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Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet

gwolf Re:Saddest line ever (140 comments)

I don't live in a communist state (I live in Mexico), but you will find some of the line you quote applying here — Sadly, every time less. The national government is the sole owner of strategic areas, such as petroleum, electricity generation and distribution, water extraction and distribution. some other areas, such as mining, are operated by concessions: The State is the sole owner, but specific companies can bid for the right to exploit it for a given amount of time.

And yes, the current trend in government goes quite against this. Our last decades' governments have excluded or dilluted many areas from this monopolic aspects.

You will find, however, this line is not clearly defined among different countries. There are many countries in Europe and Latin America where the areas I mention are under different government-owned and/or government-operated schemes. And the ideologic moments do shift from time to time: Ten years ago, Bolivia was privatising everything. That even led to what they called the "war for water", a revolution that outed a president. Today, they are again nationalizing resources. And while still a strongly underdeveloped country, they are faring much better and much stabler than in their past many decades.

yesterday
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Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet

gwolf Re:outsider question: why the USA embargo on Cuba? (140 comments)

You are no historian, right :)
1. The revolution got to the power in 1959, not in 1953.
2. The businesses were expropiated, not stolen (that means, their owners were offered an indemnization... Maybe they didn't find it to be enough, but it was determined by the authorities to be the right value).
3. The US wasn't quite peaceful on its attack on the Cuban way. There was a large-scale invasion (Playa Girón / Bay of Pigs), and many paramilitary operations.
4. If you measure something one way, it should be measurable the other way around. Please go ask people in every country that has been militarily intervened by the USA in the last 50 years how were they restituted for stolen or destroyed property.

yesterday
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Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet

gwolf Don't believe everything you read... (140 comments)

Cubans *do* have access to Internet. I (Mexican) have been there several times. In 1998, I became a close friend with a Cuban university teacher, and in 2000 I travelled to Cuba with tens of Linux and Free Software books, hundreds of CDs with distros of the day. I was quite in close contact with the Linux user groups in Santiago and La Habana, and less so but still met some people from Pinar del Río and Baracoa.
My friend later moved to Spain. Yes, he didn't go out the most legal way there is — But he kept in touch with his family. I kept in touch with his family as well (Internet access is not restricted to the university). His mother and his sister both travelled to Spain to visit him, and went back to Cuba.
I went again to Cuba in 2010; I stayed at the Universidad de las Ciencias Informáticas, ~10Km from the capital. The university is in a decomissioned soviet naval base; it is a huge university city, with hundreds of student dorm apartments. Every apartment has a computer connected to Internet. They do have strict quotas, but they all have network access.
The embargo, as you mention really harms Cuba. The country is clearly among the materially poorest I have visited. Hopefully things will now improve. No, it's not (only?) a communist regime that has kept them from developing.

yesterday
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Behind the MOOC Harassment Charges That Stunned MIT

gwolf Re:Popcorn time! (373 comments)

It is tricky, yes. I also have a friend in a similar situation, as well as an uncle.

There is a clear line (to me) on this: If the student is enrolled with the teacher then they start developing a relationship, it's wrong. It's a conflict of interests, the teacher cannot judge the student on the same grounds as other people in the group. Where I teach, that would be grounds for contractual job termination.

As soon as the grades are set, I find no objection. If it's just a random student in the same school as the teacher, if it's a consenting relationship between two independent adults with no power hierarchy between them, it is OK.

Of course, *after* having been sentimentaly involved (successfully or not), a student should not seek to be part of a teacher's group. It's not always possible to avoid it (i.e. only teacher for a mandatory subject), but it's very recommended.

4 days ago
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Google To Test Build-It-Yourself Ara Smartphones In Puerto Rico

gwolf Re:What? (61 comments)

Maybe because they are a surrogate state lacking full self-determination, and belonging colonially to a country with a culture so different to theirs, they will never be granted full citizenship of any real country ever?

about two weeks ago
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Google To Test Build-It-Yourself Ara Smartphones In Puerto Rico

gwolf So am I (61 comments)

I was born in Mexico. So is my wife — A proud Argentinian. We are as Americans as Puerto Ricans, as Cubans, and as nationals from tens of countries.

about two weeks ago
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Tips For Securing Your Secure Shell

gwolf "American" is a geographical qualification (148 comments)

...How can you qualify the NSA as "unamerican"? They do reside in America. So do I (although my country's language is not English, this is as much America as the USA).

Yes, there are a lot of foundational myths to your country. One of them is that it is the "Land of the Free". Most countries that have been born in the last 200 years or so have similar origins and claims. But, if the country stands for freedom, it should not impose a credo to its citizens.

Hence, labeling something as "unamerican" is an oxymoron. Saying it's unamerican because it goes against personal privacy... Is more akin to saying it's un-soviet because it fosters private investment and therefore deprives society of its full economic benefits.

And do note, please, I said "un-soviet", not "un-russian".

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Linux Distro For Hybrid Laptop?

gwolf Re:laptops are a commodity (210 comments)

I don't know where do I fit in the statistics, but I believe I am way off your data point :)

I used to buy "good" laptops, as much as my budget would allow — I had two very nice Dell computers, both bought for ~US$1,000. But in 2008 I bought an Acer Aspire One netbook (one of the first, 9" models) for ~US$400. I loved it. Even if it was so underpowered, it was comfortable to just take along anywhere. Granted, I don't do heavy compiling, but did work on it (even with its tiny keyboard). While on vacations, it was my main computer, and I never felt too size-cramped on it because of the keyboard — The screen size, 1024×600, was too small, but workable.

After five years with it, I bought another Acer Aspire One. The newer models are 11", but still very very light. Not much of a workhorse, but works very nicely. I bought it for US$350, and just added 4GB RAM (for 6GB total). It is a very nice work machine now. I don't know what I'd do with more power, but I do know that my back thanks me for having a small machine.

And, of course: One of my Dell machines was eventually stolen. It hurted. But were this one to be stolen as well, I would be much less angry about having to replace it.

about three weeks ago
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Early Bitcoin Adopters Facing Extortion Threats

gwolf Re:Told you so (106 comments)

Oh - Sorry, I jumped to answering. You did say unoficiallyUS and Mexico work to keep the rates stable.

That's exactly true. It's not that the peso is artificially held at a fixed per-dollar level (as it happened in the past), but that it is kept in a relatively stable value through "real" action.

But, of course, this is because the USA is not only Mexico's closest economic partner but its neighbour country. But anyway, the reason I sent here my original comment is that in the 2002-2014 period, the Euro went to over double of its original value against the US Dollar, then down a bit.

about a month ago
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Early Bitcoin Adopters Facing Extortion Threats

gwolf Re:Told you so (106 comments)

Nope. The peso floats freely; twice in the last five years there has been economic unstability, and the central bank "intervened" by selling a chunk of its reserves in order to keep the peso from falling further. It has worked: In the 2008-2010 period (remember, global economic recession), stable exchange levels jumped from 10 to 12, but we did at some point reach (for just a couple of days) 16, then went back to 12. And a similar thing seems to be happening now, as the dollar jumped from ~12.50 to ~15, and seems to have stabilized.

But no, the Mexican peso is not tied to the dollar, or to any other currency.

about a month ago
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Early Bitcoin Adopters Facing Extortion Threats

gwolf Re:Told you so (106 comments)

Right, I see what you did there...

I am Mexican. We have been told the peso has been mostly stable for almost two decades... Well, lets say, a decade and a half. When Vicente Fox was appointed president (2000), one dollar was at about MX$10, and it has very slowly slided. This year started with the dollar at ~MX$13. (Our last couple of months notwithstanding, as we are now at about 15). You can look at the last 10 years' graph

However, when the Euro started circulating (2002), one Euro was at about 7 pesos. It has since gone up to 17, then down a little. That is, it has moved from ~US$0.80 to ~US$1.40; it has peaked at US$1.60, and in the last 10 years, had valleys of US$1.20. (you can see the last ten years exchange levels history)

So, in short: There's quite a bit more to it if you dig into the whole world of currencies :)

about a month ago
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How Amazon's Ebook Subscriptions Are Changing the Writing Industry

gwolf Re:Freedom (250 comments)

As long as Amazon is getting the best price for the customer, no one will ask the State to regulate anything. Typically, the State regulate when the customers are complaining about abuse from the monopoly, as long as a monopoly doesn't abuse from its position no one complains. So, a monopoly should take care of the largest group in order to avoid the intervention of the State.

No. The owners and employees of "lesser" companies are terribly affected. The State should stop any company that is tending to become a monopoly.

about a month ago
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How Amazon's Ebook Subscriptions Are Changing the Writing Industry

gwolf I do call for regulation (250 comments)

When a company is *way* more successful than their competition, you don't have to wait until the competition dies in order to see a monopoly is forming. Yes, I do not believe in a pure free market. Much to the opposite. I believe that players should be able to enter the stage on a field that's as leveled as possible. And this particular case itches me because Amazon found some bits of inovation in a field, then its scope broadened, and now it is causing distorsions in all kinds of unrelated fields. And that is where regulation should kick in.

about a month ago
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How Amazon's Ebook Subscriptions Are Changing the Writing Industry

gwolf Share per item to author, to seller... (250 comments)

Authors have long suffered the publishers pay them a misery compared to what they earn. I have published very little, and via my university (which means, very little distribution but relatively very good terms). I get 10% of the sales. In the "real world", maybe a third of that is normal.

Now, Amazon is continuing to pay the authors the same 3%. But not only no exchange of tangible goods happens, now we the readers also pay Amazon for the book-of-all-books (that is, the Kindle). Yes, some people will use the Kindle store to read on the computer, tablet or whatnot, but it's definitively a lesser experience.

So anyway, Amazon is still paying something to the publishers (except, of course, for Amazon Direct published works). But given the goods themselves "cost" no money, they are getting *way* more than by selling books — Of course, the authors would prefer their income to increase proportionally as well.

Not shrink proportionally.

about a month ago
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How Amazon's Ebook Subscriptions Are Changing the Writing Industry

gwolf Re:Freedom (250 comments)

On the other hand, this is a very good example on how specific business practices can hurt quite different areas of endeavour. Bezos started off early and Amazon became an effective monopoly. When a large enough group feels (and proves!) a single provider is hurting them, the State should intervene regulating monopolies; I'm sure that were Amazon to be audited, many strange issues would arise as a result of the strict application of the described scheme.

After all, some market regulation is better for everybody, even if you are free-marketist.

about a month ago
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Paul Graham: Let the Other 95% of Great Programmers In

gwolf Re:Logic applies to all professions (552 comments)

OK, you proved the GP false. Given the huge disbalance, with ~30% of the world's Great Idiots born in the US, anything based on a representatively significant distribution is proven to be false.

about a month ago
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Paul Graham: Let the Other 95% of Great Programmers In

gwolf You will have to factor in... (552 comments)

The amount of great programmers who don't want to live in the USA.

about a month ago
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"Infrared Curtain" Brings Touchscreen Technology To Cheap Cars

gwolf Re:Multi touch while driving? (123 comments)

This.

After posting my post (of course, I got to brag before reading your opinions), I started reading how valued "multitouch" seems to be among /. readers.

It's, granted, a game-changer that enabled buttonless phones, for better and for worse. But in a car, you want to avoid as hard as you can all kinds of interfaces that require your visual attention. My body knows where most useful buttons in my car are (and in the strange event I need to, say, switch the airflow setting, I know I can do it while at a red light or something like that). I do not want a car that enables me to do what I should only do with my full attention on it.

I neither want my neigbour driver's car to provide such abilities, of course.

about a month ago
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"Infrared Curtain" Brings Touchscreen Technology To Cheap Cars

gwolf HP110 and HP150 in the 1980s? (123 comments)

This sounds exactly like the tech used by Hewlett Packard in the mid-1980s (here in Mexico, maybe it was known earlier elsewhere) for their HP110 and HP150 lines. The HP110 had (25x80? Probably...) holes on the screen edge, with a LED and a receiver at the opposite ends. IIRC, for the HP150 the "magic" was that the screen borders were now smooth, because the LEDs were higher power, and infrared instead of visible-spectrum.

I never used those machines; I remember seeing them and drooling at the finger-detecting magic :-) But thirty years later, it's hardly a new technological development.

about a month ago
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Cuba Says the Internet Now a Priority

gwolf The access is not as dire as you would imagi (115 comments)

I have been three times to Cuba; first time (in 1999) I went to visit a friend at the Health Ministry, and they had quite a good dialup access point; back then, dialup was still the main Internet access mode where I live (Mexico). The lacking part was, of course, computer access in the population.

The last time I was there (2010) was shortly before the connection to Venezuela started operation. I was invited to give a talk at the "Universidad de Ciencias Informáticas" campus, near La Habana. There, basically every student lives on-campus (the university is in a decomissioned Soviet base). All rooms have a computer — Old one, but working. And yes, network access was quite slow. Students also had a terribly low monthly bandwidth allowance (IIRC it was in the vicinity of 300MB), and after hitting that ceiling, there was no way to get more bits for them. It was quite interesting to see how a large group of people learnt to use the Internet with Javascript off, images off!

There was no censorship I could find (using a regular student account). Of course, I didn't go testing everything, as I didn't want to leave my host disconnected — But the main issue was the limits derived from having a single satellite uplink for the whole nation. I was told the situation improved vastly after the fiber to Venezuela was laid, but I cannot comment first-hand on it.

Of course, I'd expect now a fat fiber will be laid to Florida.

about a month ago

Submissions

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SIM cards have been broken

gwolf gwolf writes  |  about a year and a half ago

gwolf (26339) writes "After unbelievably many years, while mostly anything on a cell phone has been hacked, rooted, tweaked and b0rken, there was one piece that still was regarded as secure: The SIM card. But, Forbes reports, Karsten Nohl has proven them vulnerable, making millions of phones vulnerable. Oh, yes, remotely vulnerable to Java code execution. Nohl will present his findings in the Blackhat Security Conference, to be held on July 31."

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