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Comments

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Why Google Should Buy the Music Industry

h4rm0ny Re:Don't be evil (472 comments)

And with that post, I have finally given up on Slashdot. I will allow it to continue to sink into the small echo chamber of people spouting illogical arguments and unquestioned articles of faith at each other that it is determined to become.

Adios, Slashdot. I'm done here.

H.

more than 3 years ago
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Self-Wiping Hard Drives From Toshiba

h4rm0ny Re:Law enforcement... (268 comments)

Well the only modding seems to have been a -1 so I guess not everyone feels that way. You have my permission to sig it if you like. ;) :D

Cheers,
H.

more than 3 years ago
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Why Google Should Buy the Music Industry

h4rm0ny Re:Don't be evil (472 comments)

What if they just bought half the music industry, fixed it, then massacred the other half in the market place? That other half would soon change their ways to become competitive, given no other choice.

I have to ask what "fixing it" means. Because if it means making less money, then artists don't have a good financial incentive to sign on with Google's label and that would very quickly lead to the collapse of Google's music label.

more than 3 years ago
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Why Google Should Buy the Music Industry

h4rm0ny Re:Don't be evil (472 comments)

Okay. There exist "natural monopolies" which is the usual term for these things. I'll rephrase my comment to the more accurate, but less pithy: "Except in the case of natural monopolies, of which the music industry is not one, monopolies are bad."

If there were only one company that artists, sound engineers, et al, could go to for employment, that would be a seriously fucked up situation.

more than 3 years ago
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Why Google Should Buy the Music Industry

h4rm0ny Re:Don't be evil (472 comments)

True, but we already have an oligopoly (major labels) that only exists because of state-backed monopolies (copyright)

Well, copyright law and the public's general willingness to pay the asked for price for the music. Copyright law does not produce a mandatory tax that everyone must pay. The companies exist because people have considered their product something they are willing to give money for.

Also, monopoly isn't really the right word. Copyright law doesn't grant a monopoly on producing music to anyone. It limits the rights to reproduce specific pieces of music. Apple doesn't have a monopoly on O/Ss because copyright law grants only them the right to reproduce their own O/S. They can't call up Bill Gates or Linus and tell them they're not allowed to produce an O/S. A "monopoly" on reproducing a particular song is no more a "monopoly" than that given to Oracle being the only company allowed to distribute the Oracle database.

and the purposes of the acquisition would be to reverse the harm that said oligopoly has caused. In this hypothetical, Google might not even be trying to make any money off of the acquisition,

I think your faith in Google's benevolance is quite alarming if you're suggesting they might buy a major music label without the intent to make money off it. I also think you'd be very disappointed to learn that music still cost money as if Google wasn't making a decent profit of it, the artists would sign up with a different label that did make them some money.

more than 3 years ago
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Who Killed Spotify?

h4rm0ny Re:petty people (257 comments)

True...but if they are pricing themselves out of the casual listeners ballpark, yet adding restrictions to the extent that the ad-supported service is...well...useless, then they are effectively narrowing their revenue stream to only those people who do listen to music all day every day.

I consider the "if" in the above statement a pretty big one. I doubt at £5 a month, they're pricing themselves out of many people's ballpark. I'm an extremely casual listener. I mostly have the subscription for parties and dates. It's been really good to just have the World's music sitting there for anyone to pick from. I think £5 a month puts it well inside the casual bracket for most people.

more than 3 years ago
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XXX Goes Live In the Root Servers

h4rm0ny Re:gold rush (163 comments)

The owner of sex.xxx is going to make a fortunequote> They might make some money from selling it due to the high perceived value of the domain, but in practice, are many more people likely to visit a site their for their porn than any other site? So I doubt they'll make a fortune. The only ones going to make money out of this, are ICANN and the domain registries. It's just a money making stunt. It has very limited practical value and the potential for considerable destructiveness.

more than 3 years ago
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Rivals Mock Microsoft's 'Native HTML5' Claims

h4rm0ny Re:yeah (211 comments)

Wow! You seriously got modded down for that post. And yet it's one of the first comments that actually is informative about what was actually said. Slashdot Hivemind is in full-force tonight!

more than 3 years ago
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Who Killed Spotify?

h4rm0ny Re:Go Premium (257 comments)

Well software makes selling "different products" often just a case of enabling or disabling different features so the only way to differentiate different licensing terms is with these sorts of limitations. Market differentiation can be a good thing. Instead of everyone paying £8, some can pay £5 and some can pay £10. Nobody's paying for more than they need and nobody's free-loading off those who would be paying for features they didn't want. I'm not saying this is always the perfect case once marketing people get hold of it, but the idea is sound and a useful one. If you were buying something physical and you bought a more expensive version with extra features you needed, you wouldn't feel cheated because you'd look at the extra bits and think "this cost more to produce than the version without these features". With digital products, those limitations seem arbitrary, but it's just a matter of perception: it still took more to add those extra features and they still add value and pricing is still based on people buying that which they want.

Slight correction, btw. The £5 version is available for Linux. I know because I had it. Though I upgraded to Premium to get the better bit-rates.

more than 3 years ago
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Why Google Should Buy the Music Industry

h4rm0ny Re:Don't be evil (472 comments)

Monopolies are bad.

more than 3 years ago
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Who Killed Spotify?

h4rm0ny Re:Go Premium (257 comments)

Well, it kind of depends on there cost and value compared to competitors

No, that determines whether they are the best deal. What determines whether or not they are worth purchasing a service from, is whether you value the service. Suzuki might offer great cost and value compared to Harley Davidson, but unless I'm in the market for a motorbike, it's irrelevant.

I wish people would stop comparing music to movies. There different things.

It's not useful to compare things to themselves! You have to compare them to something else. In order to show other things that you could get for the same money, I picked on rented movies. I could pick a lot of other examples, too. The idea is to try and gauge the value of €10 so that the cost of streaming music can be properly calibrated. Not everyone values renting movies. Some people might value beer and I could have said: it's the cost of a couple of beers. But enough people rent movies that it's a decent enough tool to use to draw a value comparison. 10 is just a number. It could be a lot or a little. By pegging other items that are found at position "10" however, we can get a feel for where 10 is on the scale of things.

more than 3 years ago
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Who Killed Spotify?

h4rm0ny Re:Go Premium (257 comments)

For the price of pizza and beer you get pizza and beer. If you buy spotify you get a "virtual service".

What's virtual about it? I pay the money and music comes out of my speakers. If you'll pardon me for the phrasing, it sounds pretty real to me.

more than 3 years ago
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Who Killed Spotify?

h4rm0ny Re:Go Premium (257 comments)

Okay. If you feel £5 a month is unreasonable for endless music, two questions. One, what would you say is a reasonable price for endless music? Two, do you feel that endless music is of less value than, for example, a pizza and a beer once a month, a couple of movie rentals once a month, a few pairs of socks from a department store each month?A couple of pre-packed sandwiches from a supermarket or local deli? Music is a luxury good, not a necessity, so it's easy to compare it to lots of other things and see how it rates. I honestly believe that anyone making the argument that £5 a month is too much, who isn't actually hard up for money (i.e. they spend money on other things they don't require), is really not going to impress anyone with their position.

more than 3 years ago
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Who Killed Spotify?

h4rm0ny Re:Go Premium (257 comments)

It was the BBC news (Funded in the UK by a compulsory [for those with TVs that can receive broadcast programming] subscription/tax) article that highlighted the "So long, guess I'll go back to pirating music" comment.

Both the BBC and Slashdot did.

more than 3 years ago
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European Court of Justice To Outlaw Net Filtering

h4rm0ny Re:Copyright lobby won't let this stand. (171 comments)

This is why my first sentence was a warning against conflation. You're conflating talent with knowledge.

I don't believe I am. Firstly, "knowledge" isn't a good word to use for playing an instrument. Skill would be. Secondly, I don't see this clear distinction between "talent" and skill. Do some people have a greater or lesser aptitude for music? Yes. But it's misguided to put that aptitude on a pedestal above practice and study. Do you play an instrument? Because myself and my friends who are professional musicians - I know that they would disagree with your stance. Being a great musician is a little bit raw aptitude and an overwhelming amout of study and practice. The bald statement that "talent is singular, and cannot be bought or taught" sounds very hollow to me. As I said earlier, I don't know of any really good musician that wasn't taught. I suppose there might be an example out there somewhere, but they'd be a massive exception.

If they cannot transcend the mechanical aspect of music and play (let alone compose!) in a way that connects them emotionally with their audience (which is a talent)

Actually, that is something largely learned and also a false dichotomy. I strongly suspect that you haven't played music professionally and would be interested to know what experience as a musician you have.

more than 3 years ago
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Who Killed Spotify?

h4rm0ny Re:petty people (257 comments)

For a lot of people - like me - music isn't all that important. [...] Perhaps when you manage to look beyond your own situation you will see that Spotify for many people no longer makes sense.

I don't think Spotify should be basing their pricing around what appeals to people who don't have much interest in music. ;)

more than 3 years ago
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Who Killed Spotify?

h4rm0ny Re:Free service only (257 comments)

50p per year for unlimited streaming is about the maximum that I'd be willing to pay.

Then you are either phenomenally cheap or your have no interest in streaming music. Neither of which apply to most of the people in this discussion.

more than 3 years ago
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Who Killed Spotify?

h4rm0ny Re:Then pay with your ballot (257 comments)

The average person doesn't have a clue about this media vs copyright war that has been happening since before the internet even existed.

I don't know what this "average person" is to whom you refer, but outside of Slashdot, I think most people think the notion of copyright is reasonably fair. Inside of Slashdot, you get modded down for being anti-piracy.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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Microsoft conducts massive botnet takedown action

h4rm0ny h4rm0ny writes  |  more than 3 years ago

h4rm0ny writes "Yesterday, Microsoft, in co-operation with Federal agents, conducted what the Wall Street Journal described as "sweeping legal attacks" as they enterered facilities in Kansas City, Scranton, Pa, Denver, Dallas, Chicago, Seattle and and Columbus, Ohio to seize alleged "command and control" machines for the Rustock botnet — described as the largest source of Spam in the World.

The operation is intended to "decapitate" the botnet, preventing the sezied machines from sending orders to suborned PCs around the world."

Link to Original Source
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UAE Considering Banning Blackberries

h4rm0ny h4rm0ny writes  |  about 4 years ago

h4rm0ny writes "The BBC reports that the United Arab Emirates, that bastion of privacy and free speech, now wants to ban the Blackberry — very popular in that country — because it can't spy on the emails people send using them. The UAE's telecomm regulatory body (TRA) is threatening to make the Blackberry illegal unless RIM, the company that makes them, hands over encryption keys that would let it spy on Blackberry users. This follows the underhanded attempt by the TRA last year when it sent Blackberry users a text telling them to download an update that would improve performance, which in fact was surveillance software to allow the UAE government to send copies of received messages back to them. This was covered by Slashdot last year.

RIM has yet to comment on this but is unlikely to open up their devices to the UAE government. Not being spied upon is one of the selling points for the Blackberry in that country."

Link to Original Source
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Intel fined €1.1bn by EU.

h4rm0ny h4rm0ny writes  |  more than 5 years ago

h4rm0ny writes "In breaking news, Intel have just been fined a record 1.1bn by the EU for anti-competitive practices. This is the lawsuit filed by AMD previously covered here. The lawsuit where AMD accused Intel of "good old fashioned knee-capping". Intel has already been found guilty in equivalent lawsuits in Japan and South Korea. The new fine is more than double the previous EU record which was the fine of 497m against Microsoft.

It's this sort of imbalance in the market that is one of the reasons I've always preferred buying AMD chips."
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Patrick McGoohan - The Prisoner - dies.

h4rm0ny h4rm0ny writes  |  more than 5 years ago

h4rm0ny writes "Very sad news for some of us today. The actor Patrick McGoohan who played the eponymous prisoner Number Six in the bizarre British TV series, The Prisoner, died last night. (Also covered by the BBC). The Prisoner was some of the most bizarre and original sci-fi ever broadcast on TV and ran for seventeen episodes and is the reason some people of a certain age bizarrely say "I am not a number. I am a free man" without warning and for no apparent reason. The Prisoner was THE counter-culture series for many of us and its themes of surveillance, media control and reduction of humanity to mere numbers, resonate even more today than they did back then. He'll be missed."
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EU Patent Staff on Strike

h4rm0ny h4rm0ny writes  |  more than 5 years ago

h4rm0ny writes "Last Friday, staff at the European Patent Office went on strike. They protested outside for several hours and issued a statement claiming that "the organisation is decentralising and focusing on granting as many patents as possible to gain financially from fees generated." They also declared this as being disastrous for innovation and that their campaign was not for better wages, but for better quality patents.
Meanwhile, an article on it discusses the US's own approach to dealing with the increasing flood of patent applications: A community patent project to help identify prior art. It might sound like a grass roots scheme, and maybe it is, but those roots include such patent behemoths as IBM. So it looks like on both sides of the Atlantic, some signs of sanity might be emerging in the patent world from those people right in the thick of it. So hopefully flying cars soon... :)"

Link to Original Source
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US Hosting Company Shelves Anti-Islam Film

h4rm0ny h4rm0ny writes  |  more than 6 years ago

h4rm0ny writes "The BBC is covering the story of how US hosting company Network Solutions has suspended the account of a Dutch politician who wished to distribute a short film he had produced on the subject of Islam saying the film may have contravened its guidelines on hate speech. The film is critical of Islam (though the maker says not of muslims themselves).The guidelines of Network Solutions forbid both "Hate Propaganda" and "Profane" material. This raises disturbing questions of what is considered 'propaganda' and that something being "profane" should be considered a legitimate reason to suppress material is very disturbing. As well as whether companies have the right to censor material. Note that I haven't seen the film as the site now contains only a short message from the hosting company. However, a brief search of the torrents reveals several hits for the movie (called "Fitna" from an arabic word for religious strife) so it looks like it's out there and available to any that want to see it whether people want to stop it or not."
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Can Scientists Dance?

h4rm0ny h4rm0ny writes  |  more than 6 years ago

h4rm0ny writes "It may seem a facetious question but every good scientist knows that a theory requires supporting evidence. Hence at the Medical University of Vienna, scientists were required to dance their Phd.. Graduates, Post-docs and professors were asked to represent their theses without speech, but purely through dance, except for a sixty-second preface. Not only does John Bohannon give a gripping account of the evening (with excellent illustrations), but the videos show loin-clothed students and a truly beautiful representation of Single Photon Upconversion — with a sheet."
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BBC iPlayer Welcomes Linux (and Macs)

h4rm0ny h4rm0ny writes  |  more than 6 years ago

h4rm0ny writes "The story is brief but wonderful. After previously limiting their iPlayer only to the Windows platform (as covered on Slashdot here and here, the BBC's content is now available to users of Linux and Macs. From their site:

From today we are pleased to announce that streaming is now available on BBC iPlayer. This means that Windows, Mac and Linux users can stream programmes on iPlayer as long as their computer has the latest version of Flash. Another change is that you do not have to register or sign in any more to download programmes, and Windows XP and Vista users will have an improved version of Download Manager (formerly the Library) available to them.

It seems that the BBC have listened to people who petitioned them for broader support and an open format. Well Flash isn't exactly open but its a lot more ubiquitous than Windows Media and Real Player formats. Sadly for the rest of the World, you're going to have to go through the usual proxy Hell to get at this, as it's for us in the UK only. Now this sort of response to demand is why we pay our licence fee!"

Link to Original Source

Journals

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Patents from first principles

h4rm0ny h4rm0ny writes  |  more than 10 years ago
Ah, my first journal entry. Prompted by the fact that I've just read another person's journal entries, I now realize that people DO read them. However, they are unlikely to continue to do so unless you hurry up and say something interesting. And so I will after this announcement:

I have now two fans (hurrah!) and one freak (bizzare!). The fans I attribute to my brilliance and their perceptiveness in this matter (thanks ppl.); whilst the freak I blame on my massively misunderstood criticism of electronic voting, which I grudgingly admit could be taken the wrong way if you didn't read it properly. 8*)

And now for something completely different -

An Essay on the Negative Impact of the Patent System from First Principles.

Patents are based on the erroneous belief that an individual bears sole responsibility for the creation of a concept. This is not the case. When exposed to a similar culture and technologies, many people will be led to similar new ideas as a natural progression from those already current. All ideas and technologies are a consequence of all those that precede it. The patent system is designed to create a block to this natural progression for all but the one individual or group that first presents the idea to the Government agency appointed for this task. The justifying belief being that any other who arrives at the same idea did so by theft from the recognized originator. The word theft is a pejorative one, as it implies the wrongness of copying another's behaviour - this too forms part of the justification for the patent system.

While the ethics of emulating another's aims and techniques might be debated, its consideration is not necessary to condemn the patent system. For it is clear that many can arrive at the same conclusions by observation and consideration of their common environment - why therefore should the majority of these be oppressed by an authority? There is no moral reason to do so. Would it be possible to distinguish between those who arrived at a conclusion themselves and those who derived it from another? It would be difficult in an age of mass-communication and even were it so, there is no cause to believe that had the patent holders ideas not reached such a person, then they would not have learned how to fulfil the need by themselves. In this case, were such a system of restriction imposed, the patent holder would have a moral duty to conceal his methods to the best of his ability and a commercial motive to inflict understanding on anyone of intelligence.

As mankind progresses, there is a wavefront of new ideas and techniques that appears before us. Some of us who are more forward looking and more able than our peers, are able to act upon these quicker than others. These people will consequently have an advantage in transforming these ideas and techniques from theory into practice. But as we continue to progress, the wavefront continues also and that which was formerly at the very front, falls back and becomes more accessible and obvious to the rest of us. At this point however, we find that the vast majority of people have been disenfranchised by the patent system. The normal progress of mankind has been transformed into an intellectual land-grab. It does not matter whether the patent holder has use for this land or if it lies fallow, it has been forbidden to those who come to it a little later than he did. And what does this metaphor mean in actual terms? It means that not only are people and organizations both commercial and non- unable to make use of technologies that they otherwise would have invested time and money into, but that worse, they are unable to proceed beyond it to extend the technology in new directions, for the patent holder owns the roads they use to get there. The ultimate outcome of this is a bad one. For to return to the idea of that wavefront of ideas becoming conceivable and attainable, it is the uptake of the current ideas that drives us as a species forwards to the new ones. Where that uptake is prevented, we are becalmed and nothing generates that precious wavefront of new ideas. Can an increasingly consolidated class of patent holders continue our progress on our behalf? It seems unlikely for the reason that the acquisition of these patents had the purpose of gaining pre-eminence over competitors. With this pre-eminence established, there is less, much less, incentive to explore any further.

The tragedy at the heart of the patent system is that those who grant or sometimes disallow the awards rarely acknowledge that what is novel to them, is often painfully obvious to experts and creative thinkers in their field. And it should not be forgotten that the basic principle of justification for this is that it is unethical to emulate those who achieved success. We are accustomed to the patent system now, but really - is it wrong that someone's ideas should be applied by others? Is it so wrong that we should paralyse ourselves in order to prevent it? In very real terms, this is the situation we now confront.

A Government that supports this is a seed afraid to grow.

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