connections from everywhere except specific source subnet's I've opened up, and some of those (like work) are only open at certain times during the day.
- I'm subscribed to my Linux distributor's security updates, and apply them on a regular basis.
I won't claim that it's perfect protection, but one of the best things you can do to secure a system is to shut out all access by default and then only open tiny pinholes for the specific connections you need.
Inside the Business of Online Reviews For Hire
I've seldom trusted consumer reviews, not because they might be fake, but because "consumers" often lack enough experience with large enough numbers of competing products for their opinions to hold any weight. When I'm looking for reviews of a product, I want professional reviews from journalists who are dedicated to researching the genre.
Biotech Report Says IP Spurs Innovation
The problem with claiming "innovation" in the pharmaceutical industry is that they can easily bypass existing patents simply by tweaking the processes or non-essential ingredients in creating a drug to make it just different enough to claim it as a different product. That doesn't really help society at all. The rate of discoveries of "high social value" has not risen significantly in the presence of patents. See Boldrin & Levine: "Against Intellectual Monopoly", Chapter 9.
When I need a robust business solution, I prefer it ...
When I need a robust business solution, I prefer that the problem it is made to solve be well-defined.
Ask Slashdot: It's World Backup Day; How Do You Back Up?
I have been using RAID for many years — RAID-1 at work as I only have two drives and don't need much storage space, and RAID-5 at home. A couple of years ago when I upgraded my computer at work, I downloaded at least three different backup systems to try out. The goals were simplicity of use, keeping historical versions of files, and relatively low storage space.
After setting up bacula, I never bothered with the other backup applications.
I found bacula to be highly flexible, adapted very well to the set of many virtual machines I use, and is the easiest to maintain. I just set it up once (or after any major re-partitioning) with a specific list of files and directories to back up or exclude, then practically forget about it. It's saved my files a number of times already from accidental deletion or overwriting, and I used it once for a full restore at home after upgrading my computer including a new RAID array.
At work my excess hard drive space is enough to store all my full and incremental backups locally, but I also have it back up critical files to a corporate NFS server. At home I use LTO-4 tapes, which provide plenty of backup storage for over 2 terabytes of data; and whenever it runs a full backup I take the used tapes off-site for extra security.
Santorum Defends Robocalls To Democrats
So that explains the unnamed 313 number I found on my caller ID box last night...
But why would he be calling me? I live in California.
A Defense of Process Patents
I've read evidence that industrial patents do not promote innovation, but hinder it instead. The most effective tools for profiting from either a product or a process are secrecy, complementary manufacturing, and market lead time. (Boldrin & Levine, , "Against Intellectual Monopoly")
Pirate Party Leader: Copyright Laws Ridiculous
Actually, copyright doesn't even do that. See Boldrin & Levine's "Against Intellectual Monopoly".
Newspaper Articles Not Copyrightable In Slovakia
That's closer, but monopolizing the news is not a right. It's a privilege which may (or may not) be granted by the government.
Dolphin, a 3rd Party Android Browser, Relayed URL Data
This is part of the reason I don't trust close-source applications that require Internet access. At least with open source I can take a look at the code and see, "hey — this program is running a key logger!" I can then modify the code and permissions and run the application without the offending network activity.
(I actually did that with one program, found on code.google.com no less. It was written with a key logger that uses a closed-source library called FlurryAgent.)
Considering the sum of all of my storage devices ...
I considered that, but I have over a dozen LTO-4 tapes. Do you realize how many DVD's worth of data will fit on a single LTO-4?
Did Google Go Instant Just To Show More Ads?
and typically the search results aren't relevant until I've finished my search phrase.
How Do Your Candidates Stand on Issues For Nerds?
Trevin (570491) writes "With the general elections coming up in the U.S., I want to know what each of the candidates' positions are regarding the issues that matter to me. But the mainstream media seems concerned only with such matters as the economy, health care, environment, and national defense. No mention is made of things like copyright and patent reform, privacy, cyber security, and scientific research. So I've written a letter to the candidates for U.S. Senator in my state (California) asking what they support.
Since the election is less than a month away I didn't have time to look up all of the issues I wanted to ask about, but following I present the letter I sent. I tried to be neutral in wording the questions in order to avoid biasing the candidate's response. I would encourage others to send similar letters of inquiry, adding or modifying questions that interest you, to encourage our candidates to investigate these topics and take informed opinions to the legislature.
Dear U.S. Senatorial candidates,
I'm doing my research for the upcoming 2010 general elections, and for the office of United States Senator for California there are questions I have regarding the candidates' support for issues which are not covered by the mainstream media. As a computer software developer, I am mostly concerned with government policies regarding the electronic frontier. Would you please let me know where you stand on the following matters. Your feedback will help me determine how I will vote in the next few weeks.
Do you believe that the term of copyrighted works before entering the public domain at 120 years is fair, that it should be reduced, or that it should be extended? By what amount should it be changed?
Do you believe that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 is effective and sufficient for protecting copyrighted works, that it should contain more restrictions, or that it should contain fewer restrictions?
Do you support or oppose the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in its current form?
Do you support or oppose the proposed Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act (COICA)?
Do you believe Internet service providers (ISP's) should be liable for computer user's activity passing through their network which is illegal? What about for activity which is allegedly illegal? Should ISP's be required to monitor their networks for illegal activity?
Do you believe that the Transportation Security Administration should be allowed or prohibited from searching the contents of travelers' electronic devices (laptops, portable music players, personal digital assistants), with or without cause?
Do you believe that police officers and other enforcement agents should be allowed to search the contents of suspects' computers without a warrant, incident to an arrest?
Do you believe that the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 has been effective in reducing the amount of fraudulent and malicious email on the Internet? Has it been effective in reducing the amount of unwanted but otherwise legitimate unsolicited email? Has it been effective in prosecuting willful spammers?
Do you believe that peer-to-peer (P2P) computer file sharing has a legitimate purpose for the efficient mass distribution of large files over the Internet, or do you believe that P2P serves illegal purposes and should be banned?
Do you believe that computer software algorithms should be patentable either as a whole application or as individual components? Should the term for software patents be the same as for other inventions (14-20 years) or different?
What is your opinion of patent holders who do not manufacture or market any product using the patented invention, but actively prevent other companies from producing potentially infringing products?
Do you support or oppose legislation mandating the use of specific technologies on electronic equipment sold in the United States, such as the inclusion of "trusted computing" devices in computers or video equipment that checks the "broadcast flag"?
Do you believe that consumers who have purchased electronic devices (including computers, video game equipment, home entertainment components, etc.) should be allowed to use such equipment however they wish and make modifications to those devices for their own personal use, or that the manufacturer of such equipment should have control over how those devices are used and whether any modifications are allowed?
Do you support the use of industry standard formats for the electronic publication of government documents and media (such as plain text, Vorbis, and Theora) or the use of commonly used proprietary formats (such as Microsoft Word, MPEG, and AVI)?
Do you believe that hardware and software companies should be required or encouraged to use and comply with published industry standards (ISO, IEEE, ANSI, RFC, etc.) for interoperability with other vendor's products whether competing or cooperative, or that they should be allowed to use proprietary interfaces and protocols which restrict compatibility to the company's own products? Or is this a matter which the government should not legislate and let the market work out?
Do you believe that the National Security Agency has the right and duty to monitor domestic phone calls, text messaging, email, web browsing, and other electronic communication? For what purposes and under what conditions should it be allowed?
Do you support electronic voting, and if so do you believe electronic voting machines should be developed as closed-source systems (only the manufacturer knows how they work) or as open-source systems (the design and code is available for public scrutiny)?
Thank you for your time."
AT&T Phone Service EULA
Trevin writes "I recently received a new Residential Service Agreement for my AT&T phone service, and on reading through it noticed a couple of peculiarities. I'm wondering if there are any other readers out there who have noticed the same thing (for those of you who actually read these legal documents) in either your local AT&T or other company's phone service, and if there are any people who know whether these terms would actually hold up in court (or if I'm just reading them wrong).
First, section 6 reads more like a software disclaimer than a utility agreement. The full section (converted from all upper-case):
6. Disclaimer of Warranties
The services are provided by AT&T on as "as is","as available" bases without warranties of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to warranties of title or implied warranties or merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose or otherwise, other than those warranties (if any) that are implied by and incapable of exclusion, restriction, or modification under the laws applicable to this agreement, all such warranties being expressly disclaimed. AT&T does not authorize anyone, including but not limited to AT&T employees, agents, or representatives, to make a warranty of any kind on AT&T's behalf, and you agree that you will not rely on any such statement. AT&T does not warrant that any services will be uninterrupted or error free.
I don't expect completely uninterrupted service — murphy's law assures that things will sometimes break down — but in my mind a warranty means that when their service breaks down, they will fix it. This section however seems to indicate that they are waiving any responsibility to fix problems that arise.
The next section which looks suspicious relates to the recent congressional debates about telecom immunity in unauthorized wiretapping. From section 9. Dispute Resolution by Binding Arbitration:
Notwithstanding the foregoing, either party may bring an individual action in small claims court, or make a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission or a state public utilities commission if the claim is within the court's or agency's juristiction. You agree that, by entering into this agreement, you and AT&T are each waiving the right to a trial by jury and to participate in a class action.
Sorry I don't have a link to the full text of the agreement on the Web; I can't seem to find it on AT&T's web site. I just have the printed notice. The latest notice on AT&T web site (as of January 1) has similar wording to the above. Is this standard operating procedure for telcoms?"
ATI vs. nVidia Hardware Technical Support
Trevin Beattie writes "Last week after rebooting my computer I noticed random red and blue dots blinking on the screen during POST. I sent a support request to ATI asking if they had any utilities to test my video RAM and whether this sounded like a problem that could be fixed. Their response: they don't support Linux video drivers!
I went back and forth with them three times on this, I even sent them photos of my screen during boot, and got the same response the second time and a boilerplate message the third time which stated, among other things: check the knowledge base (I had; the only article that mentions my problem is a broken link), upgrade your latest video drivers (irrelevant), then submit a support request (which was what I was doing).
I'm appalled at how obtuse their support people are. I suspect they aren't even really people; I feel like I'm talking to a machine with pre-programmed responses. I'm considering switching over to nVidia, but before I do, I want to know whether their technical support will be any better if I have hardware problems?
So what are your experiences with ATI and nVidia, for either gaming or workstation video cards? Please limit the discussion to actual hardware failures, not software/driver problems."
Link to Original Source
Trevin has no journal entries.