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Blackberry CEO: Net Neutrality Means Mandating Cross-Platform Apps

harperska Re:Bye_bye, Blackberry (307 comments)

Yes, not enough people understand net neutrality. No, what he is saying is completely illogical and is in fact 180 degrees backwards. His argument isn't wrong due to any libertarian idea about government interference. To understand why his argument is wrong requires understanding a distinction between platforms vs users of said platform.

Net neutrality is about classifying ISPs as common carriers. Common carrier laws state that the providers of certain platforms (e.g. shipping companies, ISPs) must treat all users of that platform (e.g. customers who want to ship a product, websites serving content) equally. The law says nothing about the opposite, and a user of a platform is perfectly within their rights to give preferential treatment to a particular provider over another. If you buy something and have it shipped to you, that retailer will usually either have FedEx or UPS as options, but rarely both.

The Blackberry CEO is arguing two things. First, he is arguing that app platforms should be treated as common carriers. That is a fair argument. I could get behind mandating that app platforms should treat all apps equally (e.g. not give some apps access to certain APIs while restricting access to those APIs for other apps. Such a classification might be necessary if for example Apple started giving access to GPU acceleration only to big game studios that could afford to pay a fee, while small indie game studios that couldn't afford the fee would be forced to use a slower GPU mode). But where he is being completely batshit illogical is where he argues that once app platforms are common carriers, the users must give equal treatment to the platforms rather than the other way around. To use the previous example, it would be as if the government mandated that if you offered to ship something via UPS, you must also offer to ship it via FedEx. Such a mandate has never happened, and probably never will. And arguing that there should be such a mandate for app platforms shows either a complete misunderstanding of common carriers and net neutrality on the part of the Blackberry CEO, or a deliberate obfuscation and intentional confusion of net neutrality in an attempt to gain sympathy.

4 days ago
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FBI Seeks To Legally Hack You If You're Connected To TOR Or a VPN

harperska Re:Treason is one reason for the existence of 2nd (382 comments)

First off, the Declaration of Independence was a call to arms, not a legally binding precedent. Only the Constitution can be used as the source of what is considered legal. Second, Using the second amendment to rationalize treason is absurd. The second amendment and the treason clauses are both within the framework of the US government. If you are planning on using the Declaration of Independence as precedent, you are talking about overthrowing the US government, which means throwing out the Constitution and starting over. So if you consider what the Constitution has to say about treason to be moot, you likewise must consider what the Constitution has to say about bearing arms to be moot as well, as you are declaring the Declaration of Independence to supersede the Constitution in its entirety.

about a week ago
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Michael Mann: Swiftboating Comes To Science

harperska Re:Why is this post even here? (786 comments)

On the contrary I would argue that it does, if only because the Slashdot community is largely made up of intelligent people who value reason and rationality, except in the one odd case where there is an inexplicable propensity to climate change denialism. So it is cathartic, if nothing else, to occasionally stir the hornet's nest on this one issue where ordinarily scientifically-minded people throw reason out the window to defend a genuinely anti-science political stance.

about two weeks ago
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FCC Confirms Delay of New Net Neutrality Rules Until 2015

harperska Re:In other words. (127 comments)

Except that in this case, the FCC is not coming up with any new laws. They are merely determining which previously established classification a particular industry should be placed under, something completely within their charter per the aforementioned act of congress.

about 2 months ago
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FCC Confirms Delay of New Net Neutrality Rules Until 2015

harperska Re:In other words. (127 comments)

The FCC was established by an act of congress (Communications Act of 1934), and therefore mandated by congress to do exactly what it does. And constitutionally the executive branch, of which the FCC is a part, is tasked with defining the implementation of law. The system is working exactly as designed.

As far as other ways to enact net neutrality, the only other constitutionally acceptable way of enacting any sort of regulations is for congress to do it directly. And there is so much partisan infighting that no regulations would ever get made and those that would would be so politically driven that they would be worthless and generally undone after two to four years anyway. Plus, even if congress was populated solely by reasonable and intelligent people who truly had the American public's best interest at heart, they simply wouldn't have time to debate and formalize every conceivable necessary regulation in every sector of public existence. So instead congress creates agencies which are (theoretically supposed to be) free of party affiliation to come up with the regulations themselves. Thus the FCC, FAA, FDA, etc.

about 2 months ago
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Apple's Next Hit Could Be a Microsoft Surface Pro Clone

harperska Re: It's the OS, Stupid (252 comments)

Calling it "Mach" is correct in the sense that the kernel is still the Mach microkernel, which came from NeXTSTEP. It does not have a BSD kernel.

It's BSD in the sense that _much_ of its userland is BSD, but certainly not all.

It also has many things that BSD does not have, which were proprietary from {NeXT/Open}STEP. For instance, the "netinfo" subsystem, the "defaults" subsystem, the plist architecture, Objective-C, XCode (which, afaik, is a modernization of NeXTs InterfaceBuilder).

My understanding, which granted is mostly wikipedia based, is that it is too simplistic to just say that the kernel is Mach. XNU, the kernel used by OS X, iOS, and Darwin, isn't just Mach but rather a mishmash of Mach, the BSD kernel, and a bunch of custom code to implement all that other stuff you mentioned.

about 3 months ago
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Apple's Next Hit Could Be a Microsoft Surface Pro Clone

harperska Re: It's the OS, Stupid (252 comments)

iOS is most definitely based on OS X. It started as a port of OS X, and it contains the same kernel and most of the same libraries such as core data and core animation.

about 3 months ago
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Wind Power Is Cheaper Than Coal, Leaked Report Shows

harperska Re:What about... (610 comments)

Clean coal still releases lots of CO2, and you still have to do something with all of the heavy metals and sulfur compounds that are captured. It's good that they're not going into the air, but is going into a landfill that much better?

about 3 months ago
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Wind Power Is Cheaper Than Coal, Leaked Report Shows

harperska Conventional Wisdom (610 comments)

I'm not so sure about the assertion that alternative energy sources like wind and solar are considered more expensive than fossil fuels. I always thought that they were considered cheaper but not a serious contender to replace fossil fuel plants as the number of places on the planet that they are reliable enough for baseload generation are limited. And even though they don't contribute to air pollution, they aren't necessarily a magic bullet as they have other environmental impacts in more subversive ways (e.g. solar shades out large areas, which can have detrimental effects on the ecosystem that depends on the sun, especially in the desert where large solar installations are suggested, and wind turbines have a nasty habit of killing birds that try to roost on them). So arguing that wind is cheaper than coal seems to be a bit of a straw man argument.

Which is unfortunate, because even though renewables aren't perfect, coal is pretty bad environmentally and I think we do need to figure out a way to phase it out as soon as possible.

about 3 months ago
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Apple To Face $350 Million Trial Over iPod DRM

harperska Re:Old issue (135 comments)

TFA mentions that is the reason for the lawsuit. Apple used their DRM specifically for vendor lock-in to shut out competition and unfairly raise prices.

That is RealNetworks' allegation as to the use and purpose of the DRM. Apple's rationale for using DRM on the other hand was an insistence from the record labels, according to Jobs' "thoughts on music" essay. The truth will come out in the court case, but I have a feeling that Apple's reason is probably more likely. They abandoned DRM shortly after that open letter at a time when the incentive for lock-in was probably stronger than ever, as they had just announced the original iPhone a month before the letter was published.

With that in mind, it really is silly to claim that any patching of a security flaw is done maliciously, just like how when Apple patches a bug that is exploited by a jailbreak, they are not doing it to 'get at' the jail breakers. They are simply patching a flaw and there is no rational reason for them to intentionally leave that flaw in place.

about 4 months ago
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Sierra Nevada Corp. Files Legal Challenge Against NASA Commercial Contracts

harperska Re:Another Factor? (127 comments)

The GP argument was that Dream Chaser was rejected simply because it was a spaceplane like the shuttle, implying that the issues with the shuttle were due to it being a spaceplane. Yes, there were plenty of procedural issues that caused the mechanical issues to be a problem. If management had listened to the engineers about the limitations of the o-rings, it could have prevented the challenger disaster. Regardless, the point is that the shuttle had that particular point of failure, which Dream Chaser would not, and it has nothing to do with whether Dream Chaser is a spaceplane or not.

about 4 months ago
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Sierra Nevada Corp. Files Legal Challenge Against NASA Commercial Contracts

harperska Re:Another Factor? (127 comments)

Maybe, probably not. All of the problems with the shuttle were not due to it being a spaceplane per se, but due to it being a sideways stack rather than a vertical one. Dream Chaser is designed instead to be on top of a rocket, either an Atlas V or Falcon 9.

Challenger failed because the failed o-ring between the segments of an SRB caused a jet of flame that impinged on the external tank. Falcon 9 doesn't use any SRBs. Atlas V doesn't use multi-segment shuttle style SRBs, and may not use SRBs at all for manned launches. Either way, that particular failure mode would be the fault of the booster and not the vehicle. In addition, by being on the top of the stack, if there is any sort of catastrophic failure of the booster, the vehicle is equipped with a launch escape system that was impossible on the shuttle.

The Columbia accident, as well as countless near-misses that could have resulted in a Columbia style accident, was due to debris detaching from the external tank and striking the orbiter. If the vehicle is on top of the stack, nothing that breaks off of the rocket can physically come into contact with the vehicle.

Therefore Dream Chaser isn't vulnerable to either of the causes of loss of a shuttle orbiter, and being a spaceplane has nothing to do with it.

about 4 months ago
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Users Report Warping of Apple's iPhone 6 Plus

harperska Re:is that an iPhone in your pocket? (421 comments)

How dare you use facts to refute the narrative on slashdot article making fun of an Apple product?

about 4 months ago
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Sci-fi Predictions, True and False (Video 1)

harperska Predictions are always close but not exact. (139 comments)

These lists of sci fi predictions coming true always seem to bend what it means to 'come true' because the fiction never seems to get it exactly right. They almost always seem to either over predict such as tractor beams and cloaking devices which we "technically" have today but only at the quantum level and not in a way that would be recognizable to the average sci fi fan, or under predict, such as Star Trek PADDs being single use one-object-per-task devices rather than the more useful general-purpose iPads that we actually got. I am having trouble thinking of any futuristic predictions that the author got exactly right.

about 4 months ago
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Elon Musk Hints 1st Person To Mars May Go Via New Brownsville Spaceport

harperska Re:The purpose of Brownsville. (91 comments)

It is probably a practical impossibility to reserve enough fuel on the Falcon 9 to do an RTB back to the cape, as staging occurs right around 2000 m/s and reversing direction from that sort of velocity is surely more dangerous, inefficient, and mechanically wearing than launching from Brownsville and letting the first stage follow its natural 2 km/s parabolic path over Florida instead.

The current version of the Falcon 9 absolutely has enough fuel to return the first stage back to the cape for LEO launches. That was the whole point of the v1.1 upgrade. They already do the direction reversal and flyback on all non GTO launches. The only reason they haven't done a pad landing yet is that they are still practicing landing over water just off shore before they are comfortable enough to actually land on the pad.

They might be able to get a higher payload to LEO with the current Falcon 9 by launching from Brownsville and landing in Florida, but that is definitely not a requirement to do landings. Plus, if they were to land in Florida, they would have to build a special landing pad on the gulf coast as landing at the cape would require flying over populated areas which I highly doubt the FAA would allow at this point.

about 4 months ago
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Is It Time To Split Linux Distros In Two?

harperska Re:No (282 comments)

Yep. If they were officially and permanently split, desktop linux would first stagnate, and then eventually cease to exist. For as good as linux is for desktop use, there just isn't enough interest to maintain it as a purely desktop system. Otherwise the oft predicted 'year of linux on the desktop' would have happened long ago. Because Linux is popular as a server OS, the community gets the benefits of just having to maintain a few modules on top of it to make it into a perfectly serviceable desktop OS.

about 5 months ago
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AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

harperska Re:Not Enough (533 comments)

Most people don't currently need symmetrical service, though I could see that changing soon if personal cloud computing and storage really took off. If people's entire library of documents, photos, etc. were in a dropbox type storage rather than on their own HD, people would start to notice how crappy normal upload speeds are.

about 5 months ago
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The Biggest iPhone Security Risk Could Be Connecting One To a Computer

harperska Re:Well insulated? That's debatable... (72 comments)

There was one iOS version (4.something) that was vulnerable to drive by jailbreaking, though. If I remember, the only known exploit in the wild was a website for the purpose of intentionally jailbreaking that installed Cydia as well as a patch to close the vulnerability. Ironically, at the time the only way to properly secure your iPhone against the vulnerability was to let it be hacked by that website first.

I remember going to an Apple store and installing Cydia on all of the iPhones on display there via that website. Fun times.

about 5 months ago
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Red Hat Assistant General Counsel Analyses Supreme Court's Patent Ruling

harperska Re:This is NOT a land breaking ruling (43 comments)

It is a landmark because even though abstract ideas were never patentable, it was never established that joining abstract ideas to generic implementations was also not patentable. Previous law suggested that an implementation, even if it seems obvious, was transformative enough to make an abstract idea patentable. This case clarifies that once and for all.

about 7 months ago
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Red Hat Assistant General Counsel Analyses Supreme Court's Patent Ruling

harperska Re:Patent the invention (43 comments)

This case was specifically about whether adding "on a computer" would make something patentable that is otherwise not, but it does have wide implications beyond software patents, including possibly business-method patents.

The things that are by their very existence unpatentable are abstract ideas, and things preexisting in nature (possibly among other things that I am not remembering). This ruling was actually more wide reaching than the red hat article suggested, because it establishes tests specifically to be used in the future and not making it so narrow as they like to do, so that the ruling would only apply to the case at hand.

This ruling doesn't just apply to software patents. The common law rule now is that if anything is not already patentable such as an idea or thing of nature, you can't patent a method based on that thing if the steps of that method are themselves well known or obvious to the industry to which they apply. In this case, an abstract idea combined with an implementation on a generic computer is considered unpatentable, and the precedent cited was from Mayo v. Prometheus where a biological function (i.e. naturally occurring) combined with a common medical procedure to measure that function was considered unpatentable by the same logic. Since Clarence Thomas relied so heavily on Mayo for this decision, that rule now seems to apply not only to stupid software patents, but anything in any industry that seems obvious to those in that industry.

In a way, they did comment on whether specific software-implementation claims would be patentable by pointing out that this claim specifically did not further the state of computing technology, suggesting that software that was truly innovative that did advance the technology and didn't just use methods "well known" and "long in use" may themselves be patentable. Otherwise, why point out that this particular software was specifically unpatentable because it was "well known" and "long in use"?

Interestingly enough, Sotomayor wrote her concurring opinion specifically to make a statement about how she thinks business methods are themselves unpatentable. I don't think concurring opinions have any common law teeth like the primary opinion does, so we don't have any specific precedent regarding business method patents. But we do know how 3 of the justices feel about them (since Ginsburg and Breyer joined Sotomayor's concurring opinion).

about 7 months ago

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