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Why We Still Can't Really Put Anything In the Public Domain

coldmist My solution (99 comments)

My proposed solution for this problem in general, is to require not the starting date of copyright on a work, but the expiration date. No more extensions for Mickey, etc. After that date, it is clear that it is in the public domain, no matter what.

In this case, the person simply puts 2014 or some previous year, and it will be out of copyright by virtue of it being 'expired'.

It's not perfect in all cases, but it would prevent a lot of confusion and extensions that come from the current legal nightmare.

5 days ago

Ringing In 2015 With 40 Linux-Friendly Hacker SBCs

coldmist Re:What can I really do with these things? (81 comments)

And, I took that into consideration as well.

Did you not notice my comment about having it run different teams/modes? What if they have a TV available? A student interested in learning to make web pages could make a scoreboard as a web page and use the HDMI port to drive it, etc.

Once you commit to "standard logic chips", that kind of flexibility would go way beyond a simple project that the students would be able to follow/help design/update over time.

For the students, this is more for flexibility with a low-barrier of entry, rather than an optimized one-off solution.

about a month ago

Ringing In 2015 With 40 Linux-Friendly Hacker SBCs

coldmist Re:What can I really do with these things? (81 comments)

We homeschool, and my children are part of a homeschool co-op.

I'm currently working on using a BeagleBone Black to build a Jeapardy like game system, for when the co-op does their knowledge bowls, etc. I am going to build the first 'contestant' box and the main box, and do a class for the advanced students where they will help build the rest of the contestant boxes, and then we will both program in the software to support several different game setups, like 2 teams of 5, 5 teams of 2, 5 teams of 2 with a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd order for teams to answer in, in case the 1st team doesn't get it right, etc. At that point, it's just software.

It's a great introduction to simple circuits (each contestant box will have a button and an LED, so power, ground a few resistors, etc), and simple software to read the GPIO pins and set the LED lights.

The co-op gets a cool Jeapardy team setup exactly how they want it, and the students get hands-on experience building it and programming it.

And, they can re-use the BBB for other projects as the students want to experiment with it. It's a flexible embedded computer that they can use for other projects. Just keep a different SD card for each hardware system that they keep.

about a month ago

Montana Lawmakers Propose 85 Mph Speed Limit On Interstates

coldmist Idaho already has 80MPH (525 comments)

Idaho changed the major interstates, outside of major towns, to 80MPH already this summer. It definitely helps.

Truck speed limit is 70. Some cars/trucks still go 65. No major problems I'm aware of, and in these more sparsely populated states, I think a valid change.

For my pickup, my MPG goes way down if I go above 70MPH, so I usually stay around 68-69MPH.

about 2 months ago

Google Cuts Android Privacy Feature, Says Release Was Unintentional

coldmist Wrong direction (324 comments)

There are a ton of apps I won't install, because they want to be able to make calls, see my call history, my contacts, get precise location, etc. Right now, it's an all-or-nothing approach. Either accept all of that, or don't install. More often than not, I don't install.

Listen up Google:

When you install or update an app, and it shows the permissions for the app, every single one, right there in the install/update popup for the app, should have the on/off slider, and let the user determine what permissions to give the app.

If this inconveniences the developer, too bad. Because as it is, I don't install those apps in the first place.

I have been quite disappointed that this isn't available. If CM has something like this, then I might just go to CM for all my devices.

about a year ago

Taking Back Control of Your Data, With Fine Grained, Explicit Permissions

coldmist Re:Oh the naivete!! (55 comments)

You bet I can! I have my robots.txt file up to date, you know.

about a year ago

Is Daylight Saving Time Worth Saving?

coldmist No need to change it... (646 comments)

My wife looked into this, from a legal standpoint.

Daylight savings is simply a federal standard for which days of the year participating states will change their times.

Read that again.

It's really a state-by-state issue, where any state can voluntarily not participate.

Talk to your state reps if you want to make a difference.

about 2 years ago

Bit9 Says 32 Malicious Programs Whitelisted In Recent Hack

coldmist "Whitelisted" (18 comments)

They were whitelisted? Meaning they are 'ok' and aren't infected? Or do you mean 'specifically named'?

The use of a 'whitelist' is usually a list of 'ok' or unaffected things, not just a specific list.

Incorrect use of the term here.

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: The Search For the Ultimate Engineer's Pen

coldmist The old Franklin Covey Quad pen (712 comments)

I have used them for 20+ years now, and I still love it.

Search for 'quad pen (franklin,yasutomo)' on eBay.

I use black for most notes, blue for TODO items, and red for reminders.

I don't use the pencil much, but it's a 0.5mm.

The tip is fine. Maybe the only issue would be #5, but it's not any worse than a regular ball point pen. It hasn't been a problem for me.

A little spendy, but my current one is going on 15 years.

more than 2 years ago

Does Coding Style Matter?

coldmist Re:Kinda Subjective but... (479 comments)

There are no benefits whatsoever to using spaces, only downsides.

Yes, when you have your HTML editor set to show 2 character indents for tabs, but your browser's 'view source' option shows it at as 8.

Besides using a non-monospace font, it will always look the same no matter what editor you (or someone else) brings it up in.

Flexibility has it's downsides, just as being too rigid has its downsides.

It's a choice. Most people pick one and stick with it.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: No-Install Programming At Work?

coldmist Strawberry Perl (386 comments)

It's a portable perl distribution. Put it on a thumbdrive, and use Notepad to edit code.

more than 2 years ago

IEEE Spectrum Digs Into the Future of Money

coldmist Understanding Money (292 comments)

The lack of understanding of what 'money' is, will destroy modern society.

Nations are imploding under it. Families are manipulated by it.

Fractional reserve banking allows bankers to multiply their 'investments' 100-fold, simply by tweaking numbers on their balance sheet.

There is a huge difference between 'credit'-based money (or money issued with interest associated to it -- either central banks to a government or a credit card to a consumer) and earnings- or asset-based money (like your checking/savings account -- where you have a stockpile and draw on it, or money backed by assets, like gold or something).

Until more people understand the basics, and want to return to 'sound' money that isn't manipulated on a whim, our society will be on a downhill slide.

For digital transactions: It's fine, as long as the numbers being floated around are backed by assets and are audited as such. I don't care if it's pieces of paper, pieces of metal, bits flying through the air.

But, at the end of the day, the more easily governments/banks can manipulate the basic monetary unit, and the more middle-men siphon off part of it (reducing profit for others), there will be far-reaching consequences.

Basic money concepts drive an economy. Either into miraculous (like the 1800s in the US) or disastrous (like the Weimer Republic) effects.

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: What If Intellectual Property Expired After Five Years?

coldmist Lack of Understanding (577 comments)

I saw the title and was already afraid of how the post was going to be worded. Within reading the first 2 sentences of this article, I was cringing.

If you can't express yourself properly, nobody will take you seriously, and you won't win any intellectual argument.

Let's reword the title: What if Exclusive Intellectual Property Control Expired After 5 Years?

See the change? Intellectual property (or IP as everyone calls it) has existed, exists, and will exist forever. The exclusive control (with a few exceptions) over reproduction, distribution, etc is a limited monopoly granted by copyright and patent law, where the exclusive control lasts for a finite time. The authority to do any of this is in the US Constitution, but only in the simplest of terms. In order to change it, for all intents and purposes, one needs only to get (or buy) legislation--not amending the constitution itself--to change the rules of the game.

And, even this monopoly is a modern creation. Historically, most of all the worlds best music, paintings, etc were produced under patronage, where a wealthy person would pay the creator (which might include letting the person live on his estate, etc) to make a work for him. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patronage#Arts

Now, on to the real reason of your article: What if this exclusive control period was reduced to 5 years.

I have looked at this for a long time, and I have come to some conclusions myself. Let me share my conclusions.

My personal opinion: Patents have never had their duration period expanded. They are still 20 years. Why? Patents benefit companies/corporations for the short term for the original purpose -- to prevent a competitor from 'stealing' the idea and mass-producing it, reducing your rewards -- in the short term, but it is in their interest to get access to the IP in the long term. So, it's "naturally" limited in that sense. If one company got all patents lengthened to 100 years, they wouldn't be able to use a competitor's ideas either for 100 years.

But copyright is another matter. In this case, it's publishers (today) against the consumer. There is no "natural" limitation in the sense that to a publisher, the consumer is just another lowest common denominator revenue target, and not a competitor (that they want to 'limit') nor a high-value content producer that they can exploit. Once you see this, you see how they try to get copyrights extended to 'one day short of forever' (can't remember which liberal congressman said that recently, but one did) so they can abuse/extend their monopoly against 'us' if you will, with the content they already control.

For copyrights, there is no 'natural' competition to keep the game honest. So, will your 5-year period ever happen? Not without a revolution.

Now, as to your 5-year period. It's too short. It takes 3-6 years to get a product, like a new car model or a new CPU architecture, or a new DRAM standard, etc into production and into the market. With a 5-year exclusive period, it could be over before a company can make any money on their 'creativity' and a competitor could steal their thunder quite easily. For copyright as well, it could take 2-5 years to produce a movie, and they lose control of it in the same time as it took to make it? That makes it too short, as it could dissuade creative people from even trying to write/produce content.

But, the current 120-150 years is a joke. The US founding fathers struck a good balance: An initial 14-year copyright term, with an optional 14 years if the author is still alive and deemed it 'worth it' to pay the fees to extend it once more for another 14 years.

Since most books only have a single printing, the first term is long enough to motivate people to 'produce', while it's short enough that if it doesn't work out as the author intended, then the public can extend the idea on their own. It's the porridge is too cold/hot problem. There has to be a balance so everyone is benefited.

Let's look at Star Wars as an example. With the original copyright terms, after 28 years, me or my son, and anyone else, could start producing movies, writing books, etc, in the Star Wars universe. The balance is, George Lucas should get no more than 28 years to make his money off of his efforts. With 28 years, the original Star Wars would have been in the public domain in 2006. (In today's world, I would even argue a 10/20 year term is long enough, but at least we are still in the same order-of-magnitude.)

From a cultural standpoint, that's about half of a person's productive lifetime. With a 28 year copyright term, a person or society in general would be free to expand the Star Wars universe how they see fit. This is the compromise that copyright was supposed to provide: the author could make their money, while society (that was alive/effected at the time of initial release) could benefit from the creativity, and then expand on it.

With current copyright laws, my son will never 'legally' be able to make/produce/participate in a fanfiction movie in the Star Wars universe. Maybe not even his son, or his son's son. When multiple generations of 'us' can't legally be creative with an idea like Star Wars, that helped shape a generation's idea of lasers going pew pew in space, something is wrong.

But, Would George spend 100 million dollars to produce another movie, if he lost all exclusive rights to it in 5 years? Probably not. Then, people aren't publishing creativity because they couldn't make enough money off of projects to justify them. That swings the pendulum too far to the other extreme.

So, to make a long-story short, 5 years is too short. The current term is wayyy too long. Something in the 10-20 year range is reasonable.

One last point. From a software standpoint, I would like to see a change where if someone wants copyrights on software, they would have to provide the source code to a government agency, and after their term, the source code is released. Then, other people could read/learn/extend it much easier.

Also, once a thing is published, it should never have its term lengthened. Rather than stating the publishing date in the front cover of a book, it should have printed the copyright expiration date. If laws change in the meantime to shorten it, great. If not, everyone still knows when the book will be in the public domain -- no matter what. It's mess right now with all the extensions, changes, etc to know when a book/movie/work is in the public domain so people can start to reproduce it.

more than 2 years ago

Mastering Engineer Explains Types of Compression, Effects On Today's Music

coldmist Mastering Engineer... (382 comments)

I can't be the only one that tried to read the headline and thought "another screwed up Slashdot title", thinking it was a book title for "Mastering Engineering" or something other than an "audio" mastering engineer?

Couldn't the editors have put 'Audio' at the front of the subject to give it a point of reference?


more than 2 years ago

Did Benjamin Franklin Invent Daylight Saving Time?

coldmist Do we have to actually 'abolish' it? (395 comments)


My wife hates DST, so she looked into the actual law.

Here it is: The federal US government sets the days that the DST transition happens on. It's up to the individual states to go on DST or not.

So, you could work at a state level to just have your state not participate in it.

That's it.

more than 2 years ago

Notes On Reducing Firefox's Memory Consumption

coldmist Memory usage (297 comments)

I don't remember right now the setting, but what finally 'fixed' FF's big memory usage for me was reducing the number of pages from the history that it keeps in memory, in case you hit the 'back' button.

There's a setting that controls this. I think it's browser.sessionhistory.max_entries Search for that.

If you browse image-intensive sites, I saw memory usage get up to 4-6GB before. Now, it never goes over 1GB, with 50 misc tabs open still.

about 3 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Tech For Small Library Automation?

coldmist If not too extensive... (188 comments)

I have used MediaMan in the past, and enjoyed what it brought to the table. http://www.imediaman.com/products/mediaman.html

It supports flagging books as loaned out to person X, etc. It can export the database as a website so people can hit a web page to know if a book is in or out, etc.

They have a server product, but I've never used it.

I'm not associated with the project, just a user of it.

Other similar media organizers probably exist too, depending on how "formal" you want the experience to be, and if other people will touch the computer or not (ie you will enter the information into the computer once a day or something).

Search for Koha, it seems like the 'professional' tool for the job, if you want to go that far.

about 3 years ago

How Publishers Are Cutting Their Own Throats With eBook DRM

coldmist My Own Entry Point (355 comments)

If I could buy an epub file for a book, knowing that it is well-done by the publisher, and not just a simple OCR job of the printed copy, I would pay up to $5 for books.

More than that, and for any other format with or without DRM, and I don't buy it.

more than 3 years ago

World's Biggest Gold Coin Minted In Australia

coldmist Interesting statistic (171 comments)

From what I've read, all the gold in the world that has been mined could fill something like 2 olympic swimming pools, or something like that.

Considering this is like 32 inches x 5 inches, think of that sitting in the bottom of an olympic pool. Not too big, but still pretty impressive considering the relative size.

more than 3 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Destroy Hard Drives?

coldmist At least... (1016 comments)

one shot from a .30-06 rifle. Punches a nice little hole in the casing, and shatters the platters inside. It's quite fun too!

more than 3 years ago



Legal Code in a version control system?

coldmist coldmist writes  |  more than 5 years ago

coldmist (154493) writes "Sen. Thomas Carper (D.-Del.) said: "So, legislative language is so arcane, so confusing, refers to other parts of the code--'and after the first syllable insert the word X'--and it's just, it really doesn't make much sense." So, why don't they put it in SVN (or some similar VCS) where people can tkdiff the changes (ie new legislation is in a branch) or output a patchset? If a bill is passed, it's merged into the trunk. It just seems so logical to me, yet I can't find any mention of doing this on the web. What do you think?"
Link to Original Source


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