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Comments

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Microsoft Kills Off Its Trustworthy Computing Group

bzipitidoo Treacherous Computing (99 comments)

Exactly. Microsoft tried to secure the software against the users, and tried to tell everyone it was more plain security.

I'm glad users didn't swallow it. MS's lame attempt at confusing everyone got the ridicule and hate it so richly deserved.

3 days ago
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Is the Tesla Model 3 Actually Going To Cost $50,000?

bzipitidoo car sellers are bad even at selling (391 comments)

This year, I went to the annual auto show in Dallas. What a total waste of money and time. The automakers who bothered to attend sent very junior people who didn't know anything. But they looked young and pretty. And that was their main selling point too: pretty. Pretty girls selling pretty cars. One of the few interesting cars there was a Nissan Leaf.

Don't know why they bothered having the show. If the show was an indication of the state of automobiling, I'd say they are out of ideas, and too gutless to try what few ideas they do have. Dealerships trying to stifle competition through legal technicalities makes them look really weak. Car makers need some serious shaking up, and Tesla may be the spark that sets off the forest fire. I hope batteries improve to the point that gasoline powered cars can no longer compete, and the public begins unloading them, rather like the way they unloaded SUVs in 2008 when the price of gas spiked, but more permanent.

about a week ago
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Top EU Court: Libraries Can Digitize Books Without Publishers' Permission

bzipitidoo Re:no permission needed (102 comments)

Automobile makers do not get to dictate what their customers do with the cars they built. If the buyer wants to chop the car, make it into a lowrider, put different wheels on, change the paint color, smash it, bury it, or throw it with a trebuchet, there's not a thing the automobile manufacturer can or should be able to do about it. John Lennon's psychedelic Rolls Royce offended some people. Some of these people had nothing to do with the automaker, they were just upset that someone did something they thought inappropriate to a product they admired. Lot of rock stars are great at puncturing sacred cows that people didn't even realize they had.

Some people get all bent out of shape over a flag burning. Others find book burnings offensive. Get over it. Let them throw copies of Huckleberry Finn, Harry Potter, and the Dungeon Master's Guide in the flames all they like. Nothing is lost, even more so if digitization has not been blocked. The best the arsonists can hope for is that nothing comes of it, as it could backfire and raise awareness of those works. On numerous occasions, vandals have tried to destroy works of art. If there are digital copies, destruction is practically impossible. In any case, a great work like the Mona Lisa can last only so long. It will inevitably deteriorate. If idiotic copyright laws and museum policies have prevented us from copying it into a more permanent form, for posterity, we deserve to lose it to the next time some insane person loses his mind and attacks the art. Rarities have been lost because the owner decided to destroy it. If there are good copies everywhere, the owner of an original can't deny a work to the rest of us out of spite, malice, revenge, or whatever, can't demand a big ransom not to destroy it. Can't mutilate it either through reckless bureaucratic policy, as was done to many paintings, including Rembrandt's Night Watch when they cut the painting down to size to fit a space. Then there are always Acts of God. Art has been lost in fires, floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.

I don't see why a work of art should be any different from a car. If the artists don't like it, it should be their responsibility to make copies or documents describing how to recreate it, before handing one over to a buyer. It's not like making a copy is so hard any more. Indeed, the biggest barriers can be legal ones.

about two weeks ago
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Top EU Court: Libraries Can Digitize Books Without Publishers' Permission

bzipitidoo no permission needed (102 comments)

It's a start. Lot of "owners" think they have such far reaching power over works of art, think they get to dictate what others may and may not do.

I've heard many a museum claim that copyright gives them the authority to forbid photos. It's one thing to forbid flash photography on the grounds that flashes put out UV radiation which can damage art. But they try to forbid photos, not just flashes. Claim that it would violate copyright, even though the work of art in question is long out of copyright, and they never held ownership of any copyright over the work anyway. The Alamo also claims it's "disrespectful" to the dead. A building near downtown Dallas, the Infomart, has signs that say you can't take photos of the building, and they include in that photos of the exterior from public locations such as nearby sidewalks. They claim it's for security reasons. Some museums reveal their real fears, crying that they will not have any more visitors, not be able to sell postcards. Was funny to hear this one old lady complain about the Internet ruining their business.

One place I know of that did have a change of heart is the memorial to the Oklahoma City bombing. They still have signs up that forbid photos inside, but if you ask them, they will tell you that you can take pictures.

about two weeks ago
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Researcher Fired At NSF After Government Questions Her Role As 1980s Activist

bzipitidoo Re:Don't lie (499 comments)

They're in the business of assessing possible problems with people.

Too bad they get it wrong much of the time. These guys are pig-headed, simplistic thinkers. They are more interested in covering their asses than getting the facts right. They figure it's better to make connections that aren't there, no matter how stupid, than to miss something. If that catches a few innocents in the net, they accept it as unfortunate but a necessary price of security. What I found especially striking was that one of the groups is Communist. I thought we won the Cold War? What these guys do is total House Un-American Activities Committee. These guys could also be prejudiced against smart, creative people such as college professors and actors, secretly enjoying it when they get to use their petty authority and judgments to trip them up.

But that's not a founding principle of the US. Innocent until proven guilty is. British military justice, which operated the opposite way, guilty until proven innocent, had too many cases of good people's careers and lives being wrecked over unfounded accusations. The founding fathers recognized that accusations are legion, and under a guilty until proven innocent system, they might not be able to find any acceptable people. No one would be able to qualify. Unfair systems promote corruption. The people running it can more easily abuse a system for personal gain when it is already unfair and abusive.

about two weeks ago
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Unpopular Programming Languages That Are Still Lucrative

bzipitidoo Re:Bullcrap (387 comments)

The entire premise of the article is bull. Are companies ever going to get off this fixation on specific programming languages? There used to be such a thing as training. Companies once did that.

Now it sounds like everyone has accepted that you should train on your own time. Worse, you have to do speculative training. Learn the specifics of some platform, and you might get a job doing it.

about two weeks ago
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Unpopular Programming Languages That Are Still Lucrative

bzipitidoo Re:Perl, anyone? (387 comments)

Last coding job I had used Perl 5. We recreated an app for a database. The original app had been discontinued in favor of a 4GL language.

Then the client decided they wanted that app coded in the 4GL language, and hired me to do it. Wow, what a lot of 80s thinking and cruft I saw. Managed to produce what they wanted, but they had to compromised a little. The input methods were typical of the era. Tried to do it all so the programmer didn't have to bother with tedious details. But if you wanted to change some of those details, you couldn't, not without a lot of extra work.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Strangest Features of Various Programming Languages?

bzipitidoo Re:C has bigger problems than that trivia (729 comments)

Ever used a Reverse Polish calculator? Or postfix or prefix notation? It does work. Yeah, I seriously would prefer prefix notation to superfluous parentheses.

Maybe you feel it's unclear? There's an answer to that too. Whitespace, as in Proper Indentation.

thingA
. thingB
. . thingC 4 7
. thingD thingE

Before you ask, no, the whitespace is not required, This isn't Python. It is merely there to aid coders, same as any other indentation in C source code.

about two weeks ago
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Should Cyborgs Have the Same Privacy Rights As Humans?

bzipitidoo Re:Humans have too much (206 comments)

Very idealistic. We could do with more transparency. Mroe than that, we could do with more equality of transparency. The rich get to hide their mistakes behind the corporate veil. Those of us who aren't executives of corporations have more limited options.

However, until the law is perfect, justice is truly fair, and our peers are totally enlightened about freedom of thought, speech, and so forth, all of which may be never, privacy is important. Is there anyone who hasn't had things to hide from our own parents? Especially our parents? Like that you got a warning for speeding while you were out on the town last night? Think of all the potentially embarrassing things there are to buy, such as porn magazines, sex toys, alcoholic drinks, hemorrhoid medicine, denture adhesive, and certain genres of music. I would love to have the hypocrisies and tyrannies uncovered and shamed out of existence by acknowledgement that lots of people have the same problems and desires. I mean things like that your parents engaged in sex to bring you into the world, but they forbid that you learn any details about sex (The stork brought you? You appeared under a cabbage leaf?), and certainly forbid that you try it! Just having a waist size connected to your name could be more than embarrassing, supposing it suggests that you are overweight, and you suffer discrimination from people who have never even seen you?

There are also political issues. Do you want it known whether you voted Republican or Democrat, or some 3rd party? Some examples of political issues are the War on Piracy and the War on Drugs. Years ago, there was the hysteria over Communism, with the House Un-American Activities Committee and the infamous Joe McCarthy ruining the careers of many in Hollywood. That has all been discredited now and we are at last easing up on drugs. Piracy however is still raging. And it can still happen again, with climate scientists such as Michael Mann among some of the more recent victims. They did their utmost to fish through his private emails for evidence that he was incompetent or a liar, and when they couldn't find good enough dirt, they exaggerated what they could. There are powerful interests that would very much like to use more transparency to force their extreme views on copyright on the rest of us. Would you like to be sued for copying a recording to another device? Arrested and your equipment seized, for timeshifting? With total transparency, they could do that. But fortunately for us all, the universe does not work that way. They cannot win, but they can hurt plenty of people before they are at last shut down. I think someday, copying will be legal, and seen as good for everyone, even artists. Until then, we all just have to be a little cautious, and keep it quiet whenever we do anything they could construe as piracy.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Strangest Features of Various Programming Languages?

bzipitidoo C has bigger problems than that trivia (729 comments)

The "if (a = b)" syntax is among the first things newcomers to C are warned about. It's not a big problem.

Null terminated strings are a bigger problem. What do you do if you want to embed nulls in a string? Not use the entire string.h library for starters, have to write your own routines. It really is better to store the length in a simple integer, as long as it's not stupidly small like in Turbo Pascal where they set aside one measly byte, thus making the maximum length a paltry 255 characters. There are simply too many use cases where length information is needed. Having the length makes a strlen function trivial and run in constant time, instead of a time dependent upon the data. We now have the String class in the Standard Template Library which addresses these problems.

Bigger yet are the limitations of the function call syntax. This is not just C, but most programming languages that originated in those times. Most functions have a fixed number of parameters. If it's known how many parameters there are, it is not necessary to enclose the list. Basic math is done without that, eg. c = a +b instead of something gross like equal(&c,add(a,b)), Why can't functions be done the same way? Because they decided to allow variable numbers of parameters, with the printf function being the most prominent example of such a function. This was done in a very awkward manner. Consequently, most programmers avoid it. But we still have to include the parentheses even for functions with a fixed number of parameters. C enshrined parentheses as basically a sigil to distinguish function names from variable names. What does C gain from this? The ability to curry? No. Recursive functions? No, don't need variable length parameter lists for that, it does recursion anyway. The good in C's function syntax is that the programmer doesn't have to use a key word like "call" to call a function, and C has no unnecessary distinction between a function and a "procedure" as in Pascal. Can sort of do some functional style programming by passing pointers to functions. But they didn't get functions good enough. Operator overloading is an ugly hack that tries to address these inherent deficiencies. It doesn't succeed, can't go far enough. Same with polymorphism and name mangling. And C++'s addition of prefacing a parameter with an ampersand is nice, but merely a syntactic shortcut. The latest C/C++ standards also nibble at this problem with things like the introduction of "auto". But it still has the fundamental problem of excessive parentheses, like in LISP. C is all about brevity and economy, in both syntax and compiled code, but in this, they didn't do as well as they could have.

Then there's parallel programming. C wasn't designed for it, and can't do it clearly and cleanly. To be fair, there isn't a general purpose language that really nails parallel programming. Does it make sense to have to clear an array by using a loop, as in "for (i=0; i<MAX; i++) a[i] =0;"? Not if you're trying to use the massive parallelism of current commodity graphics cards. To this day, parallel programming remains a sort of black art, to be attempted only by the most skilled and intrepid programmers. Similar to the reputation that assembler still has in some programming circles, or that network programming used to have (sockets, ooh, scary!) Just include the magic library and call the magic functions, let them handle the complexities.

And that brings me to the next point, the libraries. The language designers didn't put enough consideration into libraries, or they would have realized how huge the entire set of libraries could get and made some provisions for that. Instead, years later namespaces were added. The next problem with the libraries is related to the problems with function calls. The library interface is too language specific. Those header files are a mess that makes it much harder for another language to use the related functions. A common solution is to resort to "wrappers", like much of CPAN for the Perl language. SWIG is another approach. There are also things like f2c and p2c. What's very badly needed is some kind of standard library interface. Not easy to do, not with the variety of programming paradigms out there, but maybe now we know enough to do it.

about two weeks ago
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Research Shows RISC vs. CISC Doesn't Matter

bzipitidoo efficiency matters (161 comments)

This study looks seriously flawed. They just throw up their hands at doing a direct comparison of architectures when they try to use extremely complicated systems and sort of do their best to beat down and control all the factors that introduces. One of the basic principles of a scientific study is that independent variables are controlled. It's very hard to say how much the instruction set architecture matters when you can't tell what pipelining, out of order execution, branch prediction, speculative execution, caching, shadowing (of registers), and so on are doing to speed things up. An external factor that could influence the outcome is temperature. Maybe one computer was in a hotter corner of the test lab than the other, and had to spend extra power just overcoming the higher resistance that higher temperatures cause.

It might have been better to approach this from an angle of simulation. Simulate a more idealized computer system, one without so many factors to control.

about a month ago
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Time Warner Cable Experiences Nationwide Internet Outage

bzipitidoo Re:I was affected (133 comments)

I have TWC and happened to be awake and doing a little Internet surfing around 4AM CST. My connection went down. Now I know what happened.

about a month ago
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How Patent Trolls Destroy Innovation

bzipitidoo Re: How the Patent System Destroys Innovation (97 comments)

Be happy. The universe is not structured that way. Copying happens all the time in nature. Billions and billions of bacteria create copies of themselves every day. Events that generate light or sound radiate faithful copies of energy in many directions and also can generate echoes. One person can address a crowd of thousands, and radio stations can broadcast one signal to millions, because nature does work that way.

The insanity is the direction we tried to take ideas. We've tried to treat ideas like they're gold. Try to hoard them, try to demarcate and issue certificates of ownership. Tried to apply the logic of material ownership to the immaterial. Many people have fallen for the oversimplification, and have bought the lines that "property is property" and "stealing is stealing". But those pesky ideas just won't stay safely locked up. Someone else might get the same idea without ever breaking into the vault. The people who are regularly appalled and unhappy that vaults don't protect ideas are fools. That DRM exists and has been forced into so many products agasint the wishes of people who know better, is a testament to the large numbers of people who have failed to grasp this aspect of nature. The universe is a better place because ideas can't be locked up. It's the fools who have tried mightily to make patents and copyrights work who are struggling against reality. They're fighting an unwinnable battle. They will eventually lose, but until that day comes, they continue to cause a lot of waste, grief, and damage.

about a month ago
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Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up

bzipitidoo Re: Unconstitutinal (376 comments)

Funny. I live in Texas. Cities use red light cameras. From Plano, I've received a, well, not exactly a ticket, but a notice that the car violated a city ordinance for running a red light, and the owner must pay a $75 fine.

about a month ago
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Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up

bzipitidoo Re: Unconstitutinal (376 comments)

No, that may not work. One way a city and their red light camera operating partner has devised to get around those pesky legal requirements that you get to confront your accuser and that they have to prove you were driving is to change the offense from a moving violation to a mere violation of a city ordinance. Doesn't matter who was driving, the owner gets punished regardless. It's similar to being penalized for not mowing your lawn. Your insurance rates do not go up, you don't get a strike on your driving record.

Making the crime into a violation of a city ordinance makes it harder for them to collect, as it's not as serious. An easy way to deal with an accusation is to refuse to pay. But they've also worked out ways to get you if you try that. Even though it's not a moving violation, somehow, you can't renew your driver's license until you've paid the fine. They can also call on a debt collection agency who will happliy trash your credit rating.

about a month ago
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Of the following, I'd rather play ...

bzipitidoo Re:Go (274 comments)

Bah, Go is only another game in the same class as chess and checkers. D&D, why not mention that? How could they miss D&D, classic D&D with pencil, paper and polygonal dice?

about a month ago
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TEPCO: Nearly All Nuclear Fuel Melted At Fukushima No. 3 Reactor

bzipitidoo Re:So.. what? (255 comments)

Don't be so dismissive of Chernobyl and Fukushima as freak, one time events.

The causes you mention are proximate causes. The root cause was human stupidity, recklessness, greed, and folly. That's what sank the Titanic. That's what has caused hundreds of oil spills, including Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez. It's what killed thousands of people in Bhopal. Upon inquiry, over and over we find that the operators had plenty of warnings and plenty of measures they could have taken to avoid problems. They just chose not to heed the warnings. The Titanic didn't have to charge ahead at full speed at night. Didn't have to cut straight through a field of icebergs.

In Fukushima's case, that recklessness manifested as several stupid decisions that saved a little money but made disaster certain if a tsunami struck. They did not build a high enough wall. The engineers knew how high it needed to be and told management, but management overruled or ignored them. Then, they didn't maintain the emergency generators. They skimped on several other measures. The people making these decisions had no business taking such gambles on behalf of the whole world. They were incompetent to understand the true risks they were taking. They had no reason to suppose that a tsunami would never hit, but they behaved as if it wouldn't happen. We would never have allowed such recklessness if we'd known. And that's another thing those fools did-- cover it up. They knew others would not approve of the risks they were taking. They knew. But instead of heeding those very legitimate fears, they denied that they were taking huge risks. They behave like ostriches, sticking their heads in the sand so they couldn't see doom approaching. Then they have the nerve to say that they are blameless and no one could have foreseen that a tsunami could be that big. The only way anyone could think that is by ignoring or dismissing most of knowledge ever recorded and studies ever done on tsunamis. They built for 3.1m and increased to 5.7m, and there had already been 8 tsunamis higher than that in the past century. The 2004 tsunami that hit Sumatra was 24m, and at a few points 30m thanks to funneling effects. They might have even tried a bit of propaganda, bribe someone to cook up bad studies showing that tsunamis are never bigger than some relatively small size.

It will happen again. We do have honest asssessment and reporting in many areas, such as passenger airplanes. Nuclear power could be operated safely. The problem is, will nuclear power be operated safely? Fukushima shows us that it won't. People can't be trusted that far. The continued efforts of TEPCO to downplay the disaster and spin it as not really their fault and also not really so horrific after all shows that they haven't learned their lesson and they still don't take safety seriously enough. Covering their asses seems to be more important than coming clean on matters that imperil the lives of thousands. One example of the spin that nuclear proponents put on the issue is number of deaths. I have pointed out repeatedly that you can't use that alone as a measure of how disastrous an accident was. By that measure, a bad bus crash (Prestonsburg, Kentucky, 27 deaths) could rank as a bigger disaster than a major hurricane (Andrew, 26 direct fatalities).

Would you put those TEPCO bozos in charge of a nuclear plant? I wouldn't.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do About the Sorry State of FOSS Documentation?

bzipitidoo Re:Intellectual Property (430 comments)

Both. Copyright is monopolistic. Why is it that only one publisher at a time can have the "right" to make copies of works still in copyright? There's no good reason for such restrictions. As an example, anyone can print Sherlock Holmes stories. No need to ask anyone for permission. You might think that means no one can profit from printing them, and so no one does, but that is not the case.

As for better models, one word: patronage. Patronage worked for centuries. It worked for Mozart. You might suppose that means only the wealthy would patronize the arts. In Mozart's day, that was largely the case. But today we can do patronage much, much better. Thanks to vastly superior communication, the public can directly participate in the financing of art and science. That was simply not possible centuries ago. Currently we have Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Humble Bundle.

Patronage can be the mainstay, but it's not all. There's also the advertising and endorsement models. Broadcast radio and TV uses advertising.

Having to get permission to share information is indeed tyranny. Tyranny over our very thoughts. Civilization arose and advanced because we invented and improved ways of sharing knowledge. We created writing systems so we could more easily share knowledge. Sharing is the natural state. It is only relatively recently that a coalition of various small interests have conspired to change the thinking on sharing so that now it's vilified as "piracy". The Gutenberg press was a huge advancement that some, sadly predictably, attempted to suppress. One of the forces attempting to control the press was the Church. They wanted to make sure there were no inaccurate Bibles circulating amongst the people no matter how high their rank, and felt this "need" gave them the right to dictate what printers could print. They helped pioneer the whole idea of copyright, for that purpose. Today, it is unthinkable that anyone could censor the Bible. The Pope himself has no authority to tell printers that they can't print whatever version of the Bible they want.

And today, suppression is happening again with our most recent breakthrough, the Internet. It will eventually end, it's only a question of when. The sooner the better.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do About the Sorry State of FOSS Documentation?

bzipitidoo Re:Read the source code (430 comments)

Isn't "Documentation" a 4-Letter Word?

docx ?

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: IT Personnel As Ostriches?

bzipitidoo Re:yes, ignore office politics (246 comments)

Most answers to these questions are concentrating on the snooping. System admins should not snoop, unless specifically told to do so by someone in authority.

But few are talking about office politics. Do not stick your head in the sand! Listening to the grapevine is not snooping. Learn what's going on the same way everyone else can, by keeping up with how the company's presentation did at the trade show and that sort of thing, not by abusing system administrator privileges to read private email and the like. You have an interest in knowing if the company is about to go bankrupt, be sold, or layoff a whole division. You also want to know if you have enemies and if so, who they are and why they hate and fear you so you can guard yourself. It may be that someone somehow views you as a threat to their job, and they'd like to get you before you get them. Doesn't matter that you aren't a threat, what matters is that they see you that way. You may be able to show them otherwise, and they'll stop trying to plant knives in your back. Or maybe not. There are a lot of sick bastards out there who want power so they can enjoy making others sweat, make their lives hell. You don't want to be surprised by your job being eliminated, and if that's likely, you want to know that with as much advance notice as possible.

about 1 month ago

Submissions

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Not a crime?

bzipitidoo bzipitidoo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

bzipitidoo writes "
  • Loitering
  • Speeding
  • Shoplifting
  • Copying
  • Presenting hacks at a conference
  • Refusing to divulge passwords
  • Drugs
  • Sexting
"
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Laredo to be largest city with no bookstore

bzipitidoo bzipitidoo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

bzipitidoo writes "The last bookstore in Laredo, TX (population 230,000) is closing, which fact may be played up as a sign that civilization is declining, at least in Laredo. Is this a tragedy or a blessing, or neither? The city still has public libraries and Internet access and through that Project Gutenberg and online ordering of books. The bookstore is only a business-- it isn't devoted to raising the level of culture, or literacy, it is only there to profit. Perhaps this is only a sign that bookstores are obsolete."
Link to Original Source
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The topics covered in Communications of the ACM

bzipitidoo bzipitidoo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

bzipitidoo writes "The flagship publication of the Association for Computing Machinery, the professional society for Computer Scientists, is Communications of the ACM. In the 1970's CACM had many articles of technical and scientific interest. In the 1980s, CACM shifted emphasis, and today its articles are mostly about the business and management of software engineering. The next most common subject is security and military problems. The remainder tend to be mushy social science in tone, and often have a tie in to business or security. Is that all the ACM thinks Computer Science is? CACM shouldn't be an Applied CS in Business and Military Special Interest Group journal, as the flagship journal, CACM should be a general CS journal. If one never reads any other journals in CS, one could wonder whether CS is becoming "played out", with every year bringing fewer and fewer research papers about algorithms, or programming languages, or other fundamentals of CS, and that's why CACM has shifted emphasis. But then something like the June issue of Scientific American, which was a better issue on CS than any CACM issue in the last decade, comes out. Or, something big happens, such as the solving of Checkers. What's with the ACM and their main publication?"

Journals

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Public digital libraries and the law

bzipitidoo bzipitidoo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

The advantages of a digital library over a traditional book repository are tremendous. No more need for multiple copies of popular books, no reason to have late fees, due dates, charges for lost or damaged books, or indeed the entire system built around library cards and records for tracking who has which books and when they are due. Anyone could download a copy of anything, anytime, and do so without interfering with anyone else's access. Stacks and shelves filled with tons of paper books would all be replaced with computers. This would take less space, and perhaps less maintenance. And it would allow all sorts of extra functionality, such as the ability to search, and have hyperlinks to related works. Card catalogs and cumbersome indexes of magazine and journal articles would not be needed. Also, can handle different sorts of data, such as books and movies, with the same system. Cities could save a bundle.

Currently, though technically doable, this magnificent vision is politically impossible. Copyright law stands squarely in the way. I cannot see any way to have a digital library that is freely accessible, and copyright law. It is the ability to copy any info quickly that makes a digital library so much more powerful, useful, and cheaper than a print library. We should abandon copyright law, and compensate and encourage artists with other means. The benefits of public digital libraries, and of the free exchange of ideas they could promote, are worth much more than copyright law. But because we do have this antiquated legal regime, the few digital libraries that exist are mostly behind paywalls or are private, and contain very small, highly specific collections, and we cannot see the full benefits. Copyright law must be retired.

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bzipitidoo bzipitidoo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Some people instead advocate reforms such as limiting the length of these monopolies (to something like 5 years), not granting so many frivolous patents, not allowing the patenting of software, and reducing the penalties for violations. All those are good reforms to Intellectual Property (IP) law. But I think they don't go far enough, and the root of the problem can be summed up with one word: monopoly. Anti-trust efforts aim to eliminate monopolies, not mitigate them.

Even very short duration monopolies are enough to retard progress. That still provides grounds for expensive lawsuits and threats over alleged violations. By removing patents and copyrights altogether, we remove all basis for these complaints, and save us all a lot of legal expenses. We also save hugely on enforcement and the costs of a larger justice system. If anything should anger us, it is the misuse of our own police forces, paid for by us, in support of these businesses highly dubious ends. And most of all, we stop what has become the primary uses of IP, the blocking of competition and the robbery and extortion of the disadvantaged. People who want less government should support the abolishment of current IP law. As matters stand, many businesses have realized that building a portfolio of patents for defensive purposes is less costly than having an "IP gap". The quality of the patents does not matter, all that matters is that they have some of this peculiar form of currency, and so the quality has lately been poor. The least costly route is total disarmament, where no one need budget for patent portfolios.

Supporters of IP display a blind religious fervor that these laws are a net benefit, that they achieve the intent of advancing science and promoting art enough to justify the costs of these monopolies. I have never seen a reasoned argument, with honest statistics, in support of this position. Of the rational studies I have seen, most focus on one aspect, and conclude that the status quo is indeed bad. We need a study of the real costs and benefits of the current system, versus some alternatives.

What replacements do I propose? Nothing, or patronage. Nothing is of course the easiest, but the intent of the patent system was to buy off inventors-- give them something in exchange for revealing their secrets, and if there is no incentive of any sort for that, many will keep as many secrets as possible. A worse outcome is that people won't bother inventing or creating art. This fear is perhaps overblown. Nevertheless, we can strike a balance to encourage the creating of as much art as we can stomach. A patronage system can provide the incentive. A payment is a far less damaging thing to give inventors and artists than a monopoly. The next problems are valuation and collection. We can surely work out ways of figuring compensation amounts that are as fair as possible, given the huge difficulties in guessing how valuable an idea will turn out to be. Collection is the other big problem, with the first notion being a tax. But there are other ways. A levy can be agreed upon. And it need not be government that does the collecting, valuation, or disbursement, nor the people who pay directly, it could be quasi-governmental private entities managing the system. And paying into it would be advertisers and manufacturers of equipment that benefited from the knowledge, and charities.

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first post! :p

bzipitidoo bzipitidoo writes  |  more than 7 years ago Apparently I'm not invisible anymore! I have some fans-- and freaks! /wave! I've been spending a little less time on Slashdot the past 2 weeks to spend a little more time on another hobby at http://www.gassavers.org

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