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Ask Slashdot: Good, Forgotten Fantasy & Science Fiction Novels?

belroth Some Authors to check: (1244 comments)

Eric Frank Russell, Fredric Brown, Keith Laumer (Retief in particular), Jame Tiptree Jr, H. Beam Piper. Basically plunder all the free ebook sites for classic/pulp - there's a lot of good stuff there and I even quite like the not so good :-)

more than 2 years ago
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George Lucas C&Ds 'Lightsaber Laser'

belroth Re:age (481 comments)

I refer my learned friend to the answer given in Arkell v. Pressdram.
There are many hits on google but this is a nice uncluttered version.

(For those who are unaware Pressdram is the publisher/company name of Private Eye, a long running UK satirical magazine which is often sued and Arkell V Pressdram is frequently referred to in its pages)

I keep thinking of SCO v Novell for some reason, can't think why...

more than 4 years ago
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UK Home Office Set To Scrap National ID Cards

belroth Re:What is the privacy debate about? (334 comments)

I realise it's not for my benefit. The first time it popped up I thought it was a phishing site, but they're not normally as amateur. It wanted me to phone up and give my card details over a number I'd never heard of. An the Master card one is as inept. I rarely use either of those cards so it's not a problem.
I have also considered the use of the disposable cards you can buy - they're pre-paid but act like a normal card. Some companies used to allow you to create one-shot 'cards' so you only deal with a known institution.

Mostly I only buy from a few sites or small amounts via paypal (which I haven't confirmed/whatever so the exposure is low)

more than 3 years ago
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UK Home Office Set To Scrap National ID Cards

belroth Re:Finally Slashdot. (334 comments)

I'm even happier at the coalition then. I'm not really a fan of coalitions but this one may work - keeping the looney LibDem Left and the ranting Conservative right under control and working on a sane(?) middle ground. Laws is seriously impressive, as are Gove, IDS and Hague. I'm not too sure about Clegg/Cameron but if they leave the others to do their jobs that's probably enough. Just ditch Cable asap.

more than 3 years ago
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UK Home Office Set To Scrap National ID Cards

belroth Re:What is the privacy debate about? (334 comments)

I think we may have the least worst option really. I just think everybody should be aware that their vote is in theory traceable.
<JOKE> You could have used the ID card to prevent fraud... </JOKE>

The real worry would have been elecronic voting - use your ID card to vote and have it recorded in a database for future reference: "Sorry officer, what did I do wrong? Well, yes I did vote Green when I was 20....."

more than 3 years ago
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UK Home Office Set To Scrap National ID Cards

belroth Re:Finally Slashdot. (334 comments)

I wouldn't give Clegg and the Lib Dems all the credit - this lot was in the Conservative manifesto and would have happened if Cameron had won a majority. The only people against all of your list (I think, not sure about some of the smaller parties) were Labour.

more than 3 years ago
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UK Home Office Set To Scrap National ID Cards

belroth Re:Getting rid of the CARDS not the DATABASE (334 comments)

Yes, they're having a database of foreign nationals but not of UK residents/citizens/subjetcs. The National Identity Register is going.

more than 3 years ago
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UK Home Office Set To Scrap National ID Cards

belroth Re:Getting rid of the CARDS not the DATABASE (334 comments)

From the bbc: "Once the cards are illegal, the National Identity Register will be "physically destroyed", say ministers."

So they are getting rid of the database too, which is the more important thing, but the combination of card and database was the really bad news.

more than 3 years ago
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UK Home Office Set To Scrap National ID Cards

belroth Re:What is the privacy debate about? (334 comments)

I don't understand the privacy issue. I like the lib dems, I'm glad they are in power, and I think ID cards are expensive - but I don't understand why this is such a massive issue for so many people. I'm not afraid of CCTV and I'm not afraid of ID cards. I can't say I'm an expert in the issues (the wiki article is pretty lame, for example), so please feel free to educate me.

I realised your lack of expertise (or thought) from the rest of your post. As for educating you, I'm sure others will help me out here...

The reason I want ID cards, is not really for ID cards. I want my identity to be electronic, to make real world transactions, authentication etc as easy as internet authentication. On the internet I can access any site and make any payments with just a username and password. In the real world there are a bunch of ass backwards tools - coins, keys, access cards, phone sim cards and other bull. One of the reasons I can't shed this crap is because of "privacy concerns", which I don't worry about. For example, I share almost all of my personal information with google - and I don't worry about them trying to misuse it. I also share all of my wealth with the Bank Of England - I don't worry about them either. Germany also has a system of ID cards, which works.

You're doing better than me, I need several userids and passwords - Verrified by Visa and the Mastercard equivalents or paypal spring to mind. And please tell me that you really expect to replace coins and keys with an ID card. These things would soon have been cloned you realise. And how are you going to get mulinational phone companies to use a national ID card as a sim? And how often do you need to worry about your sim card(s)? As you don't have any privacy concerns please tell us you name, d.o.b. address and bank account details - or did you miss Jeremy Clarksons little cock up by doing this? The Bank Of England doesn't have all my wealth, no one institution does. Does Germany also have the Big Brother database that was going to go with these useless cards?

The reason I want CCTV is because it should make solving crime a lot easier. Combine it with face recognition and you can build a map of where people go and when. Add datamining, and perhaps you can start to track down drug dealers, burglars, rapists, etc. It starts to get very difficult to commit the really nasty crimes that still happen (although not nearly as much as people think)

They have a miserably small effect on crime solving at present, and I'm sure the rest would have been great for the Staasi. You should consider the possible unintended conseauences as well as the stated aim. The fact that it is possible to identify how anybody voted in UK General Elections also makes me unhappy, or did you not realise that the ballot papers are traceable?

The best/most frequent arguments against seem to me to be that it would give a corrupt government the power to identify certain elements of society, who could then be, say, put in camps, and it would give police power which they could use to victimise certain groups

The trouble is these things normally tend to happen, laws get applied more loosely than may have been intended: 'sus', 'stop and search'. and the unlwaful harrasing of phorographers (stretching some 'anti-terror' legislation). Someone one descibed Jack Straw (as Home Secretary) as too right wing for Mrs Thatchers government. Another oft-quoted saying is that Labour do what the Police tell them and the Tories tell the Police what to do. Look at the number of laws passed in the last 13 years which can result in imprisonment and read the 'Great Repeal' bill just announced - and be grateful we know have a Con/Dem coalition. I hope they are looking at Detention Orders too.

From a purely personal standpoint I don't see these things happening in Britain. The progress of Nazi Germany towards the holocaust was a step by step progression, a series of sets of laws defined the Jews as a separate group and began isolating them. Britain has adopted human rights conventions which make this (I think) unconstitutional. The only "warning sign" I heard of with CCTV was that an operator was using a camera to spy on a woman in her bedroom. That's not something which is hard to fix, and it doesn't scare me.

It won't be unconstitutional without a written constitution, it would probably be illegal though. Who watches the watchers? Try Googling for 'sousveillance' or looking into some of Mark Thomas stuff - there was a brilliant radio show where he was highlighting the absurdity of the Labour Governents legislation on demonstrating in Westminster where he got permits from the police (as required) for a large number of different demos on the same day in slightly different places, including one to try and sack the police Superintendent in charge of permits - who thought the whole thing was brilliant. Mark Thomas also wrote a book on the arms trade and supplying regimes with the means to suppress and torture dissidents called "As Used On The Famous Nelson Mandela", and has done lots of interesting TV stuff too. Thomas and I are at opposite(ish) ends of the politial spectrum, I'd label him as a raving lefty and I'm a liberal conservative but I agree with him on most of what he campaigns about - civil liberties, freedom, safety and so on.

more than 3 years ago
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Myths About Code Comments

belroth Re:Over documentation is good (580 comments)

I find it useful if the comments actually say something useful. I worked on a project where 90%+ lines of code were comments, 90% of the comments were commented out lines of old code, often several versions one above the other with the current line at the bottom. The rest of the comments were no better, I ended up writing a macro to delete all the comments from the code before I saw it. The programmers responsible for it are still doing it even with a code versionning system to tell them what's change form the earlier versions. Insane.

Comments should be helpful but always treated with caution, even why comments can get out of date...

more than 4 years ago
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GPL vs. Skype Back In Court

belroth Re:Mod parent up (369 comments)

Why? Why would the copyright holder(s) be deprived of copyright?

more than 6 years ago

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