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Ask Slashdot: How/Where To Start Watching Dr. Who?

eck011219 Re:Starting with Chris Eccleston (655 comments)

I mostly don't disagree, but I would only say that starting with Eccleston is more akin to starting with "Next Generation," not "Enterprise." The new Doctor Who is very well-formed and works well as a standalone series, but is nicely enhanced by any information you might have from the original.

Dang, that's a level of sci-fi geektalk I never imagined I'd write. But there it is, and I'm not sorry.

more than 3 years ago
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Scammers Target Neopets Users

eck011219 Thank heavens ... (122 comments)

My daughter spent an entire road trip (two days in the car each way) unlocking her NeoPet. The beeping was enough to make you drive with your elbows so you had both hands free to pull your ears off. Now I can simply say, "honey, if you play with your NeoPet character online, bad people will take all Daddy's money away and we'll have to live under a bridge." Aaaahhh, another aggravation averted. Thanks, scammers!

more than 5 years ago
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An Early Look At What's Coming In PHP V6

eck011219 Re:Cry me a river (307 comments)

Moreover, most customers with a CMS don't want to think about the current version of the underlying programming language of their CMS, they want to sell loofas or t-shirts or whatever. Convincing a client that they need to buy x hours of your time to upgrade them is very difficult if they feel that things have been running along smoothly up until now.

I'm not saying you don't need to do it, but it's certainly hard to sell. As often as not, I end up eating these kinds of charges because I'd burn more hours explaining it than I would on the upgrade.

more than 5 years ago
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Air Force One Flyby Causes Brief Panic In NYC

eck011219 "Fire!" in a movie theater? (898 comments)

Based on other comments, my opinion will clearly be unpopular. But how is this not akin to shouting "fire!" in a movie theater? Lower Manhattan is full of people who lived through 9/11, and it doesn't seem unreasonable to me that a low-flying 747 being escorted by a fighter jet would send up warning flags for those people. Add to that the fact that a lot of people stuck it out in the Twin Towers expecting to be rescued (and in doing so, died), and it makes some sense that people would high-tail it out of a tall building in the vicinity. Given all of that, I think it's rather small to dismiss a bunch of people who reacted to this today as wusses.

This wasn't a criminal act, it wasn't an act of terror. It was an insensitive and stupid act. Seems to me a little extra thought could have come up with a better solution than doing this that DOESN'T run the risk of sending a lot of people into a panic?

Besides, isn't this what Photoshop is for?

more than 4 years ago
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Amazon Culls "Offensive" Books From Search System

eck011219 Re:Already removed my links. (470 comments)

MOD PARENT UP, please!

I work every day with self-publishing authors, and Amazon's recent policies have completely blown away the concept that you could spend your money, get your books, sell your books, and make your millions. Now your MANUFACTURING PROCESS, not only your book itself, has to be approved by (and provided by) Amazon to be considered valid. Now you have to use Amazon's self-publishing arm (BookSurge) if you want your self-published book to be listed on Amazon. That's wrong on the surface, but when you dig deeper you find that they provide crappy product at prohibitive pricing, too.

Amazon can do what it wants, I suppose, but it's screwing a lot of earnest authors who are trying to make a name for themselves and haven't, for whatever reason, been able to sell their book to a royalty publisher. As I understand it, the "Chicken Soup For the Soul" series started as a self-published book -- say what you will about it, but it certainly spoke to a lot of people. That series would have never gotten off the ground under the current situation -- Amazon has taken control of the online bookselling world, and you are required to use their crappy services to produce your book if you want to sell it there. I'm sure this doesn't legally constitute a monopoly, but it's sure bad behavior given what Amazon used to say it was.

Personally, I think Amazon has lost sight of what it started out to be -- a community of book lovers. (I'm not just making this up -- I was at a Jeff Bezos keynote where he said this very thing.) Again, they can do what they please, but I was done spending money there when they began to discriminate against non-Amazon self-publishing authors.

more than 5 years ago
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How Do I Make My Netbook More Manly?

eck011219 This should work with the ladies ... (993 comments)

Should be easy -- tell them that the smaller form factor allows you more flexibility and fits more comfortably in the basket of your Segway. Also, the specs would be a nightmare with a bloaty OS like Vista (or Windows 7 RC[whatever]), but it's more than sufficient for your Linux install.

That should do it.

(And if you meet a lady where it DOES do it, marry her.)

more than 5 years ago
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Open Source In Public K-12 Schools?

eck011219 Re:Forget it (323 comments)

Yeah. It's also hard to take seriously someone who plays grammar cop, doesn't take into account the possibility that "hurd" might be curious enough in an otherwise well-crafted post to be worth a quick Wikipedia search, and doesn't know the difference between "its" and "it's."

Just saying ... I wouldn't begrudge you your grammar error/oversight if you weren't such a poo about others (oh, and wrong, too). But hell, if you're counting, let's count accurately. The other guy: 1. You: 0. Nice use of "ensure," though -- a lot of AC's get that one wrong.

Ready for round two?

Honestly, it's posts like this that make me wish there was no AC option on Slashdot. If you're joking or teasing, stand by it and make it funny or obvious enough to not just seem like crap-spraying. If you're not, take your medicine. And if you're right (not the case here, but I'm just saying), post a correction in such a way as to be helpful and NOT just an elitist fop (and stand by it by using your real ID so we all know who we're talking to as the conversation progresses). But this nonsense of being able to log out and play jerk for a minute just waters down the discourse around here. Discourse which, given the average intelligence of the folks around here, can be pretty fantastic and enlightening. But a community-moderated system whose scrutiny you can opt in or out of can't be well moderated, no matter how hard the honest folks try.

more than 5 years ago
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Authors Guild President Wants To End Royalty-Free TTS On Kindle

eck011219 Re:Audio books are worth more than e-books (539 comments)

The author isn't getting paid twice, exactly.

In a typical (though probably oversimplified for sake of argument) royalty publishing situation, the author gets paid an agreed-upon amount for writing the book. Then he or she gets a royalty payment for every unit sold. So that lump payment at the beginning only comes once, and every unit (be it audio, print, braille, skywriting, whatever) generates another very small royalty payment for the author. It's not really a double-pay situation like you're suggesting.

As for the company selling the audio version (whether generated or recorded) making money, don't you think the price of the TTS function is rolled into the price of the Kindle? Amazon is a great many things, good and bad, but they're not the type to sell something without being deeply aware of a) its inherent value and b) its practical value (where the top edge of what a consumer will pay for it is). Lots of people wanted TTS on the Kindle, so they added it to this version. If lots of people ask for it and it's not included in the new device, those people will expect to pay a little less. So Amazon is making money by selling the TTS feature, even if it's just rolled into the total price.

(My argument is weakened in this particular case as there is a large segment of the population that will buy a Kindle for whatever price it's sold for [within reason], and there's no real industry standard price yet for this type of device. Still, bear with me.)

No, the quality isn't the same as an audiobook. And no, the ultimate money-making potential of the lumped-in cost of the TTS feature doesn't equal that of selling a totally separate audiobook. But I think the Authors' Guild makes a valid point in that whether it's a penny or a dollar, Amazon has started selling existing content in a different form (call it audiobook or call it something else, it's louder than a paperback book and I can use it in the dark) without compensation for the author. Whether you think it's a source of financial ruin for authors or just the principle of the thing, both seem to me to be valid reasons to insist that Amazon not be so cavalier about it.

more than 5 years ago
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Authors Guild President Wants To End Royalty-Free TTS On Kindle

eck011219 Re:Audio books are worth more than e-books (539 comments)

All good points -- I'll go along with a lot of this. All I would say in response to the word-vs-book argument (which is an interesting one) is that we also have to look at what it replaces. No, TTS won't produce a book read out loud as elegantly as an audiobook would. But it will produce something good *enough* for a lot of people, which will cut into profits that both publishers and authors can reasonably expect.

Maybe, then, this is less of an infringement angle and more of an issue of lost earnings. But when the lost earnings are due to reuse of content, I think it gets into a very muddy area for everyone.

But back to the context issue (I think I'm starting to argue on two fronts, and that's never a good sign). I guess you could also argue that use of single words or phrases falls into the category of fair use, which would mean that a book read via TTS could be 200,000 individual instances of fair use. But isn't the TTS function reading those words in a certain order? Doesn't that recreate the context you're talking about? If I arrange those pixels in such a way as to reproduce that painting exactly except for size and precise color matching (a good parallel to a book read poorly by an automated robot thing), can I now go out and sell it as postcards on the corner?

I'm not trying to be belligerent -- I very much appreciate your post. It's an interesting angle, and contains the least amount of insults to me for my opinions. :) And I'm enjoying the debate. But what I'm noticing is that there's a clean break on this issue down Kindle fan vs. author lines. Not surprising, I guess, but a little alarming that neither side can see the other's point at all.

Again, I have no issue with TTS deals being struck for every future book out there. I'm just concerned that existing works are being thrust into this new arena without any regard to the author or publisher. Kind of an Amazon staple, but this feels worse than some of their other actions.

more than 5 years ago
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Authors Guild President Wants To End Royalty-Free TTS On Kindle

eck011219 Re:Audio books are worth more than e-books (539 comments)

No, I'm arguing that selling a tape is the same as selling a machine that recreates that tape every time I want one.

And while I appreciate your witty turn of phrase, I'm trying to debate a point here. Agree or disagree. Calling me names doesn't get us anywhere. Except now I know what you are.

more than 5 years ago
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Authors Guild President Wants To End Royalty-Free TTS On Kindle

eck011219 Re:Audio books are worth more than e-books (539 comments)

I would simply argue that a mechanism that can read out loud repeatedly at any time and any place IS a distribution of what is, effectively, an audio recording.

Don't get me wrong -- I don't want it to go away. I just want authors and publishers to see a part of the profits. What Amazon is doing is basically selling a book to someone along with a "get-out-of-the-audio-book-free" card. Many tech-savvy customers who, barring the Kindle, would buy a print version AND an audio version for their iPod, will buy just one copy. As I said before, the audiobook has its own VALUE that is independent of a print version. I don't need to dick people for multiple copies of a book, but the versions are inherently different in practice and each has its own value.

more than 5 years ago
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Authors Guild President Wants To End Royalty-Free TTS On Kindle

eck011219 Re:Audio books are worth more than e-books (539 comments)

I forgot to add one other very important point.

It's not up to Amazon to decide what's a trivial and what's a significant copy of a work. By embedding a function in the Kindle that can do this on the fly MOST certainly creates a lasting work (and a dynamic one at that) that competes with the author's official release. Arguably it creates a far more damaging product in the end, as the creator of the secondary work doesn't have to record a new audio version for, say, the second edition or the Spanish version or the abridged version or whatever.

I'm not saying it should be removed from the Kindle. I am, however, saying that under current legal protection of authors and publishers, audio versions of books sold on the Kindle should have to be sold separately or unlocked for a fee or whatever. I doubt seriously that publishers OR authors would object to a lesser but fair fee or royalty for their works to be reused by this TTS thing on the Kindle. Right now, though, Amazon has taken the position that it should be free with the purchase of the "print" version.

Legally (and ethically), you simply don't get to create a new medium and then lump other media into it just because it's a cool selling point. The law can change, but you need to make it change before you start sidestepping valid sales that benefit publishers and authors.

more than 5 years ago
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Authors Guild President Wants To End Royalty-Free TTS On Kindle

eck011219 Re:Audio books are worth more than e-books (539 comments)

Compelling argument, but I still say it's reproducing an existing medium (audiobooks).

Your argument is a good one if you're Amazon. However, there are equally strong arguments from the author's standpoint. Typically contracts signed between authors and publishers are ridiculously detailed in what is allowed (and by definition and inference what is not). The author is held to strict guidelines about what he or she can do during promotion or sales of the book so as not to screw the publisher who's underwriting it all, and the publisher is similarly limited in the other direction. How do you expect them to react if, say, the distributor is suddenly allowed to give away Xeroxed copies of the book with every purchase of a bookmark? No, it's not as nice to hold or read as the bound book. But it's still going to cut into the sales figures and the author's royalties.

Taken at the most optimistic face value, this is a new, more efficient method of creating an existing medium. Whether created in a studio by a voiceover artist or on the fly by a device, the end result is effectively the same. I still don't see enough difference between the two to allow Amazon to do this without compensating the publisher (and therefore hopefully the author).

How is your analogy different from me buying a $5 disposable camera, taking a nice picture in good light of a painting in a commercial art gallery, and running off prints to sell to people? Sure, I filtered the art through a new layer of technology, but it's still not mine to sell if (and only if) it's currently under copyright. Which most of these books are.

I'm no lawyer, so I could be full of beans. But logic and what I know of IP law seem to me to be on my side here.

more than 5 years ago
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Authors Guild President Wants To End Royalty-Free TTS On Kindle

eck011219 Re:Audio books are worth more than e-books (539 comments)

Moreover, the effort put into the audiobook is the cost of the audiobook. I think the point here is that the value of the audiobook is that you can consume it while walking, driving, biking, whatever. It's also of additional value to people with vision issues and people with reading issues (dyslexia, for example).

I work with authors and have my opinions about the law and what they should be able to expect in protection of their profits, but do understand some of the opinions around here. However, the law, simply put, is the law. Can I record a Christopher Moore book myself and sell it for profit without permission? Nope. And I don't see how my doing that is defensibly different from my writing a piece of code (building a robot, if you will) to read it out loud.

On a slightly different front, a lot of the arguments I've heard in favor of the TTS feature seem to be from current Kindle owners who are excited to upgrade and get their ebooks read to them. When they find out they may have to buy a separate TTS copy or pay some kind of additional TTS unlock fee, they get grumpy. Hardly a strong legal argument.

more than 5 years ago
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Dell Selling Dual-Boot Laptops

eck011219 Re:Disagree with summary (289 comments)

Indeed -- I spend most of many days in Photoshop and InDesign. I could run them in a VM, but I hate to use up processor or memory for that when I could get it all for my apps.

I kept a Mac and a PC for a while, but since I do a lot of web development there were some tools I was more comfortable with in Windows. So my daughter has the Mac now (still around for the two or three times a year I need it) and I have an old box behind me running Kubuntu. I hate to wait for reboots, so I find that just having discrete machines for each OS is preferable if you can swing it. (Not that my main system, a laptop, doesn't dual boot, too -- you never know when you're going to need to escape Windows for a while.)

The only reason I haven't made the move to all Linux is the apps I need, not any kind of lack of power -- if I could run some of the stuff I need natively, I'd consider the switch.

more than 5 years ago
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Microsoft 'Vista Capable' Settlement Cost Could Be Over $8 Billion

eck011219 Another concern (313 comments)

You know, I love a good Microsoft pummeling as much as the next guy, but my concern is that MS is just now starting to come around to a slightly more rational way of thinking about its customers. I'm cautiously optimistic about Windows 7 in this regard.

But if you cut an $8 billion hole in Microsoft, you run the risk of making them frantic to patch that hole. And as we know, they have some pretty well-developed skills for being really aggressive at the expense of the end user.

I'm not saying they shouldn't be penalized (and consumers shouldn't be compensated), but this was also the fault of the hardware manufacturers who pushed so hard on Microsoft to get the sticker on their products. Spread the blame more equitably across ALL guilty parties, and you may avoid any one entity getting that caged-animal mentality that only ends up hurting the consumer.

more than 5 years ago
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Fun Things To Do With a Math Or Science Degree?

eck011219 Sports statistician? (564 comments)

Baseball statistician popped into my mind immediately, if she likes sports.

There's also a lot of number crunching in politics, too, and there's the potential of doing quite a bit of good for society. Or evil. You know, whatever she's into.

more than 5 years ago

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