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The Benefits of Inequality

chub_mackerel Absolutists and Non-Absolutists (254 comments)

It is a common problem with absolutists. They think everything is binary when it's nested case statements with table-driven variables.

It's a problem wth all absolutists? ;)

Yes, there are two kinds of binary absolutists: those that can be put into one of two mutually exclusive categories, and those that cannot!

about 6 months ago

German Scientists Successfully Test Brain-Controlled Flight Simulator

chub_mackerel Re:LOL ... (73 comments)

Yes, it was a movie. Clint Eastwood could tell you that the problem with this is that in order to control the plane you must think in German.

about 8 months ago

US Democrats Introduce Bill To Restore Net Neutrality

chub_mackerel Re:It's incredibly frustrating... (535 comments)

...My fix would require local municipalities to operate the Fiber to the home, and bring it all into a COLO facility that provides Service Providers access to the FIOS lines...We don't need legislation to protect the current formula, we need legislation that gives new players opportunity to create new markets, that users are demanding.

I'm not sure if this was your point, but aren't you just describing legislation that requires, not to put too fine a point on it, "network neutrality"? Operated by municipalities instead of companies perhaps, but otherwise the (physical) FIOS lines are paid for by service providers, who (presumably) get access to that infrastructure on an equal (nonpreferential/neutral) basis? Meaning, the municipality can't cut special deals for particular content providers, slowing down others' content... right?

about a year ago

NZ Professor Advocates Civil Disobedience Against Mass Surveillance

chub_mackerel Re:Us vs them (321 comments)

That's right. We have to stand against those who think in this dualistic way. There are two kinds of people: Those who think of themselves as belonging in one of two mutually exclusive categories, and those who don't...

about a year and a half ago

HBO Asks Google To Take Down "Infringing" VLC Media Player

chub_mackerel Re:VLC should takedown HBO (364 comments)

Actually, maybe VLC should sue HBO for trademark infringement.

After all, shouldn't it be the owner of the VLC software and trademark that does things like enforce IP rights? If someone else tries to enforce my rights without my permission, that seems awfully *confusing* to me... almost by definition, a trademark infringement.

I dunno, worth a shot.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Where Should a Geek's Charitable Donations Go?

chub_mackerel Your Local Community College (263 comments)

Consider your local community college when deciding where to put your money. You can probably connect with someone in the college's foundation and get a great tour. Community colleges provide cheap education for geeks and non-geeks alike. They've seen enrollment skyrocket as the economy (and state funding) has tanked.

Connect up with the college's foundation for options. Depending on how much you're talking about, you can do endowments or 1-time gifts, etc. You can set it up to go to one or more departments if you like what the faculty members are doing (CS, math, science, applied tech programs of different kinds), or to student clubs if you like what they're up to, or just set up scholarships for students in technical fields. You could target basic skills (math literacy), specific sciences, computing, even the library.

more than 2 years ago

The Sweet Mystery of Science

chub_mackerel Teaching about what you don't know (259 comments)

about what you don't know?

It's all "what we don't know" which is why it's so neat. I remember the following quote, I just don't remember the source:

"The difference between an old scientific theory and a new one is that the old theory is wrong in more subtle ways."

Science is the process by which we work together to collectively improve our explanations and predictions about the world over time. It's how we develop, test, and explain/record our best guesses. Our current best guesses are likely to be improved in the future (i.e. they are "wrong"), we just don't yet know how.

Teaching science in this spirit means teaching humility as part of the lesson. I suspect the author (and many others involved in learning science, and too many on the teaching side) miss this entirely. They experience "Science" as a body of techniques, terminology, and content-specific knowledge that they struggled to master, when science is more correctly described as the process that got us there.

more than 2 years ago

How Apple Came To Control the Component Market

chub_mackerel Monopoly through monopsony? (350 comments)

If you have "innovative" agreements with your upstream suppliers that make it impossible for your competitors to bring products like yours to market, then aren't you still a "monopolist" as far as downstream consumers are concerned? Whether you are abusing your monopoly power may be another question, but it still sounds like monopoly to me.

more than 3 years ago

Facebook Facial Recognition Raises New Privacy Concerns

chub_mackerel "Do Not Track" (159 comments)

Yes, this is the thing that bugs me as well, about the whole concept of social media offered by companies that think information about friends/associations should be a commodity... There's no way to opt out as others provide information about you even if you don't participate.

Maybe we can get "Do Not Track" barcodes tattooed on our foreheads.

I'm half serious about this (OK, maybe not the tattoo part) -- some creative RMS or legal type needs to come up with some shrink-wrap-like default privacy opt-out agreement that subverts all this crap, in the same way that open source licenses turns copyright around.

Example: a single bar code that anyone can place on their shirt, clothes, whatever. The assumption being that any system capable of facial recognition is also capable of reading a barcode... And that the meaning of the barcode - reflected in an online "trackwrap" license - is essentially "this person can not be tracked," or more exactly, "any person/organization voluntarily tracking this person in also agreeing to the terms of the agreement posted online at www.don'ttrackmeblablabla.org"

Anyone want to take a crack at this? I'm willing to pitch in.

more than 3 years ago

Google Goes After Content Farms

chub_mackerel Re:No plugin, just extend what you have already. (345 comments)

Second that, and I'd also like a checkbox next to the "Top Stories" in Google news that would allow me to selectively scrub them out of my news page. I've seen some hacks to do this with specific sources such as Fox News but I'm more interested in topics (e.g. "Lohan" etc.).

more than 3 years ago

How often do you Google yourself?

chub_mackerel More missing options (225 comments)

I google myself only until I need glasses.

more than 4 years ago

'Wi-Fi Illness' Spreads To Ontario Public Schools

chub_mackerel Re:Spectral evidence is irrefutable! (663 comments)

Yeah, I meant it as more of a witch than a troll, really. Perhaps "see if the school's routers will float in water" might have been a bit more obvious... I went for the more subtle approach, but apparently some moderators take everything at face value! ;)

more than 4 years ago

The Canadian Who Holds the Key To the Internet

chub_mackerel seven? nine? three? (199 comments)

Ritchie was recently chosen to hold one of seven smartcards that can rebuild the root key that underpins this system' called DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions).

I thought the dwarves got seven cards. And, the humans got nine... and the elves three. Or, am I mixing something up?

more than 4 years ago

Study Finds 0.3% of BitTorrent Files Definitely Legal

chub_mackerel they did *some* license checking (321 comments)

Alright -- to respond to myself --it does look like the researchers did some sort of manual license checking for each commonly-shared work, but the article is pretty silent on what, exactly, that entailed. I'm virtually certain it didn't involve checking for fair use possibilities.

I'm curious as to how the same logic would have described the simple use of a VCR prior to the Sony case: "100% of material recorded on VCRs is copyrighted and definitely illegal." All copyrighted, yes, but much of the recording activity was later found to be "time-shifting": a fair use, and therefore legal and not an infringement.

What I'd really like to see therefore is a study where the researchers sample of the downloaders/sharers involved to see whether they make fair-use-sounding arguments or not. (Couldn't buy it another way, replacing my lost or worn-out copy, sampling music I wouldn't have bought otherwise, etc.) Sure some of this might not pass muster as fair use if eventually tested, but it makes a difference, particularly since, as the article notes, P2P users actually buy more media per capital than non-P2P users.

Such a study wouldn't break down content by "type of content" but by "type of use". Not doing so is a dead giveaway that the study isn't designed to seriously address the fair use issues at all.

more than 4 years ago

Study Finds 0.3% of BitTorrent Files Definitely Legal

chub_mackerel "Copyrighted" is not "Infringing," dammit. (321 comments)

"Copyrighted" refers to the work. "Infringing" refers to the *use* of the work. The first does not imply the second.

The aricle says they checked "...whether the file was confirmed to be copyrighted..." And then apparently made the jump to assuming that anything copyrighted must be illegal, sliding immediately into called them "infringing files."

Of course by that metric all the Linux distros are illegal as well since they too are "copyrighted." As is any blog post, web page, or photo taken in the last, say, 70 years. As is anything that is shared properly according to the terms of any license. Now the study may have actually looked at the license terms in place for each work, but this definitely not what the article *said*.

Not to mention that regardless of any express license terms, sharing that qualifies as fair use is also NOT AN INFRINGMENT and is LEGAL and should not be described as illegal or as "infringing files."

Any indication whether these types of things (terms of the licenses according to each item, whether the sharing events qualified as fair use) were taken into account? If not, then I'd counter by noting that 100% of the material on Warner Bros' home page is copyrighted too. Should I say it's being shared "illegally"? Of course not, but my whole point is that if you play with semantics loosely enough, you'll find that probably the vast majority of the material on the Net as a whole is "illegal" and "copyrighted."


more than 4 years ago

In Oregon, Wind Power Surges Disrupting Grid

chub_mackerel Batteries... (506 comments)

This post gets at what seems like the obvious solution to me: "batteries".

Is battery tech so far behind generator tech that each windmill can't, say, charge a local battery for a few hours at high RPM, and then have that energy bleed out into the grid over time? This is a serious question - I have no idea what state-of-the-art battery technology is but it seems pretty obvious that these things should go together, just like they do in a car (alternator/battery).

I get that a fleet of electric car batteries and substations could serve that purpose, but then (once again) the inability of the grid becomes an issue, unless the cars/substations are right there at the windmills.

So, are large capacity batteries attached to each windmill just not feasible?

more than 4 years ago

Frank Zappa's Influence On Linux and FOSS Development

chub_mackerel Re: Acquiring a taste for FZ (195 comments)

Yes, Acquiring a taste for Zappa can be done, even for the uninitiated/unsuspecting.

When I was in college I had a cassette with "Thing Fish" on it, and my roommate accidentally took it home with him for summer break. He got a delivery job that summer. The company truck had a cassette deck in it but no CD player. Since my roommate had no cassettes, he decided to give "Thing Fish" a listen (or three). Once he started listening to it he really loved it. This is a guy who previously had pretty mainstream musical tastes.

So I'd say as long as you're open to the weirdness and not too easily offended, you should give it a shot.

more than 4 years ago


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